For Your Renting Pleasure

Our_Idiot_BrotherA few weeks have passed since my last compilation post of movie rentals, and I should be ashamed at my lack of movie watching, but I have still spent a large percentage of my time wisely!  We’re talking playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on that stupid Wii and rewatching all three previous seasons of Parks and Recreation on Netflix.  So yeah, all was not for naught.  With that said, I knew you guys would be wandering around your favorite rental store, kiosk, or internet site without my help in possible choices, so here we go.

Friends With Benefits (2011)

This was the last of the films on this list that I watched, and I was really hoping that it would give me some great fodder as a film that in no way would get yet another B.  But no, apparently this holiday season has me seeing the good in everything, so here goes.

One reason that I can think that I ended up liking it more than I did was because it is impossible to not compare this to No Strings Attached.  And let’s face it, the ending of that one did quite the number on the rest of the film, really ruining the viewing experience on the whole.  And though Friends With Benefits’ ending is just as predictable and somewhat cheesy, I still couldn’t stop smiling throughout it.

A lot of it probably has to do with Justin Timberlake’s loveable character, as well as the appearance of Woody Harrelson’s gay and proud coworker to Timberlake (though I will say that most of his best moments were spoiled by their use in the trailers), especially because the story is full of clichés that we have come to know and sometimes love.  Then again, they also spend a great amount of time mocking the clichés because of their “unusual” relationship; granted mocking clichés could be equally cliché by now.

Friends With Benefits is in no way a spectacular film, but if you are looking for a fun romantic comedy then this will get the job done.

Final Grade: B-

Our Idiot Brother (2011)

Paul Rudd stars as the sole brother of three sisters.  You guessed it, he’s the idiot the title is calling out.

Rudd plays this optimistic brother with an innocent child’s look at the world with such quiet glee that it is hard not to love him even for his faults.  He may trust people way too much and might not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but he remains the heart of this family that keeps them together even when they want nothing to do with him.

The cast is definitely up there on the list of great ensembles this year with Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, and Zooey Deschanel playing Rudd’s sisters, who just so happen to be messed up in their own ways that make them look far worse in comparison to Rudd’s pot smoking idealist.  Plus it is always hilarious to listen to Deschanel spewing out the F word as often as she does here.  Adam Scott and Rashida Jones swing by from Parks and Recreation for some supporting cast time in this as well, and it is often within these non-family members that I found myself loving the film the most.  Granted, it could be because more often than not Ned was unknowingly sticking his foot deeper and deeper into his mouth while with them.  However, even with these people already mentioned, the gold star performance goes to T.J. Miller as an equal to Ned, and I probably could have watched a whole movie involving the story between these two.

Long story short, see it for the actors you have come to love as they do what they do best.

Final Grade:  B

Sarah’s Key (2010)

Be warned going in: this movie is about the Holocaust, and not in a cheery, crush the skulls of Nazis, sort of way that Inglorious Basterds is.  Instead, Sarah’s Key follows two separate timelines, weaving together in a simplistic way as the woman in present time searches for answers about a little girl who lived during the war.

Kristen Scott Thomas gives a fine performance as the woman digging into the past, but the ending of the film weakens her part in many ways (as well as the movie).  Instead, it is the young actress playing Sarah (Mélusine Mayance) who gives the stand out performance.  Her character is already heartbreaking enough as she is taken into a camp with her two parents after the French police have removed the Jewish citizens from their homes.  But what is worse is that in her child’s mind she locks her brother in a closet to keep him from being found, not knowing that the family would be taken far away from him.  Long story short, her dedication and unwavering hope to get home to him will catch you off guard in its strength, until you are at her mercy as she crushes your heart with her little key-holding hands.

Obviously not a feel good movie, the tone and few problems with how the two stories weave together (granted the transitions are done really well) should not keep you from watching Sarah’s Key.  Just be sure to bring the tissues to wipe the tears away so that you can read the French subtitles.

Final Grade: B

Water for Elephants (2011)

Let’s get this out of the way first.  This elephant did not drink water once in this movie!  You have not fooled me at all title!  Instead she drinks a lot of alcohol, which may have led to her adorable, obstinate side of spraying water at the evil ringleader (Christoph Waltz).  Oh, ok, she did at least use water.

Technically about the circus, Water for Elephants is more about the people within the big top and not the events that transpire in the final year of this particular traveling circus’s ring.  In other words, if you want to see the circus then go to one, unless the circus has been caught with their pants down in concern to animal abuse like one particular big name that shall remain nameless.  Instead of the acts that take focus briefly every now and again, the story that takes front and center is the building relationship between Robert Pattinson’s veterinarian and Reese Witherspoon’s star performer, so this film is definitely more for the romance fan than anyone else.

It may not be Big Fish, but there is still something beautiful and magical about the circus when it is captured on film, and Water for Elephants does manage to pull this off every now and again.

Final Grade: B-

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