Category Archives: Comedy

Easy A (2010)

Here’s another recent one. I saw it not too long ago, but didn’t get a chance to write up a review. Now that classes are ending, I have time to catch up on my reviewing.

Easy A theatrical poster

On the surface, this teen comedy was entertaining, but nowhere near appropriate for young children. It spins the story of high school girl Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) who lies to her best friend (played by Alyson Michalka) that she had lost her virginity. This is overheard by a classmate (Amanda Bynes), and spreads around the school with physics-defying speed. Soon, the school’s Christian group, led by Bynes’s character, start a movement against her for being a slut. Gay student Brandon (the very cute Dan Byrd) asks her for help “blending in”, i.e. trying to pass as a heterosexual. Olive has pretend-sex with him at a party, which only fuels the rumors.

Brandon and Olive, immediately before their pretend-sex

When other “losers” find out what she did for Brandon, they ask her to do the same for them. Fat kids, geeks and assorted dweebs pay her to say she had sex with them. It completely ruins her image, and she begins to identify with Hester Prynne from Hawthorne novel The Scarlet Letter, who was shunned by society for adultery and forced to wear a red letter A on her chest. Taking a page out of that book, Olive sews a scarlet letter onto her own (increasingly provocative) outfits in defiance of those who think poorly of her.

However, her resolve wears thin. Soon, the mocking and protests take a toll on her self esteem until she begins to believe the rumors herself. Distraught, she eventually tricks the entire school into viewing her webcam, thinking she’s going to strip. Instead they find her sitting at her desk, fully clothed, telling the story of her fall from grace.

In here there’s also a love story. In a flashback, she is shown as a child playing “seven minutes in heaven” with Todd (Penn Badgley), who isn’t ready for his first kiss. She lies for him, telling everybody that they did kiss. He never forgot that, and so he refuses to believe what people say about her. As everyone else hates her more and more, he finds himself falling in love. After she tells her story to the entire school, he whisks her away just like they did in 1980s coming-of-age movies.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80’s movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80’s movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life.

Stylistically, it seems to want to emulate the 80s teen movies it mentions. However, it falls significantly short here. While those films generally had some sort of lesson to teach, this was pure drama for drama’s sake. There was no Breakfast Club moment where the characters realized they had been wrong about each other. The references were superficial, at best. It does, however, give a good indication of what those movies might have been like had they been made today. A little less meaning, a lot more attitude.

Overall, I enjoyed it. The DVD is coming out on 21 August, just in time for the holiday season. If you were raised on the Brat Pack, you should enjoy this. If you weren’t, I would still suggest adding it to your Blockbuster or Netflix queues.

Emma Stone was the clear breakout star here. She did an absolutely fantastic job with what the writers gave her, and she earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress (Comedy/Musical). Her performance here has landed her some big upcoming roles, including one opposite Steve Carrel, and the female lead for the reboot of Spiderman currently in production. Expect to see lots of her in the future.

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The Princess Diaries

Here’s another (very) brief review for you. After shuffling through my DVD shelf, I found The Princess Diaries. So, I popped it in and here I am.

The plot is very simple – a 15 year-old girl (Anne Hathaway) living in San Francisco finds out her grandmother (Julie Andrews) is the Queen of Genovia, a fictional country located between France and Spain. She must choose between the invisible nobody she is, and the rights and responsibilities she would have if she were to accept her title as Princess.

There really isn’t much beneath the surface here. The jokes are exactly as you would expect: Hathaway’s character having trouble understanding the finer points of Princess behavior, and her grandmother completely out of touch with modern American culture. The plot is simple and straightforward; not much in the way of twists or turns.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Just because the plot is predictable doesn’t make it boring. On the contrary, I found it enjoyable. If you want a deep moving experience, keep looking. But if all you need is a quick romp, or a family-friendly film (as only Disney can deliver) that won’t leave the grownups bored to tears, I would give it a chance.

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Analyze This

Sorry i’ve been away, folks. Life has been pretty chaotic. I’m now done with the Thanksgiving gauntlet, and ready to resume my reviews. In the interest of getting it all done and catching up with where I should be, I’m going to keep these next few reviews brief and to-the-point.

The 1999 film stars Billy Crystal as Ben Sobel, a psychiatrist that gets pushed into treating anxiety-ridden mobster Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro). Vitti is preparing for a nationwide Mafia conference/summit, but his frequent panic attacks cripple him and lead him to seek treatment from Dr. Sobel. This culminates in Sobel representing Vitti at the summit, and managing to hold his own until a dramatic shootout at the climax.

This film is one of the staples of 1990s comedy. Both of the protagonists exaggerate their characters to the point of being unrealistic, but wonderfully so. It requires that viewers suspend their disbelief, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The dialogue falls flat sometimes, but it also has some gems. The plot does seem to lose itself at times. I did particularly enjoy De Niro’s character, which showed the softer side to the mobsters we see in newspaper headlines. Paul Vitti had a family that he loved very much, and his anxiety attacks were the result of unresolved guilt over his father’s death. He was a mafia boss who was honest (brutally so, sometimes) and showed the full range of human emotion, even crying at times.

A tighter script would have helped the film out, but overall it wasn’t detrimental. I enjoyed this one, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good (not outstanding, but good) comedy.

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Young Frankenstein

I don’t give out five-star ratings lightly. In fact, you probably won’t see me give them to more than a dozen times out of the 400 reviews i’m going to write. So, when I say that Young Frankenstein deserves one,  I really mean it. From start to finish, the film was nothing but fantastic.

 

Young Frankenstein is a 1974 retelling/parody of the 1930s Frankenstein films. It is based on the premise that Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (portrayed by Gene Wilder, and pronounced FRONK-in-steen), a prominent neurosurgeon, wants nothing to do with his crazy ancestors, especially his infamous (and deceased) grandfather, Dr. Frankenstein. However, he inherits the latter’s castle, and by some strange twist of fate continues his grandfather’s work. The monster that he creates (the late Peter Boyle, better known as the grandfather from Everybody Loves Raymond) breaks loose and creates chaos. Villagers who remember the damage done by the Frankenstein family start a riot, and Frankenstein risks his own life in a last-ditch effort to save his creation from the villagers’ wrath.

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Filed under Comedy, Reviews