Category Archives: john cusack

Quickies 8-31-2010

Batman: Under the Red Hood ~ This direct-to-DVD animated film from DC Comics follows the story of the second Robin who was murdered by the Joker and then mysteriously returns from the dead years later as Batman’s adversary the Red Hood. I didn’t actually read the comics this was based on so it was all new for me, and as I am not much of a Bat-fan these days, surprisingly good. I especially loved the fight early on with Batman and Nightwing vs. Amazo. Even though it’s not Mark Hamill doing the voice, the Joker is exceptionally scary here. Great stuff. Not for kids, but recommended.

Hot Tub Time Machine ~ This really wasn’t as bad as it sounded when I first heard of it, in fact this was a pleasant surprise. Yes, the title, and the previews pretty much give it away, but this flick has a heart, and a funnybone. Anyone who loved all those 1980s movies like Better Off Dead or Just One of the Guys or anything by John Hughes will get a kick out of this. Might be a bit rough for kids, lots of sex and drugs, but still a good romp. Fun, nostalgia and John Cusack. You can’t beat that.

Big Fan ~ You might think of Patton Oswalt as just a comedian, but he’s not. He’s also a very good actor. His semi-dramatic peripheral role in “United States of Tara” is only the tip of the iceberg. I just saw him in Big Fan and he is a tour de force portraying a lonely middle-aged guy obsessed with New York Giants football and sports radio. We know these guys, and this is an intimate and chilling look into their world. This is a hell of a movie. Recommended.

The Road ~ Based on the book by Cormac McCarthy, this post-apocalyptic drama stars Viggo Mortenson and briefly Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron. It’s about a father’s quest to show his son the ocean by traveling across the country dodging psychos and cannibals in a world without sunlight. It’s visually intriguing, but very little else, and at some points, downright boring. Read the book, and only see the movie if it’s on free TV and there’s not much else on.

Igor ~ Anything with John Cusack’s name on it is worth checking out in my opinion. He has rarely let me down. This overlooked computer-animated flick about the hunchbacked assistants to mad scientists, called Igors, is quite a gem. A bit predictable in some places and unexpectedly outrageous in others is definitely worth a look. Good for the kids, and the adults as well.

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2012

2012 ~ A close friend of mine said the other day that she would watch John Cusack read the phone book. I have to wonder if she’s seen this gem…

The real star here is the special effects. It seems like co-writer/director Roland Emmerich just didn’t get to destroy the world enough in Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow (and that’s not even mentioning how he destroyed Godzilla, grrr…) and had CGI effects leftover. That said, this wannabe Irwin Allen has created stunning disaster imagery that is almost worth the price of admission (or rental), if only a story went along with it.

The film’s structure revolves around the solely Western idea that the world will end when the Mayan calendar ends in the year 2012. To me this always seemed absurd. The calendar ended because the guy carving it got tired and just ended it on the last cycle. Remember no keyboards or pencils then, just chisels – it was hard labor. Anyway, the world’s going to end, cue special effects and let your butt get numb.

John Cusack is writer Jackson Curtis (who just happens to have written a book about Mayan ‘prophecy’) who struggles in the midst of the disaster to save his estranged family. The hilarity, and unbelievability factor, ensues from there. I have to wonder however if John had some gambling debts or alimony payments we don’t know about he had to cover with this flick. It certainly couldn’t have been the script that lured him in. Woody Harrelson, on the other hand, is actually quite a hoot as an ersatz Art Bell type radio show host.

The chase scenes will certainly make your heart race, and if only this would have been in IMAX… See it for the effects, and only if you don’t have to pay for it.

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1408

Stephen King hasn’t had a very good record having his work translated to the silver screen. Somehow folks in Hollywood just aren’t creative enough to get his words from the page to images on the screen.

Even when adaptations are good, they’re not what he wrote. Stanley Kubrick made a movie of “The Shining” that was about alcoholism and domestic violence while King wrote a book about a haunted hotel. Not that other media have been that kind to Stephen either, cases in point: the USA Network’s “The Dead Zone” and Marvel Comics’ “Gunslinger.” Like a literary Rodney Dangerfield, the man just can’t get any respect.

Now we have 1408, based on one of King’s more recent short stories. Writer Mike Enslin writes books about haunted places, staying there and then writing debunking tales of them. Now, Mike stays in a hotel room that is actually evil. Hilarity ensues, as they say.

The basic idea of the story is here but with some extra frills as well. John Cusack is wonderful in the lead, and really, when in his almost three decade career, hasn’t he been? The brilliant Samuel L. Jackson serves up a chilling performance, and while he doesn’t shout he does deliver his patented F word.

It’s a writer movie so I appreciated the book signing scene. But more than a writer movie, it’s a ‘horror’ flick. There are some predictable scares as well as some elaborate and unexpected ones. Happily, unlike a lot of ‘horror’ flicks there is little gore or violence. And while the ending isn’t King’s, the essence is, and it’s a great watch. Check it out, King fan or not.