Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Get Smart. Or Don't.

Here's the deal: Get Smart isn't funny. And it doesn't have much to do with Get Smart, in any other way, either. It's pretty much just a regular ol' spy movie with some regular ol' jokes in it. This person who is named Maxwelll Smart is just some guy who's pretty nice and pretty humble and a fairly competent spy (except for a couple sequences where he hurts himself in not particularly funny ways), and he fails to be oblivious, which is the real Maxwell Smart's central character trait.

But, again, the main problem is that the movie just isn't that funny. Alan Arkin as the Chief? Not funny. The main villain and his sidekick? Not funny. Anne Hathaway's Agent 99 isn't funny. Not-even-thinly veiled President Bush isn't funny.The CONTROL nerds and the CONTROL jocks: slightly funny. Big scary villain henchman--a tiny bit funny, near the end. Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart has some funny moments, but he averages out at sort of funny. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson isn't all that funny, but I continue to find him really likeable, so that's something. And . . . I've run out of characters.

Another way to put it is that the movie Get Smart is just a waste of time. I haven't seen them yet, but my bet is that if you're looking for an excuse to eat popcorn while sitting on a cupholder-adjacent chair in the air conditioning, Kung Fu Panda or Wall-E or maybe The Incredible Hulk** would be better ways to go.

**Admittedly, I'm only tempted by the Hulk movie because of its tenuous connections to Iron Man. Apparently I only like to write about movies that I dislike, because I never wrote anything about Iron Man, which I LOVED. Seriously, LOVED IT. And not even in the way I loved Live Free or Die Hard, but loved in it a "This is some quality, lovingly-crafted cinema!"-type way.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wedding-O-Rama: One Month to Go!

It's June 19th! Which is exactly one month away from July 19th! Here's how things stand:

Cake: paid in full!

Menu: not finalized. It's hard to tell how many dozen chicken kabobs one needs for such an event.

Dress: altered! (And pretty. Naturally.) I got a petite dress, which is three inches shorter to begin with, but they needed to take it up another inch anyway.

Invitations: mailed and coming back to me steadily. Man, receiving respons cards is fun. They're so tiny; they're like fun-size mail. Today was the first day since Saturday before last that I didn't get at least one in the mail. (I was a little sad that the streak was broken.)

All bridesmaids have dresses; way to go bridesmaids!

Photographer, florist, DJ: booked, given at least their deposit money.

Here's a question: do you think we should do that disposable-cameras-on-the-tables thing?
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Friday, June 6, 2008

Keeping Up With My Correspondence

Dear Obama,

Please don't pick Hillary for your running mate. She's mean and not vice-presidential material and apparently given to making stupid remarks and who knows what Bill will say on your campaign trail? Plus we all know now that you two hate each other, and that just would not inspire confidence.

I don't even know where this "Dream Ticket" thing came from. Who would think you two were a dream ticket? I would make a nightmare ticket joke, but The Onion beat me to it.

Also, you know that vocal minority of people who voted for her in the primaries and say they'll vote for McCain instead if you don't pick her? They're totally bluffing.


* * * * * * * * *

Dear college football season,

I'm already excited--I can't wait til you show up! Ever since my gentleman caller bought me the Athlon preview magazine, I've getting all antsy.

Do you think you'll be crazy with upsets like last year? My bet is that you won't, because my guess is that that was a law-of-averages instead of a new-trend-in-football thing. But I'll be happy to be wrong. Upsets are awesome, especially when my own team is usually an underdog. Go upsets!

Anyway, I'll let you go now, but I just wanted to let you know that I miss you and am eagerly awaiting your arrival.


* * * * * * * *

Dear bus people,

I have to say, you guys are really outdoing yourselves. Bravo.

When we're on the bus, some of us read to pass the time. Some of us listen to music on headphones, some chat to our friends, and some chat to random strangers who don't care about us whatsoever, which some of us would be able to tell had we any social radar at all. And then there's the girl who entertained herself on the bus by using her bus pass to scrape dry skin off her legs and onto the floor. That was a really special time for all of us, I think.

Oh, and I should also take this time to give a shout-out to whoever it was who sat in my seat ahead of me yesterday, leaving behind a half-eaten chicken wing (left just sitting between the seat and the wall, though thoughtfully half-concealed under a Sprite bottle [A Sprite bottle that was empty except for the dregs . . . of mysterious brown fluid.]).

Again, bus people, you're just shattering your old records of bus-people-ness. You are truly the wind beneath my wings. If it were physically possible for wind to need a shower.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Sparkling MacGuffin

The gentleman caller escorted me to Indiana Jones: Episode IV last night. Luckily, my expectations were low, so I thought it was . . . ok. (If I had expected it to be good, I would have been disappointed. This is why low expectations are so great!) Now, " . . . ok" (which is a couple of steps below plain "ok") is its average score.

The beginning was just barely not-terrible. Barely. It was clunky and dumb and the effects weren't that good and the acting was ridiculous. Also, Cate Blanchett's character is pretty stupid, and that takes some getting used to. And so does her accent--she's supposed to be Russian, but during those first few scenes I thought, maybe she's supposed to be a Russian who's trying to sound English? Or something? I came close to laughter that the movie did not intend quite a few times.

Also, I realize it's an Indiana Jones movie, so I need to suspend me some disbelief. But seriously, Indy should have died a good five times over. In the first fifteen minutes. (If you think I'm being a stickler and you haven't seen the movie yet, watch it and then tell me I'm wrong.)

After the first handful of scenes, it does get better. I started to feel like everything just might turn out all right once Janitor showed up as an FBI agent. (My gentleman caller and I have been watching far more Scrubs than is healthy for the human mind, so we were both pretty psyched about that cameo. And then Mr. Meade showed up, too! That scene was good times.)

The movie didn't really pick up though until about the time Shia LaBeouf showed up. I assure you: this is a coincidence. I'm not saying Shia is bad in this movie. There was no point at which I wanted his character to be impaled by a spike or anything! But . . . it's not that Shia LaBeouf is a charisma-free zone. It's just that charisma is a little thin on the ground there. This isn't all his fault; the character isn't written to be interesting. He really only has one consistent character trait (SPOILER: it's combing his hair).

The middle of the movie, the bulk of it, is pretty good. It's not great cinema, of course, but it's entertaining. Why, there are points when it even approaches rollicking. It was, for the most part, very enjoyable. Except for one of the stupidest scenes I've witnessed in a major motion picture outside Zoolander. Oh man, you guys. It's so stupid. In fact, I'll describe it at the bottom of this post with a spoiler tag in front of it, for those of you who are curious.

The ending, unfortunately, is not so good. It's not as badly done as the first part; it's just pointless. I don't think it's a spoiler to tell you that there's massive destruction at the end of this movie, because it's an Indiana Jones movie. But in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade (I've never seen even little bits of the second one, I have to admit), there's a concrete reason that makes sense within the story why the destruction takes place. With this one, not so much. The underlying problem is that the over-arching quest of the movie just isn't very well thought-out. Or cool.

For that reason above all others, it just felt like the script should have gone through another draft. It could have and should have been more cohesive and had fewer plot holes. Again, I realize Indiana Jones isn't supposed to be high art, but the plot holes! They gape.

In conclusion, don't feel bad about waiting until the DVD for this one. As I mentioned, the special effects aren't quite up to the 2008 standard, so you won't be missing out by settling for the small screen. And if you do go see it at the theater, remember my magic ingredient: low expectations.


So, there's a chase through a jungle, naturally. Shia somehow gets thrown up in the trees and entangled in some vines and what does he see there? Why, it's a monkey. And not just any monkey, but a monkey with Shia's stupid greaser hairdo. (No, really.) Then Shia starts swinging from vine to vine (more lame special effects) a la cartoon Tarzan. And he is accompanied by dozens upon dozens of greaser monkeys. I hope this sounds as lame as it was on the screen.
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