Sam Nussbaum (Andrew Dickler) doesnít expect his younger brother, Tom (Ben York Jones), to come to his upcoming wedding. Merely one day before the wedding, Steph (Marguerite Moreau), Samís fiancťe, drives all the way to Tomís home to pick him up and re-unite him with Sam. Tom realizes that he needs a date for the wedding, so Sam agrees to drive him across the state of California in search of his long-lost love, Mary Barger, who hasnít seen since the fifth grade. A web search results in multiple addresses where a Mary Barger resides in, so Sam and Tom visit each oneóassuming that sheís alive and single. Along the way, the brothers experience some sibling rivalry and, to make matters worse, Steph love and trust of Sam begins to wane. Will the wedding take place or will it be cancelled? Is Tom merely quixotic when it comes to his search for Mary? Whom among the two brothers is the titular douchebag? The screenplay by director/co-writer Drake Doremus and co-writers Lindsay Stidham, Jonathan Schwartz and Andrew Dickler could have been a big, uneven mess, but, fortunately, it remains focused on the relationship between Sam and Tom as well as Sam and Steph. Each brotherís complex personality comes out during their journey together. Thereís more to Sam and Tom than meets the eye because they have good and bad qualities that make you like them one minute and dislike them the next. Itís easy to see why Steph might question her love of Sam because, after all, heís not particularly trustworthy or loyal for that matter. He claims to be a vegetarian, yet he unashamedly eats a hamburger. He may be about to get married, but he certainly doesnít behave like heís engaged around other women. Itís not quite clear, though, what Steph saw in Sam to begin with, so a little bit more backstory about how they met would have been helpful. Newcomers Andrew Dickler and Ben York Jones both give natural performances that cover a wide range of emotions convincingly. Sure, Douchebag doesnít offer any real surprises or tread new ground when it comes to indie road movies where characters bond and experience epiphanies along the way---i.e., The Other Side of Paradise and Easier with Practice. If only the third act wouldnít have been so lazy and rushed, Douchebag would have been a much more rewarding, memorable and powerful drama. At a running time of only 1 hour and 16 minutes, Douchebag is a focused and mostly compelling drama with interesting characters and very natural, raw performances, but its lazy, rushed third act sinks it into mediocrity and blandness.
Based on a true story. During the early 1930ís in the city of Foshan, China, a martial arts master, Ip Man (Donnie Yen), impresses everyone with his amazing skills in the art of Wing Chun. He defeats so many people in Foshan, the center of martial arts in China, using his Wing Chun skills that he becomes very famous and, not surprisingly, rich. Others want him to instruct them in the art of Wing Chun, but he refuses to do so. All-of-a-sudden, in 1937, the Japanese army invades Foshan while leaving its many inhabitants, including Ip Man, impoverished and subordinate. Ip Man seizes the opportunity to stand up for his countrymen when a Japanese colonel learns about his Wing Chun skills and challenges him to fight this army using those skills. Director Wilson Yip and screenwriter Bak-Ming Wong have made a film thatís a cut above an ordinary martial arts film because they include a palpable sense of drama that adds a sense of realism whenever Ip Man isnít fighting. Wong knows how to blend that drama with the action sequences so that character development and plot arenít put all the way in the backburner. The action scenes themselves, though, are nothing short of breathtaking thanks to Wilson Yipís directing skills and the terrific choreography, musical score and editing. Everything from the set design to the costume designs help to further heighten the realism of that particular time period. Itís nearly miraculous that those scenes are shot sans shaky camera movements which means that you can actually follow whoís kicking or punching whom clearlyóand without experiencing any headaches. Even the inevitable ultimate fight sequence is thrilling to watch and, most importantly, youíll never get tired of watching Ip Man show off his impeccable skills. Those unfamiliar with Wing Chun will be pleased to learn that Ip Man eventually served as Bruce Leeís teacher. Itís worth noting that although Ip Man is currently available on DVD, this one is the full, original Hong Kong version: uncut and undubbed. Even if it were identical to the DVD version, nothing can compare to experiencing such a film on the big screen. At a running time of 1 hour and 47 minutes, Ip Man is a dazzling, exhilarating, refreshingly character-driven and thoroughly captivating experience that must be seen on the big screen. Itís unlike any martial arts film youíve seen before.
Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a 12-year-old boy whoís bullied at school, befriends Abby (Chloe Moretz), the daughter of his new neighbor (Richard Jenkins) at an apartment complex. During the opening scenes, he collects blood that drips out of a corpse dangling like meat from a tree branch. Just when you think the Let Me In will turn into familiar Saw or Seven territory with reliance on gore or gimmicky plot twists, it suddenly switches to psychological horror blended with some surprisingly poignant drama between Owen and Abby. Their blossoming friendship feels quite real as she helps him to deal with local school bullies who torment him. It takes a while for Owen to notice that his new friend, Abby, isnít human, though. Sheís actually a vampire, and he must keep that as a secret even when a policeman (Elias Koteas) investigates mysterious serial killings in town. Director/co-writer Matt Reeves wisely creates a chilly atmosphere through the use of cinematography, pacing, lighting and a very well-chosen musical score. Also, the snowy settings provide an added sense of eerie calmness and foreboding terror. Nothing will prepare you, though, for the third actís visual and dramatic surprises, none of which will be spoiled here. Let Me In never overstays its welcome at a running time of 115 minutes and manages to be a refreshingly poignant, atmospheric, haunting and uncoventionally intelligent vampire film.
Based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), a Harvard University sophomore, breaks up with his girlfriend, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), insults her angrily in a misogynistic tirade on his blog, and hacks into Harvardís computer system to create a website he calls Facemash.com which databases all of the women on campus. Once the website goes viral, it crashes the entire Harvard system and leads him to face charges of breaching security, violating copyrights and violating individual privacy. Soon after that incident, the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) along with Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), try to persuade Mark to program their dating website at Harvard, but, instead, he goes off on his own to create Thefacebook.com with the financial support of his close friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the founder of Napster, persuades him to change The Facebook to just plain Facebook , and brings the booming website to the attention of venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. Divya and the Winklevoss twins eventually sue Mark because they claim that he stole the idea of Facebook from them. The lawsuit costs Mark not only a lot of money, but also his friendship with Eduardo. Unfortunately, the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin jumps around from so many perspectives and time frames of the events surrounding the creation of Facebook that it never gives any of its characters room to breathe and to come to life. Sure, the premise sounds initially intriguing, but if you think that The Social Network will get inside the head of Mark Zuckerberg , think again. Mark comes across as very smart, but often cocky, selfish, mean, stubborn, greedy and, above all, sad and lonely. Sociopsychologist Erving Goffman once stated that everyone has a separate life backstage and front stage. Sorkin simply fails to show you enough of what Mark is like backstage despite Jessie Eisenbergís decent performance. Instead, Sorkin fixates primarily on the mechanisms of the plot while moving from point A to point B sans much-needed subtlety or nuances as if everything must be spelled out for unintelligent audiences. Markís quick-witted replies, whether heís creating Facebook or facing the lawsuit, happen so frequently that by the 568th quip, youíll find yourself rolling your eyes because of how stilted and ho-hum that kind of dialogue sounds after a while. Director David Fincher should stick to directing thrillers like Zodiac, Panic Room, The Game, Fight Club and Seven because his foray into drama, the lackluster, overlong Curious Case of Benjamin Button, was underwhelming which can be said for The Social Network as well. An example of one of the many scenes that donít work at all is a very bizarre, music video-like scene where Harvard students row on the Charles River. By the time the end credits scroll, youíll wish that Fincher would have toned down his stylish cinematographic skills and focused more on grounding the film in sense of reality. At a lengthy running time of 2 hours, The Social Network is ultimately lackluster, pedestrian, emotionally hollow and underwhelming despite exquisite cinematography and a timely, initially intriguing premise.
Three good friends, namely, Dog (Chico Benymon), Beaver (Leonard Robinson), and Too Cool (Wesley Jonathan), have been living life on the fast lane. Dog and Beaver open a nightclub where they start a speed-dating service that allows them to pick and choose whichever woman they want out of their customers while striking it rich. However, Inspector Green (Chris Elliott), whose skin is actually blue, denies them their liquor license. Too Coolís ex-girlfriend, Frenchita (Mary Alexandra Stiefvater), finds out about the scheme and threatens to expose the truth. Meanwhile, in a poorly developed subplot that takes the film into highly contrived, over-the-top territory, Beaver suffers from a sexual identity crisis. A truly great comedy ought to be grounded in reality at least to some degree, which, sadly, isnít the case for Speed-Dating. Writer/director Joseph A. Elmore Jr. aims for laughs with lowbrow, juvenile humor that falls flat the entire time not only because of poor comedic timing from the actors involved, but also from the very awkward dialogue that lacks freshness. Many of the jokes, including those that poke fun at Beaverís sexual identity crisis, get repeated over and over so much that theyíre not only still unfunny like they were to begin with, but also become annoying. Perhaps audiences as bird-brained as Dog, Beaver and Too Cool might find it funny to watch a blue-skinned character who goes by the name of Inspector Green. The fact that one someone in the film points out that so-called joke and laughs at it makes it even less funny. Will Dog, Beaver and Too Cool find a way to treat women (or in Beaverís case, men) with respect by growing up once and for all? The lazy screenplay doesnít even allow for you to care about what happens to them because theyíre each as underdeveloped as Sarah Palinís brain. Perhaps the film might have been at least entertaining on a purely aesthetic level with a great soundtrack and stylish cinematography, but you wonít even be able to find any of that here. At a running time of 1 hour and 38 minutes, Speed-Dating is an asinine, lazy, juvenile and painfully unfunny attempt at comedy.