Tag Archives: MPAA

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Knowing how much I enjoy movies, new and old, you may find it hard to believe that I just saw this classic for the first time tonight. I know, I know, I’m behind the times, but the important thing is that I’ve finally seen it – and I loved it!

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of those rare movies that is enjoyable and loads of fun from start to finish, covering all of the stereotypical teenage dreams, from skipping school to jumping fences to joyriding in fancy sports cars. Matthew Broderick in the title role is charismatic and infectious, his charm and humor translating well between both his dialogue with his fellow on-screen actors and his quick side comments to the audience through the fourth wall – a gag that never feels forced or strange. In fact, it’s Broderick’s performance that makes this film work so well; I can’t picture a single actor who could have pulled this off as well as Broderick did.

Broderick isn’t the only actor who shines, though. Jeffrey Jones as Dean Rooney is quirky and amusing. One of the funniest moments of the film is his reaction after talking to “Mr. Peterson” on the phone. He is malicious, scheming, and the only adult suspicious of Ferris. He’s a man who takes his job too seriously…so seriously that he nearly gets himself killed just by trying to catch a kid playing hooky. It’s Rooney’s antics that bring much of the comedy to the film.

The main themes of the film – pursuing freedom and having fun – are pretty obvious, but they aren’t shoved in the faces of the audience, either. Another theme that may not appear as obvious is the theme of finding self-worth. Bueller doesn’t take the day off just for himself, but for his friend Cameron as well, who lives with, to put it simply, awful parents. By the end of the day, Cameron has learned that it is important to realize that your worth as a person isn’t determined by the people around you but rather by your opinion of yourself. Deep themes for a simple enough comedy film.

It was hard to look at Ferris Bueller’s Day Off objectively when I already knew that it was considered a classic, but I don’t think that not knowing that would change my opinion of it; this film is just one of the few that manages to appeal to nearly everyone who watches it, perhaps because we all feel the need to take that one day to drop our responsibilities and just do whatever the heck we want. Ferris helps us to live that out with him and have just as much fun along the ride. Well-deserving of its spot as one of the greatest comedy films of all time, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is film fun that is hard to beat.

-Chad

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for language and some sensuality

Note: As a warning to those few who haven’t seen it, there is a lot of swearing in this film.

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The Bourne Legacy (2012)

I would love to sit here and tell you all that The Bourne Legacy was just as good as any film in the original Damon trilogy, but, unfortunately, I can’t. While I did enjoy it, this is one of those films in which the bad or not-so-great outweighs the good.

*mild spoilers ahead*

The plot was weak and confusing; the entire first half of the film had me wondering what was happening, who was who, and why certain decisions were being made. While this wouldn’t have been a problem if all of my questions had been answered later in the film, most of them weren’t. I think that the film suffered from being set within the timeline of the original trilogy; references would have been fine, but this film takes place during and immediately after the third film, making things feel forced and a bit rushed. It would have been better to see the main character as a member of a completely separate, unrelated-to-Bourne project so that the film could be viewed less as a sequel and more as a continuation with a new focus.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the whole “chemically-altered super-human” part of the story…it worked for Captain America because he is a superhero set in a different universe with different rules than ours. While this type of chemical altering may eventually become reality in our own universe, it just feels silly in the context of the film; a super-human doesn’t have the same appeal as a highly-gifted and intensely-trained person in a non-superhero world.

I enjoyed Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, but I felt that the character’s “motivation” was not adequate enough to justify the full movie. It is not the attempt on his life that motivates him (at least, it doesn’t feel like it is), but, rather, his dependency on some pills distributed by the organization he works for that seems to push him into action; the entire middle portion of the film is watching Cross find a way to get his hands on some of these pills. I also had a problem with Rachel Weisz’s character, Dr. Marta Shearling, a woman who seems to take no issue with the fact that Cross is capable of fighting and killing with apparent ease…there’s not even a moment’s flicker of doubt as she continues on her journey with this violent man. In The Bourne Identity, Marie tried to run away from Jason Bourne when she found out who he was and what he was capable of, only staying because Bourne convinces her that she needs him to survive…for at least a little while. There’s a moment that is sort of like this in The Bourne Legacy, but it is subdued and less effective. She asks no questions and makes no attempts to flee.

Though the character wasn’t as fleshed out as he could have been in the script, Renner as Aaron Cross worked wonderfully as the follow-up to Damon’s Bourne. Renner plays the character with a resolve that almost makes you forgive the rocky motivations that Cross acts on. Edward Norton was excellent in this film. His character, Eric Byer, is in charge of cleaning up after the CIA’s “Treadstone” and “Blackbriar” programs (the programs that created/tried to kill Bourne, respectfully). He’s got a sharp tongue, a firm authority, and a sense of urgency that you can’t help but admire. Another bright part of the movie was the action; Jeremy Renner did a great job with the physical aspect of the character as well, giving us fight scenes that, while not as inspired as the first fights in The Bourne Identity, entertain without becoming too much of a good thing…with one exception. The last twenty minutes or so of the film consists of one overly gratuitous chase sequence…it just takes way too long.

*end spoilers*

Let’s face it: The Bourne Legacy had quite a – well – legacy to live up to. The original trilogy starring Matt Damon in the title role was excellent in terms of plot, character development, emotion, and action. Unfortunately, Legacy fell short in just about every regard, but just because it isn’t as good as the original trilogy doesn’t mean that it isn’t enjoyable – because it is. The Bourne Legacy delivers plenty in the way of action and humor, and, after his brief screen time in The Avengers earlier this year and his supporting role in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, it was nice to see Jeremy Renner as the main protagonist. Boosted along by a fantastic score by James Newton Howard, The Bourne Legacy may disappoint die-hard fans of the original trilogy, but it is still a fairly entertaining summer action film that will please the average moviegoer.

Rating: 2 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for violence and action sequences

P.S. – Read my review of this film’s score, composed by James Newton Howard, here!


Batman Begins (2005)

I saw this film on the big screen for the first time last night at the trilogy IMAX screening, and I was blown away. Just reinforces my belief that films were meant to be seen on the big screen in a theater.

What fascinates me about Batman – and what is shown so well in this film – is that he’s a human like you and me, albeit a wealthy one. Like us, he’s driven by his emotions, which stem from the loss of his parents and his desire to destroy injustice. Drawing heavily from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One (the definitive origin story of the character; my review), Batman Begins introduces us to a man who doesn’t become Batman to get revenge for his parents’ deaths but rather a man who becomes Batman to create a world where a young Bruce Wayne wouldn’t have been a victim.

The idea of taking your fear, mastering it, and using that fear to manipulate your enemies is an incredible notion (also taken from Batman: Year One), and it’s an interesting way to present the character of Batman. It’s a simple but extraordinary explanation for Bruce’s reasoning for using a bat as his symbol of justice and incorruptibility.

Christian Bale makes a great Batman. We never see an emotional side to him in this film, but we do see a defining change of character: we start off with a Bruce Wayne who brings a gun to the trial of the man who killed his parents, set for revenge, to the Bruce Wayne who learns to fight and survive in the criminal underworld, to the Bruce Wayne who trains with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows, and finally to the Bruce Wayne who doubles as masked crusader and millionaire playboy.

I don’t really have too much to say about this film; there’s nothing in particular that I dislike about it, and any flaws it does have don’t matter because the film is a setup for The Dark Knight…and we all know how that turned out. Christopher Nolan is one of those rare directors who is able to so clearly create a world so separate from yet so connected with our own, with fantastic, believable characters who we are able to identify with on some personal level, even a character like Batman. This film redefined what a “superhero movie” was capable of being, setting the foundation for several more realistic reboots of classic comic characters and for two more films starring our Dark Knight.

-Chad

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for intense action violence, disturbing images and some thematic elements

P.S. – Read my review of this film’s score, composed by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, here!


Ted (2012)

I had debated for a long time whether or not to see the feature-length directorial debut of Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy. I worried that Ted would take things too far now that MacFarlane didn’t have TV censorship rules governing what he could and couldn’t include, but, after hearing how hilarious it was and reading several glowing reviews (including a 3.5/4 star review from my favorite film critic, Roger Ebert), I decided to give it a chance.

Ted had me laughing from the moment narrator Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next GenerationX-Men) first introduced us to the characters. Despite his vulgarity, Ted, the title character (voiced by MacFarlane himself), manages to make you love him, and Mark Wahlberg (The DepartedThe Fighter) brings laughs as John Bennett, who, as an 8-year-old boy wishes his new teddy bear was alive so that they could be friends forever. Mila Kunis (Family GuyBlack Swan) plays Lori Collins, John’s girlfriend of four years, who just wants John to finally grow up and marry her, which he can’t do with Ted still around.

The film really does feel like a live-action Family Guy film, complete with flashback cut scenes, cameos from most of the main cast (only Seth Green is absent), jokes about Jews and homosexuals, references to classic films (including an Indiana Jones reference that had me laughing hysterically, though it was widely missed by most audience members in my theater), and an instrumental accompaniment by Walter Murphy, who composes the music for every episode of the animated TV show.

Much of the film relies on the anticipation of seeing what crazy thing Ted does next. In most cases, his antics are hilarious, but there are a couple of instances when the jokes really do go too far.

The musical score by Walter Murphy was actually really enjoyable. It definitely sounded Family Guy-esque, but that is not a bad thing at all. I don’t actually own the soundtrack at the moment, but it fit in well with the film.

Overall, Seth MacFarlane’s Ted made me laugh throughout. Even the scenes that were meant to be more emotional and serious made people laugh because, hey, it’s a movie about a teddy bear who drinks and gets high on a constant basis. However, the curse words are rampant, the drugs and alcohol are found throughout, and there is even brief (and for me, unexpected) nudity/sexual content, so don’t go see this if any of that offends you. Though I knew that all this would be present, it brought down the quality of the film for me. Oh, and two more quick things: 1) Parents, please don’t bring your kids to this movie like the people in my theater did. Not even remotely kid-friendly. 2) It would greatly improve your enjoyment of the film if you were to see Flash Gordon (1980; starring Sam J. Jones) first. Just saying.

-Chad

Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)

MPAA: R – for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use