Jim Taylor

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The Descendants Review


Extraordinary
As with Sideways and About Schmidt, Payne finds clever ways to blend sharp comedy and warm drama to create a seriously involving and entertaining film.

And Clooney has never had a role that was quite as emotionally resonant as this.

In sunny Hawaii, Matt (Clooney) has coasted through marriage and parenthood, focussing on his career and managing the estate of his family, which is descended from Hawaiian royalty. But now his wife (Patti Hastie) is in a coma, and he has to take responsibility for his free-spirited daughters, 10-year-old Scottie (Miller) and 17-year-old Alexandra (Woodley). Meanwhile, his cousins want to sell off a gorgeous tract of ancestral land in Kauai. Amid all of this, Matt finds out that his wife isn't going to wake up, and also that she had been having an affair.

Continue reading: The Descendants Review

37th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards held at the InterContinental hotel - Arrivals

Jim Taylor, Alexander Payne and Jim Burke - Jim Taylor, Alexander Payne, and Jim Burke Friday 13th January 2012 37th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards held at the InterContinental hotel - Arrivals

Cedar Rapids Review


Excellent
This goofy fish-out-of-water comedy is deeply endearing. As it follows its central character on a clumsy voyage of discovery, we can't help but laugh even as we try not to recognise ourselves in him.

In Brown Valley, Wisconsin, Tim (Helms) is an earnest mid-30s insurance salesman in love with his 7th-grade teacher (Weaver), who's only using him for sex. Oblivious to the moral failings of people around him, Tim heads to an insurance convention in Cedar Rapids, the biggest city he's ever seen. There his worldview is smashed by the outrageous antics of his colleagues, including party boy Dean (Reilly), married but flirty Joan (Heche) and repressed nice guy Ronald (Whitlock), as they all contend with insurance president Orin (Smith) for coveted Two Diamonds status.

Continue reading: Cedar Rapids Review

Opening night after party for the Broadway production of 'Lombardi' held at the Edison Ballroom

Jim Taylor Thursday 21st October 2010 Opening night after party for the Broadway production of 'Lombardi' held at the Edison Ballroom New York City, USA

Opening night after party for the Broadway production of 'Lombardi' held at the Edison Ballroom

Jim Taylor - Chris Sullivan and Jim Taylor New York City, USA - Opening night after party for the Broadway production of 'Lombardi' held at the Edison Ballroom Thursday 21st October 2010

Opening night after party for the Broadway production of 'Lombardi' held at the Edison Ballroom

Jim Taylor - Chris Sullivan, Jim Taylor and Dan Lauria New York City, USA - Opening night after party for the Broadway production of 'Lombardi' held at the Edison Ballroom Thursday 21st October 2010

Opening night of the Broadway production of 'Lombardi' at the Circle In the Square Theatre - Arrivals

Jim Taylor Thursday 21st October 2010 Opening night of the Broadway production of 'Lombardi' at the Circle In the Square Theatre - Arrivals New York City, USA

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry Review


Terrible
We were barely getting over 300, and now this: a movie about two straight firemen who pretend to be gay to ensure that one's life insurance policy won't go to spit if he should die. This all sounds nice on paper, but the execution could be lightly described as flippin' horrendous. While twits are raging against John Travolta slipping into a fat suit to replace Divine in Hairspray, they're missing out on Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and a veritable who's-who of cameo stars sinking in an overblown, patently-ridiculous monolith of fag jokes and gay stereotypes. In I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Director Dennis Dugan has moved quickly from sentimental spoon-feeding into the realm of absolute absurdity.

So, one day Chuck Levine (Sandler) and Larry Valentine (James) decide to get hitched. The reason is simple: Larry doesn't want to fill-out an insurance form, so he gets Chuck to pose as his "life partner," thus allowing any pension money to go directly to Larry's two kids, a tomboy daughter and a showtune-singing son. Larry still can't get over his saintly wife's death and Chuck has more than likely contracted more STDs than the leather upholstery in Tommy Lee's Jaguar; they're a match made in heaven.

Continue reading: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry Review

Election (1999) Review


Extraordinary
Talk about redemption. After starring in some of favorite movies ever, Matthew Broderick had to go and make Godzilla. Election proves that once again he should stick with comedy, with this little gem easily ranking as one of the top comedies in recent memory, and the best thing to ever come out of MTV's film division. (Then again, Broderick's next pic is Inspector Gadget... dunno what to make of that one.)

The story of a high school student body presidency up for bid sounds simple and even cliched, but director Payne makes quick work of the stereotypical teen comedy, turning the tables on just about everyone in the picture.

Continue reading: Election (1999) Review

Jurassic Park III Review


Excellent

Dinosaurs!

While the first Jurassic Park was mediocre and the second film god-awful, Jurassic Park III finally gets the formula right. These movies were never meant to be science heavy or overly sentimental; they should've been what #3 is -- an amusement park thrill ride packed wall-to-wall with dinosaurs and more dinosaurs, clocking in at less than 90 minutes with as little dialogue and subplot as possible. Plus, big bonus -- no Jeff Goldblum!

Instead of Goldblum, JP3 brings back Sam Neill as the slightly grizzled Dr. Alan Grant who seems happy to put his terrifying up-close dino experiences behind him. Grant and his new protégé Billy (Alessandro Nivola) are once again looking for funding for their research, and are coaxed into accompanying a new wealthy benefactor -- Paul Kirby (William H. Macy) and his wife Amanda (Téa Leoni) -- on a fly-over of the second Jurassic island, Isla Sorna. But things turn ugly when the Kirbys announce they plan to land on the island to search for their 14-year-old son Eric (Trevor Morgan) who was conveniently lost there while paragliding. When the group ends up crash landing in the jungle, the movie becomes a race to see who will get off the island and who will become lunch. (Sounds like a cool idea for the next Survivor.)

While dialogue has never been these films' strongest suit, JP3 remedies this by having less of it. Regardless, the writers behind this screenplay-of-fewer-words are pretty impressive: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor are the minds behind Citizen Ruth and Election. It comes off as a bit like how a dumb movie turns out when it's penned by smart people (like a Wayne's World) -- lots of action peppered with throw-away goofball lines like, "They weren't making dinosaurs; they were playing God."

As evidenced by dialogue like that, JP3 doesn't take itself too seriously, which is perhaps its saving grace; and it pulls no punches when taking potshots at the other two movies. For example, when Grant finds Eric (or, rather, after Eric rescues Grant), Eric tells the scientist, "I've read both your books. I liked the first one better than the second." Also, the so-called millionaire Kirby turns out to be a plumber. So much for a repeat of John Hammond.

Above all, JP3 packs in more dinosaurs per square inch than any other JP film before it. This time, big, angry reptiles are coming out of the sky and water as well as land, and the filmmakers even introduce a dino to rival the T. Rex, a massive monster called Spinosaur (that's right, dino-fighting). And, of course, the raptors are back, and now they can communicate with each other (don't ask, evolution's a bitch). Most importantly, none of the humans try to fight the dinosaurs themselves, so we won't be seeing any unbelievable scenes of kids knocking out velociraptors with a few gymnastics kicks.

Efficiently crammed with lots of thrills, Jurassic Park III may come off as a little bit like a big-budget B-movie, but you're not likely to have a better time at a blockbuster this summer. It's just loud, smash-and-crash monster movie fun at its finest.

The DVD extras focus on the film's special effects -- surprisingly, very little CGI, very many animatronic legs and jaws.

Continue reading: Jurassic Park III Review

Sideways Review


Excellent
Miles (Paul Giamatti) is the most self-aware lead character yet in an Alexander Payne film, so of course he's despondent. Payne's previous films specialize in characters grappling with self-delusion, like retiree Warren Schmidt of About Schmidt and self-important Tracy Flick of Election. But Miles is different -- he walks with the slumping posture of, well, a Paul Giamatti character, and he has no choice but to live by his insecurities.

Jack (Thomas Haden Church), on the other hand, covers his with several layers of restless horniness. Jack is a washed-up actor about to marry Christine (Alysia Reiner), and he's Miles' best friend from college, who doesn't understand why Miles can't just get over his divorce. Or his oft-rejected novel. Or his increasing dependence on wine, or the accompanying feeling that, as a middle-aged man, he has long ago peaked. Jack and Miles embark on a trip through California wine country, as a last hurrah for Jack's bachelorhood. Miles want to drink fine wine and play golf; Jack wants to drink anything and pick up women.

Continue reading: Sideways Review

Election Review


Extraordinary
Talk about redemption. After starring in some of favorite movies ever, Matthew Broderick had to go and make Godzilla. Election proves that once again he should stick with comedy, with this little gem easily ranking as one of the top comedies in recent memory, and the best thing to ever come out of MTV's film division. (Then again, Broderick's next pic is Inspector Gadget... dunno what to make of that one.)

The story of a high school student body presidency up for bid sounds simple and even cliched, but director Payne makes quick work of the stereotypical teen comedy, turning the tables on just about everyone in the picture.

Continue reading: Election Review

Citizen Ruth Review


OK
It's been a while since I've anticipated a film this greatly and been let down so much by the actual product. Filmed from Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor's extremely entertaining script, Citizen Ruth had a lot to live up to. Of course, in some ways, it does, and in some, it doesn't. Geez, you'd think I would be used to disappointment by now!

Citizen Ruth is the story of Ruth Stoops (Laura Dern), a "huffer" (paint/glue/other hazardous vapor sniffer) who finds herself the unlikely center of a modern morality play. Ruth, pregnant for the fifth time and up on drug charges once again, is given a choice by an unsympathetic judge: go to jail for criminally endangering her fetus, or have an abortion and face a lighter sentence. Immediately, ires are raised and banners are crafted from both sides of the abortion issue -- with Ruth Stoops, the lowest of the low, right in the middle.

Continue reading: Citizen Ruth Review

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