Episode 85 – Actor Hurdles

October 15, 2010

Mandi can’t tell Al DeNiro apart from Robert Pacino.

We all have them. Our “deal-breaker” actors who keep us from giving a film a chance. There’s the classic universally vilified actors (the post-scandal Hugh Grants and Mel Gibsons) and the more personal choices (Seth Rogan). This week we try to round-up a list of our most hated thespians.

Top Deal-Breaker Actors:

1: Tom Hanks. His smarmy mug ruins any chance of us ever watching another one of his films. That and the fact he keeps making Dan Brown films.

2: Kevin Kostner. Terrible acting, self-righteous arrogance and really tight jeans are a killer combination.

3: Mel Gibson. Batshit crazy misogynist and racist statements aside, he took a turn for the Costnerian school of acting at some point. Somewhere in the middle of the Lethal Weapon series, I think. When he grew the mullet.

4: DeNiro/Pacino. Seriously. Have either of these guys really put in a good performance (not just playing a caricature of their early roles) since the ’80s? If you said “yes”, remember that lying is a sin. Even if you’re only lying to yourself, you’re going to burn in Hell. But you’ll have company. Pacino and DeNiro are going to be right beside you for their  sin of sloth. Michael Caine and Jack Nicholson will be there too. It’ll be like a party of old, lazy, living cartoons.

5: Will Smith. Not mentioned on the show but a classic example of an actor hurdle. Whereas the other people on this list are “unhurdleable” in most cases, Smith’s performances (like Tom Cruise’s or Bruce Willis’) are usually genuinely enjoyable if we actually force ourselves to watch the films. Which is a very rare occurence.

Episode 72 – To Infinerdery and Beyond

July 9, 2010


At some point Pixar films went from a breath of the freshest air to a lungful of the same stale popcorn.

And I’m not sure why. Looking at the list of their films, other than the WTF wrong-turn they took with Cars, it’s all pretty good stuff. The best of the genre, you might even say. Though I’ll always pick Dreamworks’ Antz over A Bug’s Life, my dislike for their films I don’t rate (Wall-E, The Incredibles) has more to do with over-hyping than the quality of the films themselves.

I haven’t seen Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Up simply because when I saw Monsters Inc, I knew Pixar were beginning to spin their wheels and no one else seemed to notice. Mostly that the conveyor belt scene is the same as the conveyor belt scene in the airport in Toy Story 2. Not only that, they relied on the same character dynamics and pranks, just packaged in a new set of creatures.

To compound matters, the Shrek and Ice Age movies jumped on the bandwagon in a big way. At first they gave it some new momentum but ultimately bogged it down into the mire of mediocrity. Shrek 2, unfairly, has more to do with my Pixar hurdle than any Pixar film.

When Finding Nemo came out I’d had it. I didn’t need to see the same quest with the same gags and the same conveyor belt scene at the end. Though there probably isn’t a conveyor belt in the ocean, I suspect there’s some underwater current or a ride down a system of sewer pipes at some point. I still haven’t seen Nemo, the hurdle is that strong.

I did see Wall-E though. People said it was a breath of fresh air; it broke down barriers; it built on Pixar’s original standards set by Toy Story. Sounded good.

I watched it. And, yes, it started strong. Really strong. But what was I treated to? That same fucking conveyor belt scene for the last half the film.

Pixar were dead to me at this point. They were definitely going down. Up looked like a new low, as far as I was concerned. I still haven’t risen to the challenge.

But we did see Toy Story 3. And it is glorious.

Not only does it live up to the standard set by the previous two adventures—again raising the bar and not lowering it—it’s the only 3D film where I’ve said “They got it right.” It’s not a 3-D wankery spectacle like Avatar, it’s an enhanced movie experience.

It’s also a lesson in how to do a sequel that references the previous films without leaning on them. It’s satisfying, not ham-fisted. Sure, there’s a goddamn conveyor belt at the end, but they found a new(ish) way to flog that horse.

Is Pixar back in the game? Maybe, maybe not. But I wouldn’t hesitate to see Toy Story 4.

Some nerds made some buzz with Buzz.

We wrap up Season 4.0 in the most spoiler-heavy way possible. But more importantly, who wears pants and who goes comando?

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