Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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How to Be Single (2016)

It’s actually quite simple: Just do it.

After four years of college, Alice (Dakota Johnson) decides she needs a break from her long-term boyfriend Josh (Nicholas Braun). Though she’s not too sure if she wants to do this, she still knows that she wants to live a life of her own, for now, and see, at a later date, if being single is what she really wants. Still, she’s very excited about this new freedom she’s found in her life and starts up a friendship with her co-worker Robin (Rebel Wilson), the kind of gal who loves a good time, to party a whole lot, sleep around, and just generally be as reckless as can be. Now, through Robin, Alice an meet new guys and have a whole bunch of new experiences, that may or may not include sexual relations with other men. Meanwhile, Lucy (Alison Brie) is looking for that special someone in her life, even if it seems all too clear that the bartender she constantly sees (Anders Holm), may be the perfect man for her. Also, Meg (Leslie Mann) finally decides, after many years, that she wants to have a baby and goes through with the procedure. However, at the same time, she meets and starts to fall for Alice’s co-worker (Jake Lacy) and doesn’t know if she wants to settle down and tell him about the situation, or just pull away altogether.

Drinking....

Drinking….

There’s a lot about How to Be Single that doesn’t work and there’s a lot about it that does. What the movie wants to do is not get on these women’s cases for having sex, going from man-to-man, doing their own thing, and not really needing a man to tie her down. Still though, the movie doesn’t try to say that any women who may want a man, or to get married are “bad” or “stupid” – after all, it’s just a fact of life that some people live and others don’t.

At the same time, though, How to Be Single also wants to talk out on these female character’s ways for having so much sex with so many random people that it gets mixed up in judging them. This is something I didn’t expect to see, but was still surprised by, because the movie does have some interesting anecdotes to bring up about women’s lives that you don’t too often see in mainstream rom-coms of this nature. Normally, the characters will be judged and held on some mantle as if the audience is supposed to learn from their mistakes, but here, in How to Be Single that thankfully doesn’t happen.

But there’s a odd unevenness about this whole movie that never fully gels well together.

For one, there’s at least one or two stories going on here that probably don’t need to exist at all, but are still around, if only because they feature talented, somewhat famous actors in the scenes, so rather than tossing them out and wasting them, they’re used and put in the film anyway. Alison Brie is charming and likable in just about everything she does, but here, if you were to take her character away, the movie would not change one bit. There’s a core group in the film that holds down the center, which Brie’s character hardly even brushes by and is instead, left to sit at the bar and only have interactions with Anders Holm’s character. Granted, there’s no problem with this because it’s always nice to see him in something, but still, it can occasionally feel like unnecessary filler.

Same goes for Leslie Mann’s character who, even despite being related to Dakota Johnson’s, still feels like she’s got a whole story of her own, going on elsewhere and not really connecting to the main-frame of the story. But then again, like is the case with Brie and Holm, Mann and Jake Lacy are both lovely presences, so the more scenes with them, the better honestly. That’s why it’s hard to get on this movie’s case for having so much talent around and deciding to use them all, as superfluous as their screen-time and involvement can sometimes be.

And this is all to say that they help How to Be Single be better than you’d expect.

More drinking...

More drinking…

Rather than making this cloying, in-your-face rom-com about how great it feels to be in love with someone, it’s actually more about these certain character’s lives, their ventures into romance, and just where they head to when they make a decision. The movie is nowhere near as insightful as it likes to think it is, but it’s at least trying and with the cast it has involved, that’s fine enough. Nobody here has to light the world on fire, but instead, just be ready to deliver the material as best as they can.

In fact, if there’s any weak spots in the film, it’s specifically through the main protagonists of the movie: Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson. Both are supposed to be our main center-points of the movie, and while Wilson is mostly around for strictly comedy, it gets a bit tiring to see her do the same thing, over and over again, without hardly a laugh or shed of humanity to be found. Johnson’s character is slightly more interesting, but the movie constantly betrays her with the random, sometimes idiotic decisions she make, that it can get pretty frustrating. Johnson is good and clearly seems to be enjoying her time with the camera in front of her face, but really, you’ll just wish she had better material to shed out more. We know that it’s within her, we’re just waiting to see when that time will eventually come around.

Hopefully not in Fifty Shades Darker.

Consensus: Given the cast involved, How to Be Single works as an entertaining, occasionally dramatic rom-com that doesn’t know what it wants to say, but like the people it’s working with enough to just let them do their things and be charming.

5 / 10

The true life of a hard-partying single girl.

The true life of a hard-partying single girl.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Aceshowbiz

Zoolander 2 (2016)

Male models are still funny, I guess?

After the death of his wife, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller)’s life basically imploded. First of all, The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too actually collapses due to faulty construction. Then, he loses his son to Child Protective Services. And his best friend and closest confidante, Hansel (Owen Wilson), gets disfigured and is forced to leave the spotlight, never to be heard from again. All of this culminates Derek in leaving the rest of the world himself, venturing out to the far North where nothing, or nobody, can bother him. That’s until Billy Zane (Billy Zane) comes into the picture and warns Derek that known celebrities are not only being mysteriously killed, but reenacting one of Derek’s most famous looks before doing so. This leads Derek back to finding Hansel and figuring out just what this is all about. Eventually, with the help of former swimsuit model, now turned Interpol agent, Valentina (Penélope Cruz), Hansel and Derek find out that the one going after them and killing all of these celebrities just so happens to be their arch-nemesis Mugatu (Will Ferrell) who, despite being locked-up for all of these years, still holds a grudge and wants to take over the fashion world, once again.

See! Tiny cellphone joke! A! HA!

See! Tiny cellphone joke! A! HA!

Zoolander isn’t a classic by any means, but it’s still a very funny movie. It’s stood the odd test of time as some sort of “cult classic” that may not be as smart as it thinks, but in by doing so, somehow was actually smart. I don’t know. It’s the kind of movie that I’ve seen so much now, whether through TV re-runs or with my buddies that, by now, the movie’s been so imprinted into my mind that I know almost every line of dialogue and I still find it funny.

This is everything that Zoolander 2 is not and it could have been so much more.

But it didn’t really have to try at all and that’s one of the biggest surprises about Zoolander 2. Even with the likes of the original crew back and ready for action, there seems to be something missing in that Zoolander 2 is just the same joke, over and over again, but this time, there’s nothing funny about the joke. The first movie at least made the joke about how models are dumb and went far and wide with it, but here, we’re supposed to take that joke and think that’s just about it, with a slew of cameos thrown in for good measure.

In a way, too, it’s almost as there are so many cameos from totally random people celebrities here, that it’s almost as if Ben Stiller himself knew that he was working with bad material and thought the best way to hide behind that fact was to have people like Sting, or Neil deGrasse Tyson, or even Justin Bieber show up for extended cameos to distract everybody from the real problems with the script. But that’s the issue, the cameos aren’t funny, the script blows and the same joke, being hit over our heads, over and over again, goes nowhere and doesn’t seem to really land, even if the story is basically about this whole conspiracy involving male models.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t some laughs to be found, but really, they are few and far between, which mostly has to do with the tone.

The first Zoolander kind of existed in this ridiculous world where people acted-out in strange, over-the-top ways but this second movie only seems to flirt with that world. Instead now, the jokes are a bit more mean-spirited and most of all, just call-backs. I get that  tiny cellphone in the original movie was funny for its time, to have it now be 2016 and have not one, not two, but three jokes about said tiny cellphone is just overkill. There’s so many other callbacks that continue on in this movie, almost everyone failing harder than the one before it and just makes me wonder why Stiller was so off-point here?

The future of the Zoolander franchise that will never work out. Thank heavens for that.

The future of the Zoolander franchise that will never work out. Poor guy.

Clearly he has a sort of love and adoration for these characters, knows that there’s a huge audience out there for this product, and typically, doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to take on a whole project on his own and just go through the motions. Say what you will about some of his choices, but mostly, Stiller has been smart with the movies he’s decided to write and direct, all of which being more ambitious and surprising than the last. That’s why Zoolander 2 not only finds himself back in his comfort-zone, not just as a director, but as actor, but also reminds us why some Ben Stiller movies can be so grating to watch.

We know that there’s more to him than this, but why is he putting this out? Was it for the money? Or was it just because he wanted to get the crew back together, one last time for the hell of it?

Regardless of what the reason was, he’s not the only one who gets caught up here, showing that they have better stuff to do. Owen Wilson tries as Hansel, but with the exception of orgy jokes, there’s nothing else holding him together; Kristen Wiig’s character is supposed to be the head fashion designer who can’t walk, talk or emote right because of all the surgery she’s had and while it can be funny at first, it goes on way too long; Will Ferrell shows up late in the game as Mugatu and seems like he wants to do more, but only has a certain amount of time to be funny and it’s not much; Penelope Cruz tries to bring more to her standard agent role and she shows some personality, but it doesn’t go far enough; and yeah, the cameos. There’s so many here, most of which are surprising, but really don’t pan-out to being much else but just cameos and that’s it.

They’re not hiding the fact that Zoolander 2 stinks, even as hard as they may try.

Consensus: Even despite the original not being a great movie, Zoolander 2 still is no excuse for the likes of Stiller, Wilson, Ferrell, Wiig, Cruz, and everybody else to be wasting their time with such lame material as this that has nothing else to say other than just to say, “models are stupid”.

3 / 10

Todd makes any movie better. So why wasn't this his?!?!

Todd makes any movie better. So why wasn’t this his?!?!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Deadpool (2016)

Take this in your pipe and smoke it, Batman. Or any other superhero.

After a surgery to cure his cancer botches, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is left brutally burned, chewed-up, left for dead and downright ugly. However, what the person who did all of this to Wade didn’t take into consideration was that he’d live to see another day and most importantly, his girlfriend Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin) and now not only wants to get his life back in order, but also wants revenge on the son-of-a-bitch who basically ruined his life. That’s why it’s Wade’s sole mission to track down and find Francis (Ed Skrein), the evil doctor who also has a sidekick of his own, Angel Dust (Gina Carano), someone who can kick ass, take names and chew toothpicks as if she’s Sly Stallone. But now that Wade realizes that he’ll almost never, ever come close to dying, he can now use his skills and talents for the greater good of society, or just to kill a whole bunch of bad people that want him and his girlfriend dead and not really worry about anyone, or anything else that may be in any particular danger.

The couple from hell. And all of a sudden, I really want to pay that place a visit.

The couple from hell. And all of a sudden, I really want to pay that place a visit.

Finally, after so very long, a Deadpool movie has come around and released for the whole world to see and, well, believe it or not, it’s actually pretty amazing. Though, to be honest, I didn’t know much about Deadpool to begin with, other than that he was supposed to be really funny and cool, like he sort of was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but that was about it. So yeah, I’ll admit that the fanboy train for this didn’t really connect with me, until I eventually realized what it was: The superhero movie to end all superhero movies.

What Deadpool, the character as well as the movie, sets out to do is take the overly-familiar and, dare I say it, sometimes boring superhero genre that’s all too popular and conventional by now, and not just flip it on its side, but slap its ass, spit on its face, twists its arm, flip the bird at it, and end all of this pain on a lovely little one-liner for good measure. It’s basically the kind of superhero movie that Guardians of the Galaxy was, but instead of working within the confines of being a weird, but also appropriate superhero movie for all people of all ages, Deadpool clearly doesn’t give a flyin’ hoot about any of that, or anything. All it wants to do is tell its story, while also remind you just about every single second that you are indeed watching a movie, where really good-looking, talented actors are acting, everyone is getting paid (except for you), and it’s not exactly equipped with the biggest budget, so there’s obviously going to be less stars and big-names here and instead, just the cast it was able to fit in.

And you know what? I loved almost every second of what it was doing.

Not only is Deadpool funny in an incredibly subversive, overly meta way, but it also doesn’t forget about what makes itself a good movie in the first place. Sure, poking fun at the constructions of a superhero movie, as well as a movie in general is fine and all, but if you’re not giving me a good story in the meantime, then forget about all of your jokes. However, Deadpool, once again, the character, as well as the movie, wants to have its cake, eat it, and still have room for seconds, and it surprisingly works. While Deadpool himself will take time out of the movie to turn towards the camera, address the audience and tell everybody that “this is where the backstory begins”, what he’s also doing is introducing us to a solid, well-told story that, wouldn’t you know it, you get interested and compelled by.

Though Deadpool isn’t really working with any groundbreaking material in terms of its story, it’s a more jaded-version of Frankenstein, the movie still gives it its all and allows us to not just feel something for the characters involved, but the central love story that’s supposed to allow for this movie live and breathe. While it would have been easy to have the film be all about Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin, two very good-looking people, meet cute, have sex, fall in love and leave it at that without any further questions asked, the movie takes it one step further and actually shows how screwed-up and weird they are respectively, that when they come together, it’s like peanut butter and jelly.

Of course that peanut butter and jelly was probably left out in the open far too long, with flies on top of it and mold growing on it, but hey, you can still make a sandwich with it and sometimes, the sandwich is all you need.

Be nice to T.J. Miller! He's got a new season of Silicon Valley to film!

Be nice to T.J. Miller! He’s got a new season of Silicon Valley to film!

It doesn’t matter the quality of the ingredients, but as long as you have it and you can see it as a sandwich, then yeah, it’s fine.

That’s why Deadpool, deep down inside, as we’re told, is really a “love” story. It’s not trying to make any profound statement about the human heart, but rather, just giving us a believable romance between two people who not only have great chemistry, but really do feel like they could be together in a universe as weird and twisted as this. Baccarin is given a strong female character that goes beyond being the damsel in distress, can think and take care of herself, whereas Reynolds, as Deadpool/Wade Wilson is, well, perfection.

Sure, it was the role he was born to play, but it’s so much more than that. So often, whenever we see Reynolds show up in a movie, he’s depended on as being the wise-cracking, quick-witted comic-relief, and that’s about it. We’ve seen certain shadings of just what he can do as an actor before, but never to the furthest extent to where we’ve been like, “Wow. That Ryan Reynolds can sure as hell act.” He’s been good in movies before, but with Deadpool he gets to do so much and it’s just a pleasure to see him having the greatest time of his life. He’s not just a funny guy, but a smart one who we’re able to get behind, even when he does some reprehensible things throughout.

But yeah, he’s not the only one that Deadpool is all about, as there’s plenty more characters to shake a stick at and, believe it or not, they’re all pretty fun to be around that I wish I got more of them. T.J. Miller is, as the opening credits show, “the comedic-relief” and every scene he has, isn’t just funny, but really weird and off-kilter, just as the movie asks for; Ed Skrein, despite not being all that much to write home about in the Transporter reboot, is mean and unlikable as Francis, the villain, and it’s everything he needed to be; same goes for Gina Carano’s Angel Dust who is bad-ass; Stefan Kapičić as Colossus has more personality to him than you’d expect, even though he does always go on about being a “hero”; and Brianna Hildebrand, as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, is basically just another mopey, soft-spoken millennial, but she’s fun about it and seems to have a nice rapport with Deadpool, which makes her worth caring about.

But really, it’s all about Deadpool and why shouldn’t it be? He’s finally getting his own movie and it’s a pretty great one at that, so good for him and everybody else!

Consensus: A very hard R, but with good reason, Deadpool isn’t just hilariously subversive, but also features a solid superhero origin tale that we can get behind, even when it seems more concerned with commenting on movies and actors and all of that fun meta stuff.

8.5 / 10

Hopefully that's news of a sequel, but probably not!

Hopefully that’s news of a sequel, but probably not.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Roger & Me (1989)

Won’t be stopping by Flint any time soon. Or anywhere in Detroit, for that matter.

In the late 80’s corporate America is taking over and beginning to start a crack down of sorts on industrial inefficiencies. Meaning that some of the first casualties is the American factory worker, who live and breathe off of these factory jobs. Most importantly though, Flint, Michigan, where its residents would literally go to work at General Motors, build cars, bring home a paycheck and spend their earnings on food, rent and all the other expenses that people use in everyday life. However, it all began to change when General Motors decided that they could get more parts, and for cheaper labor, in other parts of the world like Mexico, which meant that they took themselves out of America and decided that it was time to close the factories down. This means that a lot of people lost their jobs, as well as their houses, and the city of Flint, overall, began to take a turn for the worse where the poor get poorer and the rich, when they aren’t having their Great Gatsby parties, are getting richer. While this is all happening, General Motors CEO Roger Smith is being praised by investors for helping out the bottom line, which is a point that Michael Moore does not stand by one bit.

Pictured: The devil.

Pictured: The devil.

Michael Moore clearly loves America and there is no problem with this. He’s one of the very rare people who will stand by his country, make generalizations about other countries, and all the while, still question his own country about what it is that makes us so wonderful. Is it our democracy? Is it our ability to do whatever we want, at any time, as long as they stay within the legal parameters? Or, is it that we brought places like Burger King and McDonalds to the world for everyone to enjoy and grow morbidly obese from? No matter what the question, nor the answer may be, Michael Moore will never stop loving America and while a lot of people would feel better off without having someone like him representing our country, it’s still nice to see someone still as patriotic as he is.

At the same time though, Michael Moore is very preachy and it’s one of the main reasons why most of his documentaries work, most importantly, Roger & Me.

Roger & Me is the first instance in which people found out about Moore, what he could do, and just what he was all about. This was way before all of his recent documentaries came out and shook up the world – nobody knew of his radical left stances, his overly melodramatic narrations, his constant hammering of random subjects, his wild antics just to get a hard subject for an interview, etc. Nobody knew what to expect and in a way, it’s nice to look at the movie as some sort of time capsule of the beginning where Moore’s voice came out for the whole world to hear.

And while there’s a lot to Moore’s style that can be considered “annoying”, there’s no denying that he makes entertaining movies and knows how to frame a story to where, no matter where he goes, you’re following him just about the whole way through. With Roger & Me, it’s interesting to see how Moore uses Flint as a fill-in for the rest of America, where everyone is equal and able to do what they want, but at the same time, are still being tied down and ruined by the richer of society. The picture that’s painted of America, and especially Flint, is a very sad and depressed one, however, Moore himself tries to focus on more than just the sad aspects of life and more or less, remind everybody about some of the joys of life.

At the same time though, it’s hard not to feel a slight bit of uneasiness when watching Roger & Me because, all of these years later, we know that nothing’s changed in Flint, or in America and, for the most part, has gotten worse.

That’s why, when Moore focuses on random people in the movie like a rabbit herder, a former policeman who now evicts people from their homes, 1988’s Miss America, the dirty and surprisingly perverted Bob Eubanks, and countless others, it’s hard not to feel sad. Of course, Moore is using a lot of these interviews as strictly comedy and to point the finger at some people for their sheer stupidity, but there’s an underlying sense of seriousness that makes it all the more shocking. We know that Moore doesn’t know what to make of the whole situation with Flint, or with America and because of that, the answers never seem to come easy, or ever around. Instead, there’s just a lot of beating around the bush of the question and times where it seems like Moore’s mind gets taken elsewhere.

Pictured: Hell.

Pictured: Hell.

This is all fine, of course, because where Moore takes us and how, can sometimes be exciting than anything anybody has to say here. For instance, there’s a small glimpse into the lives of the very rich people of Flint where, when they aren’t holding fancy, over-the-top Great Gatsby balls, they’re paying $100 to stay in the new, state-of-the-art jail. It’s actually quite shocking to see that people like this still exist, but at the same time, have absolutely no clue of what’s going on around them and it’ll make you wish that they’d just give their money away to either people who need it, or that they don’t have it at all.

Still though, Roger & Me always comes back to Michael Moore, which isn’t a huge surprise, but it also shows that he has a point with his movie. What Moore wants to say is that while the big companies may try to tear the American working-class down, it’s up to everybody in the world to not just depend on themselves, but find anyway that they can to survive and still make a profit. Sometimes, this can take one person down a very scary, almost immoral alleyway, but it’s the only way a person can survive.

It doesn’t have to be fine, it just has to be.

Consensus: As is usually the case with Michael Moore’s documentaries, most of them have an angle from the very beginning, but nonetheless, Roger & Me is still an entertaining, compelling and sometimes upsetting look inside Flint and most importantly, America, what makes it work, what makes it tick, and what makes it sometimes so sad to live in.

8 / 10

Pictured: A true patriotic nut.

Pictured: A true patriotic nut.

Photos Courtesy of: Pyxurz

Nasty Baby (2015)

Babies are a pain, both before and after they’re around.

Freddy (Sebastián Silva) and Mo (Tunde Adebimpe) have been together for quite some time and they feel as if now is the right moment to finally start the family they’ve always wanted. However, considering that they are both men and aren’t able to get pregnant, they decide that their best friend, Polly (Kristen Wiig) is the perfect person to go through with the procedure, especially since she doesn’t at all mind and considers both men to her best friends. However, as Freddy, Mo and Polly continue on and on to get pregnant and have this damn baby that they’ve been craving for all these years, certain issues arise. For Polly, she is having problems actually getting pregnant, with some sperm working and some others, not. As for Freddy, well, he’s starting to get a tad crazy. With pressures at work and at home, Freddy is finding himself constantly acting out in an erratic manner where he’s lashing out anybody around him, even if he knows full well that he’s being a terrible person. Still though, what keeps them all together is the idea of this baby, regardless of if it actually is conceived or not.

The director?

The director?

There’s at least two movies within Nasty Baby, one is fine, whereas the other shows promise through and through, until it eventually just plays itself out and becomes oddly placed in a film that, quite frankly, can’t be bothered with it. What I mean by saying this is that whereas one half of Nasty Baby plays out like a funny, rather insightful tale about sex, gender, and the idea of a modern-day family, the other half seems like a tense thriller, where we don’t have a full grasp on what’s going to happen next, nor what’s going to happen to whom. All we kn ow is that things are getting more riled-up as they move along, and in ways, it’s interesting to see how writer/director Sebastian Silva places it throughout the movie.

At the same time, however, it still causes an issue for the film’s tone.

Cause, for one, it’s incredibly uneven. One scene, we’ll be sitting back and watching as a bunch of characters pal around with one another and just seem to chew the fat, but then, in the next scene, we’ll get one where Reg E. Cathey’s homeless character is terrorizing characters because, well, he’s crazy and homeless and that’s how all homeless men act, apparently. Regardless of whether or not this makes any sense, Silva does present this character enough times to make it clear why he’s around, but never seems to actually make better sense of why he exists. It seems like Silva wants this character around to create some sort of obstacle, or better yet, villain for these characters to overcome? Which is fine and all, but this is an indie that’s supposed to be about a anybody’s lives – having Cathey around to just be an evil nut-job, constantly causing havoc wherever he goes, feels a bit silly and over-the-top.

Cathey himself is fine in the role, but really, all he has to do is act like a crazed lunatic and have you feel like he could fly off the handle at any second. Cathey’s effective at this aspect of the character, but still can’t make it clear why his character, or his character’s subplot, needs to exist in Nasty Baby after all. After all, the movie would have been fine, had it just paid sole attention to what was going on with Kristen Wiig’s character.

But considering we didn’t get that movie, it’s probably best not to talk “what ifs”, and more about “what’s actually on the table”.

Or, the guy from TV on the Radio?

Or, the guy from TV on the Radio?

And what’s on the table for Nasty Baby is a promising tale about fertility, starting a family, and deciding whether or not you’re actually fit to be a parent in the first place. If anything, Silva brings up some interesting ideas about what constitutes the normal, American family of today and, in a way, sort of skewers it. There’s a scene involving a family dinner in which the idea of a gay marriage comes into play, and rather than coming off as preachy and obvious, it actually plays out both sides quite well. One side has reasoning for being against gay marriage that doesn’t have to do with the fact that their just bigots, and the other side who is for gay marriage, doesn’t go around spouting about it and how everybody should feel the same as they do.

And even the scenes with Kristen Wiig’s character, where the situation tends to get more and more awkward when more sperm needs to be produced, but really, it all goes away once Silva sets his sights elsewhere with the story. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Silva himself, despite being a talented writer and director, isn’t quite the best actor. Some of that has to do with the fact that he hasn’t quite perfected his English just yet, but another good portion of that has to do with the fact that his character is kind of boring in that he doesn’t really seem to have much more to him than just a bunch of whining and complaining and that’s it. We get some background on his own father, but really, it seems like filler and an excuse to give Silva more time to work in his own movie.

Wiig and especially, Tunde Adebimpe, fare a lot better off, but neither are flashy here. Wiig may not be as reserved as she’s been in some of her previous indies, but still shows a lot of heart and humanity, as well as her much-adored charm. As for Adebimpe, he’s a very calming and relaxing presence on screen, that goes a long way whenever it seems like Silva’s character is getting on our nerves and doesn’t really have anything interesting to say. It’s not just the character he’s playing, but also Adebimpe himself, who keeps Silva, as well as the rest of Nasty Baby grounded, even when it seems to go absolutely bonkers at some of the most random moments.

Consensus: Essentially two movies into one, Nasty Baby works better with the more insightful of the two, whereas the second story comes in, goes and then feels forced, making everything feel off and disjointed.

5 / 10

Either way, Kristen's gonna continue to be Kristen.

Either way, Kristen’s gonna continue to be Kristen.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

He Named Me Malala (2015)

The Taliban is bad.

As a young girl growing up in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai has always had a lot of stuff to say on her mind. Most of that comes from the fact that her father was and has always been the same way, but seeing the world for what it is, Malala always had something to say, especially about the injustices in the world that so often tended to be occurring right around. Sob that’s why, when she realized that women in her native land were being treated terribly and not at all how women should be treated, as well as their education, Malala spoke up for the whole world to see and hear. Obviously, the Taliban wasn’t too happy about this, so they attacked her and her family with rocks and guns, actually going so far as to shoot Malala and leaving her in a coma. Unfettered, Malala eventually woke up and believe it or not, continued on with saying whatever it is that she wanted to say, and as a result of this, became a leading advocate for children’s rights and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Just another girl and a friend.

Just another girl and a friend.

There is nothing wrong with a movie being as completely enamored and in love with Malala Yousafzai. She’s a smart, independent, and compelling woman who, believe it or not, isn’t as old as her wise ways may have her appear to be. However, there is such a thing as maybe being “too much” of being enamored and in love with her? In a way, director Davis Guggenheim can’t keep himself away from focusing on everything great that Malala herself has done, said, and is still doing for the world around her, that he actually forgets to go any deeper or further into just who this woman is.

Sure, we know that she spoke out against the Taliban, was shot, and made into this hero, but how does she feel about that? Does she like it? Hate it? How does she get by in the world around her, with all of this fame and notoriety chasing her everywhere she goes? Also, how does she feel about what’s going on in the current political climate? Is she for all of Obama’s policies? What’s her feeling about ISIS? What does she feel should be done to stop terrorism as a whole?

All of these questions may seem a bit much, but are absolutely necessary for a movie like He Named Me Malala – one that doesn’t ask a single one of these questions.

Instead, Guggenheim focuses in on Malala’s significance, her achievements, and her whole family. There’s nothing wrong with this and, in ways, Guggenheim probably gets the best bits of insight out of these moments where it’s just Malala and her family hanging around one another, but really, there’s not enough of these moments. We get to hear a lot about her father, his upbringing, as well as her upbringing, and they can do a lot to fill in the spaces between the present and the past, but really, they amount to just giving us backstory.

What He Named Me Malala so desperately needs is substance, and a whole lot more of it. To just show Malala herself as a woman who stood-up for what she believed in and spoke her mind, only to then get punished for it all, isn’t quite enough. In a way, all you’re doing is writing a news article, with possible follow-up stories to occur. But considering that this is a documentary in which Guggenheim had all of this access to Malala, her family, as well as their thoughts and feelings on just about everything, it’s a wonder why he didn’t go any further.

Was it not to offend the actual subjects themselves? Or was he, once again, not too concerned with actually digging deep into these people’s inner-thoughts and ideas, and more about what sort of purpose they serve in today’s day and age?

Whatever choice it may be, what’s apparent is that Guggenheim could have done more here and really give us a compelling, if multidimensional look inside the mind of Malala. After all, the few moments where Guggenheim does seem to bring out the best within Malala, he gets some interesting tidbits of info that he could have actually ran wild. For one, he finds out that Malala, actually does miss her home and where she grow up, which is interesting considering that she’s not only banished from there, but will probably be killed on site, had she ever decided to actually walk back on that land.

Try saying that name three times fast.

Try saying that name three times fast.

Then, there’s also the dynamic she has with the rest of her family. In Malala’s case, she is the closest with her father, as they seem to be utterly in-sync with their thoughts and ideas for how a country should be ran and why. There’s clearly a love and adoration the two share for one another than cannot be stopped or toyed with. As for Malala’s relationship with her mother? Well, let’s just say it’s less loving and caring.

Of course, Malala and her mother love one another, but it doesn’t go to the certain lengths that it does with her and her father. In a way, her mother wants Malala to shut her mouth and not cause all of this trouble that they’ve already been in, which brings into consideration the question: Should Malala have opened her mouth? Or she should have stayed back and let all of the wrongdoings, continue to happen and live with it all until her dying day? The answer is obvious, but the question itself is an utterly compelling one that deserves to be brought up.

Then again, Guggenheim would have dug into it, either way. He would have just shown his appreciation for Malala and that would have been it. After all, that’s what he did and while there’s no harm or foul in doing so, it does make you wonder where the real, hard-hitting documentary is at?

Consensus: Despite its subject’s worthiness of being documented, He Named Me Malala is still a frustrating, if occasionally interesting look at the life of a woman who is already wiser beyond her years, but at the same time, is still very much a young kid, with a lot more going on in her life than just boys or school work.

4 / 10

He just can't help himself that Davis.

He just can’t help himself that Davis.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Look of Silence (2015)

People who do bad things, tend to not think that they did anything bad.

A few years ago, Joshua Oppenheimer made a documentary about the Indonesian killings that took place in and around time years of 1965 and 1966, in which people who were accused of being “communists” were all killed and sometimes, never heard from again. What was so strange about all of this, though, was how the people who actually went out and savagely murdered these so-called “communists”, were never put on trial or convicted for what were, seemingly, crimes. Instead, they continue to walk the Earth and live free among any all citizens, most of whom’s relatives, they either killed, or had a hand in killing. That’s why, in 2013, Oppenheimer decided to focus on these murderers, their viewpoints, and recollections of events in the Act of Killing. Now, Oppenheimer wants to turn his camera onto the other side of the discussion where we sit and watch as Adi, middle-aged man, who’s brother, Ramli, apparently was killed during this time, goes around and confronts the known killers for doing what they did and trying his hardest to understand why they did any of it. Obviously, the answers are a lot harder to come by.

60 Minutes with Adi is definitely something I can get behind.

60 Minutes with Adi is definitely something I can get behind.

The Act of Killing was a very rough watch, for many reasons. One was that it was really hard to sit there and listen to a bunch of known and celebrated killers, basically bragging about all of the people they killed, and do so in some very descriptive, especially gory ways. It’s hard to listen to a guy boast about how many girls he’s slept with, but it’s even harder to listen to someone, who is still walking free mind you, go on and on about people they murdered, the reasons why they did it, and why they feel absolutely no shame or guilt whatsoever.

Another reason why that movie was such a hard watch, too, was the fact that Oppenheimer doesn’t just leave the movie at that point. Instead, he takes it one step further in allowing us to see their inner psyche, as well as their realization with everything that they had done, the pain they caused, and just the actual number of supposed “communists” they had in fact, killed. In a way, that movie wasn’t really asking us to sympathize with these retched and terrible human beings, but more or less to see them as actual human beings.

Was it hard to do? Oh, of course it was!

Did it ultimately work out, though? Somehow, yes.

That’s why with the Look of Silence, Oppenheimer’s viewpoint not only changes, but so does the impact his movie has on the audience. Now, we have someone to sympathize with. Now, we have better questions being asked. And now, most of all, we get to see these countless killers actually get everything thrown in their face, just as they deserve to. While Oppenheimer went to some risky and daring places with the material and footage he was able to get with the Act of Killing, here, he takes a step back and allows for the would-be protagonist, Adi, take over the reigns as interviewer and provocateur, and it really works.

Not only is Adi a sympathetic figure, regardless of what we know about his family and their history, he actually seems like a pretty level-headed guy, even despite the situation he’s been thrown into. All things considered, he could have easily grown-up angry, pissed-off and ready to blow people’s heads away, knowing what he knows about what happened to his brother, but instead, he decided to push all that to the side, focus on the future, and remember that he’s got his own life to live and legacy to maintain, which means that he had to get used to seeing a lot of his brother’s killers, sometimes for work, and other times, just for social situations. It’s actually ridiculous just how much of a tolerance that Adi and, I assume, others need to have when it comes to living in Indonesia, but it also drives home the point that, sometimes, it’s best to just leave things in the past.

In this situation, however, that is not the case.

He even makes glasses for these guys! Why is he so nice!

He even makes glasses for these guys! Why is he so nice!

Adi really does level in to these cast of characters, all of whom are either the killers themselves, or close relatives of said killers, going deeper and further than you’d expect him to go. Sure, his interview style can tend to get very predictable – he starts off with a few softball questions, asks the big, “Why”, shows evidence proving that the killers did in fact, “kill”, they get pissed-off, threaten his life, and the rest starts to teeter-off from there in awkward, but revealing silences. Still though, each and every interview is more and more insightful than the one to come before it, especially when we start to see just how obtuse a lot of these killers are to admitting, face to face, with another person that they had a hand or two in killing a family member. One whom Adi never had the chance to meet, unfortunately enough, but it makes even more sense why he would sink to the certain depths that he does here, trying to scourge up any information he can from these killers, as well as the information left over from the previous movie.

That said, there’s a feeling that the Look of Silence ends at a very abrupt moment. However, this could be intentional.

Seeing as how the movie is, essentially, about the many, countless lives lost in this mass holocaust of sorts, it only makes sense that there’s hardly any “moving forward”, or “looking past” moment; people have died, everybody left on Earth is still around, suffering and sad, and the tension is still felt. While Adi himself realizes that it’s best to look towards the future, he also knows that in order to grow stronger as a community, it’s also best to remember the sort of tragedies and wrong-doings that have been done, in a way to make sure that they never occur again.

Of course, I could also be talking about Germany, the U.S., or any other country out there who has dealt with one moment in their nation’s history that they frown upon and remind its citizens of its significance, but in this particular discussion, Adi reminds Indonesia that not only did his own brother die for, what seem to be, idiotic accusations based nowhere in reality, but remind others as well. That’s why these questions need answers, even if they never actually come. Maybe that’s the point: Life will continue to go on for most of these people, with questions still hanging in the air and over their heads. Nobody will answer them. They’ll just continue to live life, hope it all gets better, and people eventually forget about what happened.

Problem is, nobody will.

Now, who’s fault is that?

Consensus: More emotional and tragic than the its predecessor, the Look of Silence is also, unfortunately, more frustrating with questions intentionally never being answered, but plenty of ideas about society and the human condition still being brought up and left to dangle.

8 / 10

There's the future, everybody! Don't screw it up!

There’s the future, everybody! Don’t screw it up!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Regression (2016)

Satanists are always hard to trust.

During the early 90’s in Minnesota, Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) is called on to the case of John Gray (David Dencik), a father who, believe it or not, actually admits to the accusations put on by his daughter that he molested her. The daughter, 17-year-old Angela (Emma Watson), however, has no actual recollection of it, throwing Kenner for a loop and confused of where to go next with his investigation. So, the only way he sees fit is to call up a known expert in the field of psychology, Professor Kenneth Raines (David Thewlis). What Raines will hopefully be able to do, using experimental techniques, like “regression”, is regain Angela’s memories, and hopefully make better sense of what exactly happened that night. But once the dreams become clearer and clearer, Kenner soon discovers that there may be more going on with this case than he had originally thought. For one, the Satanic cult may have been apart of the situation all along. And, even worse, the rape could have not been a rape after all and instead, be a Satanic ritual!

Regression1

He’s mad.

Basically, Regression is a police procedural, courtesy of FOX, CBS, NBC, or any other station that holds conventional cop shows, with a tad bit more cursing, smoking, blood, gore, and Satan stuff. While that may actually sound fun, I can assure you, it really isn’t, as Regression is as simple and as boring as they come with a movie of this nature. See, what’s weird about Regression isn’t how it doesn’t really go anywhere surprising or different from what we’re all used to expecting, it’s that it doesn’t seem to go anywhere at all.

If you pay close enough attention in the first half-hour, it becomes painfully clear just where this movie’s going, what happened with the case, and just what could possibly happen to each and every character here. In that sense, Regression is already over. But for some reason, the movie still feels the need to continue on for the next hour and 45 minutes, disregarding the fact that it’s already spoiled itself by being lazy and unsurprising and is now, quite simply, just wasting our, as well as itself’s own precious time.

Which is probably the biggest and greatest sin a movie could ever commit.

But Regression does it in the first 30 minutes. After these 30 minutes, the movie tries to offer-up a twist here and there, but really, it just seems like it’s making excuses for being boring. Which is to say that yes, Regression is a very slow movie, but even worse, it’s uninteresting. Rather than this movie actually being a study about Satanic cults, their affect on small communities, and the fact that 1990, in which this film is set, was supposed to be a very “popular” time for Satanic cults in the mainstream American media, the movie seems more content with just focusing in on this one particular case, where people do a lot of talking, but nothing really happens.

Instead, we just sit around, watch and wait for the conclusion to eventually come around. Although, writer/director  Alejandro Amenábar does try to liven the movie up with some oddly-placed, but nonetheless, spooky dream-sequences throughout, they’re really not enough to save this movie from being utterly dull and a tad bit unmemorable. After all, it’s just a cop movie, about one cop trying to solve his own case, in which the devil, or Satanists, may or may not, actually be involved.

She's sad.

She’s sad.

Either way, it’s hard to care.

Which is a problem when you have the likes of Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson in your movie. Though both of them are clearly trying with the material, neither actually get the utmost perfect opportunity to really make this movie at all interesting. Hawke is basically playing another routine detective who, after a failed marriage with his wife, seems to be obsessed with this one case, can’t shake it, and can’t seem to let go. It’s an obvious road that Regression takes with this character and while Hawke does try to do something with it, it basically goes nowhere and feels like another case of Ethan Hawke getting saddled with some pretty bad, overly serious material that he is most definitely better than.

Same goes for the likes of David Thewlis, David Dencik, and Dale Dickey, all of whom show up and do their thing, but really, are in a movie that doesn’t have anything to do for them, other than cry and stare a lot. Emma Watson, despite being advertised quite heavily with this, really isn’t in the movie all that much, despite being the central plot-point to this whole story. If anything, I’d say that Watson’s in about 15 minutes of this movie, which are actually the best scenes because we see her and Hawke’s character actually drop all of the mopey crap and just act alongside one another. It’s a small bit of pleasure to get from a movie that is so drenched and covered in its own moodiness that, by the end, you’ll just want to see go back to their own respective careers, where they’ll, hopefully, continue to make better decisions in the near-future.

And stay away from lame horror-thrillers like Regression.

Consensus: Part horror movie, part psychological thriller, all pretty boring, Regression seems like it could play and mess around with so much, but really, just goes down the same, narrow and conventional road we’ve seen movies like this take before, except this time, with more cops.

3 / 10

But together, they look as painfully bored as two actors can get in a movie that they clearly don't give a flyin' hoot about.

But together, they look as painfully bored as two actors can get in a movie that they clearly don’t give a flyin’ hoot about.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Choice (2016)

Kids fall in love so easily these days. Throw one hot neighbor at them and all of a sudden, they’re smitten!

Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker) is a ladies’ man who doesn’t have any sort of rush to get into a serious, romantic relationship because, well, life is good enough, so why bother with all of that other crap, right? Well, that’s why when Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer) moves in next door, he’s thrown for a loop; not only is this a woman he’s attracted to physically, but mentally as well. But little does he know that Gabby herself has some love going on in her own life with a long-term boyfriend (Tom Welling), whom she’s looking to settle down with. But as fate would have it, the two end-up finding themselves together in ways they never expected to. At first, what starts out as a little fun and fiery fling, soon turns into something loving, caring, and above all else, serious. Clearly, this scares the absolute hell out of Travis, but he’s willing to let all of that go to be with Gabby? Heck, is Gabby willing to let all of her freedom go away on someone as much of a wild card as Travis? Who knows!

Choice2

She’s pretty.

But really, who cares?

Everybody knows what they’re getting into when they decide to see a Nicholas Sparks movie, so why does anybody bother? Well, there’s always that small, but surprising off-chance that there will be the one movie to break the curse and show that, even despite all of Sparks’ fluffy mannerisms and conventions, his material can still somewhat, kind of, sort of, maybe work. It’s been quite some time since the Notebook (aka, the last actually “good” Sparks movie), but really, we’ve been through some barn-burners since then.

And needless to say, yes, the Choice is another “bad” Sparks movie that shows just why the haters will continue to hate, and the lovers, will continue to love and support his work until he eventually succumbs to his own plot-devices, like say a random disease, car accident, or incident in which death is the outcome.

But if anything about the Choice actually comes close to working, then it’s the chemistry between Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker, both of whom are clearly a lot better than they material they’re saddled with, but are giving it their all anyway. Walker’s Travis is, of course, the usual Sparks man: He’s cool, suave with the ladies, speaks in a Southern twang, but at the same time, a bit heartfelt and has a tender hand when it comes to curing animals. Basically, he’s the perfect man that doesn’t exist in real life, but Walker shows some heart and humanity to this character that’s not only believable, but actually sympathetic, even though we know he’s a type, and a very lazy one at that.

As for Palmer, her Gabby is another Sparks type, but this time, in woman form: She’s fun, flighty, sweet, but at the same time, confused about what she wants in life and scared of falling in love. Here’s another human that doesn’t exist in the real world, but Palmer tries her hardest to keep her character her interesting, lovely, and most importantly, believable, even when it seems like she’s making random decisions, bad solely on moving the plot along. Together, they create something that can seem genuine and sweet, even if the movie loves to dive into their personal histories, like which family-member died, what artifact did they leave behind, and why exactly they all touched their lives.

It’s all a bunch of a melodrama that we’ve seen before with Sparks’ movies, and here, it’s just all the more annoying, because it’s obvious Palmer and Walker really do seem to be trying.

However, what’s weird about the Choice, is that it’s never fully known just who these characters are, what they do, and why it is we’re watching these two fall in love. Because almost every member of the cast is at least 30 years old, or above, it’s hard to place just what age these characters are, where they stand in terms of their education, and just what the hell kind of jobs they have to maintain their overall peaceful, luxurious lifestyles on the lakes of North Carolina. Clearly, this is all fiction, that can sometimes border on fantasy, but it really sets in when it becomes clear that the movie less concerned about these character’s own, personal lives, and more concerned with just who it is that they’re going to bed with, and/or smitten with.

Then again, any person in my position would know better than to expect actual detailed heart or humanity with a Nicholas Sparks movie. But then, the movie continues to go on and on, showing this romance developing over years and years with one another, and we’re supposed to believe that they’re going through all sorts of the same problems that couples seem to go through, yet, we never actually hear them or see how they start. We just see how they materialize and then, suddenly, end. It’s as if there’s hardly any build-up, but just a drop and we’re supposed to connect the dots of what’s going on, for what reasons, and how exactly we’re supposed to feel.

However, considering that the Choice is another Sparks movie, it’s pretty clear what we’re supposed to feel: Sap and a whole lot of it.

Choice1

He’s prettier.

And of course, the people who love these kinds of movies will fall for this, hook, line and sinker, nor should they feel otherwise. After all, this is their movie, and nobody else’s. But that’s the problem with these Sparks movies – they never seem to be for anyone else, but the target-demographic. The Notebook, while all sorts of cheesy and over-the-top at times, also happens to be a coming-of-age tale, where we not only believe the romance, but see how it develops over time, with enough attention and care to detail. The cast is also allowed to work wonders, too, with just the right enough of good material, to balance out the terrible ones.

However, the Choice still feels very much for the audience who has been with Sparks since the Notebook and haven’t left his side, even though mostly all of his movies since then, have been absolute crap. They’re the kinds of movies that don’t care about getting anybody new interested in their stories, but rather, continue to aim for the same audience members, having them swoon, cry and love life all over again. Sure, it’s not like the movies are necessarily making people turn to heartless, evil human beings, but at the same time, they aren’t doing much else either.

And that’s just pure laziness that needs to stop, or be done away with.

Neither of which, I’m afraid, will actually happen to Nicholas Sparks movies.

Consensus: As usual, the Choice is a sappy, predictable, and believe it or not, boring piece of Nicholas Sparks fiction that shows why, once again, his movies don’t care about anyone else except for the audience who is already buying tickets for this now, as we speak.

2.5 / 10

Choice3

Together, they’re both pretty pretty.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Rotten Tomatoes

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Take it from rappers, being imprisoned makes you a better musician.

In Depression-era Mississippi, Ulysses McGill (George Clooney), Pete (John Turturro), and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) all escape from jail to embark on a buried-treasure that Ulysses himself declares that he hid and is safe and sound somewhere. However, they have an awful long way to go before they get to the treasure, which means that they have to go through a lot of hoops, meet a lot of shady characters, and most of all, try to stay away from the police’s sights. Obviously, this sounds a lot easier said then done, but everything and anything seems to be happening around the same time that these three are heading out for their adventure. For one, they unintentionally become a popular folk band, then, they get mixed-up with the KKK, make an African American friend by the name of Tommy Johnson, have a run-in with Baby Face Dillinger, and, most importantly, meet the acquaintance of some very lovely ladies. But no matter how many holes may stand in the way of these guys’ trip, they never forget about the treasure that’s just awaiting for them to seize and make their own.

Try singin' your way out of this one!

Try singin’ your way out of this one!

There’s no denying that the Coens have a certain love and adoration for their characters, no matter how silly, ridiculous, or over-the-top they may, or can get. Some people say that they make fun of said characters, as well as their settings, but I tend to disagree with this notion, as it’s clear from the very start that the Coens find something very interesting about each one of their characters that they draw and create, as well as the world around said characters that seem to take on a whole personality on its own. In O Brother, it’s clear that the Coens have a soft place for the sweaty, mugginess of Depression-era Mississippi that’s less about making fun of people who talk funny, but more about embracing some of their more old-timey notions of life.

Obviously, the Coens are a bit subversive about this idea, too, with featuring a story all sorts of violence, racism, and blood, but they don’t ever lose their sense of fun here. They also never seem to sell themselves short; rather than making this just a one-note premise in which these stupid characters get away with everything that comes their way, they show that there’s some trouble and difficulty for these characters to get from point A, to point B. Of course, O Brother is, first and foremost, an adventure flick and it’s nice to see the Coens give as much attention to their characters, as much as they do to the jokes and random sequence of events.

For instance, Ulysses, Delmar, and Pete may all seem like your typical, bumpkin idiots, but really, the Coens show that there’s more to them.

Not only do they have hearts, but they all do seem to genuinely care for one another that makes it easy to see why they’ve got such a strong bond in the first place. As a result, we want to see these three together more and more, not just because they’re fun to watch (which they are), but because there’s something warm, soft and cozy about knowing these three pals are all together and because of that, nothing will go wrong. Of course, things don’t always turn out that way, but still, watching and listening to these three characters was more than enough to stick around.

Stop trying to make yourself ugly, George. It ain't gonna work.

Stop trying to make yourself ugly, George. It ain’t gonna work.

And let’s not forget to mention that George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson all do fantastic jobs in these roles, seeming like they’re very interested in who these characters are, past the backwater-stereotypes. Clooney, however, is the one who really seems like he’s having the time of his life, smirking, snarling and laughing in just about every scene he’s shown, where you get the idea that he could not wait a single second to work with the Coens, nor could he get enough of the fact that his character is, in some ways, the smartest out of the three. Clooney gets to use a lot of big words and articulate a whole lot, which may not sound like it works, but surprisingly, does, and it just goes to show you what Clooney can do when he’s a bit unhinged and less caring about appeasing a certain demographic.

There’s more people in this film, like John Goodman, Holly Hunter, Charles Durning, and others, who show up here, do their thing and show that they’re worthy of being around, which makes O Brother all the more exciting.

There’s not a huge world out there for the Coens to work with, but it’s all up to their own choosing. While O Brother is certainly not the Coens best movie, it’s still their most ambitious as it shows that the studio had no problem funding their vision and idea for this movie, even if every period detail seems perfectly picked to the bone. And with more money and freedom to do what they want, they run wild. Sometimes, the goofiness, other times, it doesn’t; when the movie is supposed to be deep and serious, it can’t help but stumble and make you wonder where all the smiles and charms went. But still, it’s a Coens brother movie, which mostly always means, it’s worth seeing.

If not for them, then at least do it for the soundtrack.

Consensus: Perhaps not the Coens best, yet, at the same time, still very much an exceptional piece of work from the power duo, O Brother shows they not only have a keen eye for attention to detail and character, but also their odd sense of humor that still hits.

7.5 / 10

Back on the chain gang, boys!

Back on the chain gang, boys!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Burn After Reading (2008)

Never trust those who are “too fit”.

When CIA Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) gets demoted from his job, he decides that it’s time to start the proceedings on his memoir. Somehow, though, the disk containing all of this information falls into the hands of two gym employees, Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt), both of whom clearly have no idea what they’re going to do with this disk. But they both have the right idea to blackmail Cox for some money, even if they don’t know how to go about it, nor what the actual proceedings are. Meanwhile, Linda herself is in search of a better life that isn’t just working in the gym. Currently, she’s trying to fund her cosmetic surgeries, as well as someone to love in her life. Through various dating websites, she meets the charming and likable Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), and the two hit it off immediately. Strange thing is that Harry, despite being married, also happens to be shackin’ up with Osborne’s wife (Tilda Swinton), which leads the whole situation to end up in some real weird, sticky situations, sometimes with them leading to violence and all sorts of bloodshed.

"Malkovich? Malkovich?"

“Malkovich? Malkovich?”

At this stage in their career, the Coen brothers can practically do anything that they want and nobody is going to tell them otherwise. They have enough Oscars under their belt, have made their studios enough money, and have earned enough respect in the biz to say that they want to make about anything, and everybody will fall for it, hook, line and sinker. As is the case with most writers and directors, they’ve had some mediocre films, as well as some amazing films, but mostly, they’ve made films worth checking out and taking time out of one’s day to watch, because a Coen brother’s movie is, quite frankly, better than a lot of other stuff out there.

And Burn After Reading is the exact reason why they are so beloved.

Though, at the same time, the movie doesn’t show the Coen brothers really working with anything new, or ground-breaking; instead, they’re taking on the whole spy genre, making a farce out of it, and rather than having real, actual spies involved, the movie’s just about a bunch of regular, everyday people who are, yes, goofy and sometimes idiotic. However, they are all searching for the same thing: Money and power. To the Coens, this is perhaps the most interesting aspect about the human-condition, in which seemingly normal people, can be driven so ridiculously mad by the prospect of wealth, that they’d do almost anything to achieve it and rule their own little world.

At the same time, though, rather than being all sad and serious about it, the Coens add a lighter touch onto that whole idea, giving us characters that aren’t just colorful and likable, but also interesting. Sure, some of these characters may come off as very schticky and thin, but the Coens also show how that they’re personalities make who they are and determine every decision that they make throughout the movie. Some characters are, obviously, smarter than others, but nobody here is actually a good person, and there’s something inherently fun and entertaining in watching all of these characters get caught in a crazy web of lies, murder and deception, just for the hell of it.

It also helps that the cast is pretty great, too.

As usual, the Coens work with some of their own regulars who, by now, have mastered the art of the “Coen speak”. George Clooney is exciting, but also very weird as Harry, who always seems to have an issue with the food he eats, as well as an odd obsession with wood-panels; Frances McDormand’s Linda is a total polar opposite of what we’re used to seeing her play, giving us a naive, sometimes sad character who always tries to stay upbeat, no matter what the situation may call for; and Richard Jenkins, as Linda’s boss who can’t seem to stop falling over her, makes you want to give him a hug just about every scene he’s involved with.

We get it, Brad: You're really in-shape!

We get it, Brad: You’re really in-shape!

But the newcomers to the Coen’s also handle their material well and show why they deserve to be in their movies a whole lot more. John Malkovich does a lot of cursing and yelling as Osborne, and it’s so much fun to watch and listen that I didn’t care if his character didn’t get as developed as I would have liked; Tilda Swinton’s character is a bit bitchy and mean, but also seems like she’s got more going onto her that would have been interesting to see developed more, but for what it is, this is all we get and it’s fine; and Brad Pitt, well, let’s just say he sort of steals the show. Not only does Brad Pitt seems like he’s so eager and excited to be apart of a Coen brother’s movie, but he also seems like he really wants to see what’s more to this character that he’s playing – something that isn’t quite seen in the rest of the movie.

Pitt’s Chad, for the most part, doesn’t really care about gaining any sort of money or respect, he’s just around for the fun of it all. That’s clear from the very beginning, once we realize that there’s a certain zaniness and energy to him that’s hard to ignore. This is mostly all thanks to Pitt who, using his grace and charm, shows that while a meat-head like Chad can be lovable, he can also be one you sort of feel bad for, once the situation he’s involved with gets to be a bit too crazy and over-the-top for his own good. There’s something about Chad that I wanted to see more of, but really, what I got was fine enough.

And that’s basically all that there is to say about Burn After Reading: It’s fine, and although you wish you saw more, that’s all you really need.

But hey, don’t just listen to me, let J.K. Simmons tell you all about it.

Consensus: Though it’s not exactly breaking down any barriers, Burn After Reading still finds the Coen brothers in a fun, hilariously wicked spirit that maintains their sense of odd energy the whole way through.

8 / 10

How can these two not have a ball together?

How can these two not have a ball together?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, IFC

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)

Don’t worry, fellas: Girls definitely think about sex more than us.

You go through a lot when you’re 15 years old. For Minnie (Bel Powley), this is especially true. Not only is she going through that transitional period in her life where her boobs get bigger and her sex drive is becoming more and more heavy, she’s also now started hooking-up with her mom’s boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). Although mommy (Kristen Wiig) doesn’t suspect a thing, Minnie and Monroe still want to keep it a secret enough so that they continue on to have fun, regardless of the serious consequences surrounding them. But considering that Minnie is still very young and has a life to live, she goes out searching for other men on her own. Sometimes, she finds winners, other times, she doesn’t. But most of the time, she always finds herself back into the illustrious, sexy arms of Monroe. Same goes for Monroe, who can’t seem to keep his eyes, as well as his penis away from Minnie, no matter how hard he tries to remember the fact that he’s with her mom. Regardless of all this though, Minnie’s just trying to get by in life, for the time being, and if that means having a little sex, then so be it. She’s just happy being herself.

Ah, who doesn't remember that awkward car ride with your mom's boyfriend who you secretly want to bang?

Ah, who doesn’t remember that awkward car ride with your mom’s boyfriend who you secretly want to bang?

We’ve seen this kind of coming-of-ager done before, but where the Diary of a Teenage Girl does service well to its source material is that it never, not for a single second, seems to judge its characters for behaving how they do, or being just who they are.

Case in point: Minnie.

Not only is Minnie your classic case of a teenage girl going through the process of womanhood, she’s also an understandable and relateable one, to both girls and boys. Minnie’s at that point in her life where’s seeing her body go through all of these sorts of transformations, understand the world around her a bit differently, and most of all, be horny basically all of the time. She acts out in some devious ways, however, no matter how far she goes with her sexuality, writer/director Marielle Heller never makes the false step in judging her.

And as Minnie, Bel Powley does a wonderful job, not only being able to show us the frustration that can go through this woman’s mind as she’s coming to terms with everything in and around her, but also the delight. Right from the very beginning, when she has sex, you can tell that there’s a certain bright glow and charm to Powley that’s not hard to love or enjoy; after awhile, that same glow and charm starts to win you over, even if the character of Minnie herself, seems to make some tricky decisions throughout. Which isn’t to say that it’s bad for a girl to act-out sexually, but when it’s with your mother’s boyfriend, who also happens to be a bit of a self-destructive being in his own right, well then, some judgement is deserved.

But once again, the movie never does any of the judgment and instead, allows her to be herself.

This goes for the rest of the cast and crew. Wiig’s mother character isn’t seen as a mean, cruel and despicable woman who is mean to those who love and surround her – if anything, she’s more sad. She’s still getting over a divorce and taking control of her life, but also knows that she’s getting older and losing out on options she once had in her life. It’s a tender performance that we don’t tend to see from Wiig, yet, it still works all the same.

Same goes for Skarsgård who, in the past few or so years, has proven himself to be quite the acting-talent, when given the right material to roll with. Sure, he was hot and sexy on True Blood, but that show didn’t really allow for there to be any semblance of subtlety or humanity, however, with movies like Melancholia, What Maisie Knew, and the East, he’s shown that he’s gotten a knack for taking certain characters, and showing that there’s more to them that just meets the eyes. At first glance, Monroe may seem like a total and complete loser, 70’s porn-‘stache and everything, but really, you start to feel a bit of sympathy. Whether or not he actually has feelings for Minnie is left up in the air, but the slight possibility that he does remain in the air and it’s what keeps him, at most, a compelling character.

"You look a lot like your daughter."

“You look a lot like your daughter.”

Oh and as for the movie itself? Yeah, it’s still pretty good.

However, in today’s day and age, it’s really hard to figure out a way to make coming-of-age themes really resonant or change anybody’s life, considering that almost everything’s been said, in all sorts of ways. That’s not to say that the Diary of a Teenage Girl doesn’t find some interesting avenues to look down to uncover what it means to be a kid going through their own sexual transformation, it’s just that a lot of it’s been done, said, and studied for so long, that if you aren’t bringing anything and everything to the table, then sometimes, yeah, it won’t hit as hard.

Still, what the movie has to say is fine enough, which is that being going through puberty can, more often than not, suck. You’ll go through all sorts of changes that you don’t see coming, your emotions will go from dead to electric in the span of a minute, and your mind will probably be thinking way too many things at one time that you’d want it to, but the fact that you’re still kind of a kid, makes it somewhat okay. The world’s not depending on you just yet, so have sex, drink, smoke, party, and have a good time, because sooner or later, before you know it, life is going to come a callin’, and it’s going to be up to you to see whether you answer it, or leave it at the door.

The choose is up to you, but for now, enjoy the party.

Consensus: The Diary of a Teenage Girl deals with familiar themes within the coming-of-age genre, but also finds ways to unravel heart, humanity, and most of all, humor within them, especially due to solid cast.

7 / 10

Yes, girls really just wanna have fun.

Yes, girls really just wanna have fun.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Grandma (2015)

Sometimes, the oldest people are the coolest.

Sage (Julia Garner) just had sex with her boyfriend (Nat Wolff) and, well, wouldn’t you know it? Turns out that she’s pregnant. So, rather than keeping it around and having to deal with all of that in her young life, she decides that she wants to get rid of it and have an abortion. Issue is, she doesn’t have the money. And even though her mom (Marcia Gay Harden) has plenty of it, she doesn’t want to bother her with the situation. So, that’s when she turns to her hip, cool grandmother, famed poet Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin), who is going through some issues of her own. One, she just broke up with her girlfriend (Judy Greer), and secondly, she doesn’t really have any money. So this means that the two will have to band together and search for money anywhere they can. For Sage, this mostly means going to the father of the unborn child and that’s it, but for Elle? Well, this means that she’s got to go way back in time to all of her friends and confidantes over the past many years, hit them up for money, and promise them favors she doesn’t really seem to keen on holding up.

I'd take the ride if she was offering it.

I’d take the ride if she was offering it.

A typical Grandma, you see?

Grandma is the type of vehicle that someone of Lily Tomlin’s talents deserves. Though people have loved seeing Tomlin show up every so often in random films, some good, some bad, it seems like she’s never been given that extra time to show and remind the world why she kicks so much ass. Heck, even Grace & Frankie, a show that’s purpoted as “Lily Tomlin’s”, really seems to be wasting her on tired, old hippie clichés.

Something that Lily Tomlin herself is much better than.

That’s why Grandma works as well as it does; not only does it give Tomlin the chance to shine and show the world the true talents that have been lying within her for so very long, but it also presents a solid character worthy of our attention, care and, possibly, love. Because as Elle Reid, Tomlin plays the typical stereotype of an aging lesbian who does what she wants, says what she wants, kicks whoever she wants to in the nuts, doesn’t give a flyin’ hoot about whatever anybody else says, and bangs whomever she oh so pleases. Are there people out there like this? Of course! But is this a bit of a bore to see?

Oh definitely!

However, that’s why Tomlin is so good here, as she not only transcends that stereotype, but shows that there’s a reason behind the way she acts. Not only is she still heartbroken and destroyed over the death of her long-time girlfriend, but she also’s coming to terms with her own mortality, as a whole. That’s why, on this little road trip Elle and Sage take, we start to learn more and find out about Elle herself – not just through what people tell us about her, but how they act towards her, even after all of these years. It’s this kind of story-telling and character-development that isn’t just smart, but engaging, as we don’t really know just what Elle’s life has been, but we get a good idea through the constant interactions she has with those around her.

And every step of the way, Tomlin is there to make it work. A lot of the “funny” dialogue that she has to work with can occasionally come off as cloying, and sometimes, annoying, but that’s only because the movie feels as if it has to present Elle as a wise-cracking granny. Having her just be a no-bullcrap woman is fine as is, all the added-on punch-lines and jokes at other’s expense, don’t really matter or work. There’s one painful scene with Nat Wolff, where he ends up getting kicked in the nuts and it’s played for laughs, in a shocking. almost outrageous way, but it never works and feels like a scene thrown in there because Wolff himself decided that he had a day or two to film his scene.

Who wouldn't want the kid from Paper Towns, who also bares a striking resemblance to Adam Goldberg, as their baby daddy?

Who wouldn’t want the kid from Paper Towns, who also bares a striking resemblance to Adam Goldberg, as their baby daddy?

There are a few other weird scenes that play-out just like that, but it’s always Tomlin who keeps these moments, as well as these characters, grounded in some sort of reality that makes sense and can be, at the very least, relateable.

Aside from Tomlin, the rest of Grandma is pretty stacked with some heavy-hitters, all of whom are game for Paul Weitz’s script, adding in their own two cents whenever necessary. Julia Garner doesn’t really need to do much as Sage, instead just sit there and let Tomlin do all of the work, but she’s fine as is; Judy Greer gets a few solid scenes as Elle’s former-lover; Marcia Gay Harden is funny and exciting as Sage’s mom, which makes me wish that this probably was a movie about Sage, Elle and her character, all hangin’ around one another and getting into the occasional squabble; and there’s a few nice appearances from Colleen Camp, Laverne Cox, John Cho, and the late, great Elizabeth Peña.

But the real star of the supporters is Sam Elliott, playing one of Elle’s former lovers, as well as ex-husband, and gives perhaps one of his most “human” performances since Thank You For Smoking. This isn’t to say that all of Elliott’s little pop-ups in random pieces haven’t been unwelcome or bad – it’s more that it seems like he’s playing that same kind of character he’s been known for all along and rather than upending that appearance, he’s been fine with just staying the same, adding the grizzle whenever he feels necessary. Nothing wrong with that, but watching his performance here, it makes you wish that he was more demanding with his own roles, as he’s not only a bright spark of liveliness this movie needed, but gives us everything and anything we need to know about Elle and the sort of affect she had on those people in her life. We get the basic idea of what happened between them both, but really, we don’t know everything and that’s fine.

Grandma isn’t about knowing everything. It’s about the little details that can sometimes make people’s lives the most interesting.

Consensus: With a solid, but rare leading role from Lily Tomlin, Grandma works because of its gentle, tender care and attention to its characters and heartfelt themes, without overdoing it, even if the comedy doesn’t always work.

7.5 / 10

Daughters become grandmothers, but turn to mothers. Why am I quoting John Mayer?

Daughters become grandmothers, but turn to mothers. Why am I quoting John Mayer?0

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Finest Hours (2016)

Well, if pneumonia doesn’t kill ya!

Based on the true story of events that took place in February of 1952, a when a brutally strong storm hit the coast of New England. During this storm, an oil tanker, the SS Pendleton, found itself in a whole of trouble – meaning that they’re ship was literally torn in half. Captain of the ship, Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck), as well as thirty two other men found themselves in the back half of the ship and were in desperate need of some help and attention. Because, well, the longer the ship stayed floating in the water, the more and more flooded it got, leading the men closer and closer to their own respective deaths. Obviously, nobody on the boat was happy about this, so they decided to make one last call for help, in hopes that somebody, even despite the terrible storm, would be able to come and save them all. Well, wouldn’t luck have it that a U.S. Coast Guard station hears it, and one person in particular, Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), decides that it’s his responsibility to save the day and make sure that all of these men get home alive and safely. But Bernie, as well as the other brave souls who go along with him, will soon find out that maybe their dream all along, just was that: A dream that maybe couldn’t ever come true.

He's so normally good-looking.

He’s so normally good-looking.

The Finest Hours is a better movie than people seem to be giving it credit for. Although that isn’t to say it isn’t without its faults, because, well, it definitely has problems. One such is that director Craig Gillespie seems like he’s trying to do a tad too much here, but never really fleshing each plot-line/subplot out to their fullest extreme. Gillespie brings us into the sort of old timey, nostalgic-tone of the early-50’s for the first half-hour of the movie where we see love, happiness and all sorts of novelty expressions of the old days, blossom and it’s a genuinely sweet little movie in its own right. It feels odd considering that we know the movie is going to have to do with a huge storm and ship at one point, but hey, it’s fine for a short while.

Then, it jumps right onto the ship and all of a sudden, we’re getting what is basically the prequel to the Perfect Storm.

Had this movie been released in 2000, right before the Perfect Storm, the Finest Hours would have been called that and it probably would have been a bit of a better movie (although the later is definitely better than the former). However, the Finest Hours is a movie that exists, features a huge boat, as well as a destructive storm that, believe it or not, is actually pretty scary; even though Gillespie literally goes from us watching as Chris Pine makes on some sweet girl, to then being thrown head-first into this dirty, sweaty, wet, and muggy ship, at the drop of a dime, it’s still surprisingly effective.

A bit jarring? Yeah, but it still somehow worked.

But most of this is due to the fact that Gillespie seems to put a lot of his focus onto the storm at-hand and it’s where the movie really excels. Though the CGI can look a bit shoddy, as well as incredibly dark at times, the movie still gives you this idea that, no matter how determined or empowered these guys may be, there may just be one too many odds stacked against them. Despite the fact that it’s based on a true story that most people probably already know about, it’s not hard to get wrapped-up in the characters, as limited as they may be, and the storm, watching as the two sides constantly duke it out.

Once again though, Gillespie’s focus does tend to lean back towards the characters and this is where the movie can sometimes lose its grove. Personally, I was all fine with the central romance between Pine and Holliday Grainger, but once Pine’s Bernie Webber is out on the water, Grainger’s character is sort of just left there to fend for herself, going from one random house to another, looking scared and beautiful at the same time. Why she wasn’t cast in Carol is beyond me!

But regardless, yeah, everything on-land is pretty dry and more often than not breaks up the tension of the movie. However, the storm/rescue sequences themselves are so compelling and tense, that they’re almost worth all the little breaks in between. That’s not to say that Gillespie could have probably made better, tighter movie without all of the stuff on-land, but still, it exists and it’s worth getting past, just to get to the good stuff.

Work that ship, Casey. Show big bro who the real Affleck is.

Work that ship, Casey. Show big bro who the real Affleck is.

And it’s not like the characters are played by any chumps, either, as everybody here is pretty solid.

Chris Pine is surprisingly playing against-type here as Bernie Webber, someone who is neither cunning nor charming, but just sort of the quiet and meek dude who always happens to be in the corner. Granted, it’s Chris Pine, with Chris Pine looks, so it’s hard for him to really play anyone as normal and everyday as someone who doesn’t already look like Chris Pine, but it’s fine because he’s at least trying with something different and, for the most part, it works. Ben Foster plays his pal, and doesn’t really have much to do or say, despite being in just about every scene. It’s a shame because we know so much more from Foster, but still, the presence is welcome.

And yeah, there’s a whole bunch of other character actors here to shake a stick at and be happy to see, but it’s really Casey Affleck and Eric Bana who steal the show – the former for good reasons, the later, for memorably bad ones. What Affleck does well here with his character is that he presents him as a smart, but determined man of very little words who doesn’t beat around the bush when the ship is sinking, but knows exactly how to save himself, as well as the rest of the crew on-board. There’s something comforting about his presence that makes him take over every scene and sort of just wish the movie was about him, his crew, and what’s always going through their minds.

Then, there’s Eric Bana who, sadly, is doing one of the worst movie accents of all time, although it’s not entirely his fault.

Okay, that’s a lie, because it pretty much is. However, I’m just trying to be nice to the guy because it seems like he’s got a lot to work with here. For one, he’s an Australian, trying to play a Texan, who just so happens to be stationed out in Boston. It’s initially odd because we don’t know what accent he’s doing, but after awhile, it becomes clear which one he is trying and it just never works, nor makes any sense. The movie could have definitely just placed him as a normal American from California or Montana, and Eric Bana would have been fine. However, they don’t do that and instead, Eric Bana looks and sounds so ridiculous.

Poor Eric. At least he got to be the Hulk in the new millennium before it was cool.

Consensus: Though the Finest Hours doesn’t always focus on the miraculous and surprisingly uplifting escape plan, it still works when it does, but then, doesn’t work when it’s looking elsewhere.

7 / 10

Ew! Bring back the hot and sweaty dudes!

Ew! Bring back the hot and sweaty dudes!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Pride and Glory (2008)

Keep it in the family. Even corruptness.

After a bunch of his fellow cops are shot dead in what was supposed to be a drug-ring raid, Ray Tierney (Edward Norton) returns to the detective field to figure out just who killed these cops and just exactly how it all happened. And because his daddy (Jon Voight), his brother Francis (Noah Emmerich), and brother-in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell), are all apart of the force as well, it should make absolute sense that he should have no problems getting the right kind of answers he so desperately seeks. However, what Ray begins to find out, though, is that the details surrounding the killer and what happened are a bit shady. For one, nobody can find the supposed-shooter, and to make matters worse, it turns out that perhaps some brothers in blue may also be a little bit dirty. Which is expected, but there’s a possibility that these dirty cops may have been involved with the killing of the other cops, leading Ray to start questioning all of the cops around him, including his family. Obviously, they’re all appalled and shocked by Ray’s findings and accusations, but at the same time, there’s still some truth to it, and this is when everybody involved starts getting desperate and finding a clean way out of this dirty situation.

"Please tell me! Why did you get those corn-rows?!?"

“Please tell me! Why did you get those corn-rows?!?”

If you’ve seen one cop movie, generally, you’ve seen ’em all. Hardly do they ever stray away from the norm of what we’ve all come to know and expect with a cop movie, which begs the question: Why does Hollywood keep making them? Is there really any huge sell or draw in them that makes people flock out to the theaters to check them out? Or is that Hollywood can’t get over its weird affection and interest in the brothers in blue, so they still continue to make movies about them, not offering anything new or interesting to say about them, either?

Well, whatever the answer may be, Pride and Glory doesn’t really do much to make sense of it.

Although, Pride and Glory is a different kind of cop movie; for one, it’s about dirty cops, being, well, dirty and corrupt as all hell. Given today’s political climate, you’d think that this would be a hot-button topic worthy of being touched upon and prodded at, but director Gavin O’Connor doesn’t really seem interested in diving deep into that discussion. Instead, he just sort of wants to show off his dirty cops as they were; doing stuff they shouldn’t be, pointing the fingers at others, and telling lookie-loos to “mind their own business and shut their mouth”. O’Connor may have some sort of interest in what drives a seemingly normal, everyday cop, to become a drug-dealing, money-stealing baddie, but he doesn’t quite show it.

Most of the time, O’Connor allows his movie to fly-off the rails with fine actors going a tad bit over-the-top. Gifted character actor Frank Grillo is sadly the clearest example of this as his cop character, albeit a dirty one, wants absolutely each and every person in the movie to know it. It’s almost as if any and all subtlety was lost here and O’Connor told Grillo to “just have fun”, and he really did. Problem is, all of the yelling, punching, kicking, and gun-slinging doesn’t do much to help create a character, but further highlight a type that needs to be done with.

But Grillo isn’t the only one who is dialing it way, way up.

Colin Farrell is intense, doing his best De Niro impression here, but once again, his character feels like he has no rhyme or reason for breaking bad. Sure, we get the idea that maybe greed took over and he couldn’t stop himself, but we can only assume that because we never see this character actually be a good cop – we just see him as this dirty one, who can’t be trusted with anything. There’s an unpredictable nature to Farrell that he brings onto the screen each and every chance he gets, but mostly, it just ends with him yelling or acting out in some way.

Just imagine Micky Donovan, as a cop.

Just imagine Micky Donovan, as a cop.

I mean, hell, the guy almost hot irons a baby! What the hell!

Edward Norton, thankfully, dials it down a bit more and seems to actually be more interested in diving dig into his character’s psyche. Issue is, this tends to make his character feel a bit more boring and dry than he probably should, which is an even bigger shame because he’s the lead protagonist we’re supposed to stand behind, root for and spend all of our time with. Norton has solid scenes with just about everyone around him, but when it comes to pushing the story-line along, there’s a never ending sense of normality that overtakes Norton, as well as the movie and it’s hard to get away from.

By the end though, O’Connor decides to stop sitting around and let everything and everyone, within Pride and Glory, run wild.

This means that guns are shot, people are beaten-up, noses are bloodied, faces are battered, people start shouting, and out of nowhere, which was, at one point, a slow, almost meandering drama, is now this wild-and-out, action-thriller where people can’t stop beating the hell out of one another. Is it exciting to watch? Sure. Does it feel like a whole completely different movie? Oh, most definitely and it’s an issue that seems to make Pride and Glory, yet again, just another cop movie.

Although still plenty more watchable than season two of True Detective.

That’s for sure.

 

Consensus: Despite a solid cast, Pride and Glory is drenched into too many cop movie cliches and conventions to really do much, other than just mildly entertain those looking for some entertainment.

6 / 10

"We're brudders. We ain't eva gain to brake apaart."

“We’re brudders. We ain’t eva gain to brake apaart.”

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Goosebumps (2015)

Welcome back, nightmares.

Pissed-off about having to move from the big city to a small town in Delaware, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) is already restless. However, when he meets the beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door, he can’t help but fall head-over-heels and get easily distracted. But soon, Zach finds out that Hannah’s father is famous author R. L. Stine (Jack Black), whose best-known work is with the Goosebumps book series. And even though Stine makes it so that Zach doesn’t see his daughter, because these two are teens, they find a way to do so, regardless of what daddy wants the most and unfortunately, it leads to some very tragic circumstances. The main which being that the original copies of Stine’s books open up and release all sorts of evil monsters, goblins, ghouls and dummies get released out into the open, where they begin to wreak havoc on just about every citizen of this small town. Seeing a show they need to fix this bad situation, Zach, Hannah, and R.L. band together to try and stop this predicament from getting even more dangerous than it already is – which will mostly rely on having R.L. create a new book.

There's the Abominable Snowman.

There’s the Abominable Snowman.

If you were a kid growing up in the 90’s, chances are, you read a Goosebumps book. It doesn’t matter which title, or which one (I did prefer the “choose your own destination” ones later on in life when I became older and boring), because you were intrigued by the book-covers, the titles, and most of all, the idea of being apart of the cultural wave that it seemed like all of your fellow friends were abuzz about. And even if you didn’t read a single Goosebumps book, or care to bother to figure out what they’re about, you still got the gist of them all: They’re scary stories, written to have kids scared to go to sleep at night.

Which is why the Goosebumps movie is perfect for any and all audience-members, as it doesn’t matter if you’ve read a single book, or not – either way, you’re going to enjoy the movie.

That Goosebumps isn’t made to just appeal to the dedicated fanboys of the franchise, already puts it in line with some of the better kids movies. Though there’s definitely some scary stuff that may take some kids, as well as parents off-guard, there’s nothing here that’s meant to offend or disrupt anybody’s natural-born home life. If anything, the Goosebumps movie sets out to entertain you, make you feel safe (which is odd considering that it’s supposed to be a “spooky tale”), have you laugh, and, if everything works out perfectly, give some kids newfound interest in the books that haven’t quite picked up steam since the early days of the 21st Century.

So in that general aspect, yeah, Goosebumps is a fine movie. It doesn’t set out to light the world on fire and is, for most of the people who don’t know much about the franchise to begin with, accessible. There’s no real in-jokes or references to the books that will surprise people or have them pointing at the screen in self-adulation, but mostly, just laugh in the way you would with any normal comedy. Except, in this movie’s case, it’s a kids movie and a solid one, at that.

And this is definitely thanks to the fact that Jack Black’s R.L. Stine is actually kind of a dick.

There's, of course, Slappy.

There’s, of course, Slappy.

Even though the movie got the go-ahead from Stine himself, it’s still interesting to see how he’s portrayed as a bit of a pompous a-hole who loves to brag about his books, doesn’t like to be mentioned in the same sentence as “that hack” Stephen King, and likes to explain the difference between hims domestic and worldwide sales. Sure, he’s not a total and complete deuche that you want to punch him in the face, but he’s still one in that entertaining way where you want to hear him talk about himself more and more, just because he’s so ridiculously in-love with himself, that it’s not hard to laugh at it all. Of course, Black is to be credited with this, too, as he doesn’t fully dive into “Jack Black territory” that most of us have come to know, expect and basically hate, and shows that he can a solid screen-presence on the screen, even if he isn’t the star of the show or the one everyone has come to seen.

And heck, after the Brink, I think Jack Black deserves any kind of love he can get.

Aside from Black’s Stine, everybody else does a solid job, too. Though I’ve seen Dylan Minnette play this role before as the self-aware, but everyday teenager, he’s still likable enough to let it work its magic; Odeya Rush is, of course, beautiful, but her character has a bit more personality to her than just that; and Amy Ryan, though may seem oddly-placed here, still works fine as Zach’s mom who occasionally shows up and delights us all.

Then again, when is Amy Ryan not a delight!

Consensus: Like most kids movies, Goosebumps doesn’t try to re-invent any wheel, but instead, entertain the whole family with fun, humor, and a nostalgic adoration for its source material that definitely deserves a new audience.

6 / 10

And, uhm, some hug ant-creature-thing. Yeah, don't know if I read that book.

And, uhm, some hug ant-creature-thing. Yeah, don’t know if I read that book.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Walk (2015)

Everybody in NYC just gets to do what they want!

Frenchman Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) had lifelong dreams of entertaining huge groups of people that he would literally do anything to garner people’s love and adoration. For instance, at a young age, he would perform acts on the streets where he would do all sorts of magic tricks and whatnot, ask for money at the end, and then, get chased down by police, sometimes getting, and other times, not. However, Philippe felt as if his life wasn’t fulfilled to he most extreme point yet, which is why, by in the early 70’s, he got the idea of walking across a wire between the two towers of the newly-built World Trade Center. Problem was, as you could expect, that security would be tight and tough on this plan, which is why Philippe, along with a few of his pals, got together a crack team to pull it all off. Whether or not they’d be able to pull it off was one obstacle they had to overcome, but actually making sure that the daredevil Philippe himself would actually survive the stunt and not fall to his death, was a whole other one to digest and come to terms with.

Guess they've never seen Man on Wire?

Guess they’ve never seen Man on Wire?

If you’ve seen Man on Wire, you’ve basically seen the Walk. Sure, one’s a documentary, whereas the other is just a theatrical re-telling of that whole story, with glitzy and glamorous actors, visuals, and a tad bit more background on things that may have needed more clarification the first time around. Does it really matter which one you see first, or at all? Sort of, yes. Definitely see the documentary, but if you just so happen to catch the Walk before that one and think there isn’t something more to the story than just a dude walks a tight-rope across the Twin Towers, then please, go see Man on Wire as soon as possible.

You’ll be surprised and happy you did, especially since the Walk is, for lack of a better term, mediocre.

However, it does have good qualities in that it features Robert Zemeckis, once again, playing around with neat and cool-looking visuals that definitely grab your attention. Mostly though, this comes at the end of the flick where we’ve wadded through all of the character and story-stuff and now, after much time and dedication, finally get to see as Petit walks across the wire and perform for thousands and thousands of on-lookers. Is it worth the wait? Kind of, yeah.

What Zemeckis always does so well with his movies, rather than focus in on the visuals, is how he makes them all seem so real, and almost as if you’re right there, at that exact moment while it’s happening. Though there’s definitely a few shots during this final sequence that look a bit chintzy, for the most part, Zemeckis does a good enough job at putting us right then and there with Petit, not knowing what’s going to happen, or how this whole stunt is going to work out, if at all. Of course, if you’ve seen Man on Wire previously, you already know what happens to Petit, but still, there’s a small feeling of suspense in the air that carries this final sequence on longer than it probably should have.

Then again, like I’ve said before, this final sequence comes after everything else Zemeckis has to give us with the Walk and it’s quite painful to sit through.

Most of this has to do with the fact that the script is very hokey and already suffers from the problem that the documentary on this tale has already been told, and it’s not just that it was amazing, but also painted a perfect portrait of just about everyone and everything involved with this miraculous stunt. Sure, there was maybe one or two points of conversation not touched on in the documentary, but really, that’s just nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking – basically, Man on Wire does an amazing job of giving us every side and factor of this story to make it worth telling and getting invested in.

Okay, going to throw-up now.

Okay, going to throw-up now.

The Walk, on the other hand, doesn’t know how to do any of that, so instead, just gives us a whole bunch of scenes where Joseph Gordon-Levitt, using a very silly French accent, runs around all spirited and such, performing tricks, and always exclaiming that he’s “going to walk between the Twin Towers!” Granted, this is most definitely how the real life Petit was at the time, but really, it goes on for quite some time. Then, Ben Kingsley walks in as his mentor of sorts, and hams it up so incredibly that it’s actually quite fun to watch. All of his scenes are just him teaching Petit how to walk a tight-rope and somehow relating those teachings to the rest of all that life has to offer, but Kingsley seems to be having fun, so why not!

And Gordon-Levitt seems to be having fun, too, but really, his character is so one-note, that it hardly matters if he’s trying. It’s already made abundantly clear to us early on that the only form of Petit we’re going to get is the fun-loving, constantly excited, joyous person, and that’s it. Gordon-Levitt is more than up to the task of playing this character and shining more light on his more human-features, but really, Zemeckis doesn’t quite care about all that. What he really wants to do is get to the Twin Towers, show us that his visuals are as rad as they could ever be, and remind us that a man like Petit existed, whether any of us care or not.

But hey, at least it gives everyone a movie to see! In 3D, no less!

Consensus: With a hokey script, the Walk suffers from treading the same waters that the way better documentary Man on Wire did, even if it does offer some fun and lively jolts by the end.

6 / 10

Yeah, uhm, don't look down.

Yeah, uhm, don’t look down.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Everest (2015)

Staying at home is fine, too.

Mount Everest is considered to be one of the greatest snowy mountains to climb up and sights to see, ever. That’s why, in March 1996, there were a few commercial expeditions all getting ready together and prepared to climb the mountain, even if they knew it can sometimes be rough and not so lovely, even if you do reach the top and complete the trip. One group in particular was lead by Adventure Consultants’ Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) who, with his latest group with the likes of Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), who’s dealing with some marital problems of his own, as well as mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), who is apparently using the trip as a way to prove himself to his wife, as well as some sponsors of his. However, these two are just a slight few of the many who decided to travel up the mountain, reach the top, and achieve their goal. There were plenty others like traveling journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) and Scott Fisher (Jake Gyllenhaal), just to name a few, but no matter how many there were, they still all faced the extreme weather conditions and storms that would soon sweep their area.

If Everest can take these three on, it can take on anyone!

If Everest can take these three on, it can take on anyone!

When all is said and done, all Everest really has to say about climbing and traveling and all that fun stuff is, that well, “it’s really hard to do”. For one, you have to have a whole lot of money to actually get the right treatment. Secondly, you have to train and prepare for it so much that, it comes to an eventual point where you don’t know how to live your own normal life, in normal society. And then, of course, there’s the risk-factor where, any wrong turn, slip, slide, or move in any way, can actually result in your fatal death. And while Everest can sometimes work as a way to get more and more tourists up there to check out the mountain for what it is, at the same time, that’s not at all the truth.

Because as the movie tells us, people die there. In fact, a lot of people.

And that’s about all Everest really has to say about this one particular, if true, story. People got cold, people got swept up in the huge storm that began to form right over them, and yes, people died. Of course, it’s very sad and there is no way of shining any sort of light or hope on it, however, there is something to be said for a movie that presents these deaths in a surprising manner, but also doesn’t shed any thought on them. It’s almost as if every character in Everest who dies, was around not to just die, but to also show us that hiking up a mountain like Everest is as scary and as terrifying as you’d expect it to be.

Which is a huge shame, because the cast here is pretty well-stacked and great. One can only assume that this great deal of talent got together in a movie like this because the paycheck was nice and there wasn’t too much heavy-lifting needed to be done, but still, you can tell that everybody here is trying and giving it their all. Jason Clarke finally gets a chance to shine and be charismatic for once, here as Rob Hall – somebody you just feel so incredibly safe and comfortable with, that you’ll almost forget your climbing one of the biggest mountains in all of the world. Though we get to see that he’s a generally nice guy who takes care of his free-loading buddies, picks up those that have fallen down, and loves his wife, it’s really Clarke who does most of the work here and shows just what he can do with such a limited-role.

Because frankly, everyone else’s characters don’t get much to do, either. And once again, it’s a total shame.

Josh Brolin gets to show us some semblance of humanity as Beck Weathers, the character we expect to be “the villain” of this whole story, only to realize that he’s nicer than expected; John Hawkes’ Doug Hansen is a bit of a corny character, but Hawkes is so likable that it almost doesn’t matter; Michael Kelly’s character feels like he serves more importance to the overall story, but doesn’t really get to stretch any of that out; Jake Gyllenhaal is hardly here as Scott Fisher, someone who is constantly drunk, miserable, tired, and hopped-up on some sort of drug, which Gyllenhaal works fine with, even if we don’t get any sort of background as to why; Emily Watson and Sam Worthington stay in the safe parts of Everest, for the most part, but still show enough humanity as much as they can; and Robin Wright and Keira Knightley are mostly downgraded to “wife roles” where they sit at home, watch over the house, and have occasional conversations with their spouses.

That snotty Keira, all tucked away and cozy in her warm home.

That snotty Keira, all tucked away and cozy in her warm home.

In case you couldn’t tell, that’s a lot of characters for a two-hour movie. So, it’s probably no surprise that a good handful are just left to act for a scene or two, and leave it at that. Most of them are effective, but overall, you can tell that, had the screenplay been more with their interest at-heart, something special would have happened.

That said, Everest is still pretty hard to look away from and get discouraged from, mostly because it does the job right in painting this storm as one of the most terrifying ones ever.

Director Baltasar Kormákur obviously didn’t set out to make some sort of thought-provoking piece of drama, but instead, wrap us in on a suspense-ride from beginning, to end. And honestly, it kind of works. The movie not only looks beautiful, but truly does make you feel as if you’re there at Everest, watching as each and everyone of these characters grapple with each one’s lives and try their hardest to stay the hell alive. Honestly, once the storm kicks in, which isn’t until about an hour in, is only when the movie really gets going, but it’s so enriching and compelling, that I was able to forgive it for all of the missteps it made before.

Even if the cast gets wasted on roles that are way too limited, there’s still the feeling that, deep down inside, Kormákur wanted to chronicle this tragedy. Sure, he went about it in such a manipulative manner, but he’s a film-director – how could he not want to make a little bit of money out of other people’s suffering?

Consensus: Despite not feeling as if it’s fully up-to-par with the extreme talents of the ensemble, Everest still works a chilly thrill-ride that keeps you enamored with the spectacle, so long as you don’t try to look too deep enough.

7 / 10

"Yeah, it's uh, it's pretty cold up here."

“Yep. Still pretty cold up here.”

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Mojave (2016)

Chances are, random dudes you meet in the desert, aren’t going to be the ones to trust in actual society.

Famous Hollywood writer Thomas (Garrett Hedlund), is conflicted about his life so, one day, he decides to get up and leave his mansion, French girlfriend, and money behind, to venture out into the desert for some peace and solidarity. However, while in the desert, Thomas realizes that he may not actually be alone in this huge desert – in fact, he may actually be being followed. This is when Thomas meets Jack (Oscar Isaac), a drifter who says that he’s a director, but at the same time, doesn’t really seem all that convincing when he says that. He and Thomas, despite the obvious awkwardness of the whole situation, have a solid conversation about life, death, Jesus Christ and the devil, but it becomes all too clear that there’s something off about Jack that Thomas doesn’t want to be around. So, that’s why Thomas decides to leave the desert, as well as Jack behind; which, as a result, makes Jack very angry and forced to follow Thomas all the way to his glitzy and glamorous home life, leading to some very bloody, very violent results.

He's brooding.

He’s brooding.

William Monahan, nearly a decade ago, wrote the script for the Departed and he could have stopped right there. Already, he had given each and every person on the face of the planet something that they wanted, loved and adored, and right then and there, Monahan could have packed his things up, got all of his money together, and head for the hills, never to be heard from or bothered again, but knowing that he did something right for society. But seeing as how Monahan is, first and foremost, a creator, he decided to make Mojave which is, most definitely, a whole heck of a lot different from the Departed in many ways.

Of course, though, what Mojave does have similarly to the Departed, is that both movies feature big, rough, and tough guys being, well, big, rough, and tough.

And honestly, for the longest time of Mojave, there’s a lot to enjoy in just watching that happen, especially when the two said guys in question are Oscar Isaac and Garrett Hedlund, two young talents that are so well-deserving of every role they’re given. Seeing as how both are actual friends in real life (as well as co-starred in Inside Llewyn Davis), it makes sense that they feature wonderful chemistry together, just playing off of one another and testing each other to their limits; the same is definitely said for their characters who are, randomly, at odds with one another for reasons we never fully know or understand. However, there’s still a feeling you can get watching these two pals act alongside one another, and just knowing that they’re having a great time watching as the other works the field, so they say.

Which is why, had Mojave just been a two-hander of these two talking about whatever the hell they wanted to talk and swinging their dicks around, it probably would have been a whole lot better, tighter and enjoyable. However, because Monahan adds on so much more than just these two going to battle with one another and leaving it at that, it becomes messy and we forget what makes the movie so strong in the first place: Isaac and Hedlund. While neither loses any sense of charm or presence in the proceedings, they still get pushed too far to the back so that Monahan can run wild, say whatever he wants, and do weird things that nobody expected, but nobody really needed to see, either. Monahan gets mixed-up in his own ideas where, one side of him wants to make this mono-e-mono thriller between these two colorful characters, but on the other side, wants to talk about Hollywood and everybody in it is a terrible, mean-spirited and disgusting place that nobody should ever get caught up in.

Wow, where have I heard this before?

He's weird.

He’s weird.

Clearly, Monahan’s not working with any life-changing, ground-breaking themes or ideas and it sometimes calls into question just how odd this movie can be. Mark Wahlberg randomly shows up a coked-up, over-the-top and wild Hollywood agent who is, definitely fun, but still doesn’t add much to the whole movie; Walton Goggins shows up as a Hollywood executive who is about as dead-spirited as they come; and yeah, then there’s a whole murder investigation that never seems to escalate, but still bring these two guys closer. Monahan brings up a whole lot of stuff here, but because he’s both the writer, as well as the director, there’s no holding back in just where Mojave can, and will, go.

Still though, it’s Hedlund and Isaac who make this movie work the most and it makes sense why they’re given the most to work, for better as well as for worse. Hedlund is, once again, playing up that whole brooding-angle he always shows and does fine with it. While Thomas, the character, may be limited in how much we actually care or get to know about him, Hedlund shows that there’s something of a soul underneath it all and it makes us sympathize with him just a tad bit more, even if we don’t really care either way where the story goes, or who ends up getting the ax.

But Isaac is perhaps the one having the most fun here and it’s great to see him just live every bit of this material up. In a way, as Jack, Isaac livens this material up a whole lot more than it probably should have been, as he’s not just funny, but more thoughtful than the movie may have called for. He’s got a lot to say about faith and Hollywood, or whatever, but he’s also got something to say about Hedlund’s Thomas, and it’s these revelations that I found most telling. While Monahan has a bone to pick with Hollywood, he still has a point in saying what he says, which makes me wonder why he’s making movies as conflicted as Mojave, and isn’t giving it his all again like he did with the Departed all those years ago?

The world may never know, but we wait and wonder.

Consensus: Hedlund and Isaac are great, however, Mojave‘s odd plotting and themes don’t always come together in a cohesive manner, that gives them the movie they wholly deserve.

5.5 / 10

Together, they're the perfect couple.

Together, they’re the perfect couple.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Dirty Grandpa (2016)

These younglings don’t know how old-heads get down.

With less than a week to go before his wedding, Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) has good knowledge of how he wants the rest of his life to go down. And even though he’s definitely looking forward to getting hitched to his high-class, but very pretty fiancee (Julianne Hough), all of those happy feelings and thoughts are put to the side once he learns that his grand-mother has died. Heart-broken and sad is Jason’s grandpa, Dick (Robert De Niro), who Jason reluctantly volunteers to drive to wherever he wants. Problem is, Jason gets duped into taking his grandpa to Daytona Beach, for Spring Break of all times. Turns out, grandpa has been in desperate need of some fun as of late and now, with his late wife being gone, he now finally has the chance to do so. While Jason isn’t all about allowing his grandpa go around, smoking, drinking, and bangin’ whatever, he also doesn’t want to keep his grandpa away from having some fun on his own time as well. This also gets Jason to thinking of his own life and how, at one point in his life, he wasn’t so uptight and by-the-books and, believe it or not, really fun and exciting to be around – something his grandpa reminds him of all the time.

Why are Grandpa's always doing this?

Why are grandpa’s always doing this?

Movies like Dirty Grandpa are the kinds I, for one reason or another, want to stick up for. The main reason being is that it’s an R-rated raunch-fest that does, says, or acts whatever way it wants to, regardless of what others may think, say, or be offended by. In other words, Dirty Grandpa is exactly like the aging-grandfather you invite to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner – you know he’s going to say a lot of inappropriate, borderline racist stuff, but you just let him go because, well, he’s old and doesn’t really know that he’s doing or saying anything wrong. You could totally make the argument that those behind Dirty Grandpa know exactly what they’re doing and saying is, by far, wrong, but you could also make the argument that absolutely none of them care.

And that, to me, takes a lot of gut to actually create and deliver on.

Cause in today’s day and age where political correctness is shoved aside as a means to not offend a certain demographic, Dirty Grandpa pulls down its pants, flips the bird, and says, “screw you”, to each and everyone of those people who may be offended by what the movie’s making cracks about. Granted, it’s not hard to get offended by Dirty Grandpa; whether you’re white, black, male, female, obese, skinny, attractive, ugly, gay, young, old, or whatever, you’re going to get made fun of and be somewhat offended. Sure, some may call this “crass”, “mean”, or just downright “despicable”, but is there always a problem with that? Can, sometimes at least, that same crassness, that same meanness, and hell, that same despicability, be at least somewhat funny?

In Dirty Grandpa‘s case, it can sometimes be, but at other times, not really.

But really, the parts of Dirty Grandpa that are in fact, funny, worked for me enough to get past the other issues with the movie like say, I don’t know, the fact that it has no general regard for anyone person’s feelings or emotions. Basically, what Dirty Grandpa sets out to do is make fun of those they decide to because, well, they can, so why not? It’s not hard to hate a comedy who’s general position is to make fun of everyone around them, but it’s also not that much harder to hate one when it isn’t actually being funny – Dirty Grandpa, though, in some cases, was at least funny enough that I didn’t care and let all of those sensitivity issues fall by the wayside.

That said, if you’re offended by Dirty Grandpa, you definitely should be pissed-off and upset. There’s no denying that the movie does and says a lot that can definitely land itself in hot-water that’s hard to swim out of and honestly, for the most part, there are jokes that are so painfully stupid and obvious, you’ll want to leave the theater for about five seconds, just so that you can wash away the agony from said terrible joke. Then again, there will be another joke or two that comes by that is, surprisingly, actually funny and delivers on the mark it sets out to hit, which is why I stuck through and decided to give this thing the benefit of the doubt.

From one hunk, to another.

From one hunk, to another.

Which is all to say that, thanks to De Niro and Efron, Dirty Grandpa works better than it probably ever should.

Efron’s been desperately trying to get away from his teen-idol image and carve-out a more serious, mature look for him which, seems to be working. In Dirty Grandpa, he does more of a job of making fun of himself than anything else, and it’s actually quite fun to watch. Clearly, he knows that he’s the sexiest, hunkiest person in the room, so he doesn’t mind getting naked, or poking jokes at his ridiculously-ripped and chiseled body at his own expense. After all, he’s the butt of the joke, but really, he’s the one that all the ladies still want to be with so it’s fine, I guess.

But as much as Efron may try, it’s De Niro who actually gives it his all and seems to really make this thing work. Granted, Dirty Grandpa probably shouldn’t work at all, but because De Niro seems to be enjoying his time so incredibly much, it’s hard not to crack a smile or laugh whenever he’s on the screen. He’s dirty, raunchy, disgusting, and a bit annoying, but most of all, he’s De Niro having fun and being spirited at the same time which, if any of you have seen what he’s put out in the past couple of years, means a lot. The movie may not be fully up-to-par but hey, seeing De Niro have some fun, allows me to have some fun, as well.

Just don’t tell anybody I said that.

Consensus: Not at all politically correct by any means and definitely a mixed-affair, Dirty Grandpa sets out for the shock laughs than anything else and can, for the most part, make them work, if only because De Niro and Efron seem to be having fun.

5 / 10

Whatta party.

Whatta party.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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