Category: Film

Dinner For Schmucks

Dinner for Schmucks

Directed by Jay Roach. Starring Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Jemaine Clement, Zach Galifianakis, Stephanie Szostak, and Lucy Punch.

Let’s face it, you already know if you’re going to like Dinner for Schmucks. Can’t get enough of Steve Carell’s painfully uncomfortable awkwardness or Paul Rudd’s seemingly effortless charm? Then this is the movie for you. Dinner for Schmucks suffers from a terribly slow first Act littered with too much expository dialogue, but with the introduction of Steve Carell’s Barry, the movie picks up some serious speed and becomes all that it promises to be: funny.

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Mind-Heist Madness


Written and directed by Chris Nolan

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, and Michael Caine

“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.” So says David H. Everett and Inception agrees to the fullest, by constructing a world where dream and reality collide to the point where it becomes nearly impossible to distinguish the two.

Inception, at its very basic level, is a heist film, except instead of robbing a bank or jewelry store the characters break into a subject’s subconscious via dreams and their big pay-off is information. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are specialists in “extraction”, breaking into someone’s mind and taking whatever information they’re hiding. However this can only be accomplished when the subject and extractors are sedated and hooked up to a “sleep machine” of sorts (similar to “jacking into” the Matrix) allowing for multiple layers of dreams to be created (dreaming within a dream).

Cobb and Arthur are eventually hired to do the opposite of extraction: “inception”, which is planting an idea deeply enough into the subconscious of a target, so that they wake up thinking the idea was theirs, allowing you to plant any idea (sinister or benign) without a trace. They plan on doing this by creating a triple layered dream (dreaming within a dream within a dream, get it?) and so they set out to recruit a team and plan their attack for this widely considered impossible feat.

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Marvel has announced that Tommy Lee Jones will be joining the ever increasingly awesome cast of their upcoming movie Captain America. Tommy will be playing Col. Phillips who, for those of you unfamiliar with the comics, is the guy who recruits Steve Rogers (Captain America) to be a test subject in project Rebirth, which eventually transforms him into the shield wielding hero.

While I’m still skeptical about how Chris Evans’ performance as the Cap will turn out, having Tommy Lee Jones join in, alongside Stanley Tucci and Hugo Weaving (as friggin Red Skull), will hopefully make this movie great. That is if those three have a lot of screen time. Since it is an origin story I’d think that Tommy and Stanley’s roles will be slightly larger than they actually are in the comics and if that’s the case, they can easily help carry any scenes for Chris Evans if he starts to bomb. Can’t wait to see how this one turns out.

Some Things Just Can’t Be Undone

Dragonball: Evolution

Directed by Jason Wong, starring Justin Chatwin, Chow Yun-Fat, Emmy Rossum and James Marsters

The past few posts I’ve made have all started out with an apology for The Shpitz’s lack of…dedication and this one is no different. We’ve all been too lazy to sit down and write something plus we all had very a stressful seven days vacationing in sunny Barcelona last week (which Tyler recorded and might put up here… might) so I’ll use that as an excuse for not posting anything in forever.

Good news though, this is our 50th post and what better way to celebrate that than with a review of Dragonball: Evolution! YAY!!!

This movie blows.

Now, I wish I could stop there. I’d like to end it at that, turn around, walk away and try to suppress the memory of ever having seen this thing. But for some reason, I can’t. It was so terrible that I actually want to talk about it; I need to rant about this horrifying Anime adaptation and the crap that goes on in it, for the good of the land.

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The Best of Brooks

Mel Brooks certainly rode a blazing saddle. With a Grammy, Tony, Oscar and Emmy under his belt and the honor of having three of his films ranked in the top 20 on AFI’s 100 comedies of all-time, it’s safe to say this guy knows funny. After rewatching the musical mash-up of his work at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, I decided to put together a little list (in no particular order) of my favorite Mel Brooks comedies. LISTS!

Spaceballs (1987)

Brooks’ Star Wars spoof is packed full of ridiculous gags that’ll make you roll with laughter and slap your forehead sighing, “wow he actually went through with that one” (gotta love that jammed radar joke). With Rick Moranis, John Candy and Mel Brooks himself at the helm of this satirical ship, it’s a must see for any comedy fan. May the Schwartz be with you.

Blazing Saddles (1974)

The movie that gave us the famous campfire fart scene, Blazing Saddles tells the twisted tale of a corrupt political boss who convinces the dim-witted Governor (cross-eyed, paddle ball enthusiast Mel Brooks) to elect a black Sheriff in hopes that he will be lynched leaving it unprotected for bandits. With Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn and Cleavon Little, this movie satirizes the obscured racism of Cowboy movies…but more importantly it’s hilarious.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

As the tagline states, “the legend had it coming…”. Mel Brooks retells the Robin Hood mythos with his own comedic, satirical twist in his parody of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Robin Hood leads his men in tights (tight tights!) to steal from the rich, give to the poor and yadda yadda you know the story already. Cary Elwes, Dave Chappelle and Richard Lewis front this film and deliver a stream of gags that will most likely leave you more entertained than the recent Russell Crowe adaptation.

The Producers (1968)

Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel, need I say more? Brooks’ most ambitious project is about a pair of Producers who realize you can make more money with a flop than with a hit, and then go on to produce “Springtime for Hitler” (a supposed sure-fire flop) only to have audiences fall in love with it. While most critics at the time hated this film, it’s garnered a significant cult following due to the musical adaptation’s success (also written by Mel Brooks) and the fact that it’s amazing.

High Anxiety (1978)

Have you ever thought that Alfred Hitchcock was too dark and just needed to lighten up a little? Well apparently so did Mel Brooks and so he created High Anxiety an homage to the Master of Suspense, parodying “The Birds”, “Psycho” and “Vertigo” to name a few. The film stars Brooks staples Madeline Kahn and Harvey Korman and is a laugh a minute.

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle and Cloris Leachman lead this classic horror movie spoof about a young Dr. Frankenstein (that’s Frankensteen, thank you very much) who travels to his Grandfather’s castle for scientific research, ultimately ending in reanimating human life! Brooks is at his best with this movie and the scene where Dr. Frankenstein and Igor discuss a werewolf is so stupid that it’s amazing.

The Producers (2005)

Yeah, yeah I know, I already have “The Producers” on my list, but this one is the musical adaptation and is significantly different than the original. So there. With Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell, the musical version tells basically the same story as it’s predecessor but with enough changes for it to be a completely different experience. Mel Brooks further proves his comic genius (as if that needed proving) by writing all of the songs in this musical, and you’ll be singing “keep it gay” weeks after watching.

History of the World: Part I (1981)

What Mel Brooks movie list is complete without “History of the World: Part I”? This film gave us the famous Brooks line, “It’s good to be the king” as well as an assortment of jokes and gags that you’ll recognize even if you haven’t seen the film. It’s one heck of a movie and if you’re a Mel Brooks fan who hasn’t seen it (which is doubtful) change that now!

Heading In A Backwards Direction

Might Get Loud (2008)

Director: Davis Guggenheim

Starring: Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White

First off I’d like to apologize for the lack of quality posts on The Shpitz recently, most of us have either been too busy or too lazy to put stuff up more frequently and so consider this my promise to put up more stuff more often!

Well now that that’s out of the way, it’s MOVIE TIME!

It Might Get Loud is a documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim about guitar legends Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge. There is no significant connection between these three other than they are deeply passionate about their music and the electric guitar, and the documentary is simply a conversation with these three about their influences in artistic style and their experiences in making music. While listening to three guys ramble on for two hours may sound like a pretty boring documentary, I couldn’t have been any more entertained when watching this movie. Click more to find out why!

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Kick-Ass (2010)

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Nicolas Cage and Chloë Grace Moretz

It’s become increasingly rare for me to be thoroughly excited about a movie I’m watching, a movie that gets me so pumped up that once it’s over I’m on the edge of my seat, gawking slack-jawed at the screen and longing for more. Kick-Ass did just that.

A group of friends and I saw Kick-Ass about a week ago and it’s been on my mind since. We had so much adrenaline pumping through us afterwards that once we finally stopped talking about “how freaking awesome that movie was!” we started planning out our own superheroes, costumes, names, powers and all (even drawing the concept art, which could possibly end up on this site…).

I was looking at some other reviews for this movie and most of them (not surprisingly) were negative. What most critics failed to realize about this movie, however, is that it takes you on a ride. Sure, there isn’t that much emotional connection to the movie or any real kind of aesthetic appeal, but this movie is fun. From start to finish, I was having the time of my life and watching that movie went from being a pass time to an experience.

Matthew Vaughn creates a pitch-black satire of the comic genre in his film adaptation of the Marvel comic Kick-Ass. The movie follows the same basic structure that’s become increasingly popular over the years (Wanted and Zombieland are just a few that come to mind), a loser protagonist narrating his experience from zero to hero.

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Nice work, Bone Daddy!

With more than his share of amazing films, stories and ideas, he is by far a well known and greatly loved director and creativity fountain.  One of his greatest films received 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and has had more critical acclaim than most estranged Christmas films would have a chance of receiving. Growing up and watching movies of his realizing there is theme of the lead characters being misunderstood, which is made apparent by Vincent, a short film of his, each character is similar but unique. Being a fan of Batman, Batman Returns (which my dad loved and always thought were the best Batman films in a strange way), Big Fish, Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Ed Wood, I had obviously not-so-patiently awaited Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and, later, Sweeney Todd. His, in my opinion, greatest masterpiece happens to be inspired by the changing decorations from ghouls and goblins to elves and reindeer in a normal mall.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Simply Breath-Taking (not because they're dead)

Director Henry Selick, who may have been the inspiration to do Charlie & the Chocolate Factory based on his hair, took over the part of directing because Mr. Tim Burton, the genius behind The Nightmare Before Christmas, was directing Batman Returns. Forgive me for my run-on sentences, I suffer from it due to my Spanish language influence. Directing or not, Tim Burton still had quite a handle on the entire project. He left the idea with Disney and came back to make his ideas concrete and last a lifetime.

First of all, I would say most people have probably seen this movie. If they haven’t there is no amount of Jewish shame I can place on them that would justify their terrible waste of time that kept them from watching this movie. If you haven’t seen it, please do not read because there will be many “spoilers”.

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Precious Bodily Fluids

Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Tracy Reed and Slim Pickens

A great film is one that, despite being watched countless times, still seems fresh and undated. It is a film where you make a new discovery with every viewing. Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove is a great film.

Dr. Strangelove is a comedy satirizing the Cold War and tells the story of a crazed Army General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) who orders an unauthorized nuclear strike against Russia. British Attaché Group Captain Mandrake (Peter Sellers) realizes that Gen. Ripper must’ve made some sort of miscalculation and so tries talking him into calling off the strike, yet only manages to get himself locked in an office with the nutjob General. The situation quickly escalates, and the President of the United States (again played by Peter Sellers) holds a meeting with several Military leaders  in one of the most widely recognizable film sets of all time, The War Room, about what needs to be done. Top Military Scientist and crazy Nazi, Dr. Strangelove (yeah you guessed it, Peter Sellers) warns them of the devastating Doomsday Machine and the unavoidable destruction it would cause (all human and animal life obliterated) if a nuclear bomb were to strike it’s location (which happens to be Russia). As you can see, they’ve got a dilemma. Through a dark comedy of errors, the characters try and fail repeatedly to call off the nuclear strike until eventually, B-52 Pilot Maj. King ‘Kong’ (Slim Pickens) rides the H-bomb bareback into it’s target.


To prepare for this review, I had to watch the film again for the first time in about two years or so since I needed to reacquaint myself with the material. I’ve read several reviews for this film, all of them praising George C. Scott’s performance, which I thought (back when I first saw it) wasn’t anything amazing. This time around, however, I knew exactly what everyone was talking about because I discovered what he can do with his face.

He's kind of crazy

When I watched it again, all of his grimaces, facial tics, twitches and eyebrow arching were crystal clear. I passed over all of this the first few times because Scott’s work hides in plain sight. His face is so plastic and mobile, yet you don’t consciously notice it because he sells his performance with such conviction. Take, for example, a small scene where his character Gen. Buck Turgdison is running around the War Room and then trips, rolls on the floor, rights himself up and carries on all without dropping a line. Kubrick (known for being a perfectionist) left this unplanned fall in, because Scott made it seem so convincing.

Scott’s performance is just one example of the comedy in this film. As Roger Ebert put it, Dr. Strangelove’s humor is generated by a basic comic principle, “people trying to be funny are never as funny as people trying to be serious and failing”. All the characters in Dr. Strangelove are played so seriously that you can’t stop yourself from laughing when they all fall apart.

General Ripper’s dialogue is so sexually charged that it leads to the most ridiculous and awkward conversations between him and Captain Mandrake, as he goes on a tirade about how the commies are poisoning the “purity and essence of our natural bodily fluids” while fondling his phallic cigar. One of the funniest bits in the movie is when Ripper is explaining to Mandrake how he concocted this crazy conspiracy theory during “the physical act of love” where he suddenly had a feeling of great fatigue and loss of “concentration”. Naturally, his impotency was caused by those damn Ruskies poisoning the water supply.

Peter Sellers’ Oscar nominated triple performance accentuates the dead pan, failed seriousness humor of this film. He plays the roles of Group Captain Mandrake, President Muffley and Dr. Strangelove and gives each of them their own distinct accent, physical appearance and movement. His character of President Muffley is a great example of being extremely serious and failing. One of the best scenes in the film is where he is having a conversation over the phone with Russian Prime Minister Kissoff. He gets into an argument about how the President never calls Kissoff just to say hello, and then they fight over who is more sorry about the fact that nuclear warheads are on their way to Russia.

Dr. Merkwurdichliebe

Peter Sellers was known to be quite…uncontrollable on the set of films. He would go off script and improvise dialogue, was always doing different accents and acting out of character, and was just enjoying himself. Stanley Kubrick was known for his attention to detail and for being a perfectionist, so naturally you’d think these two would collide. On the contrary, Kubrick actually encouraged Peter’s improvisation and the character of Dr. Strangelove (a maniacal nazi scientist with a possessed arm) was actually developed through Peter goofing around the set and playing with one of Kubrick’s lighting gloves. Watching these two artists work together (although it was not the first time they have done so) is spectacular and their finished product is tremendous.

Dr. Strangelove captures the spirit of the cold war and the “we better attack before they do” mentality, yet it does so in a way that is absolutely hilarious. This film is a timeless masterpiece that is still as poignant as it was when it was first released. So go and watch it!

Down The Rabbit Hole

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Director: Tim Burton, Starring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Stephen Fry, and Alan Rickman

Tim Burton’s latest film is adapted from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. The original stories were a bizarre dream world full of contradictions, witty wordplay and smiling cats. Carroll’s work is littered with craziness and when translating this onto film, it’s only fitting that the director be someone just as strange as Carroll…and who’s a better choice than Tim Burton?

Now, I think it’s important to note here that I am a HUGE Lewis Carroll fan. I’ve got this big ass book (courtesy of Tyler, thanks hun) full of everything he’s ever written. Letters, poems, riddles the whole sha-bang. What attracts me to his work, in particular the Alice stories, is just how strange they are. They are devoid of any real plot (Alice just wanders from place to place until she wakes up) but what makes the stories so good is the weird conversations the characters have and how one event just sort of blurs with another, without any sort of transition.

The books force you to stop trying to make sense out of things, if you think you’ve got “the deeper meaning” figured out, Carroll throws something twice as crazy at you, just to screw with your head.

When I went to see the movie I was excited to see how Burton would handle the nonsense of the books and if he would tweak it to his signature dark style. I wasn’t impressed…

The movie’s main problem was that it tried creating a plot (fools) and a rather weak one at that. Basically, Alice returns to Wonderland (which is actually called Underland) to find the whole gang of fairytale creatures and talking animals waiting for her to explain how she has to slay the Jabberwock on the Frabjous day because the Compendium that predicts all events past, present and future says so. You follow?

Curiouser and curiouser...

The movie tried justifying everything that happens like it was hold the audience’s hand and walk them through the story. A small example would be giving names to the little cakes that Alice eats to grow bigger, or providing a whole back story on why the Mad Hatter is so…mad. It lost all of the strangeness and dream like flow wherein nothing is explained that made Carroll’s work a classic.

Despite this, the movie did have some high points, mostly the overall look of the film and the acting. Johnny Depp played a great Mad Hatter. The tea party was great at showing just how crazy all the characters are, and Depp’s random slipping in and out of a Scottish accent was one of the few small ways the movie included something that they don’t explain.

I've often seen a cat without a grin, but never a grin without a cat!

Stephen Fry did the voice of Cheshire Cat perfectly, delivering his lines with a small air of menace, as if he’s hiding something sinister behind that giant smile of his.

Helena Bonham Carter played the tyrannical cross between the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts. While her performance was stunning her character’s relationship with the Knight was a little odd because it tried to create some sort of sympathy for her character as if she wasn’t evil after all but just misunderstood.

Mia Wasikowska stood out above the rest. Her portrayal of Alice was just as rebellious and curious as her Victorian counterpart and she played the role beautifully.

Tim Burton created a unique take on the Alice in Wonderland story, but it lacked a significant amount of the strange, nonsense, dream like feel that made Carroll’s stories so much fun to read. It’s a movie you’ll watch once and then never have the desire to watch it again which, unfortunately, I did.

Oh and bonus points for whoever can come up with the most original explanation for why a raven is like a writing desk.