Recent Movies

I finally got around to seeing some movies that were in the mental que.  Between what’s in my head at any given moment, plus the Netflix que (where I invariably forget what I listed so that when the next DVD shows up – and its a movie, not the next disc from The Wire Season 5 or Justified Season 1 – I usually wonder out loud, “Huh…why did I want to see this?”) the list remains long.  I can now remove from the list:

Guilt Trip stars Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen as a mother and son who take a long road trip together, and hilarity, familar punchlines, set-ups and yes, guilt, ensue. That was probably an easy take on the pitch meeting for this movie and for me it instantly felt familiar.

Barbra Streisand often gets the eye roll from folks who forget that she can actually act.  And its been easy to forget that she can, what with the recent Fokker movies.  So it was a nice surprise to see her play an understated version of a character she surely didn’t have to research much, the endearing, yet overbearing Jewish mother. If you’ve steered away from this movie because you thought it was a.) predictable and b.) you’ve seen enough stereotypical versions of the Jewish mother – which Mrs. Fokker was, and annoyingly so, that’s understood. In fact, the opening 10 minutes made me wonder if that’s where the movie was going. So that’s partly what made this movie so enjoyable – Streisand isn’t over the top at all and plays Joyce Brewster with just enough humor and humility that you realize after about 5 minutes you’re interested in who the character is.  Yes, it’s all mostly predictable, but it’s mostly funny and endearing, too.

Seth Rogen also made this movie enjoyable and the chemistry he has with Streisand is evident. Rogen has played a variation of Andy Brewster in almost every movie – aloof, smart, funny, etc. – and in this case add put-upon, by his overbearing mom.  From the start, he’s got good intentions in planning the road trip with mom, and they both learn a lot about each other.

As mentioned, there’s a chemistry between Rogen and Streisand; the verbal jousting can be flat-out hysterical (stick around for more examples during the credits). Amidst all the holiday blockbusters that you might still be trying to see this is worth adding – or keeping – on your list.

Thank you, Redbox, for reminding me that I wanted to see Trouble With the Curve. This was on my radar for a bit, then fell off thanks to all the other movies vying for my attention, and, I have to admit, partly because Clint Eastwood talking to a chair at the GOP convention kind of put me off.

So when there wasn’t anything else that particularly stood out at the Redbox kiosk Saturday I figured what the hell.  And its worth it.  Totally predictable as well, I would bet the reviews and the advertising last summer at least once included the tagline “THE FEEL-GOOD MOVIE OF THE SUMMER.”

Eastwood plays a scraggly old baseball scout who is getting chased by Father Time and modern technology.  He’s selfish, set in his ways and stubborn and not a great father, either.  And he’s got a lot of guilt over how he raised his daughter, played by the always sexy and loveable Amy Adams.  This is a road trip movie, too!  Dad and daughter spent a lot of time away from each other which forever impacted that relationship (jeez, another movie that is very familiar!), and has always been a struggle. The two go on a road trip to scout baseball players – Eastwood’s character’s eyes are failing so his lawyer daughter goes on the road with him – and they have to confront the past and their future.

Throw in strong performances from John Goodman (always great) and Justin Timberlake and you’ve got a fast, enjoyable and at times, touching movie.

Finally saw The Campaign and I laughed my ass off.  Another Redbox movie, another one I wanted to see last summer.  Look, its sometimes easy to bag on Will Ferrell – and fingers crossed he doesn’t go the way of Adam Sandler who isn’t even trying any more – but I don’t think he’s done a movie that I didn’t enjoy or laugh hysterically at. Old School, Anchorman, Talladega Nights, that basketball movie whose name escapes me at the moment, and of course, Step Brothers kill me every time.

In The Campaign, Ferrell plays an incumbent Congressman who for the first time has an opponent, played by Zach Galifianakis. There’s lot’s of stereotypes here – and that’s one of the things that makes it so damn funny.  A Southern-fried, bumbling, corrupt, politically incorrect, philandering Congressman vs. Southern-fried, bumbling, effeminate, challenger? Comedy gold!  Add in a lot of raunch in the uncensored version I rank it right up there amongst Ferrell’s best.  One of my favorite scenes is during their debate where Ferrell’s Cam Brady is challenged by Galifianakis’ Marty Huggins to recite the Lord’s Prayer – and props to Brady’s campaign manager (played by Jason Sudeikis, always funny) trying to help him out.  Oh, and a baby gets punched out, too!

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