Author: Schyler Martin

World’s Greatest Dad

Overview: World’s Greatest Dad examines the nature of posthumous celebrity though dark comedy, clever writing, and a fine performance from Robin Williams. Magnolia Pictures; 2009; Rated R; 99 minutes. A Film of Foreshadowing: The film begins with an introduction in the form of a casual voiceover. Viewers are quickly hit with information that will be highly important later in the film. Robin William’s Lance Clayton, our main character, is a failed writer who has settled in as a high school English teacher. His greatest fear is the possibility of dying alone. The first half of the film continues to illustrate Lance’s mediocre life. We meet his son, Kyle, and his girlfriend, an eccentric, flaky woman who insists the two hide their relationship. A Touchy Subject: The film takes a dark turn about 40 minutes in, when Lance discovers his son, dead after an accident involving auto-erotic asphyxiation. In a grief-stricken stupor, Lance stages the body to make it look like a suicide. He even writes Kyle’s suicide note. When the note is leaked, the school becomes obsessed with Kyle and his writing, which of course, is really Lance’s writing the entire time. On paper, this premise isn’t one that works. It is too harsh, too controversial. But it works wonderfully, and there are a few notable reasons as to why. How It Works: Kyle’s character is, simply put, a...

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Dumb and Dumber

Overview: In this Farrelly brothers comedy, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels play two incredibly dimwitted, but lovable best friends on a cross-country adventure. 1994; Rated PG-13; 107 minutes. Just So We’re Clear: Let’s get one thing clear from the start. Dumb and Dumber is as the name suggests: dumb. Right down to an opening credit sequence filled with intentional misspellings and grammatical errors, Dumb and Dumber boasts its ridiculousness. As silly as “Dumb and Dumber” is, it’s also packed with — dare I say — moments of complete genius. Harry and Lloyd: Character introductions are wonderfully done. We meet...

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Life of Pi

  Overview: Life of Pi tells the story of a young man’s struggle for survival after he’s lost at sea with only the company of a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. 20th Century Fox; 2012; Rated PG; 127 minutes. Themes. So Many Themes: Life of Pi begins with a promise: Pi Patel has a story that can make you believe in God. It’s an ambitious claim, but if ever one word perfectly summed up Life of Pi, it would be just that…. ambitious. Director Ang Lee doesn’t shy away from major themes about life, death, religion, acceptance and finding...

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Grizzly Man

Overview: Documentarian Werner Herzog tackles the true story of Timothy Treadwell, a man who lived among grizzly bears in the Alaskan wilderness before being killed by one of the very bears he swore to protect. Lions Gate; 2005; Rated R; 103 minutes. The Story: Herzog tells the story of Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard, who were both killed in a bear attack in 2003, by compiling Treadwell’s personal videos and interviewing family, friends, and wildlife experts. Treadwell recorded extensive footage of his time in the wilderness. Some of the film’s highlights come from captured intimate interactions with...

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It’s a Disaster

Overview: A routine couple’s brunch between friends goes wrong when they learn that the city has been contaminated with deadly nerve gas. Oscilloscope; 2012; Rated R; 88 minutes. Where It Begins: This group of friends probably should have parted ways long ago, but it seems they’ve stuck together out of convenience. They’re keeping with the brunch tradition, despite their own issues. Boy, do they have issues. Hosts Emma (Erinn Hayes) and Pete (Blaise Miller) are secretly planning their divorce. Tracy (Julia Stiles) and Glen (David Cross), a new couple, don’t seem to know or even like each other very...

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Annie Hall

Overview: Woody Allen’s quirky classic follows Alvy Singer and Annie Hall, two seemingly mismatched New Yorkers, as they try to navigate their way through a young relationship. 1977; Rated PG; 93 minutes. The Opening: Annie Hall opens with Alvy Singer delivering a biting monologue on his views of life and relationships. Like much of the film, the scene is misleadingly simple. On the surface, this is just a man in front of a stark background, addressing the audience. When you dig a little deeper, it’s clear that this guy has a lot to say about the world. Singer is a cynical, educated, liberal comedian with eloquence and talent that he doesn’t seem to deserve. He shouldn’t be likable – He’s rude, impatient, selfish, a self-proclaimed “bigot for the left.” – but somehow, and I’m speaking solely toward the character, he’s easy to root for. Throughout the film we see Singer rant and rave, fumble with conversation, and generally self-destruct.  Annie Hall as a Romantic Comedy: Most would call Annie Hall a romantic comedy. There are a number of interesting humorous visual gags and the writing is filled with tongue-in-cheek humor. You’ve probably heard this film quoted, whether you knew it or not. The romance aspect is big, too. The focus of the film is the relationship between Singer and Annie, who is played with layered charm and emotional nuance...

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