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.
Burn After Reading
Starring: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, J.K. Simmons
Directed by: Ethan Coen , Joel Coen
The Official Site of Burn After Reading
Discuss Burn After Reading on the boards!
It's no real surprise that the Coen brothers would follow up their Oscar winning epic No Country for Old Men with a wacky and somewhat demented espionage comedy. Something to gather all of their friends together and have a good time after a year of making and promoting a dark and heavy masterpiece. Even though No Country resulted in a pretty satisfying awards season for everyone involved, making a movie like that can take its toll on you and sometimes you just want to have some fun.
Ultimately I think that's where I get hung up on Burn After Reading . In many ways it's very successful but through all the good times on set and making sure everyone got to play the kind of role they wanted to (nearly all of the major parts in the film were written with the specific actors in mind), Burn fails to deliver something I think is immensely important - Someone to believe in.
Admittedly that sounds a little corny but the audience needs a character to follow, a person to root for and Burn is filled to the brim with losers and weirdoes that we wouldn't want anything to do with if they weren't as good looking as George Clooney and Brad Pitt. There are times where their antics are hysterical and outrageously fun to watch, but in characters that we couldn't care less about, what kind of weight does that really carry?
I'm jumping ahead. If I were a better critic I'd be able to weave in minor plot points at the same time as taking shots at the ne'er-do-wells throughout, but you'll have to take my word for it on a few fronts. Such as: The story is good. I really go for this kind of multiple-plots-weaved-together sort of thing, and the film is shot as well as you'd expect a Coen Brothers movie to be (even if it is one of those "in-between, fun projects"), I was even really impressed by some of the performances even if I couldn't bring myself to like the characters.
Everyone in this movie, with the exception of maybe three people, is a despicable excuse of a person. And those three exceptions… are idiots. As the film progressed I had more and more trouble finding people to relate to because everyone had a dirty secret that would pop up and ruin what little good faith they had earned. I would eventually find comfort in Richard Jenkins and J.K. Simmons as the unassuming gym manager with a good heart and the soulless, political, higher-up with the best lines in the film. They kept me grounded and reminded me I wasn’t watching a very expensive cartoon.
It's not even a matter of "negative characters can't be likable". They can be, and The Coen's have already proven that. Forget that Anton Chigurh was the coolest thing in No Country for Old Men and remember back to 1987 when H.I. and Edwina proved that even lowlife kidnappers can be decent people. It's possible to make bad, grouchy, cursing, sleazy, even evil people fun to watch. Unfortunately it wasn’t very natural here in Burn After Reading.
It's not that they're without fun. Watching these characters isn't painful but I would say most of the enjoyment comes from our expectations of them as actors and the anticipation that comes with that. For anyone that saw it this weekend - Brad Pitt gets a lot of laughs in the first half hour of the film, right? For little lines like "Awww Fuck." And "CIA, shit." But does he get those laughs because it's a brilliant comic performance or because it’s “Brad Pitt is acting silly”? Are we charmed by how funny it is or because of the very famous fish out of water doing the unexpected?
Compare it to Tom Cruise’s much-hyped role in Tropic Thunder. The whole basis of that performance and its success is that it was unexpected. Tom Cruise should not be doing these things, but he is, and THAT’S hilarious. It’s the same thing with Pitt, and I’ll admit - he is very funny. After a series of unearned “he’s acting so crazy!” laughs, Pitt really turns it on and wins the crowd for the right reasons. His character Chad, a dim, good-natured guy reminded me of Floyd from True Romance if he'd turned his life around and become obsessed with physical fitness. I don't mean to undercut his performance, I'm just not sure it would be worth mentioning if it were Joe Shomo in the part.
As the movie progressed I was looking for someone to like. The cheating Internet predator building nasty things in his basement? The frigid bed-hopping pediatrician? The f-bomb dropping maniac, recently unemployed, who over-pronounces "Memoir" and has no problem walking through the streets of our nation’s capitol in boxers and a hatchet. Obviously they're not without their charms but (broken record time) the audiences need someone to believe in. I would lean towards McDormand's vain, would-be felon as the character with the most potential. As the sad luck story in the making with big dreams and a positive attitude she‘ll certainly win a few people over, but I had more than a little trouble getting past her over the top introduction. We meet her in a plastic surgeons office where the doctor all but write the word “annoying” on her forehead.
This is the kind of movie it is though. You’re not supposed to like them. They're not good people. At the end of the day it's my fault that I didn't like the movie because I spent the entire time watching it trying to care about them. Try to put characters into perfect Hollywood clichés. I kept trying to fit the story to my needs so that it made sense, and that's no way to watch a movie.
Rating: 6 out of 10 - Not all the time but sometimes I have this very strong urge for things to work out. I think in some cases I'm looking for the "happy ending", not necessarily for every character, but for someone. Anyone. (WARNING - MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR BURN AFTER READING!!!)
I confront this a lot with the show LOST. They keep giving us glimpses of the future where people are dead or unhappy and I keep thinking, "They can't end it this way! Someone has to win!" and I think I approached Burn After Reading with a similar perspective. I spent so much time trying to find someone to root for and then find a happy ending within that it didn't make sense when everything fell apart and the credits rolled. With all the running he had to do to make himself feel better, I imagined Harry's character becoming the new Chad, and that he and Linda would live out a quiet life of happiness together at the gym. Nope. I thought, well, Cox is getting himself back together. He's on the road to happiness. Nope. Let's not even get into the fact that the two characters it felt right to like, Chad and Ted, are the two that end up dead. It's depressing. I watched this movie and didn't care about these people. Now I need to watch it again and not want to care about them. Maybe then I'll like it.
Burn After Reading isn’t one of the Coen classics but it rests comfortably at the top of their middle range work. Not as good as the one where Clooney was supposed to be Odysseus, but better than the one where he built sexual tension with Catherine Zeta Jones. The film will certainly play better a second time around, but I’m not convinced it’ll play well enough to own.
The International - I've got no idea what's really going on in this trailer. Glimpses of a political thriller with touches of action including some dude falling off the side of a building all look great, but as of now I couldn't really tell you what's going on with the plot. Perhaps its better that way considering most movie trailers these days show too much and leave the actual film no room for surprise. And honestly, Owen and Watts are enough for me to be interested even without the Michael Clayton meets Jason Bourne tone the trailer gives off. Let's cross our fingers and hope for the best.
The real news around this trailer though is that it’s recycling footage from, of all things, Ghost Rider. /film reported on Saturday that a scene of a car exploding (with CGI Ghost Rider trail removed) makes an appearance early in the trailer. Both films are produced by Columbia Pictures/Sony so they own the footage and are well within their rights to use it. Here’s hoping the very recognizable stock footage doesn’t make its way into the finished film though.
Nothing much to report today. Had a busy weekend of chores around the house and preparation for things to come. I wanted to give a quick word of thanks to everyone that’s been inquiring about original art – you guys rock. I’m taking a break from pimping art for this update but, by request, there’s some Coffee Achievers stuff going up on sale later in the week, so if you’re a fan, be sure to swing back. If you’re not a fan, head on over to CoffeeAchievers.net, and see why Mitch Clem is one of the most creative and celebrate webcomic writers ever.
Stop back tomorrow for a new update, swing by tonight for the Triple Feature and thanks so much for reading!
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