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August 14, 2010

I Moved!

I've moved the entire Annoying Movie Guy blog to Word Press. So click HERE to see the new Annoying Movie Guy at Thanks for reading!

August 10, 2010

Pick of the Week: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" - 2008

This week's pick is something simple and lighthearted, and admittedly in anticipation for the opening of Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," starring Michael Cera and hitting theaters this Friday (expect a review soon after).

"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" is based off the novel of the same name by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. The story centers around northern New Jersey suburban kids who love to explore New York City by night and linger around the indie rock music scene. Michael Cera ("Superbad," "Juno") plays Nick, a nice guy who's hung up on his ex, Tris. Though the relationship has been over, she has a lasting hold on him. As she laughingly throws out the mix cds he makes for her as a pathetic attempt to get her back, acquaintance Norah, played by Kat Dennings ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Charlie Bartlett"), picks them up and has a connection to a person she's never met, but who has stunningly similar musical tastes. When the members of Nick's band, The Jerk Offs, get him to play a show in the city on the hope that they'll find their favorite band, Where's Fluffy, playing a secret after-hours show. The same secret show attracts Tris, Norah and their friend, the ever-partying Caroline, to the city that never sleeps as well.

When everyone ends up in the same place, Norah asks Nick, who she thinks is a complete stranger, to pretend to be her boyfriend for five minutes so Tris thinks Norah isn't spending another night alone. When Tris sees Nick and Norah lock lips, her natural jealousy kicks in. The night goes on to be one awkward and frustrating moment after another as Norah tries to get drunk Caroline home safely, Nick's band tries to get he and Norah together, Norah tries to get Nick to stop talking about Tris and Tris tries to get Nick to notice her again. Meanwhile, everyone is trying to find Where's Fluffy, and no one seems to run out of things to do in this city.

First of all, Where's Fluffy is not a real band. In fact, other than the indie rock soundtrack, not many actually bands are named in the film. At moments you feel like you're just getting a walk through of the hipster indie culture of a city like New York full of kids from the suburbs who flock to the nightlife where they can roam free. I have not experienced much of the New York City nightlife, but I find it hard to believe these high school kids are getting served alcohol at clubs. The tenuous scenes between Nick and Norah make you wonder what they really see in each other? They argue most of the time, and eventually just click. Really, they should be together, but it's almost too obvious for the two of them not to figure it out sooner. Nick's band, made up of Thom and Dev, who are both gay, are some of the driving comedic force of the film. That and drunk Caroline as she wanders around the city unattended. It's suggested that this is just a normal Friday night for these kids, and it makes someone like me who went to high school in an area devoid of such late night opportunities very jealous. That's the audience attracted to this story. There are kids who live their weekends like this, but in their case such a story doesn't appeal to them.

Nick's character is what we've come to expect from Michael Cera. Dry delivery of awkward comedic lines, the nice guy persona and an innocent demeanor. However, Nick is a slightly more confident character than we're used to see Cera playing. Norah is the girl we all know. She's not the most attractive, sought-after girl, but she's intelligent, clever and unique. She's the opposite of Tris, and exactly what Nick really wants. Their relationship evolves in a pretty predictable way. Certain plot points, like Norah's need to decide between a career and college by the next day, is just too ridiculous. It's not the most original story, but it's fun and entertaining. There's a heart to it, suggesting that maybe all hope is not lost for younger generations, whether that's musically, romantically or intellectually.

"That's what everybody wants, Nicky. They don't want a twenty-four-hour hump sesh, they don't want to be married to you for a hundred years. They just want to hold your hand."


August 1, 2010

Review: The Kids Are All Right

The plot of "The Kids Are All Right" is fresh and a bit controversial, to some. Two teenagers who were raised by a lesbian couple decide to contact their biological father - a sperm donor.

Nic (three-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening; "American Beauty," "Being Julia") and Jules (four-time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore; "Boogie Nights," "Far From Heaven") have a strong marriage and a family built around their two children, Laser (Josh Hutcherson; "Bridge to Terabithia," "Journey to the Center of the Earth") and Joni (Mia Wasikowska; "Defiance," "Alice in Wonderland"). Laser is 15, and getting into some trouble with a leach of a friend. He's curious about their donor father, so he asks Joni, who is 18 and about to leave for college, to contact him. When they do, they meet Paul (Mark Ruffalo; "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Shutter Island"), a free-wheeling restaurant owner and produce grower. As the kids get to know him and then bring him home to meet the moms, Paul begins to influence all of them in ways that expose individual issues they've all been holding back. At first his presence is positive, until the structure of their family begins to crumble.

From the beginning, we see the roles each member of the family plays. Nic is disciplined and structured - the serious one of the couple. She has the career and a strong liking for wine to go with it. Jules is more easygoing and willing to let their kids explore their feelings. She's spent the past few years raising the kids and attempting to start businesses, never finding her true calling. Laser is looking for a more positive male influence and Joni is trying to come to terms with becoming an adult and getting her moms to treat her as such. The family interactions, particularly those in the film before Paul shows up, show an everyday family dealing with typical problems. The only difference is that the parents are a lesbian couple, and it paints a picture of how such couples can raise families in the same way others do, and in some cases can be more successful. The reality that is shown is that no family, and no marriage, is perfect. I think some people have assumptions that homosexual couples are stronger than heterosexual ones, but that is not true. Nic and Jules are going through some hard times, and maybe the issues they're dealing with have always been there. Just like most couples, there is a person who feels unappreciated and put down (Jules), while the other feels they do all the work and that they're always the bad guy (Nic). Paul seems unchanging throughout the film, more like a catalyst that comes along to ignite the less-talked about issues in the family. A wrench in the gears of their seemingly happy situation.

"The Kids Are All Right" might be the most well-acted movie so far this year. The five central characters are all well-established actors, and the dialogue of their interactions is made more hilarious by their facial features and mannerisms. So many subtleties that drive the comedic and extremely tense situations. That's the main tool in this film: tension. It drives the comedy, and even stronger, the drama. When things really get heavy, we see how relationships can withstand so much, and how family situations, like a daughter being dropped off at college, can overshadow the tension.

The controversial issues in "The Kids Are All Right" don't stem from the lesbian relationship, but what some people see as a misconception about homosexuality. Certain aspects of Nic and Jules' relationship seem unrealistic to some, but I feel nothing is intentionally offensive about the situations in the film. It's deeper than that. So much emotional conflict is present, and I feel it's safe to say that's the reasoning for all the actions in the film. Nothing that happens really has to do with Paul, he's just what brings it all out in the open.

Oscar buzz is beginning, and I wouldn't be surprised to see "The Kids Are All Right" on many critics' lists. I must warn you to expect sex scenes that are comical, but sometimes last an awkward amount of time. Then again maybe that's just me. I don't think long or graphic sex scenes are necessary to make a point (and I really didn't need to see Mark Ruffalo's ass so much). Oh, and view the trailer below!

"I need your opinion like I need a dick in my ass!"