Shame (2011) -vs- I Am a Sex Addict (2005)

December 1, 2011 Arthur Tiersky

Why aren’t there more movies about sexual addiction?

Possibly because it sounds like sort of a self-defeating topic for a film. Those in the mood for a “sex” film generally don’t want to see it paired with a downer word like “addiction” and those seeking an addiction film are perhaps more sympathetic to tangible, physical addictions such as to booze (Leaving Las Vegas), drugs (Trainspotting) or anything not nailed down (the inevitable Winning! The Charlie Sheen Story). […]

No Strings Attached (2011) -vs- What Happens in Vegas (2008)

July 15, 2011 Arthur Tiersky

Ashton Kutcher has led a charmed life. Since breaking out as a sitcom star with That ‘70s Show in 1998, he married Hot Babe Brat-Packer-Turned-Actress-Turned-Celebrity Demi Moore and produced and hosted a veritable buttload of mindless but lucrative reality shows. Now, the undisputed Twitter king and anti-child-pornography crusader, he’s been recruited to fill the puke-stained shoes of Charlie Sheen on sitcom cash cow Two and a Half Men, leaving America relieved that Sheen did not, despite concerns, do enough cocaine to kill two and a half men, but at the same time alarmed by the potential disruption this will cause to Ashton’s film career.

Yes, Kutcher has also starred in several movies, the lion’s share of which were broad comedies largely ignored by America, fortunately for Kutcher (and America). Earlier this year, however, it seemed like he was dipping his toes into the water of more mature projects such as No Strings Attached, a fairly realistic comedy/drama/romance, which featured no less than two Oscar winners as well as that Indian chick from The Office (Mindy Kaling).

With Kutcher set to (temporarily at least) abandon filmdom for TMZ’s favorite sitcom, it’s time to evaluate his still-young career once and for all: Is Kutcher a major movie talent whose agents having trouble finding him the right projects, or did his film career peak early with Dude, Where’s My Car, essentially a rehashing, so to speak, of his success on That ‘70s Show, thus making his U-turn back to sitcom-land a wise career move?
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Easy A (2010) -vs- Election (1999)

September 19, 2010 Sherry Coben

Smart women are as rare on film as they are in life. Rarer even. Smart high school girls might be the rarest cinematic species of all. You can count them on your two hands. Cooler and wittier than any real girl in any real high school, they’re who we wish we could have been. The girls who say what we wish we had said. Smart girls who use their smart mouths to get into (and out of) considerable trouble. The adults in these films are unspeakably cool too; perhaps this whole smart high school girl genre is for us grown-up girls (and guys) who revisit our high school hallways every night in our dreams and nightmares, still trying to dot those old i’s and cross those uncrossed t’s, to redress grievances and beat down those bullies that haunt us still.
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Going the Distance (2010) -vs- Swing Time (1936)

September 4, 2010 Sherry Coben

Money’s tight. Jobs are hard to find. Relationships disappoint. Such is the world as we know it. You say recession, I say depression. Let’s call the whole thing off. We go to the movies to forget our troubles, to drown our sorrows, to watch others make sense of this whole sorry mess. Romantic comedy provides a welcome refuge, a few hours in the welcoming darkness where we can rest pretty well assured that no one will die and nothing untoward will befall our hero and heroine, safe in the knowledge that they’ll wind up together at the end no matter how tangled the web of misunderstandings, regardless how high they stack the hurdles. We sit and wait for our happy ending and return again to our little lives at the end, sated and ready for the mundane and the stress life hands us. […]

Get Him To The Greek (2010) -vs- Almost Famous (2000)

June 6, 2010 Sherry Coben

The world is getting worse. I realize that my perception is colored by my advancing age and my own inevitable glorification of the halcyon days past, but I think it’s also true. The world is less civilized, less kind, less gentle, and the vulgarization of popular taste is either an unhappy result or partial cause of the precipitous downslide. Judd Apatow’s films capture something in the culture that grates on me; they have heart, but they also try to deliver on a boyish crudeness, an acceptance of careless behavior with little to no consequence. It’s the having it both ways that rankles so much; I would pay no attention to these films at all if they didn’t try so hard to be sweet. But the sweetness is buried in so much profanity and offensiveness; not liking these films makes me feel like a prude, and that’s not a feeling I enjoy. I don’t think I’m being a prude when I object to portraying heroin use and trafficking as a comic convention; there’s nothing funny about forcing an employee to shove a baggie of heroin up his ass while in line at an airport. I’m sorry. That’s not okay with me. The fact that the movie makes that incident not just okay but just another story beat in its salacious, bawdy, saucy naughtiness concerns me. Forcing that same someone to use a cocktail of drugs including meth and heroin strikes me as even more appalling. Making light of such drug abuse is just plain wrong.
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Sex And The City 2 (2010) -vs- Sex And The City (2008)

May 28, 2010 Sherry Coben

I don’t like stupid, offensive, unfunny pieces of jerry-rigged, half-assed claptrap disguised as popular entertainment and I never will. You can’t fool me with shiny clothing and costume changes, stale jokes and bad puns a mildly clever third grader can see coming at thirty paces, unconvincing plot contrivances, jacked-up complications, inane complaints, blissful unawareness of social mores and dignity, flagrant political incorrectness, shameless insensitivity, brazen condescension and hypocrisy all in the name of enlightenment and modernity. Add shoes and that’s the SATC franchise in a nutshell. Brace yourselves.
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The Hangover (2009) -vs- American Pie (1999)

February 19, 2010 Rodney Twelftree

Boobs. Booze. Swearing. Got your attention? Sweet. It’s the return of the classic sub-genre, the Beer & Pizza Movie. That is, a movie you can only really enjoy with a group of mates, some beer, pizza, and a desire to be amused in an “adult” manner. Unapologetically wallowing in gratuitous nudity/swearing/adult themes, and generally politically incorrect, Beer & Pizza Movies are often lowbrow, tasteless cinematic buffoonery dressed up as social satire.So it is we take a long, hard look at a couple of “classic” Beer & Pizza movies, each containing their fair share of the aforementioned unmentionables. Hard to believe it’s been over a decade since Stifler drank that modified cup of beer! Both films were critical and commercial successes, but which one tops the bill as the ultimate Boys Flick? Grab a slice of day-old pizza, zip up your trousers, and read on to find out which of our combatants would win in a boozy brawl!
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An Education (2009) -vs- A Single Man (2009)

January 28, 2010 Sherry Coben

It’s 1962, stylishly retro and way cool. TV’s Mad Men have paved the cultural way for two more stellar entries in the Sex And The Sixties pantheon. With the swinging sixties looming right on the horizon, Los Angeles college literature professor George (Colin Firth) and sixteen year old suburban London student Jenny (Carey Mulligan) fumble their un-merry ways through the rough-and-tumble terrain of love, loss, secrets, and sexual experience. Both lead performances have stirred up considerable Academy Award buzz, but they’re unlikely to compete head to head anywhere but right here. Dewy Maiden with Distinct Audrey Hepburn Echoes takes on World-Weary Confirmed Bachelor with a Not-So-Secret Secret. The winner? A grateful arthouse (and beyond) audience.
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Couples Retreat (2009) -vs- Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

October 14, 2009 Bryce Zabel

Broken couples going to island paradises to repair their damaged relationships, or try to, ought to be funny. Sex, sun, surf, drinking, dancing, music. And in the case of both of these films, throw in actress Kristen Bell and you should have a real party. Well, you’re half right.

One of these films (either Couples Retreat or the previous year’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall) is an honest-to-God attempt to make a film that just happened to shoot mostly in a tropical paradise. The other is a film that looks like it had the same party-energy behind it as an old Burt Reynolds buddy-fest where the main goal is to go someplace fun, shoot a film and stay up nights getting crazy and drinking too much. Which is to say that one of them works and the other doesn’t.
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Funny People (2009) -vs- Punchline (1988)

August 2, 2009 Mark Sanchez

Both make you laugh, and one lets you feel better about it. “Funny People” connects aspects of Judd Apatow’s life with his one time roommate, Sandler. For his part, Sandler gives another of his hybrid performances, not exactly funny or convincingly serious. Rogan and Hill play roles just like the ones performed in their recent movies. They offer no surprises. Leslie Mann is affecting as the old flame who is uncertain — for a time — about what she wants. The film showcases nice cameos of working comics, real Funny People: Paul Reiser, Charlie Fleischer, Sarah Silverman, Norm MacDonald, George Wallace (he even appeared in Punchline). There are some great moments with James Taylor, and inside the office of George’s Swedish doctor. At 146 minutes, I won’t be the first person to suggest “Funny People” may be a half-hour too long. There’s also the humor: After awhile I wasn’t laughing so much at the sex jokes. As for Sandler’s character, there’s no personal growth. He remains the same schmuck throughout.
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