Friday, July 5, 2013

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Number Rolled: 5
Movie Name/Year: Good Will Hunting (1997)
Genre: Drama
Length: 126 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
Actors: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgard, Minnie Driver, Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser, John Mighton, Rachel Majorowski, Colleen McCauley

Will Hunting is a 20 year old, janitor, genius. Spending his free time with his buddies drinking, picking up girls and getting into fights, he seems like the average “wrong side of the tracks” young adult. That is, until an MIT professor (where he works) puts a seemingly unsolvable problem on a chalkboard outside the classroom. In almost no time at all, Will has snuck the correct equation onto the board and the professor goes on the search to find him.

“Good Will Hunting” is one of my favorite movies. Even if I were to strip away the main storyline, it would still hold my favorite love story along with my favorite movie quote (which you’re just going to have to guess at since I don’t like to reveal spoilers).

I don’t know where Matt Damon and Ben Affleck came up with this, but it just plain works. Everything about it feels real and believable. The banter is witty and fits the psychological standpoint taken with the characters. The back stories are interesting and each and every character comes with a wealth of depth that’s very rare outside of books.

I love the entertainment value of “Good Will Hunting,” but I also love the meaning behind it. I get a lot of enjoyment from movies that explore the good points of a rough background. Maybe it’s just where I’m from, but I can’t see anyone being unscarred by the time they’re twenty. If I were to go through the histories of me and my closest friends I’d come up with only about two fathers still in the picture and so many traumatic experiences, we could fill a psych textbook easy. So, when I come across a movie like this that acknowledges a person can be screwed up by their past but still have something amazing to offer, it feels more real to me than any other kind of movie.

Robin William’s character struck me as an interesting piece of the puzzle. Most people think of therapists as the stereotypical “…and how does that make you feel” kind of people who don’t really say much and just sit there like a life-support system for a pair of ears. I spent most of my life in therapy. From six years old until I was twenty-six, I went through them like you wouldn’t believe. I had a lot of the stereotypical ones, and for each and every one of them, I had a Will Hunting attitude. There was one woman I saw when I was thirteen or so, my mom was ecstatic because she was world famous or some shit, meanwhile I would go to her office, take an hour nap and go home. This lasted about six months before people finally got that I didn’t trust her enough to let her make me a sandwich – let alone let her into my mind. Meanwhile, the best therapist I ever had never wrote a book. She wasn’t world-famous; in fact, I was her very first patient. I will never forget Denise, the therapist that helped me finally move on in my life. She understood that I wasn’t going to trust her until she gave me a reason to. She WAS Robin William’s character, and this movie serves to remind me of her and the good she did for me.

The only problem I had that keeps it from being a 5, is Ben Affleck. Look, Affleck is a MUCH better actor than people give him credit for. I mean, when he’s bad, he’s ridiculously bad (Daredevil). However, when he’s good, he’s ridiculously good. In this movie he was good… he just sucks so much with accents. It’s like my ears TRY not to hear him when he puts one on. It’s a really small issue, but he talks so much in the movie that it seems bigger.

Fantastic movie. Everyone should see it.

Overall Opinion – 4.5/5

P.S. Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier were co-executive producers of this movie.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Jerk Theory (2009)

Number Rolled: 68
Movie Name/Year: The Jerk Theory (2009)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Scott S. Anderson
Writer: Scott S. Anderson, Abraham Taylor
Actors: Josh Henderson, Jenna Dewan, Lauren Storm, Derek Lee Nixon, Jesse Heiman, Anthony Gaskins, Jaci Twiss, Abraham Taylor, Danny Bonaduce, Tom Arnold, Josh Aker, Lily Smith, Andreau Martin, Jasmine Shaw, Maria Carr, Yolanda Wood, Meagan Rudd, Amanda Garrett

Adam is a musician that knows exactly what to do with women. After his girlfriend left him in the bitchiest way possible, he learned his lesson. Women want jerks. So, he reshaped his image. No more bringing flowers, holding doors open, remembering those pesky names… it’s all about self-involvement after that moment of pure embarrassment. Until he meets Molly, anyway. Then he’s forced to reconsider his theory.

This is a highly underrated movie. If I would have judged by the nearly-bare rotten tomatoes page and the stupid cover, I would have told you I expected nothing less than an hour and half of too-old actors rubbing up against each other on my screen. Ok, that’s kind of what I actually expected, but I was pleasantly surprised!

Set to the soundtrack of a pussy (pop) punk band, this movie explores the well argued idea that nice guys finish last and girls will always go for the jerk. A lot of movies explore that idea, sure, but this movie does it while taking reality into the argument. They show the other side of things. The side that says men only go for the easy girl and the girls who want respect finish last. It’s actually kind of cool to see the subject from a more rounded perspective.

The script was hilarious. It definitely followed a recipe, but with the aforementioned perspective revision, it feels a little fresher than it would have otherwise.

I adored it, and wasted no time suggesting it to a friend the main character reminded me of.  

Overall Opinion – 3.5/5

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Faculty (1998)

Number Rolled: 44
Movie Name/Year: The Faculty (1998)
Genre: Horror
Length: 104 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer: David Wechter, Bruce Kimmel, Kevin Williamson
Actors: Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Josh Hartnett, Shawn Hatosy, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Piper Laurie, Christopher McDonald, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Patrick, Usher Raymond, Jon Stewart, Daniel von Bargen, Elijah Wood, Jon Abrahams, Summer Phoenix, Susan Willis, Pete Janssen

High school movies, in the 90’s, all pretty much followed the same recipe. You had your obligatory stereotypes that all hated each other: jocks, nerds, goths, valedictorians, rebels, and (occasionally) the new kid. It was a moving caricature of actual high school, all the cliques with an extra dose of heightened violence (this coming from someone who spent most of her childhood in Brooklyn public schools). “The Faculty” was only different in that they spent less time fighting each other and more time fighting the pod people that made up their school.

I know that might sound like I hated the movie, but I really didn’t.  

By today’s standards the graphics were crap, but you have to take into account when it was made. This is a 90’s movie, you’re obviously not going to get 2013 graphics. Even in something like this where the upgraded graphics would have made a significant impact, I will always work to digest it without taking the subject into account. It’s all about story line, acting and overall enjoyment.

The actors were outstanding, all of them. DuVall was the quintessential outcast actor of the 90’s; perpetually type-cast even now, but great at what she does. Then you’ve got the rest of the cast that are mostly celebrated. I’ll admit to squeeing when I saw Jon Stewart and I added it to my queue because of Hartnett – neither of whom disappointed.

On top of the acting, the storyline was adorable. Ok, maybe a sci-fi-horror flick isn’t supposed to be adorable, but it was to me.

An old co-worker suggested I add this to my instant queue because I would love it, and she was right. I’ll likely watch it again.

Overall Opinion – 4/5