Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Hey Folks,

So here's the scoop. I'm not going to be posting any more reviews on this site starting tomorrow, July 2nd, 2009.

I bought the rights to my own domain name and set up a swank new website for you all to hopefully enjoy. The URL is...

I know, what a wild change getting rid of that "blogspot" part. But now I've got weekly polls, you can follow my updates on Twitter, all the reviews will be posted at 12:01 AM each day, and the list goes on.

Thanks to everyone for reading, I really appreciate it and I'll keep on doing what I'm doing. Hope you like the new site and keep it real.

- Aiden R.


9/10 Gravity-Defying Drug-Induced Nightmare Babies

The best movie that Danny Boyle's ever done (which is saying something) and the only movie other than Requiem for a Dream that will never, ever make you want to touch a drug for the rest of your days.

Trainspotting is about an on-again-off-again Scottish heroin junkie named Renton and the eccentric group of on-again-off-again heroin junkies he hangs out with. The plot more or less revolves around Renton's struggle to kick the habit and set off on a brighter path that doesn't follow his friends down the ugly slope that comes with doing heroin all the time. 

That plot line might not sound all that crazy to some, but when was the last time you were hooked on heroin?

I rest my case.

I could go on and on about how awesome director Danny Boyle is, so I'll keep it brief. The great thing about Danny Boyle is that each time he makes a movie it's totally different from anything else he's done, and nearly every time it's absolutely great. It's about time he got his due this past year with Slumdog Millionaire because he's been doing his thing for 15 years now and he's been doing it a lot better than most. So good for you, Danny boy.

This movie is his second effort after starting his career with a wild horror movie/psychological thriller called Shallow Grave, which I highly recommend. 

Trainspotting is one in-your-face movie that slams on the gas pedal in the first frame and doesn't let up until the credits roll. It's an intense, gritty, gross, funny, dark, and harrowing movie that you might not know what to make out of when it's all over, but it'll stick with you. Few movies really dig this deep into the life of a junkie (not that I have any experience on the matter), but Boyle quickly makes the audience feel like they're part of Renton's gang whether they like it or not. 

The characters are all great and unique, so are the actors, and the script is equal parts shocking and insightful. I read the novel it's based off by Irvine Welsh a while back, and that was even better. You may not think there's much you'd have in common with a group of Scottish dope fiends, but it's ends up being a really relatable story about a group of friends struggling to find some sense of direction in their lives...and they all happen to do heroin.

The one drawback to this movie is that everyone talks with pretty thick Scottish accents and use lots of Scottish slang, so it takes some pretty sharp listening to catch what everyone's actually saying to each other if you're not fresh off the boat from Scotland. There is some really funny dialogue, but it might take you a second or third viewing to get it all down.

In a nutshell, Trainspotting is totally insane and it's utterly brilliant. It's like mixing together Pulp Fiction, Requiem for a Dream, and The Breakfast Club, and everyone sounds like Sean Connery. It's not for the faint of heart, and that's kind of a strange analogy, but there's just nothing else like it.

Long live Danny Boyle.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tropic Thunder

6/10 Progressive Blackface Jokes

The opening ten minutes is some of the funniest shit I've seen in ages, but after that, the laughs get kinda hard to come by.

Tropic Thunder is about a group of A-list actors who sign up to do a Vietnam War/action movie and end up sabotaging the whole production for various reasons. So when the director realizes he isn't getting the desired results, he throws them all into the jungle, leading them on to believe that they are filming the movie when in fact they are all fighting actual guerrilla soldiers. Then things get hairy.

It's like The Three Amigos, only way more offensive.

Nothing goes un-insulted (is that a word?) in this movie: gays, homophobes, blacks, whites, and a pretty funny but totally wrong running gag about the mentally challenged among other jokes in bad taste. God, I hope I don't sound like a bigot saying that, but the movie is really at its funniest when it's pushing the envelope going after what the audience holds sacred. But as it usually goes with these things, when it works, it really works, when it doesn't, it bombs.

he jokes don't land as often as they should, there's too much down time in between gags, and since the opening scenes had my sides aching right off the bat, it makes the silence of missing laughs that much more noticeable as a result.

And maybe I just wasn't listening, but I couldn't understand half of what Robert Downey Jr. was saying in this movie. How he got an Oscar nod for this, I do not know. Maybe it was penance for ignoring the awesome job he did in Zodiac a couple years back (great movie, go see it).

So the story is nothing new, it's not as funny as it could have been, and all the actors involved have done better things in their career when it comes to comedy...except for one man. Tom freakin' Cruise.

Yes, Tom Cruise is in this movie. He's not on the poster and the studio didn't publicize his involvement whatsoever, but he's got a pretty big role that's way outside his typical range and, amazingly enough, he's hilarious. Can't give away too much because that's kind of the draw, but he's a definite saving grace to the movie and he deserves some serious props for pretty much stealing the show from the three lead actors.

My suggestion: rent Tropic Thunder and watch it with a six-pack at your side. It's not the funniest movie of 2008, but it has its moments and there are still a handful of cameos from some big-time actors that I haven't mentioned who make it worth the time.

At the very least, go and YouTube "Tropic Thunder fake trailers" so you can see the opening scenes without having to dish out five bucks and a slot on your Netflix queue.

The Reader

6/10 Bare-assed Nazis

Deserved the Best Actress Oscar, really didn't deserve the Best Picture Nomination. Hard to believe this got picked over The Dark Knight. Good one, Academy.

The Reader is about a 16-year-old German kid who has an illicit, Summer-long affair with a Nazi train conductor during World War II. They have lots of sex, he reads many a book aloud to her, and she really digs it. Summer ends, fast-forward to when the kid is in law school and to his surprise finds that he's now sitting in on his former lover's Nuremberg trials for her role as a guard at Auschwitz.

Oh, to be young and in love.

The real selling point of The Reader is obviously Kate Winslet. She got nominated for absolutely anything at every single award show this year for her role here as the Nazi seductress. And while I still haven't seen her other award-winning performance in Revolutionary Road, the Oscar was well-earned for her turn in this movie.
I even think she won a Nobel Peace Prize for it...or a Grammy. Same difference.

I'm not sure why she won the Best Actress Oscar because she's not the main character, but she definitely is the most interesting part of the movie regardless. Her character is very manipulative and Winslet's performance just adds to that, making it strangely difficult to feel bad for this troubled Nazi who may or may not have been responsible for killing a lot of Jewish people.

Lots of real emotion, it's a tough character to play considering her circumstances, and Kate makes it all feel real. She's no joke and she's come a long way from the days of Jack and Rose.

And hats off to you, Kate, you have officially beaten out Marisa Tomei for the most frequently naked, Oscar-nominated actress of all time. Something to be proud of, I guess. Won't catch me showing my goods to everyone on Earth anytime soon, but if that's your thing, then keep on fighting the good fight.

But aside from Kate and a good story, the rest of the movie is very mediocre. The pacing is really strange and moves along at a way-too-fast pace, like someone sped up the film reel and cut off ten seconds from the start and end of each scene. It actually just made me want to read the book afterwards because it felt like the director, Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot & The Hours - good movies), rushed like crazy through the plot and gave the audience a Sparknotes version of the story he was supposed to tell.

As a result, it's difficult to connect with the characters, there isn't enough character development, and I didn't care about any of them or what was happening to them as much as I probably should have. It's not often where a movie ends and I think, "That should have been an extra 20 to 30 minutes longer," but this is one of those rare instances.

My good buddy Fred says the book is much better, so I'm going to suggest you go with Fred on this one and hit up your local library. The Reader is worth seeing for Kate, but you're getting shortchanged with a good story told poorly.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Role Models

8/10 Wizard McLovins

Surprisingly enough, this was actually the funniest movie of 2008. Was banking on Pineapple Express to take that title, but the proof is in the pudding, folks.

Role Models is about two energy drink spokesmen that are forced to mentor two kids as a means to fulfill their community service hours after destroying a school statue in a freak energy drink truck accident. Though initially resistant to their circumstances, the two guys gradually form a bond with the kids and everyone starts to change for the better. I think I'm...yup, I'm gonna cry.

The movie's directed by David Wain, who also did Wet Hot American Summer, a freakin' hilarious movie that still cracks me up every time I see it. Paul Rudd is pretty funny as the somber energy drink spokesman/role model, but I'm starting to feel like he's playing the same role in every movie at this point. Someone needs to cast him as a serial killer...or a crazy war veteran. Enough of this "mopey, but cute and endearing" shit.

Seann William Scott is hilarious as usual in a "grown-up Steve Stifler" kind of way. Newcomer Bobb'e J. Thompson (who spells their name like that?) is also damn funny as the foul-mouthed, boob-obsessed, asshole kid that Seann William Scott has to mentor. Only other thing I've seen him in is 30 Rock, but a funny kid all the same. Who doesn't like watching kids curse in movies?

But I probably should have known that McLovin would steal the show as the horribly strange and awkward mentee whose sole passion in life is playing a real-life version of Dungeons & Dragons (known to the elite members of this bizarre underworld as "LARPing"). His real name is Christopher Mintz-Plasse, but let's be honest, this kid could cure cancer and he'd still be known as Dr. McLovin.

That's pretty badass, actually. Sounds like a Motley Crue song.

I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this movie going into it, but I was really surprised when it didn't end up being another forgettable summer comedy. It has great characters, it's consistently hilarious throughout its run-time, it has a great final act, and the story is genuinely heartfelt and not corny in the least. Still vividly remember the ear-to-ear grin plastered on my face after I left the theater.

So if you still haven't seen Role Models, if you're still finding a way to fill that McLovin void in your life, and if you still think that Tropic Thunder is the funniest movie that came out last year, then you owe it to yourself to go and rent this movie.

We both know that Tropic Thunder could have been better.