I don’t remember hearing many good things about The Raven. I also don’t remember hearing any particularly negative things, but that’s not really a great sign either, is it? But, being a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe’s in high school and loving John Cusack from movies like High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank so when I saw The Raven pop up on Netflix Instant, I figured I’d give it a watch anyway. And, you know what? I liked it!
Now, it’s important to frame this movie in a particular way to really enjoy it. First, this is not a biopic. The less you know about Poe the better. I knew very little, so that worked out for me. I also liked thinking of Cuasack as doing a bit of a Nic Cage impression while doing his scenes because he’s got an over-the-top quality that might encapsulate Poe pretty well, I’m not really sure.
So, here’s the plot. Edgar Allen Poe is asked by the Baltimore police to help them solve a rash of murders that take some of their cues from Poe’s stories. He’s towards the end of his career and having some real writers block, so he’s kind of a washed up has-been at this point, but after convincing the cops he’s not the killer himself, he gets involved in trying to not only find the killer but also his girlfriend played by Alice Eve who the killer kidnapped.
I’ve got to say, I was a little surprised at how gruesome some of the kills were, especially the one based around The Pit And The Pendulum. I guess I don’t expect that much from big-ish budget Hollywood movies like that, but it was kind of cool to see. The movie isn’t exactly soaked in blood, but it’s there. More so, it depends on the psychological thrills and craziness, especially in the films final moments which were pretty intense.
At it’s heart, The Raven is a fairly simple whodunit mixed with cat-and-mouse but framed in a fairly interesting locale and wrapped in the familiar tropes of Poe. I think if you’re a fan of those kinds of films and you go into this movie with a fairly open mind — or at least few preconceptions — you’ll have a good time with this one.
She’s Out Of My League is an uneven, somewhat familiar, not always well-paced movie that plays with and yet also follows romantic comedy tropes, but I’ll tell you what, I laughed HARD throughout the movie. As you can probably tell by any amount of previews, commercials or posters, the plot follows Jay Baruchel’s geeky Kirk as he begins a relationship with the super hot Alice Eve’s Molly. Like all movies of this type, Kirk talks to his friends (who work with him at the airport) who try to encourage him and also warn him that she’s too hot and will dump him. As you might expect, Kirk’s insecurities lead him to screw things up with Molly, but they get back together by the end of the movie thanks to a chase through an airport.
But even with all that, I dug this movie. I’m a fan of Baruchel’s twitchy acting style and love how well he can do wide-eyed wonder (like when Molly takes him to a hockey game and the players know her). Eve does well, though I wish she would have just been able to talk with her British accent. I would imagine hot British people make their way to Pittsburgh occasionally. Kirk’s friends are also pretty hilarious, especially Nate Torrence as Devon who loves Aladdin, love and even helps Kirk with some manscaping that had me laughing my ass off. There’s also Jack, who doesn’t seem very important in the beginning and comes back later with some good advice (hence the uneven comment above) and Stainer who had me rolling, but also seemed a little too much like a combination of John Heder and Seth Rogen.
A few other favorite scenes include Stainer giving a bowler some shit for getting uptight when Kirk accidentally goes to bowl at the same time as him, Patty’s profanity laden one-liners (which are funny but make her a little one dimensional) and the fact that Stainer is in a Hall and Oats cover band (though that had whispers of Saving Silverman, hence the familiar comment above). Oh, also, I didn’t think of it when the male characters were first introduced as airport employees, but it made sense by the end when Kirk’s about to leave and Molly comes back and they need to get him off the plane. This is literally the only way this scene could play out anymore and I thought it was clever that the writers worked the film out around that and made it believable.
So, no, it’s not a perfect movie and you won’t be blown away by it’s originality, but She’s Out Of My League was a great way to spend an hour and forty minutes and had me laughing more times than not, so it was worth the watch in my mind. It’s not as good as some of the Apatow movies or the Frat Pack flicks, but it was worth the rental on Netflix.