Life of Pi

James Cameron was all like, “That whale needs to be MORE iridescent. Damn it!!!!”

I’m going to talk about God. Now, if you’re a sane individual, that last sentence made your ass pucker. And, within the first ten minutes of Life of Pi, when Pi says, “I’m going to make you believe in God.” My ass completely puckered. I had been duped. I didn’t know this was a religious movie.

It’s not that religion is bad or anything. I have some form of belief, just as you do, even if your belief system is the absence of one. The problem with talking about religion is that it’s too varied and nobody will ever agree completely with your ideals. There are disagreements even within one religion. Look at the Catholics, almost all women Catholics believe that birth control is ok to use. And all the old men Catholics think it’s a sin against God. THEY’RE IN THE SAME FUCKING CHURCH AND THEY CAN’T AGREE!!! So, most people shouldn’t talk about religion because, when they do, they end up sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher to everyone listening. I almost shut down in Life of Pi, but I’m glad I didn’t. It’s a pretty film with a sweet center.

The film follows, as the name would dictate, the life of Pi. Pi’s a religious dude but he’s an equal opportunity religious dude. In fact, homeboy signs up for almost every major religion. It’s a convenient way to not offend anyone but it works for the most part. Anyway, Pi gets into a shipwreck and spends months floating around the sea. But he’s stuck with a tiger, which is rad, more movies should have tigers in them. And together they just float on and pray to God.

And here’s where the religion thing kicks in. Life of Pi has a very thin, fine line to walk. It has to show a man of faith be tested, that’s pretty much the entire moral. But, it has to do so without becoming preachy because, again, no sane human being likes when things get preachy. And Pi walks that line so deftly it’s amazing to watch.

(Also, typically James Cameron’s bullshit phosphorescent visuals piss me off but this time they weren’t that bad. Probably because Cameron just helped out and didn’t direct the film. If he had we would’ve had another Avatar on our hands. And, fuck Avatar, that movie looks cheap and dated and it’s only a couple years old.)

There are moments, particularly toward the end, where I was like, “Oh boy, here we go. Lay it on me, it’s gonna get all deep and heavy handed on me.” But Pi never hits you over the head with anything. In fact, it allows wiggle room for you to project your beliefs onto the film. Atheists can be like, “That wasn’t about God.” Christians can be like, “God is good!!” Hindus can be like, “Gods are great.” And so on and so forth.

And, some might argue that this movie is a jack of all trades and a master of none but I think it proves just how similar the human race is. So let’s stop fighting dudebros. I don’t care if you worship Zuul from Ghost Busters. We’re all just here to get along, dudebros.

Grade: A-

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Rise Of The Guardians

Avenger’s assemble!!!!!!! Wait, no, I mean Holiday Myths assemble!!!!!!!

I once dated this broad: pretty on outside, empty on the inside. Now, typically this isn’t a problem for me, I’ll fuck anything pretty. Hell, I’ll fuck anything mildly attractive. Who am I kidding? I’ll even hog it some nights and fuck ugly chicks. But I only date chicks who are rad on the inside as well as outside. Anyway, this broad was really ugly outside, said stupid shit, would never shut up, and just didn’t seem to understand what life expected from her. She was like this adorable zombie that traveled the world without purpose.

Anyway, a few years back Dreamworks decided to stop producing cynical joke-fests like Megamind and focus on heartfelt films like How To Train Your Dragon. It took a while but Rise of The Guardians is one of these new crop of soulful films aimed to mimic Pixar. Rise Of The Guardians is that chick I dated: pretty on the outside and emotionally dead inside.

The film follows Jack Frost as he meets up with a hulked-out Santa and Easter bunny, and rather impressively rendered Sandman and Tooth Fairy. All together these guys kick some ass for children all around the world, Avengers style. And when the Boogie Man shows up and starts fucking with little kids (Get your mind out of the fucking gutter. He just gives them nightmares and shit.), they jump into action, Avengers style. Too back the end product lacks the Avenger’s actual style.

Right out the gate, this film is fucking gorgeous. The Sandman alone is a feat of technical wonder that real life films, in this day and age, can’t match. The first shot even, Jack Frost sinking into a moon lit pond, is startling in its beauty. The film is so pretty, in fact, that I found myself counting the hairs in Santa’s beard. Or trying to understand how they created the Tooth Fairy’s iridescent feathers. As a self proclaimed Team Pixar fan, I’ve never seen Disney’s company create anything that looks this good.

But what good is a lovely picture if it doesn’t move you? And, it tries. Lord does it try. It does a fairly good job establishing characters and giving them clear goals to aim for. Typically that’s all most movies need to do. But, while I understand where who these characters are, they never made me care about them. I mean, Santa was pretty boss but toward the end he kinda becomes a one note joke. And The Boogie Man should be an interesting scary villain, but his plot is so contrived it’s hard to take him seriously.

While I wish Dreamworks nothing but the best, How To Train Your Dragon is one of my favorite films, Rise of The Guardians missed its intended mark. They get points for trying but the animation company has yet to figure out Pixar’s secret sauce. (Psst… it’s marinara.)

Grade: C+

Red Dawn

When we shoot you, you’ll know it because our PG-13 violence demands you drop to the ground without a single wound.

If I hate one thing in this world it’s my neighbor’s dog. (Seriously, dude, I know it’s you shitting in my yard. And, even if you say differently, I can hear you barking at five in the morning. LAY OFF MY NUTS, MAN!!! Don’t make me fight you.) If I hate two things in this world, the first is my neighbor’s dog, the second is the invention of PG-13 films.

I’m not even one of those DudeBros that will only be satisfied watching an R film. So, slam your trap shut if you think that’s where this is going. G and PG have never offended me. Hell, some of my favorite films are PG and G. The Toy Story franchise has built a sturdy home on parental guidance. And Back to The Future is, hyperbole aside, the greatest film ever created in any known universe.

For some reason the MMPA (If I had a third thing that I hated, it would be the MMPA, if you’re keeping track.) needed a new rating that straddled the line between the super rad sex and violence of R and the candy colored happy fun times of PG. Thus, BOOM, PG-13 was created in 1984 to suit a film called Red Dawn. And that rating has been making bland movies even blander up until today, when PG-13, took a role in fucking up the remake of Red Dawn.

The new Red Dawn highlights everything that’s wrong with the entire ratings system. The plot follows the same plot of the original: America is overrun by enemy soldiers and a group of teens form a bad ass militia and start killing enemy soldiers. In the first film it was Russians because the Cold War was still raging. In the new film, America is overrun by Chinese soldiers with badly CGI-ed North Korean flags stickered to their uniforms. Because, apparently we can’t afford to anger China anymore for fear they might actually attack us. Thus, a North Korean enemy was created for the film despite the fact that North Korea would never have the manpower to feasibly attack us. From there the film devolves into two hours of bloodless, boring fights.

But let’s get one thing clear: I didn’t want this film to be a violent blood bath. It, conversely, REALLY wanted to be dark and edgy without the actual cost it takes to be dark and edgy. Believe me, I know dark and edgy, dark and edgy gets me laid on the nightly and it requires a certain amount of work to pull off.

This film wants real stakes, life and death shit. And, the death toll is high, major characters take bullets to the head often. Enemy soldiers get shot down in hails of gunfire. And skateboards strapped with explosives blow up a lot of tanks. The director does a great job of creating a sense of dread but failed to follow through.

The first time soldiers get shot in this film there is no blood. They get a least seven bullets to the stomach and fall over dead. Now, again, I don’t care if they don’t want blood in their film. The Dark Knight didn’t have a drop of blood but the camera was used effectively enough to create REAL dread. Red Dawn shows you everything, without blood, and it’s confusing. I actually didn’t even know the soldiers had died, or that they even got shot. I just assumed they dropped to the ground out of fear. But then it kept happening. Someone will be shot and just drop dead without any physical damage.

That’s why PG-13 sucks. It wants to be an adult R but is too queasy to deal with adult themes. Red Dawn is all about kids pretending to be adults, facing hard choices, and it’s very fitting that, as a PG-13 movie, it can’t quite live up to them.

Grade: D+

Lincoln

Three hours of Abe’s angry face. You don’t want to mess with Abe when he’s got out his angry face.

Maybe it’s just me, but I expect more from my girlfriends than the prostitutes I bang. You gotta have standards, ya know? And, a broad from the red light district can get away night toots or demanding condoms. A chick I’m dating? Better be dolled up in fancy dresses and massaging my feet while the pot roast simmers in the kitchen.

Boom, I said it.

This philosophy extends to film as well. See, I don’t have a problem when a film DOESN’T want to be art. If the filmmaker’s sole goal is to make money. So be it. Frankly, blockbuster popcorn flicks are a shit ton easier to review. They either entertained me or they didn’t.

Art house though, art house wants to be something, make you feel something. It wants to live on for ages and be shown in film schools for decades. But, mostly, they just want to nab an Oscar. And so I tend to be a lot harder on those films. It’s no longer solely about my entertainment level. Suddenly I gotta pay attention to stage direction, camera work, and narrative structure. Blah, blah, blah. And, it’s through this tougher prism, that I can give Lincoln an enthusiastic eh and a shoulder shrug.

Lincoln is the annual Oscar bait by the most well known working director in the world. He’s too famous to state his name but, you know him, since Jaws his name has been a verb. And that’s fine. He totally deserves the circle jerk he constantly gets. This time around it’s a passion project he’s been trying to get off the ground for years. And, for a passion project, there’s not all that much passion involved.

The same can said of last year’s War Horse. Fuck War Horse. That film did not deserve an Oscar nomination. Lincoln will get a nod too and, while it’s infinitely better than War Horse, it’s not breaking any ground.

The acting is astounding, yes. (Especially you, Crazy Sad Gidget. I hope you land a best actress for this.) The direction is impeccable, sure. The score is even gloriously sweeping and important. It all looks, acts, and speaks like a movie gunning for an Oscar and that’s why it shouldn’t get an Oscar. I mean, come on, if this is supposed to push the boundaries of film shouldn’t it, I dunno, crazy fucking idea, do something different?

I know it sounds like I hated it. I, truly, really enjoyed it. It was an interesting film made well. But it was made exactly how I expected it to be made. Yet the academy won’t see that. This is, after all, the organization that let King’s Speech win over The Social Network. It’s still to early to make bets on how the awards will shake out this year but, believe me, if Lincoln wins, it’ll be leaving a more innovative film in it’s wake.

Grade: B+

Twilight Breaking Dawn Part Two

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“I’m an amazing actor. I’ve been nominated for hundreds of awards. I’ve fucked Kate Beckensdale AND Rachael McAdams. But even I can’t tell you what I’m doing in this piece of shit.” -Pale Tony Blare

Alright, it’s finally fucking over. Can we move on to better Young Adult stories? Ones with actual violence and one where real stakes actually exist? Hunger Games maybe? Whatever gets our attention next has to be better than this Mormon propaganda bull shit.

Grade: Free at Last!!! Free at last!!!

Skyfall

I bang chicks for a living, but even I can admit he’s a fine piece of man-meat. No homo.

I love my DudeMomBro. She’s the greatest. I don’t care if that makes me sound like a Sissy Bunny Wussy either. DudeMomBro is a saint. I don’t know anyone else who’ll make me dinner, buy me pornos, and casually shake her head when she catches me getting busy in the middle of a Devil’s Threeway banging many chicks without a man in sight.

The point is: she puts up with a lot. But, at the end of the day, she loves her DudeBro and will do anything for me, and I for her, like beating up all the Johns that show up at our door at midnight. (Dudes, give it up, I know my mom’s a dime piece but she’s put that life behind her. Enough already. My fist is tired of bashing your faces.) It’s an interesting, undying connection, the bond between mother and son. I also didn’t use the word Bond on accident. Because, as luck would have it, Skyfall is almost exclusively about what a son will do for his mother.

Skyfall starts with Bond searching for a stolen list of British spies. This list, without too much exposition necessary, obviously compromises a bunch of classified people. So M, Bond’s boss and mother figure, is all like, “I’m not fucking around, Bond. Get that list back or I’ll kill you.” Which, spoiler alert, M kills Bond within the first five minutes. But, because this is his film, he doesn’t really die and actually discovers on of M’s old spies is actually responsible and is hell bent on destroying M.

That’s where the Bad Haircut Dude From No Country For Old Men shows up in Skyfall with an even more regrettable haircut. His villain is basically Bond in the worst possible circumstances. He’s Bond gone bad, Bond’s twin brother who deeply envies both Bond’s life and his unbreakable relationship with M. And so, in an amazingly personal tale for a Bond film, James must save one of the only people he cares about.

The world isn’t at risk in this film. England isn’t in danger either. There’s not a laser on the moon or poisoned water wells. It’s just M. And, even with such low stakes, the tension is amazingly effective.

Cause, I’ll complain about Bond to anyone who’ll listen. I’m not the biggest fan. I think his films are superficial and quite a bit boring. Bond never learns anything. He never changes. He just shows up, bangs a chick, and shoots a gun. I get that’s part of his charm but, after fifty years, I think it’s ok to actually give the dude a character arc.

That’s part of why the new Bond films work so well. Casino Royal set up a clear rise and fall for the dude. He fell in love (Rare for Bond.) and then lost his love. (Extremely common place for Bond.) Quantum of Solace was far from great but at least it followed through with a character arc. It was Bond on a warpath, still grieving and having to deal with that.

Skyfall works because Bond actually has something to lose. His body is severely compromised at a time when he needs it most. THAT’S tension folks. It’s not a giant fucking explosion but never knowing when a bomb will burst.

Now, it’s far from perfect, storylines are introduced and ejected at an alarming rate. The stolen list of spys? An after thought fast the first hour. Bond’s broken body? Magically gets better without any sacrifice by the third act. These are all kind of annoying to witness but, because the film does so well with Bond and M’s relationship, you’re still going to be entertained.

So, what are today’s lessons? My DudeMomBro is no longer a prostitute. No Country Dude really needs to fire his hair stylist. Bond works better when Bond has something to lose. Explosions are rad. And I love my DudeMomBro and causally beat the shit out of anyone who touches her. Great day, kids. Great day. We’ll see you nerds next week.

Grade: A-

Flight

Shouldn’t have slammed that extra shot of vodka bro. You’re in a heap of shit now.

Legal Forward: The following review contains strong language, a joke or two about cocks, and the avocation of alcohol as a legitimate pastime. DudeBro hereby waves all responsibility because alcohol is bad and should never be consumed by responsible parties except in extreme cases like a visit from your mother-in-law or the loss of your favorite sports team. Alcohol bad. DudeBro good.

I once dated a broad that claimed I was an alcoholic. Can you believe that? Sure, I threw up on her mid-banging. Absolutely, I forgot her name a couple of Buds in. And, without a doubt, I’m generally drunk as fuck when I write these things up. You ever see a spelling error or misplaced punctuation? Blame the Absolute I was pounding a few hours earlier. But, come on, I don’t have a problem. I just like to party.

The past two weeks I’ve watched two movies where the lead has a severe alcohol problem though. And, you know what? It’s pretty much reaffirmed my faith that, indeed, I do not have a fucking drinking problem. Because, no matter how many chicks I spew on, I’ll never be as bad as Drunken Training Day Cop is in Flight.

Flight tells the story of Training Day Cop after he gets drunk, has a faulty plane, and then saves a shit ton of people. The movie then becomes a morality tale. Is it ok that he was drunk? Did his inebriation actually cause the wreck? What happens when you snort choke after emptying an entire fifth of vodka? It’s a lot slower paced than I imagined but I ain’t hating too much.

Mostly because this is the first live action film from acclaimed director Robert Zemeckis. For the last ten years the dude has given up tactile direction for weird, off putting motion capture shit. So, going in, my hopes were high. This is the dude who fucking took Marty McFly back to the future. He got Forrest Gump his second Oscar THEN stuck him on an island with a volleyball. There was also the bonus of Training day Cop. They’ve worked together before and it’s always fun to see great actors team up with boss directors.

Yet, as discussed in my Smashed review, the most important thing a movie can do is make you like its lead. Flight fails in this respect. Training Day Cop acted his ass off, sure. It’s a haunted and real performance that he should absolutely be proud of. But unlike, say, Training Day, his character is pretty much only an asshole. It’s hard to root for the dude.

This film plays along the same will-they-won’t-they-drink premise of Smashed too. But, in Smashed, I didn’t want Ramona Flowers to drink. I was pushing for her the whole time and that made it all the more tragic when she slipped up. Training Day Cop slips up just as much but I never felt bad about it. I wanted him to slip up because he was such a fucking fuck up.

All in all though, it’s a welcome return from the Uncanny Valley for Zemeckis. I’m glad his little trip there didn’t weaken any of his strengths. I look forward to more from him, even if I might be totally wasted when I see any of his future work.

Legal Note: DudeBro does not advocate or condone the use of alcohol. Even if it’s completely rad, all statements in this review should be taken as a joke. He is not, nor has he ever been drunk while watching a movie. Except for the really bad ones where drinking is practically a requirement. M. Night, I’m looking at you. 

Grade: B

Wreck-It Ralph

“Dude, I don’t care if you’re a video game sprite, You’re not fucking eating my flesh.” – Ralph

Sometimes I wonder just how much Disney hates Pixar. Think about it. Before Pixar, Disney was fucking it. Sure, sometimes companies would make a cartoon or two, but Disney was king. It didn’t matter what they made, audiences had to eat it up and be grateful.

For most of the nineties, Michael Eisner had the luxury of being like, “Families don’t want to watch a film about a Hunchback?!?! Too bad!!! Make that fucking movie!!!!” Or, “I don’t give a shit if it’s historically accurate and gross, Pocahontas need giant tits AND bang John Smith!!!”

Then Eisner made a misfire, from a corporate standpoint. He hired a tiny little, relatively unknown company named Pixar. And, like all young hungry talented whelps, Pixar changed everything. Suddenly story mattered. Out of the blue, it became cool to please both children and adults. And, more important to investors, Pixar always returned a profit during a time when Disney became fat and lazy.

This miscalculation cost Eisner his job.

And, through the fog, Pixar started a new fad of hip, fun cartoons aimed at everyone. It’s been a good run for Pixar. I honestly love their shit on a completely biased level. They could make a film about a talking piece of shit and I’d probably be like, “Dude, sweet!!!”

Yet, there are signs the company is getting just as fat and lazy as Disney was in its renaissance. Because, frankly, Cars 2 blew fucking chunks and Brave barely lived up to its potential. And, worse yet, Disney’s been in the wings, brandishing its swords, and slowly coming back and making great films. Princess and The Frog stands up to the best of all Disney films. Tangled was a little uneven but still managed to be awesome. And, bringing us up to the present, is Wreck-It Ralph, which proves that this company is ready to fight for its crown.

Wreck-It Ralph takes place inside an arcade machine where, much like toys in Toy Story, the video game characters come to life and hang out when players aren’t looking. Our hero? Actually isn’t much of a hero. In fact, Ralph has been programed to be a villain in a Donkey Kong style game from decades ago. In that time Ralph has grown tired of being the baddie. He wants to bang chicks and get cake, like a hero. So he goes on a quest inside multiple games in hopes to bang chicks and get cake.

It doesn’t take a genius nerd to see Disney stole a couple of pages from Pixar’s playbook. There’s a lot of background gags, inside jokes, and just a simple focus on character. Yet, there’s a decidedly Disney approach to the film too, as most of the characters honestly aren’t as edgy as most Pixar characters are. It’s a good blend that works.

Now, things aren’t perfect. The film starts amazingly, flying out the gate with numerous jokes and deflt laying out the rules of the arcade world. But things kind of level off in the second act and, for the middle of the film, characters are just kind of spinning wheels until something awesome happens.

Which brings us to the finale, this film really cares about the third act. I harp on this constantly but it’s the truth: the third act IS the film. You can have the world’s greatest first or second act but it doesn’t fucking matter if everything falls apart at the end. Ralph is almost pathologically obsessed with the third act. It’s a pleasant surprise after a tepid middle half. I was almost ready to write off Ralph then, BAM, totally fucking sweet ending that legitimately felt earned.

I imagine Pixar’s very own John Lasseter had a huge hand in this film’s ending. Hell, he’s pretty much responsible for shaping up the House of Mouse. I don’t care who is in charge as long as they keep making rad films. Wreck-It Ralph is good enough to be Pixar. But proudly bares the Disney name. Like I said, there’s fuel left in this company’s tank yet and I can’t wait to see them work it out.

Grade: B+

Smashed Quickie

“It’s a good thing we’re married. Because I’m so drunk I’m gonna piss on you.” – Ramona Flowers

The most vital component of any film rests on the likability of its lead. Even the best directed, best shot, best written film can fail if the audience isn’t like, “Dude, that character is rad!!! I’m gonna fucking chill with them for a few hours.”

This doesn’t mean a character has to be good. Hannibal Lecter was prime fucking evil but you still wanted to hang out with him. And, conversely, it’s impossible to want to visit a galaxy far, far away when Anakin Skywalker is such a snooze.

Smashed stars Drunken Ramona Flowers and Drunken Jesse Pinkman. They’re married and like to fuck and party. This is all well and good until the day Ramona Flowers decides she wants off the sauce. What follows is an honest, funny, and painful look at the effects of sobriety.

This film wouldn’t work without the strong, sturdy performance of Ramona Flowers. She’s a mess throughout but, fuck, you just root for her. You’re like, “Fuck yeah, broad, drop that booze and clean up your life.” Jesse Pinkman is also his usual boss self, just drinking and hanging out like it ain’t no thang.

Together they form a whole narrative that’s just awesome to watch. It’s not the lofty of films but, like a good friend, you just want to chill these these peeps for a bit.

Grade: A