A place for a cynical person to write his cynical petty little thoughts and musings.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Comedy Review- Smokin' Aces


Starring: Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys

With a nod, or perhaps a slap to the face of Quentin Tarantino comes Smokin’ Aces. The film’s concept is a simple one. Jeremy Piven playing basically the role of Jeremy Piven is a magician named Buddy 'Aces' Israel with a primadonna complex and some lame card tricks. Through a very fast flashback we see that he rose from being a Vegas lounge act to mafia leader in what seemed to be a matter of weeks. And that folks is all the character development you’re gonna get. For immunity “Aces” goes to the FBI to rat out another mafia boss Primo Sparazza who’s story we learn from another 30-second flashback, and if memory serves he never utters a line of dialogue in this entire movie. This prompts a bounty of a million clams on Aces head and 7 hit men/women of various wackiness come a runnin'. Their character development consists of that’s right, you guessed it, 30-second flashbacks! Conveniently, each time a new character emerges their name appears in subtitles beneath them. Good thing, because it you closed your eyes for a second you’ll miss it all.

The problem with this film is that you never get any time with any character, thus never giving a flying fuck about any of them. Even the good guy FBI agents, Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta get little more than a few minutes of dialogue with each other, but come off as a 2 dimensional picture of an FBI man.

One group after Aces is three-bail bondsmen lead by Ben Affleck, who are quickly put away with by the more psychotic hit man group. The least experienced of the three survives and ends up in the country with a white trash grandma and her ADD karate loving erection prone grandson. I’m not sure why this side story exists since it doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the plot, nor does anything get resolved. In fact the movie loves not resolving things. After seeing it you’ll lie in bed at night and say to yourself, “I wonder what happened to that character?” then before drifting off to sleep you’ll remember that you don’t really care.

About three quarters into the film you see what you really came to see. Mainly hit men tripping over each other and killing one another in fun and fantastic ways. And for a few minutes you forget that you don’t care about anyone here and enjoy the senseless violence.

There are some laughs in this Comedy/Action. Though the characters are very 2 dimensional, the laughs are born out of their perchance for violence, and what is supposed to be snappy dialogue. We’ve seen it before, people about to commit crimes of violence and talking about things unrelated. There are two female assassins that are particularly enjoyable to watch as one extols the rhetoric of feminism before getting ready to blow off people’s heads.

The major issue here is that no one actor gets enough screen time to make a meal out of the character they are given. It’s got a lot of talented performers, but it’s like being on the bus with them. It’s cool to see them there, just not all that entertaining.

The best part of this film was the ending, where Reynolds’s character does something so unbelievably unrealistic the audience at once all says, “Yeah, right!” But then again I’m a sucker for a crowd of people being disappointed all at once, and once the lights in the theatre came up and I saw all the disappointed faces I had to laugh out loud.

Why You Should See It: Jason Bateman’s cameo, though completely irrelevant to the film is just damned funny and a touch shocking.

Why You Shouldn’t See It: It’s entirely forgettable and the actors are wasted.

Funny Factor: Some good laughs, but just doesn’t make up for the negatives.

What To See Instead: Check out Pulp Fiction for the violent humour, or watch It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World for a film that managed character development with dozens of characters that trip over each other.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Grocery Day

You know I enjoy shopping. Send me out for CDs, DVDs, books or gadgets and I'm great. There are two things I hate shopping for that is greeting cards and shoes. There are very few greeting cards that I feel are humorous enough to actually give to someone. I have never looked at a greeting card and thought, "Wow, this fart joke really encapsulates my feelings towards my good friend Tom." As for shoe shopping, well, it's just dull, plus those stores all smell funny.

The strangest thing to go shopping for is groceries. I do a fair amount of the grocery shopping in my household. My wife works from home and it just makes more sense that I stop on the way home for the food. There really isn't anywhere on my wife's commute from the bedroom to the office to buy much of anything. Occasionally the cat will have a Gucci knockoff handbag or Rolex with three x's, but how many of those can one family really need?

Shopping for food always seems a little futile. It's not like clothing or entertainment. Dole never comes out with a flashy new must have apple. You never see kids saving up to get that head of lettuce everyone is talking about. Basically you buy something that will either be gone in a week and you'll have to buy again, or it will turn into a pile of mush in the dark nether regions of your crisper.

I tend to stick to the things I know. Boneless chicken breast, lettuce, cucumber, buns, lunchmeats, bananas, grapes, soymilk and red/green/yellow peppers (all of which taste the same, don't be fooled). My wife likes the fringe or outcast food, like arugula or feta cheese. Cheese shouldn't crumble, and best I can tell arugala is an angry lettuce or something.

The most entertaining part of the grocery trip is always the checkout line. This is where I get all my news. From Britney Spears latest cootch flash to the whereabouts of the beloved Bat Boy. These are the things I read whilst the woman in front of me runs off because she forgot a lemon. My thought is that the second you put your purchases on the conveyor belt, its game over, you are committed. I'm pretty sure that's why many people have children, so that they can keep the place in line while the kid runs off to get the wrong type of spaghetti sauce again and again.

There is one cashier at my local supermarket who I call Slow George. He is dreadfully slow at the checkout. He very carefully examines everything you buy as he runs it against the scanner. I like to imagine he is looking at the purchases and imagining what kind of life you live. "Pizza, cola and sugary breakfast cereal- bachelor," or "3 bags of milk, 2 cartons of eggs, a 6 pack of Kleenex- mother of three," or "Cucumber, pepper squash, bananas, watermelon and a hand drill- pervert."

In reality though I think slow George is sizing up how he feels about the food, "I like ramen noodles, ohhh I don't like turnips at all, apples are nice. I wonder if I'll ever feel the touch of a woman. I bet a woman's breasts feel like apples. All smooth and clean with a sticker on them..."

The impulse items at the cash are pretty fantastic too. Chocolate bars and condoms. For the longest time I thought condoms were just chocolate bar holders. Cozies if you will. I would suggest getting unlubricated though if you are going to use them for this. Otherwise it makes your Kit Kat hard to hold on to.

If you want some real fun don't put that little divider down after your purchases. One of two things will happen. The person behind you will leave a huge foot long space between your groceries and theirs, or they will keep the stuff in their arms until yours have been moved through. As though your food is leprous, and their food might catch it. Or they are just plain stuck up and don't want their rhubarb cavorting with your hostess ding-dongs. Then pay for everything with pennies. People love that.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Future

That's what the good people at Perception Labratories thinks I'll look like as an old man. Handsome dodger isn't he. Try it for yourself here.

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