November 16, 2009

Weekend In Reviews

After several weeks of not watching any movies, I finally got back to it this weekend.

2012 - I'm not sure exactly what to say about this one. The premise is simply the end of the world, but I'm not sure any director could really make a movie where the world actually ends because I'm not sure anyone in the audience can truly wrap our heads around the concept. But even if someone could do it, that someone sure as hell wouldn't be Jerry Bruckheimer.

This is like Armageddon with less testosterone, less schmooping, and more sentimentality. All of which I mean in a good way.

So in 2010 an adorable Indian scientist notices that the temperature of the earth's core is increasing at a fairly alarming rate and that it's precipitated by increased neutrino activity as a result of recently ginormous solar flares. Adorable Indian Scientist calls his scientist friend Adrian (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who works at the White House, who in turn tells Anheuser (Oliver Platt) because he has the ear of the President. So POTUS (played by Danny Glover who is getting a lot better at speaking around whatever dental or orthodontic apparatus he acquired that slurred the shit out of his speech in recent years) gives the bad news to various other heads of state and the global leaders come together with a plan.

They build arcs. Like Noah. And then, because this is the world we live in and let us not for one second think that anyone does anything noble for free, they sell tickets to get on the Arcs at the cost of one billion Euro per seat. They also force a bunch of Chinese people to do all the work but do not offer them seats on the arcs.

Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) is a writer whose single-minded focus on his writing cost him his marriage to Kate (Amanda Peet) who is totally still in love with him even though she's living with plastic surgeon Gordon (Tom McCarthy). While John is having a divorced dad camping weekend with his kids at Yellowstone, he meets crazy radio personality/conspiracy theorist Charlie (Woody Harelson) who gives him the low-down on how the end is nigh and there are ships to save the richies (he thinks they're space ships, but still), and that everyone who knows and tries to tell people winds up mysteriously dead.

Meanwhile, a giant chasm opens in Kate's grocery store while she and Gordon are buying cereal. They're not hurt but it makes Kate want her kids back pronto. Upon their return home all hell breaks loose and Jackson realizes that Charlie knew his shit so he picks up Kate, the kids and Gordon and they set off to find the arcs and get on them to survive the impending Apocalypse. Along the way the team with a rich Russian dude who has tickets on the arcs for he and his twin sons, Russian dude's girlfriend who he brings along even though she doesn't have a ticket, and his pilot who is played by the incredibly hot Johann Urb. They make it to China where Hot Pilot dies and Russian Jackass and Sons abandon them for a ride to the arcs so then they join up with a Budhist monk and his grandparents on their way to meet the monk's brother who worked on the arcs and has a plan to sneak them all on the ship.

Elsewhere on the planet, POTUS has decided that the world needs surviving young people and scientists more than old politicians so he elects to stay behind and go down with the ship, so to speak, then he and the rest of our nation's capital are wiped out by a Tsunami. The prime minister of Italy also declines not to join the others on the arcs, preferring to trust his survival to prayer and he's subsequently done in when the earth opens up and swallows Vatican City whole.

Circumstances are such that Anheuser is the defacto leader from America and he's decided that he doesn't give a fuck what happens to humanity in general because what's important to him is saving his ass and the asses of the people on his arc who forked over billions of Euro for a shot at living through the end of the world.

Fortunately an impassioned and touching speech from Adrian followed by a consensus from the heads of every other nation let Anheuser know he isn't in charge of anything so the three working arcs load up with all the extra people they can get on in 15 minutes. One more dramatic problem to overcome and then the movie ends with the arcs heading to South Africa, which is now the highest point on earth, to restart civilization.

The end of the world naturally means that a lot of people are going to die but there was a sort of numbness to it here that felt terrible to watch. It's not that the movie treated mass casualties lightly though, more that the cheesy visual effects stripped away a lot of the things that would have made the deaths seem realistic and heartening. The visual effects were definitely the weak link with this movie. The acting was top-notch and the story had decent heart and heft for a large-scale blockbuster disaster flick. I'd recommend it for anyone who enjoys blockbusters and I'd even say it's probably one of those that's slightly better to see on the big screen, but there is a chance that television may be more forgiving of the visual effects.

I Love You, Beth Cooper - No one goes into a teen romcom expecting great cinema right? So here we have an uber nerd who spent his entire adolescence "in love" with the most popular girl in school and in his speech at graduation he decides to profess his love in front of everyone. He also deems that a good time to call out the school bitch and bully, Beth's statutory rapist/Army ragewad boyfriend, and his own closeted best friend. That sets off a chain of events wherein Beth Cooper, her two friends, Uber Nerd and Gay Bestie spend a single night having insane adventures.

Then, just when you think that the relationship between Uber Nerd and Beth will develop into something, the movie ends with absolutely no payoff. That might be realistic for life but I don't watch teen romcoms for realistic, you know?

The up side of this movie is that Hayden Panetierre is delightful. The downside is that Hayden is about all the movie has to offer.

The Ugly Truth - I honestly don't understand what anyone thinks is so damn dreamy about Gerard Butler. The crookedness of his mouth is really distracting and he's completely average-looking at best. Then again, Katherine Heigl is a raging bitch so I guess he's still way better than she deserves.

Anwyay, the movie. Ok, so Abby (Heigl) produces a local morning show that has just hired Mike (Butler) and his "men are horny pigs/women are only good for boobs and blow-jobs" shtick to increase ratings. Mike convinces Abby to let him make her over and teach her how to get a man his way which works, but Mike and Abby accidentally fall in love with each other along the way.

Like I said, I'm not looking for reality in romcoms, but I don't need my intelligence insulted by someone telling me that Katherine Heigl can't bag a shallow man all on her own. Bitchy though she may be in real life, she is gorgeous and, in the immortal words of Sports Night's Casey McCall, it's hard not to notice that her body was put together by a technician very close to God. She doesn't need hair extensions and push-up bras.

When it's all said and done, I'm a little ambivalent about this movie. It was an ok way to kill 90 minutes and I'm quite sure I'd watch it again if I caught it on cable when there was nothing else on some day, but I wouldn't tell anyone to make a point of seeing it and I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to see it again.

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