Movie Review – The Air I Breathe, I Love Your Work, Strange Wilderness, How To Deal, and Flakes

A couple weeks ago I watched several movies and therefore felt compelled to review them here, on my very own corner of the internet, for something to write about and to illustrate one very surprising point. That is that it is possible (not likely, but possible) to watch 5 movies in one week and for a Mandy Moore movie to be the most enjoyable out of all of them. Some time has passed since then, but the date on this blog will not reflect that, since it will say the date posted is the day I started this blog entry, but today, for the record, is June 18 and I am finally finishing this one. So, here is a rundown of the movies I watched that week.

Strange Wilderness was first. This is a Happy Madison Production, so I’m assuming that means that Adam Sandler was OK with making it so that it came out, but didn’t want to participate himself, which is totally understandable, considering it was a pretty crappy movie. Although I understand that Sandler’s latest flick isn’t all that great. I will reserve judgement. Anyway, this Strange Wilderness flick stars Steve Zahn, who I actually happen to like a lot. He plays the slacker/stoner son of an iconic animal/wilderness show star who died and passed the show on to him. Supporting roles were played by the fat, curly-headed kid from Superbad (Jonah something?), the dumb guy that is in every Adam Sandler movie, the other, slightly less dumb guy who is in every Adam Sandler movie, some pretty blonde girl, the kid from Dodgeball (aka Drew Barrymore’s boyfriend – I think his name is Justin something), and some other folks. It’s ridiculous, and I wouldn’t recommend it. There are no surprises except for bad ones.

Then came The Air I Breathe. Star-studded cast with Kevin Bacon, Forrest Whitaker, Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy!), Julie Delpy, and Emile Hirsch. It’s based on a Chinese proverb or something, and it’s DEPRESSING. The performances are actually amazing, but DEPRESSING. And I generally like really well done depressing flicks. This one wasn’t gluey enough to hold you to the story enough to take you with it. So there you are, trying to figure out exactly what this filmaker is trying to say, and you’re too depressed to do it. Check it out, if you want to, but be warned. Forrest Whitaker is so amazing that you feel for him, and given what happens to his character, you don’t want to feel it.

OK. I rented I Love Your Work because it had a lot lot of people I like in it – Giovanni Ribisi, Jason Lee, Judi Greer – and because I learned that it was written by Adam Goldberg. I’ve liked him ever since he played the zombie guy that did Christopher Walken’s bidding in The Prophecy. This one was weird as well. Giovanni Ribisi is a famous actor (really famous, like Tom Cruise) and he’s married to a not-as-famous actress (or to be more PC, actor) played by Franke Pontente (Run Lola Run). The movie is all about his decent into madness, or some such thing, and it’s a big confusing story with Jason Lee as a would-be-but-not-really stalker, that kid from Dawson’s Creek (not VanDerWhoever, the other one) as a video store owner who the big actor guy starts to hang out with because his girlfriend (the video store Dawson’s Creek guy) reminds the actor guy of Christina Ricci’s character, who is the actor guy’s wife or girlfriend in his fantasy world. Elvis Costello plays himself, who is pursuing the actor guy’s REAL wife to appear in some muscial he’s making. It’s not really the kind of movie you can multi-task during, yet it’s not quite interesting enough to just watch. You could maybe eat something complicated while you watched it, like crab legs or something. That might be pretty good.

Flakes. Zooey Deschenel and the guy who was Pyro in the X-Men movies play a young New Orleans couple bent on an Airstream trailer off-the-grid adventure through America, but she’s stuck making politically-themed tie-dye clothing and he manages a cereal store. That’s right, a CEREAL store. That sells CEREAL. It’s owned by Christopher Lloyd who plays an old stoner-type guy. One day this guy comes in asking lots of questions about the cereal shop. Next thing you know that guy opens up a cereal shop RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET. Outrageous. There was a lot of crappy “I’m too cool” young angst and Zooey’s character was named Miss Pussy Katz. Yeah. Not her best work.

So the Mandy Moore movie, How to Deal, was the most enjoyable of all of them. Teenager movie, angst-filled, drama-ridden, with plenty of romantic montages and heart-wrenching stuff. The wonderful Alison Janney does a great job as Mandy Moore’s recently-divorced and imittered mother, and Peter Gallager does a creepily fun job as her married-to-a-younger-woman-radio-dj-with-a-Peter-Pan-Complex father. Alexandra Holden (point of reference for me was her hilarious performance in Drop Dead Gorgeous – she was the incumbant Mount Rose Teen Princess permanently hospitalized for anorexia) played Mandy Moore’s best friend, who suffers a personal tragedy and then…well…I won’t spoil it, in case you want to watch it. It was no brain-buster, but it was satisfying like an ice cream bar or a Hershey’s miniature.

There you go, Internet. Some movie reviews for you. Because I know how much you care about what I think about things…

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