Gavin Grades The Movies

Posts from July 2011

Crazy Stupid Love
Whenever someone tells me that Steve Carrell is going to star in another movie I have to ask whether it's going to be a comedy or a drama.  The guy has turned out fantastic comedic performances like he did on NBC's The Office or Anchorman or The 40-Year-Old Virgin.  But he's capable of far more than a clown and he's shown that in movies like Little Miss Sunshine and Dan in Real Life and...well, NBC's The Office.  He's one of the few actors out there right now that can make you laugh one second and cry the next and, if you're lucky, do both, all in the same scene. In Crazy Stupid Love he's supported by an utterly stellar cast that includes Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, Blue Valentine), Julianne Moore (The Big Lebowski, The Kids Are Alright), Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinnie, The Wrestler) and Emma Stone (Zombieland, Easy A).  Everyone has impressed me in films prior to this one, but I can't help but to think that it was somehow Carrell that inspired everyone in this to meet the bar he set. The movie is one you've seen before.  It's about a middle-aged couple going through a divorce and how the man, who lost his zest for life and romance, gets it back after meeting a sexy suave stranger.  The premise is nothing new...little coming out of Hollywood is anymore; but that doesn't mean that it's not entertaining and touching.  It manages to maintain a tone through the whole film that's very refreshing.  There are some scenes that are extremely funny and a blast to watch, but if the movie got too sad and dark it would have put a damper on the comedy.  However it still has those scenes that might make you wipe a tear or two away since it's well-written enough that you care deeply for some of the characters. What makes it even more fun is that there are twists in the story that throw you curve balls and make sure you're not losing interest.  Even as predictable and cheesy as some scenes (especially the ending) can get, it's those shockers that really kept my eyes from rolling.  One particular twist is rather obvious, or at least was to me, if you're simply paying attention to some of the casting choices but that's all I'll say about that. Crazy Stupid Love isn't breaking any new ground and for that it gets docked a point.  However it's one of those movies that seems to come along rather often that is a universal crowd pleaser on almost all levels.  It doesn't get graphic.  It stays very sweet.  It has the perfect amount of ha-has.  It makes sure you don't leave unhappy.  It speaks to everyone on some level or another, even if it really doesn't have anything itself to say. Crazy Stupid Love (Rated PG-13) Gavin Grade: A-
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Cowboys and Aliens
Every audience of this film will be filled with people who love the idea of it...at first.  Then, I believe, people will leave telling others how much fun this movie is and word will spread.  Then others, who thought the premise of the film about cowboys battling aliens is completely stupid, will check it out and some...not all...but some will agree with how good it is. My wife attended this premier with me although she was positive it was going to be stupid.  I assured it couldn't be crap because it stars Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig  (the new James Bond, Defiance), was directed by John Favearu (Iron Man, Iron Man 2) and was produced by Steven Speilberg, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.  That's a blue ribbon pedigree right there.  Then I noticed during the opening credits that it was written by nine different people and I felt even more assured.  That many hands on a movie is either going to create quality or disaster, but I had faith that some of those top shelf Hollywood royalty wouldn't attach their names to crap.  I was right. Cowboys and Aliens is one of the most fun and well done films of the summer.  It's executed with precision because wavering slightly off target would have ruined it.  Harrison Ford, who plays one of his best roles since Han Solo, yells out the line "This is ridiculous" during a scene of exposition and although we all agree with him, that's as far as the movie goes to acknowledge it.  It's like a master comedian telling you a joke with a straight face.  The movie doesn't even give you as much as a wink to the premise being silly.  Everyone in the movie commits to the roles and plays it off as seriously as they could.  I loved that about it.  If it was done slightly campy or silly it would have felt like a totally different film and it wouldn't have satisfied what I was looking for.  I wanted True Grit and Independence Day to become one movie, although I don't smoke weed so a thought like that never crossed my mind until it was presented to me. The "cowboy" part of the film is done with such great detail that it would stand up to most great westerns.  The "alien" part of the film (although they're never called "aliens" since it's 1873...they're called "demons") is also done with splendid detail that it offers the thrills comparable to most great sci-fi films.  That is a very hard circus trick to pull off and I say they did it. Not everyone will agree with me however.  Cowboys and Aliens is going to be very polarizing for a lot of people.  Upon leaving this movie, I can say with confidence that you'll either love it or hate it; there will be no one left in between.  But there will be some haters that get converted to believers by exciting action, great performances, and even some shockingly touching scenes...just like my wife did.  For the rest of them, it's safe to say that if you think a movie titled Cowboys and Aliens sounds stupid and not intriguing in the slightest, you're better off staying home because that's exactly what you get...but hot damn is it fun. Cowboys and Aliens (Rated PG-13) Gavin Grade: A
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