Posts Tagged ‘ray liotta


Movie Review: Youth in Revolt

I know this because Francois knows this…

Starring Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Steve Buscemi, Zach Galifianakis, Fred Willard, Justin Long, and Ray Liotta. Directed by Miguel Arteta. Based on the book, “Youth in Revolt: the Adventures of Nick Twisp” by C.D. Payne

Meet Nick Twisp (Cera), certified and bona fide wuss. His unemployed mother Estelle (Smart) lives off the child support checks of his dad, George (Buscemi) and shacks up with any guy who will look her direction; the guy she’s currently with is Jerry (Galifianakis), a trucker and habitual liar. Nick’s dad is doing the midlife crisis-thing; he drives a BMW and his live-in girlfriend Lacey (Ari Graynor) is young, hot, and blonde.

Nick is a sixteen-year-old sitting in a sea of sexual stagnation. He’s the “nice guy” when all the attractive girls are looking for macho jerks. His record collection contains jazz love songs and would love for Frank Sinatra to be played once a day. French films are his specialty; at the video store he was renting a copy of Fellini’s “La Strada.” In short, there’s no way he’s going to get laid and even he knows that. His only solace is the fact that his friend Lefty (Erik Knudsen) isn’t getting any and his weird neighbor Mr. Ferguson (Willard) is too busy being a political activist.

Fate intervenes in the form of three sailors who show up with a 70s clunker they paid Jerry $900 for. The car blew up a few blocks down the road and they found a banana peel in the engine; they’re pissed and they want their money back. Upon Nick relaying the info Jerry decides to take them on vacation with the new Cadillac he just bought (with the sailors’ $900).

Cut to Ukiah. Jerry is borrowing a friend’s place (read: decrepit trailer) by the beach. Upon return from the showerhouse Nick meets Sheeni Saunders, a girl his age. She takes to Nick’s awkwardness and finds it cute. Showing Nick around her home he finds out that her dad is a lawyer and both are majorly Christian. Nick finds that Sheeni wants to move to France but really wants to travel the world. By the end his vacation, Nick is in love and must find a way to get back to Ukiah.

Enter Francois Dillinger. The Tyler Durden to his Jack; the devil on his shoulder. Francois wears a light blue long-sleeved shirt and white pants, smokes cigarettes, and acts like the badass Nick wishes he was. Through a series of events involving the Cadillac and a POS trailer Jerry bought, Francois sets a business on fire. Nick’s mom’s new love interest Officer Lance Wescott (Liotta) suggests getting Nick out of town so it’s back up to Ukiah.

But everything doesn’t go as swimmingly as possible. Sheeni’s parents know what’s happened and send her to a private, all French-speaking school. Her better-than-you well-to-do boyfriend Trent (Jonathan B. Wright) is also switching to the school. Sitting in Ukiah with newfound friend Vijay Joshi (Adhir Kalyan), the two hatch a plot to meet up with her to bring her back. When the police here of Nick’s location, he tries to keep the tailspin under control in the ultimate hope of getting laid before going to Juvenile Hall.

I liked the movie and it was funnier than I thought it would be. Let me address some questions up front: is it funny? Yes, far funnier than you would think although it may not be for everyone. This is designed more for “emo”/indie likings as opposed to having a strong, male character presence (that I don’t think Cera could pull of just yet). Is it funnier than the trailers? Yes. There are moments in the film, specific for it, that are laugh-out-loud funnier than what you see in the previews.

Cera is definitely in his element here with the character Nick feeling somewhat like Paulie Bleeker from “Juno.” Both are awkward, sensitive, aware of their surroundings (with deep cynicism), and do not have any clue as to how to act/re-act to women. Bleeker went into sex casually while Nick beats himself up trying to get to it.

The rest of the cast do well enough and Portia Doubleday holds her own. Justin Long shows up as Sheeni’s druggie brother Paul (who ends up running off with Lacey). M. Emmet Walsh plays Sheeni’s father. Steve Buscemi (where has he been?) and a few others show up just to be a part of it. Really, this movie is more for Portia and Michael.

My only complaint about this movie is that I’m not a huge fan of animation and certain segments of this movie “wrapped up” events via animation. Some of it was funny but again, not a big fan.

Do I recommend this one? If you’re of the emo/nerd/geek/indie variety of person, yes. Would I recommend full price? I recommend matinee initially but if there’s nothing else to be watched, sure.

My grade: B


Movie Review: Observe and Report



Better than most Will Farrell comedies…


Stars Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Ray Liotta, and Michael Pena. Directed by Jody Hill.


Okay, let me say this first: no, this is NOT a Will Farrell movie. I could imagine Farrell playing Rogen’s role. The “arrogant doofus” has become prevalent in comedies and is getting on my nerves.


The arrogant doofus at large, i.e. Seth Rogen, is Ronnie Barnhardt. He lives with his alcoholic mother and is the inept head of security at the local mall. He is a rent-a-cop with delusions of grandeur and a bloated sense of purpose so much so that one of the vendors has a restraining order out on him (and he still works at the mall? Uh, script coach!) His crew include the twin brothers Yuan (Matt and John Yuen), a food court guy (Jesse Plemons), and his second-in-command Dennis (Michael Pena), a Hispanic who talks with a lisp.


A streaker (Randy Gambill) flashes several people in the parking lot and Ronnie is on the case. Sort of. When his love interest/infatuation cosmetics girl Brandi (Faris) is “flashed” by the pervert, Ronnie’s infatuation turns to determination of finding the guy at all costs. Enter Detective Harrison (Liotta). Harrison wants to do what’s right but continually gets hindered by Ronnie’s blundering incompetence. If you or I were in this movie, we would pretty much be on Harrison’s side.


This is the crux of the movie.


Don’t get me wrong; there are funny moments in this movie with some even being laugh-out-loud. For the most part it’s a 90-minute distraction from the reality you are escaping, much like the one Ronnie is. Kudos to the music department for picking out a great soundtrack. Queen has at least two song selections in this one proving that if you’re lamenting or kicking ass, they’re the defacto rock band.


As a movie, again it’s a good diversion if you’ve got nothing else cramming your schedule. As a film, it falls flat. It seems that there was heart in making it, but the technical details were lacking. A subtheme about thefts in the mall was glazed-over and reappears momentarily and then treated with shrugged shoulders. At some point in the middle of the movie the entire thing unravels and becomes a bunch of non sequitur jokes until the filmmakers had to be thinking “we gotta wrap this thing up!” and got back on track for the ending.


To end Ronnie finds true love, self worth, and he captures the streaker, but I’m not gonna tell you how. If you really want to know, I guess you’ll have to go see it. Or feel free to watch its distant cousin, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”


Watch for Danny McBride (“Tropic Thunder,” “The Foot Fist Way”) as a crackhead.


My grade: C




Movies on DVD Review: Revolver




Guy Ritchie at his best doing his worst.


Stars Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore, and Andre Benjamin. Directed by Guy Ritchie.


Okay, let me explain.


I had somewhat high-hopes for this movie. Ritchie is famous (or infamous) for two of the best gangster films of the last twenty years: “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” and “Snatch.” Most of us film geeks/nerds/buffs write-off “Swept Away” because… well, Madonna had a lot to do with it. Anyways, Ritchie climbed back onto the genre saddle and delivered… “Revolver.”


“Revolver” tells the story of Jake (Statham), a man released from prison after choosing 7 years of solitary confinement versus 14 regular. He has a cache of money but what he really wants to do is payback the guy he did the job for, Macha (Liotta). After he cleans up in a card game against Macha he leaves, with Macha sending his men to assassinate Jake. Problems occur when Jake is mysteriously saved by Avi (Benjamin) and Zach (Pastore), two loan sharks that ensnare Jake to use his money to loan out to other people.


What begins as a gangster drama with supernatural/ mysterious undertones quickly unravels to a point where, as the end approaches, you have the feeling the movie should have stopped earlier. I am a big fan of cerebral movies however this takes the image of trying to be cerebral without going the complete distance.


Let me pause for a moment and tell you that this is not a horrible movie. In fact, if you’re a die-hard fan of Guy Ritchie and/or an upcoming film-person, I suggest giving it a rental. Why? Because Ritchie uses anything and everything that inspires him when he makes a film, trying to compliment style with substance. There are a few moments when the picture does erratic shifting editing. One scene has Liotta in a living room-sized tanning bed, completely blue. Another scene has an Asian gangster sitting under dark room lighting with his naked girlfriend, who is keeping a beer strategically placed. Finally, one of my favorites involves a TV set showing anime of the scene that’s taking place.


Overall, it was okay. As a film person, worth watching once. Would I recommend it to non-film people? Not really.


My grade: C