This Is 40

Some really funny lines and situations, some great supporting acting performances and two attractive leads should make for a great movie. Instead, This Is 40 is more of a movie stew.

This Is 40 is like a big, bloated sitcom. An R-rated sitcom with F-bombs liberally sprinkled throughout. There’s enough going on here to provide story frameworks for at least a half-dozen sitcom episodes.

Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are Pete and Debbie. Both are about to turn 40. Their lives are filled with messy situations. Their sex life is losing sizzle. Pete’s record label is hemorrhaging cash. Debbie’s boutique has an employee stealing money. Their kids are borderline obnoxious. Their fathers load them with more baggage.

Pete and Debbie each have little secrets that they don’t share with one another, like Pete’s obsession with cupcakes and Debbie’s sneaking off to smoke. They also do not fully disclose their respective financial issues.

And Debbie lies about her age. So the climactic 40th birthday party is just Pete’s party (not a joint affair, like they’ve had in past years).

The strongest performances in This Is 40 come from Albert Brooks as Pete’s dad, John Lithgow as Debbie’s dad and Melissa McCarthy as a parent the couple has an issue with. As she did in Bridesmaids, McCarthy steals the show.

Director/writer Judd Apatow delivers a movie that runs 2 hours and fourteen minutes, a bit too long. Judicious use of the editing blade could’ve easily trimmed this into a tighter, more focused movie.

This Is 40 will make you laugh. It may portray situations like some in your own relationship. With the right personnel, This Is 40 could easily transition into a successful TV series. It has a lot of the right stuff, but just a little too much stuff to be as good as it could’ve been.

 

 

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“Drive”—/Drive It Home (from Redbox, etc.)/

“Drive,” one of my favorites of 2011, has just been released on DVD and Blu-Ray. Here is my review, originally posted back in September. Sadly, “Drive” received ZERO Oscar acting nominations and its director was NOT nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. I think the movie has the elements of a classic. I know I look forward to seeing it again. I recommend it. Read on…

The movies I like best are the ones that feature three things. First, a good story. Second, compelling characters. Third, an interesting way of presenting that story.

“Drive” has all three elements. Ryan Gosling plays a guy who loves to drive. He’s a garage mechanic/movie stunt driver by day and a getaway car driver by night. He befriends his neighbor, played by Carey Mulligan and, later, does a favor for her husband.

The favor? Driving for a simple stickup. But things go bad, people get shot and Gosling’s driver gets involved with some very mean people who want to kill him.

Among the movie’s compelling characters is Bryan Cranston as Gosling’s boss at the garage. Cranston deserves a supporting actor nomination for his grizzled, limping, tragic, chronic victim type.

Albert Brooks is likely to be considered for a best supporting nom as well for his sleazy ex-movie producer turned hood.

Is Gosling Oscar-worthy in “Drive?”  Yes, but buzz is stronger for his work in “Ides of March” coming in three weeks.

The main reason this movie soars is its direction. Beautifully shot, gracefully paced. With a soundtrack that constantly surprises and entertains.

Director Nicolas Winding Refn won Best Director at Cannes this spring. He’s certain to be nominated for all the directing awards in the US this winter. His direction is stylish. There are tinges of Tarantino, but without the smirk.

Is “Drive” a classic? Maybe. It’s a movie that will, I believe, achieve cult status and will still be relevant decades from now. Rated “R.”

St. Louis Film Critics 2011 Award Winners

Here are the winners and runners-up of the 2011 St. Louis Film Critics’ Awards.

Best Film
The Artist
runner-up: The Descendants

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
runner-up: Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)

Best Actor
George Clooney (The Descendants)
runner-up: Ryan Gosling (Drive)

Best Actress
Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
runners-up – tied: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks (Drive)
runner-up: Alan Rickman (Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2)

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
runners-up – tied: Octavia Spencer (The Help) and Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)

Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
runner-up: Will Reiser (50/50)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash and Kaui Hart Hemmings (novel) for The Descendants
runner-up: Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin and Michael Lewis (book) for Moneyball

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree Of Life)
runners-up – tied: Jeff Cronenweth (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
and Janusz Kaminski (War Horse)

Best Visual Effects
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2
runner-up: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

Best Music
The Artist
runner-up: Drive

Best Foreign-Language Film
13 Assassins (Japan)
runner-up: Winter in Wartime (Netherlands)

Best Documentary
Being Elmo
runner-up: Tabloid

Best Comedy
Bridesmaids
runner-up: Midnight In Paris

Best Animated Film
The Adventures of Tintin
runner-up: Rango

Best Art-House or Festival Film
(for artistic excellence in quality art-house cinema, limited to films that played at film festivals or film series here or those that had a limited-release here, playing one or two cinemas.)
We Need To Talk About Kevin
runner-up: Win Win

Best Scene
(favorite movie scene or sequence)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: the opening titles sequence
runner-up: The Artist: the dance scene finale

“Drive” May Be a Classic

The movies I like best are the ones that feature three things. First, a good story. Second, compelling characters. Third, an interesting way of presenting that story.

“Drive” has all three elements. Ryan Gosling plays a guy who loves to drive. He’s a garage mechanic/movie stunt driver by day and a getaway car driver by night. He befriends his neighbor, played by Carey Mulligan and, later, does a favor for her husband.

The favor? Driving for a simple stickup. But things go bad, people get shot and Gosling’s driver gets involved with some very mean people who want to kill him.

Among the movie’s compelling characters is Bryan Cranston as Gosling’s boss at the garage. Cranston deserves a supporting actor nomination for his grizzled, limping, tragic, chronic victim type.

Albert Brooks is likely to be considered for a best supporting nom as well for his sleazy ex-movie producer turned hood.

Is Gosling Oscar-worthy in “Drive?”  Yes, but buzz is stronger for his work in “Ides of March” coming in three weeks.

The main reason this movie soars is its direction. Beautifully shot, gracefully paced. With a soundtrack that constantly surprises and entertains.

Director Nicolas Winding Refn won Best Director at Cannes this spring. He’s certain to be nominated for all the directing awards in the US this winter. His direction is stylish. There are tinges of Tarantino, but without the smirk.

Is “Drive” a classic? Maybe. It’s a movie that will, I believe, achieve cult status and will still be relevant decades from now. Rated “R.”