Smokin’ Aces (2006)

2009-01-30
12:27:45 am

I really, REALLY wanted to like Smokin’ Aces when it came out in 2006. A bunch of us from Wizard were so psyched that we went to see it in the theater and man was I disappointed. I wanted so much for it to be this awesome battle of crazy hired killers killing each other at breakneck speeds. But, that’s not exactly what we got.

So, like I said I was disappointed. But sometimes I don’t like something because it doesn’t match up to my expectations, not necessarily because it’s a bad piece of work. For instance I hated Superman Returns when I first watched it. That sure as heck isn’t the Superman I’ve been reading about since I was a kid (the same reason I don’t like the original Superman movies either, but that’s a discussion for another time). But, upon further viewings I like the movie more. I’m not in love with it (Superman has a KID!) and it’s not even close to my top 20 (maybe even 50) comic based movies. I don’t really agree with the director or writers choices, but it’s a well put together movie.

I can’t say that’s the same case with Aces, though. The movie suffers from all kinds of pacing issues and an overwhelming amount of information, characters and business. Plus, you’ve got the bid end twist (which is incredibly telegraphed, too much I’d say) and then the VERY end is just ridiculous (why the heck would they let him in the room?). The alternate “Cowboy Ending” makes a LOT more sense, though it wouldn’t have made up for the whole thing. I feel like there’s a really good story in there somewhere, but frankly, it’s buried under a mountain of other unnecessary bits of business. The last 20-30 minutes have so many head-slapping and scratching moments that it really kills the movie.

There are some fun moments and bits that have more to do with casting and coincidence than the story. The redneck brothers have a pretty cool shoot-out with blades, guns, a rocket launcher (?) and a chainsaw that’s too short, but still great. Basically, it’s what you expect from the whole movie, but it only lasts a few minutes and resolves itself oddly. Aside from that and one other shoot-out, though, the movie lacks action. It doesn’t lack an awesome cast though. Here’s a brief list: Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, Common, Andy Garcia, Nestor Carbonell, Jason “Everything’s Better with Bateman” Bateman and even a small roll for Matthew Fox.

Oh, and those redneck brothers I mentioned? They’re made up of Keamy from Lost, Kirk from the new Trek movie and another guy. Yup that makes THREE Lost cast members in the flick and I still didn’t like it. What are the odds?!

All this being said, I would definitely check out the rumored sequel called Smokin’ Aces: Blowback, though I probably won’t shell out $10 again to see it in the theater. For my money, I’d rather check out a Shoot Em Up sequel, because that movie was exactly what I wanted it to be.

Showing My "O" Face

2008-07-30
1:27:35 am

So, the wife had to work on Saturday. Bummer for her, good for my movie watching. I got to flipping through my DVD binder (hey, gotta conserve space, right?) and I got to the O’s. We were flipping through channels the night before and caught the beginning of Old School, the part where Luke Wilson comes home early and his wife has some people over for a little group sex (can I say that?). The way they edited it to cut out all the boobs was pretty funny. So, that made me want to watch it again. After that I still had a little time so I popped on Office Space.

Back in college I watched Old School a lot. I was actually in a fraternity at the time called Alpha Sigma Phi. Before you start making rash judgments (hey, I made the same ones before I met these guys) this isn’t the kind of fraternity you see on TV in movies (like Old School) or hear about on the news. Anyway, a large group of us went to see Old School when it came out and it quickly worked its way into my life. I had actually forgotten how many of the little things I say come from this flick. (“Good talk, see you out there” “earmuffs” just to name two.)

The other thing that surprised me about Old School is how many guys in it have kind of blown up. The dude who plays Spanish is on Reaper and one of the dudes is on Big Bang Theory (a great show if you haven’t seen it). There’s more, but I’ve forgotten them. It’s been a few days.

I’ve seen most (maybe all) of the Frat Pack movies since this one and I’ve got to say, only Wedding Crashers comes close to Old School. There’s just something about the combination of Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn that lights up the screen with comedy fireworks. Add in director Todd Phillips and you’ve got comedy gold. I’m hoping the oft-rumored sequel goes through.

When it came out, the comedy landscape wasn’t looking too good. We’d weathered the storm of bad teen comedies, bad spoof flicks and studio-churned lameo comedy and Old School was our gift. I’d like to think it paved the way for Judd Apatow and his crew as well, which is awesome cause I can’t freaking wait for Pineapple Express to come out.

So, like I said, after I peeped Old School I moved on to Office Space which is great for anyone whose ever had a job. You can’t watch it without being reminded of SOMEONE you work with. Yeah, you know it’s true, unless you’re the person yourself. Anyway, it’s nice to watch someone break out of the corporate mold and have some fun even if it involves crime. It’s like a funny Wanted (the comic) without all the unnecessary violence and sexual assault.

Office Space is another one of those movies with a slew of catch phrases and tag lines. The first time I saw it I actually came in 15 minutes late and just though he decided to not go to work (instead of the hypnosis thing from the guy who used to be on Whose Line is It Anyway). It was still good even missing the beginning. Oh, I also liked Jen Aniston, even though she’s basically playing the same part she’s been playing since Leprechaun (and on into Friends). And finally, Diedrich Bader, who I just interviewed for ToyFare #135 (he’s the voice of Batman in the upcoming Brave and the Bold, which looks rad) rocks the house as Lawrence the neighbor who’d do two chicks if he was given a million bucks. Go Lawrence.

Well, I think that about wraps up my ramblings on the subjects. Thanks for paying attention.

A Double Feature for the Ages: PCU (1994) & The Boondock Saints (1999)

2008-07-07
2:37:26 am

The other night (Wednesday I think), I decided to get caught up on my movies from Blockbuster so I watched a double feature of PCU (1994) and The Boondock Saints (1999). Now, these two flicks don’t have anything in common (trust me I looked), but I really enjoyed re-watching both movies.

 

PCU’s about this high school senior (pre-frosh) who comes to visit a college (based on Wesleyan from what I’ve read), but instead of staying in the dorms, he ends up in a place called The Pit that used to be a fraternity house back in the day, but is now co-ed housing. We had something like this at my college, they were called SLUs (for “single living units,” I think). Anyway, the blind dude from Becker signed Jeremy Piven (who even then, looked about 30) up to house a pre-frosh, but he’s having none of it. After the usual “introducing the new kid to all the different groups on campus” scene (I still love those scenes, even long after high school and college), the pre-frosh successfully pisses off each and every highly-sensitive group and minority on campus. Meanwhile, David Spade plays a yuppie who belongs to the fraternity that used to live in The Pit. He’s conspiring with the president of the school to get The Pitters kicked out of their place. All of this leads to a killer party at The Pit (so they can raise money to keep their house) where George Clinton and Parliament/The P-Funk All-Stars play. Then they ruin the bicentennial thingy so the dean gets fired. Basically, the whole idea is that being overly politically correct (hence PCU) actually separates people instead of bringing them together. Oh, and that beer and funk solves everything.

I remember watching this flick on Comedy Central back in the day. I’m not sure if it was on the T & A Matinee that they used to do right around the time I got home from grade school (excellent scheduling CC!) or just on the pre-South Park station, but I saw it a lot. And it made me want to go to college. It was a lot of fun watching the movie post-college because, even though the movies about 15 years old by now, there’s still a lot of truth in the cartoony antics. Oh, it’s also a lot of fun watching it and calling out different people. One of the guys from Big Love is in it, so is Gary Busey’s son Jake. Oh, also, Zak Penn of X-Men movie writing fame go-wrote this movie. That’s awesome. If you haven’t checked out PCU, I highly recommend it.

Which brings me to Boondock Saints which is a flick about two Irish brothers in Southie (that’s in Boston, kids) who decide to become vigilantes and kill bad dudes in their neighborhood. One of the mob bosses isn’t too thrilled about this, so he arranges for an incredibly dangerous hitman that goes by the name Il Duce (played by the second teacher from Head of the Class Billy Connelly) to kill the brothers. Oh, duh, Willem Dafoe plays an FBI agent trying to figure out who’s killing these bad guys. He’s like a profiler I guess. They shoot the scenes pretty interestingly, basically they show the brothers about to kill somebody, then jump to the aftermath when Dafoe shows up. Dafoe then re-imagines the whole thing, at one point, even acting like a conductor. It’s a hard thing to explain, but it was pretty cool to see.

I was kind of surprised about the reaction I got to my friends when I told them I re-watched Saints. I really enjoyed the movie (in the same way you enjoy a good Punisher comic, who doesn’t like watching bad guys get wasted? especially when the guys doing it are just so damn likeable), but when I mentioned it to a few of my friends they said they didn’t like it very much. But it wasn’t really the movie they disliked but the hype that surrounded it. I only ever had two people tell me I should watch it, so I didn’t realize there was such a huge cult following around the movie comparing it to Pulp Fiction (which I would definitely not do). So, I suggested they check it out again, like I suggest all of you to check it out. I’m also excited to see the long-planned sequel that may or may not ever happen. Heck, I’d even check out a comic based on The Boondock Saints.