Archive for January, 2013

One for the Money (2012) Julie Anne Robinson

Posted in O on January 15, 2013 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $40 million

Worldwide Gross: $36 million

One for the Money is based on one of a series of books by Janet Evanovich featuring her protagonist Stephanie Plum.  Plum is a former lingerie salesperson who decides to become a bounty hunter to pay her bills.  One of her first bounties is for an ex-cop and former boyfriend Joe (Jason O’Mara).  Romance is still present while Plum tries to get Joe’s bounty and solve his crime.

I’ve never read a Janet Evanovich, but I can’t help but feel fans would feel disappointed by the results of One for the Money.  This is despite Evanovich’s own statements she sees Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum.  There is a disconnect between what Plum is written to be and what Heigl thinks Plum should be.  Evanovich says the character is a cross between Nancy Drew and Dirty Harry.  I think it might be more apt to say a street smart version of Veronica Mars but whatever.  What ultimately comes out is what would be a starring vehicle for Fran Drescher in the 90’s.

I used the term ‘street smart‘ before because Plum should be able to maneuver her way through these situations.  I think a good example would be Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop.  He is not someone who is necessarily book smart, but is able to use his checkered past and gift of gab to get through his cases.  You wonder during One for the Money what makes Stephanie Plum so special since she is always the last to know things and everyone bails her out of bad situations.  Heigl plays Plum very ditzy with what I’m sure Heigl thinks is a hilarious Jersey accent.  That’s why I mentioned I see this more as a rom-com starring Fran Drescher.

Speaking of television, this movie reminds me of an extended pilot to a Stephanie Plum TV show rather than a Hollywood film.  There are no action scenes, only one explosion, and all of the humor is more tame than an episode of Two and a Half Men.  I’m not expecting Jack Reacher here but I guess the larger point is I’m not seeing why this character is so special.  One for the Money was obviously made to be the start of a franchise.  They needed to do something to establish itself and show to the uninitiated why this is a popular series, but it comes off as painfully bland.  I would even welcome Drecher because Katherine Heigl doesn’t even have the presence of an actor who can do an interesting goofy role.  If you have seen one Heigl performance you’ve seen them all.

This movie just bored the shit out of me and most of it was due to Plum.  She is so incompetent and cannot do anything right.  The plot seemed to move despite her trying to derail the whole thing.  I’m just sitting there waiting for the mystery to sort itself out becuase I know our protagonist isn’t going to add anything to the matter.  And it might be fine if it was played for comedy but all of the comedy was flat as well.  The plot is modeled after Out of Sight, but Heigl and O’Mara have none of the chemistry that Lopez and Clooney had.

I’m kind of struggling to fill a review because most of it boils down to “watch the trailer“ because that’s the movie.  Some trailers aren’t representative of what the movie is but this one is.  All of the humor, and I mean all of it, is contained in the trailer.  All of the action high points are in there and the only reasons you would see this movie are in the trailer.  In fact, consider it a short film instead of a trailer.  I would say all the unnecessary stuff has been edited out and you are left with all you need to know about One for the Money.  While none of the stuff in this movie was horrible or offensive, there is absolutely no reason to see it.  This TV show would have been cancelled after a few episodes due to lack of interest.  One for the Money killed any interest in making another Stephanie Plum movie ever again because of how boring and lifeless this one is.

Rock of Ages (2012) Adam Shankman

Posted in R on January 14, 2013 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $75 million

Worldwide Gross: $56 million

I’m sure I’ve long since killed a good portion of what little cool I had by admitting I like Glee.  But while its popularity may be overstated, I can at least make a case for why it is admired unlike, say, Twilight.  I think it is a kind of evolution of Saved by the Bell teen goofiness combined with the fun factor of doing big productions of current pop hits.  It is a fresh and energetic take a midst a field of generic blandness.

I can at least give you my feelings upon seeing the trailers for Rock of Ages.  It feels like when your parents try to use current slang in an effort to try to sound “cool“ for their kids but it ends up making them look even more square.  I see Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, and Bryan Cranston (yes, even Bryan Cranston) trying desperately to capitalize on this Glee/High School Musical fad.  But instead of coming off like cool superstars, people like Brand and Baldwin (who have a duet in the film) come off like the Griswalds singing Mockingbird to their kids on summer vacation.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Rock of Ages is about young Drew (Diego Boneta) and Sherrie (Julianne Hough) who work at a club in Hollywood run by Dennis (Alec Baldwin).  Drew and Sherrie have feelings for one another and are trying to make it in the music business.  Dennis‘ club is going bankrupt but one concert may turn things around when rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) is doing one last concert with his current band.  Meanwhile Mayor Whitmore (Cranston) and his prudish wife Patricia (Zeta-Jones) are trying to close the club.

One part where this movie suffers, I guess is an observation universal to movies and not just this one, is that it doesn’t have any interesting characters.  I’m not really exaggerating when all the characters can be summed up in a short phrase.  Dennis is trying to save the club and that’s it.  I can’t describe what he’s like or how he is going to act in a situation.  He is just Alec Baldwin in a bad wig trying to save his club.  Drew wants to be a rock star.  Sherrie is in love with Drew.  Nothing changes during the course of the movie and absolutely no depth is added.  I’ll even compare this to another Glee inspired movie this year which is Pitch Perfect.  Pitch Perfect is a very fun movie, and it is not necessarily about the musical numbers.  Effort was put into telling jokes and working on characters.  Because when I say I want characters I’m not wanting Shakespearean work done, but I need something to connect with.  Anna Kendrick’s Beca has a goal and she has a flaw which is holding her back.  The conflict is about her overcoming her own problems of connecting with people.  Its not epic, but its all I need to make me care about what happens to her in a movie about competing a capella groups.

But more specific to Rock of Ages is it doesn’t go far enough given the topic of rock and roll excess.  If there is anything to take from things like Spinal Tap or Tenacious D is rock (especially the 80’s hair metal) is ripe for mockery.  The only person who seems to be aware of this in Rock of Ages is Tom Cruise.  His spots are the only good parts as he knows this needs a hammy performance.  But even his over the top performance is not quite over enough if you’ve seen the Decline of Western Civilization or read The Dirt.  Everyone is playing this far too bland and, well, un-Metal.  It is quite telling they choose songs like ‘We built this city‘ by Starship as their rock anthem since it is one of the most anti-rock songs ever.  They might as well be singing kumbaya for how controversial they are.  They use the term ‘Rock‘ when really they want ‘Pop‘ because Pop is less offensive to the younger generation than mocking/paying homage to true rock.

This movie really taxed my patience.  Despite having no characters and a paper thin plot, the film makers have pushed this to about two hours.  What actually makes things worse is they add far too many songs for this musical.  I swear it is not even two minutes after a song has finished that we get another one.  It makes things all the more transparent you have nothing else than the Rock Band D-List to cover for having no other material for this piece of crap.

A few other miscellaneous notes before I wrap this up.  Alec Baldwin singing is frankly embarrassing  Julianne Hough sings like she is a lost member of the Chipettes (you seriously wont get that thought out of your head if you do see this movie), and Russell Brand is the anti-funny who never needs to be seen again in any kind of media.  Rock of Ages didn’t need to suck as bad as it did.  At its core it is a musical version of Empire Records which could have been entertaining enough.  Everything about this though screams cheap cash in and for once, the general audience didn’t bite on it.  The characters are beyond bland, the plot is non-existent, the songs get annoying at times, and there is a noticeable lack of fun to be had.  Fuck Rock of Ages, but by all means, see Pitch Perfect.