Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Toy Story 3 & How to Train Your Dragon


Starring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Ned Beatty, John Ratzenberger, Wallace Shawn, Estelle Harris, Jodi Benson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Garlin, Timothy Dalton, Bonnie Hunt, R. Lee Ermey and Laurie Metcalf.
Directed by Lee Unkrich.


Starring the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wiig.
Directed by Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders.

Pixar once again expands and deepens the Toy Story universe; meanwhile DreamWorks Animation is getting better at creating their own Pixar magic with the right blend of humor, heart and story.

I saw these movies very closely to each other (Dragon's at the $2 theater), and I came away wondering why animation these days are telling the best stories. HTTYD was everything Eragon wishes it was, and Toy Story 3 brings back old favorites and mixes them with new characters and situations seemlessly.

Toy Story 2 was eleven years ago, and rather than going the Simpsons route, TS3 lets its characters age. Andy is grown up and ready to go to college. So does he put the toys in the attic, donate them, or throw them away? Andy puts them in a trashbag to put in the attic, but they accidentally wind up being donated to the local day-care center, where they must adjust to the new hierarchy. Where the magnanimous Woody and gung-ho Buzz may have been co-leaders, now they must all answer to Lotso Huggin Bear, voiced with the Southern courtesy and dark menace of Ned Beatty.

My favorite new addition? Ken. As in Barbie's Ken. The two finally meet.

P.S. Slinky Dog is back, now voiced by Blake Clark (Grown-Ups). Slinky was voiced by the late Jim Varney in the first two Toy Story movies.

Meanwhile in How to Train Your Dragon, the story centers on Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a smart nerd among club-swinging Vikings on an island constantly attacked by dragons. The dragons are varied and distinct, and Hiccup meets an injured one in the forest, supposedly the fiercest breed, but slowly he befriends the beast, even names it Toothless. The mostly-quiet scenes with Hiccup and Toothless bonding are the heart of the movie. I loved the animation and characterization with him. The Vikings are fine; there seemed to be some inspiration from Terry Gilliam in how to draw them.

I saw neither in 3-D, and animated movies tend to be the only movies I like seeing in 3-D (besides Avatar). Both are shoo-ins for Best Animated Film nominations in January, regardless of what else comes out this year.

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt - DVD Review


Starring Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, Michael Douglas, Joel David Moore and Orlando Jones.
Directed by Peter Hyams.

When you have a heavy-hitter like Michael Douglas sign on as your villain, I would think you'd try to beef up his role in this otherwise cable-movie level thriller about a reporter trying to bring down a corrupt district attorney. I mean, I recognize Douglas isn't the headliner he was twenty years ago, but the man's Oscar was not a fluke.

Jesse Metcalfe (John Tucker Must Die, ABC's Desperate Housewives) plays the main character here, C.J. Nicholas, TV reporter. He decides to frame himself for murder to prove D.A. Mark Hunter (Douglas) is fixing cases to ensure convictions to further his political career.

The movie takes a predictable turn halfway through, and that's when it got interesting. 1) It gave Douglas more to do, as he's barely in the first half, and 2) there's a car chase that's genuinely exciting.

Hunter is thinly written, but Douglas shows that a good actor can elevate such material. Hyams' previous efforts (A Sound of Thunder, The Musketeer, The Relic) show why maybe, the studio didn't trust him enough to get better actors to fill out the rest of the roles. Or maybe they read the last five pages of the script, where it jumps from mundane to convenient to ridiculous. I never saw the 1950's original, but maybe the coincidences were more acceptable back then.

Final Box Office Numbers

1. Toy Story 3 - $59.34 million ($226.89) - 2 wks (BV) -46.2%
. . . 4028 screens / $14,731 per screen
2. Grown Ups - $40.51 - 1 wk (Sony)
. . . 3534 / $11,462
3. Knight & Day - $20.14 ($27.43) - 1 wk (Fox)
. . . 3098 / $6501
4. The Karate Kid - $15.55 ($135.79) - 3 wks (Sony) -48%
. . . 3740 / $4157
5. The A-Team - $6.2 ($63.05) - 3 wks (Fox) -56.9%
. . . 3242 / $1914
6. Get Him to the Greek - $3.14 ($54.62) - 4 wks (U) -48.6%
. . . 2188 / $1435
7. Shrek Forever After - $3.1 ($229.54) - 6 wks (DW) -44.8%
. . . 2340 / $1325
8. Prince of Persia - $2.85 ($86.22) - 5 wks (BV) -48.9%
. . . 1851 / $1537
9. Killers - $1.94 ($43.94) - 4 wks (LGF) -61.5%
. . . 2271 / $854
10. Jonah Hex - $1.63 ($9.17) - 2 wks (WB) -69.7%
. . . 2825 / $576
11. Iron Man 2 - $1.44 ($306.94) - 8 wks (Par) -50%
. . . 1169 / $1229
12. Sex & the City 2 - $1.22 ($93.07) - 5 wks (NL) -49.4%
. . . 901 / $1353
13. Marmaduke - $.98 ($30) - 4 wks (Fox) -60.5%
. . . 1110 / $881
14. Robin Hood - $.65 ($103.3) - 7 wks (U) -54.4%
. . . 669 / $970

Toy Story 3 has the trajectory to pass Iron Man 2 for the highest grosser of the summer and likely the highest grosser of 2010.

Adam Sandler's latest, while a critical punching bag, was a box-office hit. Even well into his 40's, he still does the potty humor, and his fans follow.

Tom Cruise's Knight & Day is disappointing, but when you compare it to Valkyrie, it's actually not bad. It's just the final evidence that Tom Cruise is no longer one of the top two or three movie stars in the world.

In limited release, Oliver Stone's pro-dictator documentary South of the Border scored $21,545 on its one screen.

Youth in Revolt - DVD Review


Starring Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Ray Liotta, Fred Willard, Justin Long, Steve Buscemi, Mary Kay Place, and M. Emmet Walsh.
Directed by Miguel Artera.

I can see why this was delayed for two years. Michael Cera does his stammering best in the lead, and he is an enjoyable actor to watch in the right vehicle. Here he's a twitchy nervous good boy surrounded by comic caricatures. He decides to invent an alter persona - Francois - who does bad things that he might be more attractive to his crush (Portia Doubleday, and no, I don't know who she is.)

The arrivals of actors like Zach Galifianakis and Fred Willard and Steve Buscemi and Ray Liotta and Jean Smart AND Justin Long would usually a good time is about to be had. I don't know what favors the director pulled to get all these people together, but none of them are really given life and lift to the central story.

Well, I pull back from that. I did get some smiles with Smart as Cera's exasperated mom, in addition to Cera himself. And I think all the best gags were in the trailer so I didn't get many surprises. But really, it's more of a time-killer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Get Him to the Greek - Movie Review


Starring Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Elisabeth Moss, Sean Combs, Rose Byrne and Colm Meaney.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller.

This isn't so much a sequel as a spin-off of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where Russell Brand brings back his rockstar character Aldous Snow. This time, the protagonist is Aaron Greene (Jonah Hill, who's never looked less healthy), a music lackey who's given the task of getting Snow to the Greek Theater in Los Angeles in 72 hours. Should be simple enough, right? We wouldn't have a movie if it was.

Snow is determined to show Aaron the time of his life, which means drinking, drugs and general debauchery. One too many shots of people puking for my liking. And the movie gets serious in the third act when it comes to the negative impact of Snow's lifestyle. Not easy to laugh when our of your main characters is seriously contemplating suicide toward the end.

This is co-produced by Judd Apatow, the latest king of raunchy comedy, but I must admit I'm not finding his latest projects as funny as the ones just a couple years ago. Forgetting Sarah Marshall was better. But special mention must be made of Sean "Diddy" Combs as a Machiavellian music producer. He and Tom Cruise's Les Grossman could go toe-to-toe.

Five Minutes of Heaven - DVD Review


Starring Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt.
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.

Both actors are really good in this low-budget import about one man confronting the former IRA member who killed his brother thirty years ago. The title refers to the five minutes of joy the man believes he'll feel if he can avenge his brother's death, but they're really doing it for a TV show called "One on One" about confrontation.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Toy Story 3 tops box-office

Toy Story 3 predictable dominated the weekend box office for June 18-20.

1. Toy Story 3 - $109 million - 1 wk (BV)
. . . 4028 screens / $27,061 per screen
2. The Karate Kid - $29 ($106.25) - 2 wks (Sony) -47.9%
. . . 3663 / $7917
3. The A-Team - $13.78 ($49.8) - 2 wks (Fox) -46.3%
. . . 3544 / $3887
4. Get Him to the Greek - $6.12 ($47.86) - 3 wks ((U) -38.5%
. . . 2592 / $2360
5. Shrek Forever After - $5.52 ($222.98) - 5 wks (DW) -65%
. . . 3207 / $1721
6. Prince of Persia - $5.27 ($80.51) - 4 wks (BV) -18.7%
. . . 2605 / $2024
7. Killers - $5.1 ($39.37) - 3 wks (LG) -36.3%
. . . 2619 / $1947
8. Jonah Hex - $5.09 - 1 wk (WB)
. . . 2825 / $1800
9. Iron Man 2 - $2.68 ($304.76) - 7 wks (Par) -40.8%
. . . 1612 / $1659
10. Marmaduke - $2.65 ($27.89) - 3 wks (Fox) -55.9%
. . . 2495 / $1062
11. Sex & the City 2 - $2.42 ($90.17) - 4 wks (NL) -55.6%
. . . 1680 / $1438
12. Robin Hood - $1.33 ($101.99) - 6 wks (U) -49%
. . . 1046 / $1275
13. Splice - $.92 ($15.55) - 3 wks (WB) -68.9%
. . . 944 / $969
14. Letters to Juliet - $.8 ($48.6) - 6 wks (Sum) -52.6%
. . . 806 / $996

Pixar can do no wrong.

In limited release, Cyrus (with John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill) and I Am Love (with Tilda Swinton) both did well.

They say that opening weekend has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with marketing. Well, when Warners didn't even put out a trailer until a month ago, the stench was obvious. And I can't help but feel Megan Fox is going to take part of the blame for JH's failure. Jennifer's Body underperformed and now she's off of Transformers 3. Where does she go from here?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Breaking Bad - Season 3 Finale

Here's a detailed recap of the finale.

Bryan Cranston deserves another Emmy nomination for his work as Walter White, who's evolved into a stone-cold Heisenberg when he wants to. Emmy love should also go to Anna Gunn, who took the season going from betrayed housewife to the embryonic stages of Lady Macbeth, and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, one-time worthless junkie who wants to embrace being the bad guy but doesn't really have that "murder" thing down.

100 Questions - TV Review

If it were any other season than summer, I wouldn't have given this series a second chance, but it is, and I did, and it's not bad. All indications are that it's going to cancelled once NBC's burned off the episodes, seeing as how creator/co-star Christopher Moynihan is already making deals at ABC.

It stars Sophie Winkleman as a single woman, age 30-ish, at a matchmaking service, but they have 100 questions for her personality profile. Each question inspires another episode. The bookend gimmick is like the first season or two of How I Met Your Mother, but it's essentially a Friends ripoff. There's better out there; there's worse. I was amused by the one episode where she dates a biker, played by Battlestar Galactica vet Michael Trucco.

Moynihan's the strongest cast member. Hopefully his next project will be an improvement.

The Stepfather - DVD Review


Starring Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward, Penn Badgeley, Amber Heard, Sherri Stringfield, Paige Turco and Jon Tenney.
Directed by Nelson McCormick.

Slick, functional, pointless remake of the 1987 movie that originally starred Lost's Terry O'Quinn. I kept going back to O'Quinn, and how his character desperately wanted to live happily ever after, but if little things didn't go his way, well, he had no choice...

Here, Walsh has balanced, calculating menace, but it's too high on the calculating, as though his entire plan is to be here for a set amount and then kill them all. And since his main nemesis is a muscular 18-year-old stepson, it's not really that scary.

Letters to Juliet - Movie Review


Starring Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Egan, Gael Garcia Bernal, Franco Nero and Oliver Platt.
Directed by Gary Winick.

First of all, romances have to be given the trappings of their genre. I hate to call it a romantic comedy, since it's not funny, just supposed to make you smile once in a while. But romantic drama makes it sound like one of them has to die at the end. Anyway, the trappings involve two people who are meant to be together, and we know we're going to spend the movie keeping them apart until the last few minutes.

The two things that stood out for me that made this an above-average entry into the genre was 1.) Italy, and 2.) Vanessa Redgrave.

The whole movie takes place in Italy, in and around Verona, and scene after scene made me want to visit. Meanwhile Amanda Seyfried is wisely making sure every other project she does has some great veteran actresses to work with and learn from. She was Meryl Streep's daughter in Mamma Mia!, and here she's Sophie, a fact-checker for The New Yorker who is trying to help an old woman (Vanessa Redgrave, playing a vivacious 70, not a get-off-my-lawn 70) reunite with a lover from fifty years ago.

Christopher Egan (Eragon, NBC's Kings) is her twit of a grandson who comes along to help her find him, complaining the whole time this is a bad idea. We know even though Sophie's engaged to an enthusiastic chef (Gael Garcia Bernal) that that isn't going to work out somehow, and Grandson's going to calm down and fall in love. But even though those are the plot mechanations, it's not really "about" that.

Dang, I need to visit Europe sometime.

The A-Team - Movie Review


Starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Patrick Wilson, Gerald McRaney, Henry Czerny and Brian Bloom.
Directed by Joe Carnahan.

Ooh, I really wanted to love this movie, and for the most part, I liked it. But if you're going to amp up the action, at least do it in a way that I can tell what's going on. The first fight we see features MMA star Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and it's so choppily edited that you'd think they were trying to hide his lack of physical prowess. "He's a professional fighter, guys! Trust the choreography!"

Fans of the 1980's show (I'm one) will recognize all the familiar trappings. Col. John "Hannibal" Smith is the leader, the cigar-chomping man with the plan. Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck is the ladies man. Cpt. "Howling Mad" Murdock can pilot anything that can fly. Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus is your driver and weapons guy. (B.A. is introduced as a corporal, but I'm pretty sure he was properly promoted to sergeant by the time Act I ends with the "8 years later" coda.)

Act I is meeting the characters and getting the team together. Liam Neeson, who's pretty good at kicking butt in past (Rob Roy) or present (Taken), is Hannibal, and my only real problem with him was the Peppard-like hairpiece, and that I thought it should have been Mel Gibson. Gibson would have had a little more insane fun. Neeson's winking smile is more sinister; it says "People are going to die." Bradley Cooper is okay as Face, but he's so cocky that it almost crosses into "smug" territory. I would have liked a Chris Pine / Chris Evans type actor here. I had no problems with Rampage as B.A. or Copley (District 9) as Murdock. In fact, I wish they'd given Murdock more to do.

Act II is the team gets drouble-crossed, stripped of their ranks, and imprisoned. (In the old show they were Vietnam vets; here they're Iraq War vets. Nice update.) Buuut since this is the A-Team and not Shawshank Redemption, the boys quickly escape and set out to clear their names and get revenge on those that wronged them.

Act III concludes in a giant, expensive, explody cacophany of gunfire and flames and fireworks and big stuff getting destroyed, and I just didn't care. They could have saved themselves a good $20 million by calming down and having a final plan that was more clever and less overkill, but then, at one point in the movie Hannibal says "Overkill is underrated." Well if that's your philosophy, mission accomplished.

I do wish it was doing better at the box-office. This was the origin story movie. I think the central four characters are strong enough; it would have been nice to see them in a sequel where they roam the country standing up for the little guy.

P.S. I watched part of an episode on TV recently. That show has not aged well.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hot in Cleveland - TV Review

Hot in Cleveland is the new TV Land original series about three middle-aged L.A. women (Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendy Malick) whose plane detours in Cleveland and when the local men find them attractive, they decide to stay. Betty White is also in the cast as the caretaker of the house they live in.

Now with this cast, I woulda thunk ABC would put it in front of The Middle and try that out. Then I watched it and the laughs were about as often as they were in Hank. Hot in Cleveland feels like it's been filmed from scripts written twenty-five years ago, thus making TV Land its perfect home.

RIP Jason Nicholl of Nuke the Fridge

Jason Nicholl, owner of NukeTheFridge.com, was killed in an accident.
He was only 38.

I would post there occassionally and he always struck me as a good guy. I am truly shocked. My condolences to his family and friends.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spring Box Office

Summer box-office makes the most headlines, but how was spring?

The highest box-office from the movies that opened January thru April 2010.

1. Alice in Wonderland - $333.9 million
2. How to Train Your Dragon - $214.47
3. Clash of the Titans - $162.01
4. Shutter Island - $128.01
5. Valentine's Day - $110.49
6. Date Night - $96.33
7. The Book of Eli - $94.84
8. Percy Jackson & The Olympians - $88.72
9. Dear John - $80.02
10. The Bounty Hunter - $66.42
11. Diary of a Wimpy Kid - $63.39
12. A Nightmare on Elm Street - $62.59
13. The Last Song - $62.34
14. The Wolfman - $61.98
15. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too - $60.1
16. Tooth Fairy - $60.01
17. Hot Tub Time Machine - $50.29
18. Kick-Ass - $47.81
19. Cop Out - $44.88
20. Edge of Darkness - $43.32

Movie vs. TV Quality in 2010

When I look at the summer movie season, full of bloated epics and 3-D sellouts, I say to myself no wonder a lot of good actors are turning to TV. Jack Lemmon said it all the time the last couple years of his life, that the quality writing in TV has truly increased.

Is the average movie or DVD rental as satisfying as two episodes of Lost, or Dexter, or The Good Wife, or Breaking Bad? Probably not. Maybe I'm just using good shows as examples, but that's what's been good about the explosion of cable. With so many channels, writers have more freedom to not have to try to please the greatest audience, something that movie producers feel the pressure to do, particularly for tentpoles. It's reverse of what it was 30 year ago. 30 years ago you had three channels and they were aiming to get 40 million people to watch. Now you have 3000 channels, and the networks are thrilled with 10 million viewers. Cable can be thrilled with 3 million viewers.

Meanwhile the arthouse theaters and the drive-ins are dying or dead. (Are there any drive-ins anymore? There were three within fifteen miles of my house when I was a kid.) Movies have multiplexes, and even though there's a 12-screen one here and a 14-screen one there and a 16-screen one there, they all are showing the same ten titles. And how often does a movie get buzz and play months after it opened? I remember I lived in Amarillo TX when E.T. came out, and it played in one theater for over nine months. Your biggest blockbuster these days has already been on DVD for five months at that point. It's not about what is good. It is about what can we market.

I watched the season finale of AMC's Breaking Bad yesterday. The suspense of the last few minutes was palpable, even though in the back of my head, I knew it was renewed for a fourth season. "How is he going to get out of this?" I'm lucky in any given year if I see two movies that make me feel the same way.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's Complicated - DVD Review


Starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, John Krasinski, Lake Bell, Mary Kay Place, Rita Wilson and Hunter Parrish.
Directed by Nancy Meyers.

It's as safe as one could expect from a Nancy Meyers movie. Insanely wealthy middle-aged people engage in sexual hijinks. At this point I think someone's invented an app that'll generate a Nancy Meyers script if you plug in 2-3 actors and two sentences of plot concept.

Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin play a divorced couple with grown children. They apparently have a cordial relationship now, though he's starting to feel haggard with his trophy wife's fertility obsession and her rambunctious son. The two wind up sleeping together for old times' sake, and so now she feels guilty that she is the mistress with her ex-husband. They keep it secret. She even starts dating an architect (Steve Martin, in the dullest role of his career) and wants to see if that might develop.

Felt more like amusing dinner theater than an actual movie. The preview gave away the funniest parts, and I didn't think the preview looked that funny.

Friday, June 11, 2010

44 Inch Chest - DVD Review


Starring Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane, Joanne Whalley and Melvil Paupoud.
Directed by Malcolm Venville.

I thought this was a sequel to Sexy Beast, the 2001 British gangster flick best remembered for Ben Kingsley's ferocious performance. Even though it's the same writers and Winstone and McShane are back, it's actually not a sequel at all. It's more like a failed experiment. The writers took a situation, basically a one-setting movie, and then let the characters bounce off each other, like Reservoir Dogs meets Glengarry Glen Ross. But even though the five main players are all really good at what they do, they're not really characters. All of them are underwritten and it's up to the actors to bring them to life and make them distinct.

There are no plot advancements in Acts Two and Three that deepen our understanding or reveal more layers to what's really going on. It's all surface. Winstone plays Colin, a gangster who's just learned his wife wife is leaving him for a younger man. His gang kidnaps the loverboy, and most of the movie is then in this boarded-up building where they ponder what to do with him. Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Dillane, who've all played lowlifes before, are his mates helping him out. So what are they going to do, skin the guy alive or what?

This movie commits the cardinal sin of not living up to its potential. It's one that made me ask myself "If I had the same cast and basic plot, could I have written a better movie?" Yes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Ghost Writer - Movie Review


Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, Jon Bernthal, James Belushi and Eli Wallach.
Directed by Roman Polanski.

Roman Polanski, the two-time Oscar-winning director who still hasn't done his jailtime for his 1977 statutory-rape conviction, is still a good director. And there were a couple sequences that were filled with the suspense I would expect from the director of Chinatown and Frantic. Most of the movie, however, takes its time building a mystery that's quite predictable.

Ewan McGregor plays a ghost writer who's hired to help the former Prime Minister Adam Lang (clearly meant to be Tony Blair) finish his memoirs after the last ghost writer committed suicide. Lang is under a lot of scrutiny for a recent exposure that he authorized the kidnapping of four British citizens who were terrorism suspects who were then turned over to the CIA for torture (no "enhanced interrogation technique" euphemisms here). The longer the ghost is there, the more he realizes his predecessor may have been murdered.

The highlight of the movie is really the directorial flourishes. The chase scene on the ferry, the note passing from the back of the room to the front, the final shot. The actual plot and its twists are easy to figure out, and acting-wise everyone was competant but didn't really need to do anything special.

Stolen - DVD Review


Starring Jon Hamm, Josh Lucas, Rhona Mitra, James Van Der Beek, Jessica Chastain, Jimmy Bennett and Joanna Cassidy.
Directed by Anders Anderson.

At the four-minute mark, Jon Hamm bolts upright from a dream, and I was afraid I was going to be in store for something really bad. It wound up not being a cliche-ridden train-wreck, but more of a mediocre mystery that goes back and forth between 1958 and 2008 between two missing children, neither of which really builds dramatically so much as plods toward the inevitable. Felt like the makers of Carnivale decided they wanted to do their own episode of CBS's Cold Case. Mad Men fans just need to know this film does Hamm no favors.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Valentine's Day - DVD Review


Starring Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Jessica Alba, George Lopez, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Eric Dane, Queen Latifah, Topher Grace, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo and Larry Miller.
Directed by Garry Marshall.

Imagine watching for two hours while someone channel-surfs for you between eight different movies channels, always landing on the bland, unfunny scenes in some romantic comedies. It aspires to be Love Actually, but this movie only makes Love Actually look that much better. That movie had eight different stories, but they all had their own emotional payoff (or letdown). I can't figure out what Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner are doing here, except to be pretty place-holders during the costume changes of the other actors.

Now they're planning a sequel called New Year's Eve. My advice to the makers: you don't need Garry Marshall to direct, and you need some writers who know where to throw in some actual funny. That amazing cast listed above went to total waste.