Busy Guy reviews
2006 Movies on DVD
These days so many of us prefer the home movie viewing experience. The cinema is costly, noisy, too loud, too cold and not altogether enjoyable. Home theaters have become remarkably sophisticated and surprisingly affordable. We no longer have to leave the building because movies can be delivered directly to our door! Some films are undiscovered gems and others are well... not. Here's a few favorites and more (83 films).
Material Girls - The Duff sisters in a riches-to-rags-to-riches story. I'm a sucker for clean, fresh hotties. Angelica Huston is always foreboding. Light, preposterous entertainment with but a single cursing.
The Devil Wears Prada - A big screen 'Ugly Betty'. Vicious back biters. Unhealthy obsessions. Quick, subtle humor. Not as much fun as I hoped. Great cast.
You, Me and Dupree - A very good cast and a pretty good film. Kate Hudson (always likeable) and Owen Wilson have an obvious chemistry. We all know a Dupree at some point in life. Besides, I love a happy ending!
Miami Vice - This treatment does resemble the original 80's TV series. It's much more violent (lots of shots to the head). A number of ridiculous ploys ("Did you order a pizza?"). It cost twice as much as to make as it grossed internationally so we won't be seeing a sequel.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - Certainly if you liked the first one this appeal to you as well. Plenty of very humorous asides from Depp. The plot shifts and twists and is sometimes awkward to follow but it's a fun ride.
Ice Age II: The Meltdown - Returning animations are known quantities. A good script. Expanded from volume one to include a female mammoth. I liked it.
The Da Vinci Code - A fabulous and complicated book poorly translated for the screen. Would have been more interesting without a big star. Not an actioner, but a history lesson. Plenty of sub-titles.
Cars - You won't believe how engaging this animation can be! It's a story that harkens back to the early days of cinema. No humans, every character is a car. Highly emotional with good character arcs and engaging personalities. I was pleasantly surprised, perhaps you will too.
An American Haunting - Immensely frightening in the tradition of 'the Exorcist'. A good cast dons early American garb and enjoins the special effects crew to be amazing. Way too intense for young viewers.
Mission Impossible III - Not a big Tom Cruise fan. This edition is easier to follow than the others and possibly the most interesting. A big budget blockbuster that lost money in the end. Note to Tom: stay off the furniture!
Monster House - Yet another computer animated 'cartoon'. It took several viewing attempts to get through this one. Seems to me that it would have been better as live action since the writing is pretty snappy. But then you couldn't have an enraged house tramping through the neighborhood.
Click - Adam Sandler is no actor and there is an unbearable sameness to his work. You can expect a good deal of low brow 'Will Ferrell' style humor. Fortunately this film features the lovely Kate Beckinsale (not enough screen time). A good concept with a happy ending swung wildly off balance.
Over the Hedge - Maybe it's me but the current glut of computer animation has taken it's toll. Even formerly cuddly creatures lose some appeal. In this particular movie the animated faces seem to stretch and wobble unnaturally when they're not unusually stiff. Contrived, predictable.
A Prairie Home Companion - Based on the wildly popular radio broadcast of the same name. Several big name actors. If you like the show you'll like the film. It was tough to get through his movie since nothing ever really happens.
X-Men III - I know this was a long awaited sequel. I have a fondness for this series and was eager for the release. I was a bit disappointed with all the pyrotechnics. They were done well but seemed over the top. The series doesn't set up the next several movies about Magneto. Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan and Rebecca Romijn have already signed on board for a 2007 release date. I watched the whole thing but was eager for it to end.
The Lake House - Two likable stars in a difficult story that never really fits together. Trim little Sandra isn't so trim anymore... she's almost matronly. The constant leaping between years becomes tiresome. Good performances rescue a weak script.
'Rome' - This HBO series on multiple discs is a true find. The same realism brought to the 'Sopranos' can be expected here. It's a stunning exploration of the historical drama that was the Roman Empire replete with debauchery and brutality.
'An Unfinished Life' - Redford, Lopez and Morgan Fairchild make for powerful presence. A nice young beginner and 'Bart 2' the bear. Highly emotional. No non-sense justice from Redford's laconic rancher. A satisfying film.
'Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit! - Funnier than you might expect. Highly inventive. True artistry in the tradition of 'Mr. Bill'. Well written, very charming.
'Running Scared' - Disturbing. No obscenity overlooked. Pointlessly violent and gory. A sudden reversal. One particularly disturbing segment.
'She's the Man' - An old premise gets the modern treatment. Amanda Bynes is an improbable guy and there's the laugh. It's filled with quick asides and snappy dialogue. Of course in real life you would be arrested for these things. Anyway, I'm a sucker for the happy ending!
'The Matador' - Pierce Brosnan plays against type in this uneven blend of good natured vulgarity. An aging hitman befriends a struggling milquetoast and with no character arch!
'Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang' - If you liked 'Pulp Fiction' and other such genre you'll love this. A bit gory, excess cursing, gritty in the extreme. Complicated and sometimes gross.
'Failure to Launch' - Better than I thought. Trailers didn't present the story very well. A few nice directorial touches especially towards the end. Beware of small animals!
'Nanny McPhee' - Mary Poppins without the music and a few nice twists. If you liked 'Matilda' this is for you. Magic and mayhem and plenty of charming British accents. Much of the cast from 'Love Actually'.
'Syriana' - Complicated, duplicitous take on the Middle East. Desperate people in a gritty environment. Pay careful attention or you miss storylines. Hard to watch.
'Aquamarine' - Fluffy and fun. Lots of pretty, young tweens that squeak and wreak of valley girl humor. A good film to watch with the kids on a rainy afternoon. You might even meet the next 'Lindsay Lohan'.
'Everything is Illuminated' - Sometimes a humorous culture clash but for the most part it is immensely saddening. Yet even so the film manages to leave you upbeat. Subtitles. I liked it but it's not for everyone.
'Last Holiday' - Quean Latifah proves again that she possesses an engaging screen presence. Similar to an old Jerry Lewis movie plot. It's touching and fun with a good blend of sentiment.
'Matchpoint' - Not the usual Woody Allen fare. It's not fun. If anything it resembles the work of Roman Polanski. Glands rule.
'Cheaper by the Dozen 2' - Uneven sequel with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. Any excuse to wreak havoc on a quiet lake and the competitive neighbors. A few laughs but mostly ludicrous.
'Zathura' - 'Jumanji' in space. Two estranged brothers, a mystical board game and the completion thereof make for a fun filled ride especially if you happen to be a kid.
'The Family Stone' - Uncomplicated 40's style family Christmas with updated topics and a near all-star cast. Not terribly funny, no grand character arch though it does resolve with a star and a tear.
'The Thing About My Parents' - Paul Reiser with Peter Falk. Near grasps at real emotional depth but not quite. Dad and Son bonding is good but ultimately reaches out in only the broadest sense. No laughing, no tears.
'Fun with Dick and Jane' - A fun, timely film. Plenty of Jim Carrey's mugging for the camera. There is no grand symbolism or deeper meaning. Just enjoy the outrageous ride.
'Memoirs of a Geisha' - A gorgeous production. Tragic and beautiful. Laced with longing and fine detail. An era of sublime artistry and cruelty ends with an occupation and surrender.
'Just Friends' - A date movie. No longer an awkward teen, our hero returns home to win the girl he loved but never had. With only a few additional moments of teen angst it's perfect for the WB. Some fun.
'Chicken Little' - A collection of movie satires form the body of this CGI flick. It lacks the emotional depth of similar genre and there are no truly adorable characters. Kids may enjoy it despite a serious lack of balance.
'A History of Violence' - This is a brutal and disturbing film. Despite a bucolic existence this Indiana family is contaminated by remorseless volatility. The true horror lay not the graphic depictions of violence, but rather the sad, inescapable awakening of cognizance.
'Doom' - If you're a fan of the 'Alien' saga you may like this as well. It's more of a video game (since that is the premise). The trouble is that the entire film is pointless, gory and badly written. Rosamund Pike (from 'Die Another Day') delivers a lame American accent when she isn't screaming.
'Just Like Heaven' - If you like romantic comedies stemming from initial conflict and proceed through self-discovery, bonding, separation and reconciliation (in that order) this film is for you. This movie is touching mostly because Reese Witherspoon is always pleasing.
'The Fog' - Much better than the original release that featured Adrienne Barbeau. The story is presented with more continuity and the effects compliment the plot. No doubt Tom Welling misses his super powers!
'The Chumscrubber' - The lost generation meets Wisteria Lane! A funeral on one side of the street, a wedding on the other. The only one to make it out okay is the misfit.
'Flightplan' - An in flight suspense tale similar to the Wes Craven movie 'Red Eye'. The first hour drags on so slowly, the last 30 minutes are frantic action. Characters are poorly developed. But Jodie Foster and Sean Bean go a long way to pull this flick out of the alley and place it into your lap.
'Lord of War' - We follow a single shell from construction to detonation. A powerful story of one slippery arms merchant and the lives affected. An all too true and realistic story of greed and governments, politics and fear.
'The Transporter 2' - I give this a star firstly because it has some of the most imaginative if implausible stunt work ever committed to film. Secondly because it was filmed here in Miami. It's wildly predictable and yet has an engaging quality mostly due to the code of behavior employed by our lead character (who never uses a gun). It's rather like James Bond without the gadgets. A fun ride.
'Wedding Crashers' - A huge box office success. The DVD includes added scenes. Vaughn and Wilson make a good comedy team. There are a number of cameo appearances including Will Farrell so you know there's a good deal of low brow humor. I thought it was okay, you'll have to judge for yourself.
'The Cave' - 'The Relic', 'Pitch Black' and 'The Deep' all rolled together. It's filmed entirely with flashlights and so quite dark. The group of divers is picked off one by one just as in any 'slasher' movie. You've seen it before, the question is: do you want to see it again?
'The Constant Gardner' - A complex story told in flashback. The timely tale of a simple man who tries to piece together the death... and lives of his wife. Corporate intrigue and third world economics collide. Perhaps most significantly the story never concludes.
MISSES - Some films didn't connect with me or perhaps it was the reverse. 'Underworld: Evolution', 'The Producers', 'Rumor Has It', 'Brave New World', 'Aeon Flux', 'The Weatherman', 'Two for the Money', 'Underclassmen', 'Hustle and Flow', 'Thumbsucker', 'In Her Shoes', 'Cake', 'Yours Mine and Ours', 'Waiting', 'Eight Below', 'Benchwarmers', 'Prime', 'Tristan and Isolde', 'V for Vendetta', 'Shaggy Dog', Ultraviolet', 'The Sentinel', 'Silent Hill', 'Poseidon', 'RV', 'Pride and Prejudice', 'High School Movie', 'The Break Up', 'The Lost City', 'My Super Ex-Girlfriend', 'Lady in the Water', 'Scoop', 'The Descent',' Pulse',