Something Borrowed (2011) -vs- He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)

May 8, 2011 Mark Sanchez

Given that most single guys would be thrilled to have Ginnifer Goodwin as their girlfriend, you have to wonder why Hollywood keeps casting her as the woman who has a hard time finding a decent relationship. She got famous as the immature “sister-wife” Margene in the creepy HBO polygamy series, Big Love. Then she played the girl who can’t find love no matter how desperately she dates around in 2009’s He’s Just Not That Into You. And now she’s back in Something Borrowed as the third corner in a romantic triangle. I have no idea what her personal life is like but we can only hope it’s better than the parts she plays.

Both our films are ensemble rom-coms, chock-full of familiar character traits: earnest, self-absorbed, scoundrel, ironic, clueless, and so on. Some of these are main characters and some are the obligatory wacky friends. There are enough people running around in both films coupling and uncoupling that there seems to be a lot going on even when there isn’t. The idea is to cut from one storyline to another, keep the pace up, get some laughs, find some sympathetic moments, get a few more laughs, and tie up things more or less neatly before they run the credits. Everybody seems to have jobs that don’t really interfere with their pursuit of love and sex. Ah, paradise… […]

Lois & Clark: The (Old) New Adventures of Superman

May 3, 2011 Bryce Zabel

I have so many great memories about the Man-of-Steel, it’s hard to know where to start. Like… being a six year old buying a Superman comic from a magazine rack in a drug store… Running home to watch George Reeves in a syndicated re-run of the first TV series… Standing in line for hours to watch Superman: The Movie starring Christopher Reeve.

Nothing compares, though, with working on that first season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. It ranks as one of the greatest creative satisfactions I’ve had in the series TV business.

I had first worked with Deborah Joy LeVine (she received the WGA “Developed By” credit) on an ABC law series called Equal Justice. A gifted writer, she had written an exceptional pilot that ABC had picked up and, at the same time, ordered a half-dozen back-up scripts. So before film was even being shot, Deborah Joy, her brother Dan and I were throwing “super” ideas around every day in a little trailer on the Warner Brothers lot. […]

Remember Me (2010) -vs- She’s Out Of My League (2010)

March 15, 2010 Sherry Coben

Twilighters aside, there’s precious little to recommend the largely forgettable “Remember Me,” a pretentious romantic exploitation film that uses recent real life history to hype its otherwise tepid dramatic stakes. Director Allen Coulter (of “The Sopranos” renown) knows his New York tough guy patois better than this venture might indicate; poor Pierce Brosnan gets hung out to dry with the least convincing New York accent in movies since the arrival of talkies. Pattinson plays at-sea and moody, indicating the depths of his grief and misery by smoking cigarettes (unconvincingly) and guzzling beer (equally unconvincingly). His roommate is probably the most annoying little shitheel ever to make it to the silver screen, the unnatural spawn of Hal Sparks and Satan.
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Romantic Comedies To Truly Love

February 17, 2010 Sherry Coben

Seems I’ve been relentlessly bashing Romantic Comedies since I started writing for Movie Smackdown. I’m only hard on them because I want them to be better, because I know they can be better. Just in case you don’t believe me when I tell you I love the genre, here is a little (partial) list of romantic comedies I will happily defend, presented in reverse chronological order. All of them are worlds better than the execrable holiday-themed callow crass cash cow currently raking in the moolah at the multiplex near you. Trust me, you’re better off renting and watching any one of these in the comfort of home than taking a chance on finding true movie love in “Valentine’s Day.”
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Valentine’s Day (2010) -vs- Love Actually (2003) -vs- Amelie (2001)

February 16, 2010 Sherry Coben

“Valentine’s Day.” From everything I’ve seen and heard, I’m fairly certain that Garry Marshall is a very nice man, and I know he set out with the best of intentions making this film as did all his friends and associates who helped. No one ever intends to make a bad movie, and smacking this film feels a little like hitting a puppy. This movie sits there humping your leg, blissfully unaware and unashamed of the giant stinking turd it’s left on the cineplex screen. To extend the metaphor past all usefulness, this puppy hasn’t yet been spayed. It takes major cojones (or perhaps hubris) to engage such a weak, ungifted and unsuited company of players in hopes of recapturing the success of “Love Actually.” With a few major exceptions, the actors just plain aren’t good enough to rise above the lame material; most are unable to land any of the marginal jokes or even to remind us of any human beings we’ve met.
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When In Rome (2010) -vs- Roman Holiday (1953)

January 29, 2010 Sherry Coben

Featuring precious little Rome and a lot of Antic, “When In Rome” falls back on every exhausted (and exhausting) rom-com convention in the book. In Rome for her sister’s wedding, a career woman cynically steals coins from a fountain and unknowingly makes five strangers fall madly in love with her. Kristen Bell makes for an adorable lead who needs fresher and smarter material to reach her full rom-com heroine potential. Josh Duhamel stands tall as her love object, slightly less generic than the usual rom-com Ken doll. There’s not much standing in their way, no real obstacles, and therein lies the rub. The two meet semi-cute in the first ten minutes, and we know they’ll wind up together; nothing much happens in the middle to call their happy ending into question. There’s much ado about the nothing; pilfered coins, local legend, and enchanted suitors sound like more fun than they are.
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Leap Year (2010) -vs- Youth in Revolt (2010)

January 20, 2010 Sherry Coben

Cookie cutter romantic comedy satisfies a too-easily edified audience. No matter how formulaic and tepid the sausage, the factories grind out more product to feed the gaping maw; indie films usually attract a more marginal fringe-ier crew, on the hunt for the original, the untold (or even oft-told) story told in fresh new ways. Pitting a humble little indie versus a major studio wide release makes for an inherently unfair fight and one with a foregone conclusion at the box office, but ticket sales won’t sway this Smackdown. As “Leap Year” bounds onto virtually every available screen and Quirky Indie-That-Could “Youth In Revolt” limps onto a fraction of that number, ask yourself: Is bigger necessarily better? Does conventional beat quirky?
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Up In The Air (2009) -vs- It’s Complicated (2009)

December 30, 2009 Sherry Coben

Finally, it’s awards season again, when the really big guns take aim for our hearts, minds, and pocketbooks. Coming out swinging for the bleachers are two movies made for adults of a certain (middle) age, the demographic that lopes through the rest of the year nearly forgotten, begging for scraps at a table set for callow youth and action figures. George Clooney and Meryl Streep both navigate the rough and increasingly muddied waters of love and commitment, and it’s a thrill to watch them struggle.
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