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All Nighter – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

All Nighter35

J.K. Simmons.

I was thinking of leaving that as my entire review, but you deserve more….more J.K. Simmons that is!  I love J.K. Simmons, and this movie just kept that love going.  Simmons plays Frank Gallo, the no-nonsense, businessman father of Martin’s (Emile Hirsch) ex-girlfriend Ginnie (Analeigh Tipton).  Six months ago Martin had a disastrous “meet the father” night with Ginnie and Mr. Gallo, where he did everything wrong.  He didn’t pull out Ginnie’s chair for her, he sat down before her, he is a musician, he’s a vegetarian, he spilled wine on her father.  Things could not have gone worse.  Flash forward to today when Mr. Gallo knocks on Martin’s door looking for his daughter, not knowing that Martin and Ginnie broke up a few months ago.  Martin takes Mr. Gallo on a wild chase all across Los Angeles, meeting an array of characters, and following hints and slim leads that might lead them to Ginnie, who isn’t answering her phone.

As the night goes on, what you expect to happen pretty much does happen; Martin and Frank slowly warm to each other and end up forming a friendship.  They learn a bit about each other, and so do we.  We learn a bit about why Ginnie and Martin broke up, we learn a bit about why Frank broke up with Ginnie’s mother, and those same reasons are why he has a strained relationship with his daughter to this day.  The film was funny and just what I was expecting.  It carefully  balanced sarcasm and relatable situations with mild slapstick humour.  I think the term “predictable” is used too often when talking about movies.  I wouldn’t say that All Nighter was entirely “predictable”, I’d call it more of a “comfortable” movie.  I was comfortable with the way things unfolded because while a lot of what happened was what I expected, they also didn’t do the most expected things.  Martin did not get back together with Ginnie, and I’m glad he didn’t.  His character had fallen into alcohol and depression when she left, but the night with Frank did help him and moved him out of that funk.  To simply get them back together would have been a waste of every discovery Martin had made about himself that night.

The acting was very good, and I loved J.K. Simmons as the tough guy, sarcastic, smart-ass, in-charge-of-every-situation, father-knows-best character.  Emile Hirsch was very relatable as Martin and I think he wins the audience as a bit of an underdog.  The supporting characters were interesting, from Ginnie’s former co-workers to her former roommates.  Kristen Schaal and Taran Killam as Ginnie and Martin’s friends Roberta and Gary were funny at first, but in my opinion overstayed their welcome making their characters more annoying than humourous.  The other supporting characters simply did their job and didn’t stick around or return.

Overall though the film had some solid laughs and a decent narrative arc.  I enjoyed it quite a bit, and would easily recommend it if you’re looking for some light entertainment for 86 minutes.

Bottom Line: I want J.K. Simmons to be my movie dad.


Prince Avalanche – DVD review 2/5 stars

Product Details2 Stars

Well, the trailer looked okay, and the movie was fine for the most part, the worst decision I made with Prince Avalanche was to watch the bonus features.  Watching them rather bothered me.  Apparently the director ( David Gordon Green, who also obviously wrote the film) came up with the titles for the film in a dream.  That’s it, it has no other significance, though it seemed they tried to force a link with a bit of contrived dialogue.  The director went to a national park that had been ravaged by forest fires and decided he wanted to shoot something there.  Anything there apparently.  He wanted to do a small character piece and a friend of his showed him an Icelandic film (Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson’s Either Way) so he decided to remake it.  In the burnt out forest.  And titled Prince Avalanche.  If I hadn’t watched the bonus features, and didn’t know all this coming out of the film, I could have accepted it as being mildly entertaining rather than frustrating.

The film concerns two men, Alvin (Paul Rudd) and his girlfriend’s brother Lance (Emile Hirsch) who are working on a road crew, painting lines on a Texas road that goes through an area ravaged by forest fires.  Alvin thinks of himself as mature and a loner, Lance is more of a dullard.  The two talk about their goals, their life and their interaction and relationships with various women in their lives.  The dialogue itself was okay, and the acting was fine, but nothing really stood out and made me take notice this time.  It seemed like a giant, though minimalist Seinfeld episode that forgot to be especially funny.  I think Green was running it a bit tight, as there were some beautiful shots of caterpillars, and fires and ashes and nature of all sorts that helped push the film to just 94 minutes.  I guess my point is that without these extra shots, they might have only had enough dialogue (in a dialogue driven film) to make a two reeler.

I’ve seen far worse, and in reality Prince Avalanche wasn’t a “bad” film, it just fell shorter the more I learned about it.  I suppose the best thing to come of it is that I’m interested now in seeing Either Way, the Icelandic original.

Bottom Line: I wish people could be logical and original still.

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