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No Strings Attached

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No Strings Attached

During the actual 110 minute runtime of this movie, surrounded by laughing and appreciative audience members, I was able to enjoy and buy into the tale spun by screenwriter Elizabeth Merriwether from her story with Mike Samonek.  In the emotionally harrowing world of post-college (Ok, post-30, post-40) singlehood, the fantasy of two lovely people having hot but angst-free sex seems not only convenient, but appealing.  Why compromise your morning routine or negotiate where you spend Christmas when hot acrobatics are just a text away?  Naturally, our sexy protagonists Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) cannot help but fall in love — it is a movie, after all – their intimacy, free of relationship, guarantees a sort of jovial acceptance of each other.  Of course they are both real catches.  She’s a doctor with a lifelong fear of any kind of emotional vulnerability, and he’s a Hollywood assistant shying away from his father’s fame.  Said father is played delectably by Kevin Kline!

 

It’s a delicious dream to have your sexy cake and eat it to, but a dream that simply cannot survive in Hollywood and Puritan-based America.  We can’t have a beautiful woman like Portman refuse to be in a relationship!  At the same time, we can no longer accept a hot guy would only want sex; what an unfair stereotype!  Naturally his heart melts first.  Paralleling the backwards courtship of Adam and Emma are their respective best friends, Eli (Jake M. Johnson) and Patrice (Greta Gerwig).  Eli and Patrice meet through the leads and slowly grow into a “regular” couple through the traditional channels.  At no point is their progress touted or presented as the preferable way, but it does remind those of us watching that all Adam and Emma are doing is pretending to not be emotionally vulnerable and living out our fantasies without suffering any of the consequences.

 

But here’s the thing.  Thanks to oxytocin (the bonding hormone exuded after sex) and cultural norms and all sorts of narrative expectations and cultural whatsit, this is a dangerous fantasy to propagate in film.  We can’t endorse dogs and cats humping together!  We can’t tell everyone that hookups lead to love either!  Sure, people enter into friends with benefits-type setups all the time.  Do they end amicably?  Sometimes.  Does one person get attached when the other one doesn’t?  Often.  Do they find their perfect mate and retain the passion of illicit, trouble-free coitus after revealing who they really are inside (typically the kind of person who aggressively is terrified of revealing who they really are)?  Not so much.  Romantic comedies used to ply us with the dream that someone somewhere will see the person we really are as the catch she really is and then move heaven and earth to win her.  Now all it seems she has to do is remain emotionally aloof.  Most guys would really be like, “sweet, I don’t even have to remember her birthday!”  It’s the perfect male fantasy in stereotypical female fantasy drag.  Consequence-free and extra-forgiving sex for him and real love despite your socially crippling psychological issues for her: good news everyone!  Emotional unavailability is curable with copious applications of making no demands of another person.  Good luck out there, guys and gals who have a dream.

 

This may sound a little harsh.  I did really enjoy watching Portman and Kutcher negotiate their arrangement, Johnson and Gerwig were fun, Kline of course is divine, and the whole supporting cast was lots of fun.  Lake Bell plays an uncomfortably familiar coworker of Kutcher’s and brought some great laughs.  The music and dialogue are both great — Merriwether has a gift for dialogue that I wish had been granted the vaguely similarly themed How Do You Know.  Kutcher and Portman have great friend chemistry, great sexy moments, and are easy on the eyes.  The characters are all very enjoyable, and again, the fantasy is a powerful one.  My lower grade comes from walking maybe 20 feet out of the theatre and being overwhelmed by the depressing realization that this may be the best dream that Hollywood can offer me.  Is the secret to emotional happiness the exact opposite of everything evidenced by humanity in real life?  Is the point really just that love is just as capricious and elusive as ever?  I applaud everyone’s performance in the movie, but I reserve my praise for worthier dreams.

MPAA Rating  R-sexual content, language, some drug use

Release date 1/21/11

Time in minutes 110

Director Ivan Reitman

Studio Paramount Pictures

 

The Santa Clause Recut

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The Santa Clause Recut

The holidays are upon us, which means snow, presents, annoying relatives, and Christmas movies being shown non-stop on T.V. We all have our favorites whether it be A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, or even Die Hard. What about The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen? Well, if it were anything like the video below, then most likely it wouldn’t be anyone’s favorite. Check out a disturbing re-cut trailer of The Santa Clause, pedo-style.

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The Brothers Mario: This Just Got Real

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The Brothers Mario: This Just Got Real

The Game Station Network consists of different channels on YouTube dedicated to anything and everything gaming, from walk-throughs to machinima. Check out its latest video of a re-invented classic: enter the world of The Brothers Mario as they shoot and loot their way against Bowser and his gang including The Koopa Troopas, Bullet Bill, and more. Shit just got real.
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Why Does This Exist?!

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Why Does This Exist?!

I have seen infomercials selling books and CDs on how to use Word, Excel, Windows and even eBay.  I have seen books called “MySpace for Dummies.” I understand that those people not technologically proficient enough would need these helpful tools. But now, people of earth, can someone please tell me why the following book exists?

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I Love You Phillip Morris

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I Love You Phillip Morris

The events in this film are true ones — which makes it possible to enjoy the seemingly impossible misadventures of pathological con man Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) for what they are. If it were fiction, you’d roll your eyes at the ridiculous stretching you would need to do to suspend your disbelief. This may force some comparisons to Catch Me If You Can, but as the title implies, Russell’s motives are not eluding the authorities or even his own gain, but instead are for caring for those who most matter to him. He’s not greedy or a narcissist, he’s a guy who just wants to do right by his family, be it his wife and daughter or the love of his life, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). Russell’s story is simply unbelievable — and all true.

We can debate all day and night as to why Hollywood casts straight actors in gay roles (see this film’s polar opposite, Brokeback Mountain, where the struggle comes from hiding their love rather than supporting it), but for this film, Carrey and McGregor as simply the best big-name choices. No-name actors might have killed this movie, which would be a tragedy. My readers know of my appreciation of Carrey’s acting skills, particularly in the twin arenas of great falseness and true sincerity. Carrey’s natural cock of the walk attitude suits Russell’s effortless impersonations. McGregor need only set his glassine, dreamy eyes to “in love” and you believe in his feelings to his core. He’s great at the aw-shucks and he’s strong enough to match Carrey. Mann gets to show us her non-Apatow side and she too can keep up with Carrey in a scene.

Russell meets Morris in prison, after the former was imprisoned for various moneymaking schemes he devised to support his newly adopted gay lifestyle and lover (Rodrigo Santoro). Before he accepted his homosexuality, he was an aggressively normal husband to Leslie Mann, living on the down-low and existing wrapped in lies, searching for who he really is. However, once he meets Morris, he opens like a flower, giving his heart with all honesty of feeling — but his need to lie about who he is continues, keeping his love alive and happy at any cost. Some of those costs lead to more legal misadventures and cross-purposes with McGregor. Through it all he adores Morris, and they have true happiness. His facility with pretending makes for some serious hilarity. What’s most enjoyable about the movie is how funny it is, and also how very romantic and sweet. It’s heartfelt and has an ending you will not see coming so don’t Google it! Let the movie take you there.

MPAA Rating R- sexual content including strong dialogue, and language.
Release date 12/3/10
Time in minutes 100
Director Glenn Ficarra, John Fequa
Studio Roadside Attractions

Gamer Girl Explains Everything You Need to Know About World of Warcraft: Catackle-ism

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Gamer Girl Explains Everything You Need to Know About World of Warcraft: Catackle-ism

I don’t know if the video below is supposed to be taken seriously. YouTube user, StormyLilac93, has recorded a very non-informative video to get us all ready for the release of World of Warcraft’s next expansion, “Catackle-ism.” Now, I know there are two sides to everything, and you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. On one side of the story, this girl probably doesn’t have a high reading level. On the other side, she just could be trolling us all. If you watch her other videos, you’ll see that she doesn’t seem like the smartest drawer in the spoon.

UPDATED: CollegeHumor Mirrored It. Thank you!

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Going the Distance

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Going the Distance

Going The Distance

Matinee with Snacks

Real-life on-again-off-again couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long have undeniable chemistry in this film.  The two are so winsome, yet comfortably-familiar but still accessibly-normal as people that their whole relationship feels as fated and perfect as new loves always do. What’s great about this movie is that instead of taking 90 minutes for two people to figure out they should be together, our leads pretty much know it from the start. The journey is the harder, less glamorous work of overcoming real obstacles to their happiness. It’s a really mature love story with plenty of hilarious sex jokes and wit to make it a rollicking ride and make you feel young (again).

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The Water Cooler, Episode 3 – If you Take Yourself Too Seriously…

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The Water Cooler, Episode 3 – If you Take Yourself Too Seriously…

It’s another podcast episode of the Water Cooler with your zany east coast friends, James H, Rett, Justin and new co-host JJ.

Topic list for this episode:

  • JJ Intro
  • How long did it take you to figure out the Khe Sanh Napalm Barrel event in COD Black Ops?
  • Blizzard going to consoles?
  • Harry Potter Plans
  • Words of Wisdom

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