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Mr. Woodcock My Reviews 01 MAY 2008

Mr WoodcockLetting go of your past is hard…especially when it is dating your mom!

John Farley (Seann William Scott) is a successful motivational speaker and author of a bestselling self help book centered on letting go of the past. Following his countrywide success, his small farming hometown in the heart of Nebraska invites him home to accept the corn of the city. Unfortunately for John though, although he talks a good talk, he doesn’t exactly play a good game, being himself unable to let go of his past, particularly the suffering and humiliation he suffered at the hands of his junior high sadistic gym teacher, Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob Thornton).

Nevertheless, it is good to be home and see all the old sights and most importantly to once again visit with his beloved mother – only to recoil in horror when he learns that she is now in fact dating Mr. Woodcock. Unable to let the past go, John immediately steps in to battle against the seemingly unbeatable gym teacher from Hell in an effort to save his mom from Mr. Woodcock’s dastardly ways!

Mr. Woodcock is a 2007 comedy that is directed by fairly unknown Craig Gillespie and stars Seann William Scott, Billy Bob Thornton and Susan Sarandon in the lead roles.

Mr. Woodcock is a fairly interesting take on the woman caught between two men genre, but unfortunately this dynamic is really only the vehicle in which Gillepsie can push out the usual half-hearted sitcom-like comedic drivel that dozens of movies have brought us before. Most of the genuinely funny bits have already been spoilt by the trailer and the best part of the movie, namely the gym teacher from Hell sequence plays out right in the beginning of the movie, which ends up making Mr. Woodcock a bit of a bore to watch all the way through.

Of course, with a euphemistic title like Mr. Woodcock you know that this movie will feature tons of sex-related jokes and gags, but truly these are limited to those of a slightly lower intelligence level. It is a pity because beneath this average as hell movie, there actually lies quite a good story which is done a bit of injustice by the quality of the comedic script. Less reliance on physical comedy and perhaps some more puns might have worked a little better, but I hazard a guess that it is actually Seann William Scott’s performance that limits the movie’s comedic success, despite the fact that he portrays the goofy character so well – just way TOO well.

As it is, Seann William Scott is slowly but surely getting typecast as that goofy, loveable character, much in the vein of Ashton Kutcher, and he plays this role with unnatural ease. Unfortunately this type of role doesn’t always hold up so well for the duration of an entire movie, so you can’t help but start getting a little annoyed with the loveable simpleton. But that niggle aside, Sean does put in the perfect performance for the character and as such was a great pick. Surprisingly enough, Billy Bob Thornton is just as brilliant as the ‘army sergeant syndrome’ Jasper Woodcock, gym teacher from Hell. His sequences with the kids are probably the funniest in the whole movie and Billy Bob nails down the character perfectly. Of course, these two great performances means that we get great chemistry between Sean and Billy Bob, something essential in making this particular movie function.

Susan Sarandon plays the woman caught in the middle if Jasper’s affections as a suitor and John’s affections as her son and happens to play the only serious role in the entire movie. She does a solid job as the mom, but doesn’t do anything special so make the role stand out. And surprise, surprise, Ethan Suplee once again portrays the idiot, dim-witted and thick redneck type character but thankfully his annoyance is overridden by Amy Poehler’s superb hard-drinking and mean publisher character – cross her at your own risk!

Craig Gillespie does a decent enough job as the director, managing to portray the comedic sequences to great effect and presenting a solid visual experience. The dramatic, the action, the fun all of it is the sign of a competent director, but he does unfortunately do nothing to raise this movie up beyond the norm of quality for this genre and unfortunately this means he will remain firmly in that spot of unknown director.

Theodore Shapiro is the composer for Mr. Woodcock and is known for his work on these kind of comedies with some of his previous titles including The Devil Wears Prada, Fun with Dick and Jane, Idiocracy and You, Me and Dupree. He does a solid job and the fairly standard American pop/rock soundtrack blends in nicely with the story.

To sum it all up, you really can’t get more average than Mr. Woodcock. It really only has one or two genuinely funny bits (already spoiled by the trailer anyway) and somehow manages to feel as if it is dragging on forever. A lesson in mediocrity and really won’t entertain anyone apart from maybe a very, very, very bored male teenager. You can safely avoid this typical Seann William Scott outing which not even Billy Bob Thornton or Susan Sarandon stood a chance of saving in the first place.

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Related Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0419984/

Enchanted My Reviews 30 DEC 2007

EnchantedA classic Walt Disney fairytale story of the prince and his one true love Giselle, talking animals and all, are about to hit a bit of a bump in the road when Giselle is forced into our world through the machinations of the kingdom’s evil stepmother, the witch Queen Narissa. Bewildered, lost and without the staples that make an enchanted animated world what it is, Giselle is left to the mercy of modern New York City.

Fortunately for her, she is soon reluctantly rescued by a world-weary lawyer and his young daughter and slowly is given an opportunity to adapt to this strange new world – a world that unfortunately contains more emotions than just happiness and also carries a heavy lesson in reality for the young and rather na’ve Giselle!

Of course help is at hand when Prince Edward too decides to journey to our world in order to save his one true love, and much hilarity ensues as this fish out of water with a very sharp pointy sword strives to bring our world to heel and reveal the whereabouts of his princess.

Enchanted is the latest 2007 movie out of the Disney stable and is primarily a romantic comedy with the unusual twist of combining a traditional Disney 2D animated fairytale with the modern day, real world setting of New York City. The man behind the camera for this movie is Kevin Lima, a pretty unknown director who hasn’t done all that much work in the past, but has directed other Disney productions including 102 Dalmatians (2000), Tarzan (1999) and A Goofy Movie (1995).

Enchanted’s story starts out in a traditional Disney animated classic and we are introduced to the stereotypical Giselle, a woodland lover awaiting her prince in order to save her. Prince Edward is the stereotypical prince, complete with a dazzling smile and quick blade. Their happy union however is opposed by the evil Queen Narissa, who then boots Giselle out of the animated kingdom and into our world.

And this is pretty much where the humour of the movie lies. The translation of a character from their animated world antics to our real world provides a lot of laughs and unfortunately for the movie’s sake, the writers pretty much rely on this prop throughout the movie. That said it is funny to see someone create clothes from curtains, call over birds, rats and cockroaches to clean a house and to break out in song ala Disney spectacular style.

Of course, this wouldn’t be much of a romantic comedy without the romance, and it becomes pretty clear, pretty quickly that the grumpy, grounded in the real world Robert Phillip (Patrick Dempsey) is going to fall for Giselle (Amy Adams) – unfortunately this budding relationship is going to come at the cost of two other relationships (the prince and Giselle and Robert and Nancy), a seemingly strange movie from the usually very PC, family-oriented Disney writing.

The movie is pretty structured in it introduces the characters, focuses on the budding relationship and then forces the characters to ultimately make their choices in the end, and as such the movie is pretty formulaic but makes for a successful and enjoyable romantic comedy. My only real gripe with the writing in the end is the fact that the writers spoil the movie a little by introducing an unnecessarily extended ending sequence, which just drags out the movie a little longer than what is needed.

The cast for the movie do an absolutely stellar job in their respective roles, with Amy Adams leading the pack with her portrayal of the na’ve Giselle. Patrick Dempsey is as suave and as much a lady killer as he is in his usual guise of Dr Dreamy in Grey’s Anatomy and plays his role of the slightly world-weary Robert with a lot of believability. Idina Menzel plays the perfect woman scorned as Nancy while Susan Sarandon plays one of the most brilliant evil stepmom witches you will ever see. My favourite however has got to be James Marsden though – the man has an absolutely brilliantly apt broad smile and sense of comedic timing for this role, and you honestly can’t help but chuckle every time you see him on screen.

While there isn’t much special in terms of the camerawork throughout the movie, it must be mentioned that the people behind the merging of animated sequences within real life footage have one an absolutely amazing job. One of the foremost examples of this is the plucking apples in the water scene, and you’ll have to see it for yourself to understand what I’m talking about. The other side to the movie is the clever use of CGI, particularly in the use of animating Pip, our clever little rodent who also makes the trip from Andalasia to New York City.

Alan Menken, who has worked extensively with Disney throughout his career, provides the soundtrack for Enchanted, with most of the actual singing done by Amy Adams herself who does a really good job on the performance. The soundtrack is indeed everything you would expect from a classic Disney soundtrack, so it doesn’t hold too many surprises in the end.

Overall, the movie functions really, really well as a romantic comedy that delivers a good dose of chuckles and smiles and also works in a nice budding romance (if you can ignore the breaking of the existing relationship) as well. It provides some action and thrills too, in fact it is pretty much one of those flagship family movies that almost everyone will enjoy.

So if you are looking for some family friendly, PG fun with a spice of romance, then Enchanted won’t do you any harm. It is a fun premise for a movie and delivers all the goods it promises, so no wonder it is getting such rave reviews – definitely another Disney winner!

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Related Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0461770/