Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reel Rhino Review: Monsters ...AND MORE!

So, I have been a busy little been...which has been good for Ryan (that's me), but bad for the Reel Rhino (also me).  I am sorry for the two week hiatus, but my real work has been interfering with my "reel work."

There are a lot of great movie events on the visible horizon...Harry Potter fires up for part 1 of the Deathly Hallows, sans 3-D, but playing in IMAX.  Due Date will show us if Todd Phillips can successfully live up to the uber-buzz he built around his name in the year and a half since The Hangover.  Check below and you'll find the Due Date trailer, if you haven't yet seen it yet.  The Hangover 2 is due out summer 2011...without Mel Gibson (Thank God!)....I will take Liam Neeson over Mel Gibson any day.

Mel seems to hate all races, creeds, religions, and women...basically, Mel hates anyone who isn't Mel Gibson.  Who needs him.  I do feel sorry for Jodie Foster's Beaver....HEY...EASY!...I meant Jodie Foster's film, THE BEAVER, which she directed and was originally slated for a 2010 release. could maybe give the movie away, but Mel Gibson is currently filmic kryptonite!

I have seen a few movies over the past few weeks, and before I get into my MONSTERS review, I wanted to share some of this with you.

JACKASS 3-D: This was everything I expected it to be.  I enjoyed it and while I went to see it by myself, I was happy to be in a semi-full theater, so I could laugh with the crowd.  Some of the skits were funny, but some were pretty played out.  At this point, I would like to see a Jackass Greatest Hits.  Yes, Johnny Knoxville's old man costume is hilarious, but there was something about the incestuous make-out session with his "grand-daughter" that I thought was just not that funny.  The 3-D was GREAT and their kind of hijinks are built for the 3-D presentation, but in general, they seem to be running out of content and truly shocking material.  Sadly, I think they will keep amping it up until someone is seriously hurt or killed during filming.  I may seem down on it, but in general, I had a great time and give it 4 of 5 reel rhino horns.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2: In short, I liked it.  I liked the first a great deal because of what it was...a guy and a camera who wanted to make a movie.  He did and look what it became.  I loved the first movie's sense of independent filmmaking, much the same way I enjoyed PRIMER.  The original Paranormal Activity was taken under the wing of Steven Spielberg, and that is never a bad thing.  I think that PA 2 has a set-up that is is quite a stretch, but it ends up being a creative way to get us the cameras in every room to catch the action.  I also very much liked the PREQUEL aspects of this movie.  I do sense that PA3 is going to be made next year and I hope they keep it to a trilogy and tie up the loose ends of this story.  In fact, I would very much like a traditional horror film for the third (and hopefully FINAL entry into the series).  All in all, these things are crazy profitable with 2 costing 2.75 million and making 40 mil in the first week...but PA1 cost $11,000 and has thus far grossed $107 MILLION EFFING DOLLARS!  This is much in line with this week's review MONSTERS....also a crazy economical flick in terms of budget.  Paranormal Activity 2 receives 3.5 of 5 horns.  I was very happy to see Sprague Grayden on the big screen.  I very much enjoyed her run on the short lived, but great Fox show, JOHN DOE, and I think she did a great job!

BACK TO THE FUTURE 25th Anniversary Re-Release - I saw this first when I was 10 years old.  When I was 14, when BTTF II came out, all I could think about it hoverboards!  By far, this film and this series deserve a blog entry of their own, which I hope to do soon.  All in all, I loved BACK TO THE FUTURE then and I love it now.  The only thing I thought was exposed quite a bit in the upped quality version was a bit of the make-up in the scenes with 'aged' characters became more apparent, but hell, you have to give them credit for these shots being completely practical effects.  I will not hold it against them at all, because this movie is hilarious and a superbly told tale. 

I will tell you I have not sat and watched BTTF so intently since I first saw it in '85.  Really paying attention now, as a serious movie-goer, I saw so much more depth than I ever have.  Doc Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, is fantastic...I reallly feel it is near an Oscar worthy performance.  If you don't believe me, watch it again....he is brilliant!  The Bob's (Zemeckis and Gale) and Steven Spielberg really created something special and this is a film that has survived well, the 25 years since its original release.  5 of 5 horns, all day, from THE REEL RHINO!


This flick was slated for theatrical release on Oct. 28th, and I actually got to see it early on Time Warner On-Demand.  Sadly, I think it has not completely gone into wide release as it is not yet available in Kansas City, but hopefully it is playing somewhere near you. 

MONSTERS was directed by Gareth Edwards, previously a visual effects specialist and a director of several Documentaries. 

Edwards's first "big-budget" debut was anything but.  I loved this movie primarily because of this piece of information: the reported budget for this film was $15,000.  $15,000!?! is this so.  This is a very solid piece of science fiction with a finished, polished product that looks more like a $15,000,000 effort.  Now it is being said that $15K is an underestimation, but even if it was $50K, it is still amazing.  I love seeing an indie film like this and it gives me hope that some day in the future, I can scrape together enough cash to do something similar.

Now it helped that Edwards is an effects wiz and it is rumored that he did all the visual effects by himself on his laptop.  Bravo, sir!

MONSTERS was an enjoyable movie for so many reasons.  It is fun and a unique spin on the alien invasion tale we have heard so many times, but never like this.  The premise is that 6 years ago, a space probe crash landed in Mexico and strange things started happening.  Creatures start appearing and essentially take over a large portion of northern Mexico, which is labeled "THE INFECTED ZONE."  This infection is being handled by members of the US and Mexican armies and this comes off as more of a post-apocalyptic flick than a straight monster movie.  These creatures have a place in the food chain. Unfortunately, it is above that of humans, which is what gives us the fuel to the tension in the story.  At any moment, a creature may show up, and people will die.

We follow a man who is trying to get his bosses daughter home.  They quickly find themselves in a situation where taking the Mexican ferry to the US mainland isn't an option.  They have to pay top dollar to hire mercenaries to escort them through the infected zone.

Hijinks's ensue.  This is as much a complex relationship film as it is a creature feature.  To Edwards credit, perhaps based on the availability of time and funds, the monsters only have a modest amount of screen time.  This film is as much about the suspense as it is about the visceral scares.  Did he pull a page from Spielberg's JAWS playbook?  Perhaps he did, but regardless of how he came to that conclusion in his story telling, it works.

The climax of this is excellent and seeing how they wrapped things up, had me returning to the opening of the film again to try and make sense of what I saw. That is not to say that this is a confusing movie, but things at the end of this film make you reconsider what you saw at the beginning.  I was just happy to be able to "play again" and pay closer attention to what seemed like unrelated details in the opening sequence.

I gave Monsters a 4.5 of 5 horns, mostly because of the unique voice telling this story and the shoestring budget that impressed me with how well they spent their money.  Check this out if you can, it should be playing somewhere near you soon.

My to-see list over the next week or so includes: Hereafter, Saw 3-D, Buried, and Due Date.  If I can see all those by the end of next weekend, I'll be a HAPPY RHINO.

Also, I am considering putting a Reel Rhino podcast together with a buddy of mine.  We are working out the logistics, but I hope that it comes together so you can actually hear the excitement in my voice when it comes to all things movie.

Till later, take care...
Reel Rhino

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reel Rhino Review - RED - A Damn Fine Fun Film!

Bruce Willis is a stud. The essence of American heroism in film. I think I love him....of course in a hetero hero-worship kind of way, but love him none the less.

I have not had a great deal of exposure to Mary-Louis Parker, but let me tell you, she is adorable.  I think I will start watching WEEDS, I am told it is excellent (minus a short lull in the middle of the series ~ Mike and Lora, I am glad you stopped the arguing!)


WOW! I have had a great couple of weeks at the movies.  I have seen several 5's, 4.5's, and 4's, with very few low rated flicks.

RED keeps up that great tradition (well not that great of a tradition...perhaps streak is a better word)!

RED is based on a graphic novel of the same name, by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, and the screenplay was written by Jon & Erich Hoeber.  The film was directed by Robert Schwentke (previously of Flight Plan and The Time Traveller's Wife) and when brought together, this creative team has put out an amazingly fun and original film, based on a serious and very well done graphic novel.

Graphic novel...yes, I do feel that they are comics by another name, but if we have to call them graphic novels to get studios to pay attention to them and bring them to the big hell with it, GRAPHIC NOVELS they are!

RED introduces us to Frank Moses, a retiree, but from what industry it is not immediately clear.  That is until a wet-team kicks in his front door in an attempt to put him down and he defends his house with the dexterity of a trained killer. 

As we meet Frank, he is on a daily basis, calling Sarah Ross, a call-taker at a government retirement office, to "complain" that he has not received his check.  Sarah is played in sublime fashion by Mary-Louis Parker.  Frank, with every call, is in fact tearing up his checks just for an excuse to call her.  He likes Sarah and she likes him. Once Frank realizes he is a marked man, he goes to Sarah, who lives in Kansas City, to protect her. 

She is reluctant at first, but eventually goes along with him to figure out what the hell is going on.  It helps that she is a fan of romance novels with cheeseball plots and that the most recent one she read involved the CIA.  She leads a mundane life and this is her chance for adventure.

We get to meet some old associates of Frank's, previous CIA operatives Joe (Morgan Freeman) and Marvin (John Malkovich), as well as an old MI-6 pal in Victoria (Helen Mirren).  As Morgan Freeman says in the trailer: "We're gettin' the band back together."

These guys are great...true treasures of cinema and they make this movie the awesome adventure that it is....add in Brian Cox as an old Russian agent with a past as an adversary and a future as a pal?...and Karl Urban as William Cooper, a young ambitious CIA agent who stays one step behind our band of merry retirees.  It all adds up to something very fun!  Urban and Bruce's confrontations give use some of the best battles in the movie and also some of the more tense moments AND some of the more comedic.

Richard Dreyfuss cameos as a smart-ass badie who's career of choice is that of an arms trader.  Dreyfuss is always entertaining, but he rarely raises the bar to A-game level...his performance here is on-par with this thinking...decent but not exceptional.  I guess he serves his purpose and it is better to have Dreyfuss in this role than some random dude.

Also in the flick is Rebecca Pidgeon, also known as Mrs. David Mamet, as William Cooper's supervisor in the CIA.  My first exposure to her was as Col. Ryan's wife on THE UNIT, a great and too short lived TV show.  She was wooden there and I think her delivery has improved over the past few years.  As the wife of Mamet, I can see their attraction as while Mamet's works are normally well-written, the speak often comes off as stilted (see Spartan, see Redbelt ~ both favorites of mine, also).

There is a great cameo by Ernest Borgnine as well, as Henry the records keeper.  Borgnine is a great comedic actor and cameos like this are a gem in the waning years of his career.  Borgnine is 93 years old and I think we will likely not see him in many more films.  The role was perfect for him, and he played it perfectly.

The flow-through of this tale is both easy to follow, fun, and filled with great scenes.  Some of the digital effects are easy to distinguish from the practical effects of a bigger-budget movie, but I am moving to a point where it is easier to suspend disbelief in exchange for a great time at the theater.

See this movie.  Reel Rhino gives is a 5 of 5 horns strictly on the balls-to-the-wall fun, laughs, quality of acting intermixed with quality of story -- remember, this is an action movie based on a graphic novel.  If nothing else, where have you seen such a cast for this kind of movie.

It is well directed, well-cut, well-written, and well-acted.  See this movie.  It is worth your $10 for a theater viewing.  This will not play as well at home, so see it on the big screen if you can.

Lots of action-violence, explosions, a little blood, and some cursing (including an F-bomb) to get this flick to PG-13.  There is plenty of killing depicted or discussed, so while it is not a PG, it is by no means anywhere near an R.

I will be shocked if RED doesn't take the weekend box office.  I saw it at 5:00pm in Merriam, KS at a Cinemark.  SOLD OUT!  The age range in the theater ranged from about 15 to 100!!  As the movie started, I feared there would be some walkouts given that their previous roles as Nelson Mandela and The Queen of England certainly helped to bring some in, but this would be a different movie entirely.  Classier roles not considered, this film manages to keep an even keel that appeals to a wide variety of audiences.

And as for my love letter to Mary-Louis Parker...WOW!  This movie has me seeking out WEEDS on NETFLIX.  I think she is adorable and as a 46 year old actress, I say BRAVO!  Megan Fox take is a beautiful actress and guess what, she can act!  Keep it up MLP!  You now have a fan in me!

Oh...I guess my love letter for Bruce Willis continues!  I think I could compete with Kevin Smith for my level of fandome for Bruno aka David Addison aka John McLane aka MY HERO!  Bruce, never stop making movies.  I know occasionally you will make a flick where you are vulnerable or counter to the persona that America has come to love you long as you give us a RED or FIFTH ELEMENT or yes, even a DIE HARD every few years, we will always love you.  And as for COP OUT, I for one am a fan...KEVIN SMITH + BRUCE WILLIS +  HAROLD FALTERMEYER = NICE! 

I hope to see JACKASS 3-D tomorrow.  My recommendation for you is this...JACKASS will be there always and it is at its core, juvenile, potty humor -- WHICH I LOVE!  But, given the decision to see RED or JACKASS, make it a RED weekend!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Social Network

THE SOCIAL NETWORK: This film was written by one of my favorites (Aaron Sorkin) and directed by one of my favorites (David Fincher) and it delivers on so many levels.

It stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, one of the co-founders of Facebook.  It is loaded with stars, but of particular note was this blockbuster release featuring the next Amazing Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield.  Garfield plays Eduardo Saverin, the primary co-founder and original CFO of the organization.

This is a movie of the moment.  If not for the excellent writing and direction, I would say that this movie would be destined to quickly become a relic of our ever-advancing technological society.  The fact that Sorkin and Fincher were at the helm and their end product was so excellent, I think it will linger in the social conscious for a bit longer than it otherwise would have.  It is the start of a wave of biopics that feature things, rather than people.  Due out in the next year or so, is a Google movie.  It is not surprising to see these dramatizations are becoming big-Hollywood movies.  The things which we interact with on a daily basis compel us while we sit at our computers and of course we will also be compelled to go and watch them at the movies.

This particular story is based on the book THE ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRES by BEN MIZRICH.  I haven't read it (YET), but I know that it tells the origin tale of Facebook, having roots back in 2003 on the campus of Harvard University.  It follows the legal woes that Zuckerberg underwent along the way from its original formation up through its current incantation.  This story is criticized by some for taking liberties with some of the facts, but unless you are reviewing a documentary, there will always be some creative wiggling that is bound to take place in the dramatization of any events.  

Another of Mizrich's books, Bringing Down the House, also looked at a group of college students (also from the Boston area, in M.I.T.) as they attempted to use card counting to take millions from Vegas casinos.  That book is excellent, but its film counterpart, 21, fell a little flat.  Kevin Spacey starred in 21 and was also the Executive Producer.  He acted in the same capacity for SOCIAL NETWORK so perhaps he and Mizrich have some connection.  According to an older article (Moviefone Blog), Spacey also picked up the rights to RIGGED, a story of a Harvard student who changed the face of the oil industry. 

Regardless of how or why, I am glad this film was made.

Jesse Eisenberg has been referred to as the poor man's Michael Cera.  I offer to you that Eisenberg is the senior and more well-rounded thespian.  Regardless of how great Arrested Development or Superbad were, Eisenberg has made a much more steep rise to well-respected roles and he has cleared well out of the shadows of Cera.  (That said, I also love Michael Cera's awkward way of being and especially loved his pseudo-superhero turn in SCOTT PILGRIM, but Eisenberg is impressive in his own right and the comparison is no longer valid.)

Certainly that argument stemmed from Cera's Evan in Superbad vs. Eisenberg's James in Adventureland.  Both were helmed by Greg Mottola and both were different roles, except that people certainly had mixed expectations when it came to Adventureland, thinking it would be Superbad, Part II.  It was not.  Both of those films made my top-3 for each respective year and I look forward to Mottola's 2011 work, Paul, a sci-fi story set around a Comic-Con like event.

Lest I digress.  Eisenberg is excellent in this role and Zuckerberg is pportrayed as neither a villain or a hero.  He is portrayed as a kid who was clearly at the outset of social grops and this film documents his efforts to be cool.  Certainly, he is quite successful in his efforts.

The story is told in three parts, all interwoven with one and other.  It includes the flashback sequences that are the events that are being discussed in two separate legal hearings, which are the other two parts.  One of the legal hearings is Zuckerberg versus Eduardo Saverin, who was basically run out of his shares of Facebook through share-dilution for company expansion.  The other hearing focuses on claims that the idea for Facebook came from a two brothers, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who were members of an elite society at Harvard who wanted to create an elite site for Harvard students to connect.

The three segments are seamlessly interwoven and information from each is related along the way with what you are learning in the other two.  It is a fascinating look at tech-creation and some of the scenes where people are "wired" and have been for very long stretches of time, are probably accurate with the kind of commitment it would take to generate these kind of sites. 

Make no mistake, Zuckerberg is a genius and many of the people behind Facebook were geniuses.  I sometimes wonder where I get the "tech-savvy" to build this blog, and then I remember it is only because there are programmers who have dumbed it down so I can edit using buttons rather than code.  Seeing a peek into this world was fascinating if nothing else, even for a biopic where you know liberties have been taken for the sake of cinematic value.  I for one would get in line to watch a documentary on the same topic.

Justin Timberlake plays Shawn Parker...yes, that Shawn Parker: the founder of Napster and the bane of Lars Ulrich's existence.  I did not know before I saw the first preview about his role in the proliferation of Facebook.  Timberlake plays this role well and even having grown up with an open disdain for all things boy band, I give him kudos for his part in this film.  Parker is portrayed as a wild card and JT pulls it off.

See this movie.  See it soon.  The longer you wait, the colder this topic will seem and digesting this material while Facebook is in the zeitgeist will enhance your enjoyment of it.

Read Mizrich's book when you can and check out his other works.  I am sure in part, they chose to adapt his book because he has a knack for writing in the manner of a crime-thriller/drama, even when if laid out on the table, the facts themselves wouldn't be nearly exciting.

The Reel Rhino says 5 of 5 horns and I tell you this is a must see for 2010.  Being that it is somewhat of a procedural piece, it isn't required viewing for the theater and this will probably play as good at home as it will at the cinema.  That said, this may be the best of what is playing right now, so if you need to pick a flick, keep this near the top of the list.

I think this was rated PG-13, but other than an F-bomb, some drug use, and some implied sexual activity, the movie was quite tame for this rating.

As a final word, I wanted to mention Trent Reznor's score.  It is a haunting backdrop that wholly adds to the ambiance of this film.  Reznor of course is the front man and creator of the band, Nine Inch Nails.  I will freely admit that NIN played a part in getting me pumped up to play some football (back in the day).  Reznor does have a history of what some would call, hard core techno-metal rock.  His tones are more subdued here and if you look through his back catalog, you actually will find some haunting melodies that are not-unlike what we have here.  The score adds well to the suspense and eerie mood that plays throughout the film.

That is all for now...I think R.E.D. opens this coming week and while I had hoped to see Let Me In or The Girl Who Played with Fire sometime soon, I think that R.E.D. will be my movie of choice for next weekend.  Brice Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and Mary Louise Parker, to name a few in that gem, it is based on a graphic novel about a group of retired CIA assassins.  It looks funny and action-packed.  If you have seen the trailer, Bruce Willis's move exiting the car into a gun fight is unrealistic, but exhilarating choreography.

The Reel Rhino 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's Kind of a Funny Story and Case 39

It has been kind of a crazy movie week for the Reel Rhino.  I went for 9 days without a flick, from Sunday Sept. 26th through Tues Oct. 5th...this was my longest movie drought of the year so far...on Tuesday morning, I had the shakes from withdrawal.

On Tuesday night, I was lucky enough to get to escort a group from the Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (MAFS) to the AMC Mainstreet for MAFS Movie Night.  The film we chose was The Town and we went to the AMC Mainstreet to see it.  As a part of the evening, we took a tour of the facility, which of course was fascinating due to historic nature of the Mainstreet Theater, but I think I will save that for another Blog day all of its own.

THE TOWN was a 5 of 5 horn movie and it was the second time I had seen it.  Also, of all the movies I could have seen for today's review, if the time had been right, I would have done THE SOCIAL NETWORK.  I still plan on doing it this week as I am a big Aaron Sorkin and AND David Fincher fan...these two together, must really be great!


Written for the screen and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, this is part teen emo-dramedy, part straight-adult-themed-drama.  It is based on 2006 novel of the same name, by Ted Vizzini.  The film is set in the adult psychiatric ward of a New York hospital where our young lead Craig, played by Keir Gilchrist, checks himself in for help after he decides he wants to kill himself.

This plays out in a way as a coming of age story, but in that regard, I do not think it succeeds.  Somehow, even though I feel like I shouldn't like this movie, I do.  I liked it a lot.  It was exactly the movie I needed to see at exactly the moment I saw it.

Going to the movies is more than just: "what's playing?"  It is important to go and see movies that match your mindset.  We were at the end of 2 crazy weeks, I was feeling a bit bonkers, and a movie about the psych ward was just about perfect for me..

Once Craig gets committed, even though it was at his request, he quickly realizes that his life wasn't that bad and that perhaps he has made a grave error.  Craig makes fast friends with Bobby, played by Zach Galifianakis.  He meets the self-destructive Noelle, played by Emma Roberts, who he quickly takes a fancy for and stakes as the target of his romantic endeavors. 

This film is loaded with actors with plenty of indie film cred...Jeremy Davies as one of the hospital staff, Viola Davis as Craig's Doctor on the inside, as well as Lauren Graham, Jim Gaffigan, and others.

Boden and Fleck, who previously wrote and directed SUGAR and HALF NELSON, have a knack for churning out films best described as indie darlings.  I think that as filmmakers, we will be seeing and enjoying much from this writing/directing pair.   

As for FUNNY STORY, this film is a very sweet story, but truly, almost to a fault.  Our lead, Craig is depressed and he checks himself in to what very well may be the most Utopian adult psychiatric center in the world, let alone New York. 

Here is where I will make a distinction for this film.  This is by no means an accurate portrayal of the state of conditions in a psychiatric center.  In fact, I would be willing to bet that most people who see this will be angered by the skewed perspective of these facilities. 

So then, if not accurate, then what is this movie?  It is a fun, cute, hip story that has some great stars and was very fun to watch, including a great musical number that really struck me as touching.

I felt my personal strongest draw to Bobby.  An over-stressed, suicidal patient whose goal throughout the film is to make it into a group home so he would gain visitation rights with his daughter.  I felt his pain and while I didn't relate to his sense of hopelessness, I could see that all he wanted to do was be a good father.  While I liked the teeny-bopper love story, it didn't resonate with me the way that Bobby's adult problems affected him.  And also, Zach Galifianakis may be the greatest American actor of this generation (yes, I am exaggerating a bit, but I really like him).

Think about "serious" Will Ferrell (see also: STRANGER THAN FICTION, WINTER PASSING, and MELINDA AND MELINDA).  Ferrell waited until he he pretty much expended his comedy range.  He covered so many topics, drama-ish type roles is the logical move for him. 

Zach Galifianakis is more-fortunate than Will Ferrell in two ways:

1) His breakout hit (THE HANGOVER) brought him into the spotlight on a bit more of a meteoric rise than Ferrell had to fight for across the span of SNL and into smaller movie roles.

2) He has tapped into his dramatic side a bit earlier than Ferrell did, which I think will keep him more fresh in each role, as we the audience, won't be beaten into the ground with Galifiankis wackiness.

Galifianakis is talented, funny, can play things serious or play them hilarious...or play them serious which turns out hilarious.  He stands near the top of my favorites of the moment.  If you get a chance to see him do stand up, jump on it.  He is the lone wolf...he is the wolf pack...he is a gem of American cinema of the moment and hopefully into the future.

Wow, that was quite a sidetrack, but Galifianakis is worth it.

This movie had some real high points.  I was at the end of a two week stretch from hell...little sleep, lots to do...I think I was a bit more emotional than usual and perhaps related on a more emotional level.  The film was a bit too sweet, but it still worked.  This was a mental institution wrapped in a red bow with frilly edges.  This was by no means anything resembling real life, but it was a funny, touching story than in my opinion shows creativity in film making interlacing the songs, the art, and the flashbacks into a movie that plays as hip and fresh. 

Also, on another note, Emma Roberts is cute as a button, and I think I have enjoyed everything she has been in...she is a chip off the old block, with her poppa being Eric Roberts and her auntie being Julia Roberts.

Craig acts as the films narrator which at first I thought was annoying, but I guess it grew on me.  This is intended to be his coming of age story, but really it is just a good story.  In my opinion, the coming of age romance drama is much stronger in ADVENTURELAND, Greg Mottola's 2009 film.  The filmic presentation of young adult angst was much more successfully there, but perhaps it was set in a time (and the state) in which the REEL RHINO was experiencing his coming of age and undergoing teen angst.

I give IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY a 4 of 5 horn rating...I really liked it, but perhaps not for the reasons the filmmakers intended.  Give it a try, it is entertaining at the very least.  I have embedded the trailer at the bottom of the site.  Check it out.  I will tell you that I loved the trailer.  Perhaps it was the music, which was provided for the film by Broken Social Scene, but I originally feared that this would be a case where the trailer would be far better than the actual movie.  That is not the case, but this trailer is well cut and definitely shows this flick in the most favorable manner possible.   


I don't have much to say about this flick, except that it is actually watchable.  The film barely succeeds, but it does, as a stab at horror and thrills.  The downside is that the story is not excessively original or exciting, but the direction is decent and there is a sense of style and watch-ability to this movie as it was shot.  

Renee Zellweger plays Emily Jenkins, an overloaded case worker who gets into trouble with guessed it, 39th Case!  She goes to look in on little Lily, who is living in a troubled household, but it is really unclear to what is going on.  Emily, along with her detective friend, played by Ian McShane, kick in the place and rescue Lily, and get Lily's parents arrested.  Lucky for us, Emily's boyfriend is a child psychologist, played by Bradley Cooper.  Also, Cooper ends up with his shirt off, for all my lady readers who were wondering.  

After her parents are arrested, Lily is set to go into a group home.  Emily is worried that Lily has already been hurt too much and she takes Lily in.  Shenanigans ensue and people start to die.

Lily plays the creepy little girl role in excellent fashion, but she doesn't hold a candle to the creepy little girl role presented in ORPHAN, which was received about the same as this flick by other critics, but that I hold as a superior movie.  Orphan was a better movie and it actually had a decent twist. 

The most interesting part of Case 39 is not the movie, it is more the fact that this movie was filmed in 2006 and slated for a 2008 release.  It got stuck in distribution hell and sat for over two years awaiting release.  This is not director Christian Alvert's first movie.  He also released Pandorum, last year, which I think is a much stronger movie.  Case 39 was made two full years before Pandorum.  Hopefully the vast superiority of Pandorum over Case 39 will show up as further improvement in Alvert's next flick.

See it at home, there is nothing at all to be gained from seeing CASE 39 in the theater.  3 of 5 horns...perhaps even more towards a 2.5...nothing special.  You will be fine watching this at home, and just as good missing it all together.  One of the benefits of checking this out is seeing Bradley Cooper in the early days of his acting when he was just becoming Bradley Cooper.

More from the Reel Rhino soon...
...till then, take care!