Monday, February 26, 2007

Episode 18

The Number 23 - Jim Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, a devoted husband and father who holds down a job as a dog catcher. When he is bitten by a dog while on the job, he finds himself late to a meeting with his wife Agatha (Virginia Madsen). As she waits for her husband to arrive, Agatha peruses a used book store, coming across a book called The Number 23. After she purchases it for Walter, he begins reading it to find that the story of Detective Fingerling that is told within closely mirrors his own life. Before long Walter becomes obsessed with the likenesses between himself and the fictional gumshoe, but how similar will the two turn out to be when Fingerling becomes a murderer? The Number 23 is an incredibly intriguing movie with an incredibly intriguing concept. I was immediately interested in it after seeing the trailer some time ago. Once you see the obsession that Jim Carrey's character develops you instinctively want to know where it will lead him. Inasmuch, The Number 23 is a mystery. There is a distinct supernatural feeling given off by the film because of the incredible coincidences that it displays for the audience to take in. You may even find yourself wondering if there is in fact some kind of otherworldly property to the numerical value after which the movie is named. Because of all the incredible questions that are posed in the first half of the film, the second half had a very difficult task to achieve: make the ends worth the means. In other words, with all that build up, the climax really had to deliver. In my opinion, however, it didn't. I don't want to give away the ending, so I honestly can't explain here why I was disappointed by the ending of the film other than to say just that. I thought the ending was disappointing. However, the road it took to get there was quite entertaining. In this way, The Number 23 is much like the movie Godsend which I reviewed a few days ago. However, unlike Godsend, which had me coming up with great endings in my own head during the course of the film, as The Number 23 drew to a close I simply found myself hoping that it wouldn't end the way I had a feeling it might.

Wedding Crashers - Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn play John Beckwith and Jeremy Gray, a pair of men who have made a full time occupation out of being womanizers. Their method involves sneaking into weddings under the guise of being friends of someone else attending, and proceeding to flirt with every attractive girl on the premises. They seduce their prey, have their way with them, and then go back to their lives the following day. This plan comes through for them every single time until they attend the wedding of one of Treasury Secretary William (Christopher Walken) Cleary's three daughters, and each end up somehow attached to one of the other two. John is stricken with love at first sight for Claire (Rachel McAdams), and Jeremy makes the mistake of having sex with her extremely clingy younger sister Gloria (Isla Fisher). As such, the devious pair is whisked away for a weekend at the dysfunctional Cleary family's vacation home where comedy ensues. Take away the opening of this movie and it could have really been called anything. I got the feeling that the writer(s) came up with some good raunchy jokes and sat around drinking beer until they had come up with a way to put them all in a movie script. Wedding Crashers is a fairly dumb film, but it certainly has it's moments of humor. Particularly of interest to me were the football and family dinner scenes where Vince Vaughn stole the show. He essentially plays the comic relief to Owen Wilson's "sex craving bachelor who suddenly develops a heart when he meets the right girl, but has to fight for her because he and his friend are idiots" role. The cameo appearance by Will Ferrell near the movie's climax was one of the funniest additions to the film, somewhat making up for the waste of Christopher Walken's talent. Overall, I can't say I enjoyed Wedding Crashers any more than I've ever enjoyed any Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, or other Will Ferrell comedy flick with a throwaway plot that did nothing but set up jokes.

The 40 Year-Old Virgin - Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) is an employee at a fictional Best Buy-esque electronics store. He collects action figures, plays a lot of video games, rides a bike instead of driving a car, and is very awkward around women. Also, if you couldn't tell by the title, he is fourty years old and has never had sex. By this point in his life, he's essentially given up on trying to find the right girl for him. However, when his co-workers at the electronics store find out his secret, they aren't so quick to throw in the towel. Jay (Paul Rudd), David (Romany Malco) and Cal (Seth Rogan) take Andy's manhood into their own hands to try and get him laid. Meanwhile, Andy has met a woman named Trish (Catherine Keener) with whom he has started a relationship. Trish is a divorcee with two daughters who finds it a bit odd that Andy is actually willing to wait to have sex, but before long she begins to expect that there may be something wrong. Usually there are two or three comedies a year that people will argue over as to which is the best of the group. In 2004 they were Dodgeball and Anchorman. In 2005 they were Wedding Crashers and The 40 Year-Old Virgin. In this case I think that I liked The 40 Year-Old Virgin just a little more than Wedding Crashers (as I didn't really care for either all that much). 40 Year Old Virgin had a fairly original concept. Like most comedies of this type it's plot was essentially just a vessel through which it could cram as many dirty jokes down audience's throats as possible, but I think Virgin had a bit more going for it than most. I had initially thought that a movie entirely revolving around making fun of virgins would become very old very fast, but as it turns out, the originality of the concept made the jokes last a bit longer than they probably should have. Also, the supporting cast of Carell's co-workers provided a good deal of entertainment. The 40 Year-Old Virgin didn't rely on surprise guest appearances that were sure to get laughs just for being onscreen like Will Ferrell or Chuck Norris, but instead stuck to it's guns and just told the (ridiculous) story that it set out to tell. Still not one of my favorite films, but not bad as far as dick and fart jokes go.

Cry Wolf - Owen (Julian Morris) is a new student at an upscale boarding school after his father (Gary Cole) pulled some strings to get him out of trouble and into a decent educational facility. The first person he meets on campus is fellow senior student Dodger (Lindy Booth). There is an instant connection between them, and as a result, she invites Owen to sneak out of his dorm that night to join a small group of students who play an interesting game at an abandoned church. The game begins by everyone closing their eyes except for one person who chooses someone randomly from the group and marks their chest with a marker. Everyone then opens their eyes, places twenty dollars in the center of the circle, and begins trying to discover the "wolf" (the person who has been marked) among the sheep. If you are accused by the majority of the group and are not marked, then you must go home and the game continues. If you are accused and turn out to be the wolf, whoever first accused you gets all the money. If you are the liar and you make it to the end of the game, you get to keep the cash for yourself. When a girl is killed in the forest near the school, the group decides to make the game more interesting by all becoming wolves and playing a game on the sheep, which are the entire student body at the school. Owen and company create a fake article about a fake serial killer that they dub "The Wolf" and send it via e-mail to everyone at the school. As time goes on, it begins to appear as though someone has taken on the mantle of the fictional serial killer, and now none of those responsible for the rumor know who to trust. To the best of my knowledge, Cry Wolf is widely regarded as a terrible horror film. I wasn't expecting much, myself, when I watched it. It turned out to be much better than I expected, though. Don't get me wrong, the acting was often horrible and it contained so many scary movie cliches that I wanted to punch something, but on a base level, the movie really wasn't that bad. The concept may sound a bit stupid, but it really does set up the main characters for a series of twists and turns that makes sure no one will guess who's behind the murders. In this way, the Cry Wolf was actually a bit refreshing for someone who has seen a lot of bad psycho killer movies. As I said, all the cliches and bad acting are present, but at least there is a genuinely original and moderately interesting plot.

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