Happy Singles Awareness Day!

That Awkward Moment (2014)
Chick Flick Rating: (1/5)
Film Rating: (1/5)
Boyfriend Friendly: If he is actually your boyfriend, yes. If he is a guy you’re just dating and haven’t had the “so, where is this going?” talk yet, then NO NO NO.

If there has ever been a movie to deter me from ever wanting to date in New York City again, this was that movie.

Now listen, I may pride myself on having an unhealthy obsession with chick flicks but I also LOVE myself some guy humor. I mean, I may or may not have spent my Valentine’s Day night sitting on the couch with my two roommates watching fart videos on YouTube like this one:


(Note: our V-Day wasn’t completely void of any class. Prior to this we smuggled some Two-Buck Chuck into a movie theater and saw Her for the 3rd time. Review to come.)

Anyway, my point is that normally I can overlook the copious amount of sexism that is prevalent in most “guy humor” flicks, IF they are indeed funny and original and all of that other stuff that makes a movie enjoyable. But the most awkward moment in That Awkward Moment was five minutes in when I realized I had already cringed at two flat jokes about how easy-yet-needy females are and still had a full hour and 29 minutes to suffer through.

The film opens up with some VO by Zac Efron telling us about this dreaded thing he calls “The So Moment” which occurs after roughly six weeks of fucking a girl where she asks (while his dick is inside her, obvs), “So… where is this going?” because, I mean, girls can just never have casual sex and ALWAYS have to let emotions get involved and just want to be in a relationship with anyone who will be in a relationship with us. Right?! After this, we meet Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) whose wife is cheating on him with some guy “who looks like Morris Chestnut” (and is played by Morris Chestnut, which actually did make me laugh). He tells his besties Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) about it, and they all decide YEAH! THIS IS GREAT! WE CAN ALL BE SINGLE GUYS WHO BANG LOTS OF CHICKS AND PLAY XBOX IN OUR BOXERS WHILE DRINKING WHISKEY TOGETHER! POUND IT.

Except then Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots) who is perfect because she is blonde, and witty, and well-read, and forgives him when he misunderstands what she meant by “dressing up” for her birthday and shows up wearing a dildo (which is not only a total Legally Blonde rip-off but also an inappropriate costume choice for anyone not in a fraternity even if this WAS a costume party). Also, she’s really good at Xbox and drinks Scotch. And did I mention she’s cool with the fact that he thought she was a hooker when they first met? Meanwhile, Daniel starts hooking up with his super down-to-earth gal pal Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), and Mikey and his wife give their marriage another go. But of course, the friends aren’t honest with one another about their relationships. Because they made a pact. And bro pacts are ALWAYS more important than the feelings of a female. So they all downplay it, to the point where Jason stands up Ellie AT HER OWN DAD’S FUCKING FUNERAL because that would make him look weak to the guys. God forbid!

Spoiler alert: Ellie forgives him at the end. Of course.

Anyway, this film – written and directed by Tom Gormican – was just one bad joke after another. It was literally like his formula for writing this script was sexist cliche + trying-to-be-edgy pop culture ref, followed by lame joke, repeat. As you know, I am a big Zac Efron fan for more than just his looks and I defended his acting in my review for The Lucky One. I stand by that opinion here, and I also feel the same about Michael B. Jordan (whose Fruitvale Station performance moved me beyond belief) and Miles Teller, who I haven’t seen much of but like his comedic timing. Why any of them would agree to this movie though is beyond me. Maybe they thought they’d find the comedic success that Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis did after The Hangover, or like the whole Apatow crowd did after Superbad, but sorry guys – the material just WAS NOT there.

As they say, don’t hate the players, hate the game. Well, I REALLY hated this game.

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First Impressions: Think Like A Man vs. The 5 Year Engagement

Since I saw Think Like A Man and The Five Year Engagement back to back – and since both have Kevin Hart in the cast, underlying motifs about baked goods, and aspiring chefs who open up a food truck in the midst of heartbreak – I decided that smushing the two into one review would be appropriate.

First up…

Think Like A Man (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ½ (2.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: The title and predominantly male cast will make it hard for him to realize you tricked him into seeing a chick flick.

In a world where women are cursed with longer bathrooms lines, our “monthly friend”, and the joy of pushing babies out of our vaginas (seriously?), female intuition is the one thing we’ve always had going for us. So why would any woman want to “think like a man”? That was my first thought when I saw the trailer a few months back, and I walked into the theater ready to sit through a misogynistic movie that encouraged girls to modify their values in order to get a guy. Instead, I was pleased to find that, like dating, first impressions can be deceiving…

Based on the actual dating advice book by Steve Harvey (seriously?), Think Like A Man is an ensemble comedy about four different types of men boys whose girlfriends begin taking the advice from Harvey’s book to heart and turn the tables on the relationship. When the guys catch on, and realize that Harvey has betrayed the sacred bro code by revealing their secrets to women worldwide, they decide to use the book to their advantage by planning a counterattack. Of course, this backfires and the women end up with exactly what they wanted. Like I said, female intuition is a force you just can’t mess with. Zeke (Romany Malco) is a player, who is determined to get into the pants of Mya (Meagan Good)… little does he know she’s just as determined to wait 90 days before giving him “her cookie” (seriously?). Michael (Terrence J. Corwley) doesn’t skip a Sunday dinner with his Momma and still has her do his laundry – much to the dismay of his single-mother girlfriend Candace (Regina Hall), who is sick of being number two in his life. Dominic (Michael Ealy) is a waiter/valet parker/aspiring chef whose relationship with Lauren (Taraji P. Henson), a COO of a Fortune 500 company, is based on the illusion that he drives a Lamborghini. Turtle – I mean Jerry Ferrara – plays Jeremy, a frat boy who graduated years ago and still won’t propose to his breadwinning college girlfriend, Kristen (Gabrielle Union). However, it is Gary Owen and Kevin Hart who steal the show in supporting roles as their friends. Owen plays Bennett, the token white guy of the bunch who is actually happily married and damn proud of it. Hart plays new and bitter divorcée Cedric, who is determined to get over his ex-wife (Wendy Williams), either by hitting the strip club… or Michael’s mom. And even though I hate to say it, because I despise him with every fiber of my being, Chris Brown also has a hysterical cameo role as a former one night stand of Mya’s, who she runs into everywhere. Guess playing an asshole wasn’t that far of a stretch for him, huh?

Though a little long (2 hours!) and very predictable, there are more than enough laughs that make up for all of the film’s faults. (Generally it’s a good sign for me when parts that made me laugh in the trailer still make me laugh in the theater.) I was also relieved that I never felt like the women were actually “thinking like a man” – to me, they were actually thinking in a very calculated way that only a woman could think, and I was pleased that they never had to change who they were/settle for anything less than what they deserved in order to be happy in love. However, I would highly NOT recommend seeing this if you expect to come out of it with any sort of new insight into the male brain. Something tells me that asking a guy what his short-term and long-term goals are on the first date, or inviting him up for a “night cap” and only giving him a cup of coffee, won’t go as well in real life as it did in this movie. Nice try Steve-o, but I’ll stick to Cosmo.

Sidenote: Can someone please start giving Michael Ealy’s sexy blue eyes their own line in the credits?

Moving on to…

The Five Year Engagement (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ (3/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
Boyfriend friendly: Humor you can both enjoy. Unless you’ve been (im)patiently waiting for him to pop that question… then do everything in your power to make sure he doesn’t ever see this movie. Ever.

It was love at first one-sheet sight for me and The Five Year Engagement. Emily Blunt’s cake-filled mouth and Jason Segel’s tux-under-bathrobe attire still manages to squeeze a smile outta me every single time I see it. However, an itty bitty voice inside my head kept telling me to be skeptical and not fall too hard. Sure, it was written by and stars Jason Segel – the man behind one of my absolute favorite movies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and the man who makes up 50% of my all-time favorite fictional couple (Marshmallow and Lilypad!). But there was something about the premise that always irked me. Why would moving to Michigan mean you’d have to delay your wedding by five years? One or two years while you get settled – sure. But five?! I’ve known people who’ve had super long engagements, but it’s usually for logistical reasons, like the reception hall the bride-to-be’s been dreaming of since she was a little girl is booked for the next 3 years or that her sister got engaged at the same time and she wants her own separate year to be a “Princess Bride”. Having to postpone tying the knot because you move to Michigan and the relationship gets a little rocky? Well, that has me wondering if the couple should even get married in the first place…

The Five Year Engagement starts off where most romcoms end. Tom (Segel) proposes to his girlfriend of exactly one year, Violet (Blunt), on the rooftop of the San Fran restaurant where he works as a sous chef, while fireworks go off ringing in the new year. She accepts and engagement parties and pre-wedding bliss ensue… until Violet receives an acceptance letter inviting her to participate in a two-year post-doctoral psychology program at the University of Michigan. Tom is supportive, saying he can cook anywhere, so the two say goodbye to the Bay Area and head to the snowy North. Only the adjustment isn’t as easy for Tom as he thought it’d be. While Violet’s career blossoms, attracting special attention from the Professor she works under, Tom gets a job making deli sandwiches on College Row. Wedding plans continue to loom farther and farther on the horizon, particularly as Violet’s program gets extended a few years and as Tom becomes complacent hunting in the wilderness, wearing dopey hand-knit sweaters, and sporting an uneven beard. The major blow to the relationship comes when Tom eats part of Violet’s psychology experiment – a stale doughnut.

It was interesting to see this movie with my younger sister, who is my polar opposite, because we both picked different sides. I have always been very driven with a “career first, love after” mindset and eloping sounds more appealing to me than dealing with the madness of a wedding, whereas my sister came out of the womb wearing a tiara and is positive that Kate Middleton’s special day won’t hold a candle to hers. So it makes sense that I was very sympathetic towards Violet, who was trying to follow her dream, and that my sister was sympathetic towards Tom, who was trying to follow his heart. In fact, my sister and I got into a very heated debate after the movie over this. I felt that Tom never even tried to make himself happy there for her, and that he was a sulky cry baby about everything. Take the deli job and then keep looking! There’s gotta be a fancier restaurant somewhere in the state of Michigan! It also bothered me that he was never honest with her about his feelings – she asked him a countless number of times if he was unhappy and he always lied, which caused him to lash out in passive-aggressive ways via repulsive beards and deerskin mugs instead of trying to fix the problem like an adult. Sissy on the other hand was very aggravated by Violet’s selfish and insensitive attitude, believing that she knew Tom was unhappy there but never wanted to admit it to herself because then she would have to make compromises. Instead of trying to help her fiancée adapt, she complained about him to her Professor – who interpreted it as a call for help. In the end, we both agreed that the characters really were not compatible for one another and that the only reason we were rooting for them to end up together was because of the adorable charm each actor brought to them.

What The Five Year Engagement lacked in romance, it made up in laughs. There were some really, really funny parts. Chris Pratt – who, if you remember, got his start on angsty teen dramas like Everwood and The O.C. – has really proven his comedic chops lately: first on Parks and Rec, and now here as Alex, Tom’s obnoxious-in-a-fantastic-way BFF. Alex’s parody of We Didn’t Start The Fire, which was sampled in the trailer, is only one of two amazing song performances he has in the film. The other is a sincere, full-out rendition of Cucurrucucu Paloma, dedicated to his shot-gun bride and Violet’s sister, Suzie (Alison Brie/Mrs. Pete Campbell). In all honesty, it has Grammy potential. If Alex’s singing steals the first half of the movie, then it is Suzie and Violet’s conversation using Elmo and Cookie Monster voices at the request of Suzie’s daughter that steals the second half. Come to think of it, I think that the coupling of Pratt and Brie is what made the entire movie for me, and I kinda think Segel should consider writing a spin-off about them a la Get Him To The Greek.

When The Five Year Engagement was funny – it was funny. But when it wasn’t, it was sad and depressing and dragged. I know Segel wrote it, but I almost wish John Krasinski, Blunt’s real-life husband, had played the part of Tom instead. He could have definitely pulled the role off just as well, and then perhaps there would’ve been more chemistry. I really do adore Emily Blunt but this is the second movie I’ve seen of hers in a row where the on-screen chemistry just was not there (See: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)! I wonder if that is mere coincidence, or if it is a problem we are going to see more of…

                                                                   * * *

You probably won’t get this unless you’ve seen both movies but…
                           “When Sesame Street Meets Think Like A Man”

Bridesmaids with Babies

Friends with Kids (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ½ (3.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ (3.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: He’ll get a kick out of the monogamous “woe is me” males. But he’ll also probably return that engagement ring.

In a world where the divorce rate is at 50%, a baby can be conceived in a test tube, and chivalry is so dead that today – in a subway car full of men in suits – I was the one that gave up my seat to a pregnant woman, why bother with the all traditional bullshit?

In Friends with Kids, Julie Keller (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason Fryman (Adam Scott) are two single, thirtysomething Manhattanites who decide to fuck tradition (figuratively, but also kind of literally). Julie is perfectly content at being mediocre: she has good hair, can pull the rest together, and has a decent job with a nice boss. Jason comes from money, really enjoys his sex life, and likes to play a game where you have to pick one out of two terrible would-you-rather situations. BFFs since the college days, the two are dumbfounded when they discover their married-with-children friends (aka the entire cast of Bridesmaids – Maya Rudolph & Chris O’Dowd, Kristen Wiig & Jon Hamm), who were once so hot and heavy they’d have quickies in restaurant bathrooms, are now resentful, spiteful and only have sex once a month (if it’s a good month). On the endless journey back from visiting the couples in Guam Brooklyn, Jason jokes that divorced people who remarry have it great: they only have to take care of a kid 50% of the time, so the other 50% can be spent intimately with the one they’re meant to be with. When Julie agrees, he takes the joke further saying that they should have a kid together and split custody. After all – not only are they best friends with nothing but platonic feelings for one another, but they live in the same apartment building. 9 months after some awkward, almost-incestuous-feeling sex – Joseph Keller-Fryman is born.

The concept behind this movie isn’t groundbreaking by any means – especially given the last few years in rom-com world (i.e. The Switch, The Back-Up Plan, Life As We Know It). But this is the first time it’s been done by someone as wickedly sharp and funny as Jennifer Westfeldt – who not only starred in this, but also wrote and directed it. With a smart script that was able to make me want both things (for the arrangement to work and for Julie & Jason to end up together), and an all-star cast that she was able to nab through the connections of her longtime, real-life lover Jon Hamm, the idea of having a kid with someone you’re not in a relationship with felt… well, genius.

Of course, as it turns out, life with a kid isn’t all that much sexier just because you’re single. Little Joe can have a diarrhea attack at any moment, and he won’t hold it back just because Megan Fox is in the next room waiting to bang your brains out. And, as Ben (Hamm) points out in a drunken tirade that is spot-on though spurned from jealousy, what do you tell Joe when he’s older and finds out Mommy and Daddy never loved each other? Jason and Julie think they have all the answers, but soon Joe is close to 2 and throwing a heartbreaking tantrum because he wants Daddy to stay the night.

Friends with Kids is a great romantic comedy (with the perfect combination of both) and I highly recommend it, as it acts like an unofficial, more mature sequel to Bridesmaids. It skips all the conventional “honeymoon bliss” and cuts right to the core of a relationship. When there’s not enough time to have shower sex every morning, what else is there to hold it together? Friends with Kids will never be a classic because it is just slightly too familiar, slightly too smart, and slightly too painfully honest at times. The 3.5 rating comes mostly from the last five minutes of the film, which tries to be edgy with an indelicate “I Love You” speech by Jason that uses my favorite four letter word when it just isn’t appropriate. Westfeldt does give us the happy ending though, and in some twisted way it seems that their crazy idea inevitably worked out. Baby first, love story after.

And now I leave you with a link to Chick Flick Critic’s Jason-Fryman-Inspired “Would You Rather” Quiz. Have fun!

Celebrity Freebie List

For anyone not familiar – the almighty Celebrity Freebie List is a special liberty bestowed upon all couples by the writers of “Friends” giving each partner in a relationship the right to choose a maximum of 5 celebrities that they are allowed to sleep with, without being penalized, should the situation present itself. Since I mentioned in my review of Wanderlust that Paul Rudd made my cut, and since both Rudd and Aniston were major characters on Friends, I decided to make my list official by posting it here.

DISCLAIMER: My list is extremely unconventional, and even more impractical than others because of it. But I have my reasonings and you can’t fake true feelings…

Drumroll please

1) Neil Patrick Harris
2) John Krasinski
3) Paul Rudd
4) Joseph Gordon-Levitt
5) Jimmy Fallon

Yes, I am serious. Yes, I am aware the likelihood of any of the above are zilch because my list includes 1 gay man, 1 rumored-to-be gay man, and 3 married men. But to be honest, I feel like I have just as good a shot as getting NPH to sleep with me as I do Ryan Gosling. So I’d rather give the spot to a really awesome gay man than a really beautifully pretty man. Because pretty men make me feel so… not pretty.

Not too long ago, this list would’ve been completely different (i.e. Derek Jeter, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, Andrew Garfield, Jon Hamm). And sure, it’d be awesome to tell people I slept with the captain of the Yankees or Don Draper or Spiderman, but what would the experience actually be like? Answer: Me not even enjoying it because I’m totally uncomfortable, sucking in my tummy and wishing I had done a few more squats that week to tighten up the ass cellulite. With this current list? I’d be laughing so much at their jokes that I wouldn’t have the chance to stress. I’m also pretty confident that My Five would be just as mind-blowing in the bedroom as the more hunky Hollywood hunks. Even NPH should know how to pleasure a lady… he is Barney Legen-Fucking-Dary Stinson!!

Realistically, I should probably find it in my heart to cross off NPH and put Jason Segel on there somewhere, since he’s both straight and single (because those are definitely the only two things stopping me from NPH). He’s super cute in a doofy way, the Muppet fetish is kinky, and thanks to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I know he’s got the full package if ya know what I mean. But there is nothing realistic about this list so, for now, NPH stays.

SIDENOTE: My boyfriend apparently doesn’t care about the whole “sleeping with someone prettier than you” thing. His list: Jennifer Aniston, Mila Kunis, Brooklyn Decker, Jessica Alba, Bar Refaeli. WTF is he smoking, right?

What’s your list?! Tell me below!

Wanderbust

Wanderlust (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ½ (1.5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ½ (2.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: He’ll probably like it more.

How does one write a funny review about a movie that wasn’t all that funny?

Ok, that’s a bit unfair because A) I saw Book Of Mormon last night, and that raised the comedy bar for me by a LOT and B) Wanderlust did have some really funny moments…which were all in the trailers, clips, and TV spots. You would think that a R-rated movie would have to leave the bulk of its comedy for the movie but, apart from some male frontal nudity and Paul Rudd offering to pump Malin Akerman with his gonads, I already had seen the best of it. And I just hate when that happens!

If you somehow didn’t see one of the thousand promos that aired over the past few weeks for Wanderlust, then here’s the gist: George (Rudd) and Linda (Aniston) are a married couple struggling to make it in Manhattan, particularly after buying an expensive West Village studio (excuse me, “micro-loft”). George is the sole bread-winner, working at a job he hates so Linda can bounce around careers until she figures out her “major”. Things take a turn for the worse when George loses his job and HBO rejects Linda’s documentary about penguins with testicular cancer. (Now that I think about it, that HBO scene was actually great… particularly if you’ve ever pitched something to a table of execs before.) Without mulling over any other options, the two sell their apartment and roadtrip down to Atlanta, so George can work for his awful-human-of-a-brother (Ken Marino). That doesn’t last long, and the two find themselves staying overnight at Elysium Bed & Breakfast: a commune (excuse me, “intentional community”) of pot-smoking, guitar-playing, free-loving hippies. They decide to give the lifestyle a try after a night of fun with the residents, who include the senile Elysium founder, Carvin (Alan Alda), the “charming” tree-dwelling team-leader, Seth (Justin Theroux), and a nudist winemaker/author, Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio).

This is the first movie I’ve given a lower Chick Flick Rating than film rating so I am going to focus my review on that since, after all, that is the purpose of this site. Although I loved the pairing of Rudd and Aniston – and they absolutely need to do more movies together – George and Linda just never worked as a couple for me. Obviously George loved Linda very much, since he supported her through all her crazy career changes and agreed to buy the expensive apartment that made her so happy, but I never understood exactly why he loved her (besides the fact that she had Jennifer Aniston’s body, of course). Linda never convinced me that she loved George more than she loved herself, and I was really frustrated with her because of it. Perhaps it’s because Paul Rudd meets my sexy criteria in both looks and personality, thus ringing in at #3 on my Celebrity Freebie List, so I couldn’t understand how even a fictional character could find his sarcasm annoying or feel adulterous feelings towards Seth – with his unshampooed hair and gross beard. I’m also a traditionalist, so when George and Linda agreed to explore Elysium’s open relationship policy… it rubbed me the wrong way and I stopped caring about their marriage altogether. However, if there was no open-love policy, then there would’ve been no scene where Paul Rudd practiced his dirty talk (two words: erection selection) in the bathroom mirror. And that was definitely a highlight, making the ticket price at least worthwhile.

Personally, Wanderlust didn’t do it for me but it had a lot of people in my theater cracking up, so maybe I missed something? It was by no means painful to sit through, and the all star cast continued to drive the exhausted hippy jokes home throughout. I just had higher expectations – especially since I freaking loved Role Models, and this was by the same writer/director. My advice: save your cash and (if you remember) see it when it’s on Netflix. I’ll probably add it to my queue and give it another try as well.