Sunday, February 28, 2010

Everybody's Fine

Everybody's Fine, directed by Kirk Jones and starring Robert De Niro, allows the audience a peek into the life of Frank Goode, a retired blue-collar kinda guy who has suddenly recognized the significant emotional distance that exists within his family.

Just a few months after the death of his wife, Frank finds himself lonely and disillusioned. He travels the country to visit his four children in an attempt to salvage whatever "family" remains. His road trip provides a great opportunity for substance, but the film is too predictable and cliched to deliver.

Everybody's Fine relies on the audience connecting to De Niro in an emotional way for success. It just doesn't happen, and the film falls flat as a result.

The film provided for me, however, a time to reflect on the relationship I have with my father. It's fair to say the relationship has been strained over the years; despite no smoking gun reason for that strain, personality quirks and disagreements over issues important to both of us has created an emotional distance. My father, an emotionally distant man who seems to seek out and enjoy isolation, hasn't been able to meet my desire to spend more time together and get to know each other as adults. I'm too stubborn to accept his personality as is, and often avoid interaction with him unless I sense he's making a significant compromise.

Our relationship is a lot like that of Frank Goode and his son. Perhaps we need a Hollywood script writer to plot out the final act for us.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Land Of The Lost

My God, how I avoided Land Of The Lost.

So many times Netflix pushed it to the top of my que, and I moved it back. Time after time Mrs. Film Geek suggested we rent it on View on Demand, and I talked her out of it. Even my kids asked to see it several times these past few months. I spanked them each time, and put them to bed without supper.

Today, I could avoid it no longer. And, God help me, I loved it.

I avoided this movie mostly because I loved the 70s show by Sid and Marty Krofft. The show was important to my childhood, and I didn't want a re-make fucking up the good memories I have of that time. Plus, the movie was a colossal failure at the box office: no one liked it, and few people saw it.

But, it's worth seeing. The base humor of the script is laugh out loud funny. Watching Will Ferrell's Rick Marshall describe how he will cook and eat Chaka if necessary is really funny, as is the scene where Chaka gets Marshall and Will stoned on a fruit narcotic.

Come to think of it, Chaka's character is by far the best part of Land Of The Lost. Danny McBride is as good as he is in all the stuff he's done lately, and Anna Friel is fine as Holly. One of my favorite scenes is early in the movie, just after the group find themselves in the alternate reality. Holly rips off the leg portion of her corduroy pants, turning them into shorts. I laughed, because during the 70s I always wondered why Kathy Coleman--"Holly" in the TV series--never did that.

Land Of The Lost isn't a great movie, but it's nowhere near as bad as advertised. I get it. Bet you will too.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Percy Jackson And the Olympians

"Grab your coats, it's movie time!"

That line always gets the kids moving. Seeing flicks together is something we enjoy doing, whether the movie is a good one or not. And with Mrs. Film Geek out of town for the weekend, watching a flick is a good way for me to avoid housework.

Percy Jackson And The Something-Or-Others fit the bill.

"Nah, I'm not gonna go," my 13-year-old said. Maddisen had just awakened, even though it was nearly noon. " It's not a movie I want to see."

"I know," I replied. "But it will be fun to go anyway. Going to the movies is about the popcorn and soda, the together time for family and getting out of the house as much as it is for the movie. You know that."

She rolled her eyes. "Jeez...I went to see The Tooth Fairy. Isn't that good enough?"

It was that moment I realized I'd lost. Not the argument. Not my authority. Nope, my loss was the childhood innocence and enthusiasm Maddi used to demonstrate so easily. It had been replaced by self-involvement and a preference teens have for isolation.

So I left her. My other children had fun. The popcorn and the soda, the together time for most of the family and the getting out of the house were all good. The movie was better than I expected.

But something was missing. . .

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Love a good mystery flick? The kind that isn't too obvious, but doesn't contain an exaggerated swerve that makes little sense?


Enjoy squirming along in peril with lead characters? Having that feeling you're along for the ride, and can't escape?


Do you find yourself searching for that Woody Harrelson role that avoids stereotypes, is written in an intelligent manner and lets Woody really do some acting?


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Answer: Keep On Walking

Question: What does one do when, after traveling to the cinema to watch Valentine's Day, one encounters a wait line like something out of the Great Depression?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Couples Retreat

Vince Vaughn has become
Cheesy and predictable.
Retreat's same old fluff.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


It was 1984 when I first heard the word "autism." While sitting in a Child Psychology class, the professor said something similar to: "Those autistic kids are nuts. The sit in a corner all day, pulling out their own hair and fingernails." The class gasped. I was intrigued.

What would cause someone to behave in such a unusual, extreme manner?

A few months later I was given the opportunity to meet an individual diagnosed with a classic form of autism. I was nervous, uncertain how to introduce myself to a young man likely bald and covered in bandages from self abuse. I turned the corner and came face-to-face with a very typical looking man. Although he used language in an unusual manner and was unsure about social norms during our talk he was, otherwise, not the caricature the professor painted during my class months earlier.

It was an important experience for me. First: even the best intentioned among us subscribe to and perpetuate stereotypes. The college professor probably saw one child with autism in his entire career, and generalized that image to an entire population. He was wrong. Second: autism contains a broad spectrum of symptoms within the disorder, and individuals are effected differently, and to various degrees by those common symptoms. Third: despite professional thought to the contrary in 1984, individuals with autism--like all other living beings--want to experience love, be happy, develop relationships and connect with people.

It's just that sometimes, folks with autism don't know how to do those things.

That's the premise of
Adam. Diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger's Disorder, Adam lives a simple and routine existence in his New York City apartment. Employed, educated and mostly independent, Adam struggles heavily with recognizing and understanding the abstract social cues most of us pick up naturally. He talks too much about topics he likes, and struggles emotionally when he's around people he doesn't know well. He's handsome and interesting, however, so he catches the attention of Beth, his neighbor from one floor down.

Adam and Beth begin a friendship that turns romantic. The movie highlights the obvious struggles of two people trying to connect and develop a meaningful relationship while experiencing the world in very different ways.

Adam is an average movie, with average performances and an average plot. It's remarkable, however, in that it furthers the notion that individuals with autism are not stereotypes forever held down by their symptoms. When people surrounding them recognize the humanity and appreciate the individuality beneath the symptoms, real life can occur.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Hurt Locker

There are so many things to like about The Hurt Locker.

Director Kathryn Bigelow's take on the war drama is smart, the performances are amazing and the story, written by Mark Boal, is compelling. Jeremy Renner deserves his nomination for Best Actor, which was announced last week by the Academy Award Committee.

But I just couldn't enjoy the film.

The fact is, The Hurt Locker is closer to reality than a piece of fiction should be. I don't want Star Wars to seem that real, and I don't want to leave a viewing of Borat believing he is really a racist homophobe who wrestles naked fat men in hotels. While I love me some movies, I want them to serve as an escape, most times.

The Hurt Locker is too close to real for me to enjoy. While that's a testament to how well the movie was made, I'm sad I couldn't enjoy it like I wanted.

Monday, February 01, 2010

February Is Bad Movie Month

For a couple of reasons--mostly because (a) bad movies can be fun, and (b) this is a short month with few days during which I can be tortured--February will be Bad Movie Month on The Film Geek blog.

New flicks or old flicks, it doesn't matter. All that matters is, the movie has to blow.

I hope the popcorn is at least good.