Eric Mcleod

Eric Mcleod

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Tropic Thunder Review


Excellent
Is it possible for a movie to be too "inside?" Can its farcical focus on the very industry that supports it have the ability to reach beyond the studios and the suits to become a memorable mainstream hit? That's obviously what Ben Stiller is hoping for with his new showbiz satire Tropic Thunder. As much an attack on the pompous and privileged stars that are the center of contemporary cinema as it is on the bloated and often unwieldy way they earn their keep, this may be the first popcorn comedy that plainly -- and repeatedly -- bites the hackneyed hand that feeds it.

For three Hollywood heavyweights, the film adaptation of Vietnam vet Four Leaf Tayback's (Nick Nolte) war bestseller is rapidly spiraling out of control. Action hero Tugg Speedman (Stiller) is having a hard time digging up the requisite emotion, while Australian Method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) actually has some "controversial" plastic surgery to up the authenticity. Pulling up the rear -- literally -- is fat funnyman Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black). After appearing in a collection of crude yet profitable comedies, the borderline junkie wants to go legit. Along with rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) and bit player Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel), these celebrities fall victim to Tayback and director Damien Cockburn's (Steve Coogan) scheme to add realism to the project. The plan? Take everyone into the Asian jungle and shoot it, guerilla style. The problem? A deadly drug cartel.

Continue reading: Tropic Thunder Review

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review


Excellent
It will go down in infamy as the film that split up Brad and Jen -- assuming that 10 or 20 years from now people still remember the headline-making legacy of the ill-fated Pitt-Aniston marriage.

Unfortunately for gossip fiends, Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn't really bear any mark of Angelina Jolie as homewrecker or of Brad Pitt as any more infatuated with the lippy screen queen than any normal, red-blooded man ought to be. And fortunately for moviegoers, Smith (wholly unrelated to the 1941 Hitchcock film of the same name) is a funny and wild ride, an impressive blend of black comedy, ultraviolence, and romance that we rarely get to see -- and which rarer still is any good.

Continue reading: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Review


Excellent

It has become critical cliché to say that a gleefully executed summer blockbuster made one feel like a kid again, but this was my precise response to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. With its sun-bleached locales, barnacled bad guys, and unearthly soothsayers, director Gore Verbinski's latest pirate yarn is a stunning affront to marital woes, career anxieties, tax returns, and all other forms of mature and adult tosh. Silly and infectiously joyous from overwrought beginning to overwrought final frame, Pirates is not only fathoms in front of its predecessor, but sails far ahead of every other big-budget pop confectionary to have flavored theatres so far this year.

First, a moment of pause to contextualize this gushing praise. I was no great fan of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. It was no doubt a solid film: great Johnny Depp performance, breezy and colorful, but far too frequently tedious to warrant the lauding it received. I was not particularly looking forward to a sequel, seeing dollar signs in Verbinski's eyes rather than the reflection of some artistic muse. What surprises most then about this latest Pirates is its absolute regard for its art and its audience. The film gives fans what they want: more pop, less plod and most importantly, more Captain Jack.

Continue reading: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Review

Austin Powers In Goldmember Review


Weak
Goldmember finds Mike Myers returning to his most successful franchise, but desperately running out of steam and resorting to yet another stab at jokes that hit-and-missed the first two times around.

And guess what: They haven't improved with age.

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The Dukes of Hazzard Review


Grim
I have no problem admitting that the main reason I wanted to review The Dukes of Hazzard was to see Jessica Simpson strutting her stuff in some ass-cheek-hugging short shorts. Yummy! Much of the film's early buzz has been on Simpson's big screen debut as bombshell Daisy Duke. Yet what's been lost amongst all the discussions of Simpson's rump are the even bigger questions surrounding the reasons for reviving this small, unsubstantial television relic from the '80s that few of us remember.

Now, I know I'm not the only one seeing Hazzard because of Simpson, and quite frankly, she's the film's biggest draw. This is her Crossroads. But let me caution that while you'll come to see Simpson, it's really the zoom-zoom of that little orange 1969 Dodge Charger that will make you stay. When the film is all said and done, I'm guessing that you'll leave the theater wondering what all the fuss over Simpson was about to begin with.

Continue reading: The Dukes of Hazzard Review

The Cell Review


OK
And I thought I'd seen some twisted movies. Get ready for the real psych-out of the year, the long-awaited Jennifer Lopez vehicle The Cell, the most daring production to come out of Hollywood since Fight Club.

Note however that daring does not necessarily mean good. While The Cell is a deeply disturbing picture, it doesn't always impress. And though I am fine with digitally vivisectioning a horse into ten quivering pieces for dramatic effect, I'm not sure I needed to see Vincent D'Onofrio poking a hole in Vince Vaughn's stomach in order to pick out some intestine to spiral around a rotisserie. (No, really.)

Continue reading: The Cell Review

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review


Excellent
It will go down in infamy as the film that split up Brad and Jen -- assuming that 10 or 20 years from now people still remember the headline-making legacy of the ill-fated Pitt-Aniston marriage.

Unfortunately for gossip fiends, Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn't really bear any mark of Angelina Jolie as homewrecker or of Brad Pitt as any more infatuated with the lippy screen queen than any normal, red-blooded man ought to be. And fortunately for moviegoers, Smith (wholly unrelated to the 1941 Hitchcock film of the same name) is a funny and wild ride, an impressive blend of black comedy, ultraviolence, and romance that we rarely get to see -- and which rarer still is any good.

Continue reading: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review

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