User Reviews

Reviews by Prof223
A deflated and desperate ride through the formula of chaos
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The Sitter is a deflated comedy robbed of all laughs, jokes, and originality. It knows formula well, but doesn't know where to go from there. It also knows how to pick a lovable lead actor who is consistently funny in everything he does. It's the second film to be released by independent filmmaker David Gordon Green this next to Your Highness. Both will earn a special place on my list of worst films for 2011.

Even since Your Highness, David Gordon Green has successfully put me in a state of never-ending puzzlement. Here's a guy that has made back to back acclaimed independent features, and now, chooses to use his time directing lame, directionless comedies without wit or a soul. The Sitter takes an already mediocre premise and refuses to push it off its feet into something more original or fresh. It understands the formula inside out, but proceeds to disregard everything else.

Noah (Hill) is a layabout who is lured into babysitting three children for his mom's friend so they can go to a party together. The kids are sexual confused Slater (Record), the pint sized fourth Kardashian Blithe (Bender), and the rebellious Latino Rodrigo (Hernandez). What kind of children are these? They're not normal children. They feel like real people shrunk down to fit pint sized kids. Regardless, their roles aren't at all funny.

Soon after arriving at the job and discovering the chaotic duty behind it, Noah's girlfriend Marisa (Graynor) calls asking him to deliver her cocaine at a party and she'll reward him with sex. Noah tries to get cocaine, but Rodrigo winds up stealing an egg full of cocaine, costing Noah over $10,000.

Oh, and I'm not even going to continue from there. The film is relentless in its gags and events, none of them even remotely realistic or the least bit funny. The biggest laughs, in fact, aren't even from Jonah Hill, but J.B. Smoove who you may recognize as Leon from Curb Your Enthusiasm. I actually would've adored the idea of him playing the babysitter much more than Hill. Don't you hate it when that happens? In the same movie, you find an actor who is playing the secondary character, but you wind up liking him more than the actor playing primary character and wish the film went through some sort of star reversal? The endangerment of the kids is sickening, the jokes appallingly unfunny, the setups are outlandish, and the sentimentality the film tries to shoot for at the end is deplorable. We just saw a man put these children through hell, he's unapologetic throughout the entire film, and now he wants to make a complete three-sixty and get on their good side.

Is this as bad as Green's Your Highness? It's close. Your Highness at least had the ability to have me stay frustrated for several hours after watching the film. I got over The Sitter's abashed nature quickly, but felt saddened and cheated. I was hoping that Green would seek redemption in the character and everything wouldn't go the way it was supposed to. Green isn't the director who stays inside the lines, so I was hoping he'd make a smarter comedy here.

The Sitter is an exercise is cheap filmmaking. It relies on lackluster stereotypes, recycled jokes, and caricatures to function inside its dead formula. It's a miserable comedic workout.
A deflated and desperate ride through the formula of chaos
»
»

The Sitter is a deflated comedy robbed of all laughs, jokes, and originality. It knows formula well, but doesn't know where to go from there. It also knows how to pick a lovable lead actor who is consistently funny in everything he does. It's the second film to be released by independent filmmaker David Gordon Green this next to Your Highness. Both will earn a special place on my list of worst films for 2011.

Even since Your Highness, David Gordon Green has successfully put me in a state of never-ending puzzlement. Here's a guy that has made back to back acclaimed independent features, and now, chooses to use his time directing lame, directionless comedies without wit or a soul. The Sitter takes an already mediocre premise and refuses to push it off its feet into something more original or fresh. It understands the formula inside out, but proceeds to disregard everything else.

Noah (Hill) is a layabout who is lured into babysitting three children for his mom's friend so they can go to a party together. The kids are sexual confused Slater (Record), the pint sized fourth Kardashian Blithe (Bender), and the rebellious Latino Rodrigo (Hernandez). What kind of children are these? They're not normal children. They feel like real people shrunk down to fit pint sized kids. Regardless, their roles aren't at all funny.

Soon after arriving at the job and discovering the chaotic duty behind it, Noah's girlfriend Marisa (Graynor) calls asking him to deliver her cocaine at a party and she'll reward him with sex. Noah tries to get cocaine, but Rodrigo winds up stealing an egg full of cocaine, costing Noah over $10,000.

Oh, and I'm not even going to continue from there. The film is relentless in its gags and events, none of them even remotely realistic or the least bit funny. The biggest laughs, in fact, aren't even from Jonah Hill, but J.B. Smoove who you may recognize as Leon from Curb Your Enthusiasm. I actually would've adored the idea of him playing the babysitter much more than Hill. Don't you hate it when that happens? In the same movie, you find an actor who is playing the secondary character, but you wind up liking him more than the actor playing primary character and wish the film went through some sort of star reversal? The endangerment of the kids is sickening, the jokes appallingly unfunny, the setups are outlandish, and the sentimentality the film tries to shoot for at the end is deplorable. We just saw a man put these children through hell, he's unapologetic throughout the entire film, and now he wants to make a complete three-sixty and get on their good side.

Is this as bad as Green's Your Highness? It's close. Your Highness at least had the ability to have me stay frustrated for several hours after watching the film. I got over The Sitter's abashed nature quickly, but felt saddened and cheated. I was hoping that Green would seek redemption in the character and everything wouldn't go the way it was supposed to. Green isn't the director who stays inside the lines, so I was hoping he'd make a smarter comedy here.

The Sitter is an exercise is cheap filmmaking. It relies on lackluster stereotypes, recycled jokes, and caricatures to function inside its dead formula. It's a miserable comedic workout.
Fantastic retro action with art house flair!
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Drive tells the story of an unnamed stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) moonlighting as a getaway driver for a crime syndicate run by Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks). Seemingly a loner, the driver becomes involved in the life of his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son Benicio (Kaden Leos). After agreeing to drive for Irene's newly paroled husband Standard (Oscar Isaac), and finding himself on the wrong side of assassination contract, the driver embarks on a mission to protect Irene from the vicious gangsters who would seek to harm her to get at him. It's a well-worn plot line which in the hands of someone less adept than Refn would likely be nothing more than a forgettable thriller, yet the massively talented director, who picked up the Best Director prize at Cannes this year for Drive, crafts an engaging and thrilling throwback film elevated by masterful performances across the board.

Refn, previously known for the fantastic Bronson, and the lesser known but equally excellent Pusher trilogy, is a man who has very clearly studied his Kubrick. Certainly most modern directors could do worse than imitate the style of one of history's greats like Stanley Kubrick, but rarely does one pull it off with the skill of Refn. In Bronson, the influence was a little more obvious, with the resulting film seeming like something of a spiritual successor to A Clockwork Orange. With Drive however, the traces are a little more subtle, visible in the impeccable technical touches, and the use of dissolves, pensive long takes, and slow zooms, a hallmark of Kubrick's catalogue. Drive is a flawlessly crafted film, filled with beautiful imagery of the Los Angeles underworld seen more often in the work of Michael Mann.

The technical achievements of Drive are more than matched by the acting of the entire cast, and Refn shrewdly selects a wide variety of performers to populate the story. Top notch support comes from Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, the ever dependable Ron Perlman, and particularly Brooks, who jettisons his familiar comedic persona in a truly frightening and villainous performance, which will surely be on the radar of voters come awards season. Mulligan shows characteristic heart in a largely overlooked role, yet the film unquestionably belongs to Gosling. Often heralded as one of the finest actors of his generation, in Drive Gosling delivers his best work yet as the driver; a quiet role that is all the more effective due to the subtlety of the performance. He displays an ability to ratchet up the tension using just the slightest widening of his eyes and tensing of his jawline, and when the character is pushed to act more forcefully, Gosling transitions from almost silent observer to brutal aggressor so swiftly that it leaves one breathless. It's work that he makes look easy, yet it's the most focused performance seen in an action film in quite some time.

There's something undeniably retro about Drive, with its neon opening titles and 80s infused soundtrack, but the film seems remarkably fresh. Smart action filmmaking is so hard to come by these days, so Drive delivers refreshing variety, beginning the time of year when the so-called prestige pictures are released with a bang.
Fantastic retro action with art house flair!
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Drive tells the story of an unnamed stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) moonlighting as a getaway driver for a crime syndicate run by Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks). Seemingly a loner, the driver becomes involved in the life of his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son Benicio (Kaden Leos). After agreeing to drive for Irene's newly paroled husband Standard (Oscar Isaac), and finding himself on the wrong side of assassination contract, the driver embarks on a mission to protect Irene from the vicious gangsters who would seek to harm her to get at him. It's a well-worn plot line which in the hands of someone less adept than Refn would likely be nothing more than a forgettable thriller, yet the massively talented director, who picked up the Best Director prize at Cannes this year for Drive, crafts an engaging and thrilling throwback film elevated by masterful performances across the board.

Refn, previously known for the fantastic Bronson, and the lesser known but equally excellent Pusher trilogy, is a man who has very clearly studied his Kubrick. Certainly most modern directors could do worse than imitate the style of one of history's greats like Stanley Kubrick, but rarely does one pull it off with the skill of Refn. In Bronson, the influence was a little more obvious, with the resulting film seeming like something of a spiritual successor to A Clockwork Orange. With Drive however, the traces are a little more subtle, visible in the impeccable technical touches, and the use of dissolves, pensive long takes, and slow zooms, a hallmark of Kubrick's catalogue. Drive is a flawlessly crafted film, filled with beautiful imagery of the Los Angeles underworld seen more often in the work of Michael Mann.

The technical achievements of Drive are more than matched by the acting of the entire cast, and Refn shrewdly selects a wide variety of performers to populate the story. Top notch support comes from Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, the ever dependable Ron Perlman, and particularly Brooks, who jettisons his familiar comedic persona in a truly frightening and villainous performance, which will surely be on the radar of voters come awards season. Mulligan shows characteristic heart in a largely overlooked role, yet the film unquestionably belongs to Gosling. Often heralded as one of the finest actors of his generation, in Drive Gosling delivers his best work yet as the driver; a quiet role that is all the more effective due to the subtlety of the performance. He displays an ability to ratchet up the tension using just the slightest widening of his eyes and tensing of his jawline, and when the character is pushed to act more forcefully, Gosling transitions from almost silent observer to brutal aggressor so swiftly that it leaves one breathless. It's work that he makes look easy, yet it's the most focused performance seen in an action film in quite some time.

There's something undeniably retro about Drive, with its neon opening titles and 80s infused soundtrack, but the film seems remarkably fresh. Smart action filmmaking is so hard to come by these days, so Drive delivers refreshing variety, beginning the time of year when the so-called prestige pictures are released with a bang.
Hilarious and touching at the same time
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Mixing cancer and comedy doesn't seem like it should go so well, but 50/50 is a film that makes it work. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Adam, a 27 year old easy going guy who unexpectedly gets diagnosed with cancer. The film details his struggle to beat the disease and all the hardships that come along with having to fight a disease as crippling as cancer at such a young age. Adam is surrounded by various other people in his life that all influence him in different ways. Seth Rogen plays his best friend, Kyle, who always tries to help Adam out, but doesn't always know how to go about it. Anna Kendrick plays Adam's therapist, Katherine, whose attempts to help Adam cope with the cancer work at times, but at other times she just can't find the right way to connect with the grieving youngster. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Adam's girlfriend and Anjelica Houston is one of the strongest characters, Adam's overprotective mother. The film is a compassionate tale of love and friendship while simultaneously being a raunchy pothead comedy. The overlap is strange, but it works incredibly well.

There are so many ways to do a comedy film about cancer wrong, but very few ways to do it right. 50/50 thankfully manages to find the sweetspot of this risky terrain and succeeds in being a charmingly touching film as well as a wildly hilarious one. The writer of the film, Will Reiser, based the film on his own experiences with fighting and beating cancer at a young age, and his passion and understanding of this story shine beautifully through the film and its characters which surely all resemble Reiser's own friends and family in some way. 50/50 doesn't lean too far to either side of the comedy versus drama spectrum and it always maintains a consistent level of heartwarming hilarity balanced with touching sincerity. The drama and comedy weave in and out of each other perfectly and seamlessly with neither genre feeling inappropriate or out of place. It is sincere filmmaking at its finest.

Moreover, 50/50 just does a great job with its balance of genres, but also with the overall story and the great characters within that story. We grow such passionate empathy for Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a way I never thought could be possible. The film draws us into his troubled world so well and we are rooting for him all the way, cheering on his every move and growing more and more attached to him with every passing moment. We also grow to love the supporting cast who, with the exception of one particular character but I won't spoil anything, support Adam through all his hard times. The characters are all so well written and they play their key roles in Adam's life perfectly. 50/50 is a movie structured to where every character serves a major purpose in furthering Adam's development as well as the development of the plot. And so as we watch the relationships between Adam and the people in his life grow and fade we develop a deeper understanding of his character, making 50/50 an incredibly human story.

It's always nice to be so surprised by a film's quality. I expected good things from 50/50 from the first time I saw a trailer, but the movie itself exceeded my expectations. It is what the dramady subgenre is all about. It is a film tailor made to be the subgenre's posterchild. I laughed, I lamented, and I was brought close to tears at how heartwarming and touching of a film 50/50 is.