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Away We Go (2009)

Sam Mendes has made some exceptional films in his ten-year career. I thought that after the release of Revolutionary Road, he would wait three years to have another film come out. He surprised me when he deviated from the heavy dramas to do the comedy, Away We Go. I was looking forward to this movie last summer, but I was heavy into my Classic Movie Month that I missed this movie. I’m glad I did, but it not up to par with some of his other films.

A young unmarried couple in their early thirties, Burt and Verona (John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph) are living in a dilapidated mobile home near Burt’s parents, Gloria and Jerry Farlander (Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels) when they realized that they are expecting their first baby. They are living nearby so that their child could be near their grandparents. The problem is that parents drop an atomic bomb on them by saying that they are living the country to go to Belgium for two years.

Burt and Verona decide to go on a cross-country trip to fins a suitable place to raise child. Their first stop is Phoenix where the two meet’s Verona’s former co-worker, Lily (Alison Janney) at a local dog track, who tries to be hip with her out dated lingo and brash comments about her deflated boobs and her “dykey” daughter. They an awkward conversation with Lily’s husband, Lowell (Jim Gaffigan) about some random subject that you don’t give two shits about.

On to the next city, the couple visit Verona’s younger sister in Tucson, Grace (Carmen Ejogo) where Verona confides to her that she is scared about commitment and raising their child because their parents died a decade earlier and that Verona doesn’t want to talk about it.

After the brief visit, they have to take a train to see Burt’s hippie “cousin” Ln Fisher-Herrin (Maggie Gylleenhaal) in Madison. She is a free spirit that shares a communal bed with her husband, Roderick (Josh Hamilton) and their two kids, Wolfie and Neptune (Bailey Harkins, Brendan and Jaden Spitz). Over dinner, they clash about their differing philosophies about parenting styles. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Final stop on their weird jounrye is to Montreal where they meet Verona’s old college roommates, Tom and Munch Garrett (Chris Messina, Melanie Lynskey) who are Brangelina-like without the fame and fortune. They have mini-United nations that are mourning the loss of another baby by miscarriage. (Damn, that was depressing to write.) They think that want to move to Montreal, but they might have second thoughts when a family emergency happens.

The movie is uncomfortable to watch. It’s brutal good, it’s brutal weird. There is some semblance of brilliance, particularly with Rudolph’s character as she is tortured by trying to reconcile with her parent while not having control of her family’s future.

I didn’t like Krasinski’s character of Burt. He is a big clueless doofus that you wonder how he could be fully functioning person that doesn’t know the difference between cobbling and carving to be a good father to the baby. Next, most of the people that they meet on their journey are unmemorable. They are just weird, fucked up people that should examined by a professional.

I think that Mendes tried too hard to make this movie look indie. He had the tropes of a typical indie with the character staring blankly at the camera where the rest of the world passing by them, the awkward exchanges in a car, the dramatic monologue at the ends where a character has an epiphany and has to pontificate about it or have overtly-eccentric characters that are caricatures.

I didn’t hate the movie. I’m glad I watched it but it need to trim the fat a bit. Flesh out some of the characters.

Judgment: I don’t if I can recommended this movie. Maybe for Sam Mendes’ fans. I guess.

Rating: ***

Finding Nemo (2003)

If this is some kind of practical joke, it’s not funny, and I know funny. I’m a clownfish.

— Marlin

The last couple of Pixar movies that I have reviewed, I had a lukewarm response to most of them. The creators are trying to have the action more grounded, but they always have to cock it up with putting kiddy stuff in it. Finding Nemo is the last great Pixar movie in my opinion. This #149 Move of All-Time on IMDb won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was well deserved.

A clownfish, Marlin (Albert Brooks) moves his wife, Coral (Elizabeth Perkins) and their 400 eggs to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. When they get there, the community is threatened by a barracuda that takes Coral and almost of all of her 400 eggs, saved one.

Marlin tries everything in his power to protect his son, Nemo, perhaps overprotecting him. It’s understandable. Nemo is eager to go to his first day of school. Marlin is worried that the children are going to make fun of Nemo’s shorter fin, which they call his lucky fin.

His new friends want to explore the open ocean, which is forbidden. When Marlin comes to take Nemo away, Nemo wanted to be on his own. He swims up to a boat near by. Nemo is caught by the swimmers and taken with them.

Frantically searching for Nemo, Marlin bumps into the scatterbrain Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) to tries to take him to where the boat was last seen.

A shark sneaks up to the duo, Bruce (Barry Humphries). He brings the two into a Sharks Anonymous meeting with Anchor (Eric Bana) and Chum (Bruce Spence). Marlin sees a clue to help find Nemo. One of the divers drops his mask with his contact information on it. He needs someone that could read it. That someone is closer then he might think.

Nemo wakes up in a fish tank at a dentist’s office. Nemo meets the creatures that inhabit the tank Bloat (Brad Garrett), Gurgle (Austin Pendleton), Bubbles (Stephen Root), Peach (Alison Janney), Deb (Vicki Lewis), Jacques (Joe Ranft) and Gill (Willem Dafoe). A pelican, Nigel (Geoffrey Rush) pops by the office window to chat about the goings on at the office.

Nemo learns that he is going to be the pet of the dentist’s niece, Darla for her birthday. He has limited time to escape before he is torn away from his father forever.

The look of this movie is absolutely gorgeous. The effects of the water, the sun rays beaming into the water, the vibrant colors of the Great Barrier Reef were fantastic. The textures of the landscape made my jaw drop. I swear, I thought that some scenes were live action. At the end of the movie, I weep like a baby. I hate myself for crying. I’m a sucker to a final reunion. It’s not like I’m spoiling the ending. It’s obvious.

Judgment: If you want to watch the best Pixar movie of the Aughties, watch this .

Rating: ****1/2

Juno (2007)

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You should’ve gone to China, you know, ’cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events.

— Juno MacGuff

I haven’t seen Juno since it was in theaters during the Oscar hoopla in 2007. There has been considerable backlash with this movie like any other movie that receives a lot of buzz that it could give you a migraine. Re-visting this movie again, I still think it’s a sweet story that has a lot of heart over the off-putting dialogue.

Juno MacGruff (Ellen Page) is sixteen-year-old pseudo-intellectual hipster Minnesota girl that finds out that she is pregnant with her Tic-Tac popping best friend, Paulie Bleecker’s (Michael Cera) baby. Freaked out by the news, she wants to have a quick abortion, but she decides to have the baby.

She tells her synergistic cheerleader best girl friend, Leah (Olivia Thirlby) who thinks that she has a food baby. (A Diablo Cody-ism). When she tells Paulie, he was surprised that she was preggers, since they had sex when they were bored.

Deciding to give the baby away, Leah and Juno look for prospective adoptive parents in the local “Penny Saver”. They come across an ad with a huge picture of the perfect married couple, Vanessa and Mark Loring (Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman). Juno thinks that they could be the ones to take care of her baby.

Before meeting the adoptive parents, Juno has to drop the news to her father, Mac (J.K. Simmons) and stepmother, Bren (Allison Janney). When she does, they thought that she was drug addict or a big sloppy drunk. The news was worse then they imagined.

Mac and Juno drive up to St. Cloud where the Lorings live. Juno gathers that Vanessa is a prim and proper, uptight woman who just wants to be a mother. Other the other hand, Mark is a laidback jingle writer that is more of man-child, someone that she could vibe with about retro slasher films, Les Paul guitars and vintage rock ‘n roll.

Should the film been nominated for Best Picture? Of course not. The only reason that the movie was, because of the buzz that surrounded the movie; Fox Searchlight can put on an Oscar campaign like Harvey Weinstein. It was easily accessible.

Universally the dialogue has been a problem for people. Sometimes it could be too right on the nose or you wonder the fuck did they just say. I think the performances saved the movie for sucking big time. As much as I don’t like Michael Cera, he was less Cera-like, because he had a supporting role in this film.

Judgment: If you could get past the first third of this film, then you will enjoy this film.

Rating: ****

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