How to Spend $20
By David Mumpower
November 3, 2011
For bitter people living in the desert: Water for Elephants
Thirty-five-year-old Reese Witherspoon is a cougar on the prowl with 25-year-old Robert Pattinson in this adaptation of the best seller by Sara Gruen. Witherspoon portrays an unhappily married woman in an abusive relationship with a circus owner (portrayed by Mr. That’s a Bingo, Christoph Waltz) who has too much in common with Michael Vick when it comes to the animals. Pale-Face Pattinson portrays an Ivy League student who drops out of college after the death of his parents. He haphazardly winds up joining the circus due to the fact that his father was a veterinarian. His childhood experience with animals allows him to overcome their previous instances of abuse and along the way, MILF-y romance ensues between an unhappily married woman and an oversexed, handsome man who happens to have awful, terrible, hideous hair. Water for Elephants was generally well received by critics and a moderate box office hit relative to budget. The home video market is where its fortunes will soar, though, as that is where Twilight fans can sit at home and wistfully fantasize about Edward Cullen, the vampire elephant whisperer who likes older women in addition to younger women who bite their lower lip a lot.
For people missing the pertinent details: Trespass
Nicole Kidman fans are probably thinking, “All right, a Nicole Kidman movie!” Let me help you with that. Here are the facts of which you are not aware that will make you appreciate how lucky you were to be unaware of this film in the first place. The male lead is Nic Cage. Is that enough to dissuade you? Okay, if you are one of the (disappointing) 5% who answered no to the previous question, here is your dealbreaker. The movie is directed by Joel Schumacher. Did you know Schumacher is still allowed to make movies? Well, he is and his fingerprints are all over this tale of kidnapping and treachery. So, the question you have to ask yourself is simple. How much do you love Nicole Kidman? Because it better be a lot if you want to watch Trespass, a movie that is currently 13% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. More alarmingly, only 26% of users there like the film, one of the lowest scores of the year. Run away screaming, people.
For several of my exes: Crazy, Stupid, Love
While the commercials for the movie always appealed to me, we were unable to see Steve Carell’s latest in the theater. On Tuesday, I downloaded it from Amazon Video and have spent the past couple of days kicking myself for not watching it sooner. Crazy, Stupid, Love is an absolute delight with a tremendous cast demonstrating a lot of group chemistry. The Robert Altman-esque stories do blend together in the final act, but even if the stories were all isolated, there would still be plenty enough cohesion for each to stand on its own. Carell portrays a recently separated man who had been with the same woman since high school. When he discovers that she has cheated on him, the newfound bachelor starts hanging out at a bar where he is eventually befriended by a Casanova. The younger man portrayed by Ryan Gosling is a perennially unattached man who simultaneously finds himself attracted to Emma Stone’s character, a pragmatic attorney whose life lacks thrills. And there is also an engaging January/May/December romantic arc between a father and son and the babysitter who crushes on the former while becoming the object of obsession of the latter. There are a lot of moving parts in this film and they all work. Crazy, Stupid, Love is highly recommended and another recent reminder that Ryan Gosling should work more.
For anyone who knows a child: Cars 2
The primary discussion topic about Cars 2 is its necessity. After all, the original title is a highly underrated jewel in the Pixar library but its story has a definite end point. There would have been no consideration given to a sequel had the merchandising arm of this property proved to be such a powerhouse. In point of fact, Cars is the number two brand in the Pixar catalog with licensing revenue approaching $8 billion. Its characters will once again prove to be among the most popular toys of 2011, and there is universal agreement that Pixar deserves every penny they make. The sticking point is that most people (I am not one of them) believe that Cars 2 is not only a needless sequel but in fact a misstep for the company. Less than half of the critics who have reviewed the film to date have enjoyed it. At least that is their stated position. Consumers were also lukewarm about the prospects of another Cars movie, as its domestic box office take of $191.1 million is the second lowest in Pixar history even before we adjust for inflation. After we adjust A Bug’s Life to 2011 ticket pricing, Cars 2 becomes the worst domestic box office performer for the studio. The disconnect here is why people loved Cars so much that it became a merchandising triumph yet a movie sequel performed in such a disappointing manner. Whatever the explanation, the reality is that Cars 2 as a movie release is no different than Transformers and G. I. Joe were as morning cartoons. The purpose of the film was to build awareness for new toys and that mission has been accomplished. Whether or not you want to see the movie depends entirely upon whether you know any boys under the age of 10. If you do, not only will you watch Cars 2 on home video but you will probably buy it and be forced into multiple viewings. Otherwise, you’ll be labeled a bad parent/aunt/uncle/babysitter/whatever. Kids are harsh, man.