Features
Interviews
Columns
Podcasts
Shopping Guides
Production Blogs
Contests
Message Board
RSS Feed
Contact Us
Archives

 

haystackheader.jpg

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS – Review
SPOILER FREE!!!

cabin-in-the-woods-poster

Walking out of the theater there was anger coursing through the circuitry that connects my brain to my face to my lips. This wasn’t normal anger, but a very complimentary one. “How did I not think of that?!?!” Cabin In The Woods, a monumentally entertaining romp with a concept so simple, so genius, it’s hell-bent to anger any determined screenwriters out there munching popcorn.

Joss Whedon, the man, the myth, the soon-to-be legend, how does he do it? That’s what I wanted to know. All the empirical evidence that I have researched is telling me that exactly three to five inches from Joss’s left armpit resides a dark black hole the diameter of a 2-Liter RC Cola bottle. This hole leads to a place that only a few entertainers in history have ever felt the cool caress of on their talented fingertips. This place, this hole, is where a seemingly endless supply of creativity and knowledge of story and character based entertainment is derived. All of it floats freely, you just need to reach in and grab it. Need to create three shows that lead to pulp culture phenomenon? No prob! Just reach in Joss’s nipple abyss and you’ll be writing in no time flat. Stephen King also has a creativity hole, his is located just below his right thigh (the scarier one.)

If it’s not abundant with clarity yet, I very much enjoyed Drew Goddard’s Cabin. Wait, strike that, reverse it…loved. Why? Well I don’t think I can fully answer such a question without spoiling the large meaty sandwich of awesome that this film is. Also I don’t mean to hold Joss high and downplay Goddard’s role here, as the direction, pacing, acting and production are all very effective. This is quite possibly the type of film that will define it’s own Horror/Comedy genre for a generation, much like Evil Dead 2, Ghostbusters, or Dead Alive. While it might be a bit MORE or LESS gore/scare filled than those I mentioned, the spirit and craftsmanship is there. The tone located in the center of Cabin, especially the last third, reminded me of a young Sam Raimi with a dash of Ivan Reitman for good measure.

What in the heck is it about?”

How should I put this? It’s a packed-tight meta-horror-comedy with a plot that bows its head to, arguably, history’s greatest horror writer. Cabin is most certainly a post modern take on the horror genre of the last 40 or so years, something we have seen more than a few times in the last decade. The difference here is, the execution is excellent. At no point is the movie “bad for bad’s sake” or pumped with cheese and camp in an attempt at homage. It manages to comment on its own genre using parody, but with no parody of then genre’s low points at all. Yeah, it’s hard to explain without spoilers, give me a break.

The tagline for Cabin is:

“You think you know the story. Think again.”

This is really pointing to everything you get from the trailer, which I’m designating as non-spoiler territory. Kids go to a cabin in the woods. Someone is controlling the horrors that befall them. It’s the “hows” and the “whys” that come into play here that make the film great. The cast is solid, especially with the likes of the now legendary character actors Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford leading the way. Their banter anchors the film in it’s comedy-horror roots and was easily my favorite aspect of the whole ordeal.

This film was supposedly shelved for two years, why I can’t imagine, but since it was filmed some of its principal cast have gone on to do bigger projects, most notably Chris “THOR” Hemsworth. They are all perfectly cast in roles that are themselves “meta” yet there is still personality brought through even in the homage. Fran Kranz being a particular stand out as the staple stoner “with a twist!” (M. Night’s favorite character?)

You could say I have trepidations about speaking further on the flick. Discussing this film without spoilers is near impossible. If you are a horror fan, I have a hard time imagining you will regret the very overpriced ticket-sized void in your pocket when walking out of Cabin, and to Joss Whedon’s and Drew Goddard’s credit, neither will casual audience members looking for a good time at the theater.

This is that rare breed of film, like say Hot Fuzz, that reflects on everything that came before but still maintains its own “Ghostbuster-Evil-Deadish” comedy-horror entity in the process. I can’t help but be excited about whatever Drew Goddard is directing next, and of course I’m prepared to be baffled when Whedon blows me away AGAIN this year with Avengers. Whedon, I’m trying to be a screenwriter too, so could I uh, well…let me reach into your nipple abyss…please?
The Three Stooges – Trailer & Movie Review

three_stooges_ver3

Oh man. Where do I begin?

No, I don’t say that AT ALL because it was, as the COMIC BOOK GUY would say, the “WORST MOVIE EVER.” No, I liked it a lot, damn near loved it, and so did the audience I saw it with. I ask “where do I begin?” because I’m tired. Drained, if you will. I am so utterly disgusted and tired of defending comedy, especially in this world of internet criticism. My brain is tied in a knot so complex that I couldn’t induce a seizure even by fast-forwarding Japanese children’s programming.

I’ve covered part of this territory before in my review for Macgruber, but I’m not satisfied with my explanation given there. How do I condense what could easily amount to an 800 page dissertation on the misguided modern day view of how comedy and levity in film is viewed by the public, the web, and critics in general? I don’t, I can’t, I won’t…I have to keep this smaller. This review is not going to be about the defense of comedy in all its forms, that is just too big and better left to a more eloquent writer to defend.

The negative reaction to the first two Stooges trailers was one of the more hateful waves of venom I’ve ever seen spewed on the internet. I just don’t understand why. First, if you are not a fan of the original Three Stooges shorts, stop reading right now. For this particular film, I don’t care about a “non-fan’s” opinion, your stance is moot to me, and honestly you are most likely (but possibly not) part of the group that need to read that 800 page dissertation about comedy. I’m not saying it’s wrong that you aren’t a fan of the source material, nor am I trying to force it on you, just saying that what follows is not for you in the least. Thanks for trying to read this review, but please stop. Thank you and goodbye.

Ok Stooge Fans, now that they are gone please help me to understand WHY you hated those first two trailers so, so, so much. My first question is this:

“Can you get over the fact that it exists, and that people who aren’t the original stooges are playing the stooges?” AND If I tell you that the directors, The Farrelly Brothers, have considered this a dream project and have been trying to get this movie made for almost 10 years, and it is not just a quick Hollywood cash-in, but a beloved and carefully constructed love letter to their comedy heroes does that help sway your answer at all?

If your answer is “no” then I will have to ask you to please also stop reading. If you can’t except the above then you can’t accept the movie. I respect your decision, now go on and enjoy the rest of your day.

We are losing people quicker than Spinal Tap drummers. Alright, so you love the original Stooges, you can accept new actors playing them, and you are aware that the movie isn’t a Hollywood cash-in board-room decision without any passion behind it. Good. NOW. Here are the only feasible reasons I could see you going into this with a negative perspective based on the trailers:

1) It’s not black and white.

2) It’s takes place in modern day instead of when the originals took place.

3) Modern day references that will become dated and seem like a cheap gag and degrade the “timelessness” of the project as a whole. (ala The Jersey Shore cameo.)
I’ll address these one by one, and I am going to act as though I, assumedly like you, have only seen the trailers.

“Why can’t it be in black and white?” - Regardless of The Artist winning best picture, do you honestly think any studio is going to fund a black and white summer comedy? There’s a reason it took 10 years to get this made, and why any movie has troubles getting made…MONEY. Believe it or not, they don’t make these decisions based on how awesome you personally think it would be.

“Why can’t it take place sometime before the 1940s, why do they always have to bring them into the modern world?” – Money. Money. Money. Once again, I’m sure the Farrellys would have loved the option to make a black and white 1930s period Stooge flick, but NO ONE is going to fund that. It’s either this or nothing, you might prefer nothing but THIS exists. Deal.

The Jersey Shore? COME ON!!!” – I agree with you here, upon seeing the first trailer I could have done without this, but once again: MONEY. Jersey Shore and iPhone jokes are going to bring in the kiddies, sad but true.

Now, everything I just blathered about is pure common sense, things you already know and are more than capable of figuring out, so what else is left for you to instantly hate on this movie? I’m a lifelong Three Stooges fan, born and raised at the Nyuk Nyuk University of comedy and I’m also a pretty harsh critic when it comes to things I so dearly love. With the exception of the three obvious complaints I made above all I could see was completely, nigh perfect, impressions of the three great ones themselves. Will Sasso, Sean Hayes, and Chris Diamantopoulos are giving their all at every turn and succeeding.

three-stooges-movie-photojpg-f7ffb266ce60bf70

Not to mention the film itself looks to stay true in both plot and technical production to the originals. As stooge fans you should be aware that the Three Stooges were never high art, or shot and filmed by Federico Fellini…they were broad comedy shorts produced for a broad audience back in their day. So I guess my question to all you venom squirters is…what exactly is your argument for all the hate? It looks 100% accurate sans the obvious changes made due to money and of course the deceased original stooges. Why is this the end of the western civilization as we know it? Why is it somehow MORE AWFUL and MORE OFFENSIVE than the original stooge shorts? Are you absolutely positive that you are even a fan? Please, send all explanations to the comment section.

**********Possible light spoilers ahead**********

The film itself is actually a very accurate and a damn funny 90 minutes. The overall plot is split into 3 shorts that are loosely connected via a main storyline about saving the orphanage the stooges were raised in. A lot of care was taken to actually replicate the same type of physics, editing, side characters, and cinematography of the original shorts. Most things are shot wide and for the most part static to incorporate the three boys doing their stooge thing all in the frame at once, just like the originals.

The physics are “stooge physics” applying to everyone, not just Larry, Moe and Curly themselves. There’s no blood, no reality, and absolutely no permanent effects of violence. An example of this is when Craig Bierko is in a full body cast with a stick of dynamite shoved in the head area, when it explodes, he floats off the bed, smoke shoots out the holes and he sticks his head out with black ash stains all over his face. This isn’t reality. The effect, like this one, was even filmed and executed in such a manner that with the exception of being IN COLOR it felt like it was filmed in 1940. Die hard fans with a keen eye will completely appreciate the filming, editing, physics and FX.

The performances are amazing, not just because the three leads have the look and the voices down, but they are believable as a cohesive comedy trio. The story itself actually is a pretty cliché, on purpose no doubt, but it’s a sweet story with some heart. Larry David as the cantankerous Nun who is often screaming at everyone steals every scene he’s in just for the utter absurdity of…well…Larry David in a Nun costume screaming at kids.

As for the Jersey Shore cameo, yeah I was dreading it like one does. Little did I expect it to be one of the funniest parts in the movie, it’s almost cathartic seeing Moe slap the tan off their skin for 5 minutes. Sure I would probably prefer it not to be in the flick, but I’d be telling a stone-cold lie if I said I wasn’t laughing.

This whole write up has been way too long and rather on the defensive, which I fully admit. I’m also admitting that this movie isn’t for cynical post-modern internet trolls or Stooge Fans who can’t adjust. Sure, it is a valid point to wonder if this whole venture is disrespectful to the original actors and I agree that it totally could have been, and in fact it was a very high probability it was going to be. After seeing the flick, and especially seeing it with such a satisfied crowd of critics, I must say that I felt no disrespect, and in all honesty it’s a rather harmless, sweet movie that is faithful as all living hell. In this guy’s humble opinion I think the Farrelly Brothers accomplished what they set out to do. They made a pretty darn good Stooge flick, still that doesnt mean it will appeal to the “twitter” generation one bit (I guess that’s why the Jersey Shore is shoved in there.)

Thanks for your eyeball time! Bob Rose signing off!

Comments:

2 Responses to “Opinion In A Haystack: CABIN IN THE WOODS & THREE STOOGES Reviews”

  1. Magnus Gronthulon Says:

    Excellent work. I want to make you a pizza.

  2. Chuck Says:

    In answer to your question about “Cabin” being shelved for two years - that was because it was an MGM property tied up in their bankruptcy limbo along with “Red Dawn” and the next Bond film. Lionsgate finally stepped in to take it off the hands.

    As for the Stooges, it’s funny how you keep mentioning the money aspect of the production, because back in the day at Columbia, studio head Harry Cohn forced the Stooges to turn out 40 shorts a year because they were so profitable, and then used those shorts to leverage theaters into playing some of Columbia’s lesser B-movies. If they wanted the Stooges, they had to play something else less desirable as well. Ca-ching! In the movie business, it’s always about the money. And you’re right - the haters need to get over it and give the movie a chance.

Leave a Reply

FRED Entertaiment (RSS)