The Reel Rhino is very ready to eat crow, and I will do it with a smile (usually). I had sworn off seeing NO STRINGS ATTACHED, primarily for the presence of everyone's favorite prankster: Aston Kolchak (see also, Hot Tub Time Machine). Of course I mean Ashton Kutcher and I think it was in my bottom 10 post that I said he has potential, but he is just not there as a serious actor just yet.
I am eating crow...Ashton Kutcher did a damn fine job in this film, playing Adam, our lucky dog who gets signed on to have relationship-free sex at every available opportunity with Emma, played by Natalie Portman. The premise is that Emma has a relationship phobia, but by no means does that mean that she isn't frisky for some funnin'.
NO STRINGS ATTACHED was better than expected. I thought Natalie Portman was funny and charming and by far the best part of the movie. I would have liked a little more back story on why she is so afraid of commitment. It seems forced and strange. We maybe get a peak at the genesis of this paradigm in the final minutes of the film, but it was too late to keep us from scratching our heads throughout the first 4/5ths.
She says she becomes a different person when she is in a relationship but we see no evidence of that so when she meets a great guy it's hard to understand why she won't be more than sex-buddies with him. Ashton Kutcher is what Ashton Kutcher is...if you haven't liked him in past things you won't like him in this. But for a rom-com he does what a male lead needs to do...be cute and funny.
Kevin Kline makes an appearance as Kutcher's dad and while the character he plays is pretty unlikeable it is just nice to see him on screen; can't remember the last time I saw him in a flick. The moments between Kutcher and his.2 buddies (Ludacris and Jake M. Johnson) are very funny and generally well written from both the perspective of comedy and also nailing how three best-friends would actually interact.
The Kid in the Helmet's Summary
It's a pretty enjoyable flick but there are a few "comedic" bits after "the end" of the movie that are kind of infuriating. I won't spoil it but they aren't funny, they often make no sense based on earlier events in the movie, and go as far to unredeem a previously redeemed character. I know that is too much analysis for a goofy rom-com but it just kind of irked me. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
The Reel Rhino's Summary
I too was entertained and while I agree with the unredeeming of the previously redeemed, I don't think it does nearly the damage Helmet indicates above. I thought the comedy was well delivered and appropriate for a movie about guilt-free, relationship-free sex. This is an R-rated movie and there were F-bombs aplenty and loads of sex-talk and anatomy discussions that would have Dr. Ruth feeling right at home! Some of the humor is potty humor, but contrary to my complaints in the past, it found an appropriate home here. But for all the decent laughs and (I can't believe I am going to say this) the decent acting, this film was good but not great. If nothing else, there is a palpable chemistry between out two leads and it helps give the story some credibility.
Lake Bell had a great turn as a line producer on the TV show on which Adam works. She is lovely and played just-off-center perfectly. Two other treats were Greta Gerwig and Mindy Kaling as Portman's roomie and fellow staffers at the hospital where she works. Both deliver lines in an exceedingly cute way and their addition helped to build a more full-bodied cast. Check out Greta in a great indie flick called BAGHEAD, the product of mumblecorp and a film by Jay and Mark Duplass, both of whom are gaining speed as serious film makers. Finally, Olivia Thurlby, plays Emma's sister, who is to be married. The wedding serves as this added force reinforcing relationships that only serves to divide our hapless heroine all the more.
As THE KID says above, Kevin Kline was adequate. I would have loved to see Sydney Pollack (R.I.P.) in this role, ala his character in MADE OF HONOR, but Kline held his own.
Look at that! The Reel Rhino comparing and contrasting too rom-coms....beware the coming of the apocalypse.
The Reel Rhino says 3.5 Horns of 5 and it fell just short of a four, perhaps due to my predispositions to the film in general and if you think I was wrong for my Kutcher comments, just breathe in the climactic final line in the pinnacle scene between Portman and Kutcher. I wasn't wrong to dog him, but I will say that Kutcher is making progress. But comparing Killers to NSA leaves only the conclusion that he would have to improve, as Killers was garbino!
I had written this film off entirely, and I was surprised. Pass the ketchup for the Crow. Also, I was surprised when I saw Ivan Reitman in a cameo role as director for the show where Adam works. Well it makes sense, as he was the DIRECTOR of the film! He is one of my old-time favorites and even though GHOSTBUSTERS is my all-time favorite #1 flick, I did also enjoy My Super Ex Girlfriend and Evolution, more recently. Both were somewhat cheesy, as is this film, but at least this is a hard R and we have the pleasure of catching a view of the top edge of Natalie Portman's bum (worry not all others, Kutcher's ass shows up in all its glory!)! Yes, I went there!
By The Reel Rhino and Kimbaliano
The Reel Rhino is so lucky to have a friend in Utah working as a Volunteer at The Sundace Film Festival, the yearly offering of new and great films from a wide range of filmmakers from up and comers to long established directors.
Sundance is a film festival in which movies are viewed, libations are consumed, and deals are made! The deal is perhaps the most valuable aspect of SUNDANCE from the perspective of the filmmaker. This is where you see the fruits of your work enjoyed and appreciated in the form of finding security in the form of a a distribution studio.
The great KIMBALIANO has taken up camp in the heart of SUNDANCE and she has already sent me some tidbits. I expect a bit more of a flow of info to be coming your way soon, so stay tuned and if you like, SUBSCRIBE! I would be glad to have you.
KIMBALIANO on the chance to meet again Ewan McGregor, one of her favorite actors: I'm really hoping to make it to the first showing (Perfect Sense) on Monday night, since it's most likely he'll be at that one over any of the other showings. It'll be tight since my volunteer shift ends late, so keep your fingers crossed for me. I only hope he remembers me from last time :) I'll have a later chance later in the week, but it won't be in Park City, so it's unlikely he'll be there.
I got a couple to see a couple of things today. Saw one of the Shorts programs, which was pretty entertaining. One of my favorites was called Brick Novak, done entirely in dioramas with barbie like dolls, but certainly none that you'd see in school. Very funny, and very inspired by 70s television - it even made me snort at one point. Apparently it's already been purchased by HBO and an extended version is currently running on "Funny or Die presents". Pretty clever, and good for some laughs if you can catch it. You can see the general page for the short at: http://www.funnyordie.com/topic/novak.
Also got to see My Idiot Brother, starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and bunch of other folks you'd recognize. All of them were at the showing too, which is always cool. It came into the festival with a ton of buzz and tickets were scarce. I got in the volunteer line 1.5 hours early, and was still behind a number of folks. Sigh. I really wanted to love love love it, and overall, it was entertaining - but in the end, it was missing something. Really disappointing because it was well acted and I caught myself laughing during a bunch of it, but I walked out thinking "meh". There was just no umph to it.
Apparently, though, the Brothers Weinstein saw things a little differently as they have sealed the deal on MY IDIOT BROTHER. Perhaps star appeal and a little bit of history played in to this. The cast is loaded with great folks! The guarantee is $5 to $6 million and there is a $15 million approved for P&A and a wide-release clause to ensure that at least the star value will pay off, regardless of how it fairs critically or how well it is received by a wide-audience. The hedged bet may also be due to the film makers behind this film being the same ones who gave us the indie darling, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.
I work tomorrow (Sunday, January 23rd, 2011), so I probably won't get to see anything (at least in it's entirety).
A final note about the festival...as I type this entry, Kevin Smith is screening RED STATE for the first time. At the conclusion of the screening, there will be a live auction for the right to distribute! Vedy, vedy exciting!! I love Kevin Smith's film making style and I am in the minority of COP OUT apologists.
For The Reel Rhino, The Kid in the Helmet, and Kimbaliano, until later, take care!