Movie Reviews by Michael Gildea
According to the numerous ads pushing this movie, itís based on the true story of a burnt-out cowboy and his horse, taking on a treacherous few thousand-mile race in the Middle East. But itís more like Abraham Lincoln single-handedly wiping out a legion of
samurai: not true, but hell, it sounds great. Thatís what you get with Hidalgo, very entertaining bullshit. Viggo Mortensen had been around for a good dozen years before every soccer mom in America decided to get soaked over him, after being dragged by her kids to see
the Lord of the Rings movies. Itís good to see that heís finally getting recognition, and itís even better to see that heís doing some good with it instead of making shitty date movies or bad sex comedies. Hidalgo was great, in the sense that itís the kind
of movie that you saw on TV when you were a kid. Think pre-Costner Robin Hood or a de-Banderased Zorro. Throw in the special effects (even the simplest of stories needs them these days) from those not-so-bad Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser from a few years
ago, and youíve got a pretty good idea what to expect from Hidalgo. Itís a nice change of pace from the typical flashy action Hollywood bullshit that gets churned out incessantly, because these stories are rarely heard these days. Kids donít want to hear bedtime
stories anymore; they just want to play their Gameboy Advanced under the covers. It was somewhat creepy how Mortensenís character was just a little too close to his horse, but it was a cool horse.
Starsky & Hutch
Iíve been sick to death of movies based on TV shows for a good number of years now. While the first Charlieís Angels movie was fun, in a brainless nothing-else-is-on sort of way, The Brady Bunch, Mod Squad, and a slew of other
examples of horrible filmmaking that Iíve been trying to forget just set off that "avoid-at-all-costs" siren in my head. But every time Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson get together, I nearly piss my pants with laughter. I was shocked when I saw Zoolander; The Royal
Tenenbaums was brilliant; and even Permanent Midnight had funny moments in a sad way, so I was sold. Then I read somewhere that Todd Phillips (or as I like to call him, the second coming of John Landis, who did Animal House and The Blues Brothers forever
and a day ago), who brought us such modern-day classics as Old School and Road Trip, was directing it. Snoop Doggís in it. Vince Vaughn. It just got better and better, but thatís where I made my mistake. I expected too much. It had next to none of that classic
Todd Phillips raunchiness that made his previous two movies fun. A lot of the jokes were off. It was like eating fat-free food, a mere shadow of its former self. There were a few funny moments, like the Will Farrell scene and, and, Ö Iím sure there were more, I just canít
think of them. Go check out Zoolander and youíll see what I mean.
Part of being a great actor is making smart choices; picking roles where you can show any talent you might have. Charlize Theronís recent Oscar win for Monster is a perfect example of this. One of the things that I like about Johnny Depp is that he
usually makes smart choices, but Secret Window is not one of them. Itís boring and itís a story youíve seen once if youíve seen it a thousand times done by Alfred Hitchcock. An innocent man wrongly accused, Deppís a writer living in a cottage in the woods when
some crazy hick starts bugging him, claiming that Depp stole his story. As much as I loved John Turturro in O Brother, Where Art Thou, I wasnít really up for a "crazy bastard" version of him. Most of the movie is Depp angling around, trying to figure out how heís
going to get the hell out of his not-so-suspenseful situation. But, for as much smack as Iíve talked about this movie, I havenít even mentioned the worst part of it: Stephen King originally wrote it.
(Ordinary person, supermodel actors)
Tom Clancy movies suck. Each is like a fine Monte Cristo cigar that youíre supposed to be relishing, and all you can think of is how youíd rather be smoking a Camel wide. Iíve always found those types of movies to be slow moving, drawn out, and starved of
the action that makes spy movies or whatever the hell theyíre supposed to be enjoyable. Maybe the James Bond marathons on TBS ruined me. However, this isnít your typical spy/espionage/government agency movie. David Mamet did this. For those of you who arenít familiar with
Mr. Mamet or his work, he kicks ass. Heís a great playwright (Glengarry GlenRoss and American Buffalo, to name a couple) and heís a great director, too (The Heist and The Spanish Prisoner to name a couple more). The man uses the English language
and dialogue the same way a $10,000/night hooker uses her mouth, and he can write a story with more twists in it than Princess Diís limo. The plot basically boils down to the Presidentís daughter being kidnapped and a special-ops officer being called in to save her. I know it
sounds like crap, but I assure you that itís not. Val Kilmer gives his usually great performance, and itís got a great cast too. As I mentioned before, with all of its twists, thereís not a hell of a lot that I can give away without spoiling what promises to be the most
underrated movie of the year.
Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London
Cody Banks 2 can be the last piece of shit before a potentially brilliant career (think of that drab remake of That Darn Cat in comparison to Christina Ricciís career), or it could be the last act of a desperate man (like that
video game movie that Fred Savage did in the late Ď80s that I canít even think of the title of.) Frankie Muniz is at the point where heís not cute and little anymore. Heís starting to remind me of a cross between a midget insurance agent/math teacher and the kid who
played Ben Seaver on "Growing Pains." (Once the voice starts changing, itís all downhillÖ) Any kid whose father hasnít put them through the rite of passage better known as a James Bond movie will probably enjoy this film, but the other 99% of the world will think
itís shit. Movies like this are the reason Iím so apprehensive of having kids one day. Kids entertainment is progressively getting shittier and shittier, and I know by the time that I have my own demon-spawn to raise that the industry will be at an all-time low, making Cody
Banks 2 look like Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Picture Nickelodeon re-cutting a Timothy Dalton Bond movie (you remember that pathetic lull there for a while in the Ď80s?) and youíve got a vague idea what Agent Cody Banks 2 is all about. That, and plenty of
stupid humor that kids seem to enjoy. To make matters worse, Hillary Duff wasnít in the sequel, so I couldnít even zone out into a statutory rape fantasy. But there was a nice little strumpet in it that replaced her with an English accent. By the time the credits were over, I
had already made the appointment for my vasectomyÖ