Stranger Than Fiction (Will Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson,Dustin Hoffman) I was initially hesitant to watch this film because I thought it fell into the “sad films” category. I have been anti-sad films for about two years now. Something about having to watch the most heart wrenching Brazilian films each week for two quarters. Anyway.
At first glance Stranger Than Fiction appears to be about a stiff IRS auditor whose life is turned upside down when he starts hearing a woman’s voice narrating his life. I think this movie is much more than that. I believe this film is somewhat existentialist at heart – about a man who is entrenched in his life’s routine until fate stops him dead in his tracks. He is now faced with certain death. Harold Crick is on the precipice of life and change as death looms near, and decides to take the plunge.
I found this film to be charming, and mostly because of Will Ferrell. He shows a lot of restraint in his interpretation of Harold Crick – a strictly by the book IRS auditor who has a routine for every last second of his daily life. Harold is an oddity, but that doesn’t stop you from rooting for him throughout the movie. I also liked Maggie Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Harold’s love interest, Ana Pascal. She’s almost the opposite of Harold because she’s an unkempt rebel running her own bakery, doing as she pleases (even refusing to pay part of her taxes!). She’s unlike anything Harold has ever seen or imagined; even I’ve never seen Miss Gyllenhaal act this way! Emma Thompson’s performance is great as a neurotic bestselling author that, upon discovering her powers, struggles to finish her novel.
I liked this movie because I found it to be a happy little gem. It’s not quite what you expect when you pop it into your DVD player, but it doesn’t disappoint.
What Happens in Vegas(Aston Kutcher, Cameron Diaz Lake Bell, Rob Corddry) Quite obviously influenced by the resurgance in popularity for Las Vegas coupled with those infamous “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” television ads (and mentality), What Happens in Vegas is another romantic comedy about two unlikelies hooking up and getting married on a trip to Vegas. And the twist? They win $3 million on a slot machine after agreeing to leave one another the night after they exchange vows. In an attempt to annul the marriage when they return home, they are ordered to six months of marriage counseling. Hilarity ensues. And so does a little bit of love as the two fall for one another.
The chemistry between Diaz and Kutcher makes this film sweet and enjoyable. Corddry and Bell, who play the friendly go-tos for advice, make you laugh out loud.
I wasn’t expecting to like this film because I’m not crazy about rom-coms, especially ones with overused themes. Vegas is fun and playful yet a little serious and definitely sweet in your heart spot. The only thing I would have foregone is the sappy, poorly written dialogue at the end that just seems forced and unreal. Otherwise I have to recommend picking this up if you’re 1. into romantic comedies, and/or 2. if you feel like something fun and silly and are a fan of Kutcher/Diaz.
Where in the World is Osama bin Laden (Morgan Spurlock)
This movie is another documentary brought to us by the man that rocketed into the spotlight with the Oscar nominated Super Size Me, a documentary about America’s weight problem and its addiction to fast food – with Spurlock as the test subject. Where in the World is Spurlock on the hunt for the most wanted and most elusive terrorist of our time. And he’s on a quest for understanding. He says that his inspiration for this film was the upcoming birth of his child – ‘what kind of world will I be bringing my child into?’ – he asks of himself. He travels to the Middle East to learn more about the anti-American sentiment, where Osama came from, and how the whole mess got started.
I like Morgan Spurlock. I like that he comes off as an average Joe who just wants answers to his questions. And I like that he lets us in to his life as he goes on a quest to find those answers and doesn’t forget not to take himself too seriously in the meantime.
While Where in the World wasn’t a ball of laughs as much as it was a quest to learn more about the rise in anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. At times, the film is insightful with responses from every day citizens who understand that there is some separation between American citizens and American leaders. Other times it is downright scary, like watching Egyptian citizens think America is trying to take over their country. But the most important message I think this film sends is that there are a lot of Middle Easterners who, like Americans, dislike Osama Bin Laden and Sadam Hussein. The difference is that they have faced the wrath of both these men who have changed the way they live every single day.
Unfortunately, while the movie was good, it wasn’t great. Even now as I try to recall the message Spurlock was trying to portray, I’m a little lost. But the film was an interesting insight into one man’s quest for understanding and Osama.