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Tuesday: The Three Stooges

Fans and young children will have a good time with this, but other moviegoers won't be as lenient with the repetitive slapstick comedy.

The Three Stooges
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The Stooges have created a name for themselves many years ago. The antics of the trio have generated a large number of fans. However, I never was one of them. I simply never found any of the eye poking or the portions with them hitting each other funny. With The Three Stooges being released into theaters, filmmakers Peter and Bobby Farrelly are attempting to modernize the Stooges for a new generation. I find this to be a bit difficult, but fans are sure to return to this no matter what. Many young audiences may not even know who they are and this is a complete new venture for them. When the trailers were being released onto television, watching those was quite painful. I attended an advanced screening at which I hoped it wouldn't be as excruciating as I thought it would be. Fans will be glad to know that the film has given us the comedy that the Stooges had years ago, hair pulling and all.

Beginning with their childhood in an orphanage, the film takes Larry, Moe, and Curly through their adult years. They stumble upon a murder plot and starring in a reality TV show. The feature is divided up into three episodes in order to mimic the classic shorts. If we're looking at the plot alone, it has been recycled many times throughout many different movies. I was never a fan of the original series, so the characters were quite annoying from the moment the movie started until the credits started rolling. The eye poking, hair pulling, and hitting gets repetitive and stale extremely fast. I didn't find myself laughing even once during any of these parts. The first two episodes range from acceptable to being horrible. I tried to remain as open minded as possible. The third episode is surprisingly the strongest segment of the movie. I actually found myself laughing during this "episode." However, the Stooges weren't what made it funny. The supporting cast is actually what made the third segment humorous. The ending is very tacky, as expected, but there are enough laughs along the way to make up for that. We're provided with some great moments from Sofía Vergara. Even the Jersey Shore makes an appearance here. I despise that reality garbage, but they're able to poke a lot of fun at themselves in The Three Stooges, which I found admirable and funny. I suppose a fan of the Stooges will find a lot more to appreciate here than I did, but the third portion of the picture made the movie worth it. Fans and children should find themselves very amused by this though.

Fans of the Stooges I'm sure are very picky as to who can play the triad of characters. I personally am satisfied as long as they have the look and they make sense in the role. Chris Diamantopoulos is Moe, Sean Hayes is Larry, and Will Sasso is Curly. All three of these actors do a fine job with the characters. No, they aren't fantastic performances, but what do you expect? I'm taking it in context of the source material and these actors manage just fine. Jane Lynch, Sofía Vergara, and Jennifer Hudson are in supporting roles as Mother Superior, Lydia, and Sister Rosemary, respectively. Unfortunately. Lynch and Hudson feel very much like missed opportunities. Lynch would have been the source of a lot of laughs, but she's barely in the movie. Hudson has shown her acting chops before, which are great, and appears in the movie even less than Lynch. It's a bit of a shame. However, Sofía Vergara delivers the funniest contribution to the motion picture. She's in the entire movie, but she's able to really shine in the third segment.

In the end, I'm glad to report that The Three Stooges is less painful than I imagined it would be. It isn't even close to being a masterpiece, but it's watchable. The funniest thing about the film is the supporting cast, and I'm primarily speaking about Sofía Vergara. To be fair, I'm not the target audience. I'm not a fan of the original series and I'm not a child. These two audiences are what the film has been made for. I have a strong feeling that this will be popular among fans of the original segments and young children. For the rest of us, the comedy is stale for a majority of the movie and I can't imagine many people being too forgiving about this. The Three Stooges isn't as bad as the trailers appeared, but it isn't good. Fans and young children will have a good time with this, but other moviegoers won't be as lenient with the repetitive slapstick comedy.

My Rating = Two Stars

Next movie: In the Land of Blood and Honey

Thursday: In the Land of Blood and Honey

I would only recommend this one to fans of Angelina Jolie to see her talent behind the camera.

In the Land of Blood and Honey
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With the film receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and being written and directed by Angelina Jolie, I knew that I had to at least check out In the Land of Blood and Honey. Even though Jolie doesn't act in the feature, it clearly has her fingerprints all over it. A lot of her humanitarian work that she does shines through in this war drama. When I say war drama, I don't mean that lightly. While the events take place during a war, it feels a lot more like a drama than a war movie. There have been a lot of films based upon wars such as this one. In the Land of Blood and Honey happens to take place during the Bosnian War. This is a story of politics, murder, religion, and ethnicity that mixes in a dark romance.

During the Bosnian War, Danijel, a soldier fighting for the Serbs, re-encounters Ajla, a Bosnian who's now a captive in the camp he oversees. Their once promising connection has become mysterious as their motives have changed. Similar to most war flicks, In the Land of Blood and Honey follows in the footsteps of trying to be as heartbreaking as possible. In the beginning, a lot of the focus is placed upon men being murdered, women being taken captive and raped, and even infants facing death. As the film progresses, it becomes a lot less about the war and its battles and more about Danijel and Ajla's relationship within the camp. However, it's interesting to see Ajla's internal conflict over having romantic feelings towards somebody dedicated to the cause of slaughtering people that worship her religion and share the same ethnicity. A lot of this isn't shown, but is a covert element that is hinted at many times throughout the movie through Ajla's behavior and expressions. Once the dramatic aspect of the movie begins, there aren't very many battles taking place after. There are short spurs of violence that simply don't have the impact of a longer, more tense battle. I would have been fine with the dramatic portion of the movie, but it soon turns quite melodramatic. As predicted, Danijel's father and fellow soldiers don't agree with him keeping her safe, giving her special treatment, and having a romantic relationship with her. They tell him not to trust her over and over again while he ignores them because they're in love. The remainder of In the Land of Blood and Honey gets a bit repetitive by repeating these sequences numerous times. The ending is most certainly heartbreaking, as a lot of the film is. The dialogue is good and the characters are interesting to where I found myself actually caring what happened to them. There are quite a few issues with In the Land of Blood and Honey when it comes to the core plot and story elements, but it has its strengths as well.

With Angelina Jolie so heavily involved in the movie, I was aware that there isn't much to worry about when it comes to the casting. Zana Marjanovic performs as Ajla. She does a decent job in the role. Marjanovic expresses a lot past her dialogue. Through her body language, expressions, and tone, she's able to display a lot of emotion usually not seen on screen by actors. An example would be the internal conflict I mentioned earlier. She never directly speaks of it, but Marjanovic is able to provide enough for audiences to dissect and form a conclusion. Alongside Ajla is the soldier, Danijel. He's portrayed by Goran Kosstic. He does a great job, as well. His chemistry on screen with Zana Marjanovic is very believable. Kostic delivers a strong performance here. The leads have been utilized well by Director Angelina Jolie.

A lot of actors and actresses that decide to try out directing aren't able to fill that role quite as well as one would imagine. However, Angelina Jolie has proven here that she has talent behind the camera, as well as in front of it. The camera work is good as Jolie has created a well-captured movie. The audio quality is well-balanced, but it won't blow you away like war movies that have audio heard in Saving Private Ryan. The dialogue is mixed to perfection through the center channel. Every word of dialogue comes through the speaker with loud and clean sound. The visual department is solid.

In the Land of Blood and Honey doesn't bring anything new to the table or set any standards. Instead, it's a bit forgettable as it seems to mesh in with the countless other war movies that have been released. One of the largest issues here lies within the script. It isn't able to use both the action and drama to create a cohesive motion picture. The portions that display the war truly are heartbreaking and disturbing, although when it starts to focus on the relationship between the two leads, the movie looses a lot of its steam. Ultimately, Angelina Jolie has delivered mored in the directing department than the screenplay writing. She's a talented actress who pulls some surprises through her talent behind the camera. In the Land of Blood and Honey is average. Nothing great, but not bad. I would only recommend this one to fans of Angelina Jolie to see her talent behind the camera. I just wish that more went into the screenplay.

My Rating = Three Stars

Next movie: A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

Saturday: A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

Fans, whether it be casual or hardcore, will have an enjoyable time with A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas.

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
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By the time that movie franchises start having holiday-themed entries, it generally means that the series has seriously gone downhill. I personally see it as the screenwriters have run out of ideas and that's the best that they can come up with. When A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas was announced, I was worried of just that. I enjoyed the first entry and even thought the sequel had some good laughs. However, I was worried what exactly would become of Harold and Kumar in this Christmas-themed sequel. If that wasn't gimmicky enough, they just had to put it in the largest gimmick to be provided to the filmmaking industry, also known as 3D. I waited for the Blu-ray to be available for rental on Netflix and opted for the 2D disc since I don't, and never will have, a 3D set-up. Even watching this in two-dimensions, it's quite obvious that this was filmed with the 3D in mind. Is it strong enough to please fans of the first two entries of the series?

When Kumar burns down Harold's family Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, the stoner pals set out on a last minute, pot-fueled quest through Manhattan to find a replacement tree, getting tangled up with mobsters and other shady characters along the way. Fortunately, those who were worried about A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas being more tame have absolutely nothing to be worried about. In fact, the offensive jokes are nonstop. So, if you're easily offended, this should be a major red flag to steer clear of this, along with the other two entries in the series. As always, the adventures of Harold and Kumar soon turns from crazy to insane as they run into characters such as Santa Clause and even Neil Patrick Harris, who was killed in the previous entry. Between the three films, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas displays the softer side of the two characters much more than the others. The relationship between the two best friends is a bit more explored here. Despite the fact that I laughed constantly throughout the first movie and even at times during the sequel, I didn't find myself laughing nearly as often here. Don't get me wrong, the motion picture most certainly has its moments where it's laugh-out-loud funny, but there aren't a lot of those sequences. I would have liked to see Neil Patrick Harris more involved in the story than he is. He was hilarious in the past and the character remains to be just as funny. However, by the time you're really enjoying his stay, he's no longer on screen and we don't see him again for the remainder of the running time. The writing is a little less than you would expect from a Harold and Kumar movie. It's still funny, no doubt, but not near as hilarious as I remember the other movies being. However, but the end of the movie, you're guaranteed to want to own your very own WaffleBot. I thought that WaffleBot was a very nice touch put on by the writers.

Fans of the duo will be pleased to know that when you're watching them together on screen again, it feels like no time has passed since Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Kal Penn and John Cho are back to play Kumar and Harold. Both actors aid in showing the softer side of the characters. Penn and Cho are believable in the roles and have brought back everything in the characters that fans loved about the past two entries. I surely wouldn't mind seeing these two actors collaborating more often on some other projects. Even with a script that doesn't generate as much laughter as I hoped, they're able to bring some of the comedy in through expressions and reactions. Neil Patrick Harris performs as himself here and he's damn good at it! Again, I would have liked to see him have a bigger role in the movie, although he's very funny for the short time that he makes an appearance. This is ultimately a successful cast in which fans will be proud of since they returned for another sequel.

As I mentioned, this movie is intended to be seen in 3D. Hell, even the title of the movie tells us this. The full title is A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. However, I only see movies in 3D when it's either the only option or if it's truly receiving a lot of positive buzz for the 3D. In this case, I figured I could just wait until it hit Blu-ray to catch it in 2D. Even watching it this way, it's clear that it was intended for the extra dimension. There are a lot of scenes where things fly out towards the television screen in such a cheesy, yet so obviously intended, fashion. I'm sure that there are a lot pop outs to have been had, but I didn't have a problem missing out on that. It simply makes the 3D pop outs look a lot more silly when not seen with that technology. When it comes to the audio department, it's a little bit of a letdown if you're interested in watching the extended cut. The theatrical version sounds absolutely fantastic. The dialogue is clear while the rear speakers are aggressive in keeping the audience fully immersed. The subwoofer kicks in when it needs to, and when it does, it's clean and tight. However if you're watching the extended cut, we're only provided with a Dolby Digital mix instead of a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The difference between the two tracks is huge. The sound is much more tiny and less accurate than the track of the theatrical version.

It felt weird watching a Christmas movie in spring, but I still had the urge to check this out. Fans of Harold and Kumar are guaranteed to have fun no matter what anybody says as this follows in the footsteps of the first two movies when it comes to the crudeness. However, it simply isn't as funny as they are. There are portions of A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas where I laughed out loud, but it didn't happen very many times. If you weren't a fan of the original or the sequel then you are guaranteed to have the same feelings, or worse, towards this Christmas-themed sequel. Fans of the series should still have a good time with this one even though it isn't as funny as some had hoped. Fortunately, it hasn't fully lost its touch, as many holiday-themed entires of franchises have. With the theatrical version, Warner Bros has presented us with an impressive audio track. However, the same cannot be same for the extended cut. A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as fans were hoping, but it's still an enjoyable movie. If you're easily offended, it's a no-brainer to avoid this at all costs. However, fans, whether it be casual or hardcore, will have an enjoyable time.

My Rating = Three Stars

Next movie: Safe