Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Ocean’s Eleven. Released: December 7, 2001. Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts. Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Runtime: 1h 56 min.

With Ocean’s Eight releasing on Friday, I thought I’d review the trilogy, which starts with 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” based on a 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name.

When Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is released from prison, he immediately gets a crew together to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.

Steven Soderbergh’s style is what helps make this film so much fun. The writing by Ted Griffin is also stellar and the way he introduces the members of the Ocean’s Eleven is so great and it tells you all you need to know about them.

This is best shown in the scene when we meet twin brothers Virgil (Casey Affleck) and Turk (Scott Caan) Malloy as they’re bored passing time and Turk runs over Virgil’s small remote-control monster truck while Turk races it in a giant monster truck. Their banter’s one of the consistently funny things in the franchise.

The montage-like explanation of how they’re going to execute the heist is also entertaining. The team of characters and the cast is great and everyone plays their roles well. Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) is Ocean’s sidekick and helps recruit the team. His banter with Ocean is strong. Julia Roberts is also great as Danny’s ex-wife, Tess.

Rounding out the eleven include sleight of hand guy Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), insider blackjack dealer Frank (Bernie Mac), tech guy Livingston Dell (Eddie Jemison), grease man Yen (Shaobo Qin), master of disguise Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner) and explosives guy Basher (Don Cheadle).

There’s also Reuben (Elliot Gould) who bankrolls the heist because of a vendetta against casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the man they plan to steal from. They plan to steal $150 million on a busy casino night from his vault.

Ocean's Eleven

Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Eddie Jemison, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Shaobo Qin, Don Cheadle in Ocean’s Eleven. (IMDb)

We find out how they want to get in but Reuben points out it’s really an impossible heist because the hardest part is getting out. “Once you’re out the front door you’re still in the middle of the fucking desert,” he says. Gould’s a delight, here, especially when he does his recap of the most successful casino robberies (still colossal failures). He’s funny, and in these cutscenes is a spot where Soderbergh’s style and cinematography shine through.

During the leadup and during the heist, the writing’s really smart because we as the audience aren’t always in on the plan and it’s fun to see how they do what they do. It makes it more entertaining.

What works best for the film besides its editing, score and great direction is that all of the actors have a flawless chemistry. There’s amusing banter between all of them. It helps that their characters are well-written, too, and there’s a believable hostility between Ocean and ex-wife Tess.

It’s hard not to be entertained by this. I mean, I watched this over two years ago and I was still on the edge of my seat and thoroughly entertained because I only vaguely remembered what the twists and turns were. However, that just might be an ode to my bad memory.

Score: 88/100

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The Animal (2001)

Animal, TheReleased: June 1, 2001. Directed by: Luke Greenfield. Starring: Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell, John C. McGinley. Runtime: 84 min.

After receiving organ transplants from various animal donors, a man finds himself taking on the traits of those animals.

“The Animal” is every bit as stupid as one might expect from its plot. Suffice to say, if you’re anticipating a criminally stupid movie, you won’t be disappointed. The cast is amusing, the conflicts are inane; one character thinks he can get away with anything because he’s black, and it gets insanely tedious – and it solves conflicts too easily.

There are some funnies. The jokes mainly involve the main character, Marvin (Schneider) who has to deal with his new animal instincts, and the way he deals with them may make you smile. Colleen Haskell of Season 1 of TV’s “Survivor” is attractive, but she’s about as good of an actress as one might expect from a reality TV show star. There’s not a lot notable about “The Animal.” It’s written by Rob Schneider and Tom Brady. Tom Brady the writer/director behind such hits as “The Hot Chick” and “Bucky Larson,” not Brady the New England Patriots quarterback. I wonder if the quarterback could do the writer’s job better?

Like I seem to be saying about all of the films Happy Madison Productions produces, it’s watchable. But watchable only means it’s not the worst way to kill 84 minutes, and it doesn’t do anything for the genre. The film is directed by first-time director Luke Greenfield.

I’ve always wondered why Adam Sandler has never directed a film. I mean, he’s the producer on all of his non-starring gigs, so it surprises me that he’s never directed anything yet. He has a decent vision, I’d say, with everything he writes, so if he’s willing to give a first-time director a chance with this – he could just do it himself. Why not, right? Maybe he’ll even have a minor hit on his hands? It probably wouldn’t hurt the movie he would direct/produce.

Score50/100

Recess: School’s Out (2001)

Recess Schools OUtReleased: February 16, 2001. Director: Chuck Sheetz. Stars (voices): Andrew Lawrence, Rickey D’Shon Collins, James Woods. Runtime: 82 min.

In elementary school, I’d rush home after school to catch one of my favourite after-school shows, Disney’s “Recess”. If only I had a PVR (the Canadian Tivo) back then so I didn’t have to rush home. And back then I got off school at 3:45 and practically my whole day was gone. Anyway, Disney is a studio that likes to give their children’s audience a movie of the famed show, as a sort-of farewell, in most cases. And it gives them a little extra money, not that they need it nowadays – since they own basically every property in Hollywood. (Their family channel has taken a serious dip in quality if you ask me, as “Gravity Falls” is the only decent show still making new episodes.)

“Recess: School’s Out” is one of the finest movies based on their TV show in the Disney vault, without much competition (“Vacation with Derek,” “Hannah Montana: The Movie”). The plot is very simple, much like the show itself. The trouble-making TJ Detweiler (Andrew Lawrence) is left behind by all his friends as they go off to summer camp for the first bit of summer vacation. After seeing some ominous goings-on at Third Street Elementary, and after Principal Prickley is “kidnapped,” he enlists his help of his pals to save him. And little do they know it at the time, to save their summer vacation.

The main villain James Woods has well-explained motivations for his villainous plan. He wants to get rid of summer vacation by altering the weather to make it always cold “like Canada and Antarctica.” (By saying Canada, that just shows how silly the writing can be. We have f*cking hot summers!) And his villainous plot just goes to show how easily holes can be poked through the writing. Summer vacation is still going to happen – rain or shine (or snow). Granted, they won’t be able to swim or anything – but it’s still no school. These plot holes won’t be prominent to the majority of children, but to anyone in the double digit age range, it’ll be obvious.

This movie is still entertaining and a good way to pass 82 minutes. It probably would be better enjoyed watched at the beginning of summer. (Which makes me think that initially releasing this movie in the middle of February is SO stupid.) It’s a usually funny ride with a cool music number at the end, and will be better enjoyed by the kids who grew up watching the TV show and are familiar with the antics of the Third Street School crew. To use one of TJ Detweiler’s coined phrases, this movie doesn’t whomp.

Score70/100

Fast and Furious Franchise Recap (2001-2013)

As you may have noticed, I’ve reviewed the entire Fast and Furious franchise so far in the past week and a bit. I thought I’d make a post for all the reviews, and only take my best one or two thoughts on each movie, in case you don’t have time to read every review. Here we go!

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

“The care is implemented on the cool physical appearance of the cars, and there’s not as much care implemented on the intellectual level of the movie; but who really cares?  It gets the adrenaline going, and that’s the movie’s intention.” 74/100.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

“To truly enjoy the hell out of this, you will have to turn the logical part of your brain right off. To a point where it might actually cause brain damage; and frankly, this movie just isn’t worth that. I remember this being much better; so suffice to say, this is 2 big of a disappointment.” 40/100.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

 

 

 

“The star cameo is one of the only things worthwhile about this bland endeavour. It’s a formulaic plot; but the drifting feels fresh and fun. The cinematography looks the most pristine out of the first three. It also has Han and fast cars.That’s almost all this has going for it.” 52/100.

Fast & Furious (2009)

Fast & Furious (2009)

“The racing scenes are lots of fun, and it’s an adequate revenge story. The title is really the only lazy thing about the movie. However, for a racing movie, there’s a lack of non-stop kinetic energy.” 65/100.

Fast Five (2011)

Fast Five (2011)

“Fast Five fills up its gas tank and the cast and crew bring it all to this fast-paced, energetic, compelling ride. It’s not only fun, but a good movie, as well.”  82/100.

You can just click here and read my review of Fast & Furious 6.

And so far in the franchise, the average score is 67.167.

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

The Fast and the FuriousThe Fast and the Furious

Release Date: June 22, 2001

Director: Rob Cohen

Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez

Runtime: 106 min

This fast-paced action flick has a nice balance of fast cars, sexy girls, sexy girls in fast cars, and a fairly adequate mystery. It’s tons of fun. The police, a rival racing crew led by Johnny Tran, and another racing crew led by Hector are the main antagonists at play here. There’s rarely a real focus on any of the antagonists.

This is a movie where loyalties are truly tested. This also reminds us how truly bad Paul Walker can be. His excessive use of the word ‘bro’ might just make him an irritating presence for many. The point of the movie isn’t to have great performances (Walker is really the only bad actor among the memorable cast also including Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez), the point of the movie is to be fun.

Only one character is unlikeable. Vincent is a real sour puss. The movie’s characterization isn’t bad. Their roles are practically just established, and there’s a little back-story for each character. For characters we don’t know so well, one could care for their safety. Even though they’re racers and they’re plunging themselves into dangerous situations. Thorough characterization isn’t required, however, because this is fun, fast entertainment. The care is implemented on the cool physical appearance of the cars, and there’s not as much care implemented on the intellectual level of the movie; but who really cares? It gets the adrenaline going, and that’s the movie’s intention.

74/100

Monsters, Inc. (3D) (2001)

Monsters, Inc.Monsters,  Inc. (3D)

Release Date: November 2, 2012 (3D Re-release: December 19, 2012)

Directors: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich

Stars (voices): John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi

Runtime: 92 min

Tagline: Monsters, Inc. : We scare because we care

Monsters, Inc. is the fourth film that Disney is re-releasing in 3D (along with The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Finding Nemo) and the second for Disney’s Pixar. They are a studio that knows how to use the modern 3D visual effects with fine moderation. It seems as if they only visually enhance the best action scenes in a major way.

A city of monsters called Monstropolis centers around its power company, Monsters, Inc. That said power company generates the city’s electricity by scaring children half to death – they go into the human world and the more they scare the children, the more power they generate. The top scarer is James P. Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman), the lovable and cuddly big blue guy. At least, he’s lovable to his friends in the monster world – he’s the fuel for nightmares in the human world. He and his little green bowling ball buddy, Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) are the perfect dream team and the best of pals. One day, Randall (voiced by Steve Buscemi), a chameleon-like bogeyman leaves a door in the factory on purpose to steal the child he scares and use her for sinister purposes. However, Sully gets in the way – and the small child, Boo, wreaks havoc in the monster world and may just drive a wedge between the relationship of Sully and Mike. Will they be able to return Boo home and avoid Randall by all means?

The concept for this film is one of the most original for animated features to ever see the big old silver screen. While the children of that world are afraid of the big old monsters hiding in their closets every night; those monsters are terrified of an adorable girl in piggly wiggly tails and even a human sock that has an interaction with their skin. It’s very clever and fun. While the concept may be somewhat edgy for a family feature, it turns out to be fan-freaking-tastic.

It’s helped out by its fast pace, visually great action sequences and laugh-out-loud comedy. The comedy is astounding for the children, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable for older audiences. Everyone can really relate to this, as we as children would check under our beds before we sleep or ask our parents to inspect the closet for bogeymen (heck, I even look under my bed now from time to time – and I don’t even have a closet door any longer).

It is fairly surprising that one can so easily relate to this feature, as it is a simply refreshing and brilliant story about monsters who are terrified of little children, and vice versa. It also brings much truth to the “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.” That is especially true for one monster, George, one who constantly gets mauled by the Child Detection Agency.

The story is great and it’s an overall splendid feature, but the real charm is in the voice performances. Goodman and Crystal convince us that they might as well have been friends for life, and the other chemistry is fine. Everyone involved does a great job, especially Mary Gibbs who voices Boo, and I’m pretty sure the only coherent word of English she utters is “Kitty,” the nickname she assigns to Sully. She is also a young girl who, unexpectedly, changes the factory and the hearts of a few select monsters for the better. You know, There are more powerful things that the sound of children screaming.

In a nutshell: Monsters,  Inc. is one of the most original animated features to see the light of day, and it is one of Pixar’s best. It is really a treat to be given the opportunity to see this in theatres again, and just a few months before the much-anticipated prequel.

100/100

American Pie 2 – A Film review by Daniel Prinn — What the heck, was this Pie baked in an Easy Bake Oven?

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American Pie 2

Release Date: August 10, 2001

Director: J.B. Rogers

Stars: Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Shannon Elizabeth

Runtime: 108 min

Tagline: It’s time for a second helping.

It’s not an excellent sequel.

The film is a mediocre comedy sequel that continues to display the antics of Jim and his friends, and Stifler, when they reunite after their first year of college and go to a vacation house for the summer to impress chicks.

It’s okay for a sequel, not passable but not the worst I’ve ever witnessed, but it is pretty predictable and really rather forgettable. Some of the gags are pretty funny, but others are a little tasteless and tired. I can’t say I really loved it on a high level, but I didn’t despise it, it did give me a few laughs, but I really can’t remember what they were. A good comedy to me is that one that’s memorable and I can just chuckle by thinking back at it. This one, is not really one of those films.

The whole crew is back for this one and all the likeable characters, but at the odd time they can get a bit annoying.

Give it a watch if you liked the first one, it can be a moderately enjoyable time, it’s satisfying enough; but there are funnier films out there, and it really is a second slice of Pie that could have been baked much better.

                                                         

50/100