Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Potter & the Half-blood Prince

Let me get something out of the way, right off the bat. I’ve never read the books. There, I admit it. I just bring it up because it is important you understand my view of this movie. It is unaffected by a prior knowledge of all the events to take place and constantly being annoyed by the stuff they’re leaving out. Can we move on now?

Okay. I’m glad that’s over.

This movie is badass. I’ve followed all six of the movies so far and Half-blood is probably one of the best to date. Not including Prisoner of Azkaban. Because that one was amazing. This one actually captured the world of Harry Potter and delivered a super-fun, sometimes creepy, often hilarious adventure.

Order of the Phoenix (the last installment) was, honestly, a little confusing. I got the impression that the story line of that book was a culmination of a bunch of sub-plots from previous books that the corresponding movies just decided to leave out. I doubt that the screen-writers/directors ever thought the film series would ever make it this far. So they just put in the easy stuff. But there they were with movie number five, caught with a story that didn’t make sense, so they crammed everything they could into a brief period of time. And it left me confused.

But Half-blood is all caught up now. Ready to deliver some sweet visuals and general entertainment all around. I always enjoy the cameos they slip into these movies. Jim Broadbent (who you guys would know as That Old British Guy Who’s In A Lot Of Movies) was delightful as Horace Slughorn. Being old and British must really put him at an advantage.

Speaking of cameos, Michael Gambon plays Dumbledore now. And by now, I mean that he’s been playing Dumbledore since movie number three. Four freaking movies have gone by and I thought Ian McKellan was playing him the whole time. And now I find out that Ian McKellan has NEVER played Dumbledore! My mind is completely, utterly, and totally blown.

England, stop spitting out old white actors that all look the same. It’s not fair.

But back to the movie. Despite a lack of Ian McKellan, everyone does a fantastic job. The movie as a whole is probably one of the best movies of the summer. Probably the most charming quality of the movie over all is it’s running humor. Unlike say the Transformers movies, where humor is simply made at the expense of women and minorities, and completely out of context with the movie as a whole. Half-blood keeps a steady vein of comical teenage angst and woes that keep the movie fun.

And to top it all off, I went to the midnight showing of this movie. What shocked me more than anything was how many people were there. We are quite literally talking about THOUSANDS of people. When the movie ended, from the time I stood up until the time I unlocked my bike took me a full fifteen minutes! Isn’t that crazy? I had no idea the Harry Potter movies were such a phenomenon. Guess you learn something new every day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


It’s no Borat. I think we can all agree on that. But what could be Borat? I mean, that movie was freaking brilliant. Am I wrong? No. I’m not. Ever.

However, it is still a pretty damn hilarious movie. The plot line has a few weak points. The structure seems oddly familiar to its predecessor. And this time around you feel like you’re in on the joke, rather than scratching your head trying to figure out just how real this movie is. But it’s still pretty damn hilarious.

Brüno is a fashion reporter on “the most influential fashion show in any German speaking country… except Germany.” He’s flamboyant, aggressive, and, obviously, kinda stupid. He shows up to big-time fashion show wearing a suit made entirely of Velcro, madness ensues, he loses his job. So Brüno moves to LA in hopes of becoming a star in America. But without much talent to speak of, things don’t go quite as he had hoped. The whole movie consists of him trying to leap over one obstacle or another to get to the top of the Hollywood food chain.

A lot of the interviews and mechanisms he uses are old hat by now. He manages to get either a celebrity or a politician cornered into an interview and he goes out of his way to make them incredibly uncomfortable. Kinda played out. But then again, when Ron Paul freaks out after Brüno tries to seduce him… pretty damn hilarious.

Personally, I’m surprised he can still get people into interviews. Hasn’t everybody heard of him by now? Apparently not. Certainly not the “Gay Converter” minister he manages to get a hold of. Or the Hollywood agent who’s marketing him out. Or any of the people in the focus group for his proposed new TV show. Or any of the people in the talk show audience he attends. Leave it to Sacha Baron Cohen to find (and exploit) all of the stupidest people in this country.

Which is his charm, after all.

The movie does drag a bit. Which is funny, because it’s not even ninety minutes long. But the gay jokes and penis suggestions get exhausting after a while.

Exhausting is actually a good word for it. I don’t think one person can handle that many penis jokes with out just getting overloaded. Probably the funniest part of the movie was an extreme close up of a penis dancing around. This is a real penis, mind you. Not a cartoon. And on the screen my wife and I saw it on, this thing was probably about six feet long. That’s not something you’ll soon forget.

Brüno is worth seeing. And you will laugh. But it will also make you want to go rent Borat and laugh at that movie all over again. Homophobia just isn’t the hot button issue it once was. Xenophobia/cultural-racism is so much sexier.