MOVIE: 50 First Dates (2004)

50 First Dates Year: 2004 Rating: PG-13 Length: 99 minutes / 1.65 hours I don't particularly care for Adam Sandler's comedies. Most of them are crass and pull their jokes from bodily humor or the uncouth main character (usually played by Sandler). There are two exceptions to this: The Wedding Singer (1998) and 50 First Dates (2004). Since this is a review of the latter, I won't go into the details of why I like The Wedding Singer. Instead, let's talk about what works in 50 First Dates for me to recommend it. Yes, I'm not necessarily giving this a perfect "5-star" score, but I do think its story has enough merit that you should watch it. As mentioned above, I don't give this film a perfect score, mostly due to Adam Sandler's comedy style. This is mostly exhibited in the first act of the plot, where we meet a reprehensible man, Henry (Adam Sandler), who basically only has sex with tourists so that he...
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MOVIE: Mean Girls (2004)

Mean Girls Year: 2004 Rating: PG-13 Length: 97 minutes / 1.61 hours With the theaters opening back up again, I took advantage of a few “comeback classics” showings to see a movie that I had missed the first time it came around: Mean Girls (2004). I’m familiar with the numerous memes that this movie spawned, so it was a little weird seeing these little references in their original context. Of course, I’m also not necessarily the target demographic for this movie, as I am not (and have not been) a high school girl. Sure, it gave me an appreciation of the cutthroat and somewhat petty social hierarchy involved with female relationships in high school—in the sense that I didn’t have to put up with it. I can appreciate the ability of Mean Girls to create a situation where the audience learns about this “wild” world of high school by introducing a homeschooled student into the jungle that is the teenage learning environment. The fact that...
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MOVIE: Layer Cake (2004)

Layer CakeYear: 2004Rating: RLength: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours I always find it interesting to go back and watch breakout films by directors who would come into their own years later. In the case of Matthew Vaughn, I have enjoyed his work, which includes Stardust (2007), Kick-Ass (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011), and the Kingsman franchise. With Layer Cake (2004), I could see the kind of filmmaker he would become—with plenty of neat visual tricks—but there’s so much that’s lacking polish that I’m not even sure what happened in this movie. I kind of got the general sense of the plot, but I found myself lost by what was happening by the end of it all. Perhaps part of my problem is that the action is quite loud, but the dialogue is all quiet. I kept having to adjust the volume on my surround sound as a result. Maybe I should have put subtitles on because I had trouble understanding what most...
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BOOK: The Green and the Gray (2004)

The Green and the Gray Year: 2004 Author: Timothy Zahn Length: 560 pages I’ll admit that The Green and the Gray is an interesting concept. Two factions of humanoids living in secret in New York, holding on to a tenuous peace because a war would devastate their respective families. Baking this into a bit of urban fantasy was interesting for a while (the action helped). However, there’s so much filler in this book that makes me wonder if authors who write in this genre are required to hit a specific word or page count to even be published. Perhaps I’m just used to snappier action and less retreading of facts that the reader knows, but the characters don’t. There’s certainly a lot of mystery that needs to be solved and a lot of world-building that needs to happen for The Green and the Gray to make sense. As with any standard story of this type, certain aspects of the strange events and people fuel the...
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BOOK: Sideways (2004)

Sideways Year: 2004 Author: Rex Pickett Length: 665 minutes / 11.08 hours When I got into this book, the only things I knew about it were that it was about wine and it was made into a movie of the same name by Alexander Payne. Unfortunately, unlike a good wine, this book doesn’t seem to have aged well. Maybe people were able to put up with buddy comedy sex romps back in the early 2000’s, but the social climate has changed considerably since then. I doubt a book like this would be written today, at least without some outcry from people who find the women in it to be inherently objectified. Most of my issue with this book comes down to the characters. I’ll give the author credit for creating individuals that made me react to them so vehemently. The problem is that I hated these characters. I hated Jack for being so sex-crazed that he felt obligated to satiate his urges mere days before...
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MOVIE: Collateral (2004)

Collateral Year: 2004 Rating: R Length: 120 minutes / 2 hours Having seen this film many years ago when it came out, a recent re-watching of the Blu-ray at home with my wife has cemented itself as a tight and well-done film. While most action films like to confuse the audience with shaky cameras and quick cuts, this one starts calm and builds to an exciting conclusion. Of course, it's not just a steady and methodical thriller, it loops back on itself, tying up all loose ends and bookending the whole plot in a neat little package. Each of the segments where they drive to the next destination gives a chance for excellent character building as well as giving the audience a break from the brief moments of action (which steadily get longer and more intense as the film progresses). Along with the overhead tracking shots and expert use of depth of field, this film almost borders on art. These are what good action films should be. What's...
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