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Entries in Kiefer Sutherland (2)

Saturday
Aug072010

Twelve

Coming out of Sundance 2010, Joel Schumacher’s Twelve was being heralded as the worst movie at the festival by some critics. Now it is in limited release and having just sat through it, I can see why. It’s pretty rare for me to give out scores of zero, despite having recently done so for Charlie St. Cloud and Step Up 3D, so I almost feel bad for doing it again here. Almost.

The basic plot of the story is this: there’s a new drug in town called twelve that is making its way around the streets and messing people up. But within that basic story are dozens of characters whose lives intersect, convoluting it all. There’s White Mike (Chace Crawford), the local drug dealer who is still mourning over the death of his mother to breast cancer. His cousin Charlie is hopped up on twelve, though Mike doesn’t supply him with it. He refuses to carry such a drug. Lionel (50 Cent) is Mike’s supplier and is about to have a violent run in with Charlie and a young African American kid named NaNa (Jermaine Crawford). NaNa is on his way home from a game of basketball where he has just been in a fight with Hunter (Philip Ettinger), a rich kid from the Upper East Side, who is about to be accused of murder.

There’s also Sara (Esti Ginzburg), the hottest girl in her school, Molly (Emma Roberts), who has been friends with drug dealer Mike since childhood, Chris (Rory Culkin), the local party thrower, Claude (Billy Magnussen), his steroid taking, unstable brother, and Jessica (Emily Meade), a new junkie who will do anything to get her twelve fix. The list goes on and on. Believe it or not, I haven’t even finished listing all of the characters in this overstuffed film. In fact, before all of them are even introduced, two are killed off. There’s simply too much going on and the descriptive anecdotes for extraneous characters like Chris and Claude’s maid was unnecessary.

Although I suspect this is intentional, the characters in the movie are deplorable. Most, if not all, are rotten rich kids who have every opportunity in the world right in front of them, but squander it due to their drug use. The females in the movie are the type of girls who are so infatuated with themselves that if a guy doesn’t hit on them, they write them off as gay. The guys are all morons whose desire to score with women is the only thing that trumps their desire to score dope. All are poorly juggled. Twelve jumps back and forth from each putrid character like a fly at a picnic ground.

It’s easy to hate the characters from moral and intellectual viewpoints, but the movie is simply too laughable to keep you too angry. Take Jessica for instance, who, as told through ridiculous narration by Kiefer Sutherland, has kept every stuffed bear ever given to her. Well, after taking a hit of twelve, they start to talk to her in a cutesy voice you’d expect to hear in children’s television shows, asking her who she would kill if given the opportunity. It’s supposed to be unsettling, but instead it’s just really, really funny.

By the time Twelve reaches its end, you’ll have already checked out, but that won’t stop memories of the Virginia Tech massacre or the recent Connecticut shootings from infiltrating your thoughts. The climax is so reminiscent of these tragic events that its depiction is downright irresponsible.

To get a good idea of what Twelve has in store for you, consider this: 50 Cent gives the best performance. Take that as you will. My advice is to skip it, but if you really want to see a movie about snooty rich kids suffering through their own self inflicted problems, by all means give it a go.

Twelve receives 0/5

Friday
Jun042010

Marmaduke

Live action talking animal movies are the lowest form of cinema. Watching one is like taking a really sharp, rusty needle and twisting it in your eye until it pops. They kill brain cells, dilute imaginations and corrupt our youth with their infantile humor, yet they're pumped out constantly. Compared to garbage like G-Force or the more recent Furry Vengeance, I suppose Marmaduke is okay, but that’s like saying breaking a finger is better than breaking a hand. It's painful either way.

Based on the long running, unfunny comic strip, the films follows Marmaduke (voiced by Owen Wilson) as he and his family move from Kansas to California. His owner Phil (Lee Pace) has landed a great job, which forces his family to move, much to their chagrin. While at a doggy park one day, Marmaduke learns what it will take to survive on the west coast thanks to a trio of dogs named Mazie (voiced by Emma Stone), Raisin (voiced by Steve Coogan) and Giuseppe (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who take him in as one of their own. He is told to stay away from Bosco (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland), the alpha dog of the park, but he has an eye for his girlfriend Jezebel (voiced by Fergie) and sets out to prove himself as a leader.

There’s a scene in this movie, one of the earliest in fact, where Marmaduke is in bed with Phil and his wife. He is giving her the good news about his job and they start to romantically kiss. Marmaduke then passes gas, looks directly at the camera and says, “I know it’s juvenile, but it’s all I’ve got.” Never before has a movie so accurately described itself. It has nothing of note but a relentless barrage of jokes that only a child of single digit age could laugh at.

Those jokes not disgusting are simply eye rollers with visual gags that are about as funny as a dog on a surfboard. Oh wait, that’s actually in this movie and the result is as idiotic as you’d imagine. Phil’s new job tasks him with putting doggy product on retail shelves and his plan to promote it is to have a dog surf-off, pitting Marmaduke against Bosco in head to head wave shredding. The CGI that follows takes big old Duke and tosses him into the barrel of the wave where he overcomes his fear, busts through and flies sky high winning him first prize and putting Bosco in his place.

It’s hard to top something as idiotic as that, but this film’s idiocy knows no bounds. Once all the dogs stood up on their hind legs and started dancing on a pseudo Dance Dance Revolution arcade game, I was ready to dance my way out the door. Then when you tack on ridiculous canine phrases like "a new leash on life" and plays on words like "bone-illionaire," it becomes clear the filmmakers have zero ambition for their project.

The very few laughs this picture provides rest solely on Christopher Mintz-Plasse who actually sounds enthusiastic about being in such a lowbrow movie and at least fakes like he cares. He comes across well and, although his voice is easily recognizable, he saved the picture from being terrible.

Of course, being only relatively terrible is hardly a ringing endorsement. I suppose Marmaduke is harmless. It’s brainless and appeals to the lowest common denominator, but there’s nothing truly objectionable here and there will be those who like it. For them, I am happy. As for my experience with it, I was not.

Marmaduke receives 1.5/5