Movie Review Weekend: Batman, Kumar, and CharlieAugust 9th, 2008 by Michael Kwan
As I’m sure you already know, The Dark Knight is breaking all sorts of box office records. Even though it is officially a Batman movie, the focus has been placed squarely on the rise and fall of Harvey “Two Face” Dent and the stellar performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker. Strangely, many of the people who are filling the multiplexes to watch the Dark Knight did not watch the Batman movie which preceded it.
In preparation for The Dark Knight, I finally got around to watching Batman Begins. With Christian Bale playing the title role, this was supposed to be a revitalization for the movie franchise. We’ve endured some rather mediocre Batman movies in the 90s, so it was good to see a fresh look with a new actor and a new director. While Batman Begins doesn’t feel quite as epic as The Dark Knight, the dark and brooding atmosphere brings a whole new kind of energy and perspective to Batman Begins. I’m still not completely convinced by Christian Bale (his performance was quite “flat”), but Batman Begins is definitely worth your time. You should watch it before you catch The Dark Knight.
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
I’m no stoner (really, I’m not), but I still had an absolute blast when I watched Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. The premise was pretty stupid, but the antics were absolutely hilarious. Neil Patrick Harris as Neil Patrick Harris was particularly impressive, because he played an over-the-top parody of himself. When I heard about the Harold and Kumar sequel, I couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay does not live up to the original. Doogie Howser’s cameo was completely nonsensical and the gags, like the bottom-less party, felt too contrived, too forced. It’s still a funny movie and it’s great to see a couple of “ethnic” guys (“Look what we have here, fellas. Mexicans!”) playing regular American roles, but if you’re expecting the same level of hilarity as the first Harold and Kumar, you’re going to be disappointed.
On the surface, Charlie Bartlett just looks like another fish out of water story. Some kid doesn’t really belong at his new school and the tale follows his quest to be accepted by his peers. Same old story, right? Well, not exactly. Charlie is a rich kid who finds himself at an “urban” school, and in an effort to make friends, he starts selling prescription drugs to his peers. Because he has access to a psychiatrist and he’s quite the actor, Charlie is able to acquire just about any drug he wants (thanks partly to research through the DSM-IV TR). But it’s not all fun and games. Through experience, conflicts with the principal, and influence from his love interest, the young Bartlett finally comes to terms with who he really is: just a kid. Charlie Bartlett is totally worth two hours of your time.
Filed under Arts and Entertainment.