October 13, 2008

Weekend in Reviews

Normal Adolescent Behavior - This was an independent film intended for a theatrical release but instead of being purchased by a distributor, it was bought by Lifetime and then sanitized for a basic cable TV audience. I'm not sure how much had to be cut visually to make it acceptable for Lifetime but there was definitely language that required dubbing. Anyway, the plot is this: a group of kids (4 boys and 4 girls) become friends as small children. They are ridiculously close growing up and then as teenagers, when their hormones are raging, they decide that rather than risk broken hearts or humiliating hook-ups, they'll just all have sex with each other and no one else. At some point one of the girls (Hilary Burton) and one of the boys fall in love with each other and leave the group. They are shunned by their former friends, especially the hateful Billie (Kelli Garner). The remaining 6 kids continue to partner swap amongst themselves until Wendy (Amber Tamblin) falls for her new neighbor, Sean (the incredibly cute Ashton Holmes). Wendy is torn between being with just one person she loves or being with her friends who she thinks of as family and who will not permit her to have a relationship outside of their group. There are several things about the movie that are very uncomfortable to watch, in particular the orgies because I just can not wrap my head around anyone wanting to get naked and have sex on the floor within touching-distance of two other couples - friends of yours - who are also having naked sex on the living room floor. It's creepy. Anyway, Billie is a heinous bitch who keeps her friends down to disguise her own feelings of inadequacy and social awkwardness. She's a mean girl in the truest sense of the phenomenon - making everyone else feel bad because that's the only way she can feel good. Everyone else in the group seems to have had their fill of the whole thing anyway by the time Wendy bails but they've just been too afraid of Billie to get out. In the end, Billie almost gets Wendy back with a hearty dose of brain washing that culminates in a showdown in the cafeteria where Billie and Wendy are trying to prove that the group needs and WANTS only each other by announcing some truly horrific secrets about Hilarie Burton's character in front of the entire school. But by the time Billie is done spilling the beans, Wendy has realized what is going on and she turns it around, outing everyone in the group for their shit - Jonah and Robert are secretly gay and have been screwing each other behind everyone else's back for years, Ann is addicted to masturbating, Price cheated on them during spring break and gave everyone crabs, and Billie is a cutter with possible MPD (sometimes she thinks she's a vampire?) and a bunch of other crap. I could sort of see what they were trying to do here but either the sanitation muddied it up or the filmmakers just missed the mark. If you happen by it on LMN (which is how I watched it) when nothing else is on, it's an ok way to kill an hour and 45 minutes.

A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints - I can't tell you what this movie is about because I couldn't really tell. I can't tell you how it ends because I couldn't make it all the way through (I got half way and gave up). I thought the editing and directing were terrible and it was the second quietest, mumbliest movie I've ever seen (the first is Going All The Way where Jeremy Davies mumbles so quietly that even with my TV turned up as loud as it would go and sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF IT TRYING TO READ LIPS, I only understood about 1/4 of what he said through the entire thing). This time the prime mumbler is Robert Downey Jr. Anyway, the movie was impossible for me to watch even though Channing Tatum flashed his torso throughout and even showed a little bit o' buns at one point. Obviously I wouldn't recommend it.

Made of Honor - Or "My Best Friend's Wedding 2: The Situation in Reverse." The entire thing was exactly what you expect it to be - Michelle Monaghan and Patrick Dempsey met in college and became best friends. She was the only woman he ever met that he didn't bone. She has to travel to Ireland for 6 weeks and during those weeks without her he realizes he loves her so he's all set to tell her that when she returns with an Irish Duke as her fiance. She asks him to be her maid of honor, "hilarity" ensues as he and his male friends try to use his position as MOH to discredit the Duke and "steal the bride." I don't want to give too much away in case you want to watch it for yourself but I'll just say that it works out better for McDreamy than it did for Julia Roberts. This movie is like 27 Dresses in that you can see every bit of it coming from down the street and around the corner but if you're in the mood for romcom fluff, it's an ok snack but it isn't a meal and it might just leave you hungry for something better when you're done.

Iron Man - Yes, I watched it again. It was just as good the second time as it was the first. The extras on the standard DVD were pretty anemic though.

The West Wing - I have officially wrapped up the first three seasons of this gem and I believe that is where I shall stop. The quality of the writing was already starting to slip mid-way through the third season, but it finished the season fairly strong with tears and sniffles from me as CJ's secret service agent was gunned down in a liquor store to the strains of Hallelujah and POTUS ordered a hit on Abdul Sharif against the judgement of his better angels. It was the right thing to do Mr. President. Season four is where the wheels really started to come off and Sorkin got entirely too pleased with himself (and I suspect his drug use may have reached a crescendo because the stories verged on manic at times) and at the close of season four is when I put this show out to pasture the first time. I'm quitting before I get burned this time around. As a side note - I can't remember how far into season four they give Amy the boot but I know it isn't soon enough because that bitch was HARD TO TAKE!

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