Inside Pulse » Steve Coogan A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Tue, 02 Sep 2014 23:00:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Steve Coogan First Clip, Poster From Despicable Me 2 Released Mon, 20 May 2013 08:00:56 +0000 The first clip and poster from Despicable Me 2 have been released. You can view them below.


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Ruby Sparks – Review (2) Sat, 04 Aug 2012 18:43:40 +0000
Endearing film tainted by unearned ending

Warning: This review contains heavy spoilers.

Ruby Sparks is a wonderfully likable film. It’s hard not to fall in love with the title character, a construct of an author’s imagination brought to life and made flesh. The writing, the performances, the beautiful music from musician Nick Urata – all work together to create a movie that’s impossibly cute. Impossible being the operative word. The film takes a surprising turn into some very dark material and, in the end, never successfully pulls itself out of the muck – resulting in a movie whose its sweet flavor has an overpoweringly bitter aftertaste.

Paul Dano stars as Calvin, a young author and high school dropout, who after experiencing an initial great success in his career has floundered to recapture the magic. Calvin’s life is a mess – he’s not quite recovered from a traumatic breakup, his therapy sessions with his doctor (played by the great Elliott Gould) very often veer into the unhealthy and the deepest relationship he has is with his dog and that relationship is a troubled one at best.

While struggling to find the story for his new novel, Calvin begins to dream of a girl named Ruby Sparks. Ruby is Calvin’s dream girl and her personality and existence is clearly the product of a troubled mind. A mess of idiosyncrasies and faults, Ruby is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the first order and it is this vibrancy that Calvin becomes infatuated with. As Calvin begins writing about Ruby – obsessively due to his desire to spend time with her and writing being the only outlet for that desire – something magic happens: Ruby is summoned into existence.

Ruby Sparks is a fantasy but not one that chooses to dwell in the “how” or the “why” – instead focusing on the consequences that come with a fantasy realized. Ruby Sparks is played by Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the film’s screenplay. Kazan is a fresh, energetic personality and does an impressive job at helping to sell the fact that Ruby, despite all her issues, is a woman you can’t help but fall in love with. (Interesting bit of trivia – this is not the first time directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have worked with the concept of a dream girl with a healthy set of issues. More than ten years ago, they directed the music video for The Offspring song “She’s Got Issues” which starred the ultimate in Manic Pixie Dream Girls, Zooey Deschanel in one of her first acting roles.)

As Ruby Sparks, Kazan is the girl next door every straight male has dreamed about at one point in their life. She’s beautiful, down-to-earth, devoted and forgiving. She fits in perfectly with Calvin’s family (made up of great actors delivering great performances including Antonio Banderas, Annette Benning, Chris Messina and Toni Trucks) and she is dedicated to the idea of loving Calvin forever. Calvin, who has had limited experience with women, at first thrives under his relationship with Ruby. He begins dressing better, has stronger relationships with his family as a byproduct and begins to live the life he’s neglected for so long. This sweetness reminiscent of so many romantic comedies doesn’t last though – peering out from behind the curtains is a deep, chasm of darkness that threatens to swallow the film whole.

When the movie starts, audiences are quickly introduced to the idea that Paul Dano’s Calvin has some serious problems. He is prone to infantile behavior, has a history of being co-dependent and would gladly live the life of a hermit if given the chance. We’re used to having romantic comedy heroes with quirks, though – that’s the point of the dream girl, to snap him out of his funk and make him a better person. Paul Dano does a great job making his character extremely likable despite his borderline unhealthy mental state. He’s like a more charming version of Donnie Darko, prone to bouts of weirdness but still not somebody a girl would be afraid to take home to meet the parents.

It’s not until we are deep into the heart of Ruby Sparks, though, that the audience begins to realize that Paul Dano isn’t just a troubled kid – he’s potentially a very, very bad person. When Ruby Sparks was created, she was born from nothing aside from Calvin’s imagination. As much a product of Calvin himself as her own person, Ruby and Calvin’s relationship was a form of mental masturbation. It was in Ruby’s continued existence, though, that she found her own life and – in discovering and establishing her own personality – began to drift away from Calvin ever so slightly.

Ruby may have been Calvin’s dream girl but Calvin was not necessarily her dream guy. He was moody, uninvolved and prone to a possessive nature. As Ruby began to drift away, as is prone to happen in relationships that have issues, Calvin does not attempt to reflect upon himself. Instead, he uses the magic surrounding Ruby to change her further – into something that better reflects his desires. Ruby is drifting away? Calvin makes it so she craves his presence at all times. Ruby becomes weepy whenever Calvin isn’t paying attention to her every second of the day? Calvin further changes Ruby so that she experiences nothing but joy 24/7.

Calvin, realizing that Ruby can be anything he wants her to be thanks to the origins of her existence, becomes the puppet master of his own relationship – pulling the strings and providing himself with whatever he desires at a particular point in time. Eventually this relationship continues down the dark path it set out on and follows it through to its only logical conclusion – mind rape. Calvin does not sexually force himself upon Ruby explicitly (at least not in a way detailed in great length in the movie) but, through the magic of his imagination, he completely violates the woman he loves in a scene that is as dark and unsettling as anything filmed for a horror movie this year. Calvin is slowly revealed to be a bad person throughout the film until he is laid revealed for his true self – a drooling, slack-jawed child banging his fists on a table as he demands the woman he claims to loves to proclaim her devotion and admiration.

The film gets very dark, very quickly and then it has the gall to shove a happy ending down the audience’s throat. This happy ending is not earned – Calvin is never shown learning any lessons aside from the fact that if you abuse your toys too much you’ll break them. We, as an audience, are told via voice over narration from Calvin, that he has come to appreciate the love he lost with Ruby Sparks but how are we supposed to take his word for it? The ending written for Ruby Sparks is not the one the film deserved – but it is the one the audience wants.

Let’s face it – nobody wanted to see the film reach its only natural conclusion. That would be super depressing and directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) had a different movie in mind. Despite ending in a manner that will leave audiences smiling, there is something rotten in the state of Denmark. It’s surprising how misogynistic and troubling the themes of Ruby Sparks are considering the fact that it was written by a woman. This is a testament to the skill of Zoe Kazan in perfectly capturing the mindset of fragile male ego – it is still an unearned ending nonetheless.

Ruby Sparks would be an interesting film to watch as a double feature with the upcoming Disney film The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Both movies feature a protagonist that wills a loved one into existence through their imagination. While Timothy Green features a child who changes those around him through his actions and words, Ruby Sparks features a woman who is changed by her creator – given freedom, corrupted and, eventually, violated. Ruby Sparks is the better film but Timothy Green, despite all its flaws, understands the importance of delivering an ending that, despite not being what the audience might want, is the one that the film deserves.

Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Zoe Kazan
Notable Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould, Alia Shawkat×120.jpg

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Ruby Sparks – Review Fri, 03 Aug 2012 04:00:11 +0000
The perfect woman is but a few keystrokes away

Writer’s block is like solitary confinement for a writer. Actually, writing period is like solitary confinement. Sitting alone in front of a computer, or if you prefer the old mechanical beast called a typewriter, only to stare at a blank page as the words remain trapped inside of your head, fingers arched helplessly as they hover over the keyboard. Anyone who has written anything has probably encountered the same problem.  And while there have been films about the writing process and the problems that lie therein, Ruby Sparks presents us with a boy meets girl tale that feels like it drew inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and John Hughes’ Weird Science.  

Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is a young novelist who dropped out of high school and wrote what could be best described as the great American novel at the age of nineteen. Now he’s on the other side of twenty-five and has only written the occasional short story. He has another novel in him, but he can’t get the words out. Strangely enough he’s not a barfly or uses drugs to assuage the blockage. But he sees a psychiatrist like that’s the solution. Here’s the secret: when you have writer’s block you start writing again. Inspiration is key and right now Calvin’s not feeling very inspired. Turns out that inspiration manifests itself in the form of a dream girl. Then the Muse appears in the flesh and Calvin starts typing into the wee hours of night not wanting to waste the momentum. Perhaps this is what J.D. Salinger was missing after the success of The Catcher in the Rye. He didn’t have a muse.

Ruby Sparks presents itself as a romantic comedy and it is for the first half of the movie. Then the honeymoon period that starts where most romantic comedies end ends and what was light and fluffy – with wish fulfillment actualized – goes to a place where most of its ilk dare not go. And that’s too bad, because the best romantic stories (not just comedies) shouldn’t stop right at the honeymoon. One particular scene is dark in its connotation that felt reminiscent of Victor Frankenstein being repulsed by his creation. It’s a strong scene showing how much of a puppet master Calvin truly is.

The hook of the movie is one that will either pull you in or leave you hanging. Here we have a writer with writer’s block who conjures up a woman (the titular named Ruby Sparks played by Zoe Kazan) out of thin air who is absolutely perfect, and absolutely real. Calvin thinks he’s hallucinating in a Jimmy-Stewart-sees-an-imaginary-rabbit-named-Harvey kind of way. His older disbelieving brother Harry (Chris Messina) also feels the same, until he meets Ruby for the first time. During the visit comes the discovery that Calvin can control his new ladylove by typing words on his typewriter. “For men everywhere, tell me you’re not going to let that go to waste,” Harry asks him.

Thankfully the screenplay, written by star Zoe Kazan, makes no effort in trying to explain the unexplainable. After the initial shock factor wears off, the manifestation becomes acceptable to all parties who cross her path. With Ruby as Calvin’s girlfriend it allows for the introduction of other characters who don’t really further the plot but give us a greater sense of why Calvin is hermitlike, preferring to stay enclosed in his whitewall duplex.  We meet his mother (Annette Benning) and her live-in lover (Antonio Banderas), a pair of Bohemians that live in a household opulently furnished with plants, as well as Calvin’s ex, Lila (Deborah Ann Woll), who he considers a prude and despises her for leaving him a few weeks after his father’s passing.

As the follow-up to their Oscar-winning hit Little Miss Sunshine, co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have delivered an unconventional love story that doesn’t abide by romantic comedy conventions. If anything Kazan’s screenplay deconstructs the comedy while giving us the lifespan of a relationship. Calvin manifests a woman – and he didn’t even need pictures of Kelly LeBrock and a computer scanner to make it happen! – falls madly in love, but then the honeymoon period ends and he doesn’t know what to do with his creation. Outside of his controlling nature of Ruby (literally) is the understated subtext of Calvin’s emotional stability and how he may have changed after the death of his father. The passing is mentioned in brief but such tragedy could have led to Calvin dropping out of high school and gravitating towards writing. Though that’s pure conjecture on my part. However, it does draw a distinction to his temperament and his willingness to change his girlfriend with just a few keystrokes.

Ruby Sparks has a wonderful screenplay but in the hands of the wrong set of actors it could just be another indie release that likely won’t find its way into many theaters. It helps that Kazan is working alongside her real-life beau Paul Dano. I wouldn’t expect the same level of chemistry if it were Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson (too soon?). Dano may not scream romantic lead, but the guy has been one of the best under-30 talents in Hollywood, having had standout performances matched against the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) and most recently Robert De Niro (Being Flynn). In Sparks he plays Calvin as a Woody Allen in training. This comedy is the type Allen made in his heyday, before he decided to get out of New York and make European travelogues.

Fox Searchlight, which specializes in turning charming indies into small hits, would like the film to be as warmly embraced by audiences as (500) Days of Summer was a few summers ago. But aside from both films deconstructing a relationship and sharing the same distributor, they are dissimilar from one another. They may offer sunshine, but the dark cloud that looms in Sparks is far more taxing emotionally than simply drifting apart. The comedy may not be the confectionery delight that the advertisements are promoting, but it remains one of the better efforts in a summer that, aside from a few films, has been disappointing.

Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Zoe Kazan
Notable Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould, Alia Shawkat×120.jpg

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Our Idiot Brother – Review Sat, 27 Aug 2011 16:00:31 +0000
He’s not such an idiot after all

Everyone has THAT family member, the one who only gets invited to events because well, because they’re family. Chances are however that your embarrassing family member is not as great as Ned. Yes Ned (Paul Rudd) is the idiot that the title refers to, but he’s an idiot with purpose.

When first we’re introduced to Ned, he’s selling produce at a Farmer’s Market from his organic farm and he’s arrested for selling weed to a uniformed police officer who made a very convincing case about having a bad week. When Ned is released from prison on good behavior, he returns to the farm but is dumped by his girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn). To even further add to that heartbreak, she insists on keeping their dog Willie Nelson, Ned’s best friend in the world.

Without a home and without his best friend but with his hope intact, Ned retreats to his mother and his three sisters: career focused journalist Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), flighty stand-up comedian bisexual hipster Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), and frumpy housewife Liz (Emily Mortimer). Ned stays with each one of his family members for a short time, but they end up kicking him out for ruining their lives one by one. Ned is so charming and just so goshdarned trustworthy that people tell him things. He learns truths about each one of his sisters that would rock their worlds, and then haplessly spills the beans.

A movie about such a genuinely happy guy deserves a genuinely happy ending though. Just when he’s turned his sister’s lives upside down and his family is in turmoil, Ned is sent back to prison for being honest with his parole officer. His sisters realize that his honesty was for the best and their lives will be better for what he’s done, and they redeem themselves with him. It’s a bit of a clichéd happy ending, but it’s exactly what Ned deserves after being so relentlessly kind-hearted.

Looking and acting like a long lost relative of The Dude from The Big Lebowski, Paul Rudd carries this film with the same reliable charm that we’ve all come to love from him. He owns this character from start to finish with his boyish grin and his naiveté. The supporting cast is pretty outstanding as well. Steve Coogan plays Liz’s documentary director husband, and Rashida Jones plays Zooey Deschanel’s nerdy girlfriend. Yes the two of them have a brief make-out scene, and my entire screening audience was shrieking with excitement; men and women.

Our Idiot Brother is a bit uneven at times though; some of the storylines with the sisters go on a little too long, and there are even several other subplots that take place. Overall though, the film is very charming and witty with several laugh out loud moments. The script was written by Evgenia Peretz and is loosely autobiographical about her relationship with her brother Jesse, who directed the film. Although what the script lacks in cohesiveness, the cast more than compensates.

Even though his sisters get irritated with him in the movie, the world needs more people like Ned. His philosophy is that if you see the best in people, see their best intentions, that the best in them will come out and the world will be better. Our Idiot Brother is a very heartfelt, satisfying comedy; much deeper than it appears on the surface. Maybe Ned isn’t such an idiot after all.

Director: Jesse Peretz
Notable Cast: Paul Rudd, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks
Writer(s): Evgenia Peretz, David Schisgall×120.jpg

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The Trip – Review Sat, 02 Jul 2011 23:00:16 +0000 Uneven finale nearly sinks brilliant comedy]]>
Uneven finale nearly sinks brilliant comedy

The one thing Steve Coogan hasn’t had for an American audience is a film that showcases his particular level of talents in a meaningful way. Hamlet 2 was an uneven film that he managed to turn into something funnier with his own zany style of comedy. He’s had a handful of roles in other people’s films that he’s done fine in but never really blossomed. It’s interesting, then, that what could be the sort of breakout role he needs is one where plays a fictionalized version of himself.

Coogan stars as … well … Steve Coogan as he goes on a road trip with his friend Rob (Rob Brydon) through northern England. Taking on a restaurant tour for a newspaper, Coogan and Brydon spend a week eating and dealing with eccentricities of their personal lives. For Brydon it’s being in the shadow of someone more successful than him but being ahead of him in the little things, like a family life. Coogan is dealing with the pressures of fame and being single in his 40s. He’s famous but not quite the level that he wants, with his agents trying to talk him into roles and vehicles for him that are contrary to his wish of being a film star.

But the film really isn’t about the two’s road trip. It just happens to take place during it as the film is much more about Brydon and Coogan playing off one another as they eat and commiserate. This is a film about the two just talking and having fun while eating, ranging from dueling impressions to surprising frank appraisals of one another’s career. They are good friends but a week together on the road can grind on any friendship and the two go through the ups and downs that come with it.

This is a film that would not work if Coogan and Brydon didn’t have any on-screen chemistry with one another. The two are instant hilarity any time they’re on the screen together, which is the sheer bulk of the film, and simple things like dueling Michael Caine impressions (with the octave changes from Caine’s lifestyle and Americanization coming into play) become remarkable moments of hilarity. The few moments when the two aren’t together on the screen the film suffers because they play off one another so well, taking some intended comedic moments and leaving them flat. It’s a flaw the film can recover from; the one that almost sinks it is the film’s final moments.

Trying to add some dramatic levity to the film’s final moments, it feels completely out of place with the film’s generally quirky off-beat style of comedy. It’s an odd choice as the film wants to say something bigger about the nature of the two and about the nature of fame but it just is out of place. But that’s not all that shocking because the film was taken from a mini-series and edited from there as opposed to shot as an original piece.

Taken from a mini-series of the same name, the film is culled from that series and as such some things obviously had to be taken out. There’s probably footage from the series that bridges the gap and at almost two hours the film had to make some cuts from the television source to keep it at a reasonable length. It’s a shame, really, because the full source material probably bridges these gaps and makes the ending into something more meaningful. As it stands as a film the ending feels tacked on, as if a quirky film about a road trip about eating is less than fulfilling creatively.

The Trip levels off, then, as a good film that never really hits that higher gear and turns into a brilliant one.

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Notable Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Claire Keelan, Margo Stilley×120.jpg

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The Other Guys – DVD Review Fri, 17 Dec 2010 07:00:16 +0000

Will Ferrell is a guy who has had his fair share of misses that, some may argue, far outweigh his hits; however, he continues to roll with the punches, and remains one of the busiest, most recognized comedians working today. His collaborations with writer/director Adam McKay have produced some of Ferrell’s most successful pictures to date, including Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, and their reign as Hollywood’s comic tag-team champions continues with their latest film, The Other Guys.

The Other Guys stars Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz, two NYPD detectives who just can’t seem to catch a break. They’re the laughing stock of their department, with Gamble nicknamed “Paper Bitch” – due to his eagerness to please the force’s big shots, Highsmith and Danson (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson), by taking care of all the paperwork their high profile busts cause – and Hoitz is nicknamed “Yankee Clipper” for reasons that are best left for the movie to explain.

Hoitz is tired of being left in the shadows, and continuously cries out, “I’m a peacock, you gotta let me fly!” in frustration, as it always seems no matter how hard he tries, something goes wrong, and he finds himself back behind his desk. At the same time, he despises working with his partner, who seems entirely content with their placement in the office, and sees no reason why they should look to move forward. It isn’t until the pair accidentally stumble upon what may be one of the biggest conspiracies to ever hit the city that they take it upon themselves to finally try and be more than just the other guys.

The film marks the first time in all of Ferrell and McKay’s films that the story isn’t as absurd as all the jokes they try and shove into it, and that’s not a knock at their other films, but more of a compliment to this one. The Other Guys is actually an incredibly fun film to watch, as the story is a throwback to buddy cop films, and the plot is actually quite engaging. The characters aren’t one-dimensional jokes, and are actually well thought out, with backgrounds and characteristics that make them a hilarious combo that never gets old.

That’s not to say all the trademark, completely out of left field humour you’ve come to expect from Farrell and McKay isn’t here, as the film is boiling over with it. If anything, there’s so much of it, it actually slows the story down to the point where the pacing is thrown off somewhere in the second act; but at the same time, the jokes are so funny that you can see why they had trouble cutting any of them and you almost can’t fault them for it.

Buddy flicks don’t work if the chemistry between the main characters isn’t there, but every time Ferrell and Wahlberg are on screen together, sparks fly. With Ferrell, you pretty much know what you’re getting, though I’d argue to say this is some of his best comedic work to date. He plays the more laid back, and serious of the two detectives, and for good reasons that are also best left for the movie to explain. Wahlberg on the other hand isn’t a name synonymous with comedy, though after watching this movie, you may start to wonder why, as his timing is impeccable, his delivery fantastic and he’s not afraid to let it all hang out there in order to get a laugh.

One of the biggest surprises in the film is the work done by Michael Keaton as Captain Gene Mauch. His character is one that totally catches you off guard and ends up having some of the most memorable scenes and lines in the film. After all but vanishing from Hollywood’s radar in recent years, his work on The Other Guys is the kind that rejuvenates careers, and hopefully opens up doors for other supporting comedic roles in the future.

The Other Guys is the only film this year that needed an almost required second viewing just because I laughed so hard the first time around that I missed half the film. It’s also the movie I’ve found myself quoting the most out of any I’ve seen in the past couple of years, as it’s filled with so many one-liners, and memorable moments that you just can’t help but repeat them, even if they’re completely irrelevant to the topic at hand. That point is probably why the jokes worked so well in the first place in what is, in my opinion, easily the funniest movie of the year.

The video is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1, and the film looks great. The transfer onto DVD is solid, with characters, colours and surroundings all looking crisp. The audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, and it sounds great. The dialogue is mixed with music, explosions, shootouts, and the usual assortment of distractions to be found in an action comedy, yet none of them make it inaudible, and the only real reason you’ll find yourself rewinding the film, or putting on the subtitles is because you keep missing jokes due to laughing so hard.

First and foremost, the DVD contains both the theatrical and unrated editions of the film. The unrated edition clocks in with an extra 9 minutes of footage, and after watching the deleted scenes found on the DVD, I can say that those scenes weren’t just shoved back into the film in order to make a few more bucks.

Having seen the original film in theaters, I opted to watch the unrated edition, and if I had to choose, I’d likely say that the theatrical version is better, simply because the additional scenes aren’t really vital to the film, and if anything slow things down and throw the pacing off even more. On the other hand, the unrated version (which doesn’t add anything that I noticed to warrant the unrated title over the extended title) is worth watching at least once, if just to see the extra two scenes added in: one involving Terry Hoitz going to see his girlfriend for a second time, this time at an art show; and the other being quite a funny scene added on to the end of the film that plays off of some of the earlier jokes in the film. In the end, which is better will be up to you, but you really can’t go wrong with either.

Crash and Burn! Stunt Featurette - This piece comes in at just over 10 minutes, and we hear from Mark Wahlberg, Will Farrell, Adam McKay and other crew members talking about the stunts involved in the film. It’s a quick featurette, but it covers a lot of bases, so it’s definitely worth checking out. On the other hand, it’s a quick featurette, and the only one that involves the main actors, so you almost want to see more as far as opinions and reactions went when talking about the film in general.

Deleted and Extended Scenes – There are five scenes here, and none of them are really worth mentioning. If, as I said earlier, McKay had a hard time cutting most of the jokes from the film, it’s no doubt he had an easy time cutting these ones. The only one that actually would have worked, is the final one “Quiet before the storm,” which likely could have been meshed into the unrated cut and worked perfectly fine; however, by this point in the film you can see they wanted to push the pedal to the floor and yell “America!” instead of slowing things down for a joke once again.

Bed, Bath & Way Beyond - This is roughly a four minute showcase of Michael Keaton in his Bed, Bath and Beyond motivational staff speech, and while it works perfectly the way it is, it’s too bad they couldn’t have at least cut the religion joke into the unrated edition, as it seems they had so much to work with (I believe McKay says they have about 30 minutes of this scene alone they could cut together) it could’ve added another layer of funny to the scene. At the same time, sometimes less is more, and it worked the way they did it, so don’t mess with a good thing.

The Other Guys is the funniest, laugh out loud film I’ve seen so far this year. Definitely check this one out if you’re in the mood for a good laugh, and if you’ve given up on Farrell after a few disappointing past outings, this is the film to give him a second chance with. Upon a second viewing, it still remains incredibly funny, and the chemistry between Farrell and Wahlberg just make you hope they figure out a way to make a sequel to the film that’s just as dynamic as the first, as hard as that may be.

Columbia Pictures Presents The Other Guys. Directed by: Adam McKay. Starring: Will Farrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson. Running time: Theatrical Version: 107 minutes/Unrated Edition: 116 minutes. Rating: PG-13/Unrated. Released on DVD and Blu-ray: December 14 2010.×120.jpg

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The Other Guys – Review Sun, 08 Aug 2010 23:44:30 +0000 A buddy-cop movie that doesn’t feel like a cop out.]]>

A buddy-cop movie that doesn’t feel like a cop out.

Sometimes I have sat and watched a Will Ferrell comedy amazed that the guy got a degree at the University of Southern California. After all, this is the guy that brought the phrase “strategery” to the public’s conscious when he impersonated then President George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live. When he made the transition to film, it took him several years to break out. That breakthrough came in 2003 with Old School, Elf (to date his most successful feature) and Anchorman, the film that marked the debut of Adam McKay as a director. Previously, McKay was a head writer for SNL where he and Ferrell would hone their talents together. Seven years and three movies later, they return to crack audiences up with The Other Guys.

As the second buddy-cop movie of year, following Kevin Smith’s Cop Out, McKay establishes the comedy’s tone by quickly lambasting the contrivances of action movies – specifically, what is expected in a car chase sequence – during the opening credits. The scene alone is worth the price of a matinee and it doesn’t even involve the top-billed stars. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson) are the hotshot detectives of the NYPD and darlings to the media because of their bravado – never mind the millions in property damage to the Big Apple they inflict just to apprehend suspects in what amounts to a minor drug bust. Jackson shouts out one-liners like nobody’s business and The Rock finally remerges from his family film funk to get back into an action groove. This duo considers itself invincible, free from bodily harm or injury. But when selfish pride gets in the way of common sense, a void is left and a new pair of hotshot detectives needs to step up. The least likely pair to play super-detective is police accountant turned paperwork desk jockey Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and his partner, Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg). Allen is content with typing up reports, but Terry, who can be combative, wants to hit the streets and solve some cases. Terry, however, has been deskbound since he discharged his firearm and injured a certain shortshop for the New York Yankees. He’s been called the “Yankee Clipper” ever since. Instead of heading up homicide investigations Allen is focused on a fraud case involving Sir David Ershon (Steve Coogan), a well-connected businessman who professes the need to buy unessential things instead of save. As the case starts to develop and dots start connecting, Allen and Terry start to bond. This is after the two have had a number of “fresh starts” to reset their partnership.

Rarely do comedies try to be topical. The fraud case that Allen and Terry are embroiled in provokes notions of our country’s financial instability. The David Ershon character seems inspired by the Bernie Madoffs of the world, but neither he nor the case against him is the point of The Other Guys. It just adds to the laughter.

In their three previous outings Adam McKay allowed his star to display his aggressive behavior from the get-go, but here his aggressiveness is timid, only becoming combustible through force of will. When McKay loosens the reigns so Ferrell can dial up the silliness, his milquetoast personality is gone, replaced by a persona that is both new to Ferrell’s comedy repertoire yet conventional to characters he’s played in the past.

Mocking buddy-cop movies through verbal riffs, slapstick and absurd action scenes, The Other Guys adheres to all the characteristics of what makes a buddy comedy and also succeeds in being Will Ferrell’s best comedy in years. For an action-comedy, the punch lines feel like body blows on the audience. Gasping for air because of too much laughing, the material, while recycled, is fresh because of how it is presented. The pairing of Ferrell and Wahlberg may not be inspired, and the chemistry wanes at various times, but somehow it works. When their comedic timing clicks it clicks. The best may be the scene where the two verbally spar against each other in animal metaphors. And the appearance of Eva Mendes, showing up as Ferrell’s wife, rewards us with a dumbfounded gaze from Wahlberg. He can’t understand why she would want to “feel the vibration” with a square like Allen.

Also, be sure to stick around and watch the closing credits. If the images had been played at the onset you would have had the impression that it was the lead-in to a new documentary by Michael Moore. Don’t worry; you’re not being punked.

Director: Adam McKay
Notable Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Ray Stevenson, Samuel L. Jackson, Rob Riggle, Damon Wayans Jr. and Dwayne Johnson.
Writer(s): McKay and Chris Henchy×120.jpg

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Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief – Review Sun, 14 Feb 2010 03:01:25 +0000 Clash of the Titans (for kids)]]>

Clash of the Titans (for kids)

Chris Columbus has lost it. This news is sure to sadden Sheldon Cooper who celebrates Columbus Day each year with a marathon session of Gremlins, The Goonies and Young Sherlock Holmes. But after Harry Potter came along the director hasn’t been the same. Getting the boot after the second installment of the famed literary franchise, Columbus directed a big-screen version of the hit Broadway show Rent as well as wrote the screenplay for Christmas with the Kranks.

Still reeling after the bomb that was last year’s I Love You, Beth Cooper, Columbus takes the easy route by helming yet another young adult fantasy franchise. The ads for Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief point out that it is from the director of the first two Harry Potter films. So already the expectations are lofty.

It’s a kid-sized epic where wizards have been replaced by Greek mythology and the Gothic architecture of Hogwarts is exchanged for the summer camp retreat of Camp Half-Blood. (One camp over is Camp Blood, but they don’t reveal that in the travel brochure.) Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is a special kid. All parents tell their children that they’re “special,” but Percy truly is. He’s a demigod: teenage son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and Sally Jackson (Catherine Keener). A few months after he was born Poseidon bolted to Mount Olympus. What nerve; he impresses Sally with his massive trident then leaves after she birthed him a son.

Percy suffers from ADHD and dyslexia but finds that he’s most comfortable when sitting underwater for seven minutes at a time. Like father, like son, eh? His best friend is Grover (Brandon T. Jackson, aka Tropic Thunder’s Alpa Chino). He walks with crutches but don’t call him handicapped. It’s all a cover really; Grover is a satyr and it is his job to project Percy in case of danger. Percy’s teacher, Mr. Brunner (Pierce Brosnan), also keeps a watchful eye on him. Those who complain about their teacher being a real horse’s ass, well Mr. Brunner is actually a centaur. So in this case you can say it and not worry about a week’s worth of detention.

While it would seem that everyone but Percy is in on the joke, the movie wastes little time in making the demigod revelation known. Soon Percy is facing off against mystical beasts and otherworldly creatures. As the title suggests, Zeus’s lightning bolt has been stolen. We are never given a clear reason why he thinks Poseidon’s son, his nephew, stole it, so we must suspend disbelief. Though, even a god as powerful as Zeus should know that a lightning bolt in the hands of a water god doesn’t seem right.

Any chance of an intriguing mystery is lost among the special effects sequences and blatant product placement of PlayStation and iPod. Honestly, for a second there I thought we were going to see one of the demigods playing God of War III.

Sitting there watching The Lightning Thief I half pondered the question on if it was better to be a wizard or a God. Nobody ever accuses anybody of a having a wizard complex, though the title of God just sounds so much better.

Outside of the Greek mythology angle, there’s just too much Harry Potter lurking within the story. The personalities of the three lead demigod characters – Percy, Grover and Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), daughter of Athena – are eerily similar to the triumvirate of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. Percy is as insecure as Harry, Grover is the comic relief and with Annabeth, heir to the Goddess of Wisdom, she thinks she knows everything.

Even with the Harry Potter similarities, Chris Columbus tries too hard to make the movie be an entertaining children’s feature. The three leads do little to make their performances memorable. Better are the supporting players. Uma Thurman does a nice turn as Medusa, who Percy has to vanquish if he’s going to have any chance of making it as a demigod. Steve Coogan as Hades, brother of Zeus and Poseidon, has the funny visual gag of dressing in classic rocker garb. (When it comes to being Hades, I guess it’s better to burn up than fade away.) It’s a cheeky moment to be had, as is the music cue that accompanies Percy, Grover and Annabeth as they try to find the entrance to Hades.

The verdict is still out on if Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief will be the start of new franchise for 20th Century Fox. If it does take off, I expect more of the same if Columbus is at the helm. Which is to say it’ll be a trite children’s fantasy that lacks the wonder and amazement that made Columbus’s earlier works so endearing.

Director: Chris Columbus
Notable Cast:Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Sean Bean, Kevin McKidd, Catherine Keener, Steve Coogan
Writer(s):Craig Titley, based on the novel written by Rick Riordan×113.jpg

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Three More Join The Other Guys Fri, 25 Sep 2009 01:33:25 +0000 The Other Guys.]]>

Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson and Steve Coogan are the newest names to be added to the Columbia Pictures comedy The Other Guys from Adam McKay, of Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers previously.

In the film, Johnson and Jackson will play a superb cop duo that are the envy of all the others in the department. Coogan will play the villain.

These three join a cast already consisting of Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Craig Robinson as well as the two headlining stars, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, who play the second-tier cops to Johnson and Jackson (hence “The Other Guys”).

The film is set to begin production August 6.

Chris Henchy (Land of the Lost) and McKay penned the script.

Dwayne Johnson can next be heard in the upcoming animated film Planet 51 and stars in the upcoming comedy Tooth Fairy. Samuel L. Jackson finished wrapping his Nick Fury role in Iron Man 2. Steve Coogan is currently filming Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

Source: Variety×120.jpg

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What Goes Up – DVD Review Tue, 07 Jul 2009 21:38:11 +0000

Damn it, Steve Coogan, you’re better than this.

I don’t know what this movie is supposed to be. I don’t think the movie knows what it is supposed to be. Is it supposed to be a comedy? Or is it supposed to be a drama? If it’s supposed to be a comedy it fails miserably. If it’s supposed to be a drama, it fails slightly less horribly but still falls short.

Steve Coogan plays a big city reporter who writes a story about a mother who loses her son. She then kills herself but he keeps writing stories about her as if she were alive. He becomes so engraved in the story that his editor sends him to nowheresville to cover the challenger launch from one of the astronauts hometown. While there, one of his old friends that just happens to live in that town dies surrounded by mysterious causes. Did he kill himself or was it an accident? Nobody in the city cares though, so why should I?

There are a few people in the city who care: the kids in his class. The kids in his class are the “special” kids. Not flat out mentally challenged, but just a little off. Peggy is the star athlete who was paralyzed in an accident and turned into a sour puss. There are the weird twins who aren’t twins but can’t be apart for more than 3 seconds. Tess is the emo girl with problems at home. Jim is….something. He chronically pulls it to the neighbor breast feeding. And Lucy is completely normal except for a few “mistakes” that apparently got her sentence to the class. At least that’s what the storyline says. I think it’s more likely Hillary Duff couldn’t act any other way so they just made the character that way. Why is she famous again?

The kids in the class are really torn up over the death of their teacher so they latch onto Coogan, who has a nasty little habit of lying and stretching the truth. Makes him a pretty good journalist though. As he’s hanging out with the kids and talking to them, he senses there could be a good story about the kids in the class and so he continues to follow the kids around and talks with them and they accept him into the group. That’s basically the movie. Him trying to figure out all the kids secrets and screw up his own life.

Coogan through the movie originally tries to be a leader and guiding light, and by the end of the movie he’s trying to sleep with Hillary Duff. That leads to one of the epic fails of the movie. He follows her car tracks back to her house because he’s never been to her house. When he gets there, he tosses a rock at the window to get her attention even though he would have no idea which window was hers. That’s not all, he then runs to the neighbors house and picks up a ladder and climbs up to her room straight up Animal House style. She tells him to go back down because her parents will hear, and he does after they agree to meet the next day. He then walks away, leaving the ladder. She’s upstairs, she’s not going down to take down the ladder. In all reality her parents are going to get up the next day and see a ladder going up to her room. I don’t think her parents would let her leave the house alone again.

As Coogan is trying to get with Duff, it becomes clear that Josh Peck’s character also wants a piece of the action. He’s always seen in trees after she closes her curtains. Then after the previous paragraphs occurrence he goes back to the neighbor and stands right outside the window while…ya know. The mom leaves and the baby starts choking and he rushes in to be the hero. And that is accepted. No one questions why he’s standing close enough to the window to see the baby choking; they just accept that he’s a hero.

That’s not even the worst of the stories. There is an entire story arc about Peggy, the handicapped one, and sex. I don’t know why it’s there. Is it supposed to be funny? Is it supposed to draw sympathy? Is it supposed to make me cry tears of hatred? I don’t know. It’s just a side story that gets way too much time in the story.

That’s another thing. Time. What Goes Up is a long movie. It could easily have a half hour cut off of it if not more.

What Goes Up is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.

It looks and sounds fine. Nothing is done amazingly well with the camera, it’s just standard stuff.


Standard fare. Nothing original. Boring. Few laughs here and there but not what you’d expect from a movie with Steve Coogan and Molly Shannon. It’s just not worth the time of watching it.


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents What Goes Up. Directed by Jonathan Glatzer. Starring Steve Coogan, Hillary Duff, Josh Peck, and Olivia Thrilby. Written by Michael Samonek. Running time: 115 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: June 17, 2009. Available at×120.jpg

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