REVIEW: A Monster Calls

7 01 2017

A generation raised post-Spielberg’s “E.T.” has come to expect a certain amount of catharsis or salvation from stories in which an unhappy child is visited by a fantastic creature. J.A. Bayona’s “A Monster Calls,” to its credit, resists a lot of the sentimentality and focuses largely on the pain that cannot be diminished or wiped away by some kind of paranormal visitation. If the film makes you cry, Bayona is certainly not there waiting a hug, tissue and reassurance.

Patrick Ness’ screenplay, adapted from his own novel, takes a deceptively familiar premise and finds creative ways to subvert our expectations. The young protagonist, Lewis MacDougall’s Conor, is “too old to be a kid, too young to be a man” yet forced to grapple with the rapidly progressing cancer of his mother (Felicity Jones). At the same time, he receives visitations from a giant talking tree (voice of Liam Neeson) who reads him what appears to be an instructive fairy tale.

But as the story progresses, unfolding before our eyes in creative animation, the true purpose is revealed. It’s a tragedy, not an inspirational fable, and the tree is preparing him for an inevitable loss. Conor’s resistance to the message illustrates the human capacity for deluding ourselves into comforting lies and delusions to shield ourselves from the pain of reality.

His worldview shifts from black and white to gray as well as from sensical to paradoxical over the course of the film, two journeys we commonly associate with the coming-of-age genre. But “A Monster Calls” dwells in the messiness, hurt and loss rather than glossing over it – often times at the cost of being traditionally satisfying or crowd-pleasing. The maturity suggests a film perhaps more aimed at adults looking with retrospection rather than children viewing with a forward glance. B+3stars





REVIEW: Finding Dory

21 06 2016

I was pretty much the target audience for “Finding Nemo” as an impressionable 10-year-old cinephile when Pixar debuted the film in 2003. It was back in the time when movies could stay in theaters for months, not just weeks, and I think I saw it five times that summer before fifth grade. I was rapt by the wit, creativity and storytelling sophistication.

But, as my mom was quick to point out, the film might frustrate or confuse viewers slightly younger. With its frequent cross-cutting between the split storylines of Marlin/Dory and Nemo, the delicate back and forth is a far cry from most children’s entertainment with a singularly focus and strict linear plot.

I can only imagine how some of them reacted to the sequel, “Finding Dory,” which is so frenzied and frenetic in its storytelling that I often wondered if the Pixar brain trust was attempting to replicate the scattered mind of its memory-troubled protagonist. The film moves quite jarringly about, cramming every scene full of joke lines, plot points and sentimental reflections. It is frequently fun and enjoyable, but the tagline of the movie should have been Dory’s oft-repeated mantra, “Just keep swimming.” The film requires constant motion to keep up and stay afloat.

Still, this is a Pixar product, so it still manages to provide all the typical stirring and sweet moments that define the studio. (Even “Cars 2” had these.) As Ellen DeGeneres’ Dory fights her way through a labyrinthine aquarium unit – as well as her own mind – to find her parents, she has many an opportunity to reflect on the importance of family. This means not only where they are, but who they are; always a step or two behind are Marlin and Nemo swimming to keep up with her.

“Finding Dory” celebrates these improvised families and impromptu units, proclaiming what makes them different is what makes them beautiful. This message might ring a little more profoundly were it not cheapened by silly shenanigans like an octopus driving a truck, but I’m willing to let that one slide given that there are more clever running jokes. For example, frequently throughout “Finding Dory,” a male and female pairing will appear on screen to provide directions or information. Each offers slightly different information; they bicker; the woman wins out. In many ways, these duos provide a mirror of Marlin and Dory’s character dynamics offered up in hilarious microcosm. B2halfstars





REVIEW: Exodus: Gods and Kings

20 12 2014

Usually, when writers proclaim a story has biblical connotations, implications, or overtones, they suggest a certain primordial grandiosity of themes and conflicts.  Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is quite literally biblical, however, and does not even come close to achieving that standard.  It takes far more cues from an interminable “Hobbit” film than it does from its source material that inspires billions.

The action on screen plays out like a final walk-through for a real movie.  The blocking of actors looks clumsy and without purpose.  Lines come across as recited rather than deeply felt.  And when the whole film plays out against a CGI-heavy background that can never overcome an overwhelming sensation of artificiality, “Exodus” feels like it could be capable of inspiring its own exodus of audiences fleeing the film itself.

The job of writing a compelling movie about the conflict between Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) seems simple enough.  The clash of a pharaoh with a legitimate threat to his empire from a powerful deity is gripping in concept alone.  Then add in that the revolution is being spearheaded by his estranged stepbrother, and it becomes the kind of drama that ought to have writers drooling over their keyboards.

Yet most of the film’s problems seem to originate at the level of the script, which likely underwent quite a few drafts given that four writers are given credit.  The film certainly does not deserve to bear the name of great scripter Steven Zaillian (screenwriter of stellar work from “Schindler’s List” to “Moneyball“).  “Exodus” feels skeletal, the sketch of what a true screenplay should resemble.  The general progression of events is in place, but no one has affixed any supplemental scenes to give it depth of character or emotion.

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REVIEW: Paul

10 08 2013

2011 saw one movie, J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8.” corner public interest on the influence of Steven Spielberg’s filmmaking on modern moviegoing.  I’m a little upset that “Paul” couldn’t bask in a little of that light.  It’s a fun, spirited send-up of science-fiction tropes featuring a hilarious self-aware alien, Paul (the voice of Seth Rogen).

“Paul” also puts science-fiction, comic-book culture under the microscope to be sent up.  And for that task, there’s probably no one better than Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, two men whose humor seems to play particularly well to that crowd.  Pegg and Frost both wrote the film, and they also star in it as Graeme and Clive, two Brits who come across the pond for comic-book Mecca … Comic-Con.

Traveling the United States in an RV, they encounter crude, crass extraterrestrial Paul.  He’s the masterstroke of the movie, perhaps the best manifestation of Pegg and Frost’s comedic brilliance to date.  He’s got ties to all sorts of conspiracy theories and is incredibly connected to the entertainment industry.  The problem is, the rest of the movie just falls short of the character’s shrewd construction.  Though it is a satire of the human-meets-alien movies of the past two decades, “Paul” often allows itself to lazily slip into the trappings of the subgenre.

And, lest I forget to mention it, “Paul” has Kristen Wiig as one-eyed fundamentalist trailer trash taught to sin by Paul.  Sure, her character’s a little juvenile, just like the rest of the movie when it isn’t cleverly harkening back to ’80s sci-fi classics.  But Wiig, and “Paul” as a whole, somehow make the stupidity seem more fun than they probably are.  B-2stars





REVIEW: Rampart

2 05 2013

The slogan for “Rampart,” though not on the poster I’ve embedded in this review, is “the most corrupt cop you’ve ever seen on screen.”  To that, I merely laugh.

So I guess they assume we haven’t seen “Training Day.”  Or “Crash.”  Or “The Departed.”  Heck, I’d even say “Pineapple Express” and “Date Night” had more crooked cops than “Rampart.”

Sure, Woody Harrelson’s Dave Brown is working outside the law.  He’s a foul racist who uses excessive force on the regular.  By no means am I saying that I didn’t deplore his actions and conduct.  But for whatever reason, I just didn’t feel hatred welling up inside me for him.

Harrelson brought nothing new to the character that he hasn’t shown us in everything from “The People vs. Larry Flynt” to “The Messenger” to Haymitch in “The Hunger Games.”  He’s great at playing total jerks, and Brown is in a league of his own.  But there’s nothing special about this character, nothing that stands out in his repertoire.

Add that to direction from Oren Moverman that lacks any compelling action or camerawork and you’ve got one heck of a bore.  As much as I wanted to feel repulsion or loathing, all I could feel was apathy.  C2stars





REVIEW: Abduction

28 02 2013

A lot of people were looking to “Abduction” as a test of whether Taylor Lautner could carry a movie on his own.  Away from the comforts of the “Twilight” saga where Lautner could just rip off his shirt and no one seemed to mind, would he be a viable action star?  Or is Lautner nothing more than a set of good-looking abs, destined to have girls drooling on Tumblr for all of eternity?

The quick answer to that is no, and “Abduction” is an abysmal movie that struggles to be so bad that it’s good at times.  The ridiculous romance, the half-baked plot, and the characteristic Lautner sporadic shirtlessness definitely provide some fun moments of unintended laughter.

And most people pinned the failure of “Abduction” on Lautner.  That’s not fair.  Everyone else in this movie was just as bad.

Looking at you, Lily Collins.  My goodness gracious, she grated on my last nerve.  Maybe with enough training in an acting studio and not in a gym, Lautner could be a half-decent actor one day in the way that Channing Tatum surprised us all in “21 Jump Street.”  I don’t know that I have the same hope for Collins.

I’ll hold back on some extremely harsh words for her, but know that she tried really hard to put on her big girl panties.  However, Collins just falls face first into the pavement, and no one bothered to tell her that her face is busted up and she’s bleeding everywhere (in a strictly hypothetical sense, I mean).

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F.I.L.M. of the Week (July 15, 2011)

15 07 2011

With the final installment of “Harry Potter” now in theaters, millions of Americans will see Snape’s finest hour, which wouldn’t be nearly as compelling without the incredible talent of Alan Rickman behind Rowling’s well-crafted character.  His creepiness and eeriness for the past decade in the role has introduced him to a whole new audience, few of whom know him as the nefarious Hans Gruber for “Die Hard.”  However, the role that even fewer recognize him for – and everyone should – is his hilarious turn in “Galaxy Quest,” a brilliantly tongue-in-cheek satire on the “Star Trek” show and fan base.  It’s been a favorite of mine since I was seven, and now is the perfect time to feature it as my “F.I.L.M. of the Week.”

Rickman plays Alexander Dane, a peeved British supporting actor in the “Galaxy Quest” television series whose character happens to have some unfortunate gills on his skull.  He and the rest of the cast, which includes the hilarious Sigourney Weaver as the show’s sex appeal, are at the mercy of their drunk leading man, Tim Allen’s Jason Nesmith, when it comes to maintaining their show’s cult appeal.  Doing a great Shatner rip-off, Allen so nails the fame-crazed has-been that we so love to lampoon – and thankfully, Rickman and Weaver are there every step of the way to give him a light slap when necessary.

But one fateful day, the cast of “Galaxy Quest” gets drawn into the universe that they only knew on studio lots.  The actors find themselves totally hopeless in the face of actual peril but must exude some aura of control to keep the Thermian aliens under the impression that they know what they’re doing.  Their quest through strange worlds in space gives a new meaning to science-fiction and acting for all aboard.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Trekkie or not, whether you are a crazily obsessed fan of something or just know someone who is, you will totally be able to laugh along with “Galaxy Quest.”  It sends up obsession and taking anything too seriously to hilarious effect.  Not to mention it holds up exceptionally well on repeat viewings!





REVIEW: Cedar Rapids

22 06 2011

I don’t know if you have any romanticized notions about how bloggers watch movies outside of theaters, but let me dispel just about all of them right now.  Be it through Netflix, iTunes, Redbox, Blockbuster, or basic cable, watching movies is usually just us sitting in front of some sort of screen (and in rare cases, we can manage to net a friend or family member if the movie has wide appeal).  We generally just plop, watch, and write, sharing our opinions not verbally with the person we endured the movie with but digitally with people who read our site or happen to accidentally wind up here after Googling “did the kings speech win any oscars?”

This method of movie watching inevitably favors one genre and shorts another.  It’s easy to love a drama you watch at home because it’s hardly different than watching in the theater – that is, the audience is mostly silent for the duration of the movie.  It’s hard to love a comedy because you have no one’s reaction but your own to measure as audience laughter has a significant impact on how we perceive the humor of a movie.  Plus, no one really likes to laugh by themselves.

So when I come across a movie that can make me laugh while I’m curled up alone underneath my bed sheets, I rejoice!  Ladies and gentleman, “Cedar Rapids” is one of those movies.  Sure, it may be hopelessly pathetic and wallow in endless jokes of naïveté, but it’s actually funny!  I laughed!  A lot!  In bed!  Seriously, that doesn’t happen very often at all!

Ed Helms, best known as Andy Bernard from “The Office” and Stu from “The Hangover,” stars as Tim Lippe, the insular Wisconsin insurance salesman who gets a chance to go to the titular metropolis representing his company.  There, he is exposed to the dangers and pleasures of true urban living and meets an exciting cast of characters including the crude Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly), mild-mannered Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), good-natured Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche), and the prostitute with the heart of gold Bree (Alia Shawkat in the first role of its kind likely to be snubbed by the Oscars).  Tim is totally clueless the entire movie, never really leaving his tighty-whitie turtle shell of ignorance.  But even the cheap laughs work here, and my reactions ranged from chuckles to belly laughs.  So what are you waiting on, book a trip to “Cedar Rapids” and enjoy comedy that can illicit a verbal reaction from you in the comfort of your own home.  Humor me.  (It’s also alright to laugh at the pun.)  B+ / 





FINCHERFEST: Alien 3

24 09 2010

Kicking off Fincherfest here at “Marshall and the Movies” is the director’s first feature film, “Alien 3.”  Released six years after James Cameron’s “Aliens” and thirteen after Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” it certainly had high expectations.  After being mired in development hell, Fox managed to get the ball rolling and brought in Fincher fairly late in the game.  The result was the beginning of the decay of the franchise.

I debated whether or not to include “Alien 3” in my purveying of David Fincher’s collective work.  After all, he did disown the movie publicly thanks to Fox’s ceaseless creative interference.  Fincher had nothing to do with the editing of the movie, which in itself took a year.  According to IMDb, he was denied permission to shoot a scene with Sigourney Weaver in prison by the movie’s producers, so he stole her and shot it anyways.  Even as of 2004, Fincher still wasn’t willing to make peace with the experience when Fox asked him to do a commentary for the DVD release of the movie.

After watching the movie, I get a sense of why he doesn’t want to be associated with it.  “Alien 3” is a mixture of the action-adventure feel of “Aliens” with the horror atmosphere of “Alien.”  The result is a jumbled mash-pot of little character, simply gliding on the success of its predecessors.  It brings nothing new to the table, and watching this rip-off only makes you wonder why you aren’t watching one of the vastly superior installments that preceded it.

Sigourney Weaver’s ultra-feminist heroine Ripley just can’t catch a break here as she has to fight off the nefarious aliens for the third time (I hope she dreams well in cryo).  Instead of having the crew of the Nostromo or the Marines, she has a crew of celibate space monks led by Charles S. Dutton who feel violated by the presence of woman in their ranks.  Nevertheless, once an alien is found on board, they unite to trap it in the steaming hot pool of lead on board their ship.

The movie suffers from intense familiarity and oversimplification, even though the latter made Scott’s take on the franchise a classic.  “Alien 3” was rewritten many times; one draft reported to be far superior to the one that was produced didn’t even have Ripley in it.  But since she did make it, we can safely conclude that the movie was made simply to make more money off the franchise – and that’s all the more reason to avoid it.





Random Factoid #389

21 08 2010

Smoking in movies.  The MPAA is cracking down on it like Congress is cracking down on steroids in baseball.

The movement to get cigarettes out of the fingers of our favorite movie stars has been going on for quite some time now, but James Cameron definitely threw some kerosene on the fire last December when Sigourney Weaver’s Grace lit up liberally throughout “Avatar.”  When I saw it, quite frankly, I laughed.  I saw it as James Cameron’s big “*&$% you, MPAA, I’m an artist and I’ll do what I want!”  Here’s what he actually said about it though:

“I wanted Grace to be a character who is initially off-putting and even unpleasant. She’s rude, she swears, she drinks, she smokes. She is not meant to be an aspirational role model to teenagers — in fact our young protagonist, Jake, through whom we experience this story, finds her to be obnoxious at first. Also, from a character perspective, we were showing that Grace doesn’t care about her human body, only her avatar body, which again is a negative comment about people in our real world living too much in their avatars, meaning online and in videogames. In addition, speaking as an artist, I don’t believe in the dogmatic idea that no one in a movie should smoke. Movies should reflect reality. If it’s O.K. for people to lie, cheat, steal and kill in PG-13 movies, why impose an inconsistent morality when it comes to smoking?

I do agree that young role-model characters should not smoke in movies, especially in a way which suggests that it makes them cooler or more accepted by their peers. In the same way that I would never show lying, cheating, stealing or killing as cool, or aspirational, I would never portray smoking that way. We need to embrace a more complex set of criteria than simply the knee-jerk reaction “smoking is bad, therefore cannot be shown.” It should be a matter of character, context, and the nature of the portrayal. I think the people who are earnestly trying to do some good in this area would be more supported by the artistic community if they were less black and white in their thinking. Smoking is a filthy habit which I don’t support, and neither, I believe, does ‘Avatar.'”

I agree with Cameron totally.  If smoking in movies sends a message, either blatant or subliminal, that cigarettes are cool, then that’s worth cracking the whip on.  But the purposes of historical accuracy or showing the true nature of tobacco, then I think it’s totally fine.  And also, as Cameron said, would you rather have a teen who picks up smoking from a movie or picks up murdering?  I think that choice is pretty clear.

It’s silly, in my opinion, for the MPAA to add worthless descriptors like “brief smoking” to the ratings of movies.  Are there really parents that concerned about their kids’ response to seeing cigarettes in movies that they need to know before seeing it?  There’s no replacement for good parenting and informing children of the danger of tobacco; you can’t let the MPAA do that job for you.

As long as the cigarette police don’t interfere with the art of film, I’m fine with the crusade.  For those of you who believe in the fight against smoking in movies, here’s some good news for you.

…smoking in high-grossing films fell to 1,935 “incidents” last year, down 49 percent from a recent peak of 3,967 in 2005. The study defined an incident as the use or implied use of a tobacco product by an actor, with a new incident occurring each time a tobacco product went off-screen then came back, or a different actor was shown with tobacco.





REVIEW: Avatar

23 12 2009

It takes more than just gumption and chutzpa to get up on one of the world’s biggest stages and declare yourself king of the world; it takes conviction.  When James Cameron did just this at the Academy Awards in 1997 after “Titanic,” it was shocking to some and bombastic to others (I’m too young to remember the occasion).  What had he really done to gain the title “king of the world?”  What separates him from the dozens of directors who stood in the exact same place as he had?  What is the legacy of “Titanic” other than a firm position in the highest echelon of box office performance and a hefty loot on Oscar night?  According to IMDb, it is now the lowest rated of the five Best Picture nominees that year.  From what I understand, the movie electrified the people and was simply too popular to ignore.

Fast forward 12 years to today where James Cameron has just released “Avatar.”  If he got up on national television and screamed, “I’M KING OF THE WORLD,” I just might buy it.  His latest project is one fifteen years in the making, and he may have just sparked a revolution in cinema.  “Avatar” is breathtaking moviemaking at its finest, with astonishing visuals that are designed to do more than just floor you.  They engulf you and transport you to Pandora, a land of untold beauty complete with its own indigenous people, language, and wildlife, for an exhilarating ride and fascinating experience.

I knew the effects would be a slam dunk victory for Cameron, but I had my doubts about his ability to craft a story after “Titanic,” whose melodramatic plot I can usually summarize in one sentence (Leo and Kate have a lot of fun and the boat sinks).  Much to my surprise, Cameron actually constructs a very engaging story with undertones about the dangers of imperialism.  Cynics might call it the Smurf County production of “Pocahontas,” but the story still feels fresh even though it is a bit recycled.  Jake Sully (Sam Worthington of “Terminator Salvation” fame) is a paraplegic Marine who is torn between the two competing human forces on Pandora after he develops a special bond with the native Na’vi.  The scientists, led by the sassy cigarette-smoking Grace (Sigourney Weaver), want to discover how the Na’vi think in order to live in harmony with them.  The military operation, commanded by the hulking Colonel Quatritch (Stephen Lang), works in tandem with the financial side of the project, run by a thundering businessman doing his best Ari Gold impersonation (Giovanni Ribisi), to figure out the best way to get their hands on the bonanza underneath the sacred tree of the Na’vi.  They would prefer relocation but are not afraid to resort to subjugation if the natives prove to be a handful.  While Jake tries to serve two distinctly different agendas, he becomes quite taken by the Na’vi and the way they live in cooperation with nature – and not to mention quite smitten by the Amazonian Neytiri (Zoë Saldana).  Soon, the two forces tugging for Jake becomes not scientists vs. military but Na’vi vs. humans. Read the rest of this entry »





“Baby Mama” and “Pineapple Express”: Still Laughin’

3 08 2009

Identify the movie quote: “What we do in this life echoes in eternity.”

Did you immediately think of Russell Crowe as the hulking Maximus in “Gladiator?”  If you did, you’re only half right.  At around 11:45 P.M. last night, I discovered with a little help from Starz that it is hardly the most memorable utterance of the quote.  In “Pineapple Express,” as Danny McBride’s scene-stealing dealer Red mercilessly beats James Franco’s Saul with common household items, he quotes “Gladiator” completely out of context (at 0:44 in the YouTube video, if you like to take my links).  And the best part about it: I had seen “Pineapple Express” about 10 times and never noticed that line.

Earlier that day, I found myself entranced on Cinemax by “Baby Mama,” another uproarious comedy from 2008.  Just like later that evening, I was surprised by a line I hadn’t caught the first few times.  Infertile career-woman Kate and her white-trash surrogate mother Angie (played by “SNL” alums Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, respectively) are in counseling at the surrogate agency, and the much more advanced in years Chaffee Bicknell (played by Sigourney Weaver) announces that she is expecting.  Angie retorts, “Expecting what?  A social security check?”

Thanks to channels like Starz and Cinemax, I can flip through the channels and find these movies on about every 3 hours.  So to any of you with these very nice stations, or anyone looking for a good comedy, here’s why I recommend these two:

  1. I’m still laughing. One of my tests for a really good comedy is if I still laugh after multiple viewings.  I howled when I saw “Pineapple Express” for the first time, and it still delivers countless belly laughs.  And while I giggled more than cracked up the first time I saw “Baby Mama,” countless subsequent viewings have really made me appreciate the sophisticated humor.  A common thread between the two movies is that they pack so much humor into a fairly small running time that I still haven’t caught it all.
  2. I can quote most of the movie. My favorite kind of comedy is one that relies on the spoken word to be funny; in other words, it needs to be infinitely quotable.  “Baby Mama” features clever and witty one-liners like “I don’t want to be dramatic, but I would literally rather be shot in the face than eat this stupid food.”  On the other hand, “Pineapple Express” offers a little bit more ridiculous lines, such as, “If you’re a man and act heroic, you’ll come back as a dragon … or Jude Law.”  But its absurdity makes it no less quotable.  I can rattle off lines from both of these movies for days.
  3. They both get the comic man-straight man routine. If you read my review of “Funny People,” I gave it quite harsh criticism for not executing the comic man-straight man routine.   The straight man is supposed to be funny, mainly in their reactions to the the zany comic man.  In “Pineapple Express,” Saul often suggests ridiculous ideas, and Dale Denton’s (Seth Rogen) best reaction is when he states, “You know, when you say things like that, I’m really flabbergasted” (to which Saul replies, “Really?  Thanks, man”).  And in “Baby Mama,” Kate constantly has to put up with Angie’s lack inability to act her age.  The most hilarious example is when Angie cannot open the protective child lock on the toilet and pees in the sink; Angie claims that she didn’t know that was against the rules, and Kate shoots back, “Isn’t peeing in the sink against everyone’s rules?!?”
  4. They have a cast of hilarious supporting characters. The most hilarious scenes in “Pineapple Express” come whenever Danny McBride’s Red is on screen, who says such profound things as “I’m not going to wake up murdered tomorrow!”  But the movie also features hilarious antics from a dysfunctional team of hitmen, Mathison and Budlofsky, who constantly accuse each other of going soft.  “Baby Mama” also has great turns from its supporting cast, including Steve Martin as the quirky CEO of Kate’s company who rewards her with 5 minutes of uninterrupted eye contact, Greg Kinnear (“As Good As It Gets”)  as Kate’s love interest who operates a smoothie store, Maura Tierney (TV’s “ER”) as Kate’s sister who has kids of her own, and Holland Taylor as Kate’s mother who is frustrated by Angelina and Madonna showing off their adopted babies.
  5. The overarching messages are good ones. Many people are probably wondering, “How can a movie about a bunch of potheads have a good message?”  To those people, I say that “Pineapple Express” to me portrays marijuana in a negative light, showing all the trouble that smoking it can bring.  It shares with “Baby Mama” the theme of friendship and how one can form between the most unlikely of people in the most unlikely of circumstances.  I find it refreshing to see the “opposites attract” concept (which has become so trite in romantic comedies) featured in movies that promote it as a positive aspect in friendships among the same gender.

So, if you’re in a mood to laugh, flip your TV over to Starz for “Pineapple Express” and Cinemax for “Baby Mama” (although it will switch to HBO soon) or get in the car and go to your nearest Blockbuster.  Either will provide nonstop fun and entertainment – even if you’ve seen them before.