A Guide To Making It Out Of The Hobbit Alive

Oh my God, he looks happy. I think he made it out. HOW?!?!?!?! Tell me how you got out of this movie!!!!!!

So you’ve found yourself stuck in the unending abyss that is The Hobbit The Desolation Of Smaug. Maybe you got here by accident, thought you were walking into Medea’s Christmas Fun Time or whatever. Maybe you purposely paid money to feel your butt gradually numb over an undetermined amount of hours. Maybe you’re like me, and just want to fuck someone who wants to see The Hobbit, and you’ve made it here for their sake. Whatever the case, you’re stuck, for like, ever, and I’m here to help you survive.

FOOD:

First of, you’ll need food. And, no, I’m not talking about popcorn or Snowcaps or whatever shitty junk your local theater provides. This is an endurance test, damn it, your body needs real live nutrients if it’s going to survive The Hobbit. It needs a sandwich.

Now, of course the toppings are up to you. I personally like a turkey and ham combo with just a tiny spread of guac and provolone cheese on seven grain bread. It’s hearty and will hit the spot around hour five. But don’t get cocky man, it’s dark in that theater. You don’t want something sloppy like a French Dip. Or something that’ll stink up the joint like a tuna melt. No way man, this sandwich isn’t for savoring. It’s solely there to make sure you don’t die before the credits roll. So choose your toppings wisely.

DRINKS:

I know some of you sneak booze into movie theaters. I myself love to bring in a cold brew while watching a nice stupid action film. But, be warned, this isn’t something I’d recommend for The Hobbit. If you end up drinking too much this film time might start to feel slower. You don’t want that in a movie that’s already too long to begin with.

Myself? I brought a Big Gulp from 7-11. It was big enough to last me through the first hour. And, bonus, I had to piss by hour two so I got a little respite from the tedium.

PILLOW:

Now, it’s just a given with a film as long and boring as The Hobbit is, you’re going to fall asleep. I recommend dozing off around the six-hour mark, when the group gets to a Lake City. Nothing happens there. And they’re there for four hours. So, go ahead, nod off and get some energy back before the ten minutes of actual plot kick in.

But, be careful, you don’t want to strain your neck. Bring a pillow, maybe even a blanket. That way you’re nice and comfy during your nap.

INFORM LOVED ONES:

Look, this film took days from me. People thought I was dead. My mom was beside herself. Truth. You don’t want people worrying needlessly about your well-being. Don’t be a prick. Call someone, let them know where you’ll be, that way, after a week passes without hearing from you, they’ll know that you’re just watching The Hobbit.

Just follow these easy steps and you will be guaranteed to see the light of day, some day. Far into the future, whenever The Hobbit finally ends. Truth be told, it still hasn’t. I’m writing this from the theater. I’ve been here for a week. Guys, I’m scared. Please, call for help, I don’t think Peter Jackson has edited a second of this film. Tell my dog I love him.

Grade: C-

12 Years Avoids Oscar’s Paint By Numbers

Pronounce it with me, people. E-Chew-It-Tell Edge-E-O-Four. Bam, who said you couldn’t learn something from my blog?

Sometimes, when I’m out on a date with a hottie with a naughty body, I just know the chick is putting on a facade. The right words roll off her tongue. Her makeup is almost too perfect. And, if she’s exceptionally eager, she’ll even know a thing or two about Scorsese’s career. The point is: everything is flawless but it never seems genuine. It seems like she’s trying to be something that’ll impress me, instead of just showing her tits and actually impressing me. And that’s basically the same feeling I have when I watch certain quote unquote Oscar films.

Take The King’s Speech, I can’t technically say a bad word about that film. It’s a sturdy film. The cinematography is clever. The acting is exceptional. And there’s a clear emotional through-line from beginning to end. It talks, walks, and acts like an Oscar-winning movie should be. And that’s the problem. It wasn’t created out of love. It was assembled to win prizes.

Do you know what film was different, fresh, and exciting the very same year The King’s Speech won? The Social Network. It was a timely parable about greed in America, and the cost of success. And it was unlike anything else nominated that year. But it didn’t walk the Oscar walk. And you know which film won, despite the fact that it didn’t push the art of film forward? That’s right, The King’s Speech.

You see, some movies don’t want to be remembered, or stand the test of time. They just want an award. The creators think if you make it historical, add high-caliber actors with accents, and be long and boring, you can win an Oscar. And they’re generally right. Which is why I was worried about 12 Years a Slave. It looked less like an amazing film and more like uninspired Oscar bait. But, don’t worry folks, 12 Years of Slave is incredibly inspired.

Cause, yes, there’s a lot that’s textbook Oscar in his film. It’s historical. And the cast is downright amazing. They all even use accents of various Southern fried sorts. But director Steve McQueen- (Who, as an aside, directed the equally radical Shame. Check it out, I swear it isn’t just soft core porn.)- isn’t just painting by numbers. His passion for this story really shines through in bold, interesting choices.

For instance, most films dealing with slavery tend to shy away from the actual violence that was part and parcel with human bondage. But 12 Years puts it front and center, almost daring the viewer to look away. There are some scenes of brutality that last a good two minutes longer than they should. And the effect is a strong one. McQueen doesn’t want the viewer to be able to escape the atrocities done to slaves. He wants us to feel them. And, believe me, for the length he holds his shots in this movie, you’d be an emotionless zombie not to feel something.

So, thank the Cinema Gods, 12 Years a Slave actually has some real juice. It’s a great movie that should be required viewing for people with morals. And, come Oscar time, I’m sure it’ll clean up. And, while Gravity is the younger, leaner film, 12 Years is completely deserving of everything it has coming to it.

Grade: A

Frozen Or How Disney Got Its Groove Back

Don’t worry Disney. You’ll find your footing one day.

I’m gonna embarrass myself here, card carrying Vag Pounder after all, but I fucking love Disney cartoons. Or, at least I used to, the old ones, the ones where animals talked, princesses sang, and everyone lived happily ever after. Their animation catalogue is, cumulatively, some of the most timeless films ever created. And they got that way through a mixture of pixie dust, memorable music, and focus on, as I always harp is more important than anything, character.

Yet, over the last twelve years-ish, Disney has suffered an identity crisis. One that started with Pixar, grew with Dreamworks, and flamed out spectacularly with Meet The Robinsons. And it was all because Disney stopped trusting who it was and what it did best.

I don’t blame them. Anyone would get an identity crisis if they started comparing themselves to Pixar. Pixar, in the early nineties, was new and shiny. The  pretty new girl everyone wanted to fuck. Plus it raked in a shit ton of dough. Around the time Pixar was rising, Disney was on the wane. The company had trouble with traditional musicals like Tarzan. So they switched to non-musicals, like Atlantis, which also failed spectacularly. Nothing seemed to strike a chord with the masses.

The company was at a crossroads. Pixar made it look easy. Dreamworks hit big with Shrek. And, for the next decade, Disney would lose itself. And I mean REALLY lose itself. We’re talking I’m-gonna-buy-three-corvettes-and-date-nineteen-year-old-girls level midlife crisis loss of self. They tried everything. They copied Dreamworks with Chicken Little. They copied Pixar with Meet The Robinsons. Nothing worked. Nothing stuck. They were a company lost thanks to a mixture of corporate greed and jealousy.

Then fate intervened. Pixar was officially absorbed into the Disney brand. And, with that, brought in John Lasseter, the only man alive who might possibly live up to Walt Disney himself. See, Mr. Lasseter knows that good story and character trump everything. He also knew that the one thing Disney did best is earnest musicals. If Disney did that, and did it well, the money would follow.

Now, I’m not going to lie, there’s been a bit of a learning curve. Disney basically had to reset and learn how to make great films again. They showed exceptional promise with The Princess and The Frog. Took a bit of a step back with Tangled. And almost got it right with Wreck-It Ralph. But, with Frozen, they seem to have finally gotten their shit together. I get that’s a long way to go just to say, “I fucking loved Frozen.” But, whatever, Disney had me worried there but after watching Frozen, I’m ready to welcome them back with open arms.

Everything about Frozen is both familiar and new. There are princesses, dashing heroes, magic, wacky sidekicks, and musical numbers. Everything that made Disney great is out in full force. But, because this is an older and wiser company, the plot twists trump clichés just enough to surprise the audience.

Because, truly, there are some very un-Disney ideas in this film. First and foremost, the main relationship in the film is between two sisters. Their love lives take a back seat to some really solid female bonding. In fact, this might be the most feminist Disney cartoon of all time. Yes, they have the standard Disney love story thrown in, but the main conflict comes from two sister trying to help each other.

Listen, I could write about this film all day. It made me feel warm and fuzzy like few films have in recent memory. It’s fucking gorgeous. The characters are vibrant and likable. It’s Disney as it should be. The company isn’t trying to emulate other animation houses. They’re not trying to relive their glory days. Nope. This is a studio that, finally, after years of failed ideas and identity crises, understands what they do best. And what they do best is sincere musicals that have the potential to stand the test of time.

Welcome back, Disney. I greatly missed you.

Grade: A

Oldboy and The Great Wide Cultural Divide

Man, those Goonies REALLY didn’t age well.

Warning and all that bullshit: this review contains massive spoilers. So, if you read past this paragraph I’m going to assume you’ve seen either the OG Old Boy or the Spike Lee Joint of Oldboy. If you haven’t seen either, and you keep reading, I don’t want to hear you bitching and whining about how I spoiled the plot. Here. I’ll throw in a picture of a baby hedgehog while you run away.

LOL!!! TOTES ADORBS!!!!

Still here? Cool, welcome aboard. Right off the bat, I love Oldboy. The original Korean film, that is. It’s a slick little thriller that’s as funny as it is tense. It’s a damn great film so the idea of an American remake should have been something I was against on principle.

Yet, to be honest, I’m kind of ok with foreign remakes. Sometimes idiot viewers won’t watch things with subtitles. And there’s a dearth of great foreign films that average Americans should watch. You know, if they weren’t stupid and could tolerate subtitles. So, yeah, it’s fine by me when a foreign film crosses over. But this new Oldboy proves that, sometimes, movies can’t bridge that cultural gap.

The original Oldboy is very much a product of it’s country. The women of Korea are more submissive than here in America. Guns are banned there. Honor and pride aren’t as important to Americans. And suicide is a rampant problem throughout South Korea. All of these things work to make Oldboy the plot possible.

The plot simply couldn’t work if Mi-Do happened to be a young girl in America. She’d straight up think that Dae-su is a crazy person. And she’d be right. And she’d run away. And the plot would end right there. No incest would occur. The female in the new version, Marie played by Olson Twin Little Sister, isn’t a push over like Mi-Do. She’s a bleeding heart with a drug addiction. That’s how they try and play off her connection to the man, Joe played by Goonie Baby Brolin. She wants to help him because she’s been in tough spots before.

On one hand, it’s a fairly effective way to sidestep such a gender difference in cultures. I might even be ok with it if the other changes gelled like they should have. But, instead, it’s just one giant dump on a classic film.

For instance, not that I want guns. Because guns generally make any action scene boring as fuck. Case in point: watch OG Oldboy. Those action shots hum along with only a hammer in sight. The new one barely uses guns either. But it doesn’t make any fucking sense. It’s ‘Merica, damn it. Goonie Baby Brolin should be blasting everyone in sight if he’s as angry as the script says.

And, finally, onto the incest. OG Oldboy had the balls to commit to the idea of a father sleeping with his daughter. It was creepy. And horrible. And it made for a hell of an ambiguous ending. Americans, however, don’t do well with incest or ambiguity. So, instead of sticking the landing, Spike Lee pounds home a rather obvious “incest is wrong” moral that robs the film of any teeth it had.

Look, I’m not going to say the Oldboy remake is horrible. It’s not. It’s competent and fairly lean. But, what I will say, is that everything that makes Oldboy special isn’t in the remake because American audiences can’t handle things that don’t involve unicorns farting rainbows. And, as such, the Oldboy remake becomes another soulless experiment another American movie studio.

Grade: D-