Fall Movie Guide: November 2011 – Week 1

Written by Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, and Danny Trejo

“Six years after their Guantanamo Bay adventure, stoner buds Harold Lee and Kumar Patel cause a holiday fracas by inadvertently burning down Harold’s father-in-law’s prize Christmas tree.”

America’s newest favorite stoners, Harold and Kumar, are back for their third adventure together, and this time they tackle Christmas.  So often, stoner movies are pushed beyond their limits just to try to grab a few extra laughs, but I feel like a change of venue and the addition of the holiday will be a positive new direction for the series.

Six years since their adventures at Guantanamo Bay, Harold has married his sweetheart Maria from the past films, and now he is preparing to go to a Christmas celebration with her family, but he is wary of Maria’s father, played by the always fun Danny Trejo.

Not much has changed for Kumar, who has a new roommate, and is busy smoking weed and watching television.  When a mysterious package arrives at his door for his ex-roomie Harold, he decides to deliver the package himself, reuniting the duo once again.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Harold and Kumar adventure without the classic Neil Patrick Harris, who owes the revitalization of his career to the series.  The film was also shot in 3D, with a comedic eye put to the technology, resulting in what looks like some of the best used 3D in years.

For fans of the series, it looks like a return to what made the first film fun.  For people that hated the last two, I don’t know why you’re still reading this.  If you still aren’t sure, you can read Wilson’s review right here.

Written by Ted Griffin & Jeff Nathanson
Directed by Brett Ratner

Starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, and Matthew Broderick

“When a group of hard working guys find out they’ve fallen victim to a wealthy business man’s Ponzi scheme, they conspire to rob his high-rise residence. “

Brett Ratner is an interesting filmmaker.  The large majority of his films are silly, plotless nonsense, but he’s managed to turn those films into a successful career.  Universally panned as a shitty Hollywood personality, Ratner has manged to turn what should be silly films into large box office successes.  In the past, most of the weight of the film was carried by the script and the talented cast he has managed to cull together.

Tower Heist is very indicative of his past work, with a big cast working on a really silly concept.  Here, the script tries to be current, concerning a group of low level workers that are getting screwed by a corporate fat cat:  their boss.  When they decide to rob his high rise apartment in a form of twisted justice, things begin to get out of hand.  This is where the ensemble cast comes in handy, like Ocean’s Eleven there are enough characters to juggle that maybe we won’t notice the plot holes if there are enough people to keep us laughing.

My hopes aren’t high, but there is still potential for some light laughs, and I’m sure the film will do well with holiday crowds, and the frustrated 99% that keep complaining, but then continue to pay for films from Brett Ratner.  Not for everyone, but looks like it could be a solid comedy for those looking for a light set of laughs.  If you want to see what Jeremy thought of the movie, check out his review right here.

Written and Directed by Dito Montiel

Starring Channing Tatum and Al Pacino

“A young cop is assigned to a precinct in the working class neighborhood where he grew up, and an old secret threatens to destroy his life and his family. “

Dito Montiel first came to Hollywood with his independent film A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, based on his book of the same name.  Since, he has continued to team with Channing Tatum, who, in my opinion, gave his career best performance in Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, and then put in a decent turn in Montiel’s second film, the MMA actioner Fighting.  Montiel is also an accomplished writer, with his novel The Clapper standing on its own as a very interesting novel.

His latest film, The Son of No One sees him team again with Tatum, and this time Al Pacino has wandered into the mix.  Being from New York, I’m sure Montiel has great reverence for Pacino, despite his lack of decent work the past 10 years or so.  Here, he doesn’t seem to put in anything more than he has in recent years, but it’s good to see him in a serious film that might actually challenge his recent acting style.

The story, like many of Montiel’s, concerns a guy from New York returning to his neighborhood amongst a history of secrets.  When one of those secrets bubbles to the surface, he must find a way to overcome it and continue to keep his neighborhood safe in his new role as a police officer.  This has the potential to be a good old fashioned New York cop movie, but it also is in danger of being sucked into complete cheesiness.

My hope is that Montiel’s script is strong and Tatum can overcome his lack of acting skill and get lost in the character Montiel has created.  As for Pacino, I just hope they have his hair under control.  I’ll be seeing this one this weekend, so keep an eye out for the review later this weekend.

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