Talladega Nights (***)

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby does suffer from movie trailer disease, but I believe that it does do an overall good job at entertaining. I was expecting a little more, but overall Will Ferrell delivers. Ferrell has the capability of playing a complete moron in such a believable way it is outstanding. I cannot wait to see him on a dramatic role or a serious interview, I am sure the guy has to be pretty intelligent.

Ricky Bobby prays only to baby Jesus, if you want to pray to bearded Jesus he does not have a problem, but he chooses to only pray to baby Jesus. I find this highly amusing, and feel that I should follow it. I should pray to only baby Jesus from now on too. ***Warning*** this is not a movie to take your kids too, it is rated PG 13, and as tempting as it is to take your kids after seeing Ferrell on Elf, just be mindful of the crude and sexual humor, language, drug references.

The story gets and interesting twist as French Formula One Driver sponsored by Perrier enters the NASCAR world. All the French jokes you have ever heard before are wrapped into one character, and surprisingly it entertains. Ricky Bobby has to recover from an accident, more mentally than physically.

The racing and special effects all looked spectacular. It is obvious that NASCAR was onboard with the movie, even though I admit that more driver cameos would have been better. Maybe because I don’t know much about NASCAR and I only recognized Earnhardt Jr. maybe there was a lot more cameos that I missed. Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, Daredevil) does an excellent job with this comedy and continues to impress me as an actor.

The movie was entertaining, and overall worth the price of the movie ticket. Don’t worry too much if you have to wait for it on DVD it should still make you laugh then.

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Talladega Nights.

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Zathura (****)

Based on the best-selling book by the acclaimed children’s writer Chris Van Allsburg (“The Polar Express,” “Jumanji”), Zathura is a heart-racing sci-fi adventure about two squabbling brothers who are propelled into deepest, darkest space while playing a mysterious game they discovered in the basement of their old house. (Sony Pictures)

Most of the children’s movies that I have seen in recent years seem to want to cater to the adults with a lot of humor that either relates to pop culture, other movies or sexual innuendos. I understand the business mentality behind it, but I think we are giving our children an inferior product when we go to a movie that entertains us more than them. At times I feel like children’s movies have forgotten about the kids all together. Movies like The Sandlot, The Bad News Bears (I cannot wait to see the what they did with the remake), or even E.T. seem to be a thing of the past. I was very excited when I first saw a preview of Zathura and really wanted it to be a good movie, but I was cautious not to see it with over inflated expectations.

Zathura is unrealistic and unapologetic about it. It is predictable and far-fetched… and, I loved every second of it. I have not seen a children’s movie this good in years. The movie uses imagination as a central theme and all the characters really help deliver a great story. The kids that were cast fit the roles perfectly.

The special effects were believable and fit the movie while not making graphics a centerpiece of the movie. The overall message of being nice to your siblings came shinning through as well as parents not having enough time for their kids. Tim Robbins was excellent as the father even though he was only in the movie for the introduction of the characters but he really help set the kids on the roles they would play throughout the movie. The humor was great, the laughs kept on coming and it felt like a true story.

I love movies that stimulate the imagination of kids in today’s era where videogames and movies at times seem to corral the imagination of kids to confined spaces. I also think that a lot of producers can learn from this movie that adults still have children inside of them and they can reach that adult or teen audience if they have a great product like this movie. I did not have the pleasure of reading the original book but I can only hope that the movie captured the magic. I not only recommend you watch this movie but I urge you to buy the DVD. If you don’t have kids it still makes a great gift.

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The 40 Year Old Virgin (***)

This was a very scary movie, not because of the content but because of the people in the theater. I am not sure what it was but it seemed like the other 40 year old virgins were coming out to support the character in the movie. I mean he is their hero, he eventually does gets some.

It is hard to really describe this movie, while it is hilarious, it also points out a lot about what is wrong about dating in our society. While the movie does have its human factor and I understand that it was meant to entertain and not educate, it still leaves the question in your head, can there really be someone like this guy. I am not sure, I do know some people that are 40 and are still virgins because of their religious beliefs, I also know some people that are really geeky but they are getting some. While I do think some of the people in the theater might have been in one of those two categories I don’t think a human being in our time can encompass all the qualities that this guy did.

Thoughts of sadness and compassion for someone in this guys position melt away after you see his monkey suit. One of the best comedy sequences in movie history comes thanks to this poor guy being waxed for the first time. I cannot wait for the DVD to see if how this scene was done because from what I could tell from my tear filled eyes from laughing so hard, the scene was all done in the same day and his reactions were genuine. If you see nothing else, just skip to the chapter in the movie once it comes out for DVD and I am guarantying you will laugh.

The acting was excellent, I had seen must of the actors before but they all fit their roles perfectly on the movie. Steve Carell has the capability of looking at someone with complete innocence in a way that is almost too good. His eyes truly have the look of a 5 year old when introduced to a brand new subject.

Overall I liked the movie, I would not go to a theater to watch it because of the scary audience but rent it for sure.

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The 40 Year Old Virgin.
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Wedding Crashers (****)

I have not laughed this hard in a movie in quite some time. I love smart comedy and this was a comedy that did an excellent job at blending it with slaphappy humor and tons of physical comedy. I cannot even count how many times I just busted out laughing. Today, most comedies have one or two hilarious scenes, but this movie really did not let up through.

To me it seemed like a very original story, even though a lot of the laughs might have been in other wedding movies, like My Big Fat Greek Wedding or the Wedding singer, this movie made them all seem fresh. Owen Wilson was hilarious, and played the vulnerable guy at times even seemed dragged by Vince Vaughn into the whole wedding crashing. However he was excellent at being the guy that everyone liked, almost to the point that they would put up with Vaughn’s character because Owen was such a nice guy.

There are also a lot of lines that will become classic after watching this movie, and Chaz appearing towards the end of the movie was definitely icing on the cake. I recommend you go see this movie today, do not wait for it on video you will for sure be missing out.

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Spanglish (****)

It was very refreshing to see that Adam Sandler was playing a different character than his usual goofball type. He was sporting goofy hair but besides that I think the character was original and down to earth in a very caring kind of way. This movie was done beautifully and it truly succeeded in showing the struggle of two cultures trying to come together. Spanglish explored many aspects of the inner workings of the social melting that a growing Latino population in the US is going through. While the culture focused as its title suggest the fusing of Spanish and English, it does a lot more. Most importantly and where the movie really shined was in showing that while two cultures can be worlds a part, the basic core values of love and respect are beyond language barriers.

The movie was written by James L. Brooks who did an spectacular job at entertaining while opening a little window to the character’s life and idiosyncrasies. He is a well known producer of both TV and movies, from the Simpsons, which btw are going to step into the big screen on 2008, to movies like As Good as It Gets and Jerry Maguire. I say the guy has a good sense of comedy.

The cast did an excellent job all around. I cannot think of any of the characters that lacked in any way, if anything they all did a job that helped each other’s performances. Paz Vega played the struggling immigrant and overprotective Hispanic mother convincible. Tea Leoni and her neurotic flare was hilarious, she made you almost want to yell at the screen “would you shut up already.” Shelbie Bruce who played Christina, not dominated both languages but in a very difficult scene where she had to be the interpreter of no only words but emotions in a serious exchange between Sandler and Vega. It was awesome to see such a young child do a very difficult scene seem not just credible but natural… what is more important the scene cracked me up.

This movie is for everyone, and it is a very good family movie with messages in tolerance, love and unity. Go rent it and laugh in both Spanish and English.

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