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Weekend Rundown: Million Dollar Arm, Fed Up, God’s Pocket Reviews


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Reviews for Million Dollar Arm, Fed Up, and God’s Pocket

Million Dollar Arm

I won’t lie, I’m a sucker for a good sports movie. It doesn’t even have to be that good, just make it entertaining, stack the odds against the home team, add a Rocky-style training montage, and (more likely than not) let them persevere and succeed. (Last second shot anyone?) As long as it’s fun and it’s well-made, I’m game. It’s probably the most formulaic genre, but that doesn’t stop Hollywood from cranking them out and it definitely doesn’t stop moviegoers from lining up.

I was hoping Disney’s latest sports flick, Million Dollar Arm would supersede the genre and stand on it’s own as a solid movie, period. It’s fun, but it doesn’t quite do that. It’s based on the true story of JB (Jon Hamm), a struggling sports agent that is looking to recruit an Indian cricket player and transform him into a Major League Baseball pitcher. It unfolds exactly as you expect it to the entire way, and doesn’t have any tricks up it’s sleeve.

The first half of the movie takes place in India and director Craig Gillespie doesn’t capture the spirit of the country like Danny Boyle did in Slumdog Millionaire. Gillespie’s direction is lacking in general and the camerawork leaves much to be desired. The music is all over the place with a mix of Indian music, hip-hop, and overwrought sentimental string-pullers during the emotional (sappy crappy) scenes.

Hamm is bland; JB lacks nuance and the character is too black and white. The movie doesn’t portray how he changes, it just happens instantly without any real process. Bill Paxton does what he can with his role, but Alan Arkin falls into cliché territory. Luckily, the potential Million Dollar Arm winners (Madhur Mittal and Suraj Sharma) fair better. Pitobash steals most of his scenes and is hilarious as JB’s assistant. The boys are so naive and likeable that you want them to succeed despite the all too convenient trappings of the story. The second half of the movie brings the boys to the States and functions as a fish out of water comedy. It leads to some easy laughs, but the conflicts can be spotted a mile away by everybody but JB.

As expected, the movie’s completely Disneyfied. The general movie-going public probably won’t mind though, and the masses are going to eat it up. For a sports movie it’s enjoyable, and it’s a good movie to take the family to, but Million Dollar Arm had the potential to be more than it is, and overall, it left me underwhelmed. I rate this film 3 out of 5 Nerdskulls

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Fed Up

Fed up is a documentary that everybody should be required to watch – obese or not. Some folks are overweight because they have poor eating habits and make bad choices. Others are predispositioned to gain weight. A lot of people work very hard to lose pounds and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but do so in vain because of what’s in the food they’re eating. A lot of people are skinny on the outside, but fat on the inside; a slim physique doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthy lifestyle.

Fed Up is a scathing indictment of America’s food industry and it arrives at a time when we are in a state of crisis. Things need to change and the situation is more crucial than then the government would lead you to believe. Why? Because they’re a major part of the problem. Big corporations are more concerned with the bottom line than the actual bottom’s of human beings. It’s a damn shame that children are born into this world already predisposed to bad habits and unhealthy living. Companies target them during Saturday morning cartoons and the never-ending adverts and billboards push brand loyalty and hook ’em while their young. When’s the last time you saw a commercial or a billboard for fruits and vegetables? It rarely happens.

80% of schools have contracts with Coca-Cola (the modern day cigarette) and are stocked with unhealthy slop.  They don’t provide decent food options for their students.  This isn’t a new problem; I graduated from high school 14 years ago where nearly everyday I ate 2 slices of Little Caesar’s pizza, 3 bags of chips, and a stack of cookies.  I’m not saying I would’ve eaten healthy if there were fruits and vegetables to choose from, but I didn’t even have that option!  How will people get healthy if they aren’t given the know-how and the opportunity to?

Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes, but now lots of preteens have it so they changed the name. If you give a damn at all about yourself or your children, Fed Up is required viewing. We as a human race are supposed to be evolving, not devolving. If we keep this up, everybody’s going to look like the roly polys in the movie Wall-E and life expectancy is going to drop with the quickness. It already is… The sugar epidemic is real and it’s a motherfucker.

Fed Up isn’t a super fun watch. Facing the truth never is though. Producer Laurie David (An Inconvenient Truth) and director Stephanie Soechtig have given us something better; the cinematic equivalent of a carrot. I hope people will check it out, I fear that the only folks that will watch it are those that are already health-conscience and others will keep living in denial and eating shit until they die an early death. Don’t be a statistic!  Watch and learn, share with the people you love, and spread the word about a documentary that seeks to do more than entertain. It’s informational and educational, and hopefully it inspires the necessary changes to get people eating right and change our culture.  4 out of 5 Nerdskulls

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God's Pocket

The most notable thing about God’s Pocket is that it’s one of the last roles of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman. To see him on screen again is a treat- at first. As the movie proceeds, it becomes apparent that the film is an uninspiring sendoff and Hoffman seems to be moving at half speed. He doesn’t appear to be having fun or embracing the character like he normally does. It doesn’t help that the movie is a drag. It tries to find a balance between drama and dark comedy, and doesn’t find the right tone.

Hoffman plays Mickey, a loser in a town full of them, who’s trying to figure out what really happened when his jerk of a stepson died in an ‘accident’. Christina Hendricks plays his wife, who is certain there was foul play at hand. The movie plods along, never building any real suspense or drama.  Most of the characters are unlikeable and there’s nobody to root for. John Turturro makes the most of his role, but Richard Jenkins and Hendricks are insufferable. The movie is bookended with cheesy music and bland voiceover narration that feels like it’s out of a TV movie. It’s obvious that this is John Slattery’s (Roger Sterling on Mad Men) first time in the director’s chair.

God’s Pocket is full of crumbs and the movie treats it’s characters like such- with disdain. For a better portrait of a blue-collar neighborhood and the dirt that goes on there, check out Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone or season 2 of The Wire. Both are more authentic and have a sense of purpose. This is not the way I choose to remember PSH.  2 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

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Godzilla is also in wide release, but I haven’t had the opportunity to see it yet.

These movies are currently playing in Houston:

Million Dollar Arm– wide release

Fed UpSundance Cinemas and AMC Studio 30

God’s Pocket- Sundance Cinemas

These movies are also showing in Houston.  Click on the film titles to read my reviews.

Fading GigoloLandmark River Oaks and AMC Studio 30

LockeLandmark River Oaks

The Other WomanAlamo Drafthouse Vintage Park and Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park and AMC Studio 30

Brick MansionsAMC Studio 30

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Salty Winters once said, "Everything I learned I learned from the movies." He was quoting Audrey Hepburn.