Shorties #17

I ran my skimmer through the pool of pop culture, and it brought up another lovely batch of Shorties for me. Shall we get to it?

#1: They Came Together: I love Wet Hot American Summer, but aside from that, David Wain projects have turned out to be pretty lackluster for me. The Ten was fine, but nothing to write home about. Wanderlust was even more blah. But I felt I couldn't skip They Came Together, a 2014 movie that promised to skewer romantic comedies. While it was better than Wanderlust, the jokes were just about as broad, content to call out the cliches of romcoms without ever really saying anything clever about them. Still, Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd are as charming as ever, and that helped elevate it. It's not a good movie, but it's not a waste of time, either. (Grade: B-)

#2: Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker: I don't watch anime in general, but Dragon Age: Inquisition is likely to snag the position of my favorite game of the year, so I thought it'd be worth renting this 2012 movie from Netflix. Meh. The story is a prequel of sorts, following Cassandra's days in the Chantry before any of the game events take place. She's falsely accused of treason, and must evade capture while preventing an attack on the Divine. It's not a bad premise, but despite some beautiful animation, this just isn't worth your time. The good animation is balanced out with some that looks like it was done with MS Paint, and the voiceover work is garbage. I don't know if this was meant to be lovingly done and just isn't to my tastes, or if it was a throwaway project to make a few quick bucks. In either case, I'll be sticking to the games from now on. (Grade: C)

#3: Horrible Bosses: Sometimes, I'll arrive at a movie/TV show late, simply because I never had the time to devote the attention I thought it deserves. That's why I haven't picked up Orphan Black or The Americans yet. But sometimes, I'll arrive at a movie/TV show late because there's a little alarm going off in my mind, warning me that no matter how popular it is, I'm going to hate it. Unfortunately, this 2011 movie falls squarely in the latter camp, and I should have listened to that alarm. The general public loved this movie about a trio of hapless friends (Jason Bateman, Ed Helms, and Charlie Day) planning to kill their awful bosses (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston). They liked it so much they made a sequel. I, on the other hand, found it dumb and obnoxious. Jennifer Aniston was the one bright spot, playing against type as a nymphomaniacal dentist. (Grade: C-)

#4: Marry Me: Much like They Came Together up there, I'm always willing to give a shot to something from a team that's put out something I've loved. In this case, David Caspe's one-season sitcom aired in the 2014-2015 season, and when you combine the showrunner of Happy Endings with a cast led by Casey Wilson and Ken Marino, I'm on board. I don't know what was missing, but this show just lacked the spark that makes for a good sitcom. It was a lot like A to Z: Not bad, but just not a lot of there there. Plus, the fat, bearded sidekick in Marry Me was irritating, where Henry Zebrowski was pretty charming. If there was one thing to recommend about Marry Me, it was Tymberlee Hill as Kay. She was awesome, and needs to be cast in better things tout de suite. (Grade: B-)

#5: Tim's Vermeer: This 2013 documentary was created by Penn and Teller, and got some pretty good reviews when it was first released. I never got around to watching it, until I realized I needed a good movie to watch with my mom. Oh, perfect! Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter who painted almost photorealistic works, achieving what few other artists could in terms of capturing light. He's somewhat of a mystery, since his paintings lack the usual practice sketches lurking underneath their surfaces. Tim Jenison, an inventor and entrepreneur hypothesized that Vermeer used a camera obscura and a mirror to perfect his paintings, and sets about demonstrating this by copying "The Music Lesson" from scratch. While it's an interesting subject, it suffers a bit as a movie. Once Jenison demonstrates his ability to reproduce Vermeer's work, despite any previous artistic experience, the rest of the film is just him filling in the canvas. Still, it was an enlightening experience. (Grade: B)


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