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Editor's rating: 
Tuesday, 25 November 2008 |  Written by Noah Fleming  | 
Fred Claus It's that time of year again in which we are bombarded with holiday films.  Warner Bros. has already re-released "A Christmas Story" and "The Polar Express in 3-D."  Next on Warner's list is the 2007 gimmick film, "Fred Claus."  Surprisingly, the film was released back in November of 2007 and is just making its way to DVD and Blu-ray over one year later.  Unfortunately, the film has not gotten any better with age. This is one of David Dobkin's first attempts at directing.  Hopefully he will improve for the upcoming release of "The Flash" in 2010.  "Fred Claus" is a silly film that resembles many of the made-for-TV films out there.  It contains many of the thematic elements presents in Jenny McCarthy's "Santa Baby" from 2005.  Mainly, it is about family struggles in a time of crisis. Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) is ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 21 November 2008 |  Written by Bill Warren &  | 
Stranger Than Fiction (Special Edition) Even though it stars Will Ferrell, “Stranger Than Fiction” is a quiet, understated movie with a detailed treatment of characters—each is shown to have many levels—that’s just about impossible to classify. It’s funny but not really a comedy, serious but not really a drama, includes an utterly fantastic element but is otherwise realistic. It’s the first filmed script by Zach Helm; based on this, he’s a major find, a more realistic—if that’s the word—variation on Charlie Kaufman. Ferrell’s performance is not quite like anything he’s done before; he’s a regular guy, nice enough but withdrawn from the world, shielded behind a wall of slowly-built but now near-impervious routine. Ferell does not play Harold Crick for overt comedy, he’s not trying to elicit laughter. Harold is just a guy. He’s so caught up in routine, mathematics, charts, and everything being just so that ...
Editor's rating: 
Wednesday, 05 November 2008 |  Written by Noah Fleming  | 
Christmas Story, A (2008 Re-Release) One of the nice things about period films – those set in an era substantially earlier than the year of their making – is that they tend to age well. They don’t seem dated, because the filmmakers aren’t throwing in up-to-the-minute details that will time-stamp the whole enterprise a year later. So it is with "A Christmas Story," which was actually made in 1983 but might just as easily have been made today. Based on Jean Shepherd’s novel ‘In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,’ "A Christmas Story" is an amusing oddity. Imagine a "Saturday Evening Post" cover as a feature comedy film, and you may get an idea of what this child’s-eye view of a ‘50s holiday season is like. Peter Billingsley, astoundingly precocious without being overly cute, plays Ralphie, whose greatest desire in life is to possess a genuine ...
Editor's rating: 
Tuesday, 04 November 2008 |  Written by Bill Warren &  | 
Get Smart (2008) Near the end of “Get Smart,” Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart, CONTROL agent, dons a sports jacket—narrow lapels, narrow tie—and heads off in a red 1960s Sunbeam convertible, just like Don Adams drove in the old TV sitcom on which this movie is based. After about a block, the car shudders to a halt; it just can’t make it. To a large degree, neither can this movie. It’s occasionally genuinely funny, but one thing it is not is a “Get Smart” movie. Max Smart has been changed far too much. On the series, he was a cockamamie blend of James Bond and Inspector Clouseau—determined to succeed, utterly confident with no reason to be, and quick to justify his blunders. (“Missed it by THAT much.”) He was brisk, no-nonsense, full of himself and vaguely attracted to Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), who loved ...
Editor's rating: 
Monday, 20 October 2008 |  Written by Bill Warren  | 
Meet the Spartans Apparently a form of response to the “Scary Movie” series, in recent years there’s been a flood of movie parodies, many of them written by the team of Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer, who turned co-directors with “Date Movie.”  They carried on with “Epic Movie,” “Disaster Movie” and “Meet the Spartans,” a parody of “300.”  (Surprisingly, they weren’t connected to “Superhero Movie.”)  They reached their peak of quality, if that’s the right word, early, with the first “Scary Movie.”  It’s been pretty much downhill since then, with “Meet the Spartans” evidently one of the worst.  It’s not just bad, it’s terrible, with nothing except, briefly, the performances of Kevin Sorbo, Diedrich Bader and Method Man to recommend it.  Like the other parodies, the movie largely replays scenes from their targets, tossing in smutty wisecracks, inflating everything with exaggeration (though it’s ...
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