Gallagher Says – Youth in Revolt

Michael Cera is one of those actors that plays one type of role, and you can never tell if he’s a good actor or just being himself. Regardless, I’ve enjoyed his characters in movies and shows like, Arrested Development, Juno, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and This Is the End. I had heard good things about his performance in Youth in Revolt, so I decided to check it out.

Michael Cera plays Nick Twisp, your typical mild mannered, hopeless romantic teenager. Needless to say, Nick isn’t popular with the girls, but he dreams of better days ahead. Nick’s small town life and the lack of attention from either of his separated parents don’t promise to make this easy.

Nick has a stroke of luck when his mom’s boyfriend angers some navy men, and they have to go stay at his trailer till the heat blows over. At the trailer park, Nick meets Sheeni, the most perfect girl in the world, but as he’s going to leave again, she tells him he needs to be a bad boy to get kicked out of his home and be able to stay with her.

The story of the film is a pretty standard good guy goes bad to win over the heart of a girl. What sets this apart from others of the same type is it tone. This movie melds the coming to age/sex comedy genre with a Napoleon Dynamite sense of style and uniqueness.

A big thing that creates this tone is the way in which the characters talk to each other. Everyone in the film use grand technical phrases when expressing dramatic thoughts. It expresses how all of them are trapped in their own poetic worlds.

Another point of interest in the film is Nick’s creation of an alter ego that only he can see. This alter ego is also played by Michael Cera and adds depth to his role as it is Nick’s evil persona, hellbent on getting everything Nick desires.

My Favourites from the film: The cast is great. Michael Cera delivers on the promise of the duel roles. The supporting cast is also well chosen. Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, Jade Fusco, and Ray Liotta all make great additions to the film. The dialogue is fun, and the film has some stand out stop motion animation sequences.

My Less enjoyed parts: Justin Long as Sheeni’s brother just feels pointless in the film, and he doesn’t do much. There were some points in the film where I wasn’t sure if much time was supposed to have passed or not which made me unsure of how fast the pacing of the story’s development was. The plot’s predictability due to it’s strict following of it’s genre’s structure wasn’t very good either.

My Recommendation: I’d say give it a try. While the story isn’t very original, the setting and style make it feel fresh. It’s funny, and definitely a great film for Michael Cera fans or fans of smaller comedies.

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Simon Says – Life Hacks

FADE IN:

INT. ADAM’S ROOM – MORNING

The curtains are drawn, and the room is cloaked in darkness. The bed is in disarray. The only thing organized in the room is a desk with a computer on top.

In the glow of the monitor, ADAM is seated. He is in his mid teens. A scrawny guy, Adam bends over the keyboard, typing furiously.

A knock sounds at the door. Adam spins around in his chair.

ADAM (yells): I’m up, mom. Jeez!

He looks at his computer monitor. The door creaks open a crack. SUSAN peeks inside. Adam glances over his shoulder.

ADAM (CONT’D): Oh, it’s you.

He starts typing again. Susan walks over to Adam’s bed and clears the corner. She lowers herself onto the very edge of the bed.

SUSAN: So what’s the plan for today?

ADAM: Honing my hacking skills.

Susan checks her phone.

SUSAN: And this isn’t just another useless skill because?

Adam releases his keyboard and turns to look at her. Looking up from her phone, Susan meets his gaze.

ADAM: Because reasons.

Susan rolls her eyes.

SUSAN: And you wonder why you’re failing English.

Adam resumes his attack on his keyboard.

ADAM: It’s a stupid subject. I speak English. I talk good. Why am I forced to waste my time on some meaningless drivel?

Susan walks over to his desk and stops beside him.

SUSAN: And hacking is your fallback for when you find out colleges don’t accept people with grades like your’s?

ADAM: You may think it’s dumb now, but after I break the school’s system and correct my grades, we’ll see who’s laughing then.

Susan looks from Adam’s face to his monitor.

SUSAN: So why are you on Facebook?

ADAM: Baby steps.

He leans back in his chair and cracks open a can of Mountain Dew. Sipping it, he watches as Susan looks over what he’s done.

ADAM (CONT’D): I figure if I can hack Facebook and change Sylvia’s relationship status to being in a relationship with me, she’ll be too embarrassed to change it and be forced to go out with me.

Susan shakes her head as she sits on the edge of his desk and crosses her arms.

SUSAN: I’m going to ignore the completely bone headed part of that and address the fact that you think our school servers are harder to hack than a billion dollar company’s.

She picks up a paperclip and flicks it at him.

SUSAN (CONT’D): You’re an idiot.

Adam chokes on his drink. He sets his can down, sitting up straight. Catching his breath, he glares at Susan.

ADAM: I wouldn’t expect some narrow minded drone like you to recognize my plan’s brilliance.

He turns back to his keyboard and begins to type again.

ADAM (CONT’D): I’m sure you can find your way out.

Susan glances from the back of his head to the door. Rolling her eyes, she crosses the room and stops at the door. She turns back to him.

SUSAN: You should worry less about the people who don’t want to be around you.

She opens the door.

SUSAN (CONT’D): Maybe then you’ll have time for the people who do want to be around you.

Adam turns, but Susan is already gone. He looks at his monitor.

ADAM: We’ll see about that.

He switches from Sylvia’s page to Susan’s

EXT. STREET – CONTINUOUS

DING! Susan pulls her phone out. She just got a Facebooknotification. She looks up at Adam’s curtained window and smiles.

FADE TO BLACK.

Gallagher Says – Corner Gas The Movie

I have loved the Canadian sitcom, Corner Gas for a number of years now. This year I also got my family to watch it, and they enjoy it as well. It was then an easy decision to purchase Corner Gas the Movie.

The movie takes place a number of years after the end of the show. The residents of Dog River are the same as ever, but some bad investments with the town’s money have brought it to a state of financial crisis. The only apparent solution is to enter the town into the quaintest town in Canada contest and use the prize to solve their problems.

Many complications present themselves as Lacey tries to pull the town together to save their home. Brent appears to be indifferent to the town’s collapse. The power flickers on and off as their unpaid bills pile up. The water pump is going, and the last straw is the closing of the bar.

They open with my own personal weakness. A scene of the ending then the movie builds towards it. Sometimes this can be a problem because the audience now knows exactly where the movie is going, but I found they did it well enough that I was questioning how it could possibly get to that point right up to the point itself.

As with the show, the humour is very sarcastic and deadpan. I found the humour connected with me, and there were a number of times that I laughed out loud. The drawback I can see with a comedy like this is that a number of the jokes rely on its location, a small town in the Canadian prairies, so it may not be relatable to all demographics. I’m not from the prairies, but I’ve grown up in the country. So I’m not sure how the story connects with audiences that have grown up in the city.

The main problem with a sitcom adapting to a movie is whether or not the material can be effectively adapted to a full runtime of an hour and a half. This is basically carrying one story for the same length as four episodes. The story that is setup lends itself to be a good way to keep an audience engaged for that length of time. That being said, there are a couple of subplots and a bit of a long opening to help get to that length, so it’s not perfect but a good and mostly effective attempt.

My Favourites from the film: The whole cast and a large part of the creative team return which is a wonderful thing to view. The humour still hits home, and every character had an interesting and engaging place in the story. The evolution of the story and characters to this point felt logical. The story was well written. The photography was beautiful.

My Less enjoyed parts: Some of the story elements were overplayed while others were underplayed. Wanda’s antics in Davis’ man cave start to drag and lose steam halfway through the film. Karen’s pregnancy felt out of place and really didn’t add to the story. The whole lawsuit plot point is kind of just brushed aside.

My Recommendation: This is a great film for fans of the series and makes them feel like they never left. It’s a fun small town, indy style comedy. If you haven’t heard of Corner Gas before, I’d suggest checking out the first season to start.

Gallagher Says – Raising Arizona

I found Raising Arizona when looking through DVDs. It caught my attention because Nicolas Cage is in it, and I’ve been watching a lot of his films lately: The Wicker Man, Vampire’s Kiss, and Face/Off. I decided I needed to see it when I saw that it was an early Coen Brothers film.

Raising Arizona tells a tale of a criminal marrying the officer who takes his mug shots and their attempts at living a normal life. This is all ruined when they find out they can’t have children and his criminal record is preventing them from adopting. They resort to the only option remaining. Kidnapping.

Nicolas cage plays H.I. McDunnough, the ex-convict who has a partiality to robbing convenience stores. Holly Hunter plays Ed, his wife a former police officer. John Goodman and William Forsythe play escaped convicts who pay them a visit, and Sam McMurray and Frances McDormand play neighbours with an unruly batch of kids.

From the premise down to the execution, this film is a ridiculous and wacky ride. This is both its strength and it’s weakness. When it makes you laugh at its leads’ antics, it’s a fun ride. When the pacing begins to drag or the scene doesn’t get you, its a bore. It also means you can’t take the story seriously or empathize with the characters, so if the jokes don’t work, you’re left with nothing.

The co-stars are what made it for me. When Glen and Dot visit with all their kids, the crazy and characters mesh well for a comedic scene that feels more grounded. The pair of escaped convicts steal all their scenes with their over-the-top stupidity and caricature of the redneck criminals. Randall “Tex” Cobb also makes a fine addition as a mysterious, dark manhunter.

The film feels like a compilation of skits. Some of them are funny, some weird, some too long, and some boring. The problem comes when you look at it as a whole, and you realize it’s a flimsy excuse to drop you into weird and inconsequential world.

My Favourites from the film: It has plenty of great, cutesy moments with the baby. The scenes with action in them are a great balance of comedy and thrills. The Coen Brothers do a great job of creating a world, and their dialogues between the characters are enjoyable.

My Less enjoyed parts: I think the film falters most on its leads, both from acting and writing. The characters never grabbed me as interesting or relatable enough for me to care about them. Nicolas Cage felt too restrained for the setting, which is odd considering his other films, and Holly Hunter was basically just a plot device.

My Recommendation: I can see inspirations for the Coen brothers’ later films in this one, and I feel you’d be best to just skip this one and get to them. If you’re a fan of theirs and need another film to sink your teeth into, it’s not bad. It’s a decent B-movie comedy.

Gallagher Says – The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys is a movie I wanted to see when it came into theatres, but I didn’t get a chance to. I was excited to see it despite very little interest in the lead actors. The trailer was fun, and I’m a huge fan of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. So I was looking forward to its release.

The film tells the story of two investigators searching for a missing girl. Ryan Gosling plays Holland March, a jaded, semi-successful private investigator. Russell Crowe plays Jackson Healy, an enforcer who questions if there are better things he could be doing with his life.

The story is based in 1977 in Los Angeles. After Healy pays March a visit, he discovers his client’s case may not be so simple. They join forces to find the missing girl, and they are taken on a case involving potential murder, angry hitmen, and Los Angeles’ automotive and pornography industries.

The main fun of the film comes from Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling’s back and forth banter. Crowe is the straight man who expects Gosling to be professional, and Gosling bumbles and drinks his way through the case. Being the muck up, Gosling gets the majority of the laughs, and I don’t think I expected to laugh so much at Gosling’s screams and shouts. Gosling is great in this.

There are also some heartfelt scenes in the film. March is a single father after his wife died, and he makes attempts to be a passable father. His daughter Holly, played by Angourine Rice, is a fun and emotionally interesting addition to the film. Healy shows his attempts at redemption throughout the film, and the development of the men’s relationship is engaging.

The action scenes in the film are exciting as well as fun. There is nothing too dark to take away from the comedy, but it doesn’t shy away from some great action. The plot of the mystery is interesting and plausible, but I found the development of plot elements frustrating at times.

My favourites from the film: The humour was definitely the best of the film. It’s hilarious. Ryan Gosling’s performance and comedic timing was excellent, and I enjoyed his chemistry with Angourine Rice. The film looks great and cuts well.

My less enjoyed parts: A lot of the plot comes about because the characters happen to be at the right place, or sometimes wrong place, at the right time. It adds to some of the humour, but it left me frustrated at some of the key plot developments. I also found it bares a little too much resemblance to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

My recommendation: If you haven’t seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, watch that. If you’re a fan of it, this is another fun outing from Shane Black, and it’s not something you’ll see too much elsewhere. It’s a fun ride with some interesting characters, but you may want to leave your brain in the backseat.