Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Grizzly Review: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

Everyone loves racist jokes. Everyone loves pot jokes. Everyone loves racist pot jokes (it’s true don’t deny it). These three facts may be an explanation behind the strangely successful Harold & Kumar franchise, which is now on its third film. The other strange thing about the franchise is that it’s one of the only, if not the only successful franchise led without a Caucasian character in a lead role. I’m sure there are others that I’m forgetting, but that’s really not important.

In A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, six years have passed since the previous sequel, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantonomo Bay. On an unrelated note, considering that both Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle and Escape From Guantanomo Bay take place during the same week, and the first Harold & Kumar came out in 2004, the whole 6 years passing thing is extremely close to being accurate as far as the time-lapse. Not very important, but I felt like sharing, now back to the review.

Harold (John Cho) has since married his dream girl Maria (Paula Garcés – Below), who now wants to have a child. Kumar (Kal Penn), who was dumped by his girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Ackles), now lives alone spending his days getting high and talking to his annoying neighbor, Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld, in what should be his breakout role).

Christmas Eve rolls around, and this is where the fun begins. Harold’s very scary and very Mexican in-laws are in town for the weekend, led by their patriarch, Mr. Perez (Danny Trejo), bringing with him an extremely important and cherished tree that he’s been growing for eight years for this specific Christmas. Harold just wants to show to him that he’s a responsible husband and won’t ruin Christmas.

On Kumar’s side of things, with nothing to do, he decides to go out with Adrian, but hours before doing so, Vanessa drops by to give Kumar a little news; she’s pregnant. On top of all that (yes, there’s more), a package arrives for Harold who hasn’t lived in that apartment for almost five years. With all this on his mind, Kumar and Adrian head to Harold’s house to drop off the package and get out of their as soon as they can, but of course, we know the formula by know, that’s not going to happen.

Basically, to shorten the sequence, Kumar leaves the package on the front stoop and tries to get out clean, he ends up slipping on ice, Harold hears it, comes out, greets him, and invites him in for coffee. Kumar reluctantly agrees only to see that Harold’s new house is, and I quote, “not s**ty.” Harold and Kumar, after their awkward introductions, finally get around to opening the mysterious package, only to find a ridiculously large joint with the words “I killed Bob Marley” written on the side of it (I’m only kidding about that last part). Kumar immediately begins smoking the joint, and Harold forces him to throw it out. The joint, accompanied by some slick movie magic, is thrown out of the window, to only boomerang back into another open window, placing itself neatly on the cherished tree, thus lighting it on fire. Here’s where the adventure begins.

I won’t explain all the things that happen next, but I can say one thing; it’s funny as hell. The Harold & Kumar films, as mindless and raunchy as they may seem, are for the most part expertly plotted, smartly written, and extremely funny films, this being no exception.

The only thing that I thought was more or less distracting was the overall change in style. I can’t quite put my finger on everything that was different, but it’s like watching a sequel or a remake to your favorite movie. It’s probably good, but it just isn’t the same. Another distracting element was the almost constant use of slow-motion and 3D. Unfortunately, I was forced to see the film in 2D, as well as sober, so I probably only got about 1/10th of the effects that every stoner with a pair of 3D glasses did.

But for all the stylistic changes, the addition of new and hilarious characters, including Thomas Lennon as Todd, a naïve father who inadvertently involves him and his even funnier baby girl Ava in Harold and Kumar’s misadventures, as well as the return of all the old characters, notably NPH (whose cameo may be his best yet) and Rosenberg and Goldstein (whose cameo scene will have fans of the original in stitches), make this 3rd outing better than it has any right to be. Additionally, the use of meta-filmmaking makes for some even better laughs than almost any joke in the film. The real genius of this 3rd Harold & Kumar film, is that, it will most likely please fans of the original, but it also makes room for millions of new fans who have not yet been introduced to the antics of this lovable stoner duo.

4/5 Bears




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In Case You Missed It: Take Shelter

Storms are a scary thing. They’re big, they kill people, and they can sweep up houses easily. You know what else is scary? Big, brawny men attacking you and your daughter in your dreams, causing you to pee your pants and have seizures, that’s what. These are a couple of the things that Take Shelter’s troubled protagonist Curtis (Michael Shannon) experiences. A working husband and father in his mid 30s, Curtis begins to experience apocalyptic visions of a storm that will wipe out a huge amount of the population. These nightmares provoke him to start building an expensive storm shelter in his backyard, a mere weeks before his daughter is scheduled to have a surgery that will permanently fix her hearing problem.

Continue reading In Case You Missed It: Take Shelter

Grizzly Review: The Rum Diary

Drinking, drugs, sex, fun and writing; these were the five words that Hunter S. Thompson lived by. For years he traveled the world, ingesting copious amounts of illegal narcotics, drinking until he blacked out, and then wrote about it the next day with a hangover and a Bloody Mary. He was a man’s man, with a very straightforward love for guns, and an even more straightforward hate for Richard Nixon. Thompson was never afraid to voice his not-so-humble opinions. He wrote many novels and memoirs, most notably Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Hell’s Angels, but early in his career, while residing in Puerto Rico, he wrote the novel, The Rum Diary.

Following a journalist named Paul Kemp, the semi-autobiographical novel wasn’t published until much later in his career. Many claimed the novel has no plot and is reflective of a pre-Gonzo Thompson; in other words, a less interesting one. I’ve not read the novel, but after viewing the film, I can make a prediction and say that I’d have to disagree.

Continue reading Grizzly Review: The Rum Diary

Vintage Reviews: Nosferatu

F.W. Murnau‘s film is a true classic of not just horror films, but of films in general. Made in 1922 it is the first film version of Dracula. This fact also means we are very lucky to be able to watch it at all. Neither Murnau nor the production company had acquired the rights to ‘Dracula’. They did change names – Dracula to Orlok and Harker to Hutter, for instance – and locations, but it was still far too close to the book. Bram Stokers widow sued the German production company, and a judge ordered the film destroyed. Thankfully, at least one copy survived.

And so to the plot: Thomas Hutter is an Estate Agents clerk in the German city of Wisbourg. His employer – the strange Knock – sends him to the Carpathian Mountains – Transylvania! – to sell a house – the one opposite Hutters house – to the mysterious Count Orlok.

The nearer he travels to the Counts castle the more terrified the locals are. The sinister edifice he finally reaches is deserted, apart from the nefarious Count. As the Count heads off to Wisbourg to claim his new home – slowly killing off the crew of the ship one by one – Hutter tries to make it back to warn everyone.

The cities inhabitants succumb to ‘the plague’, causing wide-spread panic.

Only when Hutter’s young wife sacrifices herself – tricking Orlok into being caught by the sun’s rays – does the terror stop.

Incidentally, it is from this film that the myth that vampires can be killed by sunlight starts.

Nosferatu is one of those movies that everyone should see. It maybe silent – and I know that some people will hold that against it – but this is a cinematic icon.
Obviously it is over-melodramatic, but most – if not all – silent films are. The visuals are stunning though. Murnau’s use of light and shade are sublime. His use of shadow to represent the vampire is also brilliant – Orlok’s shadow stalking up the stairs, near the end of the film, is an image most people will recognize.

Max Schreck is one of the creepiest vampires ever to grace the screen. Whilst vampires for a very long time – and even, sometimes, still today – were styled on Lugosi’s Dracula, Schreck’s Orlok is almost unique – only in Salem’s Lot do we find a vampire looking similar.

This is, without a doubt, the best film version of Dracula to exist. To give it any less than 5 out of 5 would be a crime.

Grizzly Review: Killer Elite

Last night I saw the newest Statham movie, and I have to say I was surprised. Not at all what I was expecting. In the trailer (which we talked about in June) we heard ’80s rock and got lots of punching and shooting and all around violent types of imagery. So naturally I expected your general type of Statham movie. However, we were rewarded with something even better (Well, depending on your mood), a real movie with an actual plot.

Taking place in 1980, Killer Elite revolves around the desired redemption of the disgraced Sheikh Amr. For Amr to gain said redemption and lift his exile to return home, the men who murdered his 3 sons must confess and be killed themselves. That seems straight forward enough, but where the twist comes in, and what seemed to confuse others in the audience, was just how exactly Jason Statham gets sucked into this vendetta. And as it turns out, it’s all a result of multiple betrayals, as well as his own loyalty.

From the trailer it looks like a movie full of Statham vs. Owen, but in truth they are little more than pawns, neither really knowing the real reason they are there. And that reason is something I don’t really want to give away, because I’m gonna go ahead and recommend  you see this movie, so I don’t want to ruin anything. I can say this though – the trailer is not the most accurate representation of a movie that I’ve seen.

The vague overview: De Niro takes the job from the Sheikh blindly, and then upon learning further details tries to back out. This doesn’t go over well with the powers that be, so old Bobby D is held captive. This forces his old friend (the Stath) to end his freshly begun retirement, and complete the job in exchange for De Niro’s release. Statham puts together a team and proceeds to hunt down the men responsible – all Ex-SAS officers that were under orders at the time of their crimes.

Enter Clive Owen, an ex-SAS soldier in his own right, acting out on the behalf of ‘The Feathermen’, a much older group of retired SAS. He’s looking to stop Statham, and in the background is all sorts of politicking our principles don’t know about.

Overall I found the movie quite enjoyable, though if I had to nitpick there is one thing that bugged me, which was the camera work during the fight scenes. So of Director Gary McKendry I might ask that next time – pan out. The super fast extreme closeup angles during the  action scenes make it hard to see the action. But that’s really about it. I liked the movie more than expected. DeNiro had a scene so badass the audience cheered, ‘Mr. MFWIC’ – [Mother F–ker Whats In Charge] was amusing, and Dominic Purcell‘s mustache was too awesome to criticize. I went to see a mindless action movie and instead got an action movie that actually stimulated the brain as well…

I’ll give it a 4/5 Bears. Booyah.

Also, for the Chuck fans out there, I should mention that Statham’s girl is played by Yvonne Strahovski