Bob and Justin's Mad Movie Blog

My name is Bob. My friend Justin and I are aspiring filmmakers and we have pretty similar tastes in movies. This will include our take on what's going on in film and television today as well as updating you on the status of our own work.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Duplicity," "Sunshine Cleaning," and "I Love You, Man."

So now that we're into the spring there are finally movies out that I'm excited about seeing. Over the past few days or so I caught up with three.

Duplicity - Ray Koval (Clive Owen) and Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts) met at a party in Dubia on July 4, 2003. Ray was MI-6 and after being drugged and having a vital envelope stolen, he found out that Claire was in the spy game as well. She's CIA.
Five years later the two are using their spy skills in the corporate world and they just happen to be each others contacts. Or is it happenstance after all?
Tony Gilroy's second film as a director isn't nearly as heavy as his "Michael Clayton" but the plot is even more involved. The basic set up though is that Ray and Claire have teamed up for a $40 million score. The plan is to steal the big secret project that Burkett and Randle's Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) is about to unveil and sell it to the highest bidder. They do this by working for Equikrom's Richard Garsik (Paul Giamatti), but Ray and Claire know that the big pay day will come taking the secret elsewhere.
With a clever script by Gilroy, "Duplicity" is as entertaining as it is twisty. Owen is terrific as Ray. It's the sort of role Cary Grant would have played 50 or 60 years ago and Owen pulls it off with aplomb. Roberts however is her usual bland self. Gilroy writes the character just fine but he never should have cast her. That so many people think she is such a wonderful actress remains a mystery to me.
Giamatti and Wilkinson are great in relatively small roles. Their knockdown, drag out fight scene during the opening credits is easily one of the coolest scenes I've seen in a long time.
"Duplicity" is a bit of good fun and the ending really will surprise you. 7.5/10

Sunshine Cleaning - So the producers of "Little Miss Sunshine" have given us a new film with "Sunshine" in the title with Alan Arkin playing a lovably cantankerous old man. You'd think they're trying to cash in on something here. That said, to simply say it's another "Little Miss Sunshine" would be a disservice to this film written by Megan Holley and directed by Christine Jeffs.
Rose Lorkowski (the always great Amy Adams) has not really been living the dream. She's making ends meet by cleaning the homes of her more successful former classmates while clinging to the hope of getting her real estate license. All the while she's having an affair with her married ex-boyfriend, Mac (Steve Zahn). Mac is an Albuquerque detective who suggests a more lucrative job for Rose. A crime scene cleaner. "They make good money," he insists, for cleaning up the blood in homes and businesses after the bodies and evidence have been collected. Rose is understandably reluctant but she needs money to get her son (Jason Spevack) out of the nightmarish public school that insists he must be put on medication. She decides to give it a try, enlisting her unmotivated sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to help out.
"Sunshine Cleaning" is filled with dark humor but also enough dramatic heft to maintain a sense of reality. The script does have some flaws. Some things, such as the one-armed cleaning supply salesman (Clifton Collins, Jr.) feel like quirks for quirks sake. That said, Collins does a fine job with the part. The cast is able to take some of these elements and make a great many of them work. Adams and Blunt certainly don't look like sisters but their performances and chemistry are so good we absolutely believe they are. Spevack gives a surprisingly good child performance and Arkin is great as always.
"Sunshine Cleaning" is a very enjoyable movie and one that promises to be a word of mouth hit. It is currently in limited release. In the Seattle area it plays at the Guild 45th, the Egyptian, and Bellevue's Lincoln Square. 7.5/10

I Love You, Man - There's a common phenomenon known as a man's woman. The kind whose friends all seem to be guys because she relates more to them than she does to other women. What you don't hear as often about is the woman's man. The kind of guy who's a great boyfriend and who gets along well with women wherever he goes. Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) is that kind of guy. When he gets engaged to Zooey (Rashida Jones, Karen from "The Office"), she spends the remainder of the evening calling all of her closest friends, of which she has many. Zooey asks who Peter wants to call, but he really doesn't have an answer. When we see him at work the next day he's clearly more at ease talking to his female co-workers than he is with Tevin (Rob Huebel of "Inconsiderate Cell Phone Man" fame), who just makes crass remarks and forwards filthy internet videos.
Worried that he won't even have a best man for the wedding, Peter decides he needs to make some friends. His brother Robbie (Andy Samberg) suggests setting up some "man dates" to make some friends. And so Peter's incredibly awkward journey begins. In less capable hands, Peter would come off as a loser, even a little bit scary. But Rudd makes us feel for Peter and more than once I found myself identifying with him a little more than I would have liked to. He's a nice guy that would make friends easily if he didn't try so hard. Just when he's about to give up though, he meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel). The two instantly connect. Peter appreciates Sydney's honesty and Sydney is impressed with Peter's choice of sandwich. At first Zooey is excited for Peter, but the road ahead is going to get a little bumpy.
Written and directed by John Hamburg (atoning for the dreadful "Along Came Polly"), "I Love You, Man" is funny, highly quotable, funny, endlessly entertaining, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable. Rudd and Segel are so perfect together (whether they're playing Rush songs in Sydney's man cave or running afoul of an angry Lou Ferrigno) that you're left with a smile that will last a long time. These two bring these characters fully to life. Sydney could have come off as psychotic as played by many actors, but Segel plays him as a guy with a big heart who just happens to have a few anger issues and who occasionally puts his foot in his mouth (which hurts Peter more than it hurts him).
It's been awhile since I had so much fun with a movie and whether the line was written by Hamburg or improvised by Segel, "Broseph Goebbels" has to be one of the funniest things I've ever heard. Whether you're seeing it with your girlfriend, your boyfriend, or your best friend, "I Love You, Man" is a movie you will 8.5/10

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.

Like most any other child of my generation I grew up on the 1984 classic, "Ghost Busters." Since about the age of five it's a film that has never failed to make me laugh and ever since then I've thought that Bill Murray is pretty much the funniest person who's ever lived. "Ghostbusters 2," while not a classic is a much better movie than people give it credit for.
For awhile now it's been known that a third installment is on its way. At this point all that really seems to be known is that the screenplay will be written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, who've written a number of episodes of the American "Office." The storyline seems to be that 25 years after first going into action, the guys are training the new team. This article from Empire (the absolute best film magazine in existence) features one man's opinion regarding the potential cast. No matter what you think of his other suggestions, you have to agree that he's right on about Paul Rudd.

Who Ya Gonna Call?
Posted on Tuesday March 24, 2009, 17:46 by Nick de Semlyen

Like it or not, a new Ghostbusters movie is marching towards us like a giant, sailor-suited mallow-bastard from another dimension. At this point, all we have to go on is hearsay, rumours and evidence drawn from ouija-board seances, but it seems likely that GB3 will see the old gang training youngsters in the ways of the proton pack. “A big element is passing the torch onto a new generation of Ghostbusters,” Dan Aykroyd said recently. “It’s going to be Harold and me and Billy and Ernie training the new ones.”

This got me thinking. Who, if I had similar supernatural powers to Viggo (scourge of Carpathia, sorrow of Moldavia) and could manipulate the mind of Aykroyd and co., would I pick to fill the roles of this “new generation”? Here are my ideas; if you think I’ve got it completely wrong or have overlooked the perfect potential ‘Buster, leave a comment below. No this-man-has-no-dick insults, if you please.

Tracy Morgan
As any 30 Rock fan knows, Morgan perches right on the border between “loveably quirky” and “absolutely batshit demented”. He’s hilariously volatile and unpredictable enough when playing deluded TV star Tracy Jordan —give the man a piece of nuclear accelerative machinery that could potentially end the universe and you have guaranteed quality mayhem. Later this year he’s making his jump to the big screen by buddying up with Bruce Willis in Kevin Smith’s action comedy A Couple Of Dicks, so Ghostbusters 3 would be the perfect follow-up and vehicle for his livewire antics.

John Krasinski
Another TV star, this time from the American version of The Office. I see Krasinski playing the straight man to the madness, much as Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman used to deflate the earnest pronouncements of Ray and Egon with acid one-liners. Like Morgan, he’s an actor who’s loved by plenty of small-screen viewers but hasn’t had proper exposure at the multiplex. Something that might give him an advantage here is the fact that the writers of The Office are penning the Ghostbusters 3 script.

Paul Rudd
Judd Apatow’s production company has been linked to the new Ghostbusters sequel, though details remain fuzzy. If the modern-day Master of Mirth does prove to be involved, can we expect to see members of his repertory in major roles? Very possibly — Seth Rogen, Steve Carell, Jonah Hill or even Will Ferrell could end up holding the keys to the Ecto-Containment Unit, in the process irritating the hell out of one of Walter Peck’s descendants. We may even see McLovin as Egon Jr. But more than any of those, I’d like to see Paul Rudd taking on unruly spectres. He’s cool, sly, likeable and — crucially — was born in New Jersey, not too far from NY City. In my opinion, a New York attitude is a crucial part of the DNA of any potential ‘Buster.

Tiny Fey
And talking of which, who’s more New York than Fey? Adding a lady to the team would really shake things up, and this one has all the necessary attributes (biting sarcasm, an adorable nerdiness, Rick Moranis specs) to bring the Ghostbusters into the 21st century. She’s also an alumnus of Saturday Night Live, the show which three decades ago gave Aykroyd and Murray their big break.

Shia LaBeouf
We saw glimpses of his comedy chops in Transformers, so we’re guessing he’d be game for a properly silly film. Plus he’s used to interacting with CG creations, of which we’re sure there will be many in this movie, possesses a laidback scrappiness, and has the experience to hold his own against the older generation.

So now that the British man from the magazine has had his say, I'm going to throw my hat into the ring.

So I'll start off with another couple of names mentioned in the article, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. While we're at it, why not just go total "Freaks and Geeks" and add James Franco to the mix. This isn't just another Apatow crew idea as I see it. If you're going to do another "Ghostbusters" it should be made by people who understand what made the first two work and how to carry that spirit on yet bring something new and truly funny to the table. These guys, along with Rudd, are just the sort of guys who would get it. And I would love to see those four on screen with Murray and co.

British Ghostbusters? Why not?

Speaking of people who'd get it, how about Simon Pegg and Nick Frost? Anyone who's seen "Shaun of the Dead" or "Hot Fuzz" knows that these two know their way around blending comedy with genres not typically known for being funny, such as zombie films, cop movies, or...paranormal thrillers? And as long as I'm suggesting Pegg and Frost I really think that Edgar Wright is the man to direct this, regardless of who is cast. I think even more than Ivan Reitman (whose recent track record hasn't been that stellar), Wright could make this work better than any other director in the world today.
Finally, if we're going to have some red coats on the new team I have to suggest a place for the funniest person in the world today, Ricky Gervais. Maybe not as one of the crew, but maybe their publicist or the guy who answers the phones. Just putting him in something in any capacity would automatically make it at least 37 percent funnier.

Other names just floating into my brain this Saturday morning:

Sam Rockwell - An actor with more range than most anyone else out there today, Rockwell's proven he can do this sort of thing (see "Galaxy Quest"). I think he'd look right at home carrying a proton pack.

Will Smith - I'm surprised I haven't heard anyone else mention him as a possibility. When it comes to action/sci-fi/comedy, he's kind of been top of the heap the last decade or so. Or maybe it's just too obvious. I'd be concerned about the studio wanting to turn it into another "Will Smith vehicle" but I think the man knows how to play well with others better than people give him credit for.

John C. Reilly - Come on. It would be awesome.

Michael Cera - You simply cannot talk comedy right now and not have George Michael Bluth come to mind. Here's another guy who I think would truly get it.

Well, that's about all I've got right now. But I'd love to hear who you'd like to see take up the Ghostbusting mantle or if you even think making a third entry is a good idea at all. But "like it or not," it's on its way and I will most definitely be in line when it comes out.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

At Long Last, "The Rum Diary"

Blogger buddy Keith at Reel Fanatic has provided some updates on "The Rum Diary" every now and again, and he may have even posted this very exciting piece of information I just found on Either way, here is the happy news:

Last week we announced that Amber Heard would be joining Johnny Depp's long developed adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel The Rum Diary, and that the third space in the love triangle which it explores was yet to be filled. Well good old Two-Faced Aaron Eckhart is in negotiations to play the third man, and also set to join the cast is Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins.

Eckhart is in talks for the role of Sanderson, the materialistic landowner boyfriend of Heard's character who gives Depp's hard-drinking journalist Kemp a taste of the high-life. But the pair eventually engage in a tug of war over the girl, who becomes infatuated with their new friend...

Jenkins, up this month for an Academy Award for his role in The Visitor, will play Lotterman, Kemp's editor at the ramshackle newspaper where he works...

The Rum Diary, directed by Bruce Robinson begins shooting on March 30 in sunny Puerto Rico.
Emily Phillips

Since this was published back on February 10, Eckhart has officially signed on. "Why is this so exciting?" you may be asking. Well, the first reason is that Johnny Depp is returning to one of his best roles, that of Hunter S. Thompson. After "Ed Wood," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" features my second favorite Depp performance.
The other reason, which is actually much nearer and dearer to my heart is that this adaptation of Thompson's book was written and is being directed by Bruce Robinson, creator of the brilliant "How To Get Ahead in Advertising" and even more importantly my all-time favorite film, "Withnail and I."
After the making of "Jennifer 8" (which I have still not seen) left a sour taste in his mouth, Robinson abandoned the director's chair in the early nineties, popping up a few years later with the wonderful novel, "The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman." "The Rum Diary" will be his fourth film. This has been rumored for several years now so the fact that cameras are finally set to role a week from tomorrow makes me very happy indeed. Fingers crossed that Robinson will find a place for Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann in this one.

Now because I just can't resist posting videos, here's some "Fear and Loathing"...

...and some "Withnail." For some reason I can't find this scene without the subtitles:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Miss March

As I've noted before, sketch comedy is hit and miss by its nature. For every instant classic on "Saturday Night Live" there are five complete stinkers and five that would have been a lot better if they had quit at the two minute mark instead of rambling on for eight. For me there have been three consistently great sketch comedy shows. Britain's "Monty Python's Flying Circus," Canada's "The Kids in the Hall," and now we Americans finally have one to call our own, "The Whitest Kids U Know." My DVD of the first season has brought me countless hours of laughter. Some sketches I've watched easily upwards of twenty times. Had it not been for the presence of two of the "Whitest Kids," Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore, I probably would have given "Miss March" a pass. As it is, I really wish I had.
"Miss March" tells the story of Eugene (Cregger), who went into a coma after a prom night accident, while his girlfriend Cindi (Raquel Alessi) waited for him upstairs. Unlike the rest of their classmates, Eugene and Cindi had remained abstinent up until the prom. The next thing Eugene knows, he's being re-awakened by a baseball bat to the head from his best friend Tucker (Moore). Four years have gone by and Eugene has some catching up to do. He wonders why Cindi isn't at the hospital with Tucker, who insists that Cindi has disappeared. That is until Tucker opens up the newest issue of Playboy. Cindi is Miss March, sending Eugene's head spinning. His only chance to win her back is to have Tucker bust him out of the hospital and get to the Playboy mansion.
As thoroughly uninspired as this premise is (the story is credited to three relative newcomers), I had hoped that Cregger and Moore (who wrote the screenplay and co-directed) would be able to mine comedy from the characters and the road trip storyline. What they deliver is surprisingly unimaginative and many of the gags feel recycled. Only a few moments here and there work (the most notable being Tucker's awkward phone message to the enraged girlfriend he left behind...after stabbing her in the face with a fork while she was having a seizure). Mostly though, "Miss March" just falls down time and time again. It's a terrible shame. Anyone who has watched "Whitest Kids" knows how funny these guys really are, even if their acting skills aren't quite on par with their writing skills.
I hope that Cregger and Moore's next venture into film is far better than this. These guys have it in them. 3.5/10.

Now I leave you with one of my favorite sketches from "The Whitest Kids U Know." I think the movies Moore pitches here would have all been better than "Miss March":

And while I'm at it, the trailer for Judd Apatow's (he actually wrote and directed this one) "Funny People," coming out this July:

Sunday, March 08, 2009


The first highly anticipated film of 2009 has arrived. Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore (who refused to have his name attached to the credits) and Dave Gibbons, "Watchmen" tells the story of a costumed league of heroes who long ago disbanded. When one of their own, the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), is murdered the former heroes reluctantly find each other once more.
Set in 1985 (when the graphic novel was written), "Watchmen" presupposes a world in which President Nixon (Robert Wisden) called these heroes into service to win the Vietnam War in 1971. Thanks mainly to the Comedian and the only Watchman with powers, Dr. Manhattan (a giant blue man who looks a lot like Billy Crudup from "Almost Famous"), the war was brought to a quick finish. By '85 with term limits abolished, Nixon is early into his fifth term. Costumed heroes have been outlawed, but tensions still run high with the Soviet Union. So high in fact that it seems that only Dr. Manhattan can prevent an all out nuclear war. His ability to control matter, time, and space is almost godlike, but his inability to connect with humanity makes him question whether or not he even wants to try to save the world from destruction.
Meanwhile, the outcast former Watchmen are all trying to make the best of their existences. Adrian Veidt, or Ozymandias (Matthew Goode, "Brideshead Revisited"), revealed his identity to the world, and he is currently a multi-billionaire with his own vision of the future. Dan "Nite Owl II" Dreiberg ("Hard Candy's" Patrick Wilson) and Laurie "Silk Spectre II" Jupiter (Malin Akerman) haven't seen each other since the old days, both having tried to live normal lives. With someone potentially wanting them dead on the loose however, they're brought back together and there are definitely some unresolved feelings. Then there is Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), the most hardened member of the group and the only one who has never stopped fighting injustice at every turn, whether the world wanted him to or not.
With many characters, flashbacks, and pieces to a number of puzzles, the graphic novel was considered unfilmable by many, even directors who have been attached to the project over the past 24 years. Zack Snyder has tackled this project with gusto, but with mixed results. I have not read "Watchmen," but I got the same feeling I did while watching Snyder's "300." I felt as though I'd just read an abridged version. Snyder seems to care so much about remaining faithful to the source material that he is often unable to translate it well to film. Still, it works a bit better than "300" did. Atmospherically he pulls the job off nicely, and the story and characters are developed well for the most part. Some sequences just produce cringes, however. If I ever hear any version of "Hallelujah" used in a movie or a TV series ever again, my head might just explode. I'll love Jeff Buckley's version (not the one used here) of it until the day I die, but keep any and all versions of it off the big screen. Snyder should have spent more time employing the score by Tyler Bates, which sounds right at home for a sci-fi film set in the mid-eighties.
The biggest problem is the dialogue. Adapted by David Hayter and Alex Tse, "Watchmen" is full of lines that might work written inside of a bubble but just hit the ears like fingernails on a chalkboard. The actors do their best, with Haley's Rorschach coming off particularly well. The suspect dialogue however often took me out of the movie and made a potentially great movie merely an interesting one that is very hit and miss.
As someone who hasn't read the source material, "Watchmen" is a bloated film at 2 hours and 43 minutes, yet I still felt like there were some missing pieces. It's well-produced and occasionally stunning, but it's also something of a mess. 6.5/10.

As I haven't been here much lately I'll leave you with a few trailers for some films I'm really looking forward to.

"Sunshine Cleaning" (March 20)

"Adventureland" (April 3)

"Observe and Report" (April 10)