This movie review is going to be harsh, so hold on. I loved Shawn of the Dead. Hot Fuzz was inspired in its way. But Paul is a bit of a disappointment, to say the least. Oh, not if you are a teenage boy. But it is no Galaxy Quest,
Based on the book, Inkheart
Released in 2001, Ali is a Michael Mann movie that showcases a specific window of time in the life of Muhammed Ali. The period of time that is the focus is probably what some would consider the height of Muhammed Ali’s career in terms of fame and controversy. At this point, Ali is the world heavyweight boxing champion and is in the midst of a number of conflicts: with his fans for being the champion he wants to be, with his family for his ties to the Muslim nation, with the Muslim nation over their control and abandonment issues and finally with the government that’s trying to draft him into the military. He ends up having to give up his title at one point in the midst of the conflict with the government in particular, even to the point of having his passport taken away to prevent him from fighting abroad which puts a kink in his finances.
Much of the storyline narrows in on Ali’s persona and how he managed the storm of events swirling around him. Will Smith does an excellent job in this role portraying Ali as a person that’s powerful, direct, confident, smooth and still at times vulnerable. The story continues to build as Ali fights through his opponents both in and out of the ring with the government eventually bending to public pressure and allowing him to avoid prison and go to Africa for a historic fight with George Foreman.
The Africa scenes are magnificent both with scenery and context of the storyline building to the climax. The scene with him running with the people is uplifting and Rocky-esque in it’s presentation and very well done and the Foreman fight puts you right into the ring in the heat of this epic battle. Wow.
The writing is compelling and insightful and Michael Mann’s style lends itself quite well with this strong script. I’m a big Michael Mann fan and really enjoy his sense of pacing as well as how he wants shots framed and his use of rich colors and music. It’s a long film (157 minutes) but it doesn’t feel that way thanks to all the right elements coming together.
The performances are right on the money with a tour-de-force from Will Smith as Ali, Jamie Foxx as Drew “Bundini” Brown, and Jon Voight who does an amazing job as Howard Cossell (both Smith and Voight were nominated for Oscars and for good reason). The cast is rounded out with strong performances from Mario Van Peebles, Ron Silver, Jada Pinkett Smith and Paul Rodriquez among others.
This film is definitely worth your time to check out if you have a chance.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
Released in 2008, Role Models follows the antics of Wheeler (Seann William Scott) and Danny Donahue played by Paul Rudd. Both men work together for an energy drink called Minotaur and go to local high schools to tell kids why they shouldn’t do drugs and why they should drink Minotaur. Rudd’s character has fallen into a rut and starts to question his life during a fit of depression while Wheeler continues to live a care free party dude lifestyle.
Eventually, Danny reaches his breaking point when his girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) dumps him and he starts to realize that his life is just not going anywhere. Once he loses it, he takes out his frustrations at one of the high school speaking engagements and runs the company vehicle (a truck in the shape of a minotaur) into the school statue. Once the duo is caught they are given the choice of community service or jail, they opt for the service of course which lands them in an organization similar to Big Brother/Sister working with socially challenged kids.
The writing is your typical faire with a feel good ending, but hey for a film like this that’s what you want anyway. There’s a lot of fun moments along the way, most of the time when the adult characters are interacting with the kids as both kids and adults turn in some good performances. The only thing that got on my nerves was Paul Rudd’s character being a bit too dark and depressing at times. I understand that that’s who is character is, but it’s played up a bit much I thought and just starts to become a downer. If the film was a bit more serious and darker to begin with, I could see this, but given that the film is a bit more light hearted than that, the overly depressed vibe of Rudd’s character seems a bit too much of a contrast given the overall feel of the film.
The directing is ok, average, nothing special or particularly bad with the exception of the guidance given to Paul Rudd’s performance. The performances from the actors overall are good, again pretty average with the exception of Jane Lynch who always adds flair and style to any role she’s given, this film being no exception with her as the hardcore, slightly twisted organizer of the youth group.
Check it out if you happen to catch on the tube or rent the DVD if you’re looking to stock up on your Netflix queue.
reviewed by Sean McKnight