The Steel Helmet (1951)

Should I see it?

Sam Fuller’s brash look at the Korean War follows the trails of a hard boiled grunt named Zack. Zack is a cold brute who survived a deadly ambush which killed the rest of his squad. Accompanied by a young Korean boy Short Round, Zack makes his way back to his company. He joins forces with other lost American soldiers to fight off Korean troops. The script by Fuller is heavy in attitude and theatrics but is still an interesting watch. Like his later World War II film The Big Red One, Fuller has an obvious respect for war and the front line soldiers but his belligerent tone is distracting. He sets up compelling conflicts but cuts them with obtuse, overly dramatic dialog which keeps the scenes from gaining depth.

If you love war movies, even anti-war movies, this is a solid pick. It is a sturdy film that has a point to make and makes it more than once. It is also an interesting look at soldiering. It retains the dramatics common to the time in which it was made. This said, I enjoyed much of it and as far as war films are concerned, I’ve seen a lot worse.

Related Reviews:
War movies
Saints and Soldiers (2003)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Other Critic’s Reviews:
Movie Mirrors

Finding Neverland (2004)

Should I see it?
I say no.
Everyone else says yes.

Short Review:
A very quiet and pleasant film. That’s the polite way of saying I found it to be painfully boring.

This film has received high praise from other critics and has been nominated for about a hundred awards. I think this may be due to critics being embarrassed that they fell asleep before the second act kicked in. This is not a bad film. It’s actually pretty good, but it is certainly not as great as some have claimed it to be. It is a safe, timid film without much to offer other than the simpleton’s prayer “if you believe in something hard enough, it will happen.” This is an passable movie that is worth a look if it’s in front of you but worth the praise and accolades it has received.

Johnny Depp once again shows that he is a talented and resourceful actor and delivers the goods once again. His portrayal of Sir James Barrie is interesting and likable. He is the only reason to see this film.

Some of you may love this film. Knock yourselves out. I found it to be dry and without much life. I give it a moderate recommendation but only with the understanding that I am a complete crank who doesn’t react well to touchy-feely, sentimental movies like this.

Related Reviews:
Johnny Depp movies
Secret Window (2003)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

Other Critic's Reviews:
L.A. Times (Carina Chocano)

Movie Quote: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

You listen to me. You say you don't want to tell me how to live my life. So what do you think you've been doing? You tell me what rights I've got or haven't got, and what I owe to you for what you've done for me. Let me tell you something. I owe you nothing! If you carried that bag a million miles, you did what you're supposed to do! Because you brought me into this world. And from that day you owed me everything you could ever do for me like I will owe my son if I ever have another. But you don't own me! You can't tell me when or where I'm out of line, or try to get me to live my life according to your rules. You don't even know what I am, Dad, you don't know who I am. You don't know how I feel, what I think. And if I tried to explain it the rest of your life you will never understand. You are 30 years older than I am. You and your whole lousy generation believes the way it was for you is the way it's got to be. And not until your whole generation has lain down and died will the dead weight be off our backs! You understand, you've got to get off my back! Dad... Dad, you're my father. I'm your son. I love you. I always have and I always will. But you think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself as a man.

Flash of Genius (2008)

Should I see it?

It’s not surprising this film didn’t set the box office on fire. A quiet film outlining the patient claims a man has against the Ford Motor Company over the development of the intermittent windshield wiper isn’t a recipe for cinematic gold. This film should have gotten more attention however. For what it is, an underdog story, it is quite good.

Bob Kearns, an engineering professor, created the intermittent windshield wiper. He, along with his business partners, approached Ford with the concept. Ford loved the idea but didn’t much care for Kearns. The company then broke his patient and produced their own version of the device, shutting the man out. Kearns’ life is then sent into disarray as he spends decades trying to get the company to own up to their deceit. At first glance this may seem like yet another anti-corporation film. I am sensitive to agenda laced films and was on the lookout while viewing this movie. This is not an anti-corporation film. In fact, it is strictly pro-business, but only honest business. Ford is the perfect villain here since they represent what is indeed wrong with modern corporate culture. In this time of companies being “too big to fail” (an oligarchic phrase if there ever was one,) the dismissive attitudes of the Ford executives shown in this film have deeper value. Kearns, an inventor, is what America is made of – individuals looking to improve the world and their place in it. This is proudly shown throughout this film.

The film also has a sturdy performance by Greg Kinnear in the lead. He’s a solid actor but he has trouble getting past his game show host face at times. He hits all the right chords but he’s a tad too handsome for the role. In other words, he’s good but he doesn’t disappear into his character so we’re left watching an actor instead of seeing a character.

The biggest flaw to the film is the handling of the expanse of time. The takes place over the span of a couple of decades and much happens in this time. Representing the rather boring machinations of the United States Court System is always problematic. The legal wrangling is usually uninspiring narrative and the length of time it takes to find any resolution or even interest can kill a story. This is what stifles this story. Kearns’ legal battle is important and has the seeds for an inspiring story. It also is weighed down In typical legal nonsense. Screenwriter Philip Railsback wisely avoids much of the legal business until the final act but he fails to fill in the gaps. Kearns has a nervous breakdown at one point. This whole life shattering event, which has an impact on his marriage, health, employment and legal case, is treated as a diversion from his path to justice. It does not afford the situation the gravity it deserves. This sort of whitewashing drains the film of an extra dimension that could have given this movie the depth that would have made it memorable. Instead we’re left with something that’s merely watchable.

Related Reviews:
Greg Kinnear movies
Ghost Town (2008)
The Matador (2005)

Other Critic’s Reviews:
Roger Ebert
Combustible Celluloid

Movie Trailer: Sherman's Way

Appears to be more indie quirkiness centered around a half-man schlub.

This one flavors the quirkiness with some character. That may be enough to pull it out of the crowd of like films. It has a fun sense about it that's attractive.


Screenwriters: Tom Nance
Craig M. Saavedra
Actors: James LeGros (Vantage Point), Enrico Colantoni, Michael Shulman, Lacey Chabert (The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) and M. Emmet Walsh (Raising Arizona)

Movie Trailer: Hot Fuzz

This is a goofy movie but it has the sense to not take itself too seriously. This may seem like a small deal, it isn’t. In a day and age where Quintin Tarantino is considered to be a visionary, it's nice to see some post-modernists who know their disposable culture isn’t critical.

Click on the fuzz to read the full review
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
Screenwriter: Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and Simon Pegg (Run, Fatboy Run)
Director: Edgar Wright
Actors: Simon Pegg (The Good Night), Nick Frost, Bill Nighy (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) and Martin Freeman (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

Movie Trailer: The Usual Suspects

It is hard to believe anyone would be left unsatisfied by this film about a group of criminals handpicked by a legendary crime boss to pull off a job. Sporting one of the great surprise endings ever, this is one of those films that you should see at least once.

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Screenwriters: Christopher MacGuirre (The Way of the Gun)
Bryan Singer (Apt Pupil)
Actors: Kevin Spacey (K-Pax), Gabriel Burne (End of Days), Benicio Del Toro (21 Grams), Stephen Baldwin (Midnight Clear), Kevin Pollak (A Few Good Men), Chazz Palminteri (Yonkers Joe), Pete Postlethwaite (The Omen) and Dan Hedaya (Clueless)

Movie Trailer: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

This is going to go over huge in the Third World.

Make it rain beer and we can talk.

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Screenwriters: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Actors: Anna Faris (The House Bunny), Bill Hader (Tropic Thunder), Bruce Campbell (Army of Darkness), Adam Sanberg (Hot Rod), James Caan (Way of the Gun) and Tracy Morgan (The Longest Yard)

Movie Quote: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)

Wyatt Earp
Look, Holliday, as long as I'm the law here, not one of those cowpokes is going to cross that deadline with a gun. I don't care if his name is Shanghai Pierce.

Dr. John 'Doc' Holliday
Well spoken. I'll repeat those words at your funeral.

Movie Trailer: Sleep Dealer

Attention Mexico, heck, let's throw all of South America in with you - I believe I speak for ALL Americans when I say we have no problem with you being in our country IF YOU DO IT LEGALLY. I do not know of a single person who thinks immigrants of any stripe should be kept from our shores (unlike your country), we just ask you abide by our laws. This constant whining like you're victims because you guys can't keep your own house in order - no sympathy here.

Leave comments below.

Let's take a look at the trailer - other than the ludicrous and agenda-stuffed concept...wait, that's all we get. This would have to be VERY well written to overcome its politics.


Screenwriters: Alex Rivera and David Riker
Alex Rivera
Actors: Leonor Varela (Hell Ride) and Jacob Vargas (Death Race)

21 (2008)

Should I see it?

Film by the numbers. A group of too cool for the room MIT students uses their smarts to con millions out of Vegas. Sounds like an interesting concept for a low impact movie, right? What we get is a very conventional film that fails to impress. The direction by Robert Luketic (Monster-in-Law) is rudimentary in his approach and has created a remarkably bland work. There is never any question which path the story will take. There’s no invention, no surprises just narrative tumblers all falling as expected. It is all very comfortable and ultimately boring. Kevin Spacey fronts the cast and never shakes the feeling that he’s slumming for a buck. He produced this slab of blah, so I’m not sure why he didn’t secure a more adventurous director. Don’t bother with this one, life is too short for boring movies.

Related Reviews: Kevin Spacey movies
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
K-Pax (2001)

Other Critic’s Reviews:
Check the Fein Print

Movie Trailer: Fatal Rescue

Darrell over at SOUTHERN CONSERVATIVE has a funny post about the Steve Guttenberg opus Fatal Rescue. He doesn't review the movie, he hasn't seen it. He doesn't talk about the trailer, again, he hasn't seen it. He reviews about the poster. The poster itself is enough for him to know all he needs to know.

Me? You had me at Guttenberg.

For Darrell, here is the trailer.

My favorite part? Guttenberg's goofy, arms raised above the waist, dash through the woods. That and they're trying to sell the idea that after finding a kid stuck in a mine shaft that there wouldn't be a hundred people working to free the child ASAP.

Screenwriter: Sabine Leipert and Julia Neumann (Yes, its so good they needed two people to write the script!)
Stephen Manuel
Actors: Steven Guttenberg (P.S. Your Cat Is Dead!) and a bunch of people who stand in designated spots and recite scripted dialog.

The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994)

Should I see it?

Alright, the joke’s over. If only this film were as funny as the trailer.

While there are a couple of laughs interspersed here and there (which means it's a thousand times funnier than anything Ben Stiller has ever done) this is a distant relative of the original The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! It is expected that the jokes are forced, that’s part of the humor, but in this case the jokes are crammed in. Instead of the humor stemming from the situations they feel pasted on in this film. Half of the time it would have been less obvious just to have a big “THERE’S A GAG” sign should flash on the screen. This is very broad humor, it’s not about subtlety but the Zuckers/Abrahams team is far too pushy with their jokes this time around – and the jokes just aren’t that good. The entire final act where Frank Drebin breaks into the Oscars to thwart a terrorist attack is poorly conceived and fails from the start. Even in a bad comedy, are we really supposed to believe Pia Zadora is performing at the Oscars? Really?

Even if you loved the first two films, this outing will still disappoint.

Related Reviews:

When Harry Met Sally (1989)
The Fist Foot Way (2006)

Other Critic’s Reviews:
The Fresh Site

The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991)

Should I see it?

If you love physical humor you’re not going to find anything funnier than the first five minutes of this film – at least from anything made in the last twenty years. Even after all of these years, it still slays me.

After peaking with their brand of humor The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, the Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams released this sequel. It's a faded copy of the original. The jokes are a little more forced (amazing that it is even possible) and there is a serious, SERIOUS political agenda being played out. Detective Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) is nearing retirement from Police Squad. His relationship with Jane (Priscilla Presley) has fallen apart and she has moved on. Jane is now paired with the corrupt Quentin Hapsburg (Robert Goulet). Goulet is perfectly cast as the mustache twisting villain/straight man. He deserves a good amount of attention. As a straight man, his reactions are priceless in contrast to Nielsen’s hammy performance. Hapsburg’s big sin is fronting a conspiracy which will lead to environmental destruction. This film was one of the early attempts at the openly political films we’ve come to know today. The political agenda is slathered on pretty thick and the audience is forced to look beyond it to get to the good stuff. If you can stomach the all business men and Republicans are Satan nonsense sprinkled liberally (literally) you will find some very smart jokes. The bomb site in the first act – hilarious.

Note that beyond just an obtuse political agenda, this is just like the rest of the Zucker/Abrahams comedies. It often will be crude. It is not for kids. If you are sensitive to low humor you will want to avoid this film.

Related Reviews:
Best in Show (2000)
Parenthood (1989)

Other Critic’s Reviews:
Spirituality and Practice
Roger Ebert

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)

Should I see it?

We all have our guilty pleasures, this is one of mine. I admit it, I love this film. I can quote it all day long.

So they were able to get him to the hospital in time?

Yes, he's in the intensive care ward at Our Lady of the Worthless Miracle.


Yeah, but going into Ludwig's office without a warrant, you're taking a big chance.

I know. You take a chance getting up in the morning, crossing the street or sticking your face in a fan.


Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50/50 chance of living, though there's only a 10 percent chance of that.

I consider this to be one of the best comedies ever made. The scene between Ricardo Montalban and Leslie Nielsen meeting each other in the office is worth the price of admission alone.

The Zucker Brothers (David and Jerry) along with Jim Abrahams and Pat Proft adapted this film from their failed television show Police Squad. Those of us who remember the original airing of the show remember its penchant for ridiculous sight gags and twisted dialog. This film revels in both. If you are a fan of dumb humor such as puns, sight gags and other farcical jokes, this is your Citizen Kane. The humor is not for everyone. Generally when I hear this film mentioned the reactions are pretty stark. Either people love it or they really, really hate it.

Leslie Nielsen portrays Detective Frank Drebin of Police Squad. Drebin is a bumbling Cousteau-esque goof who’s just a little more belligerent. Nielsen revived his career with this performance and kept him gainfully employed for the next fifteen years making some serious terrible movies. In his film he is perfect. His delivery is praise worthy and in my opinion stands as one of the best comedic performances in the last fifty years. I’m sure there are people who will disagree, but I have a lot of respect for his performance in this movie. It is not easy to deliver the lines he has with a straight face and still be as funny as he is in his role.

As good as Nielsen is, the real star of the movie is the script. It is very well structured. It is obvious they went through the story first and laced in the jokes once they knew what they were doing. This is often the best way to write comedy. Get the mechanics down, then worry about the gags. Without a properly structured story all you have is a string of jokes and usually this isn’t enough to keep a production going.

The best way to gauge if you will like this movie is if you think the Zuckers/Abrahams/Proft movie Airplane! is funny. Me? I love it. Where else can you see something as wonderfully written as this...

Brilliant. If you don't think this is funny I don't know what to say to you.

Related Reviews:
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
An American Carol (2008)

Other Critic’s Reviews:
Roger Ebert

Movie Trailer: Máncora

So some twenty year old goes on a trip to get away from things...and?

Looks like a post-teen angst flick to me.


Screenwriters: Angel Ibarguren and Juan Luis Nugent
Ricardo de Montreuil
Actors: Jason Day, Elsa Pataky (Snakes on a Plane) and Enrique Murciano (Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous)

Movie Quote: Arthur (1981)

Hobson, do you know what the worst thing is about being me?

I should imagine your breath.

Movie Trailer: Merry Gentleman

Have we gotten to the point yet where there have been more hit men in movies than actual hit men who have ever lived?

The trailer doesn't do much to prompt me to want to see the film. Seems like a very conventional look at the people on the outskirts of society, adrift in personal drama, finally making human connections with one another kind of film. Geez, I wonder if they will learn to love?

That said, I could listen to Kelly MacDonald's accent all day, so it has that going for it.


Screenwriter: Ron Lazzeretti
Michael Keaton
Actors: Michael Keaton (White Noise), Kelly MacDonald (No Country for Old Men) and Tom Bastournes

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

Should I see it?

Short Review: Crappy-No-Watchy.

There’s some good bits to be found. Sally Hawkins (Cassandra’s Dream) gives an endearing performance as Poppy, a spunky school teacher. She deserves much of the praise she has found from critics. The film as a whole simply doesn’t work because it is as distracted and unfocused. The heart of the story is in the relationship between Poppy and her acidic driving instructor Scott (Eddie Marsan (The Illusionist)). The pairing gives the film its most enjoyable and meaningful moments. Unfortunately, this interplay is shoved into the background in favor of wandering scenes of Poppy in normal life. This is like listening to someone sing a new song, hit a few perfect chords and then descend into a yodeling mess never recognizing the wonderful potential composition they’ve left behind.

Life is too short for quirky, sloppy messes.

Related Reviews:
Quirky films
About a Boy (2002)
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Other Critic’s Reviews:
The One-Line Review
Ill-Informed Gadfly

Movie Trailer: The Cake Eaters

The plot synopsis posted on IMDb for this film makes it seem like a convoluted, knot of a story.

The trailer just makes it seem like simple story about a slow guy statutory raping a disabled girl.


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Screenwriters: Jayce Bartok
Mary Stuart Masterson
Actors: Aaron Stanford (X-Men: The Last Stand), Bruce Dern (Silent Running), Jayce Bartok (The Station Agent), Elizabeth Ashley (Happiness) and Melissa Leo (Frozen River)

Let the Right Subtitle In

There's an interesting post over at Icons of Fright outlining the difference in subtitles found in the original theatrical release and the new DVD release of Tomas Alfredson's Låt den rätte komma in “Let the Right One In”. In an apparent effort to make the dialog more timid for American audiences much of the film's ironic and dark humor has been removed.

If you are a writer of dialog this is particularly interesting since this is a great example of how small differences can have a huge impact. Dialog is the personality of a film. Changing the words removes the voice of the screenwriter and by extension the film at large.

Original Dialog

Revised Dialog

It is also of interest because this shows clearly how choices made by people completely unrelated to the original production can alter its reception in various parts of the world simply by being in control of translation.

Låt den rätte komma in “Let the Right One In” (2008)

Reviewer: Scott Nehring

Let the Right One In movie posterShould I see it?
Yes - er, strike that - no.

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Written by: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson and Per Ragnar

Rated R for underage nudity, harsh violence and language

Rent or Buy This Movie HereRent Let the Right One In

Swedish director Tomas Alfredson may have created one of the best films of last year and the best horror movie since 28 Days Later. It will be as influential as that genre redefining film as well. This is an atmospheric, creepy masterpiece. Its not often I can watch a film and see a genre shift. To put it simply, if you’re working in the horror genre, you have a new movie you must pay homage to. This praise in place, I cannot recommend it and that pains me to no end.

If I have any rules, any standards at all, there is one that I will simply not bend on: the inclusion of children in a sexual manner. It is not acceptable under any circumstances. In the case of this film the image is literally one second long. Oskar, a distraught, abused teen sparks a friendship with Eli, a strange new girl to the apartment complex. In one brief moment, Eli pubic region is shown when Oskar watches her remove her clothes. It is an unnecessary shot and in my opinion an exploitative one. The actress, Lina Leandersson, was 13-14 years old at the time of shooting – unacceptable. Even though it is a mere second long, it is still there. Like a finding a booger on your finely cooked steak, the fact that it is there spoils the whole effort. This is all a great shame since this film is one of the best I’ve seen a good long time. Alfredson delivers a moody, nihilistic film that is surprisingly touching. The portrayal of Oskar, who has to suffer the abuses of a smirking bully and endless nights of isolation, is fascinating. Fourteen year old Kåre Hedebrant plays Oskar and pulls out more from his role than most actors twice his age. Hedebrandt possibly gives the best performance in cinema last year, his work as Oskar is moving as believable as any performance I’ve seen. This is critical to the success of the production for without being drawn into the story by his plight, the whole narrative would fail to be more than a version of Twilight for smart kids.

Again, I can’t recommend this film because of the nudity. If you can get your hands on a version sans the child porn, you will find a masterful work.

Let the Right One In Movie Trailer

Welcome Facebook Folks: If you read the review and find yourself all huffy and itchin' to comment - PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS below the post BEFORE you drop your own breathless missive. If you're feeling particularly generous, please try to have something new to add as well. The arguments are getting a tad tedious. Thank you - The Management
UPDATE: I reserve, and do exercise the right to reject any comments. I've have been and will continue to dump comments that:

  1. Repeat items mentioned already without adding anything new. Honestly, if you disagree with me good. Bring it on. I can defend my position. But to repeat the same line after its been responded twice already is wasting time.

  2. Go on for six pages. If you can't make your point in a few paragraphs then don't bother. I don't have the time to read comments that go on forever and don't feel compelled to force them upon my readers. C'mon, does it take twenty paragraphs to say "Scott, you've made a moral distinction and I don't like it"?

If I accepted every comment I've gotten from Facebook folks, the comment section would be twice as long as it is and be half full with some pretty lame stuff. This isn't a forum page, you don't have the right to have every thought of yours posted here. If you make a good point, I'm more than happy to publish your comment and respond to it - even if it blasts me. Look below, I don't have a problem with that. So, if I reject your comment, it doesn't mean I'm "scared of you", it means you either copied someone else or prattled on and didn't make any sense.

Understand, when I publish a negative comment, I feel compelled to respond to it. Responding takes time and I'm a busy guy. I'm more than happy to discuss my opinions, I'm happy to trade jabs, but I'm not wasting my time repeating myself because you're too lazy to read the previous comments or too dull to say something worth responding to.

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

Scott Nehring Christian Movie Reviews

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