Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

29 April 2008

Alvin and the Chipmunks, dir. Tim Hill (2007)

NIKKI says:
This movie worked for exactly the reason I expected it to: The chipmunks were adorable. Usually, I'm anti-CGI and might rail against such a movie for not using real chipmunks like they used real pigs in Babe and just CGI-ed the mouth movements. But these little guys were so well animated that I never once stopped to shake my head at the fake-ness of it all.

Be cuter than the chipmunks!

The story, however, was ultra-standard, and would really have benefited from even the slightest bit of edge. There was, maybe, one or two jokes aimed at an older audience, but, the most part, this was purely little kid territory. Even the usually sardonic David Cross kept his performance tightly within the film's G-rated confines.

The premise is this: Struggling songwriter Dave can't get a job to save his life. Then he accidentally brings home a basket full of chipmunks who sing in perfect, if screechy, harmony. He sees his meal-ticket. So does evil Jett Records producer, Ian, played by David Cross, who proceeds to turn the chipmunks against Dave.

By this point, Dave is starting to view the chipmunks like his kids and Ian's scrupulous vision for them does not suit him at all. Of course, the chipmunks are digging the success and they side with Ian. It doesn't help Dave's case that early on, he resisted the chipmunks living with him in a family-type situation.

Dave must win them back, by proving that he does, in fact, see them as family.

It's a blueprint for kid-movie success, if ever there was one. There are plenty of happy, funky moments with the chipmunks playing games and dancing about. This is measured by a heavy dose of hug-happy sugar. But it's hard to resist the ultra-cute and cuddly chipmunks. They are just so ridiculously cute and I was with them all the way through.

So, that's another staple of our childhood up on the big screen. I'll sit back now and wait for the Jem movie.

3/5 (for cuteness)

Definitely, Maybe, dir. Adam Brooks (2008)

NIKKI says:
Ryan Reynolds in a romantic comedy meant I was in. I still don't know how much I enjoyed the premise. Basically, Ryan and his wife are divorcing and his little daughter, played by Abigail Breslin, wants to know how he came to fall in love with her mother.

He proceeds to tell the girl three stories of his three great romances, and she has to pick which one is her mom. Slightly creepy, considering all the making out, but still...

Now, you would think that reliving this story might make him realise that he does indeed still love her mother and will perhaps amend whatever it is in their relationship that broke so severely. This, of course, would make the little girl happy, and isn't that whats all movies like this are about?

Well, not in this case. Here, we find out that the woman Ryan is divorcing and the woman he really, truly loves are two different women. This almost renders that third story superfluous, and it ends up meaning very little, if anything at all. I can't remember exactly what that story teaches Ryan, but I know it meant for some overlong scenes with Kevin Kline that could have been chopped to make this movie the 90 minutes it should have been.

Now, doesn't the fact that he ends up with another woman mean that he was never meant to be with the mom in the first place? And doesn't that then mean that the daughter was conceived within a partnership doomed from the outset? Nobody brought this up. The daughter was happy to send the mother off knowing the dad was supposed to be with someone else. I just don't think that works. And if it was playing with convention, it should have let me know somehow.

Still, Ryan Reynolds is always enjoyable to watch. And I did like the political setting. Ultimately, if didn't work because too much was going on, and the focus was all over the place, and I don't think it had a clear vision of what Ryan wanted and needed. The supposed great love he ends up with feels like just another turn down just another road, not necessarily the right one.


Suburban Girl, dir. Marc Klein (2007)

NIKKI says:
I know I say this a lot but ... it started out so well. Associate editor meets big-time publishing magnate and started perhaps an ill-advised romance. He ends up helping her with her work, until she discovers he is rather intensely flawed. She must then question her own wants and needs. In effect, he becomes her editor, fixing her flaws, and, as he says, making her better.

Great premise, and the literary references throughout had me positively shivering with glee. (Why don't we ever meet people who can quote Dante?)

Problems! Oh golly, the problems. Basically, it all begins to unravel when Sarah Michelle says "Who's Jackson Browne?" She not that young. I think it was at this point that we began to pick the movie's large faults. Basically, Sarah Michelle's character is set up as wonderfully smart, and yet she is so blind to her surroundings, and acts, at times, so horribly immature that she becomes hard to take seriously.

Take, for instance, her reluctance to quiz Alec Baldwin (who plays her older man) on his past relationship with her new, feisty boss. Instead of just asking him why he kept such information from her, she opts to get wasted at a society event and make a damned fool out herself, which works only to demonstrate to Alec how young his girlfriend really is. This doesn't seem to faze him all that much, though.

Which begs another question -- how did she not realise that the relationship was not going to be long-lasting? She even peruses a photo album in his home filled with young women he's been in relationships with. It's impossible to think that Sarah Michelle didn't figure herself another notch on a particularly long belt.

But then the movie wants us to think that even for Alec, Sarah Michelle was something special. Only she is so immature, and a little dumb. She criticizes him for being self-involved when he rails at her for her lateness: "Don't blame me for you being a bad father!" she yells. I wanted him to scream back, "Then don't blame me for you being a stupid brat at that party!" The guy is going through massive alcohol-fuelled family-trauma, and she's having a go at him for saying exactly what's within his right to say. To what real end?

Anyway, the movie's got issues. I liked its main point, that people can be edited and shaped, but I don't think the older man/younger woman thing was necessary to make that point. It just brings up too many complications. And we hated that Alec, at 50, was made out to be as old as Moses when visiting Sarah Michelle's family. Fifty is not that old. Even Sarah Michelle does it by calling Alec and his friend "the cast of Cocoon". O ... kay.

So much potential that went so far astray. Still, it was generally entertaining, and it was nice to see Alec doing his gravelly-voiced thing.