Tag Archives: Jack Black

The Set of 400: #258 – My Favorite Ice Skating Date (Mixed Doubles)

Today! Because there’s only one creature capable of leaving a footprint that size –

King Kong (2005)

Directed by Peter Jackson (x2)

Starring Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody (x2), Jack Black (x4), Andy Serkis (x2), Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Jamie Bell, Kyle Chandler (x3), Evan Parke, Lobo Chan, John Sumner, Craig Hall, Geraldine Brophy

I’m rarely going to criticize a film for being long. I might say it goes on a bit, or it has some slow parts, or it’s a tad long, but for the most part, I’m not easily bored. I worked at calendar stores in August and September during college – I know from boring. All that being said, I fully agree that Peter Jackson’s King Kong is obscenely too long. I feel like Jackson came down with a case of the J.K. Rowlings in 2005 – after a period of wild success, no one was willing to step up and reign them in, and say that perhaps these stories didn’t need to be 800 pages/three-plus hours long. And so, we have to wait forever for Kong to actually appear in this movie. It’s not like I don’t enjoy all the CGI bugs and whatnot, but somewhere along the way, a little nudge from the studio or somebody to be like “Is this really necessary?” would’ve gone a long way to alleviating our collective sore ass.

Seriously, Jesus, I could’ve lived without this in the memory

All that being said – and hell, it always needs to be mentioned with this film – King Kong is a terrific movie. I was never a huge fan of the 1933 original – I recognize it for the inventive, groundbreaking effects marvel it is, but come on, it’s a bit creaky by today’s standards – and saw the cheesy 1976 version a bunch as a kid, but never had a lingering affinity. So Kong was much like Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera, and the rest of the big, silly, rubber suit monsters of weekend afternoon television. It wasn’t serious entertainment. It was cheap nonsense with cardboard sets. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #310 – My Favorite Weaponized Slim Whitman Tune

Today! Because if the Martians land, they’re going to need a place to stay, just like everybody else –

Mars Attacks! (1996)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring Jack Nicholson (x2), Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito (x2), Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox (x2), Martin Short, Rod Steiger, Lukas Haas, Tom Jones, Jim Brown, Natalie Portman (x3), Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney, Pam Grier, Paul Winfield, Jack Black (x3), Joe Don Baker (x2), Ray J, Christina Applegate, Barbet Schroeder (x2), Willie Garson (x2), Rance Howard (x3), O-Lan Jones, Brian Haley

I know some people were really turned off by Tim Burton’s trading card adaptation global invasion sci-fi comedy, but I really dug it in that epic winter of 1996. Ah, ’96! This is already the sixth movie from that landmark, okay-ish year for films! Coming a few months after Independence Day, I guess everyone really wanted a wild action comedy of international destruction, but Tim Burton is not that director. He can give you quirky odd-ballery, but as for fight scenes or action sequences, well, look at that track record. His Batman movies are far more mood and atmosphere than slam-bang thrills. Sleepy Hollow – better, I guess, what with Ray Park as the Headless Horseman, but the staging didn’t vastly improve. Planet of the Apes – come on. So really, anyone wanting more out of Mars Attacks! was probably kidding themselves a bit too much.

What you get is a pretty fun, funny, throwback spoof of cheesy alien flicks, which quickly devolves into a cheesy alien flick itself, blurring that parody line until it basically disappears. I was really amped for this film come my senior year of high school – figure, you’ve got Nicholson playing wacky duel roles, in a roundabout nod to Dr. Strangelove’s end-of-the-world grapplings, as the president and a huckster casino owner, plus it reunited him with his Batman director, never mind the all-star cast reminiscent of ’70s disaster films, including a James Bond, a Teen Wolf, Foxy Brown, Ed Grimley, and the Penguin.

Never mind Carrie Bradshaw’s terrific work as this dog

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The Set of 400: #352 – My Favorite Driving Miss Daisy Remake

Today! Because I know robot karate –

Be Kind Rewind (2008)

Directed by Michel Gondry

Starring Mos Def, Jack Black (x2), Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Sigourney Weaver, Melonie Diaz, Jon Glaser, Kid Creole, Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones

Whenever I watch this movie, I spend half of it imagining how I could create ultra low budget remakes of movies. Like, sure, I’d still need a job – this movie emphasizes you can’t make money from this idea very strongly – but as a pastime? There aren’t a ton of movies covering this concept – this and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl are all that come to mind – but as the acclaimed director of such notable shorts as Antigone: the Musical, Senor Sweeney Gomez, and Russian Bikini Hookers II: Hurricane Ho, I can tell that this movie gets a lot of things right about backyard filmmaking.

I mean, okay, the rest of the plot doesn’t manage to go anywhere of note, but what, were they just going to have Mos Def and Jack Black act out twisted, truncated versions of Rush Hour and Ghostbusters for two hours? Hmm…yeah, they should have, I’d totally watch that (of all the quick remakes they show, Men in Black and 2001 are my favorites). The middle sequences of the film where they are just renting out their videos (the video store’s collection got erased by a magnetized Black – don’t worry about it) and creating new ones couldn’t have been the whole movie without a much different framing plot, but man, if only! Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #372 – My Favorite Temptations

Today! Because I done a bad thing/cut my brother in half –

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Starring John C. Reilly, Kristen Wiig, Jenna Fischer, Craig Robinson, Harold Ramis, Ed Helms, Jack White, Raymond J. Barry, Margo Martindale, Tim Meadows, Honeyboy Edwards, Jack Black, Jonah Hill (x2), Justin Long, Paul Rudd (x2), Jason Schwartzman, Martin Starr, Rance Howard, Chris Parnell, Matt Besser, Jack McBrayer, Frankie Muniz, Ian Roberts, David Krumholtz, Jane Lynch, Simon Helberg, Jackson Browne, Jewel, Lyle Lovett, Ghostface Killah, Eddie Vedder

This totally wacky send-up of mid ’00s musical biopics really hit the spot for me in ’07. It borders on Airplane! style lunacy at times, hurling jokes as fast as it can, and many manage to stick thanks to the all-in performance the great John C. Reilly gives at all ages of Dewey’s life from 14 onward. He’s supported by an utterly astounding number of comedians willing to throw a few minutes into the film. Sure, it rambles all over the place in search of jokes – while I enjoy the Jack White Elvis and the Black/Rudd/Long/Schwartzman Beatles, they do feel a bit like overkill. I particularly love Tim Meadows bits as Dewey’s drummer, continually trying to dissuade him from whatever vice currently being enjoyed. But I think the thief of the film is X-Files great Raymond J. Barry as Dewey’s father, constantly bemoaning “Wrong kid died!” It’s silly madness, replete with equally goofy original songs, and was still almost completely ignored in its day at the box office. Totally deserving of an audience! Continue reading

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