Over the course of the last week I managed to see four films in the cinema and one outdoor screening of an 80s classic. And I also managed to lose a considerable amount of dough. But that’s ok, because I was only dissatisfied with one of the five films, and I’m guessing you’ll be surprised at which one.
First Stop: ROCK OF AGES
For me, this was a silly but ultimately entertaining romp. The irony is that this is the furthest thing from being rock ‘n’ roll – it’s musical pop to the extreme. In fact, watching the film made me think how the story would be more fun on stage…too bad I just missed my opportunity to see it in London. The two leads, Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, are pretty to look at, but it’s mostly the awkward and campy performances of Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand and the anti-archetypical role of Tom Cruise that lure you into this strange bubble of rock in 1987 Los Angeles. And then Mary J. Blige pops up. Randomly. It’s no Singin’ in the Rain or Chicago, but I did enjoy some of the mash-ups of songs and it made me buy some classic 80s big hair rock songs on iTunes afterwards. So I guess the long con of the aging rockers worked. But I’m okay with that.
Second Stop: BRAVE
Sighhhh. All I can really say that this was a disappointment. I would have said it was a huge disappointment, but I can’t honestly say that it looked that appealing in the first place, certainly not as much as all the other Pixar films (with the exception of Cars 2). And that’s the problem. Once you attach Pixar to a film, you expect a certain quality, a certain flare, a certain je ne sais quoi. To me, with Brave being a princess story, it felt like a conventional Disney animated movie, even though, yes, it’s ‘unconventional’ in some ways. And that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy (or did enjoy) all those Disney ‘princess movies’…I love them. But they feel more appropriate for the times they were made, and I understand that Brave is trying to be different, but the overall storyline felt like a copout since it was simply a weird story about a curse gone wrong. Plus, as was discussed with friends after seeing it, we all agreed that there was no clear antagonist and no real comic relief (two consistent features of Pixar films). Ultimately, I never connected with the characters and felt bored. I’m guessing that the multiple directors of the film have some reason to do with the underdeveloped story. I did, however, enjoy the opening short, La Luna. I’m hoping next year’s Monsters Inc. University will be a redeeming sequel after the last two misadventures.
Third Stop: SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED
Well, I can safely guarantee that this was my favorite of the films seen this week, and possibly my favorite of the year so far. Firstly, it stars Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson from Parks & Recreation and New Girl, respectively, which in my opinion are two of the best comedies on TV right now. So it’s already got that going for it. More importantly, this indie film is so understated, yet it involves time travel. What more do I need to say? It’s sweet, melancholic, and is about people finding their niche. Sounds cheesy, but it succeeds through its quiet and honest nature and its subtle humor. Check it out:
Fourth Stop: TOP GUN
This wasn’t Tom Cruise’s week. But it was a week of Tom Cruise for me. A local boutique hotel held a ‘dive-in’ screening of Top Gun by their pool, just in time for a patriotic showing before the holiday. This is a fun one to watch with a crowd – a crowd that is drinking, that is! I mean, there are so many iconic moments in this film, and at every one of them people cheered and/or sang along. The Danger Zone. Singing in the bar. Tighty whities. The need for speed. Volleyball in ill-fitted jeans. Taking people’s breath away. The list goes on…
Last Stop: MAGIC MIKE
Yes, I saw Magic Mike and I’m not ashamed. Some people were not fans, but I enjoyed it…and not only for the reasons you may think. Yes, there’s plenty of eye-candy onscreen, but at the end of the day it was an interesting film directed by Steven Soderbergh. I had completely forgotten that fact until his name came up on the credits at the end, and then it made perfect sense how he chose to construct the film. I immediately realized how similar in tone and aesthetics this was to his Erin Brockovich, and even somewhat similar in plot. There still could have been much more character development (for instance, why did we never actually see Mike making his custom furniture that he raved on about?) and the film does drag on in the second hour. I feel like some people were disappointed with the movie since it ended up being different than what they were wanting (aka a lighthearted stripper movie with minimal clothing…aka The Full Monty, but this time with a hottie, aka Channing Tatum). The movie certainly delivered the minimal clothing part, but was a lot darker than advertised. I think that made it a better story and it juxtaposed the fun atmosphere of the onstage performances with the seedy backstage reality. At the end of the day, we reconfirmed that Tatum has got some serious dance chops (Acting chops? Still up for grabs) and we were all disturbed by Matthew McConaughey’s tasselled thong.