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Discuss this week's Joe Loves Crappy Movies here!

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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

The Darjeeling Limited

Starring: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Natalie Portman

Directed by: Wes Anderson

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The Official Site of The Darjeeling Limited

Discuss The Darjeeling Limited on the boards!

It's hard to approach one of your favorite director's objectively. There will always be a certain amount of admiration and respect, but also an expectation of their comfortable style. Too many surprises and you'll be saying, "It wasn't as good as the last one". While I've found Wes Anderson's films to get better and better as he grows as a director, the subject matter of his latest, The Darjeeling Limited, had me cautious. What do I know of brothers? Ask my three sisters. What do I know of India or train rides or grieving over a dead father or any of the central plot points of Darjeeling's seemingly complicated story? Is it fair for someone so detached to be critical? Perhaps I should view the film not as an experience but as a movie and a story alone. Let it excel on how it plays technically. But since when is that a good way to watch any movie let alone a Wes Anderson movie?

Technically, Anderson still has the goods. He proves he can still set a shot, tell a joke and assemble a soundtrack so good that you'll walk directly from the movie theatre to the record store whistling some inde rock classic you never knew you loved. Visually, Darjeeling is just as remarkable and vivid as any of his films, with characters as realized and interesting as ever, but clunky storytelling that can't seem to focus on any sort of conclusion derails this film completely leaving me cold. The Darjeeling Limited plays just like a train ride. The scenery is great but it takes forever to get where you're going.

Three brothers set out to find their mother in the depths of India and on the way hope to reconnect with each other, get over an ex-girlfriend, come to grips with impending fatherhood and accept their own father's death. They're all running from something and oldest brother Francis (Owen Wilson) is blindly optimistic that they can "escape" together with a task none of them wholeheartedly believe in.

In the tight confines of the train we meet these three brothers perfectly cast with Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman (who of course worked with Anderson on Rushmore and co-wrote Darjeeling with Anderson and Roman Coppola). The three play off each other wonderfully in scene after scene of brotherly bickering, prescription drug swapping, and bad family habits. These habits, like setting goals - agreeing to follow them - and then dismissing them a moment later, played for great laughs and helped to quickly develop the characters. But as endearing as these individuals were with their quirks and playful squabbling, I found little in journey to cherish or even look forward to.

The story goes nowhere fast even as the boys finally make contact with their absent-tee mother played by Angelica Huston. She's such a cherished edition to the movie as this character you're built up to feel indifference towards, but can't help but fall in love with as soon as she comes on screen. But you're only setting yourself up to be let down. Great rollercoaster performance like that is not uncommon in Darjeeling, but they're all the more unsatisfying when we realize they're grounded in a story with no end.

These three brothers are on a life changing adventure that they don't bother to include the audience in on. Anderson gets wrapped up in the smaller moments of the film, developing this very realized family but not the task they're on. Perhaps the task is as undefined to them as it is to the audience and that's the point, but I felt cheated when the movie ended, they were better off for what they had been through, and I was left arms-crossed, pouting, and unmoved.

Like I said though. Maybe I just can't get it. I'd like to think that I can be perceptive enough to appreciate something totally foreign to me, but maybe my lack of brothers, living father, loving wife and present mother may exclude me from this very specific adventure. If that's the case, a better movie would have taken the same subjects and made them universal.

It's difficult for me to be blindly harsh like that because I can respect the movie on so many other levels. Wilson is shockingly good as this unhinged man trying to hold the family together. Schwartzman, as little Jack, is probably the coolest of the bunch but also the least developed. I found myself more interested in his moustache and the lady at the end of his stare then in the character himself. (Scroll down to the "On The Web" section to find out why I was dead wrong with that first impression of Jack.) Brody, as Peter, "Dad's favorite" feels the most authentic of the bunch. His fears, secrets and respect for what's lost, while not overplayed, are still ever present. He's a fine addition to the Anderson family and I really hope to see him turn up again.

Individually I was pleased with each character but they're even better together. Specifically in pairs. Watch closely whenever one breaks away from the set. The remaining two instantly trade secrets and speculate on bizarre behavior. The secrets of estranged brothers and how they become revealed is one of the cooler avenues of storytelling that Darjeeling explores. Don't take it for granted. It distinguishes this group as a classic trio in modern cinematic history.

So there's more good than bad but I can't pretend that's enough to recommend the film. I was just not happy with the film, I realize for little else other than it was beyond me. Chalk it up to ignorance or stupidity if you like because I'm sure this movie will connect with a lot of moviegoers. But without drawing any direct comparisons, I'm one of the people who left Darjeeling saying "It wasn't as good as the last one".

Rating: 5.5 out of 10 - I was bothered by the movie. There are so many good pieces and more than a few symbolic payoffs towards the end, but the trip was theirs and no one else's. Not even the audiences.

It's my least favorite of Anderson's films, and I don't say that in a good way like, "Cars is the worst Pixar film, but in terms of animation that's still pretty good." Darjeeling is not Cars. It's not "still pretty good" in comparison to the other films in its genre. It's Flushed Away or Ice Age 2. It's good but not Pixar. It's an Anderson movie only in name.

I'd have to say no, though a desperate desire to connect with the movie has me itching to go with a rental. I hold out a deep hope that a Criterion Collection edition (all of Anderson's past movies have gotten the Criterion treatment besides Bottle Rocket) will shed some light on the experience of developing and making the movie, ultimately creating a stronger bond. Where did this story come from? What more will the commentaries and documentaries on the DVD reveal about these characters that I know so little about? I don't presume that the DVD will answer these questions, it's the prerogative of the filmmakers to reveal as little or as much as they like, but should the answer some of these questions it would be money well spent. But if I leave the film as disconnected and indifferent as I left the theatre last week, then I will seal the disk in its Netflix mailer and contently forget about it forever.

Little Jack (Schwartzman) is easily the least defined character in the bunch, and I was content to forget him until Gordon pointed me towards Hotel Chevalier. A 13-minute introduction to Jack that Anderson had been playing before Darjeeling as it made the festival circuit. It's not so much an addition to the movie as it is its own, self contained, short film starring Schwartzman and his mentioned but rarely seen ex-girlfriend, played here by Natalie Portman.

This little glimpse at one character running from his daemons and the other seeking out what's comfortable and easy to control, offered so much invaluable background information on the most underdeveloped of the brothers. I felt like I understood why he ran and how he wrote far beyond the obvious reasons why and how anyone does those things. It was a refreshing look at something I'd already given up on. Though the most interesting thing about him still happens to be the woman that shares his bed.

Portman is as lovely as ever with her V for Vendetta buzz cut slightly grown out and her strategically positioned nakedness. If her character weren't such a manipulative beast it would be easy to fall for her all over again. Hotel Chevalier makes me wish Portman had been featured more in the primary movie but, while more of Portman is rarely a bad thing, in Darjeeling it would have stalled the movie completely. It wasn't her story. It was important to stay focused. I'm glad they offered us this glimpse.

Actually if the DVD offered up shorts for each brother - Peter finding out he's becoming a father, Francis' accident - I would be a lot quicker to add it to the list. Though how far is too far? Side stories are a lot of fun but some things are just better left unsaid. Hotel Chevalier Can be downloaded free through iTunes. If you're planning on catching the movie this weekend be sure to check out this brief intro.

The Kid's Book Project is shaping up nicely. The cover from Liz Greenfield is especially awesome.

If you're not aware of the Kid's Book Project, you should be. It's a new collection containing the work of over 50 web comic artists who each contribute one page. That's pretty awesome, but the best part is that the proceeds from the book go directly to the Make-A-Wish foundation, which helps kids with terminal illnesses. The book is pretty reasonably priced and well worth your cash. Check it out.

Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!

Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V