Archive for the ‘romantic comedy’ Category

DVD review: ‘500 Days of Summer’ shows guy-romance graduating

December 26, 2009

It’s been said that (500) Days of Summer is a guy’s romantic comedy, which is to say, it’s not that romantic. But I would beg to differ.

Fact is, guys can be romantic, too — or did you never see The Graduate? That film’s obsessiveness for soulmates, in fact, forms the inspiration for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Brick in Summer, a greetings card writer who falls for Zooey Deschanel’s Summer, a retro beauty out of the Katie Perry school. She says up-front she’s not into serious relationships, but he can’t help it: He loves her. That’s not romantic?

The film is a fragmented (by counting various days in the 500-day relationship) yet without being uneven, because its characters steadily ring true. There’s wit and humor, along with fanciful flourishes, such as animation and an elaborate musical number out of the blue. It’s also creatively staged, using the outskirts of downtown LA as a setting and a backdrop–and when has that been done? It’s another side of LA which befits Brick’s architect wannabe character — especially in the final scene, shot in LA’s Bradbury Building, the gloriously wrought-iron site of shoots ranging from Blade Runner to the ’60s Outer Limits. (I’ve visited that building, which — while not on the nicest street in LA — is a classy architectural marvel.)

The music — a mix of old and new pop and rock — is astutely chosen, and the actors shine — even those in the thankless “friend” roles. (Brick has them, though Summer doesn’t–see, it IS a guy movie.)

Brick even takes Summer to a retrospective of The Graduate, whose ending seems to throw her off. After all, there’s a world of uncertainty in the reckless liberation of Ben and Elaine boarding a bus in flight from her wedding. But behind that scene in the sense that what matters in life isn’t ceremonies or materialism or status or “plastics,” but love, true love. That’s what Brick believes he has found, and his sheer resolve to find it forms this film’s triumph, and makes it a romance, indeed.

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DVD reviews: ‘Observe and Report,’ ‘Ghosts of Girlfriends Past’

September 22, 2009

In a Seth Rogen comedy, you can count on things. You can count on rude, crude humor with overt sexuality, drug use and lots o’ other taboos on his to-do list. And Warner’s Observe and Report has these things.

But unlike most of his movies, this one also has a seriously ugly mean streak about it, as it mocks the grasping mechanations of a mall security guard (Rogen) who takes his job far too seriously, and whose own very real mental illness spills over into it.

The film is witlessly over the top, with Rogen performing heinous acts yet never truly being held accountable for them. What’s not to love?

Well, at least there’s Ray Liotta, in a straight role as the only grounded person in the cast, a real cop who rightly resists Rogen’s nutty intrusions into an investigation. Yet the movie keeps trying to turn Rogen into a hero, and it just — doesn’t — work. Maybe next time, Seth. I love ya, but not this film.

Even less appealing to most folks, though far more tolerable to me, is a New Line DVD release this week for Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner’s Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. It’s an uneven yet often frothy comment on being a bachelor and commitment phobe (that’s MM’s character), when all a guy really needs is love (oops–what a major spoiler slip– not!).

Forget A Christmas Carol and the weird “aren’t they supposed to be dead?” motif involving ghosts who are really more memories. On the eve of the bachelor’s brother’s wedding, MM gets his wakeup calls in nightmares of aloneness, and the movie has its romantic comedy moments — just not enough of them.

But as a pleasant evening’s undemanding diversion, this chick flick with a man’s man is a reasonably engaging commercial vehicle. Not art, mind you, but a commercial vehicle.

And at least life is imitating — well, not art, but a commercial vehicle. Good ol’ Texas boy Matthew, after years of sowing wild oats, seems to be settling down with his Brazilian model girlfriend, Camila Alves, with whom he’s expecting a second child soon.