Tag: megan fox

This is 40

This is 40 (2012)
★★ / ★★★★

Debbie (Leslie Mann) is not happy turning forty. For her, being forty is considered the first step toward a hopeless descent to old age so she decides to tell everybody that she is only thirty-eight. Pete (Paul Rudd), Debbie’s husband, is also turning forty but he is less bothered. He is more worried of—and tries to hide from his wife that—his record label business is not making enough money to support his family of four.

“This is 40,” written and directed by Judd Apatow, casts a wide net in an attempt to capture anything funny or amusing within its vicinity. While it has a few good moments that range from disgusting humor to relatable and honest situations, there is simply too much padding. With a running time of over two hours, I laughed but I did not laugh enough.

When it focuses on the family dynamics among husband, wife, and their two daughters, Sadie (Maude Apatow) and Charlotte (Iris Apatow), there is a genuine feeling of family among them even if they are frustrated and yelling at each other. A memorable scene involves Debbie informing Pete what is considered good music nowadays. For her, it means something that is fun, danceable, and makes people happy. For him, the lyrics have to be meaningful even if the tune sounds like a dirge. It is comedic because we all know that good music is subjective, but the couple insists that he or she is the “right” one so the actors’ exaggeration functions as the punchline.

The dirty jokes are not held back, but the dialogue that leads up to and follows after them tend to sound like it is taken from a sitcom that is about three seasons in. A handful of the actors, central and supporting, share chemistry but there remains a feeling of an obvious buildup before a gag or witticism. The picture might have been stronger if there had been more variation in the screenplay, as well as direction, in terms of setup, delivery, and aftermath.

I enjoyed that it is willing to go for humor that might be considered offensive. For instance, Debbie confronts her daughter’s classmate (Ryan Lee) who had dared put Sadie on the “Not Hot” list on Facebook. It is so uncomfortable because we know (or should know) that yelling or threatening someone else’s child is inappropriate but it is hilarious because, admit it or not, at some point we all have wanted to talk to a child—especially an annoying one or a full-on brat—like he or she were an adult. Melissa McCarthy has a memorable cameo as the boy’s mother.

The story’s main arc involves money: Pete and his record label, Debbie and her shop missing over ten grand worth of merchandise. While it has its moments, especially with Debbie’s attractive employee (Megan Fox), they are not as interesting as the every day events that Pete and Debbie face as parents. Dealing with pecuniary issues is not specific to becoming a forty-something. In fact, the more the film focuses on their financial problems, the more it comes off as shallow, the characters whiny and their problems trivial, especially when I started thinking about lower-class families who do not even have resources to put food on the table the next day.

“This is 40” goes in one too many directions that it is able to sustain. There is drama involving Pete lending his father (Albert Brooks) money and Debbie’s father (John Lithgow) being absent for the majority of her life, but they feel tacked on. With its story’s scope, it would have been more fitting if the director had been more selective of scenes that work best as a comedy while keeping in mind its thesis instead of putting everything on the plate.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
★ / ★★★★

There is a rising crime organization named the Foot Clan, led by the enigmatic Shredder (Tohoru Masamune). April O’Neil (Megan Fox) wishes to be taken as a serious journalist so she recognizes that covering the group’s crime is her ticket to achieving her career goal. She gets more than what she bargains for, however, when four six-foot genetically mutated turtles that know martial arts (voices of Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Noel Fisher, Johnny Knoxville) enter the picture—vigilantes that have been living in the sewers, along with their father, Master Splinter (Tony Shalhoub), a mutant rat, for years.

Just about everything in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” directed by Jonathan Liebesman, is a severe miscalculation. First and foremost, it must work from a visual standpoint because the target audience covers children, pre-teens, and young teenagers. This picture overdoses on CGI—the kind that looks cheap and fake, especially when debris are falling from buildings on the edge of falling over and characters are in danger of falling off a precipice. It leaves nothing to the imagination so we are subjected to a very passive, brain-drain experience.

The turtles look like toads on steroids. There is nothing attractive about them. Although their surface personalities are shown, these do not match their look. As I observed their teratoid appearance, I wondered if they would appeal to children. I thought half of them would likely to get scared because these turtles are too muscular, grimy-looking, their eyes very reptilian, glassy as opposed to friendly, relatable or personable. If I were a kid and this picture happened to be my first exposure to these characters, I would not remember them fondly in my twenties.

Fox gets a lot of negative criticism for being bland, relying on her beauty to carry a film. While she does nothing ground-breaking here, she does what she can in portraying a journalist who aims to do more than just look pretty on television. What I saw in her here is potential—potential to create an April that is tough, resourceful, but still warm in the coming sequels. Now that Fox has played this character once, I hope she uses the movie as an opportunity to do something more, to surprise us.

The villains are a bore. Shredder, like our heroes, is overly designed. The metallic suit and weapons are just too much. This is the kind of super-Shredder I expect to see in a video game that not many people really buy, not in a feature film that reboots the story. As a result, the battle scenes look over-the-top and nonsensical, seemingly energetic but without a real emotional core—at least one that works. Shredder hopes to rule New York City, but then what? It is far too short-sighted; superhero movies nowadays tend to have more substance and gravity than what this one offers.

Based on the screenplay by Josh Applebaum, André Nemec, and Evan Daugherty, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is a third-rate action picture and a fourth-rate superhero movie—and it should not have been given that three brains are behind this. These turtles may not be serious but what I remember most about them—from the cartoons and the ‘90s films—when I was a kid was a sense of fun, like I was the fifth turtle in the group. (I used to copy their martial arts moves.) There is no fun to be had here.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
★ / ★★★★

Everyone told me that this was probably the most pointless movie they’ve ever seen, but I decided to see it anyway because I wanted to judge it for myself. While I don’t think it’s one of the worst movies ever made, I do think it’s one of most unnecessarily long. With a running time of two hours and a half, there were too much action and not enough reasons why we should care for Sam (Shia LaBeouf) and the Autobots except for the fact that the Decepticons wanted the sun’s energy so that they could continue living. What I loved about the first “Transformers” was its sense of wonder. It hid the robots for pretty much half of the movie and developed some sort of heart and genuine funny moments with Sam. But in this picture, everyone’s simply shooting guns and running away in slow motion (especially Megan Fox, which I understand was the eye candy for guys). I also didn’t like the fact that Michael Bay, the director, kept adding unnecessary (and annoying) characters such as those played by Ramon Rodriguez as Sam’s new college roommate, Kevin Sunn and Julie White as Sam’s parents. Their pathetic attempts at comedy were so embarrassing. When I did laugh (or was it scoff?), I was laughing at the characters instead of with them because of their utter stupidity. No one in their right mind would do the things they did. It’s difficult for me because I do like to give credit for films that are ambitious and this is undeniably one of those films. I could feel it wanting to be “bigger and better” than the first but it doesn’t have a concept of overload. The many negatives far outweigh the very few positives. People who would most likely enjoy “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” are those who don’t want to think or even make sense of the plot. (I found myself very confused with pretty much half of the movie.) In other words, mindless action sequences with big explosions and women running around half-naked. That’s completely understandable. After all, sometimes movies are supposed to be pure escapism. I kind of like the fact that Bay still makes movies despite critics and audiences alike tell him that he makes the most brainless movies ever. It’s just that you can still have a popcorn action flick that is funny and intelligent. The writers and the filmmakers just have to try a little harder to put the right pieces together. This film coming out only two years after the first one, I think they rushed into it and made a very messy, very incomprehensible junk. I just hope the third one will be better (the standard is low) because it’s a shame that people actually pay to see something that they can see in a video game at home.

Jennifer’s Body

Jennifer’s Body (2009)
★★★ / ★★★★

I decided to see this horror-comedy about demonic possession and female sexuality not because of Megan Fox but because it stars Amanda Seyfried (“Mean Girls,” “Mamma Mia!”) and it was written by Diablo Cody (“Juno” and columnist on “Entertainment Weekly”). Seyfried must defend her town from a man-hungry Fox after an emo band (led by Adam Brody) who dabbles with the occult kidnaps her. At the same time, she must deal with her sometimes jealous boyfriend (Johnny Simmons) because he thinks there’s something unhealthy about his girlfriend’s relationship with Jennifer. The set-up is very simple and very clean but the journey to the finish was quite rough and sometimes unconventional (but in a good way). Apart from the whippersnapper and often downright clever and funny dialogue, “Jennifer’s Body” reminded me of the horror movies from the 1980s because it had a certain B-movie quality to it. Not to mention that the climax happened during a school dance. At times, it did surprise me because it offered certain insight regarding the dynamics between best friends; how one needs the other in order to feel better about herself, which begs the question on whether they were truly friends or if they were more like “frenemies.” The movie straddles that line really well so then there was this constant conflict between the two best friends even before Fox was turned into a demon. But the star here is not Fox (or her body), but Seyfried. She was able to be this character who was kind of a loser but a great person at heart, be sensitive and tough all at once. One main concern about this movie is that audiences will simply choose not to see it because they either hate Megan Fox for whatever reason (I think she’s one of the worst actresses in Hollywood right now but that’s not news) or label it as another “Juno” because of the modern pop culture dialogue. It’s really more than that because it’s a horror-comedy with a brain, which is very unlike straight (supposed) horror movies like Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II” or Patrick Lussier’s horrid “My Bloody Valentine.” If I were to throw out one major problem I had with this movie, I say it wasn’t scary enough to truly make classic horror fans to be impressed with it. Nevertheless, I still think “Jennifer’s Body,” directed by Karyn Kusama, is a good popcorn flick that lives up to its first line: Hell is a teenage girl.