Tag Archives: 3 potatoes

Couples Retreat (2009)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Kristen Bell, Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis
Director: Peter Billingsley
Screenwriter: Jon Favreau

Ok, I knew I would not like this one. There was no way in hell that a
comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau would interest me in the
slightest. I also am not a heterosexual man so that the hotness of Malin
Ackerman or Kristen Bell or Kristin Davies would blind my rational
judgment. I saw the trailer and I thought it was a nice way for some A
listers to earn some money while getting a natural tan in an exotic location.
I knew well ahead what was coming and my masochist side was pleased to
see I was all I hoped it would be.

The plot revolves around four couples: Malin Ackerman and Vince Vaughn, Kristin Bell and Jason Bateman, Kristin Davis and Jon Favreau, Faison Love and a 20 year old post divorce rebound girlfriend. Every one of these couples
has ONE problem and everything they do is connected to that one problem
and/or is totally out of character but serves an one line unfunny joke. They
try to solve their problems by going on a vacation that includes, among
scuba diving and massages, couples therapy. I KNOW, this is so original
and so not cliché at all!

The trailer lies like a well oiled marketing device: it presents this movie as a
raunchy comedy with a stelar cast, great panoramic views and a love
centered story. If you actually buy tickets, you will be met by some bored
individuals who are trying to sell you some figments of candy wrapped
Hollywood “love” that should make you believe that these are good people
who deserve to be happy. I’ll give them this: they deserve each other. The
stories are one dimensional, predictable and quickly resolved, and there are
not enough helicopter shots of crystal blue sea water in this flick to make
anyone forget what impossibly contrived situations they try to pass as real
couple problems.

When I read some reviews about this movie, I realized that many people said that it was a shame that “such a talented cast” was “dragged into this horror fest”. I disagree. These people have not one, but several people watching every move they make, every contract they sign, every role they pick. They read the script, compare it to the check and decide if it’s worth it. So my conclusion was that Vince Vaughn deserves all the bad press he can get, because he wanted to become this mediocre romantic comedy lead with zero appeal. He is almost Kutcher level for me, only worse especially because he had things going for him that the ladder did not, mainly talent. Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell are basically two sides of the same character but at about half way through the movie, she becomes another person so they can fight and “communicate their issues”. It’s all bland and pointless, not to mention unintentionally funny. They are likable actors, but somehow this movie makes them annoying and I’m very happy because maybe that will make Bell stop with the “cute as a button” type roles. Malin Ackerman is underappreciated by her husband and remains that way even after the credits roll, although the script tries to tell you otherwise. And Faison Love is embarrassing, but luckily the bar can go lower to poor Jon Favreau (who also co-wrote this wreck) and Kristen Davis where there.are.no.words.

While watching this movie, the painfully true line uttered by Roeper when trying to explain using words the awfulness that is “What Happens in Vegas” was floating through my head: “The cast said they had so much fun during the making of this movie, THEY should have to sit through it”.


The Ugly Truth (2009)



Starring: Gerard Butler, Katherine Heigl, Cheryl Hines, Bonnie Somerville, Bree Turner, Vicki Lewis
Director: Robert Luketic
Screenwriter: Nicole Eastman
Rated: R for sexual content and language.

When you read a summary of the plot of “The Ugly Truth” as presented by trailers and adverts, you may be tempted to think: “It cannot be as bad as it sounds! It has Katherine Heigl and the same type of clichés that made “Knocked Up” a sensation (man – funny, laid back and afraid of being trapped, woman – responsible, stressed and afraid of being single). You may be tempted to try to look at the bright side: “At least it is not about aliens” or “At least it is rated R so that means (technically) that I won’t get full frontal nudity gags” or “At least Seth Rogen stayed out of this one”. They are all deceiving! I watched the trailer as I was reviewing and I felt the urge to give it a higher grade because it seemed so much more fun. But the trailer has literally EVERY mediocre joke in the script and the only ones remotely amusing.

My expectations were low when I heard that Katherine Heigl is playing another one of her dreaded roles that she seems to feel are beneath her but somehow she always chooses (either she doesn’t read the scripts or she just accepts the best paid jobs – neither of these situations gives her the right to complain later) . Well, I’ve seen “27 Dresses”. I’ve also seen “Knocked Up”. And about 4 seasons of the pretentious awfulness that is “Grey’s Anatomy”. My conclusion was that she is a very good actress, even when given lines three feet long and one inch deep, and she has a rare ability to be likeable no matter how embarrassing the situation her character has to go through. Unfortunately, this has to be the lowest point of her career (I refuse to acknowledge a lower one). Yes, I included “Grey’s”, although, to be fair, I never quite got to the whole “Izzie has Denny wet dreams” part. Her character, Abby Richter, is the embodiment of a less haute couture dressed “Sex and the City -The Movie” lady. Only she does not have any friends (or relatives for that matter) to talk to about the one subject this whole world revolves around: men – their needs, their expectations when it comes to women and  everything that is vital to obtaining that glorious relationship that leads to marriage, that all women want and that is every man’s worst nightmare because Lord knows there haven’t been enough movies focusing on phony battle of the sexes and this one is SO original –  and she is thus obligated to listen to a total stranger that is some kind of a Jerry Springer love guru that hosts a five minutes show about… monkeys, sex and monkey sex. Heigl’s already severely bruised charm is gradually destroyed by clunky dialogue and unfunny banter that is supposed to be cute but has you reaching for a bag to vomit in. I will not talk about Gerard Butler because I pity him like Mr. T pities the fools. There were no other characters. I seem to remember a Ken doll looking individual that takes his shirt of at some point but I could not care less about his character who was so clearly set out to be a plot device that his role can be summarized as: “prop no. 2 that stands in the way of the main couple”. A box with that label would have done his job for free.

I do not want you to think I hated the movie because it was misogynistic, because it was not. The women were stupid shrews who never found anyone willing to have sex with them so their need got so severe that one of them goes out at a business meeting wearing FUCKING VIBRATING UNDERWEAR. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Ha. Are you done laughing? That was the greatest gag that all the trailers, no matter how short, had to incorporate. Because it was something that nobody, ever, in the history of movie making, thought about. Except maybe Nora Ephron, the writer of “When Harry Met Sally”. And Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the writers of “Crank”. And just about any sitcom and B list movies junior screenwriter of the last 20 years.  I was actually glad I was a woman in that cinema theatre. I bet Gerard Butler would have given his testicles to be playing any other role but his own. The only ones that got more humiliated were the jelly wrestling twins (yes, there were jelly covered bikini clad models, but don’t pay the whole ticket for that, just search it on youtube), but they were girls who had one shot at stardom and if their looks helped, why not? When you are already a star, WHY GOD WHY? His character is not even abrasive like the ones that Rogen usually plays. Not even remotely redeemable. Not even evil. Not even entertaining. He was an absurd caricature of how geeky pussy whipped writers see THE MAN:  he started like a closeted serial rapist that was about to snap and ended like a teenager in love with his 60 year old teacher.

If you are not easily offended (not by language or nudity, but by nonsense stupidity) then don’t go. A test for knowing whether you will be tempted to strangle the cashier of the cinema to get your money back is this: Could you watch “Dude, Where’s My Car?” without changing the channel? Have you laughed more than twice watching it? Was the laughter actually caused by a line in the script rather than ironical? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you are more patient than I could ever be and I bow.

Definitely, Maybe (2008)



Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fisher, Derek Luke, Abigail Breslin, Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Kline
Director: Adam Brooks
Screenwriter: Adam Brook

„Definitely, Maybe” is a long PG-rated bedtime story told by a divorcing father (Ryan Reynolds) to his very clever and cute girl (all grown up Abigail Breslin of the great „Little Miss Sunshine” fame), a „mistery romance” involving three diferent women, each of which could be the mother of his daughter. We are teased about the changing of the names, so that we know that the Sarah from the settlement papers could be the blonde Emily (Elizabeth Banks), the fire red April (Isla Fisher) or the brunette Summer (Rachel Weisz). Ultimately the conclusion is surprisingly outside this dilemma. And by surprisingly I mean “out of nowhere”.

Although the movie is tediously long, the characters are unacceptably underdeveloped. The main character, a Wisconsin young man with presidential ambitions and a Clinton supporter, arrives in New York for an internship in the democrat campaign office. This is all established in the first 5 minutes and it’s repeated at nauseam, and what makes it even worse is that no further traits are presented. Except maybe a touch of self pity that is never attractive. Despite being two dimensional, he still manages to find beautiful women ready to commit to him. The first one is his college girlfriend Emily. She fairs far worse: she has only one dimension – Wisconsin girl who wears sweaters. And because of the vagueness around her, when an extra (his roommate) gets a line, we know for sure a) what is going to happen, b) that it is important in the storyline and c) that we do not care. Next in line is Summer, a journalist with a bohemian lifestyle, because it is impossible to be a talented artist unless you’ve had a lesbian experience, slept with your age 66 mentor and travelled to Europe. And the only one that gets a little back story is Isla Fisher’s character (therefore we know she’s special): the carefree forever young soul dubbed the “copy machine girl” who has an obsession about finding the book that her father gave to her before he died (“Jane Eyre”), and I tried to give a shit but it was impossible seeing how nobody ever bothered to explain how she lost it in the first place. These beautiful bland people seem to be the only four dwellers of Manhattan as they keep bumping into each other over and over again for years. Luckily, their non-emotional drama is sometimes interrupted by the comments of the preteen girl who seems the only one capable of expressing and attracting any kind of sympathy.

The pacing is unbearable. There are long useless scenes that I think were inserted to compensate for the lack of unity by adding “historic setting” to the thematic chaos, and the writer is trying so hard to evoke the 90’s (“hahahaha, they had brick cell phones in ’92!”, “remember the Lewinsky scandal?”, “Bush is dumb”) that he should receive the Nobel Prize for curing insomnia. Newsflash for the makers of this movie: if you say it is a romantic comedy, please make us laugh or make us feel warm and fuzzy inside (preferably both), don’t bore us to death with your useless “transcending genre” crap. The people who come to see a romantic comedy a)expect to laugh at least once, b) should not be compelled to check their watches every minute and c) DO NOT APPRECIATE EMPTY SHELLS OF REJECTED SUNDANCE MATERIAL and d) can see that you are being boring on purpose and they may start to hate you. And my personal favorite: e) all the above.

Will has two operating patterns: when he is not sure what he wants and he is not in love he proposes, and when he loves a girl he insults her by being condescending or he asks her to stop doing her job because she is in his way. All while pursing his lips and crying himself to sleep because of all the hardship he had to endure, hardship that is not only self-inflicted, but also well deserved. The comatose acting of Reynolds is not helping either, and through his long continuous journey he arjfwqqqqqqdsffffffjaosfsanvasifajfnvn aigssagiaosgosagoasgasgagasgosagiasoigagoasogaosgoiasogaviasgaosgiasogosaogaogoasdccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc… Sorry, I fell asleep. Where was I? Ah yes, the point of the “love story” is layered etryuilkjhgfhjkllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll… Ok, I need to skip this part.

I was surprised to se the 72% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I began to wonder if I missed something (besides Abigail who is charming and great and without who I would have left the cinema long before the credits) because I kept fixating on how long it lasted and how excruciatingly slow the seconds passed. But then I remembered that I lived through (and enjoyed) the mind numbing “The Hours” (or the “virtually humorless and extremely talky, the movie takes place during one day in each woman’s life, although it moves so slowly it often feels like a week” as this critic described it), as well as every episode of “90210” (have you seen it? it’s so bad it’s good!) and never complained because the first had actual wit and the second never apologized for being a brainless soap opera.