Monday, September 1, 2008

Guest Critic: Ashley Smith

For the next few days, I'm gonna have some friends do my bidding. This time it's my friend and fellow film geek, Ashley Smith. She review the obviously bad comedy, "College". Enjoy!

College **
Directed by Deb Hagen
Drake Bell, Haley Bennett, Nick Zano, Kevin Covais, and Andrew Caldwell

When walking into the theatre to watch the latest college themed movie directed by relative newbie Deb Hagan, cleverly titled College, don’t expect anything ground breaking or truly different. If Animal House is the epitome of the college movie, then this is the bastard child of its special child. College takes the trend of Animal House rip-offs to a new level. Of course, since it is a college movie it had to be filled with hazing, excessive use of curses (in the sense that they couldn’t think of another words so say fuck instead), and excess nudity.
Ultimately College is the story of three high school friends who go Fieldmont University for various reasons for the weekend. After realizing the dorm room they were assigned was inhabited by a chronic masturbator they headed off to a frat house to stay. Lucky for the protagonists they end up at a frat that just found out they were on probation again and were desperate for pledges (or in this case pre-frosh) to torture. The boys quickly realize that the frat is out to make their weekend hell and antics ensue. All to be tied up nicely in and everybody is happy ending.
One huge problem with the movie was the characters. Obviously, there were going to be no fleshed out characters, but many were often comically unbelievable. Having high school kids in a college setting is not a new thing, but the way that it was done in this movie was borderline annoying. After the climax of the movie the female lead, Kendall played by Haley Bennett, goes through multiple uncharacteristic mood changes for her character until that point, you wonder if they are different people. Wanting to smack all the characters in a movie is not a good sign.
The movie was a drastic attempt for Nickelodeon’s Drake Bell to get out of his goody-two shoes image. Unfortunately for Bell, this movie isn’t going to break him free of that just yet, but he is getting closer. Many times throughout the movie you forget that he was not playing his Drake character from the show. However the movie is a huge change in style from what you generally see him in considering the needed R rating for the film. Which by the way, is filled with gratuitous nudity some of which may blind the eyes.
Overall the movie was mediocre at best and nothing out of the ordinary. College is filled with every cliché your mind can imagine, whether it is over-the-top slow motion, geeky kids trying to prove themselves, or the ever popular ‘let’s hate each other and five minutes later make up and get revenge’. Now all being said, I am not saying you won’t enjoy the movie. Just that you may feel like you wasted 8 dollars on a ticket, when it would have been enjoyed much more from the comfort of you home, AFTER it has begun to air on cable.

Review of Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express **
Directed by David Gordon Green
Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Gary Cole, and Rosie Perez

Last year, Judd Apatow became the unquestioned lord and ruler of the comedy universe. He solidified his status with Knocked Up and SuperBad. His right hand man became Seth Rogen, who became the new funny man of the 21st century. I am supporter of the Apatow films, for many reasons. One of them are the characters. They may be foul mouthed, but you always root for them no matter what the situation. Then you got the humour. It's risque, but unlike some of the comedies in the comedy world that masks shit jokes for maturity, there are truly adult humour. It has balls. Pineapple Express is one of those typical Apatow comedy, so you expect big laughs. I mean Seth Rogen and Evan Greenberg penned it, and you know how funny SuperBad was right? Well, Express tries to go for the great Apatow formula, but fall short of it. It tries to hard to change the stoner comedy formula, and has mixed results.

Dale Denton (Rogen) is a process server, he LOVES pot. I bet you he is so devoted to the crop, that he believes in Bill Hicks' idea that pot was put on this Earth to speed up human evolution. He dates a high-school student, which is more creepy than funny, and he frequents a pot dealer's adobe. James Franco play said pot dealer, Saul Silver, and he is one of the few positive in the film. Franco delivers a tour de force as the stoned out of the existance Saul. He becomes the stoner. Any who, Saul giver Dale the so-called "Pineapple Express", "the dopest dope ever smoked". Now, it turns out Dale has to deliver a summons for Saul's supplier, Ted Jones (Bill Lumb- uh.. Gary Cole). As Dale gets stoned outside of Jones' house, he sees that Jones kills a rival dealer with a corrupt chick cop (Rosie Perez, would ya know?).

What is supposed to be hilarity, is in fact misplaced humour. There are very violent moments that try to be Pythonesque, but in fact turn out to be quite disturbing. Example: Danny McBride's (in an overrated performance) is in a fight with Seth Rogen. It's supposed to be funny, right? I mean, this is a comedy. And if a fight is in a comedy, it will be funny? No. You feel pain in this scene, not humour. It's comedy that fails to make laughs, but hurts. On the subject of disturbing humour, Danny McBride get shot like a million times, once again with Pythonesque humour. It's not funny, it makes you squirm. The only violent/funny scene is the car chase, with James Franco (notice how the truly funny scenes, involves James Franco) having his foot in the windshield.

The film has it's flaws. You try rooting for the guys but you don't care. You walk out of theater dissapointed. It's a stoner film with misplaced humour, a plot that with an ending that should be funny but it's out of place. There's also the surreal running in-joke about the apparent gayness of this buddy comedy. Oh and the strange 80's style in this film. Just wierd. The only positive is James Franco. It's like he came onto this movie stoned from another, better stoner movie. Oh well, you can't win them all.