Short Reviews: Insidious, Jumping the Broom, Your Highness

Insidious | James Wan, 2011

Horror is my least favorite genre of movies. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like them, but there are a few of them, especially now a days that satisfy my requirements. These are pretty much that it has to be high on scares, but low on violence and blood. I can stand a bit, but not too much. And once upon a time, scary movies actually relied on atmosphere and story to incite fear into the audience. But this is no more. Insidious is kind of a throwback to those movies, but with modern sensibilities. But although it is the most effective horror movie I’ve seen in years, it’s just not a very good movie.

First the good: Like I said, it is the most effective horror that I have personally seen in a while. There are some really scary moments that worked perfectly within the context of the story. And Rose Byrne, who is the victim of most of these moments, sells them really well.

The main problem, however, is that the story is just kind of bland and we are supposed to accept that things are happening just because. We are thrown into the middle of the life of this family and then things just start happening. There just wasn’t enough time to care about these characters. Add to that the last third of the movie. I get that this part may be some sort of homage to Poltergeist, but it just wasn’t nearly as effective as the climax of that movie. This mostly has to do with the fact that the already ugly aesthetic becomes uglier and, well, the events here are ridiculous and not scary when compared to what happened in the first two thirds. This part ends up being like an episode of Goosebumps, and drove my enjoyment of the movie down a bit.

Still, I appreciate this movie for its effectiveness, and for being an example that you can get pretty far with a budget of less than one million dollars.

Jumping the Broom | Salim Akil, 2011

Looking at the state of cinema aimed at minorities makes me sad. Just look at the winner for Best Picture at the NAACP Image Awards. With the exception of 2009 (when Precious won), the category has been dominated by Tyler Perry, the great businessman, but terrible filmmaker. So, watching something that is not filed with borderline offensive stereotypes, terrible writing, and extremely melodramatic situations, even if at its core it is flawed, can be extremely refreshing. Jumping the Broom is this kind of movie

Now, it’s not a great movie as it falls victim to the baggage that is brought by just about every wedding movie. There are too many subplots going on, some of them that are completely unnecessary, and it does veer into melodrama towards the end. But I enjoyed the whole thing as a whole.

I enjoyed seeing a movie about ethnic characters that does serve as a study of the socioeconomic struggles of the race of the characters. It’s a light and fluffy film, with a somewhat wholesome message, with some good performances. If anything, this shows how many talented African-American actors that deserve leads in big movies. Take Angela Basset as an example. In my opinion, she is one of the finest actresses we have, but she just doesn’t get roles good enough to showcase her talents. She does have a chance here, and she knocks it out of the park.

Jumping the Broom won’t change your life, but it is fun for a lazy afternoon.

Your Highness | David Gordon Green, 2011

Before Pineapple Express, David Gordon Green made some of the most talked-about independent movies of the last decade. When he signed on to do Pineapple Express people didn’t mind it because he probably wanted to know what it feels like to have a budget and make a movie that would make more money than his previous movies combined. But for me, that movie wasn’t that impressive, and could have been directed by anyone with a bit of ambition. To everyone’s surprise, he didn’t follow that up with another independent film, but another gross-out, drug comedy, but set in medieval times and starring Danny McBride. Earlier this year it got critically panned and flopped at the box office, but it really isn’t that bad, although it certainly is a waste of Green’s talents.

The reason why I enjoyed it because it doesn’t take its self seriously. The writers, the actors, and everyone know that it is a silly movie and they are just there to get an easy paycheck.  All in all, it is just an expensive gave of Dungeons and Dragons with a bunch of potty mouthed and sex crazed teenagers playing it.

I will say that it does have more of a directorial identity than Pineapple Express, but I still wonder what the man who directed All the Real Girls and Snow Angels is doing with his career. He could have made a big budget drama, but he made this?

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