Review: One Missed Call

“One Missed Call” stars Shannyn Sossamon (“First Knight”), the erstwhile actress who was the next Sandra Bullock for about five minutes in the late 90s. Oh, and she resurfaced a few years ago because she named her child “Audio Science.” Playing a hot psych student (yawn) who teams up with a cop (Ed Burns) to figure out why all her friends are getting Final Destinationed to death via recording calls from their doomed future self, Sossamon sleepwalks her way through this desperate horror remake. I find it funny that, just last week, there was a gem of a scene in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” where the gang makes fun of Kristen Bell for staring in a fictitious film where she finds herself tormented by “a haunted cell phone… ha, ha, ha.” “Just don’t answer the phone!” was the astute observation made. I know they were jabbing the real life actress’ participation in “Pulse” (grr) but this moronic film is way more deserving of that level of meta-mockery. “Pulse,” at least, had a relevant hook while this one, er, should get the hook. I know, I know, I promised to let off of the puns but, come on, this film had it coming.

 

flame on to the rest

 

Quickie Review: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

  • What’s Good: Turns out “Sarah Marshall” doesn’t suck. And I don’t “hate” her.
  • What’s Not: The strange thing about most romantic comedies is that even though they’re geared to a female audience, the female characters are usually the most underwritten and one dimensional in the given picture. Therefore it becomes actually quite easy to literally “forget” Sarah Marshall.
  • The Question Any Man Should Ask After Watching is: Veronica Mars (Kirsten Bell) or Meg (Mila Kunis)? Kunis because she’s got a killer tan, she flashes the goods and I got a thing for Russian Jewish girls. Bell is to vanilla and “Veronica Mars” sucked.
  • Food Equivalent: Roasted pig with a ton of sweet Hawaiian sauce.
  • Review Note: Okay, so the deal is that for these types of “quickie” reviews: I give myself an hour to sum up my opinion. I find this to be not only a decent exercise but a good way of getting my thoughts on paper (or on line) and out of the way.

Just a few weeks after the dreadful “Run Fatboy Run,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” proves that a romantic comedy can go by the numbers and still go right. All the cliché are here, front and center, from the ex dating a ridiculously hot boy-toy to the one night stands on the man-child’s part to the coincidental meetings of the two exes in an exotic location (not only the same island in Hawaii, but the same hotel and same adjacent rooms, too!) to the guy meeting a cute girl along the way to the final act conflict where the man slips up before realizing who he really should be with. What’s cool is how the cliches are subverted oh so slightly here. The hot boy is a rock star is free thinker but too dumb to think that free, or deep: he’s actually likable. The one night stands end in the protagonist (a winning Jason Segel who also wrote the film) blubbering like a bitch: that’s actually funny. And the final relapse with Sarah Marshall/impending fight with the other girl (a bland Mila Kunis) is predictable, yes, but hardly lingered upon. Unlike zero personality rom-com such as “Run Fatboy Run” or, if I must be more specific, zero(er) personality rom-coms set in Hawaii such as “50 First Dates,” “Marshall” is more in tune with the underrated film “The Break Up” in the sense that the viewer is given and can recognize all the obligatory genre notes that are being played while also being surprised to see that the notes are all out of order and played in a slightly different pitch.

The only subverted cliché that didn’t work for me is the eponymous character of Sarah Marshall of all people. First of all, the brilliant and mysterious advertising campaign that had “I hate you Sarah Marshall” posters generating a lot of interest and having us wondering WHO Sarah Marshall and what tha hellz she did to piss someone off. The answer turns out to be: nobody and not much. As played by Veronica Mars, er, Kristen Bell, this character is as inconsistent as she is boring. She’s is called a “bitch” by the guy’s best (the other cop from “Superbad” who’s like a low calorie version of Dwight from The Office) friend but, thankfully (and contrary to what the genre usually demands) she’s not really that bad of a person. She’s also not a saint. She’s not much of anything to be exact and this lack of orientation is unfortunate because I like the idea of having the spurned hero’s former lover do things we wouldn’t expect in a rom-com. The problem is that she also does things we wouldn’t care about like standing around in the hotel, sitting around being empty on the beach and at bars and being relegated to a crappy room even though she’s a famous actress shacking up with an even more famous rock star. The saving grace however comes in the form of this character’s day job which is starring in a really bad “CSI”-esq show that. She stars opposite a Baldwin brother (can’t remember which, like that matters) in a “brooding” murder show that brilliantly skewers these horrible shows with lines that sound exactly like they belong in said horrible shows. While looming over a corpse the cops says to Marshall “She’s not going to be able to attend that beauty pageant [takes of glasses a la David Caruso]…. WITHOUT A FACE.” Brill!

This is a film for people who love rom-coms, sure, but it’s also one for people who want to love them but can’t usually bring themselves to man-up and withstand the corny dialogue, the situational lameness, the predictability, the bad chemistry or the, um, Matthew McConaughey. It has been made through Judd Apatow’s production company (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) and, for what it’s worth, is better than any film Apatow has actually directed to date. Sure this film, like all Apatow approved products drifting along his “edgy” (but really conservative and tender) rom-com assembly, suffers in the second half from central concept fatigue (in this case: what happens once Sarah Marshell is actually forgotten!), but it rides the wonky screenplay inscribed what-do-we-do-now? turbulence to rally for a nice mellow finish. The star, Jason Segel, carries the movie with a beguiling likability. As Seth Rogan did in “Knocked Up,” this slovenly sub-everyman figure manages to be irreverent and extraordinarily sweet at the same time. When he’s boozing it up or attempting to bang anything that walks we’re pulling for him to find that illusive state of ultimate happiness because, well, he’s such a pathetic puppy of a man. This passive acting style coupled with a number raunchy (but NOT raunchy for raunchy’s sake) bits surrounding the poor schlub’s schlong for instance make “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” on the whole, just unforgettable enough to recommend.

Review: NIN Ghosts I-IV

 

An impressive collection/collage of songs made by the usually commercial (but always innovative) Nine Inch Nails. In terms of the multiple songs, what I love is how frontman Trent Reznor finds the basic concept or seed then moves on before allowing it to get bloated like many, oh so many, instrumental albums these days tend to do (ahem, Fuck Buttons). Tracks range from abrasive industrial razor blades to soft electronica suits to kick-ass rock samples to songs that are melodic and piano driven; all allowing the transcendent, trance-like (not to mention translucent) Ghosts experiment to branch off into one direction after another until, by the end, the result is a flourishing tree of goth(ish) sounds and ideas. Note: I’ve only listened once; I’ll try to listen a few more times before giving specifics as to specific tracks. Whatever.  

Review: Run Fatboy Run

  • What’s Good: Pegg has an undeniable charm. 
  • What’s Not: Why are we letting David Schwimmer near a camera? How many time can the same plot be recycled? Be Original Fatboy Be Original. 
  • Food Equivalentt: Marshmellow Peeps dipped in maple syrup.   

So the fatboy is set to marry the pretty girl. See fatboy, in cold sweat, run away from pregnant girl at the weeding. See obligatory life-goes-on flash-forward to present day where fatboy is miserable, bad at his job, has a messy apartment but gets inspired to win girl back. See typical assy rom-com boyfriend that girl has shacked up. See new-lease-on life fatboy stop smoking to try to win back honor of girl and son. See fatboy train for marathon because marathons always win back girls, despite one’s past. See fatboy train with stereotypical Indian neighbor and cliché “wacky” (TM Rhys Ifans) British mate who both have no purpose in life other than to see fatboy win skinnygirl’s heart. See fatboy run race. See dramatic setback in race when Mr. assy trips fatboy. See perseverance, determination, sweat, heart, faux “can he do it?” drama and even a metaphorical wall that blocks the fatboy’s (and film’s) path. See happy ending where exhausted, near death fatboy doesn’t just slowly putter to the finish line but slowly putters in slow motion to the finish line!

flame on to the rest…