Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop: Team Coco Forever

by Ethan Alter June 24, 2011 6:00 am
<i>Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop</i>: Team Coco Forever

The deliberately truncated title of Rodman Flender's terrific new documentary Conan O'Brien Can't Stop -- which takes viewers backstage on the carrot-topped comedian's 2010 live show the Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour -- can be completed four different ways based on what we see in the movie.

Bad Teacher: As Nasty As She Wants To Be

by Ethan Alter June 24, 2011 6:00 am
<i>Bad Teacher:</i> As Nasty As She Wants To Be

It takes Bad Teacher about a half-hour to figure out what kind of a comedy it wants to be and the wait is excruciating at times.

The Art of Getting By: Warning, Teen Angst Ahead

by Ethan Alter June 17, 2011 10:16 am
<i>The Art of Getting By</i>: Warning, Teen Angst Ahead

When it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, this indie teen drama from writer/director Gavin Wiesen screened under the title Homework. But after Fox Searchlight scooped the film up, they wisely renamed it The Art of Getting By, no doubt to keep cheeky critics from comparing the experience of watching Homework to actually doing homework. By any name though, it's one tedious slog of a movie.

<I>Mr. Popper’s Penguins</I>: The Six Reasons This Movie Wasn’t As Painful As It Could Have Been

I'm not going to say that this movie was entirely good, but as someone who is often forced to sit through some really, really, really awful movies geared towards children, this one was actually largely tolerable. That said, fans of the quaint children's book that is the source material might take issue with the fact that many a liberty has been taken in this adaptation - for example, it now features penguins doing hip-hop dancing. But unless you're watching a sweet Winnie The Pooh cartoon, that's basically inevitable when it comes to these sorts of things.

Green Lantern: A Hero Falls

by Ethan Alter June 17, 2011 6:00 am
<i>Green Lantern</i>: A Hero Falls

There's an interesting conceit at the core of Green Lantern, the otherwise overstuffed and clumsy superhero outing starring DC Comics' ring-wielding interstellar cop. Instead of pitting Hall Jordan and his emerald knight alter ego (played by Ryan Reynolds, in his third comic book-inspired outing after Blade: Trinity and X-Men Origins: Wolverine) against a bad guy bent on world domination, the screenwriters -- a four-man team that includes TV veteran Greg Berlanti and comic book scribe Marc Guggenheim -- make his primary enemy his own fear and self-doubt. Okay, so technically the film does feature a bad guy bent on world domination, an enormous yellow space cloud named Parallax that's floating towards Earth with plans to feast on the terror of the entire populace. But thematically, Parallax is just a giant, gaseous manifestation of Hal's shaky confidence in himself and his ability to be the hero his world requires. When he stares into the cloud's vaguely demonic face, he doesn't just see a villain that needs defeating -- he sees his own inadequacies reflected back at him.

Super 8: Going Off the Rails in Spielberg Territory

by Ethan Alter June 10, 2011 6:06 am
<i>Super 8</i>: Going Off the Rails in Spielberg Territory

Steven Spielberg's name is featured so prominently in all the trailers and poster for Super 8, you'd be forgiven for thinking that The Bearded One himself directed this summer season's latest would-be blockbuster. That feeling only intensifies in the movie's first few moments, which sets us down in a small Spielbergian town circa 1979 to the strains of a dreamy John Williams-ish score (actually composed by the always-stellar Michael Giacchino). But then the first of many lens flares strikes the camera and you remember, "Oh right! This is a J.J. Abrams joint!"

X-Men: First Class: The Best There Is at What It Does?

by Daniel Manu June 3, 2011 6:01 am
<i>X-Men: First Class</i>: The Best There Is at What It Does?

Despite the avalanche of trailers, clips, photos and interviews that have recently flooded the web in support of X-Men: First Class, it's worth noting how much the X franchise (which, after all, kick-started the resurgence of superhero cinema in 2000) has been overshadowed by the lead-up to The Avengers. But although I'm as eager as any fanboy to see that team finally assemble on screen next year, Matthew Vaughn's new film boldly, stylishly and masterfully makes an argument for the children of the atom resuming their place as the homo superior of Marvel movies - not to mention providing crackerjack entertainment that can take its place with the most effective of modern blockbusters. But is it the best? Let's examine the evidence:

<I>Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure</I>: More Ridiculous Than Even We Could’ve Hoped For

This direct-to-DVD movie isn't exactly what you'd call good, but it was considerably better than yet another High School Musical installment. This spinoff had the decency to focus on the best thing about the HSM franchise: the Sharpay character. She's self-involved and pampered to a deliriously wonderful degree, and here she gets it in her brainy head to go to New York to pursue her dream of being an actress, which she soon realizes that it is a bit more difficult than just flashing her daddy's credit card everywhere. It has elements of Legally Blonde (Sharpay's obsessed with pink, too) but while I personally adore Ashley Tisdale, Reese Witherspoon she is not. Here's what really doesn't work about the movie:

Megamind: This Movie Will Not Blow Your Mind

by Angel Cohn November 5, 2010 6:00 am
<I>Megamind</I>: This Movie Will Not Blow Your Mind

While I saw Megamind last weekend, I guarantee when this movie comes out on DVD six months from now, I'll be scratching my head trying to remember what the plot of it was. It reminds me of Monsters vs. Aliens in that way. Not a terrible movie, not particularly original, fine to watch for an hour and a half but totally unmemorable. In fact, I know that I'll start saying "Ho-lo" instead of "Hello" and not be able to remember at all where I heard that. I know it's going to drive me Google crazy in the future.

TAGS: megamind
<I>The Romantics</I>: Like the Worst Episode of <I>Dawson’s Creek</I> But Exponentially More Painful

Remember how Dawson's Creek got pretty unwatchable (more so than normal) for a while there towards the end? This really feels like that, and not just because the former Joey Potter is in it, but because everyone just seems like they came straight out of Capeside and landed in this post-college horrible nightmare. There is a group of friends who have a weird incestous relationship where they've all basically hooked up with each other at some point (aside from the brother and sister), some characters have purposefully weird names like Minnow and Tripler, Katie's character can't make up her mind (shocker!) and she has a best frenemy who is blonde with big boobs. And so there's not a creek, but they do spend the majority of the time by the ocean. Oh, and they all talk like they're sitting around discussing philosophy all the time, with big five dollar words and attempts to make frivolous things sound lofty and important, and Josh Duhamel's character recites poetry. It's all completely believable. I assure you.

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