Sunday, March 25, 2012

American Reunion

All the original cast members are back for Reunion, even the minor characters. Surprisingly it felt like a real reunion. Looking back, these actors looked so young back in 1999! Didn't we all. When was the last time you thought about Thomas Ian Nicholas in Rookie of the Year. The same clever casting of Nicholas in the original Pie movie, makes the nostalgia of a reunion all the more on point. Being from the class of 99 myself, the coming of age aspect of the movies always seemed personal. I enjoyed that he characters acknowledged early in the film that it was a thirteen year reunion and were not trying to play it off as the more conventional ten year reunion. I enjoyed all of the sequel movies but this one is my favorite. There were only two years between each of the first three Pies and Wedding. It has been nine years since American Wedding hit theaters. The time since the last one gave the writers much more to work worth and they fully developed the characters.
 Available April 3rd on iTunes, the soundtrack is excellent, a few new tracks and some great tunes from the 90s. I was reminded of how great all the Pie soundtracks are and loaded the previous three CDs to my iPod. And in a further example that everyone is all grown up, Seann William Scott and Jason Biggs are both credited Executive Producers.
The replication of the original poster is spot on and very fun.
As I waited in line for the American Reunion screening with Emily, just in front of us in line were the couple that saved us seats for the Artist. This time we officially met Helki and Jose. Nicest, most normal people I have encountered in the screener lines. Hopefully we will all see each other again at the next one. There is also something to be said for enjoying a comedy in a theater. Laughing with a group of people makes it even more enjoyable. See also Bridesmaids, the Hangover and Wedding Crashers for these types of theater going experiences.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jeff Who Lives at Home

Jason Segel is Jeff, the kind hearted stoner who lives in his mom's basement. His brother Pat, portrayed by Ed Helms, is not so sweet. Pat is more of an adult in the conventional sense, he has a job, an apartment and a wife. These do not necessarily indicate maturity. Mom Susan Sarandon gets her own plot line in her cube at work. We soon learn that Jeff is not the conventional stoner, he just feels really strongly about finding his destiny. And the movie Signs.
 The film is definitely an indie and takes its time to tell its characters' stories over the course of a day. The score is fun and fitting and the writing style and acting successfully bring the characters to life. If you enjoy movies like Away We Go, Sunshine Cleaners, and Cedar Rapids, you will like this film.

And on DVD...
Midnight in Paris
If you have not seen Midnight in Paris, do yourself a favor and see it. You do not have to be a Woody Allen fan to enjoy the humor and whimsy of the film. Allen most deservedly earned the Best Original Screenplay Oscar he won. Owen Wilson is at his best and carries the movie with humor and charm. The supporting cast is extensive and excellent. I fulfilled my wish to google to my heart's content about art and the real life people referenced throughout the film when I watched the movie for the second time at home.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Friends With Kids

In order to avoid the negative effect on romantic relationships that they have seen when their friends have had children, Jason and Julie decide to have a child together, remain friends and still be free to date. Writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt is endearing as Julie and Adam Scott somehow manages to make his honest womanizer charming. This is Westfeldt's third time writing and starring in one of her films and her first directorial effort.

The tight group of six friends is wonderfully rounded out by a mini reunion of Bridesmaids cast members, Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd, and Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm (Hamm and Westfeldt have been together since the late 90s). We see the friends briefly before kids and the rest of the film takes place after kids.
This movie has many hysterical moments and lines of dialogue. Much of the scenarios are based in reality and the actually complications of real life -- uncomfortable tension between couples in social situations, people clearly unhappy and not knowing what to do or say. The premise and execution are possible because of the strong writing and excellent acting.

Maybe not a new favorite but definitely entertaining, some tears, lots of laughs.
Headed to Jeff Who Lives at Home later this evening.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

A film about the unlikely story of a government scientist unwillingly tasked with bringing Atlantic salmon fishing to the desert of Yemen may not sound the most entertaining. Premises do not always shed light on the tone and feel of a movie. I was completely charmed by this film. If you are not one to suspend your disbelief or to root for the underdog, I suspect you may not appreciate the movie in the way that I did. To me it never seemed forced, corny or cheesy and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I laughed heartily, I was invested in the characters, and I cried -- all my favorite things to experience when viewing a movie. I am eager to read the novel the film is based on. I suspect that with repeat viewings this movie will become one of my favorites.

Ewan McGregor has been number one in my top five for years and suffice to say, he is one of my very favorite actors. Right on the heels of a performance I loved in Beginners, he delivers again in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. I am also a big fan of Emily Blunt and she is equally delightful in the film. Kristin Scott Thomas is a feisty government PR rep and contributes much to the movie. The wealthy sheik funding the project is beautifully played by Amr Waked. There are gorgeous landscapes throughout the movie and the film has a fun, genuine style. 
I was able to see the movie at a sneak peek with the queen of obtaining screening passes, my friend Emily. Our enjoyment of the film was complimented by a glimpse of our future. Sitting next to us, were two women in their sixties who were dead ringers for the pair of us in thirty years. Apparently in the future we will talk whenever we feel like it during a movie. Somehow they chatted not in an annoying way, but in a manner that was endearing.

Random trivia:
Conleth Hill, the actor portraying the boss of McGregor's character also stars in this year's Best Live Action Short Oscar winner, the Shore. Incidentally, the photo on imdb for Hill, is not accurate. It currently displays a picture for another actor in the Shore.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star as a married couple, George and Linda, who can no longer afford their Manhattan lifestyle. They are unexpectedly detoured to a hippie commune in Georgia.

The eclectic supporting cast includes Justin Theroux as Seth, the unofficial leader of the compound and Alan Alda as the elder-statesman and only original founding member of the naturist village Elysium. Also completing the community, Malin Akerman, Kathryn Hahn, Kerri Kenney, Lauren Ambrose and nudist wine-maker Wayne, as portrayed by Joe Lo Truglio. Ken Marino is George's obnoxious brother Rick. Marino is brilliantly outshone by one time SNL cast member Michaela Watkins in every scene they share. Watkins is fantastic as the kooky sister-in-law.
In case you were wondering, Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire for or impulse to hike, wander or travel and explore the world. Seems like a fitting title telling the story of two characters that did not know that they had the desire but stumble upon the exploration.

The movie is quite raunchy and over the top. The set-up of the main characters lays a good foundation that is based in reality and the current economic climate. All the more to veer off later.
Stay for all of the credits, even when you think the extra stuff is finished, there is one more scene.

And on DVD...
I enjoyed this movie with Emily when we saw a screening of it before its original release in September. We enjoyed it just as much the second time around. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young man diagnosed with cancer and Seth Rogen is his buddy. The story is based on the real life happenings of the writer/director Will Reiser and his friendship with Rogen. Believe it or not, despite the heavy subject matter, it is a comedy. This movie received some awards attention at the Golden Globes and the Independent Spirit Awards, though no Oscar love. Comedies really need to be included more, even in a year when Bridesmaids received two Oscar nominations.