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The Hottie And The Nottie Review


Terrible
The Hottie and the Nottie is a clichéd film that manages to be both predictable and offensive. That's OK, people who rent The Hottie and the Nottie won't be looking for high art or a subtle satire on the superficiality of the West Coast. In fact if you're thinking of renting The Hottie and the Nottie, there is likely only one reason: You're hoping to enjoy the movie because it is awful, the idea being that movies can be so bad they actually become enjoyable. It is a little like getting a kick out of watching Plan 9 from Outer Space.

The Hottie and the Nottie follows the travails of Nate Cooper (Joel Moore) as he tries to woo the "hottest girl in L.A.," Cristabelle Abbot (Paris Hilton). Nate's pursuit of Cristabelle is aided by his first-grade friend Arno Blount, played with enthusiasm by Greg Wilson, who happens to have a three-inch thick file on Cristabelle. Arno lives with his mother, so one surmises he has plenty of time to devote to cataloging first grade friends.

Continue reading: The Hottie And The Nottie Review

Underdog Review


Bad
Someone needs to send an exorcist over to the Disney Studios, PDQ. The House of Mouse needs a ghostbuster to purge its demonic tendencies toward remaking classic cartoons and other 2D animated properties into shoddy live action spectacles. First there was George of the Jungle and Inspector Gadget. Now the glorified product pitchman Underdog falls under the reinterpretation light. Originally conceived by General Mills' ad agency (and its head, W. Watts Biggers) as a way of selling cereal to wee ones, the once noble anthropomorphic pup with the Superman-like powers has been reduced to a post-modern joke where everything's ironic and nothing's endearing.

After he messes up an important training test, failed police dog Shoeshine (with the voice of actor Jason Lee) winds up in the lab of Dr. Simon Barsinister (a perfectly cast Peter Dinklage) and his dopey assistant Cad (a totally out of whack Patrick Warburton). A genetic engineering experiment goes haywire, turning our hound into a hero, and our scientist into a psychopath. On the run, Shoeshine winds up with young Jack Unger (the vacant Alex Neuberger). While he tries to hide his special talents -- especially his ability to talk -- Shoeshine relents, and quickly becomes pals with his new owner. As he settles in for a life of chasing his tail, scratches fleas, and fighting crime, Barsinister will not let such a supremely successful example of his research slip away. He plots to kidnap and capitalize on the newly named Underdog, destroying anyone who intends to stop him.

Continue reading: Underdog Review

Balls Of Fury Review


Weak
The humor of a game like ping-pong is the outright laziness and inaction that goes into it. It's a sport designed for drunken high-school parties, frat-house basements, and stoners who need to do something while Jerry and Marley jam out (the same could be said about billiards). Ben Garant's Balls of Fury is contingent on this knowledge; the absurdity of lending some sort of importance to something that is basically as relevant as the color of sock you are currently wearing.

At first, Fury nails this ridiculous tone. The rise of ping-pong star Randy Daytona, a 10-year-old prodigy of the game, is adorned by numbskull television personalities and revered by the entire nation, including Ronald and Nancy Reagan. His defeat at the Olympics by German player Karl Wolfschtagg (Thomas Lennon, who also serves as producer and co-writer) is viewed not only as a personal loss, but a loss for America. His father (Robert Patrick) has his head lopped off due to the German victory, and Randy vanishes into obscurity.

Continue reading: Balls Of Fury Review

Evan Almighty Review


Weak
In hindsight, Bruce Almighty was the death knell for the Jim Carrey we know and love. This isn't completely a bad thing: Rurning away from manic comedy allowed Carrey to do the best acting of his career in Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It also allowed for The Number 23. You win some, and you really, really lose some. But that wacky spazz with the ability to manipulate his body like it was made of laffy-taffy was seen hardening in Bruce Almighty, his artful physical comedy becoming a frantic centerpiece to otherwise inept material. It seems strange that Bruce was Carrey's moment of decay while the film's sequel, Evan Almighty, welcomes the great Steve Carell into the annals of mainstream comedic stardom.

Carell's been smart, so far, with his choices of role. Stepping out with small roles in Bruce Almighty and Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda, Carell hit pay dirt with last summer's sleeper-hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin, quickly establishing him as an actor with even measures of heart and humor. Then he starred in another sleeper: last year's Oscar-nominated Little Miss Sunshine. It now seems time to allow Carell to try his hand at big-budget ($175 million to be exact) summer comedies, seeing if his mug can rake in the big bucks.

Continue reading: Evan Almighty Review

The Invisible Review


Good
The trailers for The Invisible ask, "How do you solve a murder when the victim is you?" This indeed poses several mysteries, but not the ones the trailer-makers have in mind. First, there's the question of whether the question is grammatically correct (the answer: maybe, but it sure sounds awkward). Then there's the mystery not of how to solve said murder, but where exactly the difficulty lies when you is -- er, are that murder victim. High-school senior Nick Powell, this film's victim, pretty much "solves" his murder while he's being killed (or near-killed); he recognizes and even converses with his assailants. Case closed.

Except that he's dead, of course, but assuming, as The Invisible does, the existence of a rather flexible netherworld between living and death, filling in further details isn't a problem either. When Nick wakes up as a sort of half-ghost, traveling through the land of the living without the ability to be seen or heard while his body lies on the brink of death, his detective skills need only to consist of following the murderers around, overhearing their motivations.

Continue reading: The Invisible Review

The Lookout Review


Very Good
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a soft baby face and a lanky frame, so it's easy to see why, Eight years after Third Rock from the Sun and 10 Things I Hate About You, he can still play teenagers. The surprise is that he can play them so differently. In The Lookout he's Chris Pratt, who starts off the movie as a cocky high school hockey player. After a car accident, though, Chris sustains brain damage that leaves him hollowed and frail, struggling, even more than most, through a mundane life.

Chris's condition isn't as neatly symbolic as Guy Pearce's inability to make new memories in Memento. Moments of clarity brush up against considerable fuzziness; Chris can remember people and places while forgetting how to heat up pasta sauce. Gordon-Levitt specializes in plain-sight, makeup-free transformations, and here he nails the wounded body language and muted frustration of a fallen jock idol, creating someone far removed from the equally vivid young people he played in Brick and Mysterious Skin.

Continue reading: The Lookout Review

Stay Alive Review


Bad
It's a horror plot so surefire that you wonder why it hasn't been done before: Young people play a mysterious new videogame and start to die, one by one, in grisly scenes mimicking their game deaths. Stay Alive runs through this plot with such a plodding lack of imagination that you think again: Maybe this has been done before, on The X-Files or a direct-to-video picture you missed. Surely a movie this tired can't be the first crack at a fundamentally decent genre idea?

Stay Alive gets around this conundrum easily by knocking off The Ring and throwing in a little of the Final Destination series: the former's ghostly gimmick mixed with the latter's view of life as an elaborate series of macabre booby traps. Unfortunately, even the cut-and-paste is botched; no Ring-style tension builds, and the PG-13 rating curtails the death scenes, most of which all but cut away before the character's gory fate is sealed. Yes, you read that right: Stay Alive is like a Final Destination movie without the death scenes.

Continue reading: Stay Alive Review

The Count Of Monte Cristo (2002) Review


Very Good
The classic Monte Cristo sandwich is a rich confection -- almost inedibly so -- composed of layered ham, turkey, swiss cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, and crusty bread, all battered in egg and fried in hot grease. The diner is meant to dip this in jam before shoving it down his gullet.

The 2002 incarnation of The Count of Monte Cristo is a remarkably similar experience, full of pleasing flavors yet probably too rich for everyday consumption -- but, as with all things, I figure you'll eat it if you're hungry enough. Sure enough, in this snail-slow winter movie season, Monte Cristo is just about the best thing going. Like the sandwich, this isn't gourmet fare -- it's a crowd pleaser meant to entertain for a few brief moments, nothing more.

Continue reading: The Count Of Monte Cristo (2002) Review

Memoirs Of A Geisha Review


Weak
The only thing which director Rob Marshall doesn't throw into Memoirs of a Geisha is a torch song in which the heroines can lament their sad fates; it might have been an improvement if he had. Adapted from Arthur Golden's 1997 bestselling novel, the film is about Sayuri, a young girl in pre-war Japan sold into servitude at a Kyoto okiya, or geisha house. Although interesting as drama, the book was beloved for its depiction of this long-gone culture's intricate rituals, and the grueling training and subterfuge which the geisha indulged in to succeed. Since much of that material is better suited for the page than the screen, the film blows up the book's more melodramatic moments (and there were plenty of them) into a cliched soap opera of thwarted love, backstabbing and really pretty outfits.

Marshall gives the film, especially its early scenes where Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang) gets schooled in the hard-knock ways of the okiya, a goodly amount of sound and fury that has more than a hint of Spielberg to it (the original director of the project, he stayed on as producer). Having one of the world's most photogenic period settings, Marshall makes all that he can of it, and the results are astonishing. This is a film of fluttering cherry blossoms and dark alleyways lit by paper lanterns, where all houses have their own deftly-maintained garden and everyone is dressed to the nines. The problem is that no amount of amped-up drama or pretty window-dressing can make up for the fact that the phenomenally talented cast has been stuck with hackneyed dialogue to deliver in English - a first language for none of them.

Continue reading: Memoirs Of A Geisha Review

Simon Birch Review


OK
One scarcely knows where to begin to elucidate the tragic story of Simon Birch, but suffice it to say that Simon is a 12-year-old dwarf imbued with an astonishing sense of morality and heroism that affects everyone around him. The Triumph of the Kid has never been more overwrought, and Simon Birch just takes movies like Radio Flyer, The Mighty, and Unstrung Heroes and ratchets them out to the hilt. Pithy and over-emotional, watch little Simon (Ian Michael Smith) wreck the school play, try to play baseball, ogle girls' chests, and save the entire student body from drowning in an icy river. Then go vomit. Jim Carrey makes a (poor) cameo. Also note that the film is based on author John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. Irving also wrote the book responsible for that ungodly piece of junk The Cider House Rules.

Holy Man Review


Terrible
Pop quiz. You're Eddie Murphy, a popular comedian who makes about a decade of bad movies. You then do a remake of a Jerry Lewis classic and you're back in the swing of things. People start to like you again. Why would you do Holy Man?

In this awful, Saturday Night Live sketch gone bad, Jeff Goldblum stars in a thankless role as an infomercial executive who needs to find good product or he'll be fired. He stumbles upon G (Murphy), a mysterious man in a white sheet who speaks eloquently about.... uh....stuff. Goldblum has the inevitable romance with co-worker Kelly Preston, who are about as compatible as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Walter Mathau.

Continue reading: Holy Man Review

Rush Hour Review


Very Good
I'll be the first to admit that I didn't used to like Jackie Chan or Chris Tucker. I have never seen either of them in a movie I liked -- until now. Rush Hour, the 1998 action comedy directed by Brett Ratner, successfully blends two immensely different personalities. The film also works because it contains the perfect amount of action and comedy. By themselves, Chan and Tucker do not provide anything inspiring or refreshing, but when they are combined, they form a surprisingly entertaining comedic duo.

Chan and Tucker are truly opposites. Jackie is known for his modest demeanor and amazing physical abilities, but not for his amazing grasp of the English language. Chris is boastful and outspoken, a shameless motormouth that just will not shut up. The pairing of these two actors works well. Chan provides us with the action and Tucker provides us with the witty comic relief.

Continue reading: Rush Hour Review

The Perfect Score Review


Good
Ocean's Eleven meets The Breakfast Club as six ambitious high school seniors hatch a plot to steal the answers to the SAT and advance with ease to the colleges of their choice.

For the record, I scored an 1110 on my SAT, which was fine with me. Then again, I wasn't nearly as motivated as these kids during my senior year. Though they run in different social circles, the scheming students of The Perfect Score are united by one common denominator - the SAT stands in the way of their career aspirations.

Continue reading: The Perfect Score Review

A Low Down Dirty Shame Review


Weak
Question of the day: why is there such an appeal to brainlessness?

One hypothesis, that we spend our working hours thinking and want to relax and thus not think in latter hours appears to hold water at a glance. However, when you peer deeper you realize that not everyone enjoys turning their brain off. Furthermore, many people cannot turn their brain off. Yet I am both A and B and still find brainlessness enjoyable.

Continue reading: A Low Down Dirty Shame Review

Dragonfly Review


Weak
Dragonfly asks us: When someone you love dies... are they gone forever? It also answers by saying: Apparently not -- they haunt you until you go crazy, pummeling you with insects and kooky drawings. My kind of love, baby.

The love in Dragonfly is the wife of poor Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner), an emergency medicine doctor in Chicago. She's also a doctor -- a pediatric oncologist named Emily -- and for some reason, she decides to head for Venezuela to do a little Peace Corps-style work, presumably to exorcise her upper class guilt.

Continue reading: Dragonfly Review

Shanghai Knights Review


Bad
I was in the minority of critics that actually gave Jackie Chan's last buddy picture The Tuxedo a passing grade. Sure, the plot is a throwaway and as Chan's super-spy partner, Jennifer Love Hewitt is a complete miscast. But thanks to Chan's great charisma, the movie transcends its doldrums. So with Shanghai Knights, the follow up to the entertaining Shanghai Noon, I feared this buddy story would suffer from similar inadequacies.

In Knights, Chan returns as Chon Wang, who along with sidekick Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson), take their latest adventure from the Wild Wild West to London, where Chon seeks to avenge the brutal slaying of his father and obtain the stolen Chinese Imperial Seal. While there, the pair teams up with Chon's much younger, hotter, and ass-kickinger sister, Lin (Fann Wong) to hunt down their father's killer, Rathbone (Aiden Gillen) and foil Rathbone's plot to assassinate the Royal family. The three certainly have their work cut out for them.

Continue reading: Shanghai Knights Review

Mr. 3000 Review


Weak
Anyone who doesn't believe that the script is the foundation of a movie should check out Mr. 3000. Bernie Mac, in his first starring role, all golf ball eyes and raspy charisma, is stuck with a story that is so riddled with clichés, lousy dialogue, and bad ideas that you begin to think that anyone can write a screenplay.

Mac plays Stan Ross, a former baseball all-star who has spent his retirement years capitalizing on his claim to fame: getting 3,000 hits in his playing career, an accomplishment that makes him a baseball legend. He's put that feat to good use, opening up a 3,000 Hits shopping center, while shamelessly campaigning to get into the Hall of Fame.

Continue reading: Mr. 3000 Review

The Pacifier Review


Good
Just the fact that The Pacifier elicits chuckles means it's a huge success. The formula of a tough guy in a kiddie environment has been done before, notably with Hulk Hogan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Let's just say neither actor typically puts those films on his resume. For The Pacifier's star, Vin Diesel, whose career has dimmed since 2002's XXX, he might want to ignore that precedent.

Diesel stars as top Marine Shane Wolfe, who's assigned to guard the family of a slain professor who was working on a secret government work project. Wolfe's job is to protect the man's five kids, while his widow (Faith Ford) travels overseas to settle affairs. What starts as a two-day trip soon becomes two weeks. And it has to seem longer to Wolfe when the family's nanny (Carol Kane) bolts, leaving him to also play surrogate dad to the unruly group of kids.

Continue reading: The Pacifier Review

Inspector Gadget Review


Bad
I'll admit to watching the early 1980s' Inspector Gadget cartoon, and probably far too late in life.

Looks like now I'm waaaaay too old for this kind of thing, but judging by the mute stares of the many children in our advance screening audience, maybe they are too.

Continue reading: Inspector Gadget Review

The Count Of Monte Cristo Review


Very Good
The classic Monte Cristo sandwich is a rich confection -- almost inedibly so -- composed of layered ham, turkey, swiss cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, and crusty bread, all battered in egg and fried in hot grease. The diner is meant to dip this in jam before shoving it down his gullet.

The 2002 incarnation of The Count of Monte Cristo is a remarkably similar experience, full of pleasing flavors yet probably too rich for everyday consumption -- but, as with all things, I figure you'll eat it if you're hungry enough. Sure enough, in this snail-slow winter movie season, Monte Cristo is just about the best thing going. Like the sandwich, this isn't gourmet fare -- it's a crowd pleaser meant to entertain for a few brief moments, nothing more.

Continue reading: The Count Of Monte Cristo Review

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Top seven Megadeth albums

Top seven Megadeth albums

We pick our favourite records from this legendary thrash metal band.

Helena Deans is wearing her heart on her sleeve for her upcoming live album

Helena Deans is wearing her heart on her sleeve for her upcoming live album

Listen to her new song 'I'll See This As A Blessing'.

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Songs to play when you feel like there's no way out [Playlist]

Songs to play when you feel like there's no way out [Playlist]

This article is dedicated to Caroline Flack.

Hattie Webb - The Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury 12.02.2020 Live Review

Hattie Webb - The Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury 12.02.2020 Live Review

Hattie Webb not only brought a couple of harps but also Andrea Resce, her brother and a collection of cold remedies to the cathedral city of...

Ten underrated rock albums by iconic artists

Ten underrated rock albums by iconic artists

These albums are not nearly as appreciated as they should be.

Every Papa Roach Album Ranked

Every Papa Roach Album Ranked

We list all the nu metal titans' albums from worst to best.

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Roger Birnbaum Movies

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

The Vow Movie Review

The Vow Movie Review

Inspired by a true story, this film is watchable mainly because of the extraordinary events,...

Footloose Movie Review

Footloose Movie Review

A surprisingly faithful remake of the iconic 1984 hit, this crowd-pleasing romp finds some intriguing...

The Tourist Movie Review

The Tourist Movie Review

This is a thoroughly offbeat concoction from the gifted filmmaker behind the acclaimed The Lives...

Leap Year Movie Review

Leap Year Movie Review

Neither funny nor original enough to really register, this breezy little film will only really...

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Balls Of Fury Movie Review

Balls Of Fury Movie Review

The humor of a game like ping-pong is the outright laziness and inaction that goes...

Rush Hour 3 Movie Review

Rush Hour 3 Movie Review

For all the talk of his beguiling cameo as a police chief, Roman Polanski shows...

Evan Almighty Movie Review

Evan Almighty Movie Review

In hindsight, Bruce Almighty was the death knell for the Jim Carrey we know and...

The Invisible Movie Review

The Invisible Movie Review

The trailers for The Invisible ask, "How do you solve a murder when the victim...

The Lookout Movie Review

The Lookout Movie Review

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a soft baby face and a lanky frame, so it's easy to...

Stay Alive Movie Review

Stay Alive Movie Review

It's a horror plot so surefire that you wonder why it hasn't been done before:...

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) Movie Review

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) Movie Review

The classic Monte Cristo sandwich is a rich confection -- almost inedibly so -- composed...

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