Jack Nicholson

Movie Issues: Mars Attacks!

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Movie Issues: Mars Attacks!

This week the guys get their retro sci-fi vibe on by watching the 1996 flick, Mars Attacks!, Tim Burton’s version of a B-Movie with A-List stars all coming out to fight off an alien invasion. It’s not bad, but it’s also not good. The guys also break down Mallrats 2 and who they want as Captain Marvel. It’s another episode full of geeky goodness, so please download and enjoy! Read On

Movie Issues: The Witches of Eastwick

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Movie Issues: The Witches of Eastwick

Well Halloween is over and gone for another whole year, but we just couldn’t quit cold turkey on some macabre movies, so to ease out of October and into November, we did one more movie that deals with some spooky elements. We watched 1987’s The Witches of Eastwick, where Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer summed the perfect man, but they get the devil in disguise in the form of Jack Nicholson. Yeah… that happened. So please download and enjoy as we try to understand this from start to finish.  Read On

Comments Off on Anger Management

Anger Management

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Maybe it’s a guy thing. The guys seem to like it. Myself, I did laugh at certain things, but most of the time I was writhing in anxiety. The guys reply, “maybe you were identifying too much with Sandler’s character.” (Yes, I hang out with people who talk like that.) I think it is actually the opposite. As you have deduced from the preview, Sandler plays a mild-mannered doormat named Dave who gets unjustifiably slapped into an unorthodox and frankly extremely vexing Anger Management program. This succeeds in little more than making him, well, actually angry. And this is supposed to be good. I think a little more development besides one terrible childhood trauma should have helped us understand how he got caught in this terrible, cruel cycle of torment by his own doing, rather than just out and out victimizing him for 98 of the 101 minutes of the movie.

Perhaps the reasons are not important. OK, let’s get on with the jokes. Watching Sandler get victimized for an hour and a half is only very occasionally funny. Wisely taking a cue from his Punch Drunk Love character, Sandler is restrained and nebbishy, which works for him here, much better than his crazed Farley impressions in previous outings. He’s acting, and he’s holding a sympathetic character in a sea of turmoil. Which is good, but it’s not particularly funny. It is unfair to say that the film has nothing funny in it. It does. But if it weren’t for the continual parade of cameos (by extremely strong, wonderful actors, many of whom graduated from the Coen brothers and P.T. Anderson schools of absurdist comedies), even less of this movie would have been funny. Is it technically funny to see someone try desperately not to get angry when people are being horrible and insane to him? Once in a great while.

The cameos, actually, are great, which you might recall was the nicest thing I could think to say about the third Austin Powers movie. This is much better than that, of course, but it benefits mostly from the cameos being sprinkled throughout the movie and carrying most of the weight. John Turturro, is a delicious madman. John C. “Midas” Reilly is a welcome sight by the time he shows up. Marisa Tomei is a ray of sanity and her on-screen best friend and major Sandler film alum Andrew (Allen Covert) is a good sport about his role. Sandler, as the hapless one, reacts as the audience is already feeling, so he doesn’t get so many of the jokes for himself. He generously hands them off to Jack Nicolson and Luis Guzman and Turturro and Covert and even Woody Harrelson. Unfortunately, since Sandler is on screen all the time, his generosity leaves us a little dry in the inbetween times.

More than once, Nicholson reminded me of McMurphy in Cuckoo’s Nest; while this works great for the film, it really just scared the crap out of me. In a comedy, there is an unspoken web of safety that surrounds your hero, and Nicholson was constantly terrifying me that he would do something genuinely mad. While this was effective on the dramatic level, I was honestly too anxious and too stunned by the onslaught of agonizing disasters and sad injustices to enjoy the performance as I should. It’s got to be a dude thing.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 4/11/03
Time in minutes 101
Director Peter Segal
Studio Columbia / Sony Pictures

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As Good As It Gets

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By now you are probably sick of hearing about how good this movie is, and I have to agree that I am sick as well of the hype. But my reviews struggle (sometimes fruitlessly) against the hype!

I have found, in recent years, two truths in the cinema: 1. Jack Nicholson has never recovered from the way-over-the-top role of The Joker and has become increasingly difficult to watch and 2. Greg Kinnear is a shallow bit of fluff.

BOTH those truths were out the door with this movie. Jack has finally met his match with a complicated role which I am convinced few besides him could manage. Melvin is loathsome, tactless, fussy, weird, and yet totally understandable, layered, and interesting, even sympathetic.

As for Kinnear, well, I saw Dear God, and I have to say that this, my friends, is the acting he was supposed to have been doing. Helen Hunt is great too – I know many will argue with me, but I found her pragmatic yet idiosyncratic Jamie Buchman all over her character. Not that I minded, OK, I just want you guys to know that I actually thought she stretched more to be less like herself in Twister. Her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes was very…her.
This is not criticism per se, just facts. I found the situations and dialogue interesting, and the whole development of irritating loony as emotional center to the film to be fascinating.

Plus it’s funny and entertaining and witty and pretty to look at to boot. It’s a tad outlandish, but one would expect the life and lives surrounding the life of a man like Melvin to be unusual.

One complaint – many of the best lines in the movie were featured in the preview, and that fact actually robs them of their emotional impact when they occur in the movie. Going to as many movies as I do, I saw the preview easily 20-30 times. Maybe for the more normal the moments won’t be as ruined – or, since the movie has been out since forever (I won’t tell you when I *actually* saw it but rest assured it was not in the past 3 weeks), you have forgotten the preview.

I recommend it. It may not ring as hard core reality to you, but it does contain many truths about people.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 12/23/97
Time in minutes 138
Director James L. Brooks
Studio TriStar Pictures