Sunday, July 29, 2012

Triple feature catch up - Jeff, Marigold Hotel, & Ted.

It's been a little slow recently, so I thought I'd take the time to post some reviews I've been meaning to write for a while.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home:
Maybe there was something I missed, but I surprisingly didn't like this. Early on, the movie seems to compare itself to Signs, in how it meanders before finally making sense in the end. "Everything happens for a reason" as we know it. But whereas Signs had Shymalan's signature suspense and mystery to back itself up, Jeff just seems to merely meander. Maybe there's just something more to it, but the idiosyncratic style and uneven shifts between comedic and dramatic tones muddle down whatever the movie wants to say.

I'm a huge Jason Segel fan, and I love Ed Helms as much as the next guy, and they are the best parts of this movie, especially when the two of them share moments of intimate conversation with one another. However, these moments, poignant though they may be, don't provide much help. Susan Sarandon is also trying her best, even if her alternate story feels like something out of a completely different movie. Even Judy Greer, whom I revere and adore, couldn't save this movie for me. Granted, I'm not discouraging anyone from seeing it, it's just that it didn't stick with ME.

**1/2 / *****

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:
Now THIS was something I could get behind: A captivating story with beautiful imagery, and a veteran cast of UK talent. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may not be anything new or groundbreaking, but at its core lies an unmistakable charm to it. It embraces a sweetness and seriousness, and does so in a sincere, and often very funny way. The cast is all top notch, including but not limited to Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, and especially Tom Wilkinson. The pacing, structure, and focus does get flimsy occasionally, and at times it plays too much like a vacation advertisement, but it makes every moment of those two hours count. Like I said, even though it's nothing groundbreaking, it's like a nice glass of ice water. You know exactly what you'll get, but you'll be refreshed in the end.

**** / *****

Seth MacFarlane is one unique comical voice, and he brings his Family Guy-like formula to his first feature, Ted. A movie about a bear who swears, smokes weed, and makes frequent crude remarks has serious potential. And that is why Ted deserves to be seen: It is flat out hilarious. Tonally uneven, and overly familiar, but still hilarious with hardly a dull moment. The movie provides some golden antics, especially between Mark Wahlberg and MacFarlane (playing Ted through motion capture). The delightful pop culture references are also tickling, none the least of which was an homage to John Williams' legendary march from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Joel McHale and Giovanni Ribisi provide their own laughs in supporting roles, Patrick Stewart gives a droll narration, while Norah Jones provides a couple of jazzy original songs. With his comedic resourses, and a possibly stronger screenplay, you can only hope that MacFarlane will make something even better the second time he releases a movie.

***1/2 / *****

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