Monday, August 18, 2008

And the summer is almost over (and my wallet rejoices)...


Okay, so I pretty much swore off the summer movies after Dark Knight - I mean, it's like eating a steak and then being offered processed cheese slices - just can't compare.

But, my movie obsessed nerd inside couldn't stay aware for too long. Enter: Pineapple Express.

Now, let me preface this by saying I was a Judd Apatow fan long before it was cool to be a Judd Apatow fan (screw you catcher-on-ers!). Back in the day, my family would gather around the telly and scramble every damn week to try and find a little program we loved called "Freaks and Geeks." If you've yet to see this gem, stop what you're doing... I mean it... Put it down... And go buy it. And watch it.

The way I liked to describe it back in the day was "The Wonder Years in the 80s" but that doesn't do it justice. It's an honest, funny, painful look at finding yourself during your teenage years - set during the 80s. The Pilot is still one of my all-time favorite television episodes ever (I can't hear "Come Sail Away" by Styx without getting all warm and fuzzy inside).

Well, this little gem introduced the world to Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jason Segal (as well as Linda Cardelinni and a whole cast of Apatow faces you'll know). It was the best.

Well, flash forward a few years and I'm rolling on the floor laughing while watching Knocked Up. By myself. Yes, I saw it by myself. Then I manipulated my wife into seeing it (who doesn't like vulgar movies, and this was the king of them). And she loved it. LOVED it. Apatow manages to take real life circumstances and pull every bit of excruciating, uncomfortable humor out of it in a college frat boy way, that doesn't manage to alienate the audience.

Okay, so Summer Movies were pretty much over, but Pineapple Express, the stoner action movie came out. I was skeptical, but on recommendation from a colleague, I venture out to see it.

And laughed my ass off the whole time.

Pure genius - two potheads get embroiled in a drug gang war. Basic plot. But, in Apatow/Rogen (who is a fantastic writer on his own), the undercurrent of the story is about friendship and growing up. Maybe I love all these movies because I'm close to the same age as Rogen - and can identify with the things he loves to write about (now, granted, if I smoked as much weed as his characters do, I'd never get anything done - semi-annual blog entries included).

James Franco is hilarious, the slapstick to Rogen's straight-lace, and it would be criminally remiss to not mention Danny McBride - my favorite part of the movie. Best lines and situations. I died when he was on the screen.

Is it perfect? No, not exactly, but if this is your style, you'll love it. I did. I was laughing so hard at points, I missed the second barrage of jokes that always followed the first.

See it. Then buy Freaks and Geeks. You'll not regret it. Grade: A-


Next...

Mamma Mia.

Okay, so, I'll admit, I love musicals. If there's a musical, I'll see it. They just make me smile. I even sat through the dreg of Moulin Rouge (which had it's high points, the least of which was NOT the story) for the music (which, when you've got top-hat'ed old men singing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", how can you not).

Anyways, Mamma Mia is a chick-flick. More so than that, a middle-aged chick flick. It's about a group of 50 something women who rediscover themselves (so to speak). My wife surmised it the best with "I'm tired of 50 year olds acting like their 20."

But, part of that is the charm of the movie. The actors/resses are great - and all but Pierce Brosnan (bless his heart) are surprisingly good singers. The story is cute - there are laughs enough. The music is FANTASTIC (I'm not an ABBA fan, but I loved all the songs), the location is gorgeous. Basically, if you're a woman (middle aged preferred), you'll like it.

I'll give it a B-.


SIDE RAMBLINGS:

Okay, first off I love Amanda Seyfried! She plays Meryll Streep's daughter. If you've never seen Mean Girls - you're missing out on one of the funniest teen movies (and performances from Amanda) you can get. Second off, if you've not seen Veronica Mars - do yourself a favor and throw the first two seasons into your shopping cart when you buy Freaks and Geeks. It's amazing! I doubted the premise, but bought it on word of mouth - and DEVOURED it. Such an amazing, short-lived show. And she's prominent in the first season.

Second rambling aside - what struck me the most about Mamma Mia when the crowd that was there. Like I said, the movie was targeted to a demographic that is always overlooked. When you go look at the summer movies, how many are marketed to middle-aged women? Almost none. But, when they do - what happens? The movies actually makes MONEY. Look at Devil Wears Prada, Sex and the City - these things made bank - 100MM + (so has Mamma Mia). So, it'll be interesting to see if more movies are made like this. Time will tell, and I think nothing will change, but every so often when someone pushes a movie through targeted this way, everyone will be "shocked" to learn that there are other people who see movies that males, aged 16-24.

Rambling done.

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