Movie Reviews (3 in 1 Post): Waiting for Superman, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, and Red (Retired. Extremely Dangerous)

Waiting for “Superman”- Documentarian Steve Guggenheim undeservedly won the academy award for his contrite, emotionless, and fictional take on the topic of global warming in 2006. The film has been proven wrong on so many levels and was drastically simplistic by just filming a lecture from Al Gore, a slanted individual who lacks expertise in science, and brought down Guggenheim as a quality filmmaker. Luckily his new film, Waiting for “Superman,” balances fact and emotion focusing on drastic faults of the public education system by allowing us to follow multiple individuals in different demographics and states to see if they make it into a charter school of their choice. The goal in sight is that better performing school will ultimately give those individuals a better education and, hopefully, a better future. This time the facts are mostly correct, especially in regards to the bullying and stagnant nature of the teacher’s unions, and our emotions are tapped into with many innocent and idealistic children wanting a quality education. While the film could be described as a propaganda film for charter schools due to the fact that it only focuses on charter schools as a valid solution, it is a film that balances fact and emotion by focusing on the real conditions of felt individuals. The film is definitely a step in the right direction to bringing attention that schools that fail our children will ultimately fail our society. But God forbid that we mention school choice or vouchers, right?

Grade: B

It’s Kind of a Funny Story– The title of this generic indie dramedy practically says it all that the story that follows is only slightly funny and yet slightly sentimental. Dually directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, It’s Kind of a Funny Story partially amuses its audience with the expected off beat humor of an indie film about depressives and the psychologically unfit but ultimately lacks the inventiveness to bring it to a level of memorable ingenuity. Of course, the presence of Zack Galifinakis will bring a greater flow of people to the theater to see this self-aggrandizing film that comes off as congratulating itself as a better film than it actually is. Full of expected plot turns, familiar characters, and an overall witless yet joyous atmosphere, It’s Kind of a Funny Story will please most audiences due to a humorous contemplation on the disillusioned futility of life. However, the film overall just feels manufactured to a particular expectation of the indie “feel” as it follows the semi-troubled life of Craig, a weak and partly suicidal confused teen as he checks himself into the adult psychiatric ward of a hospital. Looking back on Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s previous films, Half-Nelson and Sugar, it’s clear that It’s Kind of a Funny Story is their weakest, yet most light-hearted film, to date.

Grade: C+

Red (Retired. Extremely Dangerous)- When comparing the successful adaptations of graphic novels and comic books to the weaker versions there is usually a strict adherence to the original’s content and themes. This would explain why Wanted was so horrifically inaccurate along with being an abhorrent film, while Sin City was stylistically innovative due to its dedication to the visual style and themes of its sources content. The latest graphic novel adaptation is Red, which means “Retired, Extremely Dangerous” and refers to the ex-CIA operatives and death merchants that were used to overthrow governments and assassinate undesirables for the United States. Featuring a top of the line cast, including Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren, Red is unfortunately a drawn out and flat adaptation of an alright graphic novel series. Because the original content wasn’t particularly engaging it was an inevitable outcome that the film version wouldn’t stand up to previous graphic novel adaptations including Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Frank Miller’s Sin City. Although to be quite honest there is truly nothing more enjoyable than seeing the elegant and talented Helen Mirren drilling bullets into cars and people while standing behind a large automatic machine-gun. This is just an example of how the film has some decent moments but never truly utilizes its talented cast or its plot’s potential. Ultimately Red is just another flat and cumbersome action film of the modern day.

Grade: C

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