Archive for the ‘Jennifer Aniston’ Category

 

Wanted to clue everyone in to a guest post I did for the terrific movie blog Rupert Pupkin Speaks, which has been inviting all kinds of well-travelled movie writers to contribute their lists of favorite quote-unquote “bad” movies.  (It’s all subjective, right?) 

I think you’ll enjoy this one.  I had a lot of fun putting it together.  I’m very proud to be featured on another site I enjoy, amongst some fun people.  You’ll have to click through to get to the meat of what I wrote, but I wanted to share some posters, still frames, and YouTube clips also, so scroll down for those.

>>>Read my list HERE!!!<<<

If you know me or have stopped by my site before, you know that this is hardly the end of my voyage into tremendous cinematic badness.  It’s only the beginning.

The journey continues! 

Find me on Twitter:  @jonnyabomb.

 

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Your luck just ran out.

Leprechaun (1993).

There has been one story consistently dominating the news stands and magazine racks for the last six years or so, and it is clearly the dominant political issue of our times.  No, it’s not marriage equality.  No, it’s not the Iraq War.  No, it’s not the recession.  It has only ever been, in fact, this question:

Choose.

Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie?

To this question I tend to reply: I’m not Brad Pitt (obviously) so I never had to choose between the two.  It’s a Coke/Pepsi, Betty/Veronica kind of a decision – you could probably pick a favorite if you really had to, but it’d be a photo finish.  Both options are pretty great.

That said, Jennifer Aniston is the only one who appeared in a Leprechaun movie, so she holds a special place in my heart, and has for almost fifteen years.  I don’t imagine she’d appreciate me spotlighting this early credit on her resume, but she’s welcome to take it up with me personally.  I have only nice things to say about her in Leprechaun.  However, it’s interesting to note that, while it’s hard to remember a time when Jennifer Aniston wasn’t one of the most famous people on the planet, on this movie she took second billing.

Observe:

Marvel put little effort into their She-Hulk movie poster.

Look at that poster.  Look whose name comes first.  Look who appears first.  Look where your eye is drawn, despite the pretty lady in the foreground. If the Leprechaun franchise is comparable to the James Bond franchise in any way, it’s that Jennifer Aniston’s role in it is that of a Bond girl.  She may be the best of them, she may be the Ursula Andress of the Leprechaun movies, but she’s still not the star of the franchise.  Warwick Davis is.  Warwick Davis… is James Bond.

At the time of Leprechaun‘s release, Warwick Davis had appeared in Return Of The Jedi and Labyrinth, but was otherwise best known for his starring role as the idealistic, courageous magician called upon to save the day in the George Lucas/ Ron Howard epic fantasy film Willow.

"Heroes come in all sizes."

From that role, of quintessential decency, to a role of the most vile and lascivious evil – this is some range.

Yes I said that.

You can’t see me right now, but my tongue is not at rest in my cheek; it is instead blowing a disparaging raspberry at all those who disagree.  I won’t ever make the argument that Leprechaun is in any way a great, good, or even decent movie, but I will argue that Warwick Davis dives into a thoroughly ridiculous role to hugely entertaining results, and that such a performance does in fact require a talented actor.  Without Johnny Depp’s lead in the Pirates Of The Caribbean flicks, Jack Sparrow does not endure.

Warwick Davis as "Willow Ulfgood."

Warwick Davis as "The Leprechaun."

So it is with Warwick Davis and his portrayal of the evil Leprechaun.  He gives his entire commitment, even in the scene where he is forced by the film’s protagonists to run around shining shoes as they toss them into his path.  (If you’re asking why, you’re probably giving the detail more thought than the filmmakers did, but it has something to do with a little-known rule of legend that evil leprechauns remain shoemakers by trade and therefore cannot stop themselves from plying that trade, even amidst a homicidal rampage.)  With the Leprechaun, Warwick Davis managed to create a memorable movie monster, even if the distance between the Leprechaun and Michael Myers or Francis Dollarhyde is akin to the distance between Jupiter and Cleveland.

Probably not included on her Lifetime Achievement reel.

The supporting cast, or his stable of victims, is not quite as memorable.  In fact, without going back to the original film, the only characters besides the evil Leprechaun who I even remember are Jennifer Aniston, who did her job and sometimes acted scared and was otherwise adequate and adorable, and Mark Holton, who is best known as Chubs (cruel naming there) from the Teen Wolf pictures, and more importantly, as Francis from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

"Hey, it's Enrico Palazzo!"

In Leprechaun, he plays Ozzie, a mentally-challenged handyman who sets off the whole chain of events by finding the Leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and promptly swallowing one of the gold coins.  Basically, the Leprechaun can’t have his money fucked with.  Whenever that happens, he shows up to take back his gold and to kill everyone who comes in contact with it.  You can keep your Pulp Fiction and your Seinfeld:  “I need me gold!” is one of the great lost catchphrases of the 1990s.  The exchange between Ozzie and the Leprechaun when they realize the location of the last gold shilling is also pretty priceless.  Basically, any interchange between these two dudes are among the film’s highlights.

"You only got away because me powers are weak! I NEED ME GOLD!"

Besides all that?  Even if you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve already seen it.  Spooky prologue introducing villain, protagonists introduced, GOLD, “gulp,” villain shows up to reclaim his property, murder, murder, murder, murder, good guys win, but maybe villain will come back.  Same structure as most horror flicks — it’s just a series of murders of peripheral characters by the evil Leprechaun, as Jennifer Aniston and her friends try to find out how to stop him.  [SPOILER:  Four-leaf clover, slingshot, mouth, “I’m melting!”]

What I fondly remember from this movie are the various methods of transportation appropriated by the Leprechaun, most of which double as implements of murder:  the mini-car, the pogo-stick, the roller skates, the wheel chair.  It’s amazing to watch, if a bit insane, considering the fact that the Leprechaun has the power to magically teleport himself anywhere he wants.

Anyway, that’s what you need to know about the first one.  If for some reason someone reads these articles and is somehow persuaded to actually watch these movies, this is one of two to watch.  The franchise very quickly gets very rough on you, as we’ll soon see.

Next up: Leprechaun 2: Bride Of Leprechaun (1994).

@jonnyabomb

 

Jennifer Aniston boobs Horrible Bosses topless

In my opinion, Seth Gordon is a comedy director to watch.  He made a few short films before breaking through in a big way with the documentary The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Dollars in 2007.  His follow-up, Four Christmases, was a big-star romantic comedy that was worth a try, even if it shrinks in the long shadow of Gordon’s debut.  He then went on to direct episodes of Community, Parks & Recreation, The Office, and Modern Family, which pretty much covers almost all of the best comedies on television, and also co-created a fun, short-lived series called Breaking In.  I’m well at the point where I’ll check out a movie based on his name.

So now, Horrible Bosses, directed by Seth Gordon from a story by Michael Markowitz and a screenplay co-written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (a.k.a. Sam Weir from Freaks & Geeks!!!)

Well this is going to be a short little review here, because there’s really only ever one question that counts with a comedy, which is, “Is it funny?”  Did I laugh?  Yeah, and frequently.  Horrible Bosses has an admirable joke-to-laugh batting average.  The premise, where three likable losers plot to murder their unlivewithable bosses, is an instantly compelling one.  Sure, it’s reminiscent of Strangers On A Train and its loose remake, Throw Momma From The Train, but the characters are aware of that, and not in an annoying self-referential way either.  And the cast is uniformly terrific, starting with ace deadpanner Jason Bateman (always clutch with a reaction shot), likeable horndog Jason Sudeikis (in a much more agreeable rendition of his similarly-geared character from Hall Pass), and shrieking “hamster” Charlie Day (from FX’s It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), and continuing to a murderer’s row of great evil bosses, Kevin Spacey (as a motherfucker from hell), Colin Farell (as a cokehead philanderer sleazebag), and Jennifer Aniston (as a sexual predator, basically).

Are they all funny?  Definitely.  Did I laugh?  Several times.

Do I have a few reservations?  Yeah.  Overall, I liked and would recommend the movie, but if you want to hear the reservations, read on.

Basically it comes down to this:  In the end, in my heart, I never really bought into the premise, as executed.  The script, direction, and performance of Horrible Bosses plays well with the more questionable notions it raises – namely, that these three generally decent guys would ever seriously conspire to murder, that anyone would turn to Jamie Foxx as “a murder consultant”, that anybody would even complain about Jennifer Anistion sexually harassing them – but ultimately it didn’t sit right with me all the same.  The reason for that is, because I, as the audience, never wanted what the three main characters wanted, which is to see those boss characters dead.  Spacey is a great villain, playing a role he’s absolutely played before, in Swimming With Sharks, Glengarry Glen Ross, Casino Jack, and that serial killer movie which shall remain nameless.  Farrell has rarely had a chance to be funny, but he’s as deft a comedian here as he was in In Bruges,  He throws off the badass pretty-boy thing entirely to look and act utterly horrible in a totally hilarious way, and of all the characters, he’s the one who’s hardly in the movie enough.  And Aniston… hey, I’m already a fan, but there’s new stuff happening here.  She’s cruelly sexy, but also bold and perfectly-pitched and completely foul-mouthed, maybe more than any of the male characters.  It’s a great comedy performance, regardless of being so much fun to look at.

That’s also a problem though.  I’m supposed to want, anywhere in me, to see these characters dead, and I don’t, not for a second.  They’re the characters who keep the movie alive, who lend it whatever asshole glory it attains.  Not every comedy needs to make an audience want what its characters want, but in a black comedy like this one, it helps.  Think of Throw Momma From The Train.  Think of what makes that movie effective and funny.  That lady was scary!  (Even if you end up liking her too.)  I feel like Horrible Bosses could have been even better if the bosses went further, if they were just a couple inches meaner.  I’m not sure exactly how to quantify this, but it’s a question of tone, and it’s not easy business.  Horrible Bosses generally has the right tone, but in the crucial area of hating the bosses, or more exactly, loving to hate them, it didn’t work for me personally.  Spacey and Farrell are having too much contagious fun, and Aniston is doing the same, and is too damn good-looking to boot.

More troubling on a personal level I wasn’t comfortable with the frequent usage of the word “bitch” to describe Aniston’s character.  Defenders of this terminology can shrug off my objection if they want, but I’m prepared to die on this hill.  Horrible Bosses doesn’t have many female characters:  There’s Charlie Day’s fiancée (a non entity), Sudeikis’s “pregnant” coworker (essentially one extended fat joke), Farrell’s two Asian playmates, and Julie Bowen as Spacey’s wife, who isn’t more than one note.  Jennifer Aniston plays the movie’s only real female character, and she’s introduced with huge white letters naming her “BITCH” and then referred to as such several more times throughout the movie.  Look, I’m not calling this movie misogynist, because I don’t believe it is, but it ain’t exactly pro-lady either.  I don’t personally make a habit of calling women “bitches” and I don’t have much respect for guys who do.  There are more creative ways of describing female characters, and I would have preferred to have heard some.  It’s not as if these writers and performers aren’t proficient enough with language to have come up with other terminology.  I know this is basically a question of taste, but in this case, I think my taste is just plain better.

But overall, I had fun with the movie, certainly enough to recommend it.  The situations the characters get themselves into are generally fresh and unpredictable, and the energy of the three leads is a lot of fun.  Most modern comedies are driven by lone wolves or duos, but there’s a classic comedy symmetry to trios.  Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day make a solid trio, and their buddy-banter makes many of the movie’s best moments.  And there’s an intelligence behind Horrible Bosses’ engine and direction:  It’s one of the few convincing recession comedies of the past few years.  Why do these guys hang onto their jobs so long?  Why don’t they just quit?  Well, because jobs are hard to find.  Makes sense.  I think that the best movies, even the comedies (especially the comedies), have this level of thinking behind them, or at least can stand up to this line of interpretation.  How much does a comedy engage in its cultural moment?  The more it does, the more resonant it is, the deeper and more appreciated the laughs.  Horrible Bosses is a good distance from perfect, but in its best moments, it brings real, genuine, familiar, earned laughter.  Which brings me back to that one pivotal question.  Which is why you probably will like this movie.  Maybe even more than I did.

theswitch_poster

I’m no marketing mastermind, but I think I have a possible partial explanation for why THE SWITCH wasn’t able to do Pixar-level business on its first week in theaters.  Have you seen those posters?  It’s possible that most people weren’t exactly intrigued at the image of co-star Jason Bateman turning up his nose as he tentatively sniffs at a cup full of Elmer’s Man-Glue.  There’s just GOT to be a better way to sell an artificial-insemination comedy (assuming that one has gone ahead with making one in the first place.)

I don’t know, maybe it’s not a great idea in general to center a romantic comedy plot around bodily fluid.  Can you imagine a movie high-concept based in doo-doo or pee-pee?  Because obviously I have a couple:

Luke Wilson Rosario Dawson Mickey Rourke

Luke Wilson is a down-on-his-luck promoter who has somehow booked a huge concert at Madison Square Garden starring a reunited rock supergroup whose lead singer has well-publicized substance abuse problems.  Rosario Dawson is the corporate insurance official who is responsible for making sure that the high-stakes show goes off without a hitch.  Luke has to make sure that the rock star stays clean for the show, Rosario is the one who has to be present at every piss test.  Throughout the inevitable hi-jinks, Luke and Rosario win each other’s hearts.  Mickey Rourke plays the rock star.  The movie is called

PISSED OFF

Or:

Tobey Maguire Jessica Alba 50 Cent

Tobey Maguire is a horse-drawn carriage driver in Central Park.  Jessica Alba is an up-and-coming advertising copywriter who is taking a ride with her douchebag fiancée, played by Hugh Jackman.  Unbeknownst to her at first, Alba loses the memory stick containing her presentation to bid for an upcoming account with Vitamin Water.  (The meeting is with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, in a surprise cameo.)  When she finally tracks down Maguire, they find the memory stick but then the horse swallows it.  Unfortunately, this particular horse (voice of Mickey Rourke) has chronic constipation.  As they work together to help the horse divulge itself of the necessary object, Maguire and Alba win each other’s hearts.  The movie is called

POOPED

Okay, so maybe I had a point the first time around.  Maybe it’s not the best idea after all.  THE SWITCH is based around an incident with male byproduct – I know that spunk has baby-making properties that the other offal I mentioned don’t possess, but that doesn’t mean that we need to see it onscreen, or to even think about it on a date night at the movies, when – not for nothing – we’re dipping our hands into popcorn buckets which are already drenched in a funky buttery substance.

The Switch

 

And it’s a shame, because apart from the unfortunate concept which was the reason for the movie getting made in the first place, THE SWITCH is actually a likable movie.  It’s certainly no worse than most modern romantic comedies, and it’s even better than a lot of them (such as pretty much everything that Sandra Bullock does).  The secret ingredient (woops) is the pairing of Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston, one of the more likable tag-teams I’ve seen in a movie like this in quite a while.  At this point, Bateman is a master criminal of comedy, having stolen every single movie he’s appeared in over the last decade – from DODGEBALL to STATE OF PLAY to SMOKIN’ ACES and so on and on and on and on.  He’s also a good enough actor to convincingly play a shlub with a decade-long crush on an unattainable woman – it definitely strains belief that a guy as hilarious and as quick with a quip as Bateman would have a problem telling a girl how he feels, but he makes it make sense.

And I’m sorry, but Aniston is my cup of tea entirely, and I don’t even drink tea, but I bet she does and I’d very gladly put my preferences on hold to take her out for tea.  Anyway, it’s not a stretch for her to play the unattainable woman who keeps a shlub hanging on to a decade-long crush.  Maybe I could relate to the situation.  Who knows.  It’s not really the writing or the direction that do much for the authenticity that THE SWITCH somehow manages to achieve at times.  It’s that relatability – most of us have been there (except for the whole artificial insemination subplot), most of us have yearned for someone we couldn’t bring ourselves to fully pursue – and the great work by both actors, not to mention the terrifically warm performance by the very young Thomas Robinson as their precocious progeny, that gives THE SWITCH its several genuine moments.

 

THE SWITCH

 

But it’s not good enough.  I think the reason is – besides the whole artificial insemination subplot, of course – that the movie dwells on Bateman’s perspective at the expense of Aniston’s.  It’s the same old American-movie hang-up:  Male filmmakers making movies from the male perspective, even when the story makes more sense and is more interesting from the woman’s side.  How does Aniston’s character really feel about Bateman’s?  How does she feel when he hijacks her pregnancy, for whatever reason?  Why did she want to get pregnant so badly in the first place?  What is her life like when she leaves town for seven years?  How does she feel when she finds out what her best friend did?  See, the real interesting questions are all on the female side of the story.  It’s fun to watch Bateman do what he does, and I personally get the guy perspective, but the better, bolder movie would’ve made Aniston’s character the protagonist rather than the dream girl.

Besides, the following image would have made a much better poster.  Again, I’m no marketing mastermind, but I know which billboard I’d rather be looking at.

Jennifer Aniston for Smartwater

@jonnyabomb