Archive for the ‘John Cusack’ Category

National Poetry Month 23/30: SAY ANYTHING in 5-7-5

April 23, 2010

Celebrate National Poetry Month!  Add your own haiku about Say Anything in the comments!

SAY ANYTHING

Diane: Brain with legs.
Lloyd:  A man, not just a guy.
I hope they made it.

MOVIE: Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

April 2, 2010

When I first heard the title of this movie, I confess I was horrified — horrified that something that sounded so incredibly stupid could possibly have been turned into a film.  I’ve been ranting a lot lately about how we’re not paying real writers anymore, we’re just spending money on crap like Avatar that’s all visuals and no story.  And now we have a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine?!  Great gods on fire.  Someone PAID for that?  They did?  They DID?  They did.  Okay, fine.  They did.  I’ll be in this corner over here weeping for the cultural losses of my non-existent children.

But then it occurred to me — who names their movie Hot Tub Time Machine?  I mean, really.  Who does that?  The only person who would do that is someone who is absolutely crazy — or someone who is absolutely crazy LIKE A FOX.

That takes some boldness, writing and then marketing a movie with a title and concept that unbelievably lame.  That movie has got to have something.  It’s got to have SOMETHING, right?  It’s got to be intentionally bad — some kind of mocking of badness.  Satire?  Spoof?  A clever, daring  mockery of badness.   And that could be good.  Unless it’s really really bad, of course.  Oh good lord, quandary.  Quandary, people.

Tuesday night, I was thinking of going to see Repo Men, but at the last minute decided I probably needed a comedy more than I needed a gory drama about what will happen to America without our much-needed health care reform (that’s what Repo Men is about, right?).  So, I decided now might be the time to gamble on HHTM.  What have I got to lose, after all?  I mean, besides seven dollars AND MY SOUL?  At the very least, I’ll get to see how John Cusack’s crow’s feet are turning out.

As it turns out, I made the right choice.  Because not only is Hot Tub Time Machine pretty successfully hilarious (at times, anyway), it’s also just plain fun.

The movie’s story is as dumb as you imagined — it’s about a group of three middle-aged pals whose friendship has been withering for the last decade or so while they been elbows-deep in the mundane elements of grown-up life.  When one of them passes out in a car with the engine running and nearly dies, the other two decide to stage an intervention.  They pack him up and take him, themselves, and Cusack’s younger nephew (played by 20-something Clark Duke, who I’m madly in love with now, I should add) to the ski resort where they had one of the best weekends of their lives.  Back in 1986, when they were “young. . . had momentum. . .were winning.”

Something goes wrong, though, and during a night of great debauchery, someone knocks a Russian Red Bull knock-off onto the controls of the hot tub, and bang zoom whirl ziiiiip!  They wake up the next morning in. . . 1986!

You can pretty much take it from there.  Dumb things happen.  They learn important lessons about priorities and dreams.  They make it back home just fine.  Their lives have improved ten-fold.

What I liked about this movie is that it is absolutely unoriginal in just about every single way.  ON PURPOSE.   That’s sort of what makes it so original.  Don’t ask me what I mean.  I felt like this movie was making fun of itself a good 99% of the time.  And then making fun of Crispin Glover for the other 1%.  Which, yeah.  Can you think of a better way to spend 100 minutes?  Me neither.  Was it the funniest movie I’ve ever seen?  Not even close.  But I laughed out loud more than once, and, you know what?  That was a tonic sorely needed.

By the way, Mr. Glover, while I have you on the line here, what is your secret?  John Cusack looks like a haggard great-grandfather standing next to you.  What is it you are putting on your skin, sir?  And where can I get a bottle?

p.s. Confidential to Clark Duke:  You are way too young for me.  In ten years, though, when you’ve grown into your cheeks a bit, you should totally give me a call.

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Comedy
Cast:  John Cusack, Crispin Glover!, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Chevy Chase, Clark Duke (love!)

MOVIE: 2012 (2009)

March 23, 2010

It’s. . . well, you know. . . TERRIBLE.

(Not in a good way.)

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Disaster
Cast:  John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover

MOVIE: 1408 (2007)

October 22, 2007

It’s taken me over 30 hours to write this review, I’m not even kidding. I kept trying to start off by describing the plot of this very bad, VERY boring movie, but as soon as I got to “Skeptic loses daughter and rejects notion of ‘afterlife’ — begins spending all his time staying in reputed ‘haunted hotels’ and writing about how fake they are. But when he enters room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel. . .” I would then, inexplicably, drop into a coma-like stupor that would last for hours.

Man, this weekend was over fast!

So, to heck with that. You want to know the plot, go read about it somewhere else. Suffice it to say this movie is only scary if what terrifies you most are malfunctioning thermostats (it’s hot! it’s cold! it’s hot! THE HORROR!), minibars that are full one moment and empty the next (truly terrifying if you are an alcoholic in recovery — or, at least, you THOUGHT you were an alcoholic in recovery — but for the rest of us, not so much), and brightly colored, chipper-looking housewives who calmly walk out of windows that later magically vanish. MY GOD! WHERE DID THE WINDOW GO?! THAT’S SO SCARY! AND WHY IS IT SO HOT IN HERE AGAIN? GAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Not.

Here is a list of things I would’ve enjoyed doing more than I enjoyed watching this movie (which, I confess, I started fast-forwarding through right about the time he got his laptop and wi-fi working when the temperature was 40 below — nice trick):

Sorting the laundry into whites and colors
Scooping the catbox
Trimming my toenails
Doing the hokey-pokey; turning myself about
Working with raw chicken
Listening to someone eat an apple when I’m trying to concentrate
Writing a term paper about Rousseau’s The Social Contract
Blowing my nose
Coming up with a list of things I dislike doing, but would rather do than watch John Cusack’s career spiral down the loo (seriously, John — Identity wasn’t bad enough?)

The one good thing I can say about this movie is that for a minute there, I thought they were actually going to do an “And then I woke up!” ending. And then they didn’t. But that’s literally the ONLY good thing I can say about this movie.

That said, many others (critics, people I know, etc.) seem to have found this film both “unique” and “entertaining.”

THAT said, I know the truth about you people: you’re all ON CRACK.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Unwatchably bad horror

Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary Mc. . . zzzzzzzzzzzz. . . .

MOVIE: The Reaping (2007)

October 20, 2007

Here’s how this movie goes:

Bad — wow, BAD — baaaaad — huh, interesting — good — good — goooooood — good — wait, what? — okay, I suppose that makes. . . — no, stop, I was wrong, that makes no sense whatsoever — come on, seriously? — bad — bad — baaaaaad — oh for pity’s sake — bad — you’ve got to be kidding me — hilariously bad — I am now dying from the hilarious badness — bad — WOW, bad.

Now, THAT’s more like it, people!

As you can see from the above timeline, this movie starts off bad, improves somewhat, and then rapidly spirals into a total pit of ridiculousness. It’s about an ordained minister named Katherine (Hilary Swank) who several years ago decided God wanted her to take her husband and young daughter to the Sudan so she could help the starving, dying Sudanese find religion and be saved. After a year of drought, the Sudanese became desperate, as the starving and dying are wont to do, and when sacrificing goats didn’t save their crops, they decided to sacrifice Katherine’s husband and daughter instead. Horrified, Katherine “turned her back on God,” and has in the interim years rededicated her life to traveling around debunking “miracles” using scientific facts.

Already, this gets me off on the wrong foot with this flick, because within ten minutes, I have already decided Katherine is an insufferable solipsist — she’s fine with God as long as he only kills OTHER people’s families and children, but when he kills HER kid, he crosses a serious line? Now y’all understand why I’m a Pastafarian.

Nevertheless, once the movie got into the main part of the story, I confess I began getting a little intrigued. One day, while giving a lecture, a man approaches her and begs her to come to his small Southern town, Haven, to help them figure out what is happening there. A little girl has been accused of working for Satan and unleashing the infamous Biblical “ten plagues” on the town, beginning with the local river’s conversion from water to blood. Spoooooky. And also, gross. Good combo!

Kate and her partner agree to go check it out and, at first, seem to think the town’s plagues really can be explained with science (there’s a scene in which Kate runs through all ten ancient Egyptian plagues and provides a scientifically-logical hypothesis to explain each one of them in succession — and, incidentally, there is also an interesting little documentary about this very thing in the Special Features section that is worth checking out). This, I felt, was a somewhat intriguing concept, and I settled in for the ride and stopped snarking for a good twenty or thirty minutes.

But once the lice hit, things started to go downhill. Suddenly, there’s a Satanic cult cropping up, and Kate’s old Catholic priest friend is calling her to tell her only someone who TRULY believes in God can stop the devil from blah blah blah. There’s a cheesy scene that made me groan with agony in which the little girl every one thought was the devil was revealed to be something else entirely. And then there was the final duke-out between good and evil — a scene that made me start laughing uncontrollably.

It was at that point my husband came into the room and asked if this was REALLY how the whole weekend was going to go (screams emanating from the TV coupled with hysterical laughter emanating from me), and couldn’t we go see Michael Clayton this weekend in the theater to try to get a little balance?

Whatever, man.

In any case, this movie is of the genre I would describe as “watchably bad.” That is, it is not bad-bad (“unwatchably bad”), and yet it is also not “good bad.” It takes itself far too seriously for “good bad” status, but at the same time, it wasn’t so utterly awful I was sorry I’d sat through the whole thing.

How’s THAT for dubious praise?

In any case, the movie primarily left me in awe of the fact that multiple Academy Awards doesn’t seem to impact in any way an actress’s sense of what makes a good film. Because, unless Swank took this role just because she’s always WANTED to be in a “watchably bad” horror movie, I’m not sure how to explain her presence in this. I thought that girl had a solid head on her shoulders — was I wrong about that, Hills?

Then again, it’s always the big budget horror movies with the famous actors that turn out to be the most entertainingly bad, in my experience. Something about watching the big stars make fools of themselves just never gets old for me. Which is why I have three more such movies sitting in a pile by my right elbow at this very moment.

So, stay tuned for more bad horror movies, featuring John Cusack, Emily Blunt, and Michael Chiklis, coming soon. Oh, and also a good (I hear, anyway), non-horror movie, George Clooney’s Michael Clayton, which I have reluctantly agreed to go see at some point this weekend for the sake of my spouse’s sanity.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Watchably bad horror

Cast: Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Stephen Rea, Lara Grice, Idrice Elba