Category Archives: steve buscemi

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania ~ I gotta be up front with this one. It’s not bad, but honestly I was expecting so much more from Genndy Tartakovsky’s first foray into big screen animation. “Samurai Jack,” “Dexter’s Laboratory” and especially the most recent “Sym-Biotic Titan” are among my faves on Cartoon Network. Yeah, I know he also worked on “Star Wars: Clone Wars,” but let’s get real, it is sooo not in the same league.

Hotel Transylvania is not bad, but it’s not that good either. Simplistic, and borrowing more than a little from Rankin/Bass’ Mad Monster Party? from decades ago, it struggles more than it needs to by using the voice talents (and I use the word ‘talent’ very loosely) of Adam Sandler as Dracula. It’s like listening to Sandler’s annoying Opera Man voice for almost two hours. Where there’s Sandler, there’s also Kevin James as Frankenstein, as well as a cornucopia of unfunny “Saturday Night Live” veterans.

This one is good for the kids, but might be a bit much to take for the adults. Be warned, the end breaks into a rap celebration that must be missed. Embarrassing for all involved. Seeing Steve Buscemi involved in this movie tells me he owes somebody a big favor, or he needs to fire his agent. As for Genndy Tartakovsky, his next project is rumored to be a big budget animated Popeye. I’m hoping for the best, and not more of this.

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Boardwalk Empire

HBO does it again. Do they ever make programming that is not the best out there? No, and how can someone not like a television series that film god Martin Scorsese has his hands in? He actually directed the pilot episode, the one that got this series renewed after only one airing, if that tells you anything about its quality. It was fabulous. For me, Scorsese working on the small screen is the equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci doing a comic book – lower rent yes, but the hand of a genius on a format smaller than their mind – a spectacular effect.

“Boardwalk Empire” takes place in 1920 Atlantic City and follows the exploits of Nucky Thompson as played by Steve Buscemi. Again, Buscemi is someone suited for the big screen and therefore rules the small one. It is good to see him finally in a role that matches his abilities. His character is based loosely (or closely, depending on your perspective) of Nucky Johnson who was treasurer of Atlantic City of the time, a famously generous and equally infamously corrupt personage whose work behind the scenes has become legend.

While Nucky’s name is altered to protect both the innocent and the guilty, there are other real life folks floating around “Boardwalk Empire.” Stephen Graham’s Al Capone and certainly Vincent Piazza as Lucky Luciano are notable for their appearances here, but the real real life tour de force is Michael K. Williams as African-American gangster Chalky White. You might remember him from his role as Omar in “The Wire.”

And speaking of fantastic performances, serious props go to Kelly MacDonald, Gretchen Mol and especially to Michael Pitt as Jimmy. The latter is the real star here in my opinion, and will walk from here to much bigger and better things, if that’s possible. And Michael Shannon is particularly scary as the IRS agent pursuing Thompson.

Final word, this is damn good television, right up there with other HBO alum like “The Sopranos” and the aforementioned “The Wire” as well as stuff like “Mad Men” and “Dexter.” “Boardwalk Empire” is do-not-miss television.

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The Wedding Singer

ONLY FOR DREW

A Video Review of The Wedding Singer

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

This one has got so many things that should make me hate it. It’s got karaoke, it’s a sappy love story and most of all it’s got Adam Sandler – the kiss of death. But, I do kinda like it, if only for Drew Barrymore.

I think I might actually even pay to see Ms. Barrymore read the phone book in a muumuu. Even though Adam Sandler is in this, it is better than the phone book muumuu thing.

I love 1980s music, not enough to listen to radio stations that program eighties music (sorry, there’s only so many times a sane mind can hear “Hey Mickey” and “Safety Dance” in one day before going on a shooting spree) but I did grow up in the time so it holds a warm spot in my heart.

Sandler doesn’t use any stupid voices or act mentally retarded and is tolerable as The Wedding Singer who falls for a waitress (the irrepressible Drew) about to get married. Everything works out for the best (duh) and we get a lovely cameo by Billy Idol (my god, that must be one hell of a painting he’s got in his attic) who helps Sandler court Drew and a whole lot of eighties music. This soundtrack is like a K-Tel album from hell.

Christine Taylor (Marcia of The Brady Bunch) is sexy as ever and Steve Buscemi (as always) steals the movie by being the Steve Buscemi-est. And don’t miss the old lady doing karaoke of “Rappers Delight.” Get the DVD, corny as it sounds, the DVD has karaoke and it’s funny.

Come for the music, stay for the Drew, you won’t regret it.

The above previously published at Project: Popcorn
http://www.whitevioletpictures.com/popcorn

For more of my movie reviews check out:
Comic Widows at
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Contact me here.

Bringing Down the House

BRINGING DOWN THE RACES

A Film Review of Bringing Down the House

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

While there are a lot of good things about this film I left the theatre with a bad taste in my mouth. It was chock full of black folks/white folks humor and racial stereotypes that might have worked in the 1970s but feel distinctly out of place in the 21st century. I think it was best said by Steve Buscemi in Ghost World – that racism now and racism then are exactly the same it was just more out in the open then which I guess really means we’re better at hiding it now.

It’s wonderful to see Steve Martin doing physical comedy again. It seems like it’s been forever and a million bad movies since the days of the original “Saturday Night Live” and The Jerk. Great to have him back, age and numerous bad scripts haven’t diluted his comedic talent.

Queen Latifah is as good as ever although it must be said this is the worst I’ve seen her. Watching her tap and shuffle for a joke is disturbing at times almost as bad as Eugene Levy (“Second City TV”) and Steve Martin playin’ homies. A hilarious yet racially motivated bathroom catfight between Latifah and Missi Pyle (who I absolutely loved in Josie and the Pussycats) early on in the film should have been a sign of things to come.

Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor of “Smallville”) also does a nice turn as a back-stabbing ass-kissing lawyer (is there any of kind?). Check out his rug. Betty White is also a delight. I hated her on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Golden Girls” but here and Lake Placid she shines. I guess she ages well. And when the story turns decidedly dark and serious toward the end Eugene Levy’s witty presence is all that saves it.

Quite a bit of the plot however made me think I was watching an old episode of “Bewitched.” We had Betty White as the snooping and disapproving neighbor as well as Steve Martin constantly on the run to keep a client on the run from his not-so-normal home life. Come to think of it Latifah did perform some miracles that nose-twitching might have been required.

Disturbing racism aside it’s a pretty predictable Disney family film in the spirit of The Kid and The Princess Diaries. Yep, Disney. I think of things like Priest and Powder (let’s not even mention Kids, oops, already did) and lighter fare like this and I get the feeling sometimes that old Walt is in a perpetual spin in his cryogenic chamber. I laughed a few times but I wished I hadn’t afterwards.