Established May 2010.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

Member of THE LAMB: The Large Association of Movie Blogs LAMB #1588

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Sunday, August 7, 2011


It's been far too long since my last review. I was out of town for two weekends straight, and I've been busy packing. Needless to say, very good reasons and situations have kept me away. After being away the last few weeks, it felt so great to finally sit in a dark theater this weekend. TWICE. Each movie was a romantic comedy. Even though they were very different stories, they both revolve around how love is an unpredictable fickle thing. Wait, isn't that what all romantic comedies are about? First up was Crazy,Stupid,Love starring two of my favorites, Julianne Moore and Ryan Gosling. The next was Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis in Friends with Benefits.


Director: Glen Ficcara, John Requa
Starring: Steve Carell ("The Office"), Julianne Moore (The Kids are All Right), Emma Stone (Easy A), and Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine)

Cal (Carell) is out for a dinner date with his wonderful wife, Emily (Moore). When he suggests that they blurt out their dinner order at the same time, he didn't expect to get the answer he got. Emily says she wants a divorce, which is not one of the specials. When they get home, Cal announces to the babysitter that they are divorcing only to realize that his son is also in the room and hears them. Cal spends many nights sulking at the local bar. His loud rants about how his wife cheated on him with David Linhagen (Kevin Bacon) do not go unnoticed. Ryan Gosling plays the womanizer, Jacob. Jacob is the young guy in every bar that knows exactly what to wear and exactly what to say to bring any girl home. Almost any girl. Hannah (Stone) sees right passed his smooth moves. Jacob decides he's heard enough of Cal's moaning and determines to do a makeover on him. Jacob brings him to the finest stores for a complete clothing makeover and teaches him the right and wrong things to say to pick up women in a bar. Like most of Carell's characters, Cal is clutzy and bumbly. Cal finally takes home a school teacher (Marisa Tomei) only to find out she is freaky and crazy.

Hannah is convinced that her boyfriend (Josh Groban) will propose to her once she passes the bar exam. He says it's going to be an unforgettable evening. Instead of a proposal, she gets offered a job at his law firm. They are clearly not in sync about where their relationship is going. Hannah needs the self-confidence and smooth talk, so she heads to the bar and aggressivly kisses Jacob. Jacob and Hannah's relationship starts to blossom as they both realize the other person is not quite the stereotype they had in mind. Cal and Emily's son has a crush on the babysitter, while the babysitter has a crush on Cal. One thing after another leads Cal to spiral out of control. Unfortunately, he cannot get in touch with Jacob. His bar visits are less and less as he spends more time with Hannah.

Crazy, Stupid, Love shows what happens when people of any age get entranced by love and what you will do to make it work. Whether it's a silly young crush or a fading marriage, you should never give up on your soul mate. There is a very strong ensemble cast even though most of the actors don't play too much outside of their comfort zone. Steve Carell is his usual bumbly self. Kevin Bacon plays another scumbag. Marisa Tomei is wild and kooky. Emma Stone is the smart girl that won't put up with bullshit. I always find Ryan Gosling attractive and interesting to watch. He's no stranger to movies about romance or deep relationships. This movie has resonated with me more than I thought it would.

Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)


Director: Will Gluck
Starring: Justin Timberlake (The Social Network), Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Patricia Clarkson (Easy A)

Can you maintain a purely sexual relationship with a friend without letting your emotions get in the way? That is the concept behind having friends with benefits. Sounds easier said than done according to Friends with Benefits and the other movie with the same premise, No Strings Attached. Dylan Harper (Timberlake) runs a blog out of Los Angeles that gets over millions of hits. He goes out to New York to interview for a job with GQ. His head hunter just happens to be Jamie (Kunis), a young, beautiful, and sassy woman just out of a relationship. Dylan is also fresh out of a relationship. Within a day, Dylan gets the job offer. Jamie leads him around New York showing off the best sites, the coolest spots, and the secret hideouts that make New York unlike any other city. Naturally, Dylan "sells out". He accepts the job offer and moves out to New York.

Jamie and Dylan continue their friendship after he moves. They discuss their previous relationships, the trouble with girls, and the trouble with guys. When it comes down to it, they just want to have sex. They decide to be friends with benefits. They would have sex when they felt like it, but not let emotions take over and ruin their friendship or "sexcapades". They meet each others families including Jamie's hippie mom (Clarkson) and Dylan's sister (Jenna Elfman) and dad (Richard Jenkins) who is battling alzheimer's. Despite their rules, they realize that their relationship has grown emotional which goes against the whole friends with benefits concept.

Friends with Benefits is not an original movie, but it doesn't claim to be. The movie is completely predictable. The writers and director aren't trying to hide this fact either. They know exactly the story they are trying to tell, and they are having fun with it. Dylan and Jamie are frequently talking about romantic comedies and the cliches behind them. Justin Timberlake uses his musical skills to imitate underscoring used to carry the mood along. They talk about song choices that run during the final credits that have nothing to do with the premise of the movie, like Train's "Hey, Soul Sister". Woody Harrelson has a fun smaller role as Dylan's gay sports editor at GQ. Timberlake and Kunis have wonderful chemistry together. They are definitely a hot couple. You can also tell they enjoyed working together as that shines through their chemistry. When you have two very likable leads being cute and romantic, it helps make a "predictable" movie even more enjoyable.

Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

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