Sunday, June 20, 2010

Broken Lizard's The SLAMMIN' SALMON...and a word on KILLERS

I am coming off a damn busy week!  I am not reviewing a new release for the weekend edition of REEL RHINO.  My son was baptised yesterday and we still have family in town.  Last week was hectic that I HAVEN"T BEEN TO THE THEATER IN 8 DAYS....(huuu....huuuuu....huuuuuuu) ~ that was me hyperventilating.  I going to see something later today....mark my words.

Instead, I am going talk a little bit about THE SLAMMIN' SALMON...this is the current offering from BROKEN LIZARD, the hallowed comedy group who have brought us the classic Super Troopers as well as some of my favorites, but perhaps the less classic Club Dread and Beerfest

At current, the Reel Rhino says 2.5 out of 5 horns, for this unfortunately mundane entry into their trope. It should be noted that this is the directorial debut for our beloved Officer Farva, Kevin Heffernan. There were a handful of funny moments, but where Super Troopers has a great start-to-finish story that was both interesting and hilarious; The Slammin' Salmon comes off as more of a series of SNL skits, relying far too much on the physical comedy than witty writing.

The story follows The Champ, Cleon Salmon, played with some panache by the looming presence of Michael Clarke Duncan. All of the Lizard regulars check in for this entry as well.  The Champ issues an edict that the staff of his restaurant, The Slammin' Salmon, has to do $20K in business in one night to allow him to repay a mob debt to the Japanese Yakusa.  He actually only needs $10K, but he comes up with a sales contest so that the top seller on the night will win a $10K bonus.  The Champ will be happy, the contest winner will be happy, and the Japanese Yakusa will be happy. Hilarious situations ensue? One would think...I had much higher hopes for my favorite group of Massachusetts Staties, but I guess that this was a straight to DVD release should have been a warning as to how this would turn out. If REPEATED VIEWINGS change my opinion, I'll let you know.

What is really funny is that a few days ago with my family in town visiting for above said Baptism, I suggested to my brother that we watch SLAMMIN' SALMON together, explaining to him that I wanted to see it a second time to see if I actually liked it.  It was at this time, that he reminded me that we ALREADY HAD watched it together, sometime around 4/23 and that we had a few laughs, but it we agreed that viewing that it was nothing great.  I find this hilarious, because apparently, I wasn't overly impressed the second go around, or at least enough for me to even remember seeing it again.  I guess I'll stick with my original 2.5 out of's hoping MUCH BETTER next time from Broken Lizard!
On a side note, when I first wrote the draft for this post a month or so ago, I posed the question: Trailer for KILLERS...Could it possibly be good? 

Please, let me answer that question right here and now with a resounding no!  For an example of the terribleness that is afoot, just look at this poster!  What exactly is it conveying?  It has no direct bearing on the movie, as to say, okay, smile...great work.  Ashton.... look throw your hands up in despair...great shot!  That's a wrap!  In addition to the flick being pretty bad...THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST MOVIE POSTERS THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN!

I avoided talking about Killers in my prime time reviews because it didn't deserve it.  It was a decent, albeit worn, premise that had a few decent laughy moments; BUT... there was no chemistry between our leading lady and gent and there was NO ENDING!  It was one of the most abrupt, unsatisfying endings I have seen in a long time!  This movie was very much a let down....1.5 out of 5 horns from Reel Rhino!!  Don't get me wrong...I saw a few moments of hope in the trailer, but that was just sharp editing.  Do not see this at the theater.  Only see it at home if there is nothing else to watch for it is at best, very remotely entertaining. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Plethora of Cinema: A-Team; Greek; and; Splice

Hello boys and girls!  It's been a little while since I've been able to wax poetic on my recent filmgoing experiences.  It's good to be back.  I am warming myself up watching some GOOD DICK...a 2008 drama (with small bits of comedy) about a video clerk (Jason Ritter...son of the late John Ritter) who tries to strike up a relationship with an introverted gal who comes into his video store for the sole purpose of renting porn.  The girl is played by Marianna Palke, a Scottish lass who also wrote and directed the flick.  It's just starting, but let me say, I hope that she is spinning that Scottish accent.  UPDATE: I watched Good Dick until about 2am last night, and I was fading in and out.  Firstly, no Scottish accent! BOOO! I just watched it again and I will say it is a decent movie that generally speaking, is pretty dark.  I abosultely love that this gal wrote and directed it...mucho indie cred here!  A great filmmaking-centric website too...check it out at:
But enough about Good Dick, which among other things, is just FUN TO SAY...let's get on with some more current stuff!

I saw the A-Team this evening and I  haven't been able to stop whistling that damn tune!  My only regret is that the rest of the movie is not nearly as catchy as the theme.  I like what Joe Carnahan did with Narc and I really really had fun with Smokin' Aces; but I think that he relied too much on campiness and nostalgia here.  This was a decent story for a summer blockbuster but there was just "something" missing.  Each actor did sweet justice to the original character they were portraying...this flick was  cast perfectly!  I am glad to see Sharlto Copley in another role...he was great in District 9 and he will certainly be one to watch in coming years.  Before District 9, Copley was working on his directorial feature called Spoon, which is about a man who blacks out in times of high stress.  Hop over to First Showing to learn more and definitely check out the trailer!: 

 But enough about that...more about the A-Team.  I enjoyed many of the different comedic moments, but one-liners were not enough to carry the whole flick.  Carnahan relyed quite a bit on the close-up to extreme close-up, which is typically reserved for the more dramatic moments in a film.  Carnahan used these shots predominently through every fight scene, which was not so good.  I would have love this movie with better shot fight scenes, especially given Neeson's (TAKEN) and Jackson's (MMA) presence and even Bradley Cooper who compliments Ryan Reynolds as the other half of my Man Crush combo.

Jessica Biel's Lt. Former Capt. Sosa speaks the line: "...AND THEY SPECIALIZE IN THE RIDICULOUS!"  She was right.  Some of the sequences are ridiculous, but it is definately a good ridiculous.  Again, some improvements in some of the shot choices would have made this component much more enjoyable as well....but they were enjoyable none the less.  

All in all, a 3 out of 5 horn situation from the Reel Rhino.  Not a stellar rating from someone who is usually a mad lover of the summer blockbuster.  There were some decent moments in the stingers after the credits, but there was something auspiciously missing!  You'll know what I mean when you see it, but you have to stay to the very very end of the credits.  (hint hint rhymes with BEE and starts with MISTER).

No, this is not Species.  Let's get that out of the way immediately.  This is wholely something completely different.  Species was based on recoding human DNA based on an alien message....Natasha Henstridge got naked...shenanigans ensued.  In industry vet Vincenzo Natali's first major release, Splice, we are following along with two geneticists, Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast, played by Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley (I have always loved Sarah Polley and it was great to see her back in a mainstram release!).  They decide to splice together human DNA with a bunch of other species of one gets naked....shenanigans still ensue. 

This movie begins in a genetic research lab where our protagonists have created a very basic hybrid organism that was designed to breed valuable compounds and proteins for commercial uses.  Clive and Elsa are boundary pushers and Elsa decides that to prepare for the sucess of Fred and Ginger, their bio-created organisms.  She wants to pre-emptively answer the question:  "What's next?".  They (mostly she) decide(s) that in order to answer this, they need to create a lab-born hybrid grown in part with human DNA...cue the shenanigans.

DREN is the result.  Early on, by the standards of "normal", Dren is disformed and in fact only grows arms after a decent amount of time out of the "womb".  She walks on hands for feet, and is reverse-jointed at her lower legs.  This is where both the similarity begins and ends with Species.  Yes, Dren is a new organism born partly of human DNA.  As we learn more about her, she becomes more interesting (and deadly).  The stark difference from Species is that while that was a full-scale call out the army blowout; this is a relatively small story, focusing on Dren's interaction with Elsa and Clive. 

Yes, their experiment is met with interesting results...but to pull from an old quote from Maxim magazine: "THEY HAD NO IDEA HOW RESULTY IT WOULD GET!"

See this movie at the theater...reward creative filmmaking by seeing these movies where they were ment to be seen.  Natali does a great job telling the story and while it isn't a traditional monster movie, it is a fun one none the less.

SPLICE gets a 4 out of 5 horns from the Reel Rhino.

This was by far the best of the bunch.  Nicholas Stoller's Get Him to the Greek broaches into the pre-Funny People Apatow era: story, characters, substance. I was originally thinking 4 but have re-evaluated and am putting this is at 4.5 of 5 back off Belushi! The characters are hilarious and while there are some gut-busting moments; the characters have depth, which pushes this film from just plain funny into the realm of a great film in the vein of the zeitgeist of filmgoing.

Russell Brand is a comedy genius.  He delivers the material, but he is a loveable dope that becomes quickly endeared to the audience. 

Jonah Hill has come into his own as well.  Previous supporting roles have served to build an impressive resume and we know know that he can in fact act, without dropping an f-bomb every other word.  Watch out for Cyrus later this summer, in which I think he will shine!  Although, there was some colorful dialogue that added to the comedy, the best moments in my eyes were those with drama.  Story mattered here and I truly felt moved as our characters delivered heartfelt exchanges that made me actually care about what happened to them.

Rose Bynre as Maggie Q has a great minor role and her songs through the movie make Infant Sorroe's "Inside You" from Forgetting Sarah Marshall (heard here also) seem like a lullaby!  Definatly check those out.  Speaking of cameos, P Diddy is this year's breakout, in the vein of Tom Cruise's spot in Tropic Thunder.

This is a must see...again a 4.5 of 5 from The Reel Rhino

More to come soon from the Reel Rhino! Upcoming discussions will feature previous releases Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and and a full-on art house edition featuring The Secret in Their Eyes.

Check out the trailer for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World embedded at the bottom of the page.  That is a movie that looks like plain old fun and is my #1 looking forward pick of the summer! 

For now...tootle-looooo...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Reel Rhino Review - THE ART OF THE STEAL

 The Art of the Steal

This is an interim post from the Reel Rhino.  I have been jammed up on a variety of projects and I have had this review waiting in the wings. 

Forthcoming will be some of the stories of my antics, including a near-death experience on a river raft in Colorado!  Thanks again Shawn...

For now, enjoy the show...

This IFC Films release, The Art of the Steal, is still playing in theaters but it is also available on a variety of On-Demand services.  I caught it on Time Warner and it ran me a reasonable $6.99.  Quite a "steal" in and of itself when you consider that I'd have paid more than that for my ticket alone at the theater...and I made my own popcorn!

Extra, extra....The Reel Rhino seeks culture..."We're gonna need a bigger boat."

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Dr. Albert C. Barnes compiled one of the finest, if not the finest collection of modern art in the world. He was an innovator in art aquisition and was a very wealthy man after developing a treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. The Barnes Foundation is located in Merion, PA, about 5 miles outside of Philadelphia.  Dr. Barnes was killed in a car accident in 1951 and he had always feared the worst for the days following his passing. His last will and testament contained language that prohibited the sale, loan, or distribution of any kind of the works of art housed in the collection and he thought he had taken the proper steps to ensure that his collection would live on forever.  Well we know that his wishes were not fulfilled, or I wouldn't be writing this trying to convince you to watch this movie.

This documentary, which is told in the style of a crime thriller, looks at the usurping of power from the Board at the Barnes Foundation and the 2007 aquisition of the Barnes Collection by the city of Philadelphia. The movie looks at how line by line, Dr. Barnes will and testament has been attacked and how the long time operating protocols for the Foundation are in danger of irrepairable change.

The current Governor of Pennsylvania, the Honorable Ed Rendell is featured rather prominently, throughout. He was a major player from the early days, as his previous post incuded a stint of the Mayor of Philadelphia. The film is both intriguing and delightful and the most eye opening aspect for me was just how unknowledgeable I am, personnally, on the subject of fine art.  Is Iron Man fine art?  The Godfather?  I think it is debatable as to what qualifies, but I vote yes.


The Reel Rhino...fine art critic. I like it.

The Art of the Steal: 4 out of 5 horns

This is a real enjoyable watch!  See, I'm not some crazy Iron Man, Transformers, Summer Movie  Blockbuster crazy man...I do have some culture.  It's hard not to at least find interesting most documentaries out there, this one does that one better and crosses into the concept of the documentary thriller (see also: The Cove).

Who knew?