David Paymer

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The Five-Year Engagement Review

Segel and Stoller repeat their duties from 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall and come up with another hilarious romantic-comedy for grown-ups. It's corny, but it keeps us laughing all the way through while stirring in some genuinely sweet moments.

A year after they met, San Francisco chef Tom (Segel) proposes to his girlfriend Violet (Blunt), but their excited wedding plans are interrupted when Violet gets a post-doc position at the University of Michigan. So they postpone the wedding and head to the snowy Midwest. There, Violet's career soars while Tom has little to do beyond making sandwiches in a deli and going hunting with his new friends. And before they can set a new date, Violet's sister (Brie) marries and has two kids with Tom's best pal (Pratt).

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Howard the Duck Review

While fans and naysayers constantly complain about what he's done to a certain galaxy far, far away, few remember another beloved franchise that George Lucas adopted and then left for dead. In 1986, the writer/director/producer was riding high on the success of his Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Looking for new material to milk, he came across the beloved Marvel Comic character Howard the Duck. Hiring his buddies from American Graffiti, Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, Lucas hoped that he could jumpstart a new series starring the angry, angst-ridden anthropomorphized mallard. What he got instead was one of the worst big screen bungles ever -- and it's still quite bad some 22 years later.

When an experiment in laser beam research goes awry, a talking duck named Howard is whisked away from his home planet and down to Earth. Arriving in Cleveland, Ohio, he meets up with wannabe rock star Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson), and the two form a fragile friendship. Howard wants to get back home, and his gal pal sets up a meeting with local scientist Phil Blumburtt (Tim Robbins). He in turn contacts Dr. Walter Jenning (Jeffrey Jones) who's in charge of the laser project. As Howard tries to adjust to his new surroundings, there's a bigger problem looming. Seems our avian hero is not the only "alien" contacted by the laser. The evil Dark Overlord of the Universe has been looking for a conduit for taking over the galaxy -- and the beam might just be the answer.

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Nixon Review

History has not been much kinder to Nixon the movie than it was to Nixon the man. Grossing under $14 million domestically, the $50 million movie was an enormous box office flop (what 1995-era family wouldn't want to go catch Nixon on Christmas Day?), though four Oscar nominations (it won none) must have softened the blow somewhat for auteur director Oliver Stone.

With Nixon, Stone struggles to present a thoughtful biography of one of history's most reviled leaders and the only President in modern times to voluntarily leave office before the end of his term. Richard Nixon of course needs no introduction, and Stone takes a much different approach to the material here than he did with JFK, which remains one of my favorite films ever. Rather than focus on a single incident -- Watergate -- Stone endeavors to encompass Nixon's entire life and career, from his days as a young Quaker (complete with dying brothers) to two big failed runs at political office to the entirety of his troubled political career. All the highlights are here, at least in part: Kent State, China, Vietnam and Cambodia, and of course the tragic events of Watergate.

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Redbelt Review

David Mamet is a difficult guy to figure. His latest film, Redbelt, which he wrote and directed, is perhaps his most confounding project yet. That's not to say it's not enjoyable -- at its best, Redbelt is twisty, heady, butt-kicking fun -- but it's hard to recognize the writer of Glengarry Glen Ross as the man behind a film set in the mixed martial arts (MMA) subculture. Sure, the world of MMA fighting is fertile territory for Mamet's twin obsessions -- masculinity and domination -- but seriously... MMA? I've seen some MMA bouts in my day, and those guys don't look capable of speechifying the way Mamet's character's do. And yet somehow, in ways past reckoning, Redbelt manages to be pretty darn entertaining, even, in some parts, affecting.

Let me quickly establish some caveats. Redbelt is one of the most unapologetically macho movies made in the last several years, and the story ultimately buckles under the weight of its earnestness. The plot is constructed on the theme of warrior culture, personified by the lead character Mike Terry, played soulfully by Chiwetel Ejiofor (American Gangster, Dirty Pretty Things), who seems incapable of anything short of brilliance. Terry is a mixed martial arts instructor who lives his life by a code. His ethos is never really explained, but it clearly involves things like honor, integrity, and a bunch of other quiet, old-fashioned virtues most people don't think too much about. But Terry has a problem: Despite a loyal stable of disciples, his gym doesn't make any money and he has to do something to dig his way out of debt.

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Resurrecting the Champ Review

You could say that young sportswriter Erik Kernan (Josh Harnett) has a greater need for resurrection than the down-for-the-count ex-boxer he wants to write about. That's because, sadly, Kernan hasn't been able to match his dead dad's sharp writing and sterling reputation on the Denver Post. The only thing that makes his professional resurrection possible with his story idea is the passion to tell it, and he's pleading for the assignment.

When Erik first comes upon the man they call "Champ" (Samuel L. Jackson), the homeless resident has just been violently attacked by a small gang of vicious delinquents trying to prove their manhood with an act of cowardice typical of the goons and bullies in this part of town. After suffering their blows, the victim lies nearly helpless on the grounds of his minimal stakeout in a downtown alley. Once more, Champ is down, but this is the life he's accepted and adapted to with stoic resolve.

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Picture - David Paymer Los Angeles, California, Wednesday 22nd August 2007

David Paymer Wednesday 22nd August 2007 at the premiere of 'Resurrecting The Champ' held at the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - Arrivals Los Angeles, California

Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School Review

So here's the scoop: In 1990, a novice director named Randall Miller made a 30-minute short film called Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, about the titular academy for young children who learn to dance and be polite, etc. An amazing 15 years later, after paying his dues on films like Houseguest and H-E Double Hockey Sticks and TV shows like Popular, he figured he'd take that short, add an hour to it (which takes place 40 years later), and mix it up into a film called Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School. (You see, he lost an apostrophe and an "and" but gained an ampersand.)

That's some dedication to your story, but it turns out that neither the original Hotchkiss nor the updated one merit that much consideration. The short is your expected coming-of-age tale: A kid named Steve hates girls, but over time (and thanks to Hotchkiss) he comes to love them, particularly a gal named Lisa.

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Quiz Show Review

People have tried to peg the "end of American innocence" on all sorts of things -- Vietnam, Watergate, the nuclear arms race -- but Robert Redford is, I believe, the first and only person to blame the decline of western civilization on the 21 game show scandal of the 1950s. But there you have it: A curious incident from the past -- and an inevitability, really -- in which upstanding blueblood Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes in a very memorable role) gets caught up in a fixed game show, bringing the show and its producers (but ultimately, no one else) to its knees. Strangely, for such a buildup -- and Redford manages to build quite a snowball of drama in all of this, full of heroes and antiheroes -- the payoff is a real letdown. America survived the quiz show scandals, and trying to overblow the impact of what amounts to a novelty investigation rings a little bit false.

Mighty Joe Young (1998) Review

I'm beginning to get fed up. Over my four years as a critic, the thing which has kept me going is the moderate balance of films. The good balances the bad. I try to see both in equal proportions. But Disney's Mighty Joe Young remake marks the fourth week in which I haven't seen a truly terrible movie.

It's a backwards machismo, I suppose, the urge to see the things which you so loathe; but I need to see a bad film every once in a while. And, you know what, Mighty Joe Young doesn't qualify.

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Payback Review

"Nobody likes a monkey on their back. I had three. I was going to have to lighten the load"

Its dialogue like that that makes Payback the first great film of 1999. Everybody likes to watch jerks on screen. They walk around with a cockiness and lack of respect for anything and everyone that you can't help but love to watch them. In this movie, I think everybody falls into this category.

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Mumford Review

Mumford reminded me how nice it is to forget yourself in the midst of a good story - Lawrence Kasdan's (The Big Chill, Grand Canyon) latest charm will keep you grinning. Speaking of smiles (and tangents), this is a great film for anyone who likes to look at mouths; I haven't seen so many close-ups of teeth and gums since the last time I went to the dentist!

Loren Dean (Enemy of the State, Apollo 13) does a decent job as Dr. Mumford, the most popular psychologist in the small town to which he just moved. Listening attentively to the tormented visitors of the treatment couch, his apparent peace of mind and even temper become infectious. Ubiquitously available and sounding less like a shrink than a wise uncle who gives just enough advice at just the right time, it's no wonder Dr. Mumford is everyone's favorite confidant. But will those he's helped to see through their own faults be just as understanding if they find out the truth of his past?

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Enemies Of Laughter Review

Yet another entry into a genre popularized in the late-1990s: The Hollywood romantic comedy about the successful man who just can't make romance work. (Later this would evolve into the woman who just can't make romance work genre, followed by the lesbian who just can't make romance work genre).

Saddled with the worst title you could give to a comedy, Enemies of Laughter gives us David Paymer as Paul, a semi-failed sitcom writer whose experiences in Hollywood are echoed in his love life. He ends up on dozens of dates with your typical collection of L.A. airheads, but it isn't until he meets Carla (Rosalind Chao) that Paul figures he's met his match. Too bad he ruins their date with paranoid crazy-talk, sending Carla running for the hills.

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Outside Ozona Review

What happens on those lonely west Texas roads in the dead of night? All sorts of derring-do, as it turns out! Outside Ozona is surprisingly lively fare despite its B-movie aspirations, telling a tale of intersecting lives-on-the-highway. The characters include a warm-hearted trucker, a Navaho woman taking her grandmother to see the Gulf, a white-trash couple making a new start, and a pair of bickering sisters en route cross-country. Oh, and a serial killer. Not terribly entertaining, but moderately fun to watch.
David Paymer

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