Monday, May 25, 2009

If you have to see one Shawn Levy movie...

Darn that Amy Adams! Darn her to heck, I say! You see, even when it comes to swearing, there's something about that gal that makes me clean it up. Those who know me or who have read my "reviews" of Doubt and Sunshine Cleaning on this blog probably know by now about my crush on Ms. Adams. I'm darning her to heck because up until a couple of days ago, every movie she was in I had no qualms buying a ticket for, because the movie looked interesting and/or good enough whether or not she was in it. But then I found out that she was in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian which looked like garbage to me, and for the first time I was buying a ticket to one of her movies simply because she was in it. To add insult to injury, I went ahead and ponied up the extra dough to see it in IMAX, because the more Amy, the better, I suppose. Also if I was going to see this fuckin' movie, I might as well go all the way and watch the best presentation of it since it's filled with special effects and all that jazz.

This is a sequel to a movie that I haven't watched and never will, unless the filmmakers pull some George Lucas shit and add scenes featuring Amy Adams in it. So all I know about it is that Ben Stiller played the new night watchman for a museum, and for some reason the exhibits would all come to life at night and I guess hilarity would ensue. In the sequel, Stiller is no longer a security guard, instead he makes lots of cash as an inventor of glow-in-the-dark flashlights and shit. He's big time, too; he sells his wares on infomercials with George Foreman. You know, it's kinda weird how life works out for you. Foreman got his ass handed to him by Muhammed Ali, but considering that nowadays he's rolling in all that George Foreman Grill money and Ali is busy spilling his soup alongside Michael J. Fox, it makes you think who the real winner in life is.

But Stiller doesn't forget his old friends, so he visits the museum every once in a while to spend a night with the walking, talking exhibits. The way it works is that there's some golden tablet belonging to some Egyptian mummy or some shit that makes it possible to come alive. Anyway, Stiller finds out from the manager of the museum that a bunch of the exhibits are going to be moved to the Smithsonian for storage, to be replaced by a bunch of shitty holographic versions. Some of them won't be coming along for the ride and the tablet won't be taken along either, which means that those going to the Smithsonian will never come back to life again. Considering that among those to be left alone at the museum is none other than Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt, maybe that's not so bad. Still, I can see why that would be considered kinda sad to assholes like Ben Stiller. Birds of a feather, you know?

The next morning, the exhibits are taken to the Smithsonian and that's that. Later that night, Stiller comes home to his nice big apartment and tells his son that he'll be working all night with a friend, which upsets the kid. I love how this movie along with a bunch of others -- which of course I can't remember at the moment -- have this whole "Daddy making money = BAD" theme to it. This ungrateful little brat is probably gonna go cry in his room, a room that I bet is furnished with an HDTV, cable, PS3, XBOX 360, satellite radio, iPod, computer with super-fast connection, porn, all that shit, and he's never going to consider ONCE that maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't have any of this shit if it wasn't for his daddy busting his ass at his job. "Oh, he doesn't spend enough time with me!" Shaaaddup, ya little bastard. It's give and take, and you take the good with the bad.

It's all moot anyway, because Stiller then gets a phone call; it's one of the little miniatures come to life (and played by suicide attemptee Owen Wilson) telling him that one of those little horrible bastard capuchin monkeys stole the tablet and brought it along. That means that not only have all of the other exhibits in the entire Smithsonian come to life, but that Stiller's pals are currently under attack by some other crazy Egyptian pharaoh as well. That pharaoh, by the way, is played by Hank Azaria, another actor who like Ben Stiller, can be very funny but just seems like he'd be a dick in real life. It's almost like the filmmakers realized, "Shit, we have Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, and Christopher Guest in this movie, we have to cast someone who doesn't have the air of the Asshole about them!" and I guess that's how the adorable Amy Adams got cast in this motherfucker. I could be wrong about Mr. Azaria, though. Maybe he found out that this movie was going to play at the IMAX, and he thought that he should try to give anyone who would pay $16 for a ticket a good deal. Now, not only for that price do you get to watch a movie in a crisp clear format on a overwhelming giant screen, you also get two tickets to the gun show. The dude definitely pumped some iron for the role, I'll give him that.

So Stiller sneaks into the Smithsonian to get the tablet, the sun goes down, and all hell breaks loose. He gets chased around by Azaria and his men, while trying to save his friends and get all of this done before the sun comes up. Along the way, he runs into an Amelia Earhart exhibit come to life, and that's who Amy Adams plays. I don't know if Amelia Earhart was anything like how Adams plays her, and I don't care. She's very likable and given to speak in the 1930's vernacular -- along with the accent that seems to accompany that kind of talk -- and I just got a kick out of her performance the whole way through. Now, would I have the same opinion if Earhart was played by someone else? Probably. If anything, it might be a little less positive. Maybe some other actress would try to dial it down a little to avoid the risk of looking like a jackass. But Adams, gosh bless her, is not afraid to look dumb and commits to it 100%. And in the end, she doesn't even look dumb, it comes off perfect.

Even if she did end up sucking in this role, I'd still have something else to enjoy -- her incredibly tight jodhpurs. I was told about this a couple of days before seeing the movie, and I thought it was an exaggeration, but it's not. The filmmakers knew what they were doing, they knew that this was a kids movie but that they should at least put a little something there for the fathers, the uncles or the lesbian aunts in the audience. So they hired a real mensch for a costume designer and the result is a very nice lower half of Amy Adams. In IMAX, no less.

This is a kids' movie with mostly cute harmless kids' humor throughout. It's got a few genuinely funny scenes, like one between Stiller and fat-fuck-from-Superbad Jonah Hill, and another between Stiller and Hank Azaria near the climax. Both feature what I like to call the "neverending line-crossing", where someone tells the other person not to do something, then they do, and the other person can't believe they did it and they warn them not to go any further, and they're ignored once again. Continue as necessary. I don't know, that kind of shit makes me laugh.

But you know what doesn't make me laugh? The few moments of horrible douche-chill inducing attempts at making the kiddies laugh at the stupidest shit. Like that part where Rodin's The Thinker turns out to have some kind of dumb guy voice and starts flexing his muscles for some other lady statue (don't remember which one). He ends doing a variation on the "gun show" joke, but then ends it by flexing and saying "Fire power!" which comes off sounding like "FIYAH POWAH!" and that just made me go Yeeech!. In another part, Stiller and Adams run into three flying cherub statues. The statues are singing More Than A Woman by the Bee Gees. It's really lame, but whatever, it's harmless. But then the cherubs go on to do a white boy beat-box version that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up (I'm a hairy motherfucker). It didn't end soon enough for me. I found out from the credits that the Jonas Brothers provided the voices of the cherubs, and I know of them, but never actually heard them sing before until this movie. I guess I have to be a preteen girl to understand that whole shit. A month ago, I had to buy tickets online for my niece to these motherfuckers because my sister's computer was getting fixed. Christ, that was a fun way to spend Saturday morning. My niece was very thankful, but we'll see if she even remembers these future True Hollywood Stories by the time she leans to drive.

There's a lot of special effects in this flick, but to be honest, I don't see how this movie ended up getting the IMAX treatment and not something like Terminator Salvation, which looks to have a lot more in the way of spectacle. Oh, wait I forgot -- Amy Adams' ass. That's why. My hats off to you, IMAX guys. Nice to know which team you play on.

This flick was written by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, which should make many a fan of the funny flock to it, but the truth is, if they're involved in a project and the title doesn't have "The State" or "Reno 911!" anywhere on it, turn away. I love those shows and Lennon and Garant seem like nice enough guys, but holy shit have they written some real 'Bage, man: The Pacifier, Taxi, Let's Go to Prison, Herbie Rides Lohan. I'm guessing writing these big movies for studios affords them the opportunity to do stuff like Reno 911!, and I'm certainly not hating on them. My friend who told me ahead of time about Ms. Adams' pants also told me about how these guys got their start writing for movies, they along with the rest of The State were commissioned to write a screenplay. So many notes were given to them by the studio executives that eventually they all got fed up and walked out -- except for Lennon and Garant. They stuck it out and now they make some big bucks writing for Hollywood. That's awesome and I wish them the best success, but damn, man, damn. Those movies? Not good. At least I'm comforted in the knowledge that Lennon makes so much bank off of his studio work that he can probably buy a hell of a lot more than $240 worth of pudding nowadays.

This one's not too bad, though, compared to their other studio screenplays. It's cute, and I had a nice good laugh every once in a while. There are certainly far worse kids flicks out there, and this one moves fast enough and has only a small acceptable amount of douchechillery in it. Then there's the lovely Amy Adams doing her thing -- along with those pants of hers. Would I see it again? No way. I would definitely freeze-frame certain parts, but that's about it.

On the other hand, the guy who directed this is named Shawn Levy, and he is not going to get the same slack I gave Lennon/Garant. This motherfucker made Just Married, Cheaper by the Dozen, and The Pink Panther remake. He does not have The State or Reno 911 or even Balls of Fury to defend himself with. He can almost go fuck himself. The reason I say "almost" is because he cast a certain adorable & cute red-headed actress in this movie, and I think you know who the fuck I'm talking about.

So there you go, Amy Adams. You got me to pay for a movie I'd never bother even spending more than one second to watch on television. Please try not to do that again. Eventually, you'll be caught drinking baby blood or driving drunk and yelling about the Jews or something else horrible that will make it harder for me to continue crushing on you. But until then, you're doing all right by me.