Saturday, December 24, 2005

Couch Potato

I watched four full movies during the weekend - a long lazy weekend for me, one that I haven't had for some time. The first was, "The Wedding Date," the next one was the Hollywood remake of "The Grudge," the third was "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," and the fourth was "Must Love Dogs."

Why should a guy like me indulge in chick flicks (yes, even the aforementioned "Smith" is a chick flick pumped up with a little testosterone - uhh, that brings up really unpleasant images)? Simple: in a place like Saudi Arabia, hiding the sensitive side just doesn't work. Besides, I'm sick and tired of bang-me-ups, except if there is an inkling of Strong Sexual Content. After all, I'm not feeding my brain and I'm not raising my IQ with those movies. Better look at them the way they really are.

For the first, I wasn't a fan of Debra Messing because I hardly saw "Will and Grace" on TV. I have been, she is one righteous babe! I don't regret missing "Will and Grace" but after I Googled her and realized that I had watched some of her work, it's remarkable I didn't remember her for her outstanding cameos in "A Walk in the Clouds" and "The Mothman Prophecies." Dermot Mulroney appears as her romantic interest. So-so guy, I guess it's the Southern accent and the designer body that stokes up the female attention. Matt McConaughey would have been a better fit, but I guess he wasn't available.

High points of the movie --- none really, except for the odd voyeuristic moments with Mr. Mulroney. Debra is "hot", but only as the complete package (her character is a bit shallow and self-absorbed, but heck, would I notice?), because her specific parts wouldn't match up well with the products of cosmetic surgery. The story is lame, in the sense that "Pretty Woman" is lame --- where do we find enlightened hookers these days? Not that I would know where to look.

Verdict --- A safe choice if you have time to waste. Also, if you want to talk shop with your girlfriends. Not a good movie for guys, except if they happen to be fans of Debra Messing. Or of Alicia Silverstone, since she is virtually a redhead version of Alicia.

I started on the Smiths but instead worked up my appetite for "The Grudge." Chills and thrills for this movie, but since I watched "Ju-on" the remake falls a step back even though they brought the original director back to do the Hollywood version. Still good though, though some of the horrors were predictable. But then, I've seen "The Eye," "The Ring" and a host of similar works, so nothing much to report. Sarah Michelle Gellar looks OLD. They shouldn't have cast her as a nursing student. Too much of a stretch of the imagination. The Japanese actors were a credit to the production.

High points of the movie --- All the thrill portions, but they come few and far between, and the use of the face is very predictable. The device loses its capacity to scare you midway through the movie.

Verdict --- Thumbs up if you want your date to cuddle up to you. Not good for a first date. Great for vacationers during Holy Week or Halloween holidays. Ruins the Christmas spirit, so drop it when seeing it with family. And oh, it's a cool movie to watch with your buddies.

Now we get to "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." Downright disappointing. Angelina Jolie is her usual luscious self, but there is not enough tension to show a genuine animosity. The characters are too likeable and flat. It's not their fault, really. It's just the design of the movie. On the other hand, there are not enough brain-numbing, rock 'em-sock 'em, blow-me-up scenes in the movie to qualify it as a testosterone flick. Brad is his usual bland, blase self, so chicks digging him wouldn't have trouble finding opportunities to drool (alas, not enough of Angelina to go by...).

High points of the movie --- The fight scenes between the leads. However, offense to the ladies, but the Angelina character is just a bit too resilient to be plausible. That, or Brad Pitt's character fights like a wuss. Well, I've never been much into his style, anyhow. The scenes with them cooperating just look too choreographed. Stylish, but not enough sizzle.

Verdict --- A mediocre offering for typical dates. Great if you are a fan of either, or of both. Good enough to watch with your steady, but not enjoyable fare for husband and wife. Single women may like the independent streak of Jane Smith, but true married women wouldn't buy her lack of perception over her husband's true persona. As for John Smith, if I had a trophy wife, I'd knock her up pronto so that I will tie her down to me ASAP. Yup, he is a wuss.

Finally, "Must Love Dogs." Ever since "The Outsiders" (one of the first movies I ever watched on video) I was really into Diane Lane. Despite her lack of quality movies for the rest of the '80s, I believed that she would get to the top eventually, though belatedly, when she really whipped up a storm in "Unfaithful." Something about prodigality always get winners. John Cusack is like a proto-male (in my terms), though he is actually 6'4", white, American, and miles away ahead in the looks department. In "Say Anything," he defined one generation coming of age (high school to college) and in "High Fidelity" and "Grosse Pointe Blank" he typified a man coming to grips with the important things in life.

And oh, he gave girls the shaft (as in arrows of love) in "Serendipity" though I know it was a bit of a dumb movie, if I weren't so in love with Kate Beckinsale.

Yeah, I wish I could be like John Cusack. Only not in this movie. If I weren't a fan of his, his character in this movie was that of a total LOSER. Not the loveable loser in "High Fidelity" but just a loser, period. I mean, even such a total dork like Dermot Mulroney's character could trump him in charming the lady into bed (Yes, I got positively sick of watching Dermot Mulroney getting the girl this weekend).

But oh, Diane, Diane. Such a delectable neurotic...

High points of the movie --- I just enjoyed watching Diane Lane. The freaking copy was like, uh, really bad (you could see silhouettes of the people in the cinema!). Aside from that, there wasn't even a high point with the dogs. I mean, the only siginficant part with any dog was during the last part, and even then, the dog was just a set piece, some imperfect deus ex machina. Stockard Channing, Christopher Plummer, and Elizabeth Perkins were great foils. Liz in particular is my favorite, dating from "About Last Night."

Verdict --- It's a loveable loser, if only for Diane Lane and her interchanges with her family and friends. I gather it's a better read. If so, maybe some ladies will get some more value for their money should they buy the book. And young Julie Gonzalo is up-and-coming. She should get more screen time.


So I was. By the way, I was able to sneak in "Polar Express" on satellite TV in the wee hours of Friday morning. Great Christmas fare. Typical, but good only for the kids. I'd throw in "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" had I finished the movie, but our satellite signal got scrambled in the middle of the darned film. Shame.

It would be a long time until I get an opportunity to vegetate in front of a screen, so this weekend was a welcome relief.

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