Tag Archives: bryce dallas howard

Gold

If you’re going to cast Matthew McConaughey and pay his hefty salary, why then take away everything about Matthew McConaughey that is good and right in the world?

In Gold, McConaughey plays Kenny Wells, a prospector who is pot-bellied, bald, and has a giant snaggle tooth that I CONSTANTLY mistook for a wayward piece of chewing gum for the entire length of the movie. He has a gray pallor, he sweats, he is often scene in soggy, saggy tightie whities: it’s unforgivable. There’s no reason that a prospector named Kenny Wells couldn’t have gold2been played by the handsome version of McConaughey, and it might have half-explained why a beauty like Bryce Dallas Howard would go out with such a loser, which is otherwise downright mind-boggling.  Gold is very, very loosely based on things that might have sort of happened, but Kenny Wells was never a real person. McConaughey’s weight gain, however, is all too real: a testament to cheeseburgers and milk shakes, apparently. He also legitimately shaved his head. But if director Stephen Gaghan really REALLY needed a bloated, past-his-prime dude for the lead role, I’m confident that he could have got one much cheaper, and at less cost to McConaughey’s health. In fact, I propose this guy.

Superficial complaints aside, the movie just plain sucked. Feel free to stop reading now. The rest will just be me riffing on this theme. McConaughey gives a pretty committed performance, whistling around that big ugly tooth, but he should have known better. I can only assume that Matty’s got some weird fixation with gold; this is, in fact, his third movie about the pursuit of gold, after Sahara and Fool’s Gold (and to be fair, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 42%, Gold is his best one yet – but please god, stop trying!).

My main complaint, and maybe the only one that really matters, is that this movie is plain old boring. Billed as a “crime adventure,” the real crime is not stolen gold but stolen time and money from the audience, and possibly also the extra plaque in McConaughey’s arteries.

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Hollywood Doppelgängers

Hollywood has absolutely no faith in audiences. If they think you liked something, they’re so overanxious to play it safe that they’ll sell it to you twice. We’ve had twin movies as far back as memory serves: movies that have near-identical plots and are essentially the same right down to their release dates. Wyatt Earp & Tombstone. Dante’s Peak & Volcano. Armageddon & Deep Impact. Antz & A Bug’s Life. Infamous & Capote. And on and on. The interesting thing though is that we don’t just have twin movies, we have twin stars too. Hollywood thinks we like familiar things. Familiar faces. And of course, plastic surgeons can only make so many noses. Everyone wants the Liv Tyler lips and the Salma Hayek tits. We can’t be surprised when they come off the assembly line looking a little too similar.

javier-bardem-jeffrey-dean-morganJavier Bardem and Jeffrey Dean Morgan: are they actually the same person?

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Amy Adams and Isla Fisher: they don’t just look alike, they sound alike too!

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Will Arnett and Patrick Wilson: even losing hair at the same rate!

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Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard: sharing the same bottle of Miss Clairol since 2001.

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Jesse Plemmons and Matt Damon: even their accents are the same!

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Henry Cavill and Matt Bomer: yup, that’s two different people. Same damn jaw.

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Paz Vega and Penelope Cruz: they usually say that a woman this stunning “broke the mold” but that’s clearly not the case.

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Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe: these two look so alike it’s creepy. Watch this face meld of the two of them and you won’t be able to distinguish one face from the other.

Who are your favourite Hollywood twins?

 

Pete’s Dragon

Petes-Dragon-Featured-061320161I am old enough to feel like I should remember the original Pete’s Dragon (which was released in 1977). I know that I saw it as a kid but it definitely did not stick with me. Because of that, I would have had no expectations going into the 2016 version of Pete’s Dragon but for the very positive reviews it has been getting. The new Pete’s Dragon did not resonate with me to quite that degree, but it is a good family movie that I think kids will love. It also may make you wish you had a pet dragon.

Elliot the dragon is probably the best part of this movie and the reason I think kids will go head over heels for Pete’s Dragon. More dog than wild beast, he seems like the perfect companion if you’re stranded in the Pacific Northwest. Even if you’re only stranded metaphorically. Elliot can fly, he can turn invisible, and builds the best tree forts ever! What more could a kid ask for in a mythological friend?bigdragon.0

The human characters in Pete’s Dragon are far less compelling. All of them are one dimensional, existing only to contribute whatever is needed to move the story along.  Bryce Dallas Howard likes nature so she protects the dragon. BDH’s stepdaughter likes Pete so she helps. Karl Urban is BDH’s greedy and bored soon-to-be brother in law, who we know will learn a lesson by the end. Robert Redford is BDH’s father, the old guy who tells stories about the dragon and who fortunately can also drive an 18 wheeler. Wes Bentley is just kind of there because someone decided that BDH needed a fiance and the stepdaughter needed a father and Urban needed a brother.

I wanted more depth from these characters and maybe older kids will too. But ten-year-old me would not have cared one bit about character development when there’s a flying green dragon on display! A fantastic-looking, furry, CG dragon. The visuals in Pete’s Dragon are awesome, both when it comes to Elliot and when it comes to displaying the gorgeous forest/mountain vistas of the northern west coast. The combination of Elliot and the beautiful backdrops is more than enough to keep adults entertained, even with paper-thin characters at every turn.

petes-dragon-4Just don’t expect there to be a clear message. Lately, Disney (/Pixar) has been doing well at including big coherent themes in kids’s movies, from Inside Out to Zootopia to Finding Dory. There is no clear message here to be found.  There are environmental and family threads sewn but no coherent payoff is ever delivered.

Still, that’s not so much a complaint against Pete’s Dragon as a reminder that Disney (/Pixar) has given us some classics in the last year. Pete’s Dragon does not quite measure up to that high standard but it is still a good family movie and moreover, a movie that this childless adult greatly preferred to its polar opposite counterprogramming, the joyless Sausage Party.

Pete’s Dragon gets a score of seven fuzzy dragons out of ten.

 

50/50

50-50-movieCancer, you bitch. She strikes again in this weirdo comedy about a young, prime-of-life dude (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) when he’s struck down by a big, bad tumor with an ugly face. Okay, I made up the part about the face.

Lucky for JGL, he has emotionally stunted pal Seth Rogen along for the ride, who’s there to tell him bald is a bad look on him, and that if he was a casino game, his 50/50 odds would actually sound pretty swell.

Adam (JGL) is a super cautious guy. He waits at the cross walk for the signal to turn. He refuses to drive because accidents are a leading cause of death (true, a couple of slots behind cancer, 50-50-movie_jpgd600but still). When the doctor tells him of his tumour, his knee-jerk response is  “That doesn’t make any sense though. I mean I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I recycle… ” And we agree. It doesn’t make any sense. Cancer doesn’t play by any rules that we’re comfortable with.

Screen writer Will Reiser is using his own experience of cancer in his 20s to inform the script. His friend Seth Rogen was along for the ride and slips very comfortably into recreating the role. In real life, Rogen was apparently on the toilet when Reiser told him his diagnosis but that was deemed too gross to make the movie. They don’t pull many other punches, though: this isn’t your mother’s Terms of Endearment.

This is about a guy in his 20s 5050-007who gets very sick and faces his own mortality. Does he channel cancer sympathy to get himself laid? Sure he does. Does he consume lots of legal weed? You betcha. Does he have sex with hookers while skydiving? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out, but I will tell you this: it isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

This is a surprisingly grown-up script; it toggles between the drama and the laughs pretty seamlessly. It feels honest. Rogen is vulgar, but decent, and that begins to tug on you in quiet and unexpected ways. Director Jonathan Levine manages not to succumb to the usual morose 50-50_movie_screen_scene_40offerings of the genre and presents something touchingly humane. The excellence in casting extends to Bryce Dallas Howard as a girlfriend found wanting, Anjelica Huston gives a powerful turn as a fuss-budget mother, and Matt Frewer and Philip Baker Hall are welcome additions as co-cancer buddies. I’ll even magnanimously grant that Anna Kendrick is pretty funny as a newbie therapist trying real hard to walk the line. But it’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt who’s leading the pack with a really low-key, uncompromising performance.

 

 

 

 

Jurassic World

The dinosaurs always win. That’s rule #1.

The dinosaurs will always kill the bad guys. That’s rule #2.

Genetically modified dinosaurs always have surprising extra powers because of the frog or lizard DNA that was used to create them . That’s rule #3.

There may be more Jurassic Park rules – feel free to add your own in the comment section.

Jurassic World follows the rules and feels comfortable because of it. I liked the first three and I liked this one too. It’s probably the second best movie in the series and it has a few nods to the first one (still the T-Rex of the franchise). Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are good individually and (spoiler alert) better together. I liked as well that BDH holds her own here. I read a lot about Mad Max’s “feminism” (meaning the women were not just damsels in distress) and must say it was so refreshing there when Tom Hardy handed over the gun. I felt that same breath of fresh air here. Bryce’s character was at least equal in importance and her actions save the day at least twice. We need more of that, a lot more. The helpless, screaming woman trope is a movie rule we need to see broken way more often. I hope this trend continues because strong female characters make a movie real.

All in all, this is a very successful return to Jurassic Park for everyone involved, except the members of the park’s security team. It earns a rating of eight (mostly) tame velociraptors out of ten. So if  there is anyone on Earth who hasn’t seen this yet, it’s worth a watch.