May 30, 2011

Stuff to Buy, Put on Your Shelf, and Never Watch: 05/31/11

I'm still working out how and when to post this, and exactly what the format will be... but here goes v2.

What's New on 5/31:

-A Clockwork Orange arrives on Blu-Ray for the second time, to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Personally, I saw nothing wrong with the one that came out a year or two ago. It had some excellent special features, and they're not really adding anything of note here. Also arriving are Barry Lyndon and Lolita, or get them all together with the Shining, 2001, Spartacus and Full Metal Jacket in the Stanley Kubrick Limited Edition Collection.

-George Lucas' American Graffiti is making its debut on Blu-Ray. Universal put an amazing special edition out a decade ago, and all those marvelous special features are carried over onto this new disc, adding a new video commentary from Lucas.

-Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox and Bill Murray star in Mitch Glazer's Passion Play. It had a very small theatrical release a few weeks ago - don't know if that's due to contractual obligations or to keep it from being labeled as 'straight-to-video' - and I can't wait to see it. I like Glazer (listen to his commentary on Mr. Mike's Mondo Video for a great take on his collaborations with Michael O'Donoghue) but this has been getting the worst reviews.

-We caught Drive Angry in theaters earlier this year. We got suckered in by the whole 'Shot in 3D' thing so we paid the premium. It really shouldn't be seen in either 3D or 2D. Another sad example of Nicolas Cage taking whatever he can get. Skip it.

-Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West - one of the most beautiful works ever committed to film - is making its debut on Blu-Ray this week. Again, Paramount's excellent standard-def features are carried over in a full. I think with any Leone film, it's safe to say that it's worth the upgrade to see it in high-def.

-The Ridley Scott/Tom Cruise collaboration Legend will be out on Blu as well on Tuesday. I don't remember which version I saw. I own the DVD but only watched it once. The film has its fans, and while I dug the way it looked, I can't really count myself as one. Maybe I should revisit it sometime.

-On Tuesday, MGM is rolling out a slew of blu-rays exclusively at Best Buy. Presumably, these will all carry over the standard def special features (some of them had some great stuff, so I certainly hope so). They are:
  • Back to School
  • City Slickers
  • The Firm
  • Get Shorty
  • Maverick
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974 original)
  • and Wild Wild West
Best of all, prices range between 10 and 15 bucks.

I didn't find any real deals of note, except for this one: All four X-Men films (X-Men, X2, Last Stand and Wolverine) are $7.99 on Blu (or $3.99 on DVD) at Best Buy, and each comes with up to $12 of free movie cash for the upcoming X-Men: First Class, out in theaters next week. An uncanny deal.

Also, if you're into obscure TV shows, HBO's very first original series 1st & Ten, which aired for 6 seasons in the 80s and starred Delta Burke and the hilarious/brilliant/multi-talented superstar-of-stage-and-screen OJ Simpson, is currently on sale at for $3.99. That's for the entire series. Free shipping. That's a dime for each hour of hilarious 80s football humor.

Mike and Erica's take on The Hangover Part II

The Wolfpack is back. Bangkok has them now & they are still wreaking havoc. We saw this movie at the Village 7 in the East Village. Nice theatre, we went at 4:30 on Friday so it wasn't too busy and it was an overall pleasant experience. How disappointing...

Mike: I really liked the first Hangover and it's one of a small number of films that I've gone to see at the theater twice.

Erica: I also enjoyed the first Hangover so I was looking forward to seeing the second one. Zach Galifianakis is always amusing and he was great as Alan in the first one, so I was looking forward to seeing what he had to offer here.

The good news about the second one is that it's pretty funny. Unfortunately, it's mostly the same jokes, and there are a few dragging dead spaces.

I disagree about the dragging dead spaces, I think there was always something going on to keep me entertained. I actually feel there was more in this one because movies in Vegas of this variety are far more common than Thailand.

Yeah, the location was really cool. There are plenty of movies set in Vegas, and even though the first Hangover had a very fresh take on it, it was really neat to see these guys in a totally different place. It was like giving them a new playground with lots of new, cool stuff to play with... but it was still mostly the same story and variations on the same joke. Which I guess is fine - I think that's what most people would want out of it.

That is what the people want, it's what made the first one so successful. The highlight of this film for me was Alan's toast at the family dinner in Thailand. Armed with note cards filled with fun facts about Thailand (which he pronounced 'thigh land') he made that scene one of the best in the film.

Yeah, I loved that part. What did you think of the infamous tattoo parlor scene? I found it to be a bit flat. Nothing against Nick Cassavettes, but it would have been so much funnier with Mel Gibson (who was originally supposed to play the part) or Liam Neeson (who filmed it but wasn't available for re-shoots). It would have been such a great part for Gibson. He played a character very similar to it in the Billy Crystal-Robin Williams comedy Fathers' Day (which I'm ashamed to admit I have seen part of, but he was funny in that bit). I think Gibson's great and he can be really funny (his recent tapes are an excellent example) and while watching I couldn't help but think how funny he would have been in the part instead of Cassavettes.

I actually saw that movie (Father's Day), don't remember it being that great. I thought that scene could have been a LOT better. Cassavettes was not the best choice for the cameo. The fiasco and all the buzz surrounding it was better than the scene itself.

It wasn't a great movie and it's really sad that you saw it. I caught a few minutes of it while flipping channels one night and happened to come upon the scene where Mel Gibson appears. Anyway, cameos can be distracting sometimes. But the tattoo scene really would have benefited from it, to make it seem that much more outrageous.

We're ragging on the movie a bit. While it's not that fresh (in my opinion at least) it was an awful lot of fun. And we've been quoting it all weekend.

We have. I say definitely see this movie. It is definitely worth it and you will not be disappointed. Any final thoughts?

There was not enough Murray Head. A chess game would have been cool, too.

It's worth noting that Mr. Chow's penis appears smaller in this one than in the first one. Did it shrink?

Well, that was our review of The Hangover Part 2 tattoo parlor scene, Ken Jeong's declining inchage, and Father's Day, since that is basically what this conversation was about. Don't mind the polarized Rotten Tomato score - go see it anyway.

May 22, 2011

Stuff to Buy, Put on Your Shelf, and Never Watch: 05/22/11

Welcome to our weekly feature: Stuff to Buy, Put On Your Shelf, and Never Watch.

Admit it. If you're among the remnants of the ancient civilization that still purchases antiquated media like books, DVDs and Blu-Rays, you're probably like us. You buy stuff with the intention of watching it - probably more than once. But you don't. You unwrap it (if that) and put it on your bookshelf. And it sits there. Whether it's one of your favorite movies that you've seen a million times that you want to see in HD and explore all the special features... or that movie you've been meaning to see for ages that you picked up at a bargain (perhaps as part of a Chuck Norris 4-pack). You watch it collect dust. And pray that someday, sometime, you'll have the chance to actually watch it.

It's okay. There's no shame in it. I can't tell you how many of our DVDs have never been watched. Mike has over 2,000 flicks and TV show seasons on DVD, Blu-ray... and many more on VHS, CED, 16mm, etc... And Erica has another couple hundred as well.

A bookshelf filled with movies was once a really cool thing, but those days have passed. As DVDs are going the way of the VHS, it's suddenly not so cool anymore to have hundreds of them proudly displayed in your living room. It's time to move them to one of the less-frequented rooms of the house, just like the CDs a few years back. They didn't seem like such a bulky waste of space back in the day.

Not us, though. We're proud of our collections (just not as proud as we were five years ago). And we still buy more than we could possibly watch in a lifetime (or fit in our apartment).

This column will appear every Sunday, and we'll highlight the new releases, the sales at Best Buy, Target, Amazon, etc..

New releases for 5/24/11:

I Am Number Four. I hated this film, but if you want to add it to your collection, Best Buy has the best price ($19.99 for the Blu-Ray).

Neither of us had any desire to check out Gnomeo & Juliet. The animation looked horrible, but for some reason it turned out to be a hit. Good for Elton John I guess. The Blu-Ray is $19.99 at Best Buy.

Two of Ron Howard's collaborations with Roger Corman are reappearing on DVD this week, courtesy of Shout! Factory, with some new special features (and it looks to carry over all of special features from the previous DVD): Eat My Dust! and Grand Theft Auto. While the former is your typical 70s car racing comedy and the latter doesn't really show much of a hint of Howard's capabilities as a director (I'm talking about Night Shift, Splash, and Gung-Ho of course, and nothing else), they're a lot of fun. I'm not used to seeing Best Buy have the best price on so many discs, but that's where you'll get the best price on this 2-pack: $14.99.

Gettysburg and Gods and Generals are making their long-awaited debuts (well, Gettysburg is) on Blu-Ray this Tuesday as well. Gettysburg arrives in a new director's cut (I think it's new) and Gods and Generals comes with an hour of never-before-seen footage (which I think is new to disc as well). Gettysburg is an amazing film, and Gods and Generals is pretty good if you can overlook a handful of corny scenes. They arrive separately or together in a Limited Edition collector's set that adds a book, a map, and some other tchotchkes in a shelf-space-butchering box set. Catch is: That set doesn't come out until July 4. I'll be waiting until then.

The Kids in the Hall reunited last year for a new mini-series, Death Comes to Town, which hits DVD this week. Best price: Amazon. I admit I only watched two episodes, but hopefully I'll get around to watching the entire thing sometime. Also coming out the same day is a re-release of the complete Kids in the Hall series, carrying over all the contents of the earlier set and adding the new mini-series. It's being released by A&E, which means: Buy it now (best price: 60 bucks at Best Buy), or wait about a year and get it for $30.

Criterion is bringing Solaris to Blu-Ray this week after releasing it on DVD a few years ago. New to Blu as well is Chaplin's The Great Dictator. I bought the original Image Entertainment release of this film, along with all of Chaplin's other works. Warner Brothers then licensed them and released it in a newly restored edition, which suffered from a slightly noticeable PAL speed-up. I'm not sure if the new Blu-Ray has a better presentation, but I'm anxious to find out. It's one of my favorite Chaplin films, and clearly the best version of the Prince & the Pauper story. Best price:, but maybe wait for a 50% off sale at Barnes & Noble.

Once Upon a Time in the West is also making its long-anticipated debut on Blu-Ray, carrying over everything from the excellent collector's edition from a few years ago. Warner Brothers is also bringing out two classic racing flicks: Le Mans and Grand Prix.

Normally at this point I'd highlight the special deals from the sales circulars, but it's a week of slim pickings. Best Buy has a number of $7.99 Blu-Rays, including Caddyshack, Scream and the amazing Birdemic, but they've been at that price point for a few weeks - and last week they were just $5.99 for a limited time.

That said, Amazon right now has a great deal on 7 of the 8 Three Stooges collections. Right now, all but Volume 6 are $13.99. I hope there will be more for me to report next time.

And then we watch: Bridesmaids

Erica: After seeing Pirates we took a short walk to the AMC Loews 34th Street 14 and caught the 1:20 showing of Bridesmaids. This is one of our go-to theaters because they show everything - unlike Times Square, where the major releases are split between the AMC Empire and the Regal E-Walk (i.e. discount vs. full price). The theater is alright. Goods seats throughout, but it's not very clean. It also attracts a lot of sketchy folks - perhaps because it's so easy to hop from screen to screen. We used one of our Gold passes, which we purchased a while back for $7.50, saving us $5.50. We'll write more about those passes sometime in the future.
When I first saw trailers for Bridesmaids I was torn because I am a big fan of director Paul Feig, but not a fan of romantic comedies. The last Paul Feig/Judd Apatow collaboration was Freaks and Geeks which is one of my favorite shows. Feig also starred in one of my favorite guilty pleasure comedies: Ski Patrol. Check that one out if you can find it.
I still went into the movie with no expectations. What did you thing of Wiig in the lead role?

Mike:  I can't stand Kristen Wiig. Never could have. She's in every single sketch on SNL and she's been there way too long. And she was pretty annoying in this movie, too. This is yet another one of those movies consisting of embarrassing moments that keep escalating. I was cringing more than I was laughing in Bridesmaids. But I don't think it was a bad film and enjoyed it for the most part. For every cringe, there are some solid laughs. John Hamm was great as Wiig's fuck buddy. But I really don't see why it's being praised to the high heavens. It's a decent comedy with plenty of funny moments, but nothing more than that.

Kristen Wiig and Chris O'Dowd
I agree with you 100%. Who I was most surprised with was Chris O'Dowd, the Irish actor who is known more for smaller roles in comedic films and British television. He was funny, pleasant, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of him soon. Wiig was nothing more than a whiny loser who I could not sympathize with as her character is unbearable and unlikeable. As was Maya Rudolph in the role as the bride and Wiig's best friend from childhood. As a whole, it's very much overrated.

You mentioned Chris O'Dowd... I think it's also worth mentioning that this was Jill Clayburgh's final role. She turned in some great performances in her career - mostly in the 70s, but she worked pretty consistently over the years. My favorite performance of hers is Bertolucci's La Luna - an amazing film and in my opinion one of the great performances. In Bridesmaids, she has a nice part as Wiig's crazy but loving and supporting mother.

I'll add that it shouldn't be watched by the faint of heart as it's filled with gross-out moments, especially a food poisoning scene. I didn't hate the movie, but I say watch it on DVD (there will undoubtedly be some Extended/Unrated Edition with even more gross-out scenes) but don't buy into the hype and go out of your way to watch it.

May 21, 2011

We Review: Pirates of Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Erica: So this morning, we trekked to the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square to check out Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. We caught the 9:30 a.m. screening. We like these early screenings because they guarantee us a few things: A near-empty auditorium (read: fewer assholes), a lower price (we paid $11 each to see this in 3D on the ETX screen), cleaner restrooms, and perhaps most importantly, we avoided that shitty "I just wasted half my day seeing a shitty movie" feeling.

Not many people are big on the Empire, but we like this theater. While the screens vary in quality, I don't think there's a single uncomfortable seat in the building. Plus, we really like AMC's AM Cinema. In New York City, we don't really have matinee pricing - I think AMC is pretty much the only place where you can see a movie for less by going early. Especially with the excessive 3D, IMAX, and - for us today - ETX pricing (more on that some other day), it's one reason why we're pretty loyal to AMC. Although you won't catch us dead here on a Friday or Saturday night.

Mike: So this is the first Pirates of the Caribbean film you've seen. Were you able to follow along?

Sure. I did see some of the first one and while there were a few things I didn't 'get' or understand, I was able to figure it out for the most part. I can understand the appeal of these movies to the general public. It has an engaging character, a great look, a memorable theme... It's an adventure, just like the ride.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It got some really nasty reviews and I didn't think that was deserved at all - especially comparing it to the 2nd and 3rd entries in the series. In fact, I thought this was better than At World's End, which I found to be a confusing, bloated mess. With On Stranger Tides, it's clear that they took a step back. It resolved a few of the problems from Dead Man's Chest and At World's End: most notably, the running time, and this time there aren't as many unnecessary characters and sideplots. It's a more straightforward, tighter film like the first one. But did it help? A little bit.

And while I just said that, I must admit that I wasn't all that excited about it going into it. The title didn't sound very exciting (On Stranger Tides?), and there seemed to be little 'new' about it. They brought in Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane as Blackbeard, but seeing the trailers I couldn't help but think 'That's it?' It just seemed like more of the same. And that's sort of what we ended up with. I guess I shouldn't complain, though - at least Jack Sparrow isn't going into outer space or traveling to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine or something crazy like that. There's a few new characters and they expanded the mythology a bit (zombies, mermaids), but that's it.

Some of the complaints about On Stranger Tides are that having Jack Sparrow as the main protagonist didn't really work. I didn't mind Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley too much in the first film, but in parts 2 and 3 I got tired of them. But they served a purpose and provided a balance. In On Stranger Tides, it's Depp front and center for the entire film. It didn't bother me at all and didn't feel any nostalgia for Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. At the same time, I liked Geoffrey Rush's Barbossa character, but two films was enough for him (he really shouldn't have been in the 3rd one). And while I think Ian McShane is a terrific actor, his Blackbeard was nothing to write home about. That's such a legendary character - I guess I just expected something more exciting. Don't get me started about Cruz - I've been able to stand her in only a few of the films I've seen her in. She didn't get on my nerves too much in Pirates, but let's just say that she's not one of my favorites.

What did you think of the 3D?

Not necessary. It looked good, but it didn't add much. It's not worth the surcharge. Plus, it's a pretty dark film, so the 3D glasses made it extra dark.

It was shot in 3D and it looks pretty good, but with so many theaters limiting the brightness, I agree, it's not worh it. There were a handful of those cringe-worthy gimmick shots, though - a few with swords and once with a snake. Doctor Tongue would be proud.

Erica: See it, if you're already a fan, but skip the 3D.

Mike: I recommend it, mildly. It's harmless Summer fun, and worth matinee admission.

May 19, 2011

The Thirteen Dollar Ticket

We both live in New York City, where the price of a movie ticket is thirteen dollars. That's right, thirteen bucks to see a movie. That's not a lot, but both of us feel strongly that thirteen dollars is too much to go see a movie. Don't get us wrong, there are plenty of movies that are worth much more than that. Our gripe is with the moviegoing experience itself. It's absurd to pay thirteen dollars to sit in a crowded theater to watch a dimly projected movie with people who seem to be doing everything in their power to make you miserable. There's so much to hate about going to the movie: the crowds of annoying people, their poorly-behaved childred, the sticky floors, the bad 3D, the bedbugs, the over-priced junk food, the texting, and on and on...
That's exactly what this site is about. We'll be reviewing movies from the movie-goer's perspective. And we'll help you find ways to get around paying full price for movie tickets. We generally pay between $6 and $7.50 for our tickets - in Manhattan theaters on opening weekend - and look forward to sharing our tips with you. For us, it's not so much about saving money as it is about the principle of it: 13 bucks is too much.

Not Worth Admission: An Introduction

Welcome to our site, Not Worth Admission. We'll be bringing you fun reviews of our latest movie-going experiences and we'll be sharing our tips and tricks on how to make the best of your own movie-going experience.

About Us: We're Mike and Erica, and we live in Brooklyn. We see most of our movies in Manhattan. We hope you enjoy reading our little adventures and mini-reviews.

Follow us on twitter: @NotWorthAdmissn
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