Tag Archives: Judy Greer

Tribeca: Ordinary World

Note: when this film premiered at Tribeca, it was called Geezer.

Perry is the Geezer in question, a middle-aged suburban dad with edgy hair and a family he loves, but he’s just a little bit checked out of his ordinary life. As he turns 40 he’s stewing in what-ifs, foremost among them, what if I hadn’t left my punk rock band just as it was maybe about to take off?

He’s no semblance of a musician now. He works in a hardware store and only manages to sneak in a few chords around his kids’ morning routine. But on the occasion of this milestone birthday he decides to treat himself to the wildest party a has-been can muster before noon and he runs in to an old flame who reignites old dreams.

Geezer_filmIt’s not exactly ground-breaking material but here’s the gimmick that’ll put butts in theatres: it’s Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong playing Perry. And is it pretty effing cool to see him play the guy he might have been had his own post-punk outfit not taken off when it did? Yes, yes it is.

So then the question you’re next going to ask is: Holy shit, can Billie Joe act? And the answer is no, no he can’t. I mean, the director, Lee Kirk, told us he was a great actor, but the movie seemed to indicate that the Kirk’s pants were on fire. Sean thought he was okay – inoffensive, but he never forgot for a 720x405-Geezer_press_1moment that he was watching Billie Joe Armstrong. I, on the other hand, thought it was a scootch worse than that. Unnatural. Self-conscious. Very “you can tell I’m acting because my hand is over here on my hip, which means I’m going through some internal conflict I’m not subtle enough to convey any other way.” And yet I’m not going to condemn him because the movie really is a vehicle for him. He’s what makes it cool and relevant, makes the movie rise above the other mid-life-crisis\path-not-taken meditations. Plus, Kirk pads the cast with some better talent: Judy Greer as the old flame, Selma Blair as the current wife, Chris Messina as the scowling brother, Fred Armisen as an ex-bandmate.

The theme may be familiar, but I still admired the writing. Kirk tries to take a fresh perspective, never blaming the wife and kids for Perry’s lack of success. geezerThe regret without resentment shows maturity I’m surprised to see in a character like Perry. Billie Joe never quite transcends the role, but there is an honest vulnerability there that’s a little charming. And Billie Joe is not just a casting liability, he’s an asset to the soundtrack because he’s written some original music for it, and the movie is never more confidant than when Armstrong is performing. In this he excels. The songs he wrote are great and I imagine they’ll be invading your radio waves sometime soon, lending the movie some major credibility.

I can be certain about the music because we were treated to a concert immediately following the screening. Billie Joe had Green Day drummer Tré Cool backing him up and Jesse Malin on rhythm guitar. They launched into the film’s first song, Devil’s Kind, with Cg0_FVfWYAAgOcuan energy that defies the fact that Armstrong is in fact a middle-aged father of two. They played a couple of Green Day tunes as well, Scattered and then American Idiot, which morphed into Bad Reputation. Oh, did I not mention that Joan Jett was in the house? Yeah, she has a small cameo in the film but she got up on stage and showed the boys what a scene-stealing badass she still is. Her voice hasn’t aged a single minute and the woman’s still sporting leather pants. Armstrong closed the night with Ordinary World, the film’s acoustic ballad, and I couldn’t help but wonder at the twinkly goodness of my life. In the movie of my life, there is no path not taken.

 

Note: Geezer has since undergone  name change. Now known as Ordinary World, it will see a release October 14 2016 – on DVD\streaming and in select theatres.

Ant-Man

 

Ant-Man reminded me a lot of the first Iron Man movie (which started this recent superhero craziness) so it makes a nice bookend as we close out Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a small, focused and mostly self-contained movie about some good-hearted criminals who can’t be that good at their jobs since they all have served significant time in prison. But for whatever reason, Michael Douglas takes a liking to Paul Rudd. And really, it makes sense because Paul Rudd seems like a guy who you could trust with your superhero suit. So after a fairly long lead in, Paul Rudd learns to be Ant-Man and saves the world

The thing about superhero movies is: the plot doesn’t matter anymore. Every origin story is going to be the same, more or less. What separates the good from the bad is whether the movie (a) feels new or novel in some way; (b) makes you care about the characters and/or the outcome, even after having seen like 30 movies in this genre; and (c) makes you want to see the character join the Avengers/Guardians/Justice League for their next movie. On those criteria, Ant-Man is a smashing success.

I felt like this was something new and a movie that could have stood on its own. I cared about Ant-Man and wanted him to succeed. And after seeing Ant-Man, I hope that he joins the Avengers, if nothing else so we can see him interact with all of them.

And if/when Ant-Man jumps to the team, i hope Michael Pena tags along. He’s the funniest part about this movie and a huge reason why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Which was a lot, so i give Ant-Man nine subatomic superheroes out of ten!

Adding to the fun were the rumble seats, which are called D-Box at Cineplex for some reason. They were hard to choose over VIP at Lansdowne (food and alcohol delivery to my seat is the best thing i can think of) but now they’re in Gloucester too so that makes them easier to recommend. I would pay the extra money again for an action movie.  Just be sure to turn the chair to its max setting, because obviously you want the most shake available! It’s not quite up to par with all the immersive movie rides we recently went on at Universal but it’s still fun and worth a try for the punching effect by itself. I look forward to trying them for Southpaw.

Entourage

Sean

Matt and I took in a screening of Entourage on Monday. Full disclosure: I’ve never watched the show, not even once. So I went in basically cold, knowing just the basic premise. Fortunately, the writers had anticipated people like me (or possibly the premise was also the entire plot for the eight seasons the show ran). Either way, the movie jumped right into things and didn’t leave me behind.

it seems very fun to be a celebrity, and possibly even more fun to be in a celebrity’s inner circle. The four guys are inseparable and each of them gets about equal screen time as far as I can figure it. Vince, the actual star, certainly doesn’t get more screen time than his bros, both semi-biological and adopted, which is surprising in a way since the plot revolves around a movie that Vince is both starring in and directing. But it makes sense after I realized that the whole point of the movie, and presumably the show, is the relationship between these guys. That they are on this ride together even though only one is driving the car (which is a poor metaphor because apparently Turtle started out as Vince’s driver and seems to still fill that role despite also being a tequila baron).

By the looks of things, the boys had a fun time making this movie. It may just have been a good excuse to drive expensive cars and rent expensive houses and party with naked women on expensive boats, but isn’t that what being a celebrity is all about? Fortunately, their fun is infectious and I enjoyed tagging along. Entourage is a very entertaining movie and is the next best thing to having a famous friend. It gets a rating of eight extremely brief celebrity cameos out of ten.

Matt

This being his introduction to the glamorous world of Entourage, I was looking forward to hearing Sean’s take on the movie. It mostly hit the ground running but worked in a Piers Morgan segment early on that cleverly brought new recruits up to speed while dropping in-jokes for the fans.

This may not have been my initiation but I can hardly call myself a fan. I only binge-watched until the end of the third season. Lucky for me, not much seems to have changed in the last five seasons except that Ari is now somehow the head of a major studio and Turtle has lost a lot of weight.

How you feel about Entourage the movie probably depends on how you feel about Entourage the series. Watching the film at the screening last night was a lot like watching three back-to-back episodes of the show with a roomful of fans and Sean. They didn’t even skip the theme song. I will say that I laughed more consistently last night than I did watching the first three seasons of the show and that I can’t imagine a fan being disappointed. They’ll definitely get their money’s worth with a couple dozen or more celebrity cameos, even if only about half of them are used as effectively as they could be.

Mostly though, i couldn’t have said it any better than Sean. It’s the bond between these four guys and the agent that bet everything on them that makes this franchise work. It ties together all the otherwise seemingly random gags, cameos, and subplots into a coherent story and a very enjoyable movie.

Teen comedies

TMPLadies and Gentlemen, we’ve made it to another Thursday! This week our friend at Wandering Through the Shelves had us exploring teen comedies, which means that one of us actually sat through Porky’s. True story.

Matt

Thanks to Wandering Through the Shelves for inspiring me to watch so many great movies this week. The term “teen comedy” made me wince at first until I realized how many of them I actually love. I really struggled to get my list down to 3 this week.

American Graffiti  Set in 1962 during the last night before two high school grads head off to American Graffiticollege, four friends spend one last hilariously wild night driving around the strip trying to get laid, find someone to buy beer for them, and give a clingy 12 year-old the slip. Most teen comedies are made by filmmakers looking for easy money but, in 1973, few people thought there would be an audience for this story and Universal apparently sat on the finished film for months before finally getting around to releasing it. It became a surprise hit and one of my favourite movies of all time. Filled with energy from beginning to end- not to mention the music of the 50s and early 60s-, it’s like Superbad just with less dick drawings. It’s a rare thing to see a teen party movie made by such a celebrated and talented filmmaker (George Lucas).

HeathersHeathers- “Dear diary. My teen angst bullshit has a body count”. The genre doesn’t get much darker than this. Teen murders made to look like teen suicides inadvertently brings much-needed (albeit phony) attention from the students, faculty, and media to this very real problem. Director Michael Lehmann and writer Daniel Waters apparently made the movie partly as a reaction to the John Hughes movies that they despised and it doesn’t get much different from Pretty in Pink than this. I found the dream-like tone disorienting at first but I was quickly won over by the twistedly hilarious writing and a great lead performance by Winona Ryder.

SuperbadSuperbad- Sometimes less dick drawings isn’t necessarily a good thing. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg started working on this script when they were 13 and it shows. The pair have never written anything else so far that felt so personal. It’s filthy as it gets and quotable as hell (“The funny thing about my back is it’s located on my cock”) but what’s most impressive is that it never forgets what it’s really about. Two best friends who have been joined at the hip for years are experiencing lots of separation anxiety knowing that they’ll be going to different colleges next year but can’t bring themselves to talk about it. It’s excruciatingly awkward to watch at times but also pretty sweet. And did I mention that it’s quotable? “This plan has been fucked since Jump Street and it’s all because of that used tampon Fogell.”

Jay

superbadWell Matt and I have come to our very first agreement – Superbad. The chemistry between Michael Cera and Jonah Hill is supergood, and though neither likely attended much actual high school, they sure capture the awkwardness with great gusto.

Saved! Set in a private Christian high school, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) is lead singer in the Christian Jewels. Mary (Jena Malone), her best friend and band mate, begins to pull away as she i-am-filled-with-christs-love-saved-mandy-moore-gifdiscovers that her attempt to degay-ify her boyfriend Dean has resulted in a not-so-immaculate conception. She finds solace in the school’s only alternatives – Jewish bad girl Cas (Eva Amurri), Roland, the paralyzed atheist (Macauley Culkin), and Patrick, the skate-boarding pastor’s son (Patrick Fugit). It’s got all the familiar trappings of a classic teen comedy – the cliques and the outcasts, the bumbling parents, and the prom – they just happen to be coated thickly in Jesus. And on that level, it’s a great subversive critique of religion. Hypocrisy and high school – can you imagine a better pairing?

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off   I’m expecting to see this on each and every list today because Ferris is ferristhe seminal teen comedy. We may as well have stopped making them, or at least seeing them, after this point, and nearly all that are made can’t help but reference it. Ferris Bueller, at the age of 17, knew how to take a day off. How many of us can say the same even now?

jawbreakerJawbreaker Bonus pick! This is not the best movie, but it’s a sentimental favourite. The Mean Girls of the 90s, three of the school’s most popular girls (Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, and someone else) accidentally kill the prom queen in a kidnapping prank. A cover-up of the crime is discovered by the school nerd (Judy Greer) and only the promise of a makeover and popularity will keep her quiet.

Sean

Teen Wolf – I first saw this movie before I was a teenager at a slumber party. I don’t rememberteen wolf much from that first viewing but I remember loving it. I mean, wolf Michael J. Fox was pretty much the best basketball player ever. And watching it now adds a whole other level of comedy because it’s so dated and so cheesy but so great. Probably the worst sports scenes ever filmed though.

billandtedBill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – this is without question one of my favourite movies ever. I remember renting it for a week (along with a rental VCR of course) and watching it over and over and over. The history presentation is both the most awesome and most stupid climax to a movie but I always wished I could put together something as randomly great for a school project or anything in life.

Dazed & Confused It’s the last day of school in small town Texas 1976. The seniors are hazing dazedthe freshmen, and everyone is trying to get stoned, drunk, or laid, even the football players that signed a pledge not to. “Alright, alright, alright!” in the scene at the drive-in was Matthew McConaughey’s first line ever spoken on camera and is now basically his trademark. His  production company, JKL Productions, comes from Wooderson’s life credo: Just Keep Livin’!, so it’s safe to say that this movie was as big for him as it was for us. This movie is one of the best ensemble casts of my generation. Absolutely everyone is in this movie – it’s unbelievable how many familiar faces are here. I can’t say whether Dazed and Confused properly captures the 1970s teenage experience but it is so timeless and universal that the time period doesn’t matter. Richard Linklater really captures what it is to be a teen while taking us on a hilarious ride. Incidentally, the other movies on my list are more personal favourites and I don’t pretend they are actually good movies, but this one is not only good, it’s great. If you haven’t seen it you need to.