Cedar Rapids (2011), dir. Miguel Arteta – That was Anne Heche?!? Was it just me, or did she look like a younger lookalike of herself? I guess it was the hair. Anyhow, this charming comedy is refreshing in its approach to the old “coming of age” story, bringing a nice shade of gray to all of the characters and staying true to them without pulling any punches. Ed Helms uses his boyishly goofy face to play up his innocence as the fish out of water, but (luckily) shows some bite when he becomes morally indignant – though not in the sour Bible thumper sort of way. Helms’ ‘Tim Lippe’ rides the wave of revelation and disappointment in an amusingly accurate portrayal of the “hotel conference” lifestyle. John C. Reilly pushes the boundaries of Funny and Too Much, but mostly stays toward Funny as the overbearing but good-hearted Dean Ziegler. A light, funny comedy with a story. See it.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt. II (2011), dir. David Yates – Just as good as Part I. Now that it is all finished, we can look back at all eight films and be amazed at the consistent improvement, in all areas, throughout. Perhaps the best overall adventure series to come out of Hollywood.
Horrible Bosses (2011), dir. Seth Gordon – One of those everybody in the movie is crazy comedies, filled with absurdity, a few mild shocks, and quite a few laughs. The premise of three guys hating their bosses but fearing unemployment would have bewildered audiences a little over ten years ago, who would’ve thought, “Just go get another job!” Of course, these days that’s not so easy, most especially when your boss has blackmail material against you (Jennifer Aniston’s nymphomaniacal dentist) or might show up at your house and kill you (Kevin Spacey’s truly evil Dave Harken, Jason Bateman’s boss). Nothing much can be said against the film besides the fact that’s it’s fantastically ludicrous, but if you worry about that kind of thing, you just shouldn’t go see this movie at all. It’s funny, unpredictable and avoids trying to include “heart”, which would have been awful and out of place.
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), dir. Brad Furman – The film is utterly forgettable but just fine while watching it, and while I cannot say that Matthew McConaughey is a bad dramatic actor, I hope the next time I see him it is in a romantic comedy. And yes, dubbing the movie “fine but forgettable” is my way of saying it is not a good movie. Some sort of legal trickery was involved and the dirty lawyer has a heart and all that good stuff but I didn’t care about and now can’t even remember much of the rest of it.
THE… YEAH, THAT BAD:
The Dilemma (2011), dir. Ron Howard – Hideously unfunny, brain-foggingly uninteresting and packed with unlikeable characters. Vince Vaughn, you should have hung it up after Wedding Crashers.
No Strings Attached (2011), dir. Ivan Reitman – Ashton Kutcher is a wash as an actor, in any role. Cliches and predictability are the order of the day here and, lo and behold, two people (who are both so good at heart) who sleep together over and over eventually develop feelings for each other. Voila. And don’t sneeze when the film is done. That disgusted look on your face might freeze like that.