New year, new movies!
Bob, Cody, Tony, and Kim all watch far too many movies and TV shows, read too many books, meddle with the time-space continuum just too many times to be safe any longer, and conduct just one too many mad science experiments just for funzies.
Welcome to Short Takes! Allowing us to post shorter reviews to media we consume without having to make a video or write a lengthy take. As short and sweet as “No.” to whatever we feel like putting down. New or old, good or bad, this is the space to jot down on anything we watch. Thus, these are more like immediate thoughts rather than longer more thought into it pieces.
This should be updated just about daily as best we can, possibly multiple times a day, so keep it bookmarked and see what we’re up to.
Want more? December Short Takes!
Mountain, 2018, Nature Documentary. Written by Robert Macfarlane and Jennifer Peedom. Directed by Jennifer Peedom. 74 minutes. Review by Bob. First time watch.
It’s a good year for Alex Honnold. He has his own fantastic documentary in Free Solo, but is also the very first person seen in this documentary. I can’t pretend to know if its footage from the famous climb documented, but same clothes and a very high-up free solo. It may just be. Being the first, one of the few people, seen directly in a documentary on mountains on the whole – not just El Capitan – reminds me to see Free Solo again. Unlike that documentary about him and his craft, Mountain is more of a travelogue of the looming monstrosities off in the distance on a clear day here in Seattle. (The words “mountain’s out” mean “clear day” up here, referring to Mount Rainier). It’s narrative-less although it does have narration. Willem Dafoe reads passages from Robert Macfarlane’s “Mountains of the Mind.”
Nature is the star. Peedom and her crew film incredibly beautiful and breathtaking sweeping shots of mountains all over the world. From the snow-capped Himalayas to an up-close look at an eruption’s lava to sliding down luscious green hillsides, any and all mountains are explored. There’s little else to say except take 74 minutes to become entranced by the magnificence. Streaming on Netflix might not be as astounding as a large screen, but damn was still pretty.
The Pink Panther, 1963, Comedy Narrative, written by Maurice Richlin and Blake Edwards; Directed by Blake Edwards. 1h55min. Review by Bob
This was a first time watch for me. I’ve seen, and love A Shot in the Dark, but have not seen any other Pink Panther film, whether from this series or the Steve Martin remakes. Fixing that, starting at the beginning. And… I didn’t really like it. Maybe my expectations were too high, knowing how funny A Shot in the Dark is, or how amazing Peter Sellers is just about everything. I knew going in Sellers’s iconic Inspector Clouseau is a supporting character with the focus instead on David Niven’s The Phantom. It is easy to see why Clouseau became the focus after the first film as Seller’s character is the high point in his tripping, bumbling French policeman. Everyone else, eh. For a comedy, it drags with only a handful of the farce-like sequences that would to be expected, the best of which is an exchanging bedrooms bit. Except those all move so slowly, I just wanted to watch a Marx brothers caper instead. Outside of the Sellers, the best portion is the opening credits, featuring the cartoon Pink Panther fucking with the credits. I’ll be watching the rest of the series soon, and will update. I hope they hold up.
National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1, 1993, Written by Gene Quintano & Don Holley, directed by Gene Quintano. –seen before, a few times, but this is the first time in about a decade. Review by Bob
Tim Fuckin’ Curry. Tim Curry as a henchman to William Shatner’s villain. Facing off against Sam Jackson and Emilio Estevez? Holy shit, that’s a lot of scenery chewing. Tim’s scenes are enough to make the movie notable, even if the rest doesn’t always work. Even if you’ve forgotten this parody of Lethal Weapon and other cop movies, you’ll likely remember one portion of Tim’s part. Vilderness gurl cooookies! Go watch at least that scene. It’s the most memorable and the first scene. It is all down hill from there, but it’s a fun journey.
Tim Curry with an insane accent as he’s best at! On the whole, Loaded Weapon 1is a mixed bag of a parody flick. As Lethal Weapon is already just about satire to start with, its a bit hard to take on directly (see also Scary Movie to Scream). The standard cop movie tropes are given their due, and there is humor in many of the sequences with clever gags. I particularly love “we’re being followed” with the followers being literally in the back seat. It’s hard to point out other particular moments as describing comedy moments is like telling someone your dream. Out of context, it doesn’t work. There’s some good verbal humor, all the sight gags and slapstick one expects from outright parody.
It doesn’t quite work when, as many parody movies often to, it directly references other pop culture in the “hey, know this thing!” of the [blank] Movies of the 2000s. But that’s the way movies like this, everything is thrown at the wall and if enough sticks, it’s worth it. Loaded Weapon 1 is mostly worth it, but I fully admit many of the jokes have been over used both in this movie and parodied to death elsehwere (the also featuring Samuel L. Jackson fifteen years later covered much of the same ground, Brooklyn 99 is a very smart cop satire). Many of the references are very dated which shows signs of weakness – unlike Airplane which works just fine no matter when with only a handful that don’t update – most direclty referencing work on their own.
Oh, Lin Shaye has two lines. Fuck yeah Horror Gramma. (Robert Shaye is around too, that’s New Line for ya).
The Smurfs, 2011. Written by committe and or monkeys. Directed by an idiot with a camera. Starring People Who Should Know Better.
Fuck this movie. No, Bob. I won’t leave it just as that, as tempting as it is. Fuck it. I love shitty movies, its often a joy to watch crap – but there is a special hell for lowest-common-denominator kiddie cash grabs. Like The Love Guru in December’s Short Takes, I watched this in filling in movies from How Did This Get Made? I missed before. And sometimes I just hate myself.
Anywhoo (fuck off I’m not doing Smurf puns), this was so much pain. I don’t think I’ve ever said “oh fuck off” this many times after a particular awful line. It’s obvious how little the majority of people involved cared. There was some joy from me for seeing how little effort was present. From the half-baked script with throwing the word Smurf in places instead of actual jokes, to the distracting awful CG creations for the Smurfs themselves and Azrael, Gargamel’s cat. Jayma Mays staring off the into the distance with barely covered distain. Those voicing the Smurfs giving one and dones. Dammit Johnathan Winters, did you need a paycheck that bad? Why must the two movies be your last credits? SEE, THIS is why we need a new good project for Angela Lansbury so her last movies aren’t The Grinch and Mary Poppins Returns. What’s with John Oliver in two of the shit fests I’ve watched in the last two months? Neil Patrick Harris having deader eyes than the litany of Tom Hankes in Polar Express and his constant lampshading of the inanity of the Smurfs and the plot. I wonder if they just filmed him going off on camera. Likely these call outs to why the Smurfs are named what they are and the repeated inanity of the song was written in based upon she sheer number of times they reference it. The expected rap scene. The awful celebrity cameos. The pop-culture references. The continue references to the same fuckin’ jokes.
Let’s go back to the naming thing, which gets a shrug. I’m convinced they are given the name by Papa Smurf and forced to follow it. Isn’t it awful to be given a trait people dislike then get mad at them for having the trait? Hey you! We declare you Flatulent Smurf. … dammit Flatulent Smurf why you farting all the time? (he meekly states Papa makes him eat nothing but bran flakes). How is it reinforced? I can see evil taskmaster Papa Smurf weighing down parts of Clumsy’s clothing so he flails about. As he gets used to it, Papa moves them around so Clumsy. WILL BE CLUMSY. Say, at least we didn’t have the standard “You say I’m clumsy but I’m really -=other thing=-” plot. Hell it might have, I zoned out hard core towards the end of the ONE HOUR 46 MINUTES run time. If that IS the plot of another Smurfs movie, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. One more note on Papa being evil – at the beginning when the portal opens that takes them to NYC, there is no way he doesn’t know that won’t just kill them, but he chooses to let go and get sucked up. He CHOOSES DEATH for six Smurfs. Dude, no thanks.
If there is ONE good thing about this thing, it’s Hank Azaria. While Mays and Harris may have pulled back, he leans into the stupid going all in as Gargamel. So many years of voicing cartoon characters will do that to you. At least he’s having fun. And Frank Welker I love you.
But I hate this movie.
Pirates of Penzance, 1983, Written and Directed by Wilford Leach based upon the Gilbert & Sullivan opera.
Fuck yeah I love this movie.(fuck yeah on a G rated film. oh no!) Back on the podcast about Christmas movies, Kim said she loved old school musicals made on obvious sound-stages. (listen here). No, this isn’t a Christmas movie, but it is so obviously a sound-stage. This creates such a great look to the film. Based upon the 1982 Broadway update, it uses the stage production very literally, we often feel we’re watching a stage version of the comic-opera. It’s a brilliant choice. Not only does it allow us to see an altered Broadway show, it pushes the focus where it should be – on the actors and the songs. Attempting to go big, breaking down the walls, can lose that focus. In addition, it builds the performers, allowing them to be just as big, and often deliciously hammy, as would be on stage. (Compare the Hairspray film from 2006. Good movie, but so low energy compared to the stage version).
Wanna talk ham? Kevin Kline. Kevin Kline kills it. His Pirate King still tosses the energy to the backrow, never mind the walls of Shepperton Studios surrounding him. His vocal inflections combined with a psychical performance with a rubber face steal the show. On physical – the constables! The lead constable with his gangling limbs thrown through eh air as he dances through Tarantula Taruntula with wild abandon is hilarious. Angela Lansbury is Angela Lansbury, damn I love her. The only real downside is Rex Smith as the protagonist, he’s overshadowed by everyone one else around him. Hard to blame him. I can’t believe this is Linda Ronstadt’s only film role. (No song about Mr Plow, sorry “Simpsons” fans).
Tonight’s viewing was my second viewing of one of my wife’s favorite childhood movies. Coming in for the first time six years ago. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t expect such a hilarious film. Between the dialog and the whimsical book and score from Gilbert and Sullivan, the story and film is wonderfully irrelevant with both word play and physical gags. I thought “opera. okay ready for a slog” and was wowed. Check it out, you will be too!
How to Talk to Girls at Parties, 2018. Written by Phillipa Gossett & John Cameron Mitchell from the Neil Gaiman short story. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell.
Review by Bob
Sigh. I love so many people involved with this film. My favorite author, Neil Gaiman short story! John Cameron Mitchell of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (you’ve not seen it? GO NOW RENT WATCH LOVE DOWNLOAD THE SOUNDTRACK LISTEN TO FOREVER). Nicole Kidman punked up? Ruth Wilson, looking like a lost extra from a Stanley Kubrick film? (Hey, both Mrs. Coulter’s from His Dark Materials adaptations – Kidman from the movie, Wilson from the up-coming BBC take). Elle Fanning!
But this is weird, but not the good weird. You guys know I love when movies get weird. But this is the type of weird where one wonders from set “what the hell is going on?” The story find a trio of English punks in 1977 who come across a hundred tourist aliens and our lead meets a disenchanted alien played by Elle Fanning. Coming of age built into alien experiences life of Earth time of movie.
As mentioned with Ruth Wilson, I both loved the alien’s costume choices being straight form a Kubrick flick, but also feels like just going nuts.
The main issue is it’s never quite sure on tone and where it’s going at any particular part. Mitchell is usually a steady director, but he has chosen to film and edit in a very obnoxious matter. It just doesn’t feel natural, instead forced overly done.
Escape Room – Reviewed by Bob, Tony, Kim, and Cody here.
Hell’s Kitty – Reviewed by Kim and Cody here.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, 2018. Written by S. Craig Zahler, from characters created by Charles Band & Kenneth Hall. Directed by Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund
Review by Bob
It’s weird to have a Puppet Master film be pretty damned good on it’s own, not as fun cheapie shlock cinema. That’s not to say Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a great, award winning film. It’s not. But for those wanting a fun, well-made gorefest with awesome puppetry will be for a good time. I was. (I realize I’m kinda slagging on the original series in this review – I admit I do really enjoy them, but they are not quality movies)
With more of a budget and a decent script, the reboot of the beloved (to some) Full Moon series no longer looks cheap and made over a weekend. The best result of this quality bump are the puppets and the gore. I think they’re mostly still physical, with some CG touch-ups but I could be wrong. But they look damned good, moving smoothly and in the same shot as what they are attacking, instead of oddly composited in. Part of me does miss the stuttery stop-motion but I can always go back to the other films. The best kills of the series are found here. Buckets of blood in the couple of dozen bodies.
I had a great time with the reboot of the Puppet Master series. My only real issues is cutting off the climax with a “To Be Continued…” and the holocaust tie ins seems a little tone-deaf.
For what it is, I give it a B.
Holmes & Watson, 2018; written by Etan Cohen based upon the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle characters; directed by Etan Cohen. Starring Will Ferrell and John C Reilly, Ralph Fiennes
Review by Bob
So I start the year with what is noted to be one of the worst of last year. Roll out my ones, anyone? Start low so everything else this year can be better, perhaps?
In the week since Holmes & Watson was released, it has already gained notoriety for a level of badness unexpected for Ferrell and Reilly. After the hilarious hits of Talladega Nights and Step-Brothers, there had to be something that works here?
Almost. So, Holmes & Watson isn’t as excuciatingly bad as I expected it to be. Oh Bowie, it’s bad, don’t get me wrong, but it was more of a shrug eh than head desking.
There are some good ideas for gags here. Watson being dumbed down, completely fooled by a simple costume, Watson’s intense desire for Queen Victoria, Mycroft Holme’s club having a sidekick room with some weirdos in it. All these and some others had potential, but the delivery isn’t there. I can see John and Will trying, but for some reason Will has a godawful accent that flattens any sort of joke he attempts. Whether he chose said accent or it was forced by the director I don’t know, but either way it was a bad choice. Instead, most of the jokes just land with a dull thud. There is too much reliance of referencing future things that is so oddy worded to get to the joke it’s awkward. Thus, ideas without good enough writing to get them there. Cohen previously wrote Idiocracy and Tropic Thunder, so he has ability. Just not here.
There is a feeling with better direction, we might have a decently funny movie. As it stands, everyone is wasted. I never felt more sorry for Kelly MacDonald. She is so uncomfortable and out of place. She’s a great actress (see this year’s Puzzle) but she’s not known for comedy. This may be why. Rebecca Hall doesn’t fair better. and poor poor Lauren Lipkas, forced to make broad mugging faces for most of her screen time.
Earlier I mentioned Watson being dumbed down. That’s only partially true. His, and Holmes, intellignce levels depend from scene to scene. Sometimes, they are the brilliant characters from the stories. Othertimes, dumb as bricks. All to suit the story and “joke” needs.
Holmes & Watson is a comedic misfire. A handful of minor laughs, and ideas that could have paid off are not worth the time to watch. A waste of all the comic talent involved. Hell, I’m leaving it to now to mention Ralph Fiennes is in it for about 3 lines and two scenes. How?
I give it an : F