Movie Reviews: Little Fockers and True Grit





Movie – Little Fockers

Director: Paul Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy, In Good Company)

Writers: John Hamburg (Meet the Parents, Zoolander, I Love You, Man) & Larry Stuckey

Starring: Ben Stiller (Meet the Parents, Zoolander, Greenberg), Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, Heat) & Teri Polo (Meet the Parents, Beyond Borders, Meet the Fockers)

Theater – Cinemark Movies 12 – Ames, Iowa

Companion – Nader

Food – Probably, can’t remember.

Intellectual Honesty

Meet the Parents is one of my favorite comedies ever. Meet the Fockers was an incredible disappointment. Ben Stiller is usually hilarious, but he does make some bad movies. Robert De Niro is one of my all-time favorites, but admittedly, not for comedies.

Baggage

I can’t stand Barbara Streisand.

Synopsis from IMDB

It has taken 10 years, two little Fockers with wife Pam (Polo) and countless hurdles for Greg to finally get “in” with his tightly wound father-in-law, Jack. After the cash-strapped dad takes a job moonlighting for a drug company, however, Jack’s suspicions about his favorite male nurse come roaring back. When Greg and Pam’s entire clan-including Pam’s lovelorn ex, Kevin (Owen Wilson)-descends for the twins’ birthday party, Greg must prove to the skeptical Jack that he’s fully capable as the man of the house. But with all the misunderstandings, spying and covert missions, will Greg pass Jack’s final test and become the family’s next patriarch…or will the circle of trust be broken for good?

Review

This isn’t really the type of movie that is easy to write about. It is a big improvement on Meet the Fockers, but it is nowhere near as good as Meet the Parents. All the usuals are back and are great in their roles. Owen Wilson’s Kevin character seems a little more forced than before and his part could have been trimmed considerably.

The movie is enjoyable enough, but it just isn’t terribly funny. It feels like we’ve seen all these jokes before, because we have. I don’t mind so much because I love the characters and the dynamics between Greg (Stiller) and Jack (De Niro) are lots of fun, but at the end of the day you feel like something funnier could have been made.

It is perfectly pleasant way to spend an evening, but I hoped for so much more than pleasant.

Rating
2.5/5 Caramels

Buy on DVD
Nope, but I will watch it when it is on television.

2010 Ranking

Doesn’t really deserve a ranking. I’ll have to be more proactive in my ranking system in 2011.

Bonus Information

I saw a preview for a movie starring Topher Grace and Anna Farris called Take Me Home Tonight. I am super pumped to see this movie. The fact that they lip sync to N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton is enough for me. I don’t even care what happens in the rest of the movie.





Movie – True Grit

Director: Coen Brothers (Fargo, Blood Simple, The Hudsucker Proxy, No Country for Old Men)

Writers: Coen Brothers (Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?)

Starring: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart, Seabiscuit, King Kong), Hailee Steinfeld, & Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, The Departed, The Bourne Identity)

Theater – Springwood 9 – Ankeny, Iowa

Companions – Andree, Baier and Russell

Food – China Buffet – Ankeny, Iowa

Intellectual Honesty

I’m a big fan of Matt Damon and have been since Good Will Hunting. I like Jeff Bridges a lot as well. I have been excited for this movie since the first time I saw the trailer and not just because the trailer features a Johnny Cash song.

Baggage

I’m not really sure this is baggage or intellectual honesty, but it is probably a little of both. I love/hate the Coen Brothers. They have made some of the best and most original movies of the last couple of decades: No Country for Old Men, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy, Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, Blood Simple. They have made some of the worst movies as well: Burn After Reading, The Ladykillers, Intolerable Cruelty. They have made some of the most overrated as well: The Big Lebowski and Barton Fink.

I’m not a fan of remakes, but since True Grit isn’t what I would consider a classic of the cinema, I don’t mind it being remade.

Synopsis from IMDB

Following the murder of her father by hired hand Tom Chaney, 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross sets out to capture the killer. To aid her, she hires the toughest U.S. marshal she can find, a man with “true grit,” Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn. Mattie insists on accompanying Cogburn, whose drinking, sloth, and generally reprobate character do not augment her faith in him. Against his wishes, she joins him in his trek into the Indian Nations in search of Chaney. They are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, who wants Chaney for his own purposes. The unlikely trio find danger and surprises on the journey, and each has his or her “grit” tested.

Review

It is hard to really pick which version of True Grit is better. This Coen Brothers version, or the John Wayne original. They are very similar. If I was forced to pick one over the other, I would pick the original. The few changes that the Coen brothers made from the original are not improvements. Even though Jeff Bridges is a better actor than John Wayne, John Wayne is better in the role of Cogburn. The role of LaBoeuf is not a particularly good role, but Glenn Campbell is better than Matt Damon. This is one of Damon’s worst performances to date. He isn’t dreadful, but he isn’t particularly good either. Barry Pepper’s performance is enigmatic. It seems that he is actually imitating Robert Duvall’s performance from the original.

Hailee Steinfeld is a revelation however. She is wonderful and all of the Oscar buzz surrounding her performance as the 14 year old girl that hires Rooster Cogburn to track down and bring her father’s murderer to justice is well-deserved. Mattie Ross is one of the best characters for a teenage girl to play and she nails it.

Although this is a small critique for a movie that is mostly filmed beautifully, there are scenes in the movie that are so overexposed that the natural beauty of the scenery loses its contrast. While I’m certain that this was intentional, (although it is possible that this was just laziness by the lighting crew as well) I didn’t enjoy it.

It is a good movie with many good performances and 1 great performance and a couple of subpar performances.

Rating
3.5/5 Caramels

Buy on DVD
I would consider buying this movie on DVD if I got it for a good price.

2010 Ranking
It is probably in the bottom half of the Top 10 movies I’ve seen this year. Maybe #7 or #8.

Bonus Information
The Ankeny theater is perhaps the poorest designed theater I have ever watched a movie in. The door was left open for the 1st 15-20 minutes of the movie. So was the door to the theater directly across the hall. For a good portion of the film I had to listen to the movie across the hall.

Before the movie there was a trailer for Country Strong. Baier announced anybody that saw that film would lose their “man card”.

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