“Due Date” – 2010. Dir. Todd Phillips

With Robert Downey, Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx with Juliette Lewis and Danny McBride

“I’m sorry I spat on your dog. I have no recollection of that.”

Off of his triumphant return with “The Hangover”, director Todd Phillips brings us his next crude/screwball/bloated comedy with his new player Zach Galifianakis and the rangeless Robert Downey, Jr. I’m not saying that RDJ isn’t a good actor; all I’m saying is that since his comeback in “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”, all of the characters that he’s played have been the same – a slight deviation from his smart ass self.

The film finds us with Peter (RDJ) and Ethan (Galifianakis) who both got kicked off an airplane because Ethan kept saying bomb and terrorist – good thing we can joke about those things now! Phew! Peter’s wife is in California who is about to give birth to their first child. Peter is put on a no fly list; he doesn’t have his wallet because it’s on the airplane with his luggage that he can’t get. Enter Ethan, who is an aspiring flamboyant actor who rents a Subaru and offers to drive Peter to California. Since its Peter’s only option, he takes it.

What ensues is a series of misadventures and travesties. It’s mainly RDJ being a hard-on to the bumbling, dimwitted, but good hearted Ethan. There are times this film can be really funny, but there are times when this film is just bad – it’s not that the film gets boring, but it just becomes pointless and stupid.

Juliette Lewis who pretty much disappeared from film (yes I know she has a “band”) has formed some sort of union with Phillips and has been in all his films except “The Hangover”, she shows up in a small role as Ethan’s drug dealer in Atlanta. While there, RDJ is asked to watch her kids while she sells Ethan some pot. Phillips who has a cameo in all of his films, shows up with a bit of a bigger part in this film as a freeloader who hangs out with Lewis.

Since Ethan is an aspiring actor, he does a Marlon Brando “Godfather” impression. What makes it funny isn’t Ethan doing the impression, but Lewis’ reaction to Ethan speaking the dialogue. But this film becomes trying with the back and forth banter of Peter and Ethan.

Jamie Foxx shows up in one of the most unnecessary characters ever in film. There is no point what-so-ever and he doesn’t add much at all to the film. I think Jamie Foxx is trying to be the new Cuba Gooding, Jr. Foxx plays Peter and his wife’s best friend, and his wife dated Foxx in college, and Foxx is still obsessed with her, and they lay a plot line that Peter’s kid could actually be…Foxx’s kid. LAME.

There is a funny scene where Peter and Ethan are driving and Ethan clambakes the car, and Peter awakes from a dead sleep stoned. Ethan is listening to Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” and a funnish scene ensues (it’s like the scene in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” where Steve Martin wakes up to John Candy driving between two semi trucks). As a person who loves everything Pink Floyd (except after Roger Waters left the band and David Gilmour took the group to nothingness with terrible albums – pretty much everything after “Final Cut”) I’ve never heard a Floyd song in a movie, so seeing it in “Due Date” did give me a chubby.

The scene where Phillips “jumped the shark” or had a “nuclear fridge” scene is when Ethan busts Peter out of a trailer where he’s detained by Mexican authorities while they mistakenly tried to cross the border. That’s the point where the film got awful.

Danny McBride shows up in a small scene where he plays a veteran in a wheelchair who kicks the shit out of Peter, but it’s just funny because Danny McBride is funny. All in all this film is a shitty rendition of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” that at the end, tries to be heartwarming, but you are just thankful that it’s over. Skip it because it’s not as funny as you think it’s going to be. And if you think it’s as good, and/or better than the slightly overrated “Hangover”, you are an idiot.

Rating 5/10

“Iron Man 2” – 2010. Dir. Jon Favreau.

With Robert Downey, Jr., Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg, John Slattery with Samuel L. Jackson and Garry Shandling.

If you could make God bleed, people will cease to believe in Him. There will be blood in the water, and the sharks will come.”

  • Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke)

Yes I was one of the people who saw this at the 12:01 showing at IMAX (and still went to work the next morning). The much anticipated “Iron Man 2” starts off pretty damn good. We are in Moscow and seeing an old man watching Tony Stark’s press conference (from the end of “Iron Man”) and he lays there moaning and grunting. He keeps calling for Ivan. We cut to a dark hallway where a man leans up against a wall in the shadows. The name Ivan is repeated by the old man, and the hulking mass turns and faces the camera – it’s Mickey Rourke in all his tooth capped, crazy hair, and tattoo covered glory.

Don’t fuck with Mickey.

Ivan (Rourke) goes into the room and holds the man, the man (Ivan’s father) tells Ivan that he should be building the Iron Man suit – not Tony Stark. The old man dies and Rourke screams. He begins constructing his own Iron Man exoskeleton and the credits roll as Rourke works.

I don’t want to dig any deeper into the plot because I don’t want to leak out any spoilers to those of you who read this and haven’t seen it yet. I’ll essentially break the film down a little bit and tell you what I thought worked and what I thought didn’t.

A problem that arises with “Iron Man 2” is that we were so, so very spoiled by Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”. “The Dark Knight” forced all these other superhero movies to be better, to be taken more seriously. A big fault of “Iron Man 2” is that it tries to be too smart and too witty and it sometimes comes across as really contrived and arrogant. The film introduces us to a slew of Stark gadgets that reminds us of how the James Bond franchise used to be.

Mickey Rourke is good in the film, but doesn’t have a chance to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor (which I called after seeing the trailer – I’m eating my words once again. Fuck!). The character of Ivan Vanko/Whiplash is so underdeveloped it makes me upset. Scarlett Johansson really adds nothing more to the film except T & A and some slightly perverted lines of dialogue.

Robert Downey, Jr. is well Robert Downey, Jr. in the film and the character of Tony Stark is almost too witty in the film, in almost every scene with Stark there is a spoken line, or an action taken by him that is supposed to make us laugh. A few of them do, but it becomes so very redundant.

Don Cheadle is a much added bonus to the film, he’s so much better than Terrance Howard and the climactic battle with Iron Man and War Machine is very sexy. Sam Jackson plays Sam Jackson; as the slightly angry black man who gives us his signature Jules Winfield from “Pulp Fiction”.

The two really special treats of the film are Garry Shandling playing a Senator on the Armed Services Committee who is trying to get the Iron Man suit turned over to the United States government so they can mass produce it and use it in their military. It’s really fun to see Shandling in this film, he’s always been so funny and it is way cool of Favreau to cast him in this.

The second is Sam Rockwell playing Justin Hammer (essentially the evil Tony Stark). Rockwell is on fire in the film, and remains to be the biggest highlight. He’s wickedly funny and goofy and delivers the best lines of the film. This film just displays the capability of a wonderful actor. The only problem I have with his character is near the end of the film, it feels like there is unfinished business with him.

I’m sure most of you know to stay until after the credits for a special extra scene. As the credits rolled my friend Peyton and I were excited, talking about what we were going to see. We’re both really hip to the Marvel universe and are familiar with The Avengers and the other Marvel films coming out to work towards the ultimate Avengers movie. I was personally insulted by the clip after the credits. I just expected more.

Another distracting factor in the film was the pushing of AC/DC. Just let it go.

One trait the film does share with with first film is that the ending battle scene with Whiplash is anticlimactic – much like the first film’s ending battle sequence with the Iron Mongerer was anticlimactic.  I’m not against an anticlimactic ending, I think they are excellent in certain films – “Eastern Promises” comes to the top of my mind – but not in an Iron Man film.

This film is your above average summer blockbuster. It falls out of line with the first Iron Man film by pushing a lot of different story arcs on you. It fails to reach the magnitude of the first film. What the film is really lacking is that of a performance of Jeff Bridges in the first film. Rockwell comes close to Bridges’ performance but his character wasn’t developed as well as Bridges’ was.

But Jeff Bridges is one of a kind isn’t he?

Was anyone else half expecting Stark to paint his Iron Man suit black and comb his hair down, put on some eye liner and do some weird dance number?

Review: 6.5/10

Mini Reviews: “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Iron Man”

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)  – Dir. Amy Heckerling.  With Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ray Walston.

Believe it or not, I had never seen “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” before a week ago.  The film pleasantly surprised me.  I thought it was a nice time capsule movie.  It was vintage 80s.  I am actually quiet surprised that it’s from 1982, it feels newer, it doesn’t feel so dated.  It had a great soundtrack in it including one of my favorite songs “Moving in Stereo” by The Cars.  I finally saw the infamous scene with Phobe Cates getting out the pool, removing her top.  I remember watching the TV show “I Love the 80s” hearing the guys talk about it, or hearing my older friends talk about how they used to watch it, over and over again.  The film was witty and had well written dialogue.  The film feels well paced.  It has your cliche teen humor in it.  It’s got nudity, drug references, and snappy lines.  The scene with Judge Reinhold washing the mirror in the bathroom of the fast food joint, just staring at himself in disgust made me laugh so hard I was crying.  Ray Walston delivered as usual, but I was surprisingly impressed with Penn.  I have always thought Penn was a great, great actor but it was really fun seeing him in a role like this, even though it was one of his first.  The film left me wanting more Penn, but then again, I really do think that from time to time, less is more.  But I still can’t help but wonder, dude…where is Jeff Spicoli now?

Review: 7/10.

“Iron Man” (2008) Dir. Jon Favearu.  With Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges.

This was the first superhero film since “Batman Begins”, that was made with the same quality that they should be.  It came out the same year as “The Dark Knight” and was overshadowed by it, but “The Dark Knight” was a superior film in all every way.  RDJ gives nothing more then a stellar performance because in a sense, RDJ is Tony Stark.  The rich playboy that dates beautiful women, but has an emptiness inside of him.  The arrogance of Tony Stark is so brilliantly pulled off by Downey Jr.  I’m not really that big of a fan of Paltrow, but she’s pretty good as Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts.  Terrence Howard doesn’t really bring a whole lot to the role of Stark’s friend Col. James Rhodes.  I actually think replacing Howard with Don Cheadle for the sequel was a good choice.  I’m looking forward to Cheadle’s performance since he’s an actor that can display more range, and more capability.  And what can I say about Jeff Bridges that I already haven’t said?  That he’s wonderful.  He’s amazing.  He’s brilliant.  He’s Jeff fucking Bridges!  The action sequences don’t feel jarred or forced, they flow very well, and as we watch a CGI man fly around the sky, Faverau show’s us Stark’s face inside the helmet of Iron Man, to give it a personal feel, a connection with the audience.  That was very smart, and probably one of my favorite aspects of the film.  The only problem I have with the film is the ending battle scene is anticlimactic.  It isn’t what it should have been.  There are over ten shots of RDJ’s face inside of the Iron Man suit, but only three of Bridges’ inside the Iron Mongeror suit.  There isn’t as much of emotional connection that there should be in the end battle scene.  It’s a huge moment of the film, it’s Stark fighting his mentor, his surrogate father to the death.  They dehumanize Bridges’ character, maybe they did that since everyone loves themselves a little Jeff Bridges.

The DVD Extras are your typical behind the scenes shorts that are boring and don’t show you anything insightful, but there are two excellent extras.  The first is Robert Downey Jr’s screen test for the role of Tony Stark and it is just so wonderful.  It’s very cool to see an actor screen testing for a role, instead of it just getting handed to them.  The other special feature that is just brilliant; it’s a rehearsal with Faverau, Bridges and RDJ.  It’s the scene where Bridges tells RDJ his real intentions and what he plans to do.  It’s very cool to see these two masterful actors work and play off each other.  They’re dropping F-bombs at each other, Bridges actually slaps RDJ.  It’s very cool to see actors perform in such a raw form.  It truly is art.

Review: 8/10.