Bradley Cooper

Movie Issues: Guardians of the Galaxy

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Movie Issues: Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel and their cinematic universe opened the summer with Captain America: The Winter Solider, so it’s only fitting they also close down the summer movie season with their new film, Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn and starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, and featuring the voice talents of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. This time, Marvel shows us an all new, exciting, and absolutely amazing world above and beyond the stars with a fantastic new team of heroes in one great action-packed movie.

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Movie Issues: American Hustle

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Movie Issues: American Hustle

American Hustle is the new film written and directed by David O. Russell (The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook) where he takes his favorite actors and places them in a long con game where everyone who plays could lose everything. A con man, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), along with his amateur grafter girlfriend Sydney (Amy Adams), are recruited and forced to work for an FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), who pushes them into a dangerous world of New Jersey powerbrokers who have mafia ties, eventually involving a small town mayor, Carmine (Jeremy Renner). Suddenly, everyone has their own agenda, leaving Irving’s lonely crazy wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), the only person who can screw everything up and get them all killed, all leading them to wonder who’s conning who and who will be left holding the bag.

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The Hangover

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My only complaint about The Hangover is that so many excellent moments were ruined by the preview.  The premise is simple:  dudes go to Vegas to party, overdo it and have no memory of it, and must get back to reality intact.  Except for the total memory loss, we’ve seen this movie before — or at least the beginning of  it — and that’s the point.  Every road trip/college party/spring break/decadent Vegas vacation/last hurrah movie in the world starts out “wheee!” goes through “holy crap!” and ends up “whew!”  What’s great about the Hangover is that these guys went hoping to have the implied promise of Best Time Ever, and surprised themselves going so far overboard that they have a huge mess to clean up.  Paying the piper is a bitch, especially when you’re not sure what exactly you hired him to do, and why he’s passed out in your mother’s bed wearing a chicken outfit.

To be fair, I probably wouldn’t have seen this movie except for the many unanswered questions posted by the spoilers in the preview — so some spoiling was necessary bait, to be sure.  And there are plenty of things you don’t know about going in, and will be hilariously surprised by.  It’s fun to watch these guys pick through clues (from randomly wacky sources, ’nuff said) to find out when X happened, who Y is, where Z went.  They had a very limited about of time to get into the troubles they did — I’m not sure I could manage one-fifth of it with a map and a Red Bull-espresso IV drip.  Their adventures are the kind of Vegas Legendary Troubles you would expect – think cops, strippers, celebrities, injuries, peeing — blown to ridiculous proportion.  The stakes are high, the calls are close, the laughs are many, and the guys are funny.  Even the epilogue has some big laughs.  It’s so vulgar and yet these guys are so feckless and lost you can’t even work up a good head of consternation over how they got into their plight.

Any movie like this requires the careful chemistry of the stars.  Usually cast in other movies as the secondary support, these actors finally get a welcome chance to stretch their legs here.  Bradley Cooper is the alpha male and probable ringleader (motives will remain a mystery forever).  Zach Galifianakis is a little too weird, too lonerish, too clueless, but he does have a lovable streak.  If he had been less of an outsider in general, it would have been easier to imagine him as a confederate, but he makes Jeff from the TV show Chuck seem mainstream.  Ed Helms shines out the most from perennial supporting stooge to great character.  His Stu gets the only real story arc that isn’t just about what happened last night, and it is not wasted on him.  Emasculated by a harpy girlfriend (the always-spicy Rachael Harris), barely able to register his own unhappiness, Helms (off camera) gets to ride the unicorn to a new existence thanks to this terrible, wonderful trip.  And crap, we always knew he was funny, but he! Is! Funny!  Bring on Leslie Chow to please the homophobes and racists in the audience.  After his turn in Role Models it’s coming up time for him to get some more screen time (and he will be in Couples Retreat, so hooray).

The Hangover is very funny.  Don’t bring a family member and don’t try any of this at home.

MPAA Rating R-pervasive language, sexual content including nudity, & some drug material.
Release date 6/5/09
Time in minutes 100
Director Todd Phillips
Studio Warner Brothers

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Wedding Crashers

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We love Owen Wilson. We love Vince Vaughn. They do make a great team, bantering and playing off each other with just the right combination of bravado, vulnerability, crassness, and wit. The rest of the movie is a bait and switch – it looks like a dude-friendly movie about making time with chicks and being guys, but really, it’s a romantic comedy starring two lads with a long haul toward any sort of redemption. It’s funny and it’s entertaining, and what more do you want? It is not, however, a Komedy Klassic.

I’m not saying it’s a steaming pile of poo at all; wisely director David Dobkin (Shanghai Knights, of all things) basically lets his stars do what they do best and be the stars, but the rest of the movie is really just a support network for the boys. On-screen sisters Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls) and Isla Fisher are, however, good matches for their respective counterparts. They have the right balance to whichever fella is supposed to be involved with them, and they get their own moments of comedy. Fisher in particular is a pleasant surprise (we already knew McAdams could be funny) and she provides a good deal of the freshness of the film.

Overall, Wedding Crashers has some nice round laughs and “rewind it – what did he say?” banter, a quick pace, and likeable people. You can’t help but grin at the ridiculous excess of the opening montage and the boys’ ludicrous schemes for chasing wedding-sodden tail. Enter Bradley Cooper as the yacht club wank boyfriend of McAdams, looking like Jamie Kennedy on steroids, and we finally have a heavy worth watching, however two dimensional and stereotypical he may be. Surely our boys Owen and Vince can defeat such a creature as this, right? Oh but wait – here comes Christopher Walken, lending much needed gravitas to a hybrid movie that kind of doesn’t have anywhere to go too soon.

It’s different than anything you have seen before, and yet you have seen it all before – but you don’t mind. The characters are all quite simple, the situations are simply impossible, but it’s a nice little jaunt down Peter Pan Lane. Everyone has great chemistry, and Jane Seymour gets not quite enough chances to pull out her hot-mama stops, but the movie lives and dies by whether you love that thing that Wilson and Vaughn do. They happen to crack me up no matter what they do (almost), so I had a good time, despite the bumpy ride. It’s a thin summer so far for comedy, and it’s probably the only movie a girl can get her boyfriend to with the word “wedding” in the title all century. So, enjoy.

MPAA Rating R-sexual content, nudity, language
Release date 7/15/05
Time in minutes 119
Director David Dobkin
Studio New Line