Tag Archives: ben affleck

Good Will Hunting – Review

10 Jan

To me, Good Will Hunting is an example of an almost perfect movie. Almost every aspect of this piece of work fits wonderfully into place to create a moving, personal, yet funny coming of age story. The cast is excellent and the dialogue is superbly written. There are a few plot devices that keep it from reaching new filmic heights, and that’s very unfortunate concerning the rest of the movie.

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Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a janitor at MIT who is housing a very special talent that is discovered by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård). Will is proficient in all kinds of math and has a vast amount of knowledge on history, literature, and art. Pretty much the whole intellectual package. The problem with Will is that he lacks the motivation to use it, a problem that seems to be deeper than Will originally thought. Lambeau recruits help in the form of  Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), his old college room mate who has had problems getting ahead himself. Together, the two men will dig deeper into Will’s subconscious, guarded better than Helm’s Deep, to find out what is really holding him back.

Saying this movie has a definite point A to point B plot wouldn’t be giving the film any justice. Damon and Ben Affleck have crafted an excellent screenplay that isn’t only about Will’s hidden potential. It’s about Will and everyone else that is affected by Will’s ability. This mainly is a coming of age story, but it’s also a story of how one person can have such an affect on someone’s life, even if they aren’t in it for very long. It’s an age old story that is perfected by Damon, Affleck, and director Gus van Sant.

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When I say that this is an age old story, I really mean that it fits a very specific formula. Right when the movie started, I pretty much knew exactly what was going to happen. I could call how and when the low points were going to happen, and when the solutions to these problems came along, I was not surprised. I’m not trying to say that all movies should be shocking or bring something new to the table, but I think following a dramatic formula to a T should be avoided.

I will say that Good Will Hunting takes this formula and through its exceptional performances and writing makes it something special. This movie set a new standard for how these kinds of movies should be made. What makes a film like Mallrats so special? It’s pretty conventional when it comes to its plot, but its characters and dialogue are what makes the movie great. Good Will Hunting does the same thing. Matt Damon and Robin Williams’ chemistry are excellent and you can forget you’re watching two actors playing a part. Stellan Skarsgård and Minnie Driver also give excellent performances. Casey Affleck may have a small part, but definitely outshines his brother, Ben.

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Good Will Hunting may not be perfect, but it certainly is better than the average drama. The characters and their chemistry burn greatly and their dialogue is whip smart. Thankfully, the movie never gets overdramatic, and there is always some comedy to give us a breath of fresh air after an intense scene. This has become a modern day classic since it was released in 1997, and it has aged very well. If, by some chance, you haven’t seen this movie, definitely give it a watch. It’s inspiring on many different levels.

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Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back – Review

8 Jun

It was going to happen eventually. There was no point in hiding the fact that there was going to be a film all about Jay and Silent Bob. Kevin Smith has always been shocked to hear that the most popular characters he has ever created are the two stoners who hang outside of the QuickStop food mart. Nevertheless, he gave the fans what they wanted when he made Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

It seems that Jay and Silent Bob’s lives can’t get any worse when Dante and Randal finally slap them with a restraining order to stay away from QuickStop. They find refuge at the local comic book store run by Brodie (Jason Lee), who tells them that the Bluntman and Chronic characters are getting their own movie. Jay and Silent Bob are infuriated when they hear this since they never got any money from Miramax for their likenesses. They then decide to head to Hollywood to stop Banky (Jason Lee again) and Holden (Ben Affleck) from making the movie. Complications arise, however, when they get mixed up with jewel thieves and an orangutan, all while being chased by Federal Wildlife Marshall Willenholly (Will Ferrell).

Newcomers to the View Askewniverse, beware! This film is Kevin Smith’s giant inside joke to all of the fans of his previous movies. Many of the jokes are references pulled directly from all of his films from Clerks to Dogma. For the viewers who have seen these films, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is going to be a film that will give you a great amount of entertainment, but is probably Smith’s least strongest in the Askewniverse series.

As a person who is really interested in the world the Kevin Smith has created with his motley of characters, it was really rewarding to be able to see most of them in the same movie together. This is the film that really ties all of the other ones together. It almost added to the humor that Jason Lee plays both Brodie and Banky in the same movie, but it didn’t detract from the movie watching experience since I can easily discern between these two very different characters.

There were more funny and talented people in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back than you can really imagine. George Carlin has a great bit as a naughty hitch hiker willing to do anything for a ride and Chris Rock made me laugh considerably as his overly racist director of the Bluntman and Chronic movie. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill even have cameos in this movie, making this the first movie they appeared in together since Return of the Jedi.

As funny as all of these actors are in this movie, having so many of them in there made it difficult to concentrate on one main plot. The movie starts to become almost a sketch film of sorts with Jay and Silent Bob running into the strangest of people on their cross country trip. I began caring less and less about Bluntman and Chronic and more about what the next silly thing is that’s going to happen next. When the amount of stars and jokes begin to overshadow the plot of the movie, the movie is put in danger of becoming less and less interesting.

I also had a bit of an issue on the way the jokes resorted to something involving farts, sex, or falling over. Sure, it’s great to hear the foul mouthed Jay rant about his thoughts on women and seeing both Jay and Silent Bob get into crazy situations are fun to watch, but it gets a little old after a while. The movie went on for way too long and the witty dialogue that is relevant in most Kevin Smith movies is missing.

If you have seen the other films in the Askewniverse and don’t mind tossing your brain out the door for this often mindless comedy, than this is a movie worth seeing at least once. Jay and Silent Bob are great characters and I liked seeing them in the main role with the leads from the other films taking a back seat. It’s also interesting to see how Smith’s universe ties so intricately together. It’s certainly not Smith’s best movie, but it’s an ok film if you’re a Kevin Smith fan.

Dogma – Review

6 Jun

With Chasing Amy, Kevin Smith proved that he had the capability to write screenplays that are both funny and dramatic, but also very mature and personal. This cinematic tradition continues with his 1999 film that both praises and mocks religion, Dogma.

Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck) are homesick. Problem is, they can’t simply just go home being fallen angels banished to the Wisconsin area by God. When they find out that a sacred archway of a church in New Jersey is their ticket to heaven they vow to use it to get home while seeking out violent retribution on the way. Meanwhile, the angel Metatron (Alan Rickman) is sent to the house of Bethany Sloane (Linda Fiorentino) to task her with stopping these two angels from ever passing through the archway which would consequently destroy the world. She is given help from a few unlikely beings: the forgotten apostle, Rufus (Chris Rock); the muse Serendipity (Salma Hayek); and two “prophets”, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith).

When Dogma first came out, many different Christian communities were up in arms due to the so called “offensive nature” of the movie. Kevin Smith is clearly not mocking religion or faith. He is mocking the fanatics and bigots who shove their religion down the throats of other people or those who are un-accepting of others beliefs. It’s a very personal film for Smith, much like Chasing Amy, because there are times where his own beliefs are made clear, despite what other may think of them.

This film is packed with stars. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have great chemistry as actors, and I would go so far as to say that Affleck gives his most under rated performance of his career. Linda Firorentino and Salma Hayek are just fine as their characters if nothing special. Chris Rock delivered a few chuckles, but came off as a bit too over the top. Alan Rickman owned every scene he was in, but the real scene stealers, in my opinion, once again go to Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. I’m just a sucker for Jay and Silent Bob.

What you will probably notice is that Smith’s graphic crude dialogue is significantly dimmed down for Dogma. This is for the best considering the religious themes that are dealt with. Not only would it be disrespectful, but out of place for a movie like this. This isn’t to say anything is lost in the dialogue. It is still as sharp and witty as ever with lines that will most definitely be quoted. The long monologues are also back, and save for a great one once again delivered by Affleck, they seem to go on for a bit too long sometimes and I found my attention drifting.

Smith also amps up the violence to a surprising level. With Clerks and Mallrats, there were a few scenes of very mild comedic violence, but in Dogma there are some crazy action bits that are highly entertaining. Going into it the first time may be a bit shocking to newer fans of Kevin Smith, but it’s fun as hell and just adds a little unexpected flavor to the film.

To compare this to Chasing Amy and Clerks may be a bit unfair, because they are works of comic genius. On the flip side, I have no problem saying this tops MallratsDogma works not only as a comedy, but also as a part fantasy, part action film. Kevin Smith goes all out on this one and it shows. Die hard Askewniverse fans and casual film goers will have a great time with this movie. I easily recommend it.

Chasing Amy – Review

5 Jun

Up until this point, Kevin Smith only created two films which simply felt with the angst of Generation X and had stories that hardly even existed. Clerks was about some guy’s shift at work and Mallrats was about two friends hanging out in the mall, although there was a sort of “love” story. Chasing Amy on the other hand explores deeper levels of friendship and love in both a comedic and dramatic way.

Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) are two comic book writers who have become famous from their successful series of books, “Bluntman and Chronic.” While at a ComicCon, Holden meets a fellow comic writer, Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) and immediately falls for her. To his disappointment, he soon finds out that the love of his life is in fact a lesbian, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to win her over even at the expense of losing his best friend and business partner.

It would have been easy, as we see with many romantic comedies today, to make a simple minded sex comedy that is packed to the brim with anatomic and scatological humor and silly falls. This one, thankfully, stays far away from that and exceeded my expectations with deep and realistic characters and a personal message that Kevin Smith was trying to get across to his audience. This personal touch was present in Clerks but not so much in Mallrats, which detracted from its value.

After getting critically bashed for going way too over the top with his big budgeted Mallrats, Kevin Smith decided to go back to his low budget roots for Chasing Amy. Instead of going for laughs with physical comedy, the laughs once again come from brilliant dialogue and the characters. Jason Lee steals the comedic show as Banky, and of course Jay and Silent Bob are back again to give Holden some helpful advice.

But make no mistake, this movie is just as dramatic as it is comedic. The themes of loss of personal relationships and romantic goals being so far out of reach are enough to make the hardest of hearts crack if even a little bit. There are powerful monologues given by all of the major roles that are just a great expulsion of weighed down emotions that are so expertly written that I believe someone would actually talk like this. There are parts in this movie where I actually talked to my computer screen in hopes that the characters would hear me (it’s not that weird. we’ve all done it). I would be laughing one second and be angry the next. This kind of emotional play is not an easy task to write, let alone act, so it really shows the talent involved in this film.

The topic of unconventional true love is also explored in Chasing Amy in a way that I’ve never seen done before. I’ve seen movies with gay and lesbian lovers, but never as serious as the ones present here. For some reason, this is a very controversial thing in our present society and it really got me thinking that love is love, and everyone should be able to share in it. It was great to see a film make jokes about this in a very harmless way, and then stand up and defend it in the very same scene.

Chasing Amy is a huge step up from Mallrats and a landmark film in Kevin Smith’s career. This was the film that showed how he had matured and that he was capable of dealing with heavier stories. This is a surprisingly powerful film with top notch performances, dialogue, humor, and emotional value. Out of all of the Kevin Smith films so far reviewed, this is the one I recommend the most. It is truly a fantastic film.

Side Note: Chasing Amy was Quentin Tarantino’s favorite film of 1997. That says a lot I think.

Mallrats – Review

2 Jun

After the surprising success of Clerks, there was really no doubt that Kevin Smith would be back with another audacious film about slackers and the crazy lives that they have. Little did everyone know that he would create a whole universe of interlocking characters that would be seen again and again. His sophomoric outing, Mallrats, gives that audience another perspective of the world he had created: the side of the consumer.

After Brodie (Jason Lee) and his best friend, T.S. (Jeremy London), both get dumped on the same day, they do what any other slacker would do to get their minds off of their worries: go  hang out at the mall. While there they both run into their respective girlfriends and decide that they are happier with them than without them, so with the help of Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) they set out to sabotage a game show featuring T.S.’ ex and exposing the crimes of Brodie’s girlfriend’s love interest, the slime ball Shannon Hamilton (Ben Affleck).

The first thing that you might notice about Mallrats is that it looks absolutely nothing like Clerks. The budget of Mallrats is exorbitantly higher than his first film. Another major difference is that Mallrats is a lot less cynical. There’s a light mood that is always present and the silliness of the random occurrences are turned up a notch to deliver a great farcical comedy about America’s consumers.

There is a lot more physical and overt humor in this film. This is the weakest point of the movie. Seeing Silent Bob crash through a wall is funny the first time, but seeing him fall over again and again is a bit much. The real comedy stems from the characters and dialogue, which is really how I feel about most comedies. Kevin Smith has once again crafted such excellent and relatable characters that they truly feel like real people whom you care for.

The character of Brodie is an absolute riot. He’s callous, rude, and slightly perverted but he is just the hero a Kevin Smith film needs. I probably not would want to hang out with him in real life, but I enjoyed spending an hour and a half with him through the film medium. Do I even need to comment on Jay and Silent Bob? Anyone who knows me knows that they are two of my most favorite characters. The dynamic duo has a much bigger role in this movie and their actions legitimately affect the story.

While watching Mallrats, I felt like I didn’t need to worry about the story (or lack thereof) an just focus on the characters and the environment around them. This is a film to purely enjoy without too much thought. Sure, there can be discussion about the characters and what they were all about, but this isn’t a brain buster nor is the comedy hidden deep within the dialogue.

Anyone can enjoy Mallrats. This really is a very easy movie to laugh at and enjoy. The characters, the atmosphere, the awesome cameo, and the dialogue is puts this film above many other comedies. If you enjoy Kevin Smith films or just comedies in general, then make sure you check out Mallrats.