Posts Tagged 'comedy'

Wick-Quoting #49: Crazy, Stupid, Love.

“I’m going to help you rediscover your manhood.  Do you have any idea where you could have lost it?”

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I didn’t have any sort of strong interest in watching Crazy, Stupid, Love. (from now on referred to as CSL).  The trailer didn’t show any sort of promise, besides the fact of having Steve Carell and Emma Stone, both being very funny people.  So I was shocked at how entertaining the movie actually turned out to be.  CSL is a lot similar to Bridesmaids – not because the stories are the same, but because both are not as popular romantic comedies that are actually topnotch in their genre.

Michae... I mean Steve Carell pulling on some moves

It is no surprise that the cast of the movie helps with the entertainment – after all, Steve Carell and Emma Stone both starred in successful romantic comedies themselves (The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Easy A respectively).  Steve Carell is always fun to watch, although in this movie he plays more of a middle aged loser than a goofy guy.  All the other actors are alright too and the kid actor, Jonah Bobo, is surprisingly not that bad.  He is not one of those kid actors who make you cringe.

The couple in question

The situational humor is pretty good in CSL and there is one moment in the movie where all the separate stories come together, creating a pretty awesome scene of confusion, anger, and awkwardness. Even though I find some parts of the story to be a bit shallow, the movie still is touching and runs on the ideal of giving second chances.  So despite the awful trailer, give CSL a second chance and watch it.  The movie is guaranteed to give you some good laughs.

8.4

Quoted by MWP

Ander: 9.2

New Site: http://www.mrwickedproductions.com/wickquoting/?p=225

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Wick-Quoting #46: Bridesmaids

“This is the first time I’ve seen you look ugly, and that makes me happy!”

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At first when I heard of Bridesmaids, I thought it was like The Hangover, but with a women group instead.  While both movies happen before weddings, they should not be grouped in the same party.  Bridesmaids far outclasses The Hangover in terms of story and comedy.  With The Hangover Part II, I had a hard time trying to find myself laughing at the various situations; however, with Bridesmaids, it was a completely different experience at the theaters – laughter came automatically and constantly.

A cheap workout

Now with comedy movies, the main concern is the humor, not the story.  However, Bridesmaids has a decent story and Kristen Wiig makes for an interesting main character.  Her random acts of being drunk and jealous create hilarious scenes of a bridesmaid gone wrong.  The other actresses pulled their parts as well, such as Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper who had some of the best lines in the movie.

A very hilarious scene

The main fault of the movie is the romance – while not terrible, I found the romance to be the most boring part.  Every time the male love interest came on screen, I knew the “fun” was over.  I feel the film would have been better if it focused more on the girls’ problems together than on the love problem.  But if they were to do that, then it’d be more like The Hangover, so I guess it is alright how it is.  Overall, Bridesmaids is a film that you should not miss, especially if you enjoy comedies.  People who give the movie a low rating do not understand comedy.  Seriously, this is the funniest movie of the year, perhaps even the funniest movie from the past five years.

9.0

Quoted by MWP

New Site: http://www.mrwickedproductions.com/wickquoting/?p=200

Wick-Quoting #43: The Hangover Part II

“Well, used to be just baloney, but now they make you add number.”

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Why does Hollywood continue to make bad movies?  Not only is it because Hollywood lacks original content, but it is also because people (like you and me) pay to watch the same kinds of films in order to get the same feeling as we did last time.  The Hangover Part II is one of those movies we pay to see because we know what we will get out of it.  The Hangover Part II is pretty much the same as the first movie – the exact same “wolf pack” in stupid situations.  Only this time, the story lacks basic fundamentals of being believable and humorous.

They're back...

Zack Galianakis, Ed Helms, and Bradley Cooper are again the main stars who go through an unfortunate series of events.  You would think that after what happened last time, the gang would be more cautious of Zack Galianakis’ character, Alan, but no.  They fall for the same trick, get drugged, and do some crazy shit.  You would think that the other characters would steer clear of Alan – he is unreasonable, immature, and unpredictable.  In the first movie, Zack Galianakis is hilarious.  In Due Date, his similar persona is still very entertaining to watch.  Now, in The Hangover Part II, Galianakis’ character is difficult to put up with.  His stupidity made me cringe many times throughout the screening.

Another song

And I know making fun of minorities is a fundamental part in mainstream American comedy.  It is in stand up, movies, television shows, etc.  But I find the making-fun-of-minorities in The Hangover Part II to be overdone and slightly offensive.  From Ken Jeong’s naked fury (yes it happens again) to the awkward Asian college kid, the film plays off on the demasculinity of Asian males that Hollywood has constructed ever since its birth.  Why must the movie have the Asian college kid carrying a stupid grin on his face despite the fact that he lost a finger?  Why must Jeong carry an accent and appear naked all the time?  Why must there be nude transvestites walking around on screen?  Why must Ed Helms’ character marry a hot Asian girl (Jamie Chung) and why must she agree to marry him despite his devilish demeanor?  And most importantly, why must the father be so easily persuaded by Stu’s gibberish and all of a sudden accept Stu as his son-in-law?  Yeah, I got a tattoo on my face, and yeah, your son lost a finger while under my supervision, but fuck, I am going to marry your daughter and you are going to like it!  Oh, yes sir…

Look out, Asian driving

Despite the racially, negative connotations, the film is still funny at parts, but not throughout.  However, I must be missing the joke that everyone else sees, because the movie has made over $350 million already from a budget of only $80 million.  If you want to watch a good comedy, forget The Hangover Part II – just watch the original.  Sure, Part II is mainstream and all, but it has all been done in the prequel – replace the baby with a monkey and Las Vegas with Bangkok and voila, you got yourself a Hollywood film.

5.9

Quoted by MWP

New Site: http://www.mrwickedproductions.com/wickquoting/?p=167

Wick-Quoting #13: The Karate Kid (2010)

The Karate Kid is a pre-sold franchise.  It is already “sold” to a majority of its audience, due to the original version.  Proof of this is that the film is about kung fu, not karate.  But the film is called The Karate Kid, not The Kung Fu Kid.  That’s advertising for you.  Even so, that shouldn’t be the reason to go out and see the film.

In my opinion, if you do watch the film, you should watch the film to the point where Jackie Chan kicks ass.  That was awesome.  That’s it.  After that, the film gets a bit boring and awkward til the end.  It’s a real shame that Jackie Chan doesn’t have more action scenes and comedic lines in the film.  Those are his specialties after all.  I’m not saying that he’s a bad actor in building a serious character.  It’s just that that’s not what he’s known for.

501.. 502..

One element that the film should do without or tone down a bit is the romance.  Because the film is aimed to be a successful Hollywood film, some inclusion of romance is inevitable.  But seriously, having 12 year old kids making out is a bit too much.  And it wasn’t just a light peck.  Then later on in the film, Jaden’s character goes to the girl’s house and practically asks her father for permission for them to “go out.”  But what was confusing was that he asks her father if they can be friends.  Friends?  Then what was the kissing about earlier then?

They're not even in high school yet

So besides the terrible romance, the film has many more faults.  Jaden Smith is not that great of an actor.  But I should cut him some slack, this being his first big hit and all.  And he’s only what, 11?  He’s much better than how Daniel Radcliffe was in the first Harry Potter movie.  But that’s not really saying much.

And the second act of the film feels so long.  You know how when watching a film, you shouldn’t be paying attention to what you’re doing because you should be so immersed in what’s going on in the film?  Well, I found myself shifting around more than twice.  I just started to lose interest in the middle.

It looks good on him

The film is all over the place.  Everything is half ass.  There’s no definite romance – the protagonist doesn’t really end up with the girl.  Jackie Chan isn’t allowed to achieve his full potential, besides that 5 minute fight scene in the beginning.  And even that doesn’t compare to his previous fighting scenes in other films.  But in comparison with the other summer movies so far, The Karate Kid is entertaining enough to watch.  If only the film was a comedy, Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan would’ve made a dynamic, comedic duo.

It’s better than what I expected.  Only ever so slightly.

6.0

Wick-Quoting #8: Imagination Within Imagination

I wanna get private lessons

Introduction

Pretty much every one of Miyazaki’s films contains imagination one way or another.  All of his films are a product of his own imagination after all; however, what about the supposed imagination of the characters within Miyazaki’s films?  Do the characters really imagine these dream-like worlds or fantasies, or are they actually part of the real world within the film?  For example, in Spirit Away, the young girl, Chihiro, is trapped in another world, distant from her own.  At first, she even mentions the possibility that it is all a dream – she even tries hitting herself on the head a couple of times with no avail.  And the film tricks you at the end, when the parents notice the car covered in twigs and leaves, as if it was sitting there for days.  Why does Miyazaki do this – making it a possibility that his characters may be imagining certain important elements and characters – in his films, which realms created by his own imagination?  Miyazaki is known for never being direct with his audiences.  An imaginative world with characters getting lost within their own little imaginative worlds shows Miyazaki’s circuitousness.  So what exactly results from this?

In films, the overall goal for directors is to immerse their audiences into the film, and connect them with the story and characters.  To do so, many different strategies are used, including relatable characters and the following of the growth of the protagonist.  Nowadays, directors rely on 3-D, the cheap and easy method, to further immerse viewers with their films.  Miyazaki’s strategy is to have his characters create an imaginative world of their own, inviting viewers to enter the world of the characters, rather than the world of Miyazaki.  It is, after all, much easier for viewers to relate with the character and her world than with the director and his world.  For starters, characters are seen on screen, while directors are hidden as puppeteers.  So, for Miyazaki to have his viewers engross in his character’s imagination rather than his own makes watching his films a much more enjoyable experience.  In Spirited Away, watching Chihiro interact with characters from her imagination is much more believable and interesting than watching Chihiro interact within another’s world, such as Miyazaki.  In this way, Miyazaki should be viewed as the creator of Chihiro, not Chihiro’s imaginative world.

Spirited Away – Young Fears

Chihiro, the young protagonist, can be easily related with young audiences, and “serves as a potential role model for today’s generation of apathetic Japanese youth” (Napier 288).  The horror of her parents being turned into pigs is something which young audiences can relate to – the fear of transformation and shape shifting.  With this act of transformation, the film is able to mix humor and horror.  Young adults constantly experience transformation in their lives – whether it has to do with ghastly puberty, or just natural steady growth of height.  Young audiences can relate with Chihiro and her world, especially because it is a world created and experienced by a young adult as shown on screen.  It would have been much different, and not as smooth in narration, if Chihiro was an older adult experiencing the trauma of watching her parents turn into pigs.  In that case, the film would eradicate all humor and settle with just horror.  That’s one of the benefits of young adults: the world which Chihiro experiences is acceptable mainly due to the fact of her age; so age has a determining factor of viewers accepting creativity and their willingness to follow it.  We as audiences succumb much more to Chihiro as a character and her imagination because she is at the acceptable age to have these sorts of wild fascinations.  An older character experiencing such imagination would only constitute as a crazy individual, belonging in a mental institution.  Chihiro’s young, imaginative world allows for comfortable, enjoyable viewing.

Now it is not certain that it is Chihiro who creates this other world or that this other world existed and Chihiro just happens to stumble into it.  But this really doesn’t change the fact of who the person in charge of the world is.  Miyazaki created Chihiro, and Chihiro could have possibly created this other world with Haku in it.  Chihiro is still the one who’s in question of imagining this world.  She is also the one experiencing it.

Spirited Away borrows from earlier works, including Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, both stories containing little girls driven by their imagination.  Alice, who experiences a wild adventure in her “dream,” and Dorothy, who enters another world after being knocked out from a tornado, have similar elements with Chihiro.  All three of them enter their world of imagination through a certain portal: a rabbit hole for Alice, a tornado for Dorothy, and a tunnel for Chihiro.

Tunnels are an important medium in Spirit Away.  Chihiro went through a tunnel, which sparked the beginning of the imaginative world.  The tunnel is key to handing over the creative power from Miyazaki, to Chihiro.  This act is necessary in order for viewers to have the mentality that it is now Chihiro’s imagination that they are experiencing.  Even though the tunnel is Chihiro’s portal into her imaginative world, it is not as apparent as Alice’s or Dorothy’s, in that Chihiro is not shown falling asleep.  This only emphasizes Miyazaki’s pleasure of confusing his audiences by not being completely clear in his storytelling.  All that is shown is Chihiro walking through the a red tunnel while clinging desperately onto her mother.  It is clear, however, that the tunnel is the link between the real and fantastic, by the different environments at the opposite ends.

Into the rabbit hole you go...

Within their worlds of imagination, they experience fears which are shared by young adults alike.  And upon conquering them, they all “wake up” to find that it could all have been just a part of their imagination, a dream.  This repetition of a young character exploring her own imagination is apparently a popular storyline in mainstream media.  Winsor McCay, a very successful animator during the early 1900s, made this plotline popular through his comic strip, Little Nemo.  In this comic strip, Nemo went to sleep in order to get to Slumberland, a world built in his dreams.  There, he battled monsters and saved princesses; but in the end of it all, he’d wake up and be scolded or comforted by one of the grownups of the household.  As history proves, having a story told through the imagination of the main character, is a successful and appeal tactic in story telling.  It is no wonder that this way of dreamlike storytelling is used again and again.

As mentioned before, immersing in a character’s imagination rather than Miyazaki’s, makes for a more enjoyable experience.  In Chihiro’s world, she comes across problems and fears that a typical young adult would have.  One of them is the illusion of disappearing from the minds of peers and family members.  This is a common problem young adults face, especially in high school, where being popular and noticeable are one of the main worries to have.  In order to prevent the fear of disappearing or being forgotten, young adults go great lengths, including dressing nicely, having intricate hair styles, and emphasizing on a certain skill.  Chihiro experiences the fear of disappearing in her imaginative world and initially refuses to eat the pill that Haku offers her.  Her fear of disappearing is evidently seen in her expression as he realizes her body becomes see-through.  With the image of horror on her face, viewers can share her fear of disappearing.  Sharing fears between characters and viewers means that a successful viewing experience is being had.

Chihiro realizes she has special powers

Another fear which is universally shared is the fear of heights.  This is a typical fear amongst humans, especially those of a young age.  Chihiro’s fear of heights is apparent in the scene when she attempts to crawl down the side stairs to Kamajii’s work area.  Chihiro’s imaginative world containing such familiar fears makes the film believable and amusing to watch, because we can relate to her fears as our own.  If we are to watch Chihiro as part of an imaginative world of Miyazaki, then we as viewers would have to cut all ties with Chihiro and her experiences, because we would have to view her and her fears as experiences of Miyazaki.  Therefore, Miyazaki acts as a barrier between his viewers and his characters and the adventures that they experience.  So Miyazaki directing his films through his character’s imagination removes himself as a wall, and allows viewers to be closer with his characters.   A good film can be partially determined by the linkage between viewers and characters: the stronger the link, the better the film.

Totoro – Childhood Memories

Totoro has the similar imagination-from-little-girls-is-socially-acceptable-and-interesting experience.    Throughout the whole film, it is unsure if Totoro is a figment of Mei and Satsuki’s imagination, or if Totoro is an actual real being who appears only before them.  Nonetheless, Totoro is coined as part of the girl’s imaginative world, as seen in the scene where the girls first meet the grandmother figure and she explains to them how she was able to see the soot spreaders when she was little.  This explanation tips off the fact that the film from that point on will be seen as part of the girls’ imagination.  Being able to see things when you’re little obviously pertains to a child’s tendency to make believe and imagine.  Imagination as a child is something everyone has done in their life, so the way Mei and Satsuki act is familiar to everyone – from their hallucination of strange creatures down to their childlike fits.  These make the film a lot more interesting, especially considering Miyazaki’s concern that the film wouldn’t be that appealing due to its lack of plot.

How long can you balance for?

The film is filled with imagination from the girls, such as the soot spreaders in the new house to the infamous cat bus.  If you look at the film as a work of Miyazaki’s imagination, you see a plain, Japanese countryside with two young girls trying to satisfy their need of motherly affection through their imagination.  When you view the film as an imaginative world of the girls, the film becomes a lot more interesting.  No one but them can see Totoro.  Totoro helps the girls cope with everyday life.  Using their imagination, Mei and Satsuki allow audiences to see the world through their eyes.  Mei and Satsuki’s imaginative encounter with Totoro shows the excitement that rain can have in the umbrella scene.  Through their imagination, the girls also show an alternative explanation of how wind is made.  Having wind made by Totoro flying about is a much more captivating explanation than saying that wind is made when there exists a difference in pressure.  Through the eyes of fascinated children, audiences see how wind is created, seeds grow, and Totoro travels.  The girls’ imagination not only makes the story more attractive, but also life in general.  Most people would be much more excited in life if they could meet Totoro themselves.

The girls’ imaginative world not only makes the film more enjoyable to watch, but also makes their lives more enjoyable to live in.  With the absence of their mother, a busy father, and a recent move of place out in the country, the girls are in a bit of a tough spot in their lives.  Therefore, it is only natural for them to resort to their imagination to make their lives more exciting (they’re children afterall).  To see children enter their own world of imagination increases the satisfaction of the film twofold.  First of all, watching little kids playing around in their own imaginative world is naturally enjoyable to watch.  People feel good watching others having fun; it’s a natural reaction.  Secondly, watching children play in their own imaginative world allows viewers to reminiscence about their own childhood, which is usually a place marker of pleasurable times and memories.  Also, recollecting old childhood memories allows viewers to link their childhood with Mei and Satsuki’s, further increasing the bond between character and viewer.

Kiki’s Delivery Service – Inclusion of Comedy

Pleasurable memories are usually associated with specific people in a person’s life.  In Kiki’s Delivery Service, Kiki shares a lot of her memories with her black cat, Jiji.  For some reason, whether it’s Kiki’s imagination or just plain magic, Kiki is able to understand Jiji during the beginning part of the film.  As Kiki builds relations with others in town, such as with Osono, Tombo, and Ursula, she begins to lose her understanding of Jiji.  It seems as though as she becomes more mature, she loses her childlike imagination of talking to animals.  This is a bit regrettable due to the fact that Jiji, like Calicifer in Howl’s Moving Castle, is the comic relief character of the film.  He has the lines which make the film a lot less heavy to watch, such as his comment of Kiki posing nude for Ursula and his whole scene with the female cat, Lily.  Not only do viewers benefit from Jiji’s humor of entertainment, but Kiki does as well.  Because it is her imagination which allows her to hear Jiji talk, perhaps she hears him as a sarcastic, comedic character, because that is what she needs most in her life at the moment.

Kiki’s imagination allows the audience to borrow her imagination and enjoy the sequence of Jiji acting like the toy with the old dog.  If it was not for Kiki’s imagination of being able to understand Jiji, then this priceless sequence would probably not contain the same elements of humor.  Jiji the cat would fail to deliver in this situation.  Jiji the comic relief character on the other hand is perfect, with his expression of terror as the dog sniffs him out and cuddles next to him.  Also, thanks to Kiki’s imagination, we as viewers are able to accept the fact of a sweating cat, which adds all the more humor to the sequence.

Cat's can sweat? In animation they CAN!!

Just because young audiences can connect with Miyazaki’s characters easier than older audiences doesn’t mean that only young people can enjoy his characters and their world of imagination.  True, a lot of Miyazaki’s films are focused for a younger audience, such as Kiki’s Delivery Service, which is very popular among the young female viewers.  However, it’s not to say that older viewers can’t enjoy his works.  Older people were once young people as well, sharing the perks and uncertainties of what imagination could bring.  Also, Miyazaki is ultimately the one pulling the strings of the characters and their imaginative worlds, so if older audiences don’t directly connect with the characters and story, then they should still indirectly be able to tie with the film as a whole.

In Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service, the characters express their own imagination to various extents.  By developing a world of their own, they are able to take some part of Miyazaki’s imaginative world and make it theirs.  It’s almost like the characters are stealing some of the spotlight.  In doing so, Miyazaki is removed as a barrier, further increasing the bond between the characters and the audience.  Being involved with the characters’ imagination rather than Miyazaki’s heightens the experience of believability and the impact that the characters have on the viewers.  In Chihiro’s case, the relation of fear, in Satsuki and Mei’s case, the recollection of childhood times, and in Kiki’s case, the inclusion of humor to prevent a lonely adventure.  It is amazing what Miyazaki as a director and storyteller can achieve.  By allowing his characters the unsure vision of an imaginative world, he is able to put emphasis on the characters of the film rather than on his storytelling.  It’s almost as if the characters are the ones controlling the plot of the story; afterall, the films are based on their imagination!

Work Cited

Napier, Susan. “Matter Out of Place: Carnival, Containment, and Cultural Recovery in Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.” 12 May 2010.

<http://www.ideonhosts.com/Miyazaki/Library/Spirited_Away/Napier-MatterOutOfPlace-Miyazaki-SpiritedAway.pdf>

Wikimedia Foundations, Inc. “Little Nemo.” 12 May 2010.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Nemo&gt;

Wick-Quoting #6: Kick-Ass

It’s kind of like one of Michael Bay’s films, BUT WITH AN ACTUAL STORYLINE!!

You know how some films have trailers that are just so misleading?  The trailer for Kick-Ass is definitely misleading; it fails to preview exactly how AWESOME it is.  I’m going to cut straight to the point in the beginning here just to make it clear – Kick-Ass is one of the best (action) movies I’ve seen since The Dark Knight.  It has everything that you need for satisfying entertainment: intense action, blunt humor, and a touch of sexual interaction (you can’t avoid that in Hollywood, unfortunately).  Let me first start off with the plot.

The typical high school geeks

Because this film gives off the aura of a comedy/action flick, you’d expect it to be more focused on the action part and less on the story.  This is not the case with Kick-Ass, thankfully.  Although I must admit, the beginning is a bit slow in speed, the film makes sure you know the personalities and backgrounds of the characters.  The plot is not shaken by the intense action sequences sprinkled throughout the film, but rather, strengthened.  Much of why the characters do what they do, such as Damon/Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), is clear from their stories and only makes the action that much better.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I for one am a fan of Nicolas Cage ever since National Treasure.  Bash on him all you want, but in Kick-Ass, he pretty much kicks ass (not Bangkok Dangerous style, thank god)

 

The smooth connection during this scene was ridiculously good

This film has one of the best action scenes that I’ve ever seen.  And it’s not like there’s only one or two moments of extreme, fighting pleasure; this film is loaded with them.  And each scene is very different from the other.  I didn’t want to blink at moments, because I didn’t want to miss any of the action.

Even though Dave/Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) was the main character, Mindy/Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) dominates the screen with the best action scenes.  It’s complete nonsense that people don’t agree with the film because a little girl is involved.  Without her, the film definitely wouldn’t have been the same.  There’s something about little girls kicking ass that makes it so much more enjoyable to watch.

 

This film really allowed Moretz to shine

The film contained a lot more shocks for me than just the overwhelming action.  For example, I didn’t think they’d actually show a guy being microwaved.  But they do.  And the finishing blow to the boss is both reassuring and shocking.  Reassuring because they give you doubts before in the film about whether they’ll actually show the bazooka being used.  Shocking because they actually do use it.

The film ties up nicely with the linking of vengeance mentioned first by Kick-Ass in the beginning of the film and later by Red Mist, hinting a possible (and obvious) sequel.

 

Just like what Miyazaki said, "When a girl is shooting a handgun, it's really something."

Just like how they mention in the film, it is amazing how nobody actually tried to become a superhero.  And it’s also amazing why nobody tried to make a film about it.  Thankfully, Vaughn has done a great job with it.  The main drawback is that the film is a bit long (almost two hours).  Even so, this film was worth every cent and second, and I hope you agree too.

 

9.1

 

PS: I realize that not everyone is going to like this film.  The characters aren’t that deep and and are pretty much one-sided; but seriously, you can’t expect them to be deep-ass, complex characters knowing that this film is suppose to be an action/comedy.


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