Film Reviews 1: “500 Days of Summer”, “Twilight”, “Funny People”, “Adventureland” and 8 others…

adventureland jesse eisenberg

This fortnight: ‘(500) Days Of Summer’, ‘Adventureland’ (pictured above), ‘Back To The Future III’, ‘Beautiful Girls’, ‘Eulogy’, ‘Funny People’, ‘Go’, ‘Gigantic’, ‘Hamlet 2’, ‘The Wackness’, ‘Twilight’, ‘Winter Passing’ and ‘Yes Man’.

This fortnight, despite having a 9-5 job and going to a music festival in Wales for a few days, I somehow found time to watch 14 films. This is the first of a(n ir)regular feature whereby I deconstruct and pass judgement on films like Mark Kermode dpes, but without the humour or encyclopaedic knowledge. To help you understand my general film tastes: my favourite actor is Bill Murray, my three favourite films are Annie Hall, A Boy Named Charlie Brown and The Hudsucker Proxy, and my three least favourite films are When Harry Met Sally, Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

NOTE: I am not a film student and definitely not a film expert – I haven’t even seen Star Wars, so don’t trust me too much. Or at all.

(500) Days Of Summer
(2009) – 500/1000

Director: Marc Webb
Writers: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel

500 days of summer joseph gordon levitt zooey deschanel or their stand-ins

Summer isn’t 500 days long – she’s 5’4” tall. This “anti-love” story brings together  Deschanel (similar to the who she plays in All The Real Girls) and JGL (similar to every male lead you find in a Sundance film). Aimed at a certain audience, it’s a bit like Juno, but with fewer pregnancy jokes . The romance is based on a mutual love of The Smiths, so they should realisetheir relationship is doomed – did they not read High Fidelity?

The quirks are forced, but you learn a valuable lesson at the end – architecture is an easy career to break into once you’ve had your heart broken. Maybe Levitt should have just installed and searched for compatible users?

(2009) –  9/10

Director/Writer: Greg Mottola
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr

adventureland jesse eisenberg kristen stewart

A nostalgic dream world where everyone listens to Lou Reed.

Back To The Future Part III
(1990) – 7.5/10

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: Bob Gale
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson

back to the future part iii robert zemeckis Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

Ir’s aimed at children, but I didn’t understand the plot. And before you ask, I have seen the first two.

Beautiful Girls
(1996) – 6/10

Director: Ted Demme
Writer: Scott Rosenberg
Starring: Matt Dillon, Lauren Holly, Timothy Hutton, Rosie O’Donnell, Martha Plimpton, Natalia Portman, Michael Rapaport, Mira Sorvino, Uma Thurman

beautiful girls matt dillon ted demme window

A prequel to Garden State. See, sequels are always a bad idea.

(2004) – 3/10

Director/Writer: Michael Clancy
Starring: Hank Azaria, Zooey Deschanel, Famke Janssen, Kelly Preston, Ray Romano

eulogy 2004 kelly preston i think

You know a film is going to be bad if Ray Romano is one of the main actors.

Funny People
(2009) – 7.5/10

Director/Writer: Judd Apatow
Starring: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann

funny people 2009 adam sandler seth rogen judd apatow stand-up

Really two films stuck together – one about the competitive nature of stand-up comedy, and another about trying to win back ‘the one that got away’. It’s similar to The Great Gatsby, if F. Scott Fitzgerald woke up one day to find his writing hand possessed by Judd Apatow. The cameos are impressive with the likes of Norm MacDonald and Aziz Ansari proving in their few seconds of screen time that they’re funnier than Sandler.

Apart from Sandler being punched in the face, my other personal highlight was this paraphrased exchange:

Seth Rogen: Do you like music?
Aubrey Plaza: Yeah.
Seth Rogen: Do you want to see Wilco live next week at the Greek Theatre?
Aubrey Plaza: Yeah, I like Wilco.
Seth Rogen:  So I guess we, er… Wilgo to the gig next week.
Aubrey Plaza: Not anymore.

Well, I found that bit funny.

(2008) – 3/10

Director: Matt Aselton
Writers: Matt Aselton, Adam Nagata
Starring: Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, Edward Asner, Jane Alexander, John Goodman

gigantic matt aselton paul dano zooey deschanel

Dano decides to adopt a baby from China for no real reason. He bumps into a girl called Happy who falls in love with him for no real reason. Meanwhile, an imaginary character tries to kill the protagonist for no real reason. This film has no real reason. However, the imaginary character is there for a reason – he’s a metaphor for something, but I don’t care.

(1999) – 5/10

Director: Doug Liman
Writer: John August
Starring: William Fichtner, Katie Holmes, Jay Mohr, Sarah Polley, Scott Wolf

go sarah polley doug liman

A lesser version of Pulp Fiction.

Hamlet 2
(2008) – 5/10

Director: Andrew Fleming
Writers: Andrew Fleming, Pam Brady
Starring: Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, Amy Poehler, David Arquette, Elisabeth Shue

hamlet 2 steve coogan alan partridge not really

Coogan’s film career is almost as tragic as Hamlet finding out he killed his father. If you’re wondering how they do a sequel to a play where everyone dies at the end, it involves time travel. Were Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd not available?

(2008) – 1/10

Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writers: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli

twilight kristen stewart robert pattinson

I made it half-way before finding it unwatchable. And this is coming from someone who sat through all of Failure To Launch and Simply Irresistible. They don’t really talk. It’s Sleepless In Seattle all over again.

The Wackness (2008) – 3.5/10

Director/Writer: John Levine
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby, Method Man

the wackness olivia thirlby

This is like the cinematic equivalent of a stranger talking to you on the bus about the time they were a drug dealer and fell in love with the daughter of their suicidal psychiatrist one summer. Okay, I’ve accidentally made it sound interesting, but it’s always hard to pay attention to conversation on a bus.

Winter Passing (2005) – 7/10

Director/Writer: Adam Rapp
Starring: Ed Harris, Zooey Deschanel, Will Ferrell, Amelia Warner

winter passing

Winter Passing follows Zooey Deschanel through her life as a drug addict looking for some old letters that belong to her father, a parody of J.D. Salinger. That is more or less the whole plot, but the action takes place in the silences, and is probably best watched at 5am in the early morning when you find you can’t sleep. Just like I did.

Speaking of J.D. Salinger, did you know that Zooey was named after a Salinger novella called Franny And Zooey. Except I’ve never heard anyone point out that Zooey was a male character in the book. So when people say Zooey Deschanel must be a made-up name, you can tell them that you dislike Will Ferrell.

Yes Man
(2008) – 0.5/10

Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul, Andrew Mogel, Danny Wallace (book)
Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper

yes man jim carrey bradley cooper


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About Nick Chen

26-year-old journalist who's written for places like Total Film, Sight & Sound, Little White Lies, Complex, SFX Magazine, Dazed and Confused, Grolsch Film Works, London Calling, Vice, and a bunch of other places. Why pencils have razors. Based on a book. Screenwriter. Buzz word. London. Twitter: @halfacanyon. Lesser known Olsen brother. Multiple instances of words misused contemporaneously.
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