Sometimes when I'm writing this column, I'll stick my headphones on and listen to music. Other times, I'll surf until I find a movie on, turn the volume down and leave it on as background noise.
There are times when that backfires and I get sucked into the movie. That's generally when I send the column to the boss at 2am, and it leads to a bad Monday.
It happened to me with this. Got home from the store and Steph and the baby were in the back of the house somewhere. Stomp the Yard was on the screen. I turned it down, but I didn't change the channel.
Stomp the Yard is not one of those kinds of movies I make time for when they it hits theaters. I'm just not into dancing movies. Step Up, Save the Last Dance ... not into them. They all have similar story lines, and there are probably enough of them to constitute their own genre.
Stomp the Yard... feels like a movie I've seen a hundred times before. Hell, it's pretty much exactly Drumline with step dancing replacing drumming.
I sound like I'm bagging on it, but I'm not. I ended up watching the whole movie, and even enjoyed it. What can I say? My standards are lower when I'm sitting in my comfy leather chair and the movie is sorta free (sure, I'm paying for the cable, but still).
Stomp the Yard on cable. Not so bad.
Here's the real story behind that, however. The movies I watched last weekend didn't inspire me to write, so I was procrastinating. I didn't like what I did watch, so I wasn't in a hurry to write the reviews.
I thought I'd hit three movies. That's something I don't do much anymore.
I don't have time for it.
Ballerinas (which opens at the Circle this weekend), Observe and Report and Dragonball: Evolution.
I made it through two before I tapped out. I can only handle so much of things-I-don't-want-to-watch in one weekend.
Used to be when I'd see a really bad movie, I'd get excited. Used to be, I enjoyed nothing more than ripping on a bad movie. Times change. Now I sort of take bad movies personally, like they're robbing me. It's not fun. It's revenge.
I like documentaries. A quality doc is just as good a cinematic experience as a feature. Hell, sometimes documentaries are better than features. You don't have to worry about bad acting and dumb lines.
Typically, the best docs are made for theaters. Not to say there haven't been good ones on the tube, but by and large, the good ones are prepped for viewing on the big screen.
Furthermore, a good documentary is never hampered by the viewer's lack of knowledge of its subject. A good documentary is compelling and informative, perhaps even dramatic, and the viewer need not bring with her an appreciation of the subject matter.
Ballerinas is not that kind of documentary.
I've already sort of called my credibility into question above by stating I really don't care for dance-centered films. A good documentary could overcome this by being compelling and informative.
It didn't. I had a hard time giving it my full attention, and while I'll lay at least part of that at the feet of my complete and utter lack of interest in the subject matter, I still believe a good film could've overcome that. I've watched many a documentary about things I could care less about and still enjoyed the experience.
Not this time. Ballerinas was made for television in 2006 and features a voice-over that sounds like it was done by a reporter for 60 Minutes.
The film interviews five ballerinas from the famous Kirov ballet troupe in Russia. It gives you a first-hand perspective of what it's like to be an elite dancer of this type. In that, at least, the "film" does a decent job. After watching this, you'll definitely have an appreciation of what it takes to be a prima ballerina.
But it did not pull me in. I watched a screener of the film and found myself wanting to pick up the laptop and check my email, or longingly rubbing the paperback I'm reading.
I think, honestly, this doc is lost on me because of my complete and utter lack of interest in the subject matter. But I was also turned off by the bad voice-over narration and the production values. I understand it was a made-for-TV doc. I'd have preferred something more ambitious.
That said, I think there's good content to be had here if you're into ballet, and that you should not let my disparaging comments dissuade you from checking it out should that be in your area of interest.
And that's about as nice as I can be toward Ballerina.
Good gravy, I almost walked out of another movie. In fact, the only reason I didn't is was because it hasn't been very long since the last one, and I didn't want to start a trend. Four walk-outs in 10 years sort of make those films special in a sucktacular kind of way.
This one, Observe and Report, will just have to go down as one of those I should've walked out on but didn't.
I keep saying this, and I realize it starts to sound like a broken record, but bad comedies are some of the worst films around. And yeah, I get that funny is subjective, perhaps more so than any other movie trait. But there ought to be more to a good comedy than just gags. That's the reason stuff like The 40-Year-Old Virgin stands out from the crowd. There's a story there. Real characters. The gags are that much funnier because there's something substantial for them to play off of.
With Observe and Report, there's no core. There's just a pile of stupid crap wrapped around what appears to be an amateur film. I'm not really sure how they even landed Seth Rogen. I wonder if his agent is just saying yes to every script thrown his way at this point in an attempt to cash in while the gettin's good.
Seth, buddy, if Judd Apatow isn't involved, neither should you bestay out.
I guess I just expected more after the last few movies I've seen him in. Bigger budget at least. This looks like a Kevin Smith movie, and that's not a compliment.
Observe and Report is the story of Ronnie (Rogen), the head of Mall mall Security security at the tree-themed-named mall he lords over. He has a foul mouth and a Napoleon complex, which isn't helped by the fact that he's bi-polar and not terribly bright to begin with.
Things get bad at the mall quickly. A flasher starts showing his wares to women in the parking lot. The cops are called in. Ronnie bristles at this threat to his jurisdiction and vows to find the deviant and bring him to mall justice.
Mall justice in this case is whatever Ronnie feels it should be. He is the master of his domain, and under his charge are is a band of other mentally challenged misfits. There's a set of twin nerds, a Mexican guy named Dennis who's always Ronnie's best friend and then a new guy whose name I can't remember.
Ronnie has the hots for Brandi (Anna Faris), the hottest girl in the mall. For her part, she can't stand Ronnie, but that doesn't keep him from trying. Being oblivious helps.
Ronnie ratchets up his game when Brandi is flashed, going so far as to question the competency of the police officers assigned to the case.
After a head-to-head with lead detective Harrison (Ray Liotta), Ronnie decides what he really wants out of life is to be a cop, even if the idea came to him because Harrison told him he was too dumb to ever be one.
Stuff plays out from there.
Watching this movie reminded me of The Love Guru. You have a normally charismatic and funny actor playing a character that just doesn't work, and the result is excruciating. Painful, even.
And the character does not work. Not even a little. No one is this damned out of touch with reality are they? And if they are, is that really funny? I don't see how it is.
Not 20 minutes into the film, I thought about leaving. It required an act of will to keep me in the seat. The film just isn't funny. It's just so damn dumb and annoying. It was the cinematic equivalent of rubbing your knuckle with coarse grain sandpaper for 90 minutes.
The script is crap. It's one long series of bad vignettes with marginal dialogue and a laugh here and there. Swing and a miss.
And then there's the look and feel of the film. The set reminded me of that from Mallrats -- again, not a good thing. Cheap. The direction seemed more suited to television. Again, painful. The whole production reeks of amateur hour.
I hated it.
See you next week.
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