REVIEW: Marmaduke

13 06 2010

You don’t have to read my whole review as long as you take this away from it: “Marmaduke” is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and you are truly stupid if you choose to waste a perfectly good 90 minutes of your life watching it.

Now that I have that very strong statement out of the way, you can either spend your time listening to me malign every big name involved in this movie or simply take my word for it.  I will be brutal and unsparing; this is the movie that will really bring out the critic in me.  I’ve been waiting to unleash my wrath on something terrible enough to deserve it.  So here it goes.

I have to admire the boldness of Lee Pace, Judy Greer, and William H. Macy who had the guts to show their faces in this movie.  They didn’t hide in the recording studio or inside the potentially lovable body of an animal.  They actually dared to be the human face of the movie, risking association with the movie for the rest of their careers.  These three ought to be sending the marketing people at Fox some very large gift baskets for not advertising “Marmaduke” very much, because the fact that it was such a low-key campaign may save their reputations from being forever tarnished.

You would think that Owen Wilson has enough sense to choose a movie that has some kind of substance.  But even if you don’t have much respect for Owen Wilson, you might think Keifer Sutherland does.  Or Emma Stone (Jules from “Superbad”).  Or George Lopez.  Or Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin).  Or Steve Coogan.  Or Fergie.  Or Marlon Wayans.  Or Sam Elliott.

Like this cavalcade of stars?  Guess what, each and every one of them chose a movie that doesn’t deserve to take a poop in their yards.  Honestly, if any of these big names had shown their faces in “Marmaduke,” they would be firing their agents and calling their real estate agent to find the coziest cave in Beverly Hills.  It’s always a shame to see actors take on material that doesn’t deserve them, and “Marmaduke” is like a tragedy for each of these stars.  None of them put any effort into making this giant heap of poop any better, as if the subtext of every line is, “We feel you; we know this movie sucks.”

And don’t even get me started on the non-existent plot.  My theory is that the director scrounged a bargain bin of kids movies and came to shooting with the idea to rip off any one of them that might have worked.  So for every groan and eye roll you get in “Marmaduke,” you get to say to yourself, “Oh, I liked that better when I saw it in (INSERT ANY KIDS MOVIE TITLE HERE).”  So, by all means, if you want to feel immeasurable frustration with the endless banality Hollywood feeds to children, go right ahead and waste your life watching “Marmaduke.”  As the late Gene Siskel used to say, “It’s your life, and you can’t get that time back.”  D- /

REVIEW: Zombieland

15 02 2010

It seems particularly fitting that the riotous climactic battle of “Zombieland” should take place in an amusement park.  Really, the whole movie itself is like a carnival ride.  Designed for maximum entertainment, it’s a high-speed tour through the zombie apocalypse told with irreverence instead of the usual sympathy.  The filmmakers understand that the people that watch movies like “Zombieland” get a kick out seeing some comical carnage, and they give it to us gratuitously.

The humor never gets old or boring though, and not just because watching a zombie get owned is one of the funniest things ever.  Much to my surprise, “Zombieland” is also an incredibly witty movie, drawing a great deal of laughs from some uproarious one-liners.  It has the pop culture sting of a Quentin Tarantino script, which is one of the biggest compliments I could give a movie.

In fact, this is one of the rare movies where I wanted to see more.  Clocking in at under an hour and a half, it doesn’t end too soon so much as it ends too quickly for us.  As long as you don’t mind the blood and gore, watching zombies die in as many ways as the screenwriters could think of is enough to satisfy for well over the time they gave us.

The actors are all good, in particular Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, the outrageous zombie hunter with an unnatural affinity for Twinkies.  But let’s be honest, who watches this for Jesse Eisenberg?  Or for Emma Stone?  If you’re going to watch this, it’s because you want to see some zombie horror that doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest.  Horror comedy has generally been a cult genre, but “Zombieland” is a movie that definitely has the power to make it mainstream in a big way.  This is one kickass horror comedy that will have you busting a gut.  B+