Jason Sudeikis

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Fairly Recent DVD Release: Movie 43

Published September 5, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, Charlie Saxton, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Live Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, J.B. Smoove, Emma Stone, Kieran Culkin, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Jack McBryer, Aasif Mandvi, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Bobby Cannavale, Kristen Bell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Terrence Howard, Josh Duhamel, and Elizabeth Banks.

Rated: R. Comedy. Running Time: 1 hour & 34 minutes.

Ross and I rented Movie 43 on a whim.  We were en route to our home from cocktails & dinner.  Neither of us was expecting much at all.  I remember seeing the previews and thinking, “Wow, that’s some cast” (see above listing).  But then it fell off the radar.  And I figured, if no one is talking about it, could it really be worth watching?  The answer is: YES.  The movie makes up for any later transgression in the first skit.  Five minutes in, Ross and I were laughing so hard that neither of us could speak or breathe.  That being said, if you don’t like immature humor, skip this one and you should probably leave my blog for good.  We had no idea what to expect, but what unfolded on the screen left us bewildered, delighted and quite intrigued.  Once the movie got rolling, we realized it was a series of interconnected sketches featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.  I kept asking myself, “How did they get all these people!”  There were some promising moments of hilarity & ingenuity…but taken in its entirety – this movie was bad.

I had no idea what we were in for when we rented Movie 43, but with that cast, you had to expect something decent.  I don’t know if I agree with Maria that the movie was bad.  If a movie entertains, makes you laugh or cry or feel exhilarated, I think that’s enough.  I will say the premise, an ever increasingly insane Dennis Quaid (playing a version of himself?) pitching his movie idea to a generic movie executive, Kinnear, is silly.  The “movie” is just a series of skits.  There is no way anyone could think they could make a coherent, full standing movie.  However, many of the vignettes are clever and hilarious.  None more than the first one, a first date for Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet.  If you follow MRSRAG at all, you know that Maria and I rarely, if ever, give out spoilers, and we’re not going to do it here.  But this first skit has a shocking surprise, a side splittingly funny one that keeps on giving.  Beyond the great opener, a few of my favorites were, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts as parents who are homeschooling their teenaged son, complete with all of high school’s worst possible scenarios.  A girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) getting her  period for the first time.  And Terrence Howard as a basketball coach circa the 1960’s (think Pleasantville or Hoosiers) giving a pep talk to his all black team before their first game against an all white squad.  While maybe “bad” isn’t the right word to describe Movie 43, it is hard to believe the creators convinced all these “A” list actors to associate their names with it.  

It was entertaining, but at times, hard to watch.  I’m actually surprised that Ross enjoyed it more than me, since he has some difficulty with awkward humor.  I will say that Movie 43 is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  And the “A” list actors is what put some of the skits over the edge for me.  Watching these Academy Award nominees and winners act out these absurd storylines was not only amusing, but shocking.  It took me a full day to get over the movie.  I kept asking Ross, “Was that real?”, “How did they get everyone to sign on?”, “Did I drink a lot last night?”!  It is in one word: unbelievable.  There were several vignettes, most of which my partner has described, that were pure comic genius.  They must be viewed.  But if I really look at this film in its entirety, it missed the mark.  And that is truly unfortunate because it contains so much potential.  Bottom line, go rent this for a $1.27.  The belly laughs are well worth that price.

An extremely tough movie to review.  Ultimately I have to recommend that you see it.  If you’re in the mood for some raunchy, clever, original comedy, Movie 43 should get the job done.  It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and it won’t end up on your Top 20 list, but it’s not quite like anything you’ve ever seen before.  And, you will probably never see a larger collection of stars in one project.  There is one last scene I have to mention; a skit where a man is obviously going to propose marriage to his girlfriend.  “I have something I want to say.”  “Me too”, she replies.  “Ok, let’s say it together.  One. Two. Three….”  She beats him to the punch, and I almost fell off the couch!  You may want to keep some pillows handy for that one.

Maria’s Rating:  2.5 Gummy Bears out of 5. (Mostly for Jackman & Winslet)

Ross’ Rating:  3.25 Gummies.

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Movie Review: Epic

Published May 28, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of:  Colin Farrell, Beyoncé, Josh Hutcherson, Aziz Ansari, Amanda Seyfried, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler and Christoph Waltz.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes.

It’s been a while since a kids movie has graced the big screen, so we decided to bring our boy (age 9) with us for a peek at Epic.  And although it sported the usual makings of children’s fare, I genuinely enjoyed it.  We see so many of these movies that it’s hard not to dwell on the formulaic plot lines and clever double entendre.  But occasionally you can lose yourself in one and overlook the commonality to discover something fresh about it.  Epic has a very creative storyline with a basic, but important, lesson for viewers.  It also has some decent laughs that appeal to both young and old.  I have to give a film credit if it induces Ethan to poke either Ross or myself with the ‘Wow, that was funny…did you guys think that was funny?’ routine.  And if he recites any of the lines on the car ride home, that’s usually a sure fire sign that the jokes were pretty good.  Both of these applied in this case.  The plot centers around a hidden World that exists in the forest.  The life of the forest is comprised of flowers, trees, leaves, insects and tiny people, including a powerful Queen.  Queen Tara (voiced by Beyoncé) is graceful and has a special power that brings life wherever she desires.  She makes the flowers bloom, revitalizes dead plants and unites her people to the cause of keeping the forest vibrant, but most importantly alive.  Her nemesis is a scary looking miniature named Mandrake (voiced by Waltz), donning a rat carcass cloak and wooden staff.  His only passion is killing the forest and spreading the gray, haggard designs of his World throughout the lush greenery the Queen has sustained.  His plan is to kill Queen Tara and destroy all that she and her people represent.  It is a classic battle of good vs. evil, but fate comes into play as a regular human teenage girl finds herself right in the middle.

I’ve talked about him in our review of Django Unchained, so some of you probably know that I LOVE Christoph Waltz.  He’s won two Oscars for good reason, and in Epic, just with his voice he’s the star of the show.  One of the great bad guys of all time in Inglorious Basterds, his Mandrake is one evil, heartless dude.  And really, doesn’t the bad guy oftentimes make the movie?  Anyway, M.K. (Seyfried) is a teenage girl visiting her father Bomba (Sudeikis) who we discover has lost everything – job, wife, kid etc. because of his obsession with finding proof of the little people in the forest.  M.K. indeed ends up in the middle of the battle, and when the Queen gets mortally wounded, M.K. is magically shrunken and entrusted with an item that is paramount to the forests’ survival.  She soon meets Nod (Hutcherson , who is suddenly in everything), an irresponsible youth/warrior/love interest; and Ronin (Farrell) the leader of the Queen’s Guard who is steadfast, true, “secretly” in love with the Queen, disappointed in Nod AND looks exactly like our neighbor’s son Connor.  M.K. also has help from the snail Grub (O’Dowd) and the slug Mub (Ansari) who has most of the movies’ funniest lines.  Our group of heroes must fend off the relentless Mandrake, who needs to make everything dead and grey, just because.  The action is fast paced, entertaining, funny and sometimes a little scary.  Just what the creators wanted.     

Waltz just commands the screen in anything he’s in.  His voice is mesmerizing, his gestures are captivating and his talent is indisputable.  His presence is still felt through the animated character he is portraying.  That’s just brilliant casting to have his cold, distinct voice in contrast to Beyoncé’s warm, mellifluous tone.  Ronin really does have an uncanny resemblance to our neighbor’s little boy – Ross nailed that.  Because we see so many of these animated movies it’s easy to take the animation for granted, but I am utterly impressed by what they can do these days.  Being a child of the ’90’s Disney era, I didn’t know that one day animation would blow that stuff out of the water.  These days, the animated people really resemble people!  Not to mention the settings.  We were at home skimming through the channels and we stopped on Brave (which we have reviewed – see Archives – July 2012) for a brief second.  Even at home the visuals were spectacular and the animation was jaw dropping.  I can’t wait to see what they do next!

I agree the animation of today is spectacular (even with the 3D money grabs).  It’s so consistently good, it’s easy to take it for granted.  What is equally impressive is the ability of these studios: Disney, Pixar, Blue Sky et al, to keep churning out such enjoyable and educational stories.  The good far outweighs the bad or mediocre.  So when you come across a movie like Escape From Planet Earth for example, which wasn’t THAT bad, but is obviously inferior; it seems worse than it is.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they are reinventing the wheel with these movies, but they do make them as enticing to grown-ups as to the kids.  They fill them with life lessons without ramming them down your throat, and they make you want to see them again, which is no easy task.  Epic is another in a long line of worthy efforts.  Absolutely recommended for you, and sure take the kids along if you want.  One final note; Maria and I love to play the game of “name the voice behind the character”, and we’re usually pretty good at it.  Ethan has taken to playing with us recently and he nailed Pitbull as Bufo, a toad-like creature.  I was only average with Colin Farrell and Chris O’Dowd, easy ones.  Maria hit all the rest, including an interesting turn by Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler as Nim Galuu, a caterpillar of sorts.  This is a fun game, you should try it.  Occasionally, we get stumped and have to wait around to see the credits, for the inevitable “Oh that was so and so!” moment.  Yet another reason to sing the praises of the superior genre of animated features!

Maria’s rating: 4 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ rating: 3.75 Gummies.