Archive for the ‘Bug’ Category

348 – Bug

October 27, 2007

I can’t possibly give this movie the rating it truly deserves. This is one of those movies that fools you into thinking it’ll be a pretty decent film, only to not only not be decent but to be hands-down one of the worst movies of the year. If I had a rating system of one to ten, with ten being the best, Bug would rate at about a negative infinity. But perhaps I’m being a little harsh on it unnecessarily.

Bug is about a stereotypical lonely midwestern woman who lives in a crappy, run-down motel in the middle of Nowheresville, Oklahoma. She has the standard crazy ex-husband who’s just been released from jail and the standard lesbian best friend who works with her at the honkytonk cowboy bar down the road a piece. Agnes (Ashley Judd) is kind, considerate, saucy, sassy, and gorgeous. Agnes is supposed to be sort of broken down; she has just her one friend R.C. (Lynn Collins) and doesn’t like to party – although she does snort her share of the cocaine. Still and all, she seems like a right nice sort, although in typical Lifetime movie of the week fashion she’s instantly cowed by her psychotic ex (Harry Connick, Jr.).

One day R.C. brings over a guy she found at their bar, Peter (Michael Shannon), a man who seems even more distant and unsure of himself than the lovely Agnes. Peter takes to her, and she to he, despite not knowing a damn thing about him. He has no home, no car, no nothing. Dude’s not even handsome, like her ex. But there’s something kindly, if off-putting about Peter; he seems to listen, you know, care. Chicks dig it if you fake caring about them, you see. At any rate, Agnes lets him spend the night, chastely on the couch.

But it quickly transpires that Peter’s not all there. He’s a former war vet, and he’s a little batty about bugs. Sees them everywhere. Once, in the middle of the night, he insists he’s been bitten by an aphid and tears the bed apart looking for it. When he does find it, though, Agnes can’t see it. No one can see it. You know why? Because it’s not there. That doesn’t stop Peter from bitching about it. The next day, he’s spread flystrips all over the motel room. Oh, and somehow gotten a hold of a microscope, the better to look at slides containing his own blood. You know, normal stuff.

Now, you or I might think, “Hey, Peter’s whacked from being tested with drugs by sinister Army doctors!” and that he clearly needs some freaking medical attention. R.C. points out to Peter that aphids don’t bite, and he in turn accuses her of selling him out to The Man. And of course, at that point, as you might predict, Agnes goes crazy at her friend, screaming at her that she’s trying to take away the only thing Agnes has left in her life, and yadda yadda yadda, and it all ends with a classic line of “Get out of here! And don’t you ever come back!”

Knowing that logic has been jettisoned might actually help the viewer here, because plainly a lot of stuff here just isn’t meant to make any sense. It’s a screenwriter’s crutch, really, having a character be so completely off the wall that one can’t relate at all. Peter goes from being simply creepy (and, it should be noted, not someone a fragile, single woman should ever allow into her home) to certifiable in the wink of an eye. Much worse, though, is that Agnes goes from being intelligent and romantic to being… well, really, really dumb. Suddenly nothing she says contains one iota of smarts. It’s as if Peter’s enormous head (seriously, go look at Michael Shannon) was sucking all the brains out of Agnes. Or she sucked the crazy out of him. Because, come to think of it, she wasn’t loopy until after she slept with him.

I have to wonder, though, if this movie is supposed to be ironic. Because it’s loaded, absolutely chock full, of seemingly unintentional comedy. Here’s an actual line. Actual line, mind you: “Agnes! Tell me what you don’t know!” I am the dumber for having typed those words. Watching this movie is like being hit repeatedly about the skull with a blunt instrument. It’s badly written – this stuff wouldn’t make sense on paper, why would it make sense in a movie? – terribly acted, and an overall embarrassment. One plus: Judd is naked for quite a bit of time, rare for such a high-caliber actress.

*

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Summer Movie Preview, Part I

May 18, 2007

Back when I worked video retail, the big question we got every day was “What’s in that’s new that’s good?” Kind of a vague, open-ended question; how do I know that what I think is good is what you think is good? I don’t. But customers always seem to believe that the doofus behind the counter somehow is an expert. This might make sense in doctor’s offices and auto shops, but the doofus behind the video-store counter doesn’t know any more than you do.

Plus, of course, movies are highly subjective. I didn’t like Gosford Park but maybe you, dear customer, would. And so on. Everyone has different tastes, right?

It’s time to take a look at some upcoming movies (theater division). Now, when I review movies, I really try to target the review to as many people as possible, so I don’t just take the attitude of, “Well, I hate costume dramas, so I’m gonna give this one a bad rating.” That’s not fair, is it? No, it is not. I try to think, “what would most people find appealing about this movie? What would they dislike?”

Anyway. Now you know the motivation and angle. Let’s see what’s coming up.

Shrek the Third (May 18): Finally, the green guy is back. I think they’ve been promising a third Shrek movie for… well, since before the second one, back in 2004. And there’s a rumor that a fourth one is on the way as well. See, I like Shrek. I like the potshots that the movies take at Disney. I like the gross humor. I think the three leads (Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz) are perfectly suited to their roles. So I’m looking forward to this one, even if it’s not as good as the first two.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (May 25): Okay, for this one I’m a little more skittish. Yes, I’m looking forward to it, and yes, I want to see it in the theater, but… is it played out? It’s going to be a bit longer (168 minutes). I wonder if it’ll fall into the trap of having its leads rush from Action Scene to Action Scene, which it kind of sort of did in the last movie in the series. But at least that one had the bonus of a good twist at the end that led to this inevitable third film. So color me skeptical – I hope it’s as good as one of the first two. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, and the emaciated Keira Knightley return. (Knightley is a pretty face and a good actress, but boy does she look too skinny. She looks positively little-boyish.)

Bug (May 25): Ah, finally, a nonblockbuster. Michael Shannon plays a war vet, and Ashley Judd plays an agoraphobe. They’re holed up in a seedy motel, and they have insect issues. Is it all in their minds? Hells, no! Or maybe. Good to see Judd not playing some plucky damsel in distress for a change. William Friedkin is your director; maybe he has another hit here.

Mr. Brooks (June 1): Kevin Costner is a serial killer, and Demi Moore is the dick out to capture him! Why, it’s like they’re playing against type! Cmon, if Moore wasn’t gonna cut it as a stripper, what makes us think she’ll be a good detective? (Hint: only if she gets nekkid.) Costner, though… he might work in this role, because it’s one of those cold, emotionless, no-range-required roles that more or less define him. So yeah, it’s something new for him, but it’s not sea-change new. He’s a bad guy, not a good guy, so that’ll take some acting strength, but I think he’ll be okay. William Hurt’s in it, too. I bet he plays a guy who’s unhinged on the inside but normal on the outside.

Rise: Blood Hunter (June 1): What is it with Lucy Liu and stupid titles (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever)? But this IS Lucy Liu, so I’m already inclined to watch. (Lucy, if you’re reading this, I’m available!) Liu plays a woman who wakes up in a morgue and finds out she’s undead. Man, I hate those kind of mornings. Anyway, she vows revenge on those who hath wronged her. Would most of us go after the people who killed us, or would we just be pissed that we weren’t, you know, actually dead? Liu doesn’t often get good scripts, but when she gets ’em, she’s good. This one’s written by the guy who wrote Snakes on a Plane, though, so..

Surf’s Up (June 8): This looks bad, so it’ll probably make a lot of money. Why wouldn’t it? It’s animated, and it has penguins, and we all know how much people love the penguins. But cmon, surfing penguins? Plus the one guy on the box looks like the guru guy voiced by Robin Williams in Happy Feet. I mean, exactly the same. I don’t think I’ll catch this wave. (See what I did there? I made a bad pun.)

Ocean’s Thirteen (June 8): George Clooney is making this one, he says, to make up for the second one, which was mostly bad. Just about everyone returns, but there’s a lack of estrogen – no Julia Roberts, no Catherine Zeta-Jones. Wait, there’s Ellen Barkin. Like I said, a lack of estrogen, but I kid. Al Pacino’s in it; wonder if he’ll be hammy? There’s also apparently a rumor that Angelina Jolie will be in it. The rumor’s from April 2006. The movie will be released in a few weeks. So I dunno what that means, but if Jolie appears it can only be a good thing. As for the plot, someone doublecrosses Reuben (Elliot Gould), so the gang has to avenge him. The movie has to be better than the uneven second one, but I hope the added cast members aren’t a mere novelty.

Hostel: Part II (June 8): Death and dismemberment are back, baby, only this time it’s three chicks instead of three dudes. Okay, whatever. On the one hand, I’m glad one of them isn’t Paris Hilton (as rumored), but on the other hand it would have been sweet to see her killed. We do get Heather Matarazzo, Lauren German, and Bijou Phillips. (I’m resisting making a Matinee at the Bijou joke, because it’s too easy and younger people wouldn’t get it, anyway.) The three get lured to a hostel, and then bad things happen. With any luck, this will be on par with the first one; expect a lot of gore and torture and creative deaths.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (June 15): Did you see the first F4 movie? No? Did anyone? No, wait, someone must have. I wonder if it was all fanboys trying to see Jessica Alba’s ass. Anyway, the four leads return, which I’m ambivalent about, because really, this isn’t a movie that focuses on character development; it’s really just about blowing crap up. In this one, the Four face off against a new threat, the Silver Surfer, played by a hologram. I’m no comics dude, but I always thought the Surfer was a good guy, but apparently I’m wrong. The movie already feels desperate, as if the studio is just trying really really hard to get some kind of franchise. I mean, hey, other comics movies do well, so let’s flog the F4 horse. My bet is that there’ll be a third movie, but it’ll be about one of the villains, or the Silver Surfer, and perhaps the original cast won’t even be in it.

Nancy Drew (June 15): I’m not in the target audience for this movie, and I don’t intend to see it, but I kind of liked the concept. Nancy Drew is a girl detective, much on the order of the Hardy Boys, but even younger. This movie is set in the present day, but Nancy is a throwback, an anachronism; she dresses and behaves as if it’s 1940. (At least that’s what I gleaned from the trailer.) So there’s that little hook thrown in for flava. Apparently this Nancy is a bit younger than the one in the books, but since most girls of today probably haven’t yet read the books, I don’t think it’s a huge problem. This looks like a cute, quiet hit.

Evan Almighty (June 22): All right! Morgan Freeman as God. This time, he tells now-Congressman Evan Baxter (Steve Carrell) to build an ark. Oh, yeah, like THAT’LL happen. Now, though, we’ll see if a movie of this stripe can survive without the strong personality of a Jim Carrey; Carrell is more of a reactor than a actor at times. In 40 Year Old Virgin, he merely reacted to the chaos around him – which was funny, don’t get me wrong, but here he might find it a little tougher, with less comic support. And the movie apparently cost a lot to make, thus upping the pressure.

1408 (June 22): Another Stephen King adaptation, and it’s been a while since they’ve been any good. Come to think of it, they’re almost never any good, but the ones that are good are choice indeed. Here’s hoping this fits in the latter category, and it should, given that Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack, merely two of the awesomest actors ever, star. It’s about a paranormal investigator who enters the titular hotel room, which is supposed to be totally haunted. I love closed-room mystery horror freakouts, so I’m all for this one.

Live Free or Die Hard (June 27): Everyone loved Die Hard. Everyone loved Die Hard 2. Die Hard 3, not so much, so I dunno what to make of this fourth one, ten YEARS after the last one. John McClane’s way too old for this crap. Still, I like Bruce Willis in most about everything. I just hope it doesn’t really, really suck.

Ratatouille (June 29): Uh, yeah. A Pixar movie about rats. I didn’t see Flushed Away, but I have the same reaction – huh? Wha? Okay, sure, it has the pedigree of Brad Bird directing, and he’s the guy who did The Incredibles (I was one of a few who didn’t think it was awesome), but still… rats. Animated rats. Whoopdedoo.

Okay, this is getting long, and I have actual work to do. (I know!) Therefore I’ll do a part 2 later. Maybe today, maybe next week, maybe next month.