Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Our Idiot Brother

There are nice guys and then there's Ned.  Maybe the screenwriters named him Ned because he's like Ned Flanders on "The Simpsons" only without the religion.  He's so nice when a cop comes up to his fruit & vegetable stand asking for some pot because he's having a bad day, Ned agrees to give him a bag.  He reluctantly takes $20 for it and then finds himself sent up the river on a drug pedaling charge.

Ned (Paul Rudd) gets out 8 months later and is no longer welcome at the farm where he used to work.  At first then he stays with his mom.  When he feels smothered, he goes to stay with his sister Liz (Emily Mortimer) and her husband (Steve Coogan) and their young son River.  Liz and her husband are the type of parents who don't want their kid to eat sugar and make him play some weird musical instrument so he can get into a fancy school.  Ned upsets that by teaching River about karate and stuff.

Soon he ends up with his other sister Miranda (Elizabeth Banks)--I have no idea which sister is the oldest or youngest.  She works for Vanity Fair and is trying to break a big story about Lady Arabella, who was involved in some scandal.  Ned's honesty screws that up too.

He ends up sleeping in a raft at the apartment of his other sister Natalie (Zooey Deschanel).  She's supposedly a lesbian, but has been sleeping around with a guy.  Ned's honesty ruins things for her too.

It's all a little too obvious that the real "idiots" are the sisters, not Ned.  As screwed up as his life is, theirs aren't much better, just they refuse to admit it.  You might be able to figure out where everything is going. 

But overall this was a fun, lighthearted film.  Ned's good-natured blundering is funny and makes him a likable character.  He's not exactly in the same mold as Forrest Gump (because he's not that dumb) but he is someone you root for despite the dumb things he does.

This is a good movie for adult couples who want something light and fun.  There's really too much sex talk (and an unfortunate shot of Steve Coogan's naughty parts) for this to be a family film.

The extras on the DVD I received are three deleted/extended scenes (one is real short) and an alternate ending.  Unlike some movies that claim to have an alternate ending but end up having one or two lines changed, this one really is a largely different ending.  I think the original works better, but the alternate ending gives more closure about the characters.

That is all.

(3/4 stars)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I guess since this was about Russian roulette and listed Jason Statham as one of the stars I expected it to be more exciting. I was definitely not on the edge of my seat, even when guys had guns to each other's heads.

Another complaint I have is I didn't really feel I knew much about most of the characters. In many cases I didn't even know their names. It took a little straining to remember the "hero" is named Vince, in large part because for 2/3 of the movie he's referred to as "Number 13."

The reason for this is that Vince finds an invitation to a Russian roulette tournament. The mechanics of this are a little hazy to me. I think Vince is working at renovating this guy's house. The guy overdoses on morphine after he gets the invitation. Vince finds it and since he needs money for an operation for his dad (I think), he goes to New York to take the other guy's place.

The tournament is held in a mansion (or something) out in the middle of nowhere. I don't know how far you have to get from New York City for that. There are at least 17 players. Each one has essentially a sponsor. I'm not really sure who Vince's was. At the house we meet some of the other participants. There's #17 (Mickey Rourke) who was in a Mexican prison before being smuggled into the US for the tournament. He keeps telling his handler (50 Cent) that he knows where there's a large stash of money. 17 and his money really have no bearing on the overall plot.

Vince's main rival is #6 Robert Lynn (Ray Winstone) who was in a mental institution until his brother Jasper (Jason Statham) signs him out to be in the tourney. #6 has won the tourney a few times before. For some reason, Jasper borrows 2 million from someone to gamble in the tourney on his brother.

I think part of the reason I was never too excited is besides being located in a mansion--and not somewhere seedy like a back alley--is there are so many rules. For the first two rounds everyone stands in a circle. They're given a gun and one bullet. They put the guns in the air and spin the chamber around at the behest of the referee who sits in a chair like a tennis umpire. Then each player puts his gun at the head of the guy in front of him. (They are all guys.) When a light with spiders on it (why spiders? I don't know) goes on, they fire. Some people die and others live. For the next round, there are two bullets in the guns. The final round features two players chosen at random to "duel." They get three bullets in their guns. If you can't guess who is chosen to duel they show you A) on the DVD back cover and B)A few minutes into the film. So I guess that's another strike as it spoils a little of the drama.

Anyway, with so many rules and everything so well-mannered (they even let the "survivors" go free!) it felt more like watching tennis than Russian roulette. That and I didn't really know much about the important characters and a lot of characters weren't that important anyway, like #17.

So this definitely could have been a better movie. Maybe the original version was better; I might have to go look for it on Netflix or something.

BTW, there were no extras on the copy I was given from the Vine newsletter. I don't know if the copy for purchase has any extras or what they might be.

That is all.
(2/4 stars)