Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Would it be safe to say that the Stations of the Cross was one of the first horror-stories ever told?

If you have never went to school in your life, took a religious course, or still consider yourself an “atheist” (word has totally lost it’s meaning by now, this is the story of Jesus (Jim Caviezel)’ last 12 hours of life. Not only was he betrayed by one of his most beloved followers (that damn Judas), but was also wrongfully-accused, put to death, and forced to be executed in front of everybody that couldn’t get enough bloodshed and gore for a day’s work. But, don’t feel so bad for Jesus, because he’s doing this for all of us, the decisions we make, the sins that we commit, and overall: for our lives.

This may be a surprise for some of you to hear (or see), but this movie caused quite the stir back in the early days of 2004 and with good reason. Not only is it one of the most famous and iconic stories of our day and age, but it’s one that so many people know by now, as well as the what, the who, the where, and the how. However, not everybody gets down to the nitty gritty details of just what sort of pain and agony our dear Jesus had to go through, just so us assholes on Earth could get away with having sex before marriage and robbing that liquor store last week. Don’t play dumb. You know exactly who it is that I’m talking about here.

"You mean to tell me that you want an autograph now?"

“You mean to tell me that you want an autograph now?”

That’s where Mel Gibson shows up, though, and makes us see this story for all that it was, without leaving any certain type of details that may (and definitely did) make Catholics, Jews, Priests, and the Vatican more pissed off than little Jimmy opening his mouth out about how Father McCarthy gave him extra sips of wine in the back of the Church. Then, of course, when you do re-enact a story like this, with all of the blood, the gore, and violence, you have to expect all of those “sacred people” to be up in arms and consider it a sacrilege, all because Jesus actually got his ass beat, before dying a very painful, agonizing death. Just to let you know, The Church; this shit actually did happen, so what the hell is so wrong with some dude showing it in all of it’s fame and glory.?!?!? Probably not the best choice of words, but you get my drift.

Anyway, aside from all of my religious beliefs (I have none, I think they are all just used as a conversation-stater for boring people), the movie still paints a portrait of Jesus and the Stations of the Cross, and not in the happiest-way either. However, that’s the point of the story and for that, I have to give Mel Gibson mucho credit for not backing down and allowing people to take away his image of what happened to Jesus during his last twelve hours. Everything we see, hear, and feel, is not pretty, but then again; what the hell do you really think Jesus went through when he was just doing this all for us and the sins we would definitely commit!?? Did you think they just handed him the cross and a fork-lift to get up on top of that hill, glue him to it, and just let him sit up there for a little while?!? Hell to the no!

What they did do was savagely beat the shit out of him, whip him until he was just about bones on the ground, and never let up, even when he couldn’t physically carry the cross no more. That is definitely not the type of gruesome story we get to hear when our religious-grandparents force us to go to Church, but that’s the story we all know and rarely ever see. That is until, Mel Gibson has a little something to say and absolutely holds no frills, or strings attached. He tells it as if the story most likely happened in real life, and never lets up when it seems like the violence is becoming too much for people. Even though the guy is a fucking nut behind-the-scenes and sometimes in front of, you have to give crazy Mel credit for having a vision in his head, sticking to it, and not allowing any person to stop him from showing it or skewer with it any way at all. In a way, I guess you could say he’s a lot like Jesus where he had a vision and a belief, and never let anybody stop him from telling it or showing it to the people around him.

Too much? Yeah, I kinda thought so. Anyway, moving on……

Although I can give credit where credit is due for Mr. Mel and having the balls to go forward with this story, I can’t give him credit for giving me a movie I want to see ever again. I mean that too: NEVER, EVER AGAIN! It wasn’t just that the blood, the violence, the gore, the torture, and the whipping became too much for me, because actually, by the 4th time actually seeing this, I think I’ve become more numb than ever before. But it wasn’t that, it was just that after all of this time the story still did nothing for me. It isn’t because I’m an atheist (I guess I am. I don’t know, and I don’t care, really), and it isn’t because I haven’t gone to Church in almost a year and counting, and it sure as hell isn’t because I usually cheated on every single one of religion tests they threw in front of me (loved sitting next to Lauren Baker 4th-8th grade), but it was just because the story and Gibson’s approach doesn’t offer us anything new, original, or thoughtful that we haven’t already heard or seen before.

"Judas, you're a fucking prick. Just wanted to let you know."

“Judas, you’re a fucking prick. Just wanted to let you know.”

We know exactly what happens in this story, and therefore, we expect to not get any surprises and in return; there aren’t any. The only type of surprises there could have been with this story was what Mel had to say about it, and we never get that. Instead, we just see Jesus get tortured, beaten within an inch of his life, his mommy crying, his followers act like pussies and back-stabbers, and at the end of the day, dying in total agony, discomfort, and excruciating pain. And oh, by the way, it’s all for 2 hours and 6 minutes which wouldn’t seem that bad if the movie continued to move along, but it doesn’t. It just keeps on getting slow, melodramatic, and a bit too obvious for it’s own good. I don’t know whether or not this is how the original story was framed (highly doubt it was), but something, somewhere, within Gibson’s direction was just not cooking well and just made this flick seem like it had to be seen, to be believed. That’s all fine and dandy, but don’t promise me boobs, when all I get is legs. That’s all I have to say about that.

As for the actors and actresses of this movie, they all do fine but most of their jobs are hard to pull-off considering all that they have to do is speak in a dead language, emote really hard, and pull off some nasty emotions. Overall, they all do fine but I can’t really say that anyone in particular is a revelation  considering it’s mostly ordinary the same stuff around. Jim Caviezel is good as Jesus Christ because he is able to look as if he was near-beaten to death, pull it off without over-acting too much, and just seeming like a Saint-like creature, sort of like Jesus. This guy’s a good actor in most of the stuff he does, which is a shame because he will always and forever be remembered as “the guy who played Jesus in that one movie directed by that anti-Semite, Mel Gibson”. It’s a sad reality, but it’s the truth. Poor guy. And I’m talking about Jim, not that dick head named Mel.

Consensus: Passion of the Christ is the story we all know from the heart, feel the agony of, and in ways, learn something new from each and every time we hear it, but not this time. Nope, Mel Gibson has a the credit for at least achieving his vision and not backing down, but when it comes to giving us a movie that is worth watching for the whole sake of being enjoyed, learning something from, or being emotionally-driven; he does not succeed. Maybe that last aspect may work, all depending on how Holy that person is, but for yours truly: it didn’t much for me at all.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Think of this while you're on your egg hunts.

Think of this while you’re on your egg hunts and have a Happy Easter.


G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

Yo Joe! Get a better release date next time!

After almost all of the G.I. Joe’s are wiped-out after a sneak-attack from Cobra hit them, the ones that are left must build a team, get the professionals, and be strong enough to defeat their mortal enemy. The only problem is that they need help, and with the assistance of the government and a General named Joe Colton (Bruce Willis), they may find a possible way of a victory after all. However, just like you always used to fantasize when playing with the toys: it’s not always an easy match. That is, unless you played with Barbies, then don’t even bother reading this synopsis, this review, or this movie!

No matter what I say about this movie from now until the end of this review, just know that I am so mad at this movie for what it did to me last year. I mean, I not only was really looking forward to it, I even went so far as to put it as one of my most-anticipated for the Summer, IN MY HIGH-SCHOOL NEWSPAPER! That’s right, for all of my high-school to see and then when they actually buzzed out on me and decided to take it back to the next year (meaning today), not only did I look like an ass, but actually was a little upset because I wanted to still see it. But noooooo! Hollywood has to get those bigger bucks, had to make sure everything had an extra dimension, and worst of all, had to make sure Channing Tatum got five more minutes of screen-time. That’s right people: he’s only in this for a total of ten minutes, then gets killed, and is never seen again. Nice job. Glad the re-shoots and delays were worth it.

His 15 minutes of fame, minus 5.

His 15 minutes of fame, minus 5.

I’m not going to lie to you all, I actually liked the first G.I. Joe movie. Yeah, it had it’s fair share of problems, it was corny, it was stupid, and it was sure as hell loud, but it was still fun and that’s all that mattered to me. However, it seems like the people behind this sequel, feel as if that movie was so damn terrible, that they not only need to kill-off almost all of the characters from that movie, but do away with everything else about it as well. The first one had this over-the-cop, campy-feel to it that was surprising, considering the G.I. Joe cartoons and comics have always been serious, but this one sort of loses that edge about half-way through.

For instance, when we are first introduced to Duke and Roadblock, we see them goofing around with one another, spouting-out one-liners, and overall, just having a good time without getting too jokey and forgetting about the action. Then, as soon as the original Joe members are all killed-off, then things get a tad too serious, and not in the fun way either. The jokes are still there, the action is still around, and the over-the-top look and feel is still present at moments, but it’s not what you’d expect.

Where this movie seems to lose itself is that it not only focuses way too much on plot, but also forgets that this is a mindless action movie, made off of what is essentially a bunch of action figures that all the cool kids played with, when the girlies were off making sure that Ken and Barbie got it on. A lot. To try and make a serious story out of something like that, is ridiculous in it’s own right. To lose that sense of fun or craziness, just seemed like a slap in the face to the audience that grew up loving and watching G.I. Joe’s but also a waste of a good budget, and a good cast that knows how to have fun, be witty, and be cool, all at the same time. Jon M. Chu isn’t a bad director to be chosen for this material, but at the end of the day: something felt like it was missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it just yet, but it may have something to do with the fact that everybody seems to melodramatic, without getting loose and shaking things up. The original wasn’t a ground-breaker by any stretch, but at least it had fun for the time being. This one just tried way, way too hard.

But don’t be fooled by all of this shit-talking I’m doing, it’s still a fun movie and will most likely bring out the kid inside of you: for better or worse. Yes men, this is the movie that you want to see with your buddies, whether or you be drunk or not. Just make sure that you don’t bring your ladies or else she may come around the next day, asking for when the best time for her is to pick up her stuff. Trust me, it’s that type of movie. It’s filled with a bunch of fun, action, and excitement, and even though I have to say that almost every single trailer and commercial has spoiled the big,  insane shit that was supposed to wow us into the new year, it’s still fun to watch and enjoy, especially when you’re around as much machismo, as was in this movie. Oh and that is a lot. That’s fo damn sho.

Dwayne Johnson (fine, I guess I’ll take his ass seriously for now) is pretty bad-ass as Roadblock because not only does he have that lovable charm that makes you feel like he could win over anybody with that million dollar smile of his, but the smarts to beat Cobra and take back the country that was rightfully his in the first place. When it comes to the action, Dwayne is awesome and proves us why he is the perfect man for a job when it comes to beating the tar out of people, spitting on their faces, and always having the tongue left to say something witty. I mean, hey, that’s how the guy got famous in the first place, right?

What a dick.

What a dick.

I was still bummed to see Channing Tatum go away so quick, let alone, at all in this movie, but I guess it’s fine for what we see of him. Still, I was pissed that they got rid of him, in place of D.J. Cotrona as Flint who is as dull as they come. He barely has a personality, anything cool or insightful to say, nor does even have a specialty that makes him stand-apart from the group of other Joe’s with him. He’s just regular, old Flint that nobody seems to care about, let alone remember once the shit hits the fan. The one person I did remember was Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye who does a nice job at conveying that sense of what it takes to be a female and still kick-ass, but yet, still have to stay and be able to hang with the big boys in town. She’s actually good in the role and not a joke like she could have easily been. Bruce Willis is also here as recently-retired sergeant Joe Colton and is fine, but this is no John McClane. He’s just there to be old, a bit witty, and the type of guy who can handle a gun. Willis is always likable, but he seems bored here. I don’t blame him.

On the opposite side of the fence, the baddies are okay, but nothing special. Cobra is Cobra and always a bad-ass, who somehow seems to get away just in the nick of time. Ray Stevenson plays Firefly, the type of dude that has a solution to every problem and is good doing what it is that he does. However, the one that really stole the show for me, especially on the flip side of things, was Jonathan Pryce as he played a dual-role as the U.S. President, when he was good and when he was bad. What makes Pryce so much fun to watch is that he seems to be having a freakin’ turkey of a time just being evil, mean, and sadistic, but never goes over-board with it all. Instead, he seems smart, calm, and collective, even when stuff seems to get very serious for him and the others around him. Very surprised with Pryce here and somehow, he made this old dude seem like the type of guy that could get away with this all in the end.

Still have no idea why the hell RZA showed up here in a old-man, kung-fu outfit, but damn does he love his kung-fu or what?!?!?

Consensus: Though it’s a tad bit better in some ways than the first one, G.I. Joe: Retaliation still takes itself a bit too seriously in terms of plot and characters, to be considered an all-out action fest of guns, explosions, bullets, hot ladies, and even hotter dudes, but does what it can and is entertaining for that fact.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"You really expect me to say it, in a PG-13 movie?!?!"

“You really expect me to say it, in a PG-13 movie?!?!”

The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

All you need is a little hug and support from daddy, and you won’t start robbing banks.

Handsome Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a stunt motorcyclist at the circus who returns to an upstate town where he meets up with a former fling of his (Eva Mendes), only to find that she has a baby of his. In need to support his child and soon-to-be family, Luke decides to start robbing banks and pulling off heists with a buddy of his (Ben Mendelsohn). After this, we see the cop who runs into a problem with Luke, Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), and how he deals with the corrupt cops in his jurisdiction, while also keeping his head afloat. And we also see two kids, Jason (Dane DeHaan) and AJ (Emory Cohen), meet up together in high school, develop a friendship, and realize that there may be more between them that they never thought was possible.

Not only is this movie hard to describe with it’s synopsis, but it’s also even harder than hell to review it. Why? Well, it’s one of those flicks that just so happens to be built on the idea of it’s twists, it’s turns, and it’s surprises, which therefore means, any type of spoiling of those said twists, turns, or surprises, would not only be a crime against me as a critic, but a crime against you as readers. Also, it’s pretty damn hard to review, because I still don’t know how or what I still feel about it all.

What made me think this flick was going to be close to the second-coming of Christ, was not just the kick-ass trailer or the wonderful reviews it’s been getting so far, but was because of it’s director: Derek Cianfrance. Many people know the dude from his directorial-debut, the perfect date movie, Blue Valentine, and know that the guy has a knack and flair for telling an effective, compelling story just by using characters, plot, details, and dialogue. That’s it, and it’s nothing more. That’s why when it came to him tackling a flick that was like a mixture of the Godfather and the Town, I had no problem with it all, mainly because the guy seems like he knows what he’s doing and seems like he’d do anything that’s far from being deemed “conventional” or “predictable”. Granted, we’ve only seen him do one movie so far, but if that’s the consensus the guy has to work on: it’s pretty damn solid, I”d have to say so for myself. Sadly, this movie doesn’t come close to hitting his last. Sadly indeed.

Ryan Gosling: stackin' his money, layin' low, and chillin'.

Ryan Gosling: stackin’ his money, layin’ low, and chillin’.

But without jumping down it’s neck about the bad, let’s get into the good that will most likely lead into the bad. Rather than jumping back-and-forth from story-to-story without ever making it clear as to what the hell’s going on or how are these peeps’ paths going to cross next, we get three stories, that are told in their own, separate formats, without barely any interruptions at all. The first story is about Luke and how he handles being a daddy, but also a bank robber at the same time. Not only is this the most exciting story out of the three, but it’s also the best. The main reason being because it’s filled with so much energy, entertainment, tension, suspense, and emotional heart, that it gets you ready for what you think you’re about to witness. You automatically think that this whole movie is going to play-out like this first story where we all get all the action and flair, but still some grounded-sense of reality and depth, but that’s not how it all plays out.

Instead of doing the smart thing and keeping up with this sense of intensity, Cianfrance takes the film down a notch and keeps it grounded in the sense that we are watching a movie, and a tad predictable one at that. After we switch gears over to Cross’s story, we start to see the movie delve more into the conventional-side of itself where we see police corruption, people with badges doing mean things, and worst of all, Ray Liotta playing a sincerely, despicable human-being. He’s good at it, but can’t we put Tommy Vercetti up to something else nowadays. How about a role as an inspirational father-figure that does sensible acts for the rest of society? Huh? Not buying it? Oh well, at least I tried.

Anyway, where this flick takes a turn for the worse is not just because it begins to get, dare I say it, generic, but because it seems so obvious. Without telling you exactly what happens or how, there are certain elements of the plot that seem to be so predictable, that it gets to the time of where I could literally pin-point exactly who knew who, how they knew them, and how they were going to tell each other how they knew one another. It got to be a bit of annoyance and seemed more like Cianfrance took the idea of conveniences between two characters, as a way to show us that there’s a twist coming up, or something that we don’t seem to expect, but yet; we do.

That’s not to say that the whole film is like this, because as a matter of fact, most of it is damn good I have to say. There are moments where I was literally on-the-edge-of-my-seat without any other thought or idea that would take me away from this movie, anywhere near my head, and it completely compelled me. And that’s not just the Gosling parts, that’s the whole movie and it surprised me with what Cianfrance was able to bring up next, and how. The guy doesn’t depend on his dialogue here as much as he did with his last flick, but the atmosphere and mood is still there to mess with you and because of that, I have to still give the guy kudos for always allowing us to set our sights on something worth watching here. Can’t say that about many film makers who churn-out a movie a year, but thankfully, I can say it about this dude.

Same one from Hangover?

Same car from Hangover?

The problem is, after two hours and thirty minutes (yes, that’s how long it is), I was still left with an idea in my head: what the hell was that all about? The ideas and themes of there being issues between a father and a son, how we all look out for one another, and how hard it is to stay true to yourself in a world of evil and hate, are abundantly clear and here, and hit us in the face as much as beers to an alcoholic, but never seem to be worth the wait for. Honestly, when all of these stories do finally get the chance to come together, make some sense, and have us make up our minds on what to think of, it feels like a bit of a waste, mostly because nobody really solves anything. Gosling’s story ends a bit too quickly for us to feel like his life’s problems are solved, Cooper’s goes on and on without any clear happiness in sight, and the final story seems like it was all made for us to see how tension still arises, even as the new generations come alive.

It made no sense to me as to why this flick was named the way it was. The Pines definitely serve some sort of metaphor for each of these characters and the way they go about their business, but it didn’t seem reasonable. Certain things are said, and are left unsaid, but they never felt right. As the film continued to go on and on, these characters begin to pull off acts and stunts that not only seem unreasonable, but almost stupid. I get that people can deal with grief and sadness in all sorts of ways, but there comes a point in this flick where it just doesn’t make sense any more and feels like instead of dealing with real human-beings that have feelings, emotions, and a sense of right and wrong, we are dealing with a bunch of wacked-out peeps that act solely on a gut-feeling of anger and violence, without rhyme or reason. There are people out there who live like this, but in a flick like this, it didn’t seem right and didn’t make sense when you take the whole ending into actual consideration. If none of this makes sense to you now, please, go and see this movie and realize that there is a message to what I’m saying, as confusing and as bum-fucked as I may sound.

Thankfully, the ones that hold this flick together is the more-than-able cast of heavy-hitters that do what they do best: be compelling, no matter who it is that they are playing. The person from this cast that I think of the most when I say that, is without a doubt Ryan Gosling as Handsome Luke. Gosling not only uses that innate-likeability to his favor here, but also shows us that he still has the able chance to still scare the sheets off of us, and never know whether we can root for him, or boo him. Gosling has what it takes to make this character work and makes him the most fascinating out of them all, mostly because he strives to be more than just a convention: he actually has a beating-heart that doesn’t always make the right decision every step of the way, but at least tries to make up for them.

Eva Mendes plays his sugar-bunny that’s good, in probably the most-dramatic and compelling role we have ever seen her play before. Not only does Mendes do a perfect job at being able to not look hot or sexy, as hard as that may be for her, she also never forgets to remind us that this is a troubled and lonely woman, that we never lose sympathy for. Ben Mendelsohn is also a butt-load of fun and joy to watch as his buddy, a former-robber who helps him out nowadays, but don’t be fooled: this guy has a mean-streak to him that shows in a despicable-way.

Reminds me of the type of kids I'd hang out with in school. Except they didn't look like Leo DiCap. I did....

Reminds me of the type of kids I’d hang out with in school. Except they didn’t look like Leo DiCap. I did….

Bradley Cooper is great as Avery Cross, the cop with a heart. Cooper really does well at being the type of guy we can feel for and trust, even when he doesn’t seem to do the right thing, and makes you understand why the guy has such a hard problem to think for himself, or take matters into his own hands. He gets to be a bit of a self-righteous dick by the end of this thing, but no matter what, he always stayed true to his character, his motivations, and what he strives for in life. Rose Byrne plays his wife, that I wouldn’t say is still in dullsville here, but doesn’t seem to have much to do other be a chick that never stops complaining about how he’s a cop and always has the chance of dying on the job. You did marry him, didn’t you? So why the ‘eff you bitchin’ at him?!? Let a guy do his job and get that money, money!

Lastly, the performances from Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen as the two kids that meet-up in school, is good in the way that it paints an interesting portrait of what it’s like to meet someone, and not have any idea what to expect from them, but that’s about as much as I can tell you right there. Just know this, DeHaan is great and definitely uses that angst-fueled look to his advantage, and know that Cohen tries to do the same, but his character is too much of a dick for us to really care about him at all. Okay, I think you know enough by now. Time for me to shut up and just go the hell home.

Consensus: With a more-than-reliable cast, suspenseful mood, well-written characters, and interesting plot-changes, The Place Beyond the Pines never loses focus on it’s story or what it’s trying to convey about it’s character, but loses grip with reality and begins to get more and more theatrical and obvious as it goes along. No matter what, you will feel compelled by this, but it starts to shy-away sooner than later.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Lucky-ass baby.

Lucky-ass baby.

Mystic River (2003)

At the end of the day, boys will be boys.

Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) were three childhood friends who lost touch over the years, all because of an incident that happened to one of them. All these years later, Jimmy’s daughter, Katie (Emmy Rossum), is found dead in the park, and it’s up to Sean to find out who killed her, why, who, what, where, and when, but somehow, Dave seems like the most prime-suspect out of them all. Whether or not he did it, is left up to these three to figure out.

Movies that try to deal both with a human-story and a mystery, never fully come together and seem to work all that well. However, Clint Eastwood seems like the type of dude who’s been in enough movies to realize that anytime you can add on real, honest human emotions; then anything can work. He also seems to know that if you can get an amazing cast, that is more than capable of delivering on every, single spectrum; then anything can, and most likely will, work. Clint knows the game he’s getting himself involved with and although he’s been racking it up in the age-department, the guy shows us he still knows what’s up with a good story.

What works so well with this flick is that in almost every aspect, something is always working. For starters, the mystery behind this flick is one that actually works, and one that keeps you glued to wondering just what the hell is going to be revealed, and possibly said, next. Most of these movies that try to add mystery to a human-story, never really seem to work and instead come off like a lame excuse to distract the audience who wants a fast-paced, exciting story, but this isn’t one of those flicks. We are never really told what happened to Katie in the beginning, other than the fact that she was murdered, by the park, and somebody called it in. After that, everything we hear, see, or try to grip and understand, are all news to us and it feels like we are learning everything, just as soon as each and every other character in this movie as well. Love a fine mystery-tale, especially when it’s done well and not for cheap-kicks.

Then, you get to the human-element of this whole story, which is really the anchor to it all and has everything come together like a fine string, between two Dixie cups. Every character in this movie, for no matter how long or how little you may see them pop-up on-screen, you still feel like as if you know them for all that they are, all that they were, and all that they ever will be. Sure, some are more pleasant to think about than others, but you still can’t help but be intrigued by the way that these characters interact with one another, and just how they find ways to connect around the a murder-case like this.

"Fucking Southies, man. Fucking Southies."

“Fucking Southies, man. Fucking Southies.”

The most interesting character-relationships in this movie, were definitely the three boys we see at the beginning: Sean, Jimmy, and Dave (remember those names). At the beginning, we see how they were childhood pals, until something very disturbing and dramatic happened to one of them, and separates them all, while changing the course of their lives forever and ever. After we see this change in their childhoods, we then fast-forward to them being adults, moving on with their lives, and making ends meet, but still never, ever forgetting about that fateful day that impacted all of them, not just that one person. Throughout the rest of the flick, they always go back-and-forth about that moment in their lives, and they realize that it changed who they were, forever, but never really come to terms with how or why. They know that one person was actually hurt and had to pay the piper, but in the end, they were all hurt that day and never seemed to forget about it, nor heal from that pain. It’s interesting that they all see each other in one-on-one’s, but never show up altogether. It’s as if the movie wants you to see how separated they are, not just from each other, but the rest of the world around them. Maybe that’s just a bunch of babble from yours truly, but it’s something that I felt, and something that I saw and continue to think about even while writing all of this jibber-jab.

But trust me, not everything in this movie is as clear as I may make it out to be (or not). The movie has characters that you don’t know whether or not to trust, like, dislike, or even care for, but you still remained enticed by everything that you see them as. Eastwood also has an interest in each of these character’s lives and personality-traits, and shows how each of them react to certain situations differently. Some are cool, and some are nervous bumb-fucks. Some are suave, and some jittery-jatters. Some know all the right things to say, and others do as well, they just don’t know how to say it. You see all of these characters act and respond to the same situations, the same questions, and the same happenings, but yet; they are all different in their own ways, and watching that was just about perfect. It was even better to watch, if not just for the actual characters themselves, but the performances that were there to back them up.

When you have a story that’s so rich, so deep, and so compelling as this, with characters that are on equal-measure, it’s necessary to have a cast that can handle this, and that’s exactly what all of these heavy-hitters are ready to do, and do it in style. Sort of. Back when this flick first came out, everybody ranted and raved about Sean Penn and his performance as Jimmy Markum, but it’s rants and raves that were meant to be. Not only does Penn give one of the greatest freak-outs of all-time (second to this, of course), but he also gives us a deeply-layered, and beautiful glimpse inside the world of a man that’s trying to be right, trying to be good, and trying to be well-mannered, but just can’t because of his natural-tendencies. Markum is not a nice guy and is definitely not the type of guy you’d be easy and able to trust when it came down to getting business done the right way, but he’s trying and you can see that in every single scene that Penn shows up in. Most of the time, he’s a grieving father that’s just taken down, notch-by-notch, because of the fact that his baby girl is dead, but he continues to get back up, fight, and search for the truth. The ways he goes about it, the answers that he finds, and how he responds to those said answers, are not always the most “just” ways of going about your bizz, but Penn always remains stoic, compelling, believeable, and understandable in the way he never loses hope, even if death is staring him right in the face. It’s not as corny as I may make it sound. Trust me on that.

Tim Robbins comes very close to stealing Penn’s spotlight as Dave, an old-time friend of Jimmy’s, who also just so happens to be married to his wife’s cousin. Don’t know what that would make them in terms of family, but I guess they’re related, right? Okay, whatever. Anyway, Robbins is amazing as Dave, not just because Robbins knows how to play crazy like anybody’s business, but he really plays it up without going overboard in the sense that he’s way too insane to be considered the type of guy you’d want to marry, have, and raise a family with. He seems like an honestly-nice dude, that just so happens to have a pretty fucked-up past that gets in the way of his present-day happenings. That never makes him a bad person, but just the type of person you never know whether or not to trust, and what it is about him that’s so shady. Whatever it is, that mystery and that dark-shade of him, always stays there between us and that character, and it not only works in the movie’s favor, but Robbins’ as well. Both him and Penn received Oscars for these roles, and in my opinion: were both well-deserved. Then again, I think I share that same opinion with many, many others out there in the movie-reviewing world.

Marcia Gay Harden plays Dave’s wife, Celeste, who knows about Dave and what he did the night Katie was murdered, but doesn’t know how to accept the fact that maybe her hubby was the killer out of all of this. Harden is great with this role and this character because it gives us a sense that this woman loves her husband to death, but still doesn’t know if she can trust him in all of this, and finds herself in a dilemma between choosing between love, family, or being fair. She’s always nervous, she’s always twitchy, and she’s always scared, and some may call her performance one-sided for that, but Harden handles it perfectly, and never lost my interest.

Jeez Louise. Somebody really needed an Oscar.

Jeez Louise. Somebody really wanted an Oscar.

Kevin Bacon seems like he got the shortest-stack of the bunch with a character that isn’t as interesting and sure as hell isn’t as memorable as these two, but still proves that he’s the man when it comes to owning roles like these, no matter how procedural they may be. It also doesn’t help that his character’s wife just so happened to have left him, with their baby, calls him almost all of the time, and never speaks. She just sits there, with the phone to her ear, in silence as the guy rambles on about nearly nothing. Still, Bacon is great through all of this, it’s just obvious that Eastwood wasn’t as concerned with this character as much as he was with the first two. Laurence Fishburne plays Sean’s fellow-detective who’s also investigating the case and is great with what he does, but is only there to give some slappy, side-comments and show how he isn’t as biased as Sean may be. Then again, Fishburne is always worth watching, especially in roles where he’s playing himself better than anybody else.

Even though the cast, the direction, the writing, the themes, and the mystery behind this whole movie, worked for me and had me loving just about every second of this, there is always a glaring-problem that never ceases to leave my mind when I think of this: the ending, or should I say: the final 10 minutes. Without spoiling all of the shite that goes down in the final-act, we leave with a dark, but reasonable conclusion that effs with our minds, our hearts, and our eyes, especially with everything we just saw for the past two hours. However, the movie doesn’t end there, just when it should have. Nope, instead, the movie felt the need to add on an epilogue where we not only get one, whole scene dedicated to Laura Linney’s characters, Jimmy’s wife, acting as Lady Macbeth-type character, but also feed us an ending that sort of contradicts the whole movie.

For instance, the movie plays around with the themes of people staying true their ways, their morals, and their nature, but somewhere, those themes get lost in a strange conundrum of characters not acting like themselves. It’s so hard to go into all of this without giving each and every thing away, but for the people who feel like they know what I’m talking about, you may be able to understand that some people realize some things about others, that they didn’t know before or has just become news to them, but yet, they choose to do nothing about it and go about their lives as if nothing happened. That would have been fine for one or two characters in this movie, but for the one that it does high-light, it seemed wrong, too theatrical, and a tad stupid, as if Eastwood really wanted us to feel like nobody was meant to be trusted, nor were they meant to be liked in any way, form, or shape. It’s not a happy-ending, per se, but it’s the type of ending that may piss you off because everything up until that point, was going swell, but had to end right there. Damn you, Clint. Why’d you have to go and ruin a good thing?

Consensus: The ending doesn’t make sense in the grander scheme of things, but everything else in Mystic River leading up to that, is still near-perfect with it’s powerful acting, realistic themes about life, and interesting character-traits and relationships that never always seem to add more heart and depth to this mystery, rather than just finding out who the baddie is.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Dear, I could imagine the type of conversation these two would be happening.

Dear, I could imagine the type of conversation these two would be happening.

Mean Creek (2003)

Kids can be brutal.

A group of misfit kids celebrate their youngest member (Rory Culkin)’s birthday, but are doing more than just letting the good times roll. Instead, they use the birthday as an excuse to mess with a bully (Josh Peck) and teach him a lesson or two about picking on kids who are younger and smaller than him. However, the kids don’t realize what they’re getting themselves into, especially when shite gets a bit too serious for their own good.

Throughout my high school days, I never really saw any bullying, ever. Yeah, of course I would see the occasional “booking” of a nerd going to math class, or a “taco” of another person’s book bag, but nothing too serious to the point of where I felt like some kid was going to get killed because of it. I said the same things and stated my ideas on the idea of bullying in that documentary, Bully, and all this time later, nothing still has changed. That’s why I’m glad I stayed away from being bullied or doing the bullying, just so I didn’t have the problem of seeing a kid go bat-shit like this.

First-time writer/director Jacob Aaron Estes does a magnificent job with this material, and makes a surprisingly moral tale out of a group of just 6 kids. Some of these kids are nice, some are kind hearted, some are bad, some are evil, and some are just plain evil. The film starts off like you’re going to see this bully finally get what’s coming to him, but in little time, you start to realize that this kid isn’t such a terrible person after all. In fact, he’s just as troubled as the dicks that put him up to this whole screwing with. But it’s not him that’s the only one that has problems, everybody else does too and if they don’t have problems, they at least have something that ticks away at them until the point of where they are absolutely losing their shit. This fascinated me because I thought that this flick was just going to be a mixture of Stand By Me and Bully (Larry Clark’s movie), but what I got instead, really tug at my brain and made me think a little bit.

It’s hard, actually, really too hard to make the “right” decision on what you would do if you were ever stuck in the same situation these kids get themselves caught in. Estes shows that these kids obviously can’t decipher between what is morally-correct and what is the best thing for them to do. I know that may sound similar, but trust me, when you’re a kid and you’re stuck in a situation like this one, they become two entirely, separate things. Yet, what also had me thinking about this film more was how Estes doesn’t really sympathize with any person in particular. Actually, everybody gets their own chance to show sympathy for their character and it’s very hard to choose who is the “right” person out of this situation. I know I’m being very vague about this “situation” but it’s really something you want to have no idea about going into.

My main complaint is that the second act is probably the most tense, if not the best part about this flick. Other than that, the other two acts (first and last) all pretty much suffer from being a tad too boring and predictable. The first act is obviously building up to what is essentially going to be our “party between the kids and the bully” so of course, the film takes its good old time, but maybe it was a little too good for it’s own self and that’s what bothered me. Then, the second act comes around and that’s when everything gets better and you really feel like this film has taken off of the ground. However, all of that goes to crap and then we get another slow/tedious-paced act that feels like Estes just wants to lolly-gag around with his film because he didn’t really know where to go after all of this.

It’s also a huge bummer considering everybody, myself included, pretty much guesses what happens to these kids on their little “party”, and that the only thing that’s really unpredictable is what they choose to do afterwards. You sort of know where it’s going to go after this all because there is only one way to go from here. It works as a thinking piece since it shows people doing the right things, and also doing the wrong things, but altogether doing something that only humans would do, especially in your right mind. But as a thriller; not really. Still don’t want to give it away even though I feel like I already have but it’s still pretty freakin’ easy to know just what the hell is going to happen, how, why, and when.

Such good friends.

Such good friends.

What I was really surprised about with this film was how good the performances were by this very young cast, most of which we’re under 20 around the time of filming. Rory Culkin plays the sweet and meek Sam, a kid who wants to get revenge on this bully but just can’t find any anger out of his heart to ever hurt another kid, let alone, a bully. Honestly, no matter how messed up and crazy those Culkin kids can be, they sure know how to act they’re asses off, even if they are only 8. Scott Mechlowicz was pretty damn awesome as the macho, slightly insecure dude named Marty and has that River Phoenix-thing going for him, which makes me surprised that he isn’t in more stuff as of late. The kid owns that bad-boy look here and even though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he’s a hunk, he’s got good looks that could definitely win over the ladies and make him a household name in some cheesy, Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Not saying that’s the right path to go down, but it wouldn’t hurt. Okay, yeah nevermind. Maybe it would. Don’t do that.

Actually, the best out of this cast would probably have to be Josh Peck as the bully, George. Right from the start of this flick, you feel sorry for this kid because you know that he’s not a bad kid, he just has some serious mental issues that he can’t help no matter how bad he tries to fit in with this group of kids. He actually tries so hard to the point of when he does feel rejected, he starts to lose his temper and finds that the only way of covering himself is by spouting out insults at the other people. Obviously no normal kid with a head on his shoulder would act like this, but George isn’t a normal kid and that’s what sad. This film shows that bullies, no matter how mean or cruel they can be, are still humans too and should be treated as such. Peck is great in this role and I definitely wasn’t thinking about Drake Bell when I watched this, which was something that totally shocked me since I loved that show. As a kid, of course….

Consensus: Mean Creek suffers from being deliberately slow and predictable in its first and last act, but regains its momentum through heartfelt performances from this young cast, superbly-written moral themes about the right thing to do, and is also a solid reminder by just how cruel and ruthless young kids can be to one another, no matter who the victim is.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Wife beater = bad ass.

Wife beater = bad ass.

For Colored Girls (2010)

Never thought I’d say this, but I needed Madea.

Being a woman can be hard, but being an African American woman living in New York City, can be even worse. We get a glimpse at nine different stories as we see them through the eyes of women who need love, feel love, feel pain, need pain, and just want to be accepted in a world that’s tearing them down. If you’re a member of the KKK, you may not want to see this, because it’s all black, ALL THE TIME, with little to no white in sight. But then again, you’d expect that coming from Tyler Perry.

No matter how much you may hate his Madea movies, or the fact that he hasn’t contributed any type of positive aspect to the world we live in, you still have to give Tyler Perry credit for keeping the black spirit alive and well, especially in today’s day and age where it almost seems like it can be made a mockery of sometimes. That’s why it seemed like a very, very ambitious step for Perry to take, and go on about adapting the 1975 play that apparently ever black women, man, or child lauded, even till this day. Ambitious is exactly what it was for Mr. Perry, and it was the ambition, the skill, or anything else for that matter, that he could handle. That’s right, folks. This here is a train wreck.

I’ve never seen the original-play, but I can already tell that it was made for the stage, and meant to stay there as well. Whatever the hell that Perry added to the mix of this movie, does not work a single bit and comes off like the guy’s trying too hard to get his point across, without surprising us or even being subtle about it. Literally, characters will be talking about their problems, and then start breaking-out into long, 5 minute metaphorical speeches about how they can’t handle being a woman, and letting the men take them down. Maybe for people that actually go through these types of problems on a day-to-day basis can relate and in a way, can have this material touch them, but even for a person like that, I don’t think this is going to work since it all seems so unbelievable.

She can see the light, and it's a better movie.

She can see the light, and it signifies a better movie.

The dialogue can be okay at times, especially when they are discussing real-life problems that all women go through everyday, not just black women, but it doesn’t get any deeper than that. It all plays out as if it was a daytime soap opera that you caught your mom or your secretly gay brother watching, and what’s even worse about that is that Perry never seems to get the hint to tone things down a notch. Nope, instead, he continues to have everybody scream, holler, yell, piss, moan, and practically beat the shit out of one another, only to show that they are angry as hell, and ain’t gonna take it anymore. Once again, maybe to some this may work and really connect with them, but I highly doubt it since Perry seems way out-of-his-league here, and that’s really saying a lot.

If anything, I have to give kudos to Perry for at least trying and being able to show us the side of black women that most of us need to see, but it actually begins to feel like the type of movie that I talked about earlier, in the way that it almost does more harm than good for the people it’s supposed to reach out towards. For instance, almost every women in this movie has a yelling scene where they can’t control their emotions, and just feel the need to let loose on one another for whatever reason they may have. That’s fine and all, but EVERYBODY at least has one or two of those scenes, and it doesn’t depict them as real-life people, it depicts them as a bunch of annoying women you can’t stand to be around, let alone be married to.

I can’t lie though, some sad shit actually does happen to most of these ladies, and I can’t say that I don’t blame them for being the least bit upset about what happens, but it gets to a point of where it’s almost as contrived as the dawnest day, where everything bad, happens for a reason. There’s always a problem with one of these women, and they always, no matter what, seem to bring it out on the others around them. Yeah, some of them are dealt a bad card and have people that treat them like crap, but the fact that they can never seem to hold their emotions and just love the one’s they’re with, doesn’t humanize them in the least bit, it just makes them seem shallow. You don’t really care for much of these women, although you do share their sympathies because like you, they are human, they have feelings, and they do have problems. However, they are problems that don’t feel genuine and coming from Tyler Perry: that’s saying a fuck load.

The only area this film comes even close to succeeding in are the performances, but once again: that’s not saying much. The problem with most of these performances, is that some are actually VERY GOOD, whereas others, are just TERRIBLY BAD. One of the performances from the first-category that I thought was worth mentioning was Janet Jackson as the upper-class wife, who owns and runs a fashion magazine, but also has problems running and owning her hubby who’s up to no good (as usual). Jackson has never really struck me as the type of gal that can act, but she does very, very well here showing us that she can be a total bitch, but also allow us to sympathize with her as well. It’s not easy, but by the end, you definitely feel like you got the full round-about of who this character is, and what she stands for in life. Other’s that do knock-out jobs with their roles are Loretta Devine as a woman who can’t seem to get control of her already-married boy-toy; Michael Ealy who does over-do it sometimes, but still keeps it grounded in-reality as one of the hubby’s that’s a bit out of control (sarcasm intended for the term “a bit”); and Phylicia Rashad as Gilda, the wise, black women who knows it all, and always love to tell others about everything she knows, even if they don’t want to hear it.



Then, we get to the second category, and that’s when things really start to run off the trail. One of the worst performances in this movie, and one that I’ve seen in awhile, is Whoopi Goldberg as the religious mother of two girls, that seems to love her religion and everything she stands for, but is wacko beyond belief. Goldberg is an Oscar winner, but none of that ever shows in this movie, because she is absolutely, freakin’ crazy, and not in the good way either. She’s always screaming about Jesus, the righteous way of living, and how to see the Lord through your eyes, but is always going about it by yelling at people, and sometimes hitting them. It would have been fine if she at least toned it down a bit, but Goldberg goes full wack-job on us and it’s as hilarious to watch, as it is compelling. After all of these years of sitting her boothang on that couch from the View, I think Whoopi got a bit rusty. And if that’s the case, then just stay the hell away from movies.

Others in the cast aren’t as bad as Whoopi, but they aren’t good either. Thandie Newton comes into a close-second by almost out-acting Whoopie, and the funny thing is that Newton is playing Whoopi’s daughter, that always has a man in her bed, and can never be real with anybody. Newton is usually a solid actress in whatever shit-pile she is in, but here, she over-does it, almost to the point of where she seems like a caricature of that ghetto, slut-gal that most women frown-upon. In fact, this is probably the only character that never learns a single thing throughout the whole damn movie, and instead, just seems like she’s going to continue to whore-around, fuck whoever she wants to fuck, and maybe, just maybe, end up with a little person in the pit of her stomach, along with a beautiful-case of AIDS. Also, shame on this movie for giving a talented and beautiful actress like Kerry Washington, nothing else to do but piss and moan about how she can’t have a baby. Seriously, just go to the freakin’ orphanage, pick up a Indonesian baby, and put a smile on. Brangelina did it, and look at them.

Consensus: Tyler Perry deserves a small-amount of kudos for trying to really break out of his shell, and go for the gut when it came to adapting a classic-play like For Colored Girls, but deserves no credit for the job that he actually pulled-off. It’s laughable, stupid, shallow, does nothing for the group of people it’s speaking for, and even worse, makes you feel like all of these talented-actresses that took this material, were a little too busy to take any roles in Precious, so instead, decided to go with a shit-ass script and movie like this. Shame on all of you, especially you, Mr. Perry.

1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Come on girls, we gotta stick together and hope our careers don't all end at the same time."

“Come on girls, we gotta stick together and hope our careers don’t all end at the same time.”

In Time (2011)

Not only do you stay the same age for the rest of your life, but you always stay sexy and gorgeous. Yay!

When Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is falsely accused of murder, he must figure out a way to bring down a system where time is money (no, literally) enabling the wealthy to live forever while the poor, like Will, have to beg, borrow, and steal enough minutes to make it through another day. Along with him, he takes Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), daughter of one of the wealthiest men alive, and they venture out to change the world, they once knew, and try to make it back to the way things once were before.

In today’s day and age, hearing the term “time is money” seems very relevant and places you in the world we live in where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and cash is getting harder and harder to acquire. It’s a mess of a world we live in and it’s another perfect opportunity for Andrew Niccol to capitalize on and make a great sci-fi future about, just like he did with Gattaca. However, comparing those two seems a bit mis-matched, as one plays out like an actual drama, where this is just guns, chases, women, sex, and money. Lots and lotsa money.

What I liked most about this flick was the set-up and premise from Niccol. He takes you into this future where everybody is practically living day-to-day, working their asses off just for another hour, and people don’t waste any time at all with what it is they do, so they just run just to keep up with time. It’s a pretty neat premise that Niccol shows and actually spends a butt-load of time developing it, showing us the perks, showing us the obvious cons, and also letting us know how people get by when they live in a world like this. It also looks gorgeous with some really lavish production designs and something about those cars that combine a futuristic look, with a 70’s grindhouse-car look and made them look so cool and retro, but something I’ve never seen before as well. Either way, this whole world that Niccol put me in was really cool but it only becomes a total shame when things started to change right in the middle, and not for the best, either.

Even though everybody around him is dying, he's still pleased that he's the sexiest man on the planet.

Even though everybody around him is dying, he’s still pleased that he’s the sexiest man on the planet.

The film changes it’s tempo from this dark, brooding drama about a messed-up future, to a slam-bang, action thriller where two Bonnie and Clyde-types are going around, shooting people, taking time, and trying to save their own time as well. You would think that with a good chunk of this film surrounding two people, running for their lives as their clock ticks and ticks away, there would be a lot more suspense and momentum to this flick, but I never felt it. The pace should have been more frantic, where you felt like these characters could have timed-out at any second and even though there were some parts where that feeling came over me (last 15 minutes were pretty damn tense), it sure as hell wasn’t enough especially when you take into consideration that the last hour is dedicated to it.

This film is also terribly silly, but not in a good way, either. There’s a lot of lame dialogue used here where characters use all of these dumb time puns and the usual corny, action bullshit where you have JT saying that he’s going “to take their time back”, and all that lame-o crap that we hear in every sci-fi, action film. But this time it’s different: because it’s all about time. Honestly, if I heard “cleaning one’s clock” ever used again when somebody said they were going to kill somebody, I was going to rip out all of the alarm clocks from my house, get a hammer, set them down, and smash every single one to pieces until I couldn’t hear a ticking noise! And yes, even the ones on the microwave and stove as well! Sounds dramatic, I know; but it gets so annoying after awhile. Just trust me on that and be ready to check-off every “time” pun you can find because I don’t think you’ll have any left by the time this is over. See what I did there? Okay, I’ll shut the hell up now.

But the idea of how these people actually lose and gain time was pretty silly as well, if not fully realized to its fullest. I’m not a big mofo when it comes to movies not making any sense or seeming illogical in terms of plot or character-development, but when a flick like this depends on it’s tools and methods, I have to expect a little something more in the plausibility department. Think about it: the only way to gain and lose time in this future is by touching arms together. That’s it. The way a person can save your life is by basically, taking your arm, saying how much time to give away, and holding it for about 5 seconds or so. That’s pretty much all there is to that idea and it would seem pretty easy to steal anybody’s time just by walking by somebody and taking their arms, regardless of if they want you to take their time or not. Maybe Niccol didn’t fully think this stuff through, just maybe.

If this is what all women in the future look like, sign me the hell up!!

If this is what all women in the future look like, sign me the hell up!!

If anything makes this film a lot better, it’s the action and the cast that this film has assembled. Since every character in this film has to look either 25 or younger, it seems like a very big stretch for this film to get people that look this age and I don’t think one person in this film was actually that age, but they all do fine jobs with it. Justin Timberlake is fine in one of his first starring roles, playing a very serious and heroic-like character as Will Salas. JT does his best with this material and even though a lot of the lines he’s given are terribly corny as hell (yes, I speak of the “time” puns), he still works through it and makes a realistic/sympathetic character that we can all stand behind easily. Amanda Seyfried begins, at first, by playing his damsel in distress that seems to just want to go home back to her rich mommy and daddy, and live the life she’s always wanted to, but that surprisingly changes when we soon start to see her and JT connect with each other, which is where her performance seems to get better. Their chemistry is very good together and I could actually buy them as love interests, as well as two bad-ass rebels that wanted to take down “the man”. It’s also surprising that I believed them as a couple because they rarely have any actual love scenes together, and even when they do, they are always rudely interrupted by the dickhead time-keeper; Mr. Cillian Murphy himself.

One of the more distracting aspects behind this flick is that 35-year old Cillian Murphy looks the oldest out of this whole cast, but other than that, is still pretty good as our “villain”, Raymond Leon. I use quotation marks around the word “villain” because the film never really seems to decide whether he’s a troubled, government worker that is just doing his job, or a guy that is truly a bad soul that just wants to make people’s lives miserable. That aspect of this character is never fully realized until the last couple minutes or so with him and it’s only because of how good Murphy is at playing him, that I can forgive the film for this mis-step. The actual villainous villain in this flick is played by Alex Pettyfer, and after seeing Magic Mike and loving him in that, I was really happy to see this kid here give a pretty good performance as a dude that goes around, killing people, and taking their times right before he does so. Such a baddie!

Consensus: The set-up and initial-pace from Andrew Niccol, has In Time start off with plenty of promise, but it soon falls down after about an hour or so, where the film goes from a thriller that features no real thrills, no real suspense, and a whole bunch of corny-dialogue that makes you feel like this film was supposed to be made way back in the 80’s, when these films made killings at the box-office. They still do now, but not as much as that lame decade.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!! 

Has to be the sexiest mom that's single, under 30, and has a teenage son.

Has to be the sexiest mom that’s single, under 30, and has a teenage son.

Admission (2013)

Aren’t the people who work in admissions heartless, soulless creatures? Or at least the ones who denied me?

Tina Fey plays Portia Nathan, a Princeton University admissions officer who is caught off-guard when she makes a recruiting visit to an alternative high school overseen by her former college classmate, the free-wheeling John Pressman (Paul Rudd). Portia also finds out that she may have a son that she doesn’t remember all too fondly for reasons unknown.

Anybody who has ever attended college or is planning to do so in the next year, probably already knows how grueling the admissions process is. You get your application, you say everything beautiful and amazing you have ever done with your life or the world, hand it in, and just hope and pray to the lord above that they decide to make you that one in a millionth person to get in. However, as most of us know, it isn’t that easy and usually, we get denied. So, who do we blame? Ourselves? Pshh! Nah! We blame those spineless, horrible people that work in the office, where they either deny you, approve you, or put you on the waiting list.

So, therefore, to know that these are the people that the rest of your days depend on, is one thing, but to dedicate a whole entire movie to those people, especially one that loves her job so much, just seems downright idiotic? Why the hell would we want to watch someone who denies and judges kids for a living as to whether or not they saved the world with their limited resources, for over 2 hours? Well, with Tina Fey playing that person, then I guess you could count me in as one of those people.

She can't help but just fall for the Rudd charm.

She can’t help but just fall for the Rudd charm.

The movie starts out, not quite like I was expecting it to. See, I knew there was going to be comedy, I knew there was going to be romance, and I knew there was going to be dramatic, mommy-issues, just judging by the trailer alone, but the beginning really started things off on the right foot. It was fun, quick, and actually hilarious in the way that it makes fun of most kids that apply to schools like Princeton, or anywhere for that matter, and how they are solely judged right from the start, without ever getting a chance to plea their case. They make fun of this harsh reality by showing how shallow the people who work in admissions can be, but then again, not all of them are bad. Some are just more heartless than the others. You’ll find that anywhere you go, in any work place, really.

But aside from that fact, this movie really had me going from the beginning just because it seemed to take pride and joy in it’s premise, and milking it for all of what it was worth. The idea of having this admissions lady, that’s all stuck-up and a tad prudish, find her ways through the world by a bunch of farm boys and possible-son, doesn’t seem like a case for a comedic-classic. But this flick continues to make you laugh by just never stopping and always seeming natural. Nothing seems like they’re trying too hard here and I think that’s all thanks to the cast and crew that director Paul Weitz was able to assemble here.

Tina Fey, god bless her, is the real powerhouse of this whole movie that keeps it going on and on and on, until it can spin no mo. Fey, as we all know, can be and is, very hilarious in this movie because she plays it cool, calm, and sweet, but always stays true to herself in the way that we can tell that this Portia lady is a nice one, who just has the dilemma of being an admission-worker, that may also have a son. A lot of the scenes where it could have easily been written off as “goofy”, “stupid”, or “dumb”, Fey rises above the material and makes it worth your hard-earned doll hairs, if you decide to check this out in theaters when it comes by.

But what really surprised me about Fey the most here is how she was able to be funny and charming, but also very realistic in the way she handled herself through most of the dramatic scenes, which, for the most part, were the core scenes in making this movie work it’s magic and charm. Thankfully, with Fey on-board, the magic sizzles. There’s a couple of key scenes by the end where we really feel something for Fey, her character, and all that she’s been through, and to watch all of that culminate in a scene where she has to speak-out for her supposed-son during the admissions process, really touched me and almost had me feel like any mom would do the same. Fey really strikes a chord with this character, makes us feel for her, but also let us see who she really is and all that she feels. Thanks to Fey, this movie works way beyond then I expected it to, and that’s because the gal has a natural charm that cannot be denied whether she’s being goofy, laughing, sexy, or just downright serious. Either which way, she’s great at what she does and was a real pleasure to watch on-screen.

He's just a normal dude that likes the simple and easy tasks in life, like chopping wood with an ax. What a dream-boat.

He’s just a normal dude that likes the simple and easy tasks in life, like chopping wood with an ax. What a dream-boat.

Even though his role isn’t as dramatically-rich as Fey’s, Paul Rudd still gets to show us all what he’s got as the simple, everyday man John Pressman. Rudd has that wit and charm that’s easy to make anybody smile and chuckle at, but there’s also more to this character than we see coming. He has a bit of a problem just staying in one area for his whole life and instead, can’t really make up his mind as to where he wants to go in life, or how. That would be fine and all if he was a 21 year old, recent-graduate of college, but the dude’s over 40, has a kid, has a job, has a house, and has a responsibility. This guy definitely should be taking it easy and realizing where his priorities really stand. Rudd’s great in this role, even if when he does go up-against Fey, she’s the one who really steals the show.

There’s a whole bunch of others in this cast that are great like Fey’s DIY-mom, played by the always hilarious Lily Tomlin, John’s adopted Ugandan son Nelson, played by Travaris Spears, and even the return of Wallace Shawn to the big-screen, as Portia’s boss at Princeton. Everybody in this heavily-stacked cast are great and do everything in their will-power to make these characters work, but by the end, something with this movie starts to change, with the tone, the direction, and the characters, and all of a sudden, everybody is revealing crap about themselves and having dilemmas that feel unnecessary  Not to say that none of these characters are interesting or anything, but they all seem to have a problem in life, and talk about it at the most random situations possible. I get that there’s stuff that needs to get laid-out on the table for all to see, but it begins to happen to almost every character here, and really bothered me seeing as that the movie could have just stuck it straight with Fey and Rudd, and been done. But they bit off a bit more than they could chew, and it’s noticeable.

Consensus: You may be surprised, but Admission is a very surprising piece of entertainment that had me laughing, had me happy, had me smiling, had me fall in love with Tina Fey all over again, but also, had me a tad sad by the end, where I actually fell into tune with these characters, their problems, and how they get by in life. Was not expecting this one bit.

7 / 10 = Rental!!



Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Look out, Barack. Shit’s about to get real for you this year.

A bunch of North Koreans, intent on having the U.S. pull out of their territory so they can continue their civil war on the South, take over The White House and hold President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) hostage until he gives in to their demands. However, they don’t realize that ex-Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is in the building, and not taking it easy on any of them when it comes to saving his friend, his president, and his country.

Yes, it seems abundantly-clear to me now that Hollywood has finally started to run out of smart, original movie ideas, so now, they just copy one another in hopes of seeming different. See, this is the first movie where terrorists attack the White House we’ll be getting this year, but it sure as hell won’t be the last when White House Down, marches into theaters some time around the Summer. However, regardless of where Hollywood stands in the originality-department, and whether or not they can make smart movies about the leader of our country, is totally meaningless. What does have meaning, is whether or not this movie is as fun as it promises, and that’s all that matters. Oh, and yes: it is as fun as it promises to be.

Judging by reading that premise up-above, you can already tell that is mostly just a Die Hard carbon-copy, but placed inside of The White House. Most of you will probably say it’s stupid, unoriginal, and not worth the watch, but after the recent Die Hard debacle we were just hit with recently (I refuse to call it by it’s title), I think it’s safe to say that anything resembling the original is a-okay with me or any of us for that matter. The idea of a bunch of terrorists taking over one of the most-secured landmarks in our country, does seem a bit ridiculous, especially when you see how these terrorists pull it off, but this movie isn’t made to be thought-about or construed as a believable flick that could give potential-ideas, to potential-terrorists out there. It’s stupid, for the sake of being enjoyed and that’s what mattered to me.

"It's a hard job, son. Don't fuck it up."

“It’s a hard job, son. Don’t fuck it up.”

However, the first 20 minutes did make me think otherwise. Not only does the movie start-off poorly, but it made me feel like I really got myself into some bad-business, when they decided to kill off Ashley Judd, within the first 5 minutes. I don’t love, nor do I hate Ashley Judd as an actress, but this unextended cameo just felt like a needless pry to slap another big name on the poster, and get somebody famous in there for a short-span of 5 minutes, to only provide a reason for the story to exist and die. Seemed stupid to me, but hey, I guess every stupid movie needs a reason to exist, right?

Well, it only got worse after that, because then Antoine Fuqua decided to show us how much he loves showing things blowing-up, but the problem is: it looks absolutely terrible. I’m not kidding; IT’S BAD. The special-effects (if that’s what you want to call them), seem like they came right out of a computer game, but not a recent, jacked-up one that almost seems like real-life, pasted into a tiny cartridge of fun and excitement. No, it seems like the type of graphics that were used for the first World of Warcraft, where only 20-30 year olds who lived in their mom’s basements and ate Doritos off of their chests, spent hours and hours of their lives playing and gaining no confidence whatsoever when it came to talking to women. The sequence where Fuqua gets over-zealous and shows us the terrorists attacking and destroying The White House and all of nearby Washington, is so cheap-looking and made me feel like Fuqua didn’t have much of a budget to begin with, and it was only going to get worse from here. Thankfully, I was wrong, but not by much.

After these initial-problems, the movie gets better, as it decides to not go for the big, bad, and the ugly, but stay grounded and have all of the shizz go down inside the actual White House. Once again, probably took place inside The White House so much for the sake of the budget, but it wasn’t so terrible to sit-through, considering Fuqua seemed to have a lot of fun with this aspect. The action, as goofy as it may be sometimes, is fun, exciting, and gets you really involved, right away. It’s the classic, action movie where guns, fist-fights, machines, and explosives all come together, to create this beautiful blend of dude’s yelling, girls closing their eyes, and everybody in the theater clapping and screaming, “Hell yeah!!”. In fact, I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t at least one of them. It actually got to the point of where I found myself involved with one of the fights and felt the pain that was happening in front of me. Sounds a bit dramatic coming from me, but that just goes to show you what I can feel when an action movie does it’s action right, and doesn’t cheap-out on giving me the goods. That’s all I needed, and that’s what I got. Thank you Antoine Fuqua, for at least 75% of your movie. The other 25% can kiss my ass.

Somebody photo-shopped the banana peels out.

Somebody photo-shopped the banana peels out.

However, I cannot go on and on about this movie, without mentioning it’s best-factor of all: the leading man. Yes, after years and years of rotting his career away in rom-com-after-rom-com, finally, Gerard Butler has returned to being an action hero that we not only love and can get behind, but can kick as much ass as we expect and want him to. Butler is awesome in this role as Mike Banning, and even though the character is your quintessential good guy that does everything right, has a solution to every problem, and always has a witty-quip or two to say, Butler still owns it and makes this character watchable in the best-sense of the word. Not only does Butler seem like he’s capable of doing roles like thee, but he also seems like he’s having a great-deal of fun being able to knife the fuck out of terrorists, and telling them all to kiss his rear-end, and not just to the enemy, but to the people on his own side. Yep, Butler is THAT good as Banning, and even if he isn’t and I’m just over-hyping this thing up like crazy (which I might just be); it’s still great to see Butler back in his prime-form. Let’s just hope it stays that way and we never, ever get another Playing for Keeps. Please, Gerard. I’m begging you! Stay away!

The problem with Butler being so awesome, is that the rest of the cast sort of pales in-comparison to him, but that’s not such a bad thing when you have an ensemble such as this. Aaron Eckhart is a bit weak as President Asher, who instead of standing up for himself and showing that he’s more than capable of taking matters into his own hand, is just meant to sit there, yell a lot, and say how much he does not negotiate with terrorists, even though that’s exactly what he does. Barack would be SMHing right now. However, that’s where Morgan Freeman comes into play the speaking-president (for the 2nd time, mind you), and does an alright-job, even if it seems like a bit of a waste for the guy to just sit around a room, with equal heavy-hitters like Robert Forster and Angela Bassett, and react to everything Banning says, does, or follows through on. Hey, I would rather have them in this movie, then not at all, but at least give them more to do than just reaction-shots that they could pull off just by looking into the mirror.

On the opposite end of things, Rick Yune isn’t just taking a little nibble with the scenery, but is constantly gnawing and teething at it with all of his might and will-power. Yes, it does get a bit over-board at times, but it was actually fun and nice to see a villain that seems smarter than everybody else around him, and one that’s more-than capable of getting away with a blood on his hands. Dylan McDermott plays the American who’s on his side, and does what he can, but once again, seems like a bit of a waste for a guy who’s so, so, so much better at playing dick-heads in movies that it’s not even funny. I mean, it’s funny to watch him in this, but it’s not funny when he can play it well. Everybody else is here for window dressing, and that’s about it. They are all fine, but nothing too special to write home about.

Consensus: Even if it isn’t the best, or the last “White House in danger” movies that we’ll be getting this year, Olympus Has Fallen still excels in being a fun, wild, exciting, and brainless exercise that gets us involved, gets us enjoying ourselves, and gives us back the Gerard Butler that we all knew and used to love. Please stay with us, Gerard. And never, ever leave our sides.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Actual footage.

Actual footage.

The Croods (2013)

I know men from the prehistoric age are “cavemen”, but what about the ladies. Cavewomen? Oh dear, this review is going to be awkward.

The Croods are a loving family that finally get their big chance to go on a road trip and see what else is out there in the world for them. But their problems fall-through when their cave is destroyed, leaving them with the idea of finding a new home and discovering what else is out there to offer them in this large, vast world of beauty, and sometimes, ugliness. Maybe I made it a bit more dramatic, but you get the drift.

Any movie that concerns a family being stuck in the Stone Age, cannot run away from the comparisons to the Flintstones. I mean, let’s be honest: we all love the show but can nothing ever come close to achieving the type of fun and hilarity it did? Anything at all? Well, it doesn’t seem to matter since the kids love purrty things flying at their little heads, cool-looking animals, spending all of mommy’s and daddy’s money, and seeing 3D movies, and isn’t that who this movie is made for? Exactly. So shut yo ass up all of haters.

With animated-flicks like these, you can’t go in and expecting a masterpiece like it seems Pixar delivers on, but you can go in and expecting and good time and that is what I had with this movie here. Kids love this type of stuff, but can the parents that sit along and watch? Of course, but most of this is all for the kiddies and they’ll eat it all up like they usually do with animated-pics like these. The movie looks beautiful because it’s filled with colors, crazy-looking creatures, and a bunch of exotic-locations that seem like they were done with the attention to detail in mind. The 3D is fine for what it is, but not something worth shelling out the money for, unless your kids just so happen to be really nagging you about it. In that case then, go for it and tell them to shut the hell up. Hopefully, they abide.

It's called METHOD.

It’s called METHOD.

No matter what though, the movie always has a nice look to it, but also a feel to it as well. There isn’t anything here that will necessarily go over the kids heads, nor it will it seem to be deemed “inappropriate” by any on-looking parents. It’s jokes are purely based in physical humor where people get wacked over the heads with trees, rocks, and cliffs; it’s characters all love each other and do the right thing for one another; and the message is more than you’d expect from traditional, kiddie-fare. The movie shows kids that it isn’t so bad to want to experience the world for yourself in some ways, and to never be scared by what may be out there. It’s nothing new, groundbreaking, or interesting, considering the type of stool it’s delivered on, but it still brings a little more something to the table than you’d might expect it to, especially for the kids that may have newly-found wonders about the world. But no need to fear, parents, the kids are still going to want to hold and hug you, when it’s all said and done.

Still, I have no clue as to why the hell I’m writing this review as if I’m talking to actual parents that may want to take their kids to see this. They don’t read this blog and I’m sure of it! But if you do just so happen to read this, take your kid to see it and see how they feel. I was in a movie theater full of a bunch of youngsters that not only went, “Aaaah” every time something came off the screen, but left with their parents, hugging, crying, and kissing. That idea that a movie can still instill the hearts of love between family members made me happy to see, even if it came from a movie like this. Then again, isn’t that what the movies are made for? So we can all be happy, love one another, and realize a little bit more something to our lives then we realized were there before? Okay, maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on this so never mind. Just go see this and be happy, dammit!

Some may find it strange that they got a cast like this, to animate a movie that doesn’t seem to have anything else going for it other than a bunch of visuals that the kidddies may want to go see, but I have to give it to each and every one of them. Since the cast of speaking-characters is so small, so is the cast but at least they all do fine jobs at having us care for them, and understand their personalities as a whole, family-dynamic. Nic Cage may scare some people off, due to the fact that he hasn’t been very successful as of late, but don’t be fooled because he’s probably the best thing about this cast, voicing the father of the fam. Cage doesn’t have a powerful voice, but he has one that makes you feel like this guy is has nice-intentions, even if he gets a bit lost in his own ass at times. Also, the enjoyment of having Nic Cage voice this character is that the character himself, actually does some crazy and wild things that made me laugh, if only because of the faces and moves I expected Cage would have been making, when he recorded this. It’s funny, especially if you like Nic Cage when he’s being, well, Nic Cage.

Awww yeah. Mom and dad gotta leave.

Awww yeah. Now we know where we all came from.

The rest of the cast is fine, but nobody really as special as the one and only Cage-meister. Emma Stone seems to be having buckets of fun as the free-spirited, but curious teen of the fam; Clarke Duke is still nervous and twitchy as the dumb-headed bro; Cloris Leachman is nasty and a bit sparky as the aging, but never dying grandmother; Catherine Keener is pleasant as the almost, nonexistent mother of them all; and Ryan Reynolds seems to like being cool, swift, charming, and so damn dreamy, even if it is only his voice we can hear, and his body nowhere to be found. I’m still pretty sure the ladies won’t mind that.

Consensus: If you’re a person that likes to go to the movies alone to have a bit of fun, live in another world, and forget the misery you actually live in (yes, some of us do have that), then The Croods will be a fine fit for you, but mainly for the families, the kiddies, and the ones who need to please others. Non-sexually, that is.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

It's about to get all prehistorical up in this bitch.

It’s about to get all prehistorical up in this bitch.

Pretty in Pink (1986)

“It only matters what’s on the inside that counts”, is total bullshit. It’s all about the Benjamin’s, baby!

Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is one of those teenagers that doesn’t seem to fit in because she isn’t rich, she isn’t in with “the crowd”, and just goes about her day all by her lonesome. She has one friend named Duckie (Jon Cryer), but he wants more than she can give him. What Andie is more concerned with is finding her love and also, a date to the prom. Rich, prepped-up tool Blane (Andrew McCarthy), may just be the solution to that. However, he’s rich and fits in with “the crowd”, whereas she doesn’t. Adolescent problems ensue.

No matter what you may have to say about the 80’s, whether it’d be positive or negative, there is no denying that John Hughes makes that decade, what it is known as today: angst-ridden, cool, well-dressed, and very, very hip, in it’s own 80’s way. Watching any of his films and just listening to the dialogue, is what made the guy so damn special in the first-place and listening to them still, all of these years later, makes you wonder; what would he have done to this generation, had he been around? Questions, questions, questions! But what we do know is that the guy was great at writing movies, and this one shows no different.

I’m not going to lie, this definitely isn’t my favorite John Hughes movie, but it still has everything I love from them all: nice dialogue. Everything in this movie may be dated, cheesy, and outrageous, but Hughes’ dialogue still keeps it grounded in some form of reality where we feel like we know exactly what these kids are talking about and going through. Sure, the times have changed what with cellphones, Twitter, Facebook, and the Harlem Shake and all, but every teen still feels the same emotions that these ones were back in the day, and it’s great to see that personified in a way that’s not mean or nice, it’s just realistic.

You can usually tell who the weirdo's are by the glasses they were...

You can usually tell who the outcasts are by the glasses they were…

Maybe I’m giving a bit too much credit to this movie, but for the longest-time, everything that Hughes was throwing at me, I was falling right for. Not all of it works and you can totally tell that some lines probably sounded better in Hughes’ head then they may have come out in the actual movie itself, but it’s always compelling and rather entertaining to watch a bunch of teenagers just talk about the things that matter: money, love, boys, girls, clothes, and prom. Most movies that deal with social-classes and how high-school can be so darn destructive about them, sort of blow-pass the real meaning of what they are all about in that setting, but not this movie. Hughes shows how vindictive people can be, especially ones from high-school and how it doesn’t matter if you have a good heart, love animals, and enjoy picking up trash in public parks on the weekends, if you’re still apart of the geek squad, you’re most likely going to get yo ass kicked by some preppies or jocks. Either way, you’re not like and that’s the honesty I was talking about with this movie. It shows you that Hughes knows what he wants to present and knows exactly what he wants to say. Doesn’t always hit, but when it does, you feel it in more ways than one.

That’s also why it’s so disappointing to see the turn that this movie takes, out of nowhere, into total and complete unbelievableland. Everything before the last 15 minutes was, as you can probably tell by the first-half of this review, very good and kept me entertained, as well surprised by the depth that Hughes was able to enter without seeming too serious. Then, he loses all control and allows this movie to just seem utterly obvious and stupid. Without giving anything away to the peeps out there who haven’t seen this 80’s prized-treasure, a bunch of people that dick eachother over throughout the vast majority of the flick, start to all of a sudden forgive one another and even worse: start using that “L word”. No, not the show, but you know what I mean.

In most movies, that “L word” feels realistic and well-used, but in this movie, not a single-bit. It just seems like Hughes had this script all written-out, the ending and everything, and then Hollywood or whoever decided to put their filthy, stinking noses into it and ruin what could have been a way smarter, way more likeable, way more believable flick. Instead, they ended it with the typical, high-school fluff that most of these flicks go for and it’s as disappointing as it is stupid. Whoever’s to blame for this, I curse you! Okay, time to mellow out now.

A lot of people get on Molly Ringwald’s case as an actress because she showed-up in all of Hughes’ premiere, high-school flicks but you gotta give some credit to the girl; she’s actually very good. She’s played the stuck-up prude, she’s played the loner, and now she’s played the poor, outcast and all sides of her have shown very well. Her performance here as Andie is great because you really feel for with everything she’s going through, not just as a teenager, but as a person that wants love and wants acceptance, but just can’t find it. I like how sassy Ringwald could be, but also how understandable she could be of the things around her and the type of environment she was surrounded-by. She seems a lot smarter than most people would give her credit for, and for that, I have to give her major kudos because it’s not very often you see a smart, teenaged-girl in a movie about high-school and falling in love. That John Hughes. He always knew how to write ’em.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Another person in this cast that kicks ass is Jon Cryer as her bestie, Duckie. Cryer is the type of dude we all is hilarious by now, but back in those days, he was just getting started and he was a true breath of fresh air to watch as Duckie. Duckie’s cool, swift, suave, and charismatic, but also a nice guy that wants nothing but the best for Andie, and it’s a shame that she won’t give him that time, of that very specific-day. We feel for this guy, more and more as the flick goes on, and at the end of the day: we want him to walk-away with the girl, even if he doesn’t stand a chance in doing so.

Even though these two are great, the one who really sticks out like a sore thumb is Andrew McCarthy as Blane. McCarthy is so dull, so uninspired, and so boring, that it honestly is a wonder why any person in their right frame-of-mind would fall for such a sap like him. But then I remember; he has money! Oh yeah, that’s right! Basically, he’s one of those guys that just so happens to be Mr. Charming and the knight in shining armor, despite him not being able to bring anything to the table at all. He’s just a doofus and to watch him try to win over the heart of Andie, was as stupid as it could get. I would have liked it more if James Spader took this role over instead, even if Spader is pretty damn fun to watch as the high-school jerk-bag, Steff, who gets what he wants, when he wants it, and just schmoozes his way all throughout high-school, with a trusty-cigarette always located in his hand. He’s what cool is all about. Not this loser Blane.

Consensus: Although it may harbor some interesting and smart ideas about growing-up and finding love as a teenager, Pretty in Pink still loses itself by the end when everything gets overly-sappy and overly-annoying. However, it’s still an entertaining flick to watch that has aged-well in most parts. Not all, but most.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Now that's the real preppie!

Now that’s a real preppie!

Tiny Furniture (2010)

Does staying at-home and going to community college count as the same experience?

Lena Dunham plays a Aura, a twentysomething gal who just broke-up with her boyf, lost her inspiration of what to do in life, and is now living with her artist mother and little sister. Aura is finding it hard to make sense of the world that she’s living in, mostly because she feels like she should be doing more with her life, and just isn’t. It’s a whole bunch of post-collegiate problems that nobody cares about, except for white people. We eat that shit up.

Here’s the type of flick I automatically expected to hate going in, but had the exact-opposite feeling afterwards. Here I was thinking that this was just another mumblecore movie where a bunch of people say and do quirky things, all for the fun and entertainment of people that love this type of stuff and why? Oh, because it’s an “indie movie” and their allowed to get away with all of that junk. This movie isn’t one of those that I rant against, and that’s all thanks to Lena Dunham, who, as you all know by now, is pretty much “The Shit”.

Dunham not only starred in this flick, but she directed and wrote it, and that self-reliance of knowing one’s self is what shines through the brightest here. The direction is nothing new, flashy, or original that won’t have you going crazy over night, but the screenplay is exactly that. Actually, I wouldn’t even say that the screenplay itself is anything new, flashy, or original, it’s just simple. But it’s so simple that it works and feels like real-life, where real people speak to one another, in a sometimes quirky-fashion, but still works because you believe in everything and everybody in the movie. You could totally tell that whatever the hell Dunham went through once she got out of college, is all packed into this screenplay for us all to see and hear, and that brutal honesty is what resonated with me the most because sometimes I feel like Aura, or Dunham for that matter.

Hanging out in pipes: totally normal.

Hanging out in pipes: totally normal.

Granted, I’m not necessarily in the same position as Aura is where she has a post-college life and is just trying to get her foot on the ground, but still, if you have ever felt lonely, sad, or just not able to make sense of the things around you, then this is most likely the type of film that you want to see because it will feel real and honest to you, almost as much as it did to me. Aura isn’t a walking-stereotype of the person that can’t seem to get her shit together, shut the hell up, and move on with her life, but just a person who thought she had it all, and got it snatched-away from her in a single second, without an idea of what the hell to do. I’m sure that I speak for most of us out there and say that yes, we have all felt like that at least during one point of our lives. If not, you gotta start living, man!

As much as I may make this movie seem like a total debbie-downer, that isn’t what Dunham’s all about. She’s about showing us the crazy-situations we roll through in life, and just how we can get by them just by being ourselves. You can not only tell that Dunham is her original-self through the script and direction, but through her performance as well. There’s this certain essence of just being plain, original, and nothing but the truth that feels more realistic than anything else in this movie, and made me wonder how much of it she was acting. Dunham obviously isn’t the hottest bean in the soup, but I don’t think she cares about that and neither should we. She absolutely gets by on just being herself and telling others to shove it, which is what I always love in my women, especially my leading-actresses. Dunham’s “no-charm” act is what probably what makes her so charming in the first-place and I can’t wait to see what she has to do next for film, whenever she gets a break from Girls.

The rest of the cast is filled with a bunch of no-names, but each and everyone are just like Dunham in the way that they feel emotionally-honest and true, almost to the point of where it doesn’t seem like they’re acting. The fact that Dunham cast her real-life mommy and sissy was really smart and builds up a sweet-chemistry between them all that fits within the context of the story, and shows you that even if you do get in fights with your fam and have disagreements, at least you can always go back to them because no matter what; they love you underneath it all. I know I would never be able to make a movie with anybody from my fam, but hey, good for Lena. Sure she makes them all proud. Once again, nothing flashy, new, or original, but they all nail their roles and show what it’s like to be young, a bit wild, a bit nasty, a bit grumpy, a bit free, but always dumb with the things they do or say. As I said before, I think I speak for everybody else out there when I say, we all know exactly what that means.

Next time you get depressed, go play with small antiques of furniture. Always cheer ya back up!

Next time you get depressed, go play with small antiques of furniture. Always cheer ya back up!

The only problem that I actually felt with Dunham’s movie is that I feel like it goes on and on and on for so long (an hour and 39 minutes, okay), but never really has much of a point. Maybe I missed the point when I was laughing my ass off at the humor that Dunham has, but the overall-message of this movie seemed to be lost as soon as that wacky and surprising third-act comes into play, and we realize it’s a bit more serious than we expected. However, even if it is serious, I still never really felt like I knew quite where Dunham was getting at with this story or what she was trying to say. Being with family is great? Being with family sucks? Love your parents even if they piss you off? Don’t have unprotected sex? I don’t know what, but the main message of this movie seemed to be skewered out of nowhere, and it didn’t really hit me as hard as the rest of the movie. That being said, it was still a pretty good movie that just so happened to have the unfortunate problem of not knowing what to say, mean, or end.

Consensus: Tiny Furniture is one of those loose, simple, sweet, and to the point movies where the story happens right in front of your eyes where people act like people, things are done, and words are exchanged, but at the end of the day: that’s just life, yo.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

See! Not every dude and girl lying in bed needs to bang. Although it wouldn't be so bad if they did, just saying.

See! Not every dude and girl lying in bed needs to bang. Although it wouldn’t be so bad if they did, just saying.

Shooter (2007)

I thought all snipers had to do was just sit there, hold their breath, and shoot. That’s it.

Marksman Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg) leaves the Army after a mission of his goes bad. After he is reluctantly pressed back into service, Swagger is double-crossed once again, but this time: it’s a tad bit more serious. With two bullets in him and the subject of a nationwide manhunt, Swagger begins his revenge, which will take down the most powerful people in the country, even leading him back to that fateful incident where he was initially screwed-over in the first place.

No matter what action movie you venture out or stay inside to see, chances are; you’re going to get nothing but sure, mindless entertainment with a few, but also very little surprises. That’s just the way the movie-world works and as fine with that as I may be, sometimes, there are just some cases where I can’t turn my brain off anymore. Sometimes, I just gotta let loose. Sometimes, I just gotta let a movie have it. Sometimes, is one of those times right now!

Antoine Fuqua may not have the best track-record out there, but still a guy that I have enough faith in when it comes to action, using it right, and using it to his advantage, and for the most part; is actually what kept this film alive and well when it seemed to hit some dead ends. The action starts off fine and kept me on-the-edge-of-my-seat a couple of moments, especially one car-chase scene that went all throughout the “fine” streets of Philadelphia. First of all, being a homeboy of Philly, I was happy to see my town be in a big-budget action pic where the streets were used perfectly and also, it was just a fun little piece of action that this film seemed like it needed to enhance and mostly, keep our minds off of the “plot”. I use that term “plot”, very loosely.

I guess she was making breakfast...

I guess she was making breakfast…

Most action pics are stupid. Duh, we all know that. But this one was a little TOO stupid for me to even have fun and enjoy at points. The whole idea that these dudes would just come up to a guy, have him come out of a life of solitude, and proposition an assassination attempt, without him ever gettin’ the willies from the guys, just really surprises me since I knew if I was in that situation, I would know something was fishy right away. Also, isn’t Marky Mark supposed to be a trained marksman that excels in this type of shit? Just a thought. So there we go, the beginning of this story already had me annoyed but it just continues to get worse and worse as more of these plot twists begin to unravel. I’m all down for plot twists when they make a story more interesting, but there were plot twists within the plot twists happening here and after awhile it became more laughable than actually entertaining. Then again, maybe “laughable” and “entertaining” go hand-in-hand in ways, too. Either way, something just was not clicking with me here and slowly, but surely, the movie started to lose me.

Then, the story continues to get worse as, for some freakin’ odd reason, they decide to get all political with our simple, action movie watching asses. Throughout the whole film, there is this under-lining theme of corrupt politicians that runs throughout and doesn’t come on strong until the very end where it all comes together (I think?). The whole movie plays out like a slight-thriller, with action elements, but then changes into where we’re supposed to feel of this as some sort of morality piece. I mean when I watch my dumb-ass action movies, don’t try to bog me down with a bunch of political themes that could be very present in today’s day and age. Why? Well because, I don’t give much of a shit about all that! That’s why I came here: to see Marky Mark get a sniper and start blowin’ people’s heads off left-and-right, not to understand what our dirty politicians are doing to poorer, foreign countries out there. Maybe for a different flick that may be the topic of the day, but not for this one.

Speaking of Marky Mark Wahlberg, say what you will about him, but the guy does do his best with every piece of material he’s given. The guy is a bona-fide star because he can take these shitty, action scripts and actually give them something more to hold onto because there is just something there with him and his charisma that works. However, I think his role as Bob Lee Swagger was the true point where I see him being a bit too dull for my liking. This guy, Swagger (what a cooooool name!), has a lot going for him that he’s one of the toughest mofos out there and can shoot just about anything that walks from a pretty sexy distance. However, this guy doesn’t really seem like he’s all that tough to begin with. Yeah, he shoots people and yeah, he kills them but what else can he really do? The guy barely has a personality and as much as he tries, Wahlberg can’t seem to really give him one. Wahlberg tries so, so, so hard with this role but in the end, it just comes off as another one of his dull, action-hero performances. Maybe that’s the script’s fault, and maybe it isn’t. Regardless, the two weren’t coming together and making sense.

"Just kill this dude. Okay? Good. That's all, now go home."

“Just kill this dude. Okay? Good. That’s all, now go home.”

The one who actually showed some real personality with his character was Michael Peña as the field agent that has nothing else really going for him, except for Swagger and finding out what’s getting jiggy with him. No matter what, you got to love Peña for what he is able to do with all of his roles and it’s great to see him have a bunch of fun with a character that is essentially one, big, effin’ cliche. The guy deserves all of the praise he’s been getting for awhile, and I think it’s time he just about broke out of that shell, and into our laps. If that makes any possible sense whatsoever.

Then, on the flip-side of the coin, you got Ned Beatty and Danny Glover as the two, terribly-corrupt government workers that just ooze evil in every scene. Both are good and show that they can work with a shitty script but after awhile, they’re evilness began to get ridiculous and over-played, almost to where it seemed very unbelievable that they would be at all nice or humane to the ones around them, let alone to each other. Oh, and then you got Kate Mara as Swagger’s old-partner’s wife. She definitely had a cute look to her but the way her character just lets Swagger into her life without ever knowing or seeing him ever before, did seem a bit unbelievable. Once again, another part of this story that seemed stupid, but was somehow needed to move the story right on along.

Consensus: Though Shooter is a loud, dumb, and stupid action thriller that makes no apologies for what it does, it somehow still comes off as a terribly-written piece of work that does nothing other than pull out a bunch of incomprehensible plot twists, only to add more confusion on to the final-product, that was already struggling as it was.

4 / 10 = Crapola!!

"You better say hello to ya motha for me."

“You better say hello to ya motha for me.”

The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

If Daniel Johnston is going to hell, he’s going there with a smile on his face.

Daniel Johnston is one of those rare talents that comes around every once and awhile that so many people seem to love, hail as a genuis, and consider an icon among the cults, but never hit it as big as he should have. Whether or not you agree with everything that was just said there, doesn’t matter because this is the story of his beginning to present day, where it’s a wild ride of drugs, acoustic guitars, manic-depression, hanging out with Sonic Youth, scamming your way onto MTV, and singing about Casper the Friendly Ghost. Trust me, this is not going to make any sense and probably seem a lot stranger than you’d imagine, I warn you on that.

I’ve always known and listened to Daniel Johnston and although I’ve never really considered him an honest genuis, I’ve always thought that there was something unique, raw, and different to him that set him apart from the rest of the lo-fi crap that I hear and seems to try too hard. Maybe, just maybe, at the time that his stuff was being released, he was a bit too over-hyped because he was so different at the time, but nonetheless, the guy’s still an original that deserves to be heard, in order to be believed. Can’t say that about many musicial-artists nowadays, which is why it is such a work of beauty to see a documentary that shows a glimpse inside the mind of who some say is a genuis, whereas others just think he’s a total nut. By the end of it all, you’ll be able to make-up your own opinion as to what side you reside on. I’m still somewhere in the middle.

What makes this movie so damn interesting from the beginning is the fact that Daniel Johnston himself is a very original, and interesting person to cover that every single story of his, seems like it could be made into a whole other movie and is almost too good to be true but here’s the weird part: it’s all real and not only do they have people to testify to it, but they have actual audio-tape as well. When we see his up-bringings as a kid of a very religious family, we see how much of a ruckus he caused by filming and recording everything around him, as if he was making snippets of his life for a possible-documentary in the near-future. Then, as time goes on, we start to see his creative genius really start to blossom into making him an underground sensation that we hear about more than ever nowadays, but there’s always the bad side to every great and wonderful story.

"Buy my tape, or I'll fucking kill you."

“Buy my tape, or I’ll fucking kill you.”

At some parts during this movie, yes, it does feel like a bit like a Behind the Music episode, but the fact that it’s Daniel Johnston that they’re covering here, is what really seperates it from being just like that. Throughout the whole movie, you are constantly taking on these wild rides of adventures that you’d never expect to happen, but because it’s Daniel Johnston and this all happened, you can’t help but be fascinated by what you hear and see actually occur. All of his music aside, the guy has had a pretty extraordinary life, and despite what the others around him may say, he never seemed to waste a minute of it.

Take for instance that he suffers a nervous breakdown that’s so bad and so insane, that he actually gets the cops called on him at his own Christmas party. Doesn’t sound so bad, okay? Well, then take the fact that he not only tried to kill his dad once, but twice? Still nothing? Okay, how about the reality that the guy actually went into a woman’s house, charged at her for no reason other than the fact that he thought she was a Satan-worshipperer, and made her jump out of a second-story window? I could go on and on and on, but trust me, there’s more insane stories you’ll find out here and it’s all done in a sincere, believable way that only adds more to the legend of Daniel Johnston and all of the crazy shit he’s been through, as well as the crazy shit he’s put everybody around him through.

Still, no matter what, the movie never makes a mockery out of the guy and still shows how he is regarded as a genius in terms of being a musician and an artist. The guy’s got some strange songs, but you ain’t seen nothing yet until you’ve seen his art work. It definitely isn’t the most normal pieces of beauty you’ve ever seen in your life, but they are still intruiging and give you a larger-view of how this guy sees the world and makes sense out of it. Does it always seem like he’s rational? Hell no! Actually, I’d say that abvout 95% of this movie is dedicated to him just being irrational and insane, but those moments that show the inner-beauty of this person and artist, really makes the trip worth while and one you won’t soon forget.

Yes Daniel, you did get THAT big.

Yes Daniel, you did get THAT big.

But if there is anything that I can recommend this movie for enough, is that it actually makes you want to listen to this guy’s music and see what all of the fuss was, and still is about, with this guy and all of the back-stage hysteria he caused. I was already a bit spoiled before seeing this flick since I’ve heard his music and actually appreciated it, but not like I appreciated it here. This movie gave me a larger look at the man, the myth, the legend, and the music that the legend made, and how it changed so many people’s lives and made them see the world through his eyes. Not many artists nowadays give you that experience (except for the Beebs), and it’s so rich and so powerful to feel that once again, regardless of if you’re a music fan or not. Most of you out there may have never, ever for a second heard of this guy or want nothing to do with him, or hear his story told through all of it’s ups-and-downs (and trust me, there are plenty), but give this one a shot and see if you can see differently. Can’t promise your life will forever change, but it may just see things a tad bit differently. Maybe.

Consensus: Whether or not you think that Daniel Johnston is a genuis or not, is totally irrelevant. What does matter is that you are able to see the world through his eyes, become interested by his story, and how he was able to put a voice and a sound to his name, all by himself and never letting anybody take over. The guy may be really crazy, but he’s an interesting fella that I won’t soon forget. Nor the stories about him.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Buy the new, Daniel Johnston album t-shirt, free with every purchase of manic depression and public freak-outs. Buy now, or never.

For a limited-time, you can receive the Daniel Johnston album t-shirt, free with every purchase of manic depression and public freak-outs. Buy now, or never.

Stoker (2013)

Family is weird.

India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) is a young girl who suspects her mysterious uncle (Matthew Goode) is up to some sheisty-dealings after he comes to live with her emotionally unstable mother (Nicole Kidman) following the death of her father (Dermot Mulroney). But instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the main hype for this movie is surrounding the fact that this is South Korea’s Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), making his American feature-film debut and shows something to all of the other foreign directors that seemed to get thrown into the mix when they have to take crap material in the states. It seems to happen to every foreign-language director who makes a splash elsewhere, but Chan-wook is different. This is his film all the way through, and it’s usually for better, and for worse. Depending on the type of person you really are and what you like. Me, I’m still on the fence.

What makes this movie work is that it does have a very, very mysterious atmosphere and tone about it to where you have no idea what’s going, and exactly who’s behind all of these weird shenanigans that have been going on. From the get-go, it’s pretty obvious that not everything is as it seems to be, but that didn’t matter because it’s more deliberately-used, as Chan-wook allows his flick to build up more steam and tension as it goes along. For me, I always thought I knew where this story was going, how, and what they were going to reveal to me next, but that’s only because I’ve seen a shit-ton of movies. This movie actually surprised me when it was able to take leaps of death that I wasn’t in the least-bit expecting, and I have to give Chan-wook a bunch of credit for that, because it’s something that some of our finest, working-directors in America still don’t have the courage to pull-off just yet. Not saying that he’s better than anybody, just saying that the guy is able to show the brass balls he hides within. Or underneath his pants, physically too. Either way, the guy’s got guts.

"Ladies, I'm ready to fuck. Sort of."

“Ladies, I’m ready to fuck. Sort of.”

Chan-wook also does a great job in keeping this flick so damn interesting, and not just by the story; but by the visuals. Every shot in this movie feels like it could be paused, taken-out, and displayed on a coffee table in some shop or some person’s house, and have everybody who picks it up, staring and gazing at it for day’s on end. Chan-wook not only gives this flick a plethora of beautiful colors to keep your eyes on-screen, but shows us some nice, visual-treats that he takes out of his goodie-bag. Certain scenes loom really cool, other scenes, just look very artsy-fartsy. But regardless of what you may deem them as, you still cannot deny that this flick is always interesting and always intriguing to watch, and if not for the story, then to see what Chan-wook can have our eyes feast on next. Trust me, you’ll see.

But something just didn’t feel all that right with this movie and I think I have my finger on what it was: it’s tone. See, this is one of those flicks where everything is dramatic, everything is eerie, and everything and everybody feel like they’re just being loopy, just for the sake to move the story along. Now, I know this type of story-telling does very, very well in the foreign countries, but in the states, it feels weird. For instance, there’s a bunch of staring and awkward-grinning between a bunch of characters that could be deemed as creepy and horrific in some, other countries because there’s a certain “art-essence” to it, but here, in the states, it just feels over-the-top.

In most cases, I was able to drop this idea from my head and just focus on the story and whether or not it I was interested, but other times it just felt like it tried too hard. Whether or not Chan-wook meant for that to happen, or that’s just his way of filming, is all beyond me. But watching this flick, you’ll almost feel like it’s parody at points, where people are just giving each other looks that the Dramatic Squirrel has been doing for a whole decade. Okay, you’re right. I’m sorry for putting this movie and that celebrity in the same sentence. He really is THAT COOL.

Where this film really counts, is in it’s cast who all do fine-as-hell jobs with all of the weird-shite that they are given. And yes, that does mean a lot for this movie. Mia Wasikowska always shows up in a whole bunch of movies that I actually get the privilege to see, and so far, she’s never done anything to really impress me. Sure, she’s cute and she has the promise to be the next, Amy Adams-type of gal, but so far, I haven’t seen anything from her that really had me calling till the cows came home. She’s always come off as sort of bland and dull, and never seems like she wants to liven-up the material and allows everybody else to do otherwise. Her performance as India marks the change in my perception of this gal. I’m sorry, Mia. You have my respects.

"I spy, with my little eye, a copy of Burton's Alice in Wonderland."

“I spy, with my little eye, a copy of Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.”

Wasikowska is awesome as India because she has to do a lot of strange brooding and stares to enhance her character and the type of mood she sends off to the others around her, but that’s something she’s very good at. She feels like a natural at just being weird outcast, but also the look and feel of a gal you do not want to fuck with, especially if she has a sharpened-pencil in her hand. A lot of the scenes where she is just standing there, silent, and not saying much, still compelled me, because I always felt like there was more to this character than she was letting on and what would you know it: I was right! Wasikowska definitely stole the show in this movie for me, and hopefully won’t let me down with whatever she’s got piled-up next.

Matthew Goode is also amazing as her strange-o uncle, Charlie, who has never been mentioned or seen, until now. Goode is good (teehee) at playing-up the whole suave look and easy charm that all of the characters in his movies display so well and it adds another level of weirdness to a character, that we already know we can’t trust. He’s not the type of guy you want on your side, but you start to realize that maybe, just maybe, he isn’t as bad as they make him out to be. Just a bit fucked-up in the head. Whether or not you are able to go along with that aspect with that character is totally up to you, but I like how Chan-wook showed me more to a character that wasn’t just all about being odd, but sexy at the same time. Ladies, get ready to double-bag the panties for this one. You’re gonna need ’em for Mr. Goode. Aw yeah.

The biggest disappointment of this whole movie is probably watching Nicole Kidman play second-fiddle to not just these characters, but this story as well. Don’t get me wrong, Kidman is good as India’s mom and chews a bit of scenery when she gets the chance to, but there isn’t much else to her and sort of comes of like a total bimbo, in the grander scheme of things. You never get the full feel or essence that she was ever a nice lady beforehand, and you never get it after the movie, so why the hell do we need Kidman in the first-place? I’ll tell ya why: she’s a big name, she’s a good actress, and she may attract some people to see it where names like “Goode” and “Wasikowska” won’t. Sorry, peeps. But it’s the hard-to-honest truth. Same goes to Jacki Weaver. Why the hell was she even here?

Consensus: Certain parts work and others parts don’t, but no matter what, Stoker is at least a fun, interesting, and always-vibrant English-language debut from Park Chan-wook who shows us that he definitely has some of getting used-to with the way we handle business in the states, but still isn’t a person I have to worry about lowering my expectations for any time soon.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Dramatic Squirrel ain't got shit on me."

“Dramatic Squirrel ain’t got shit on me.”

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)

Rabbit out of a hat? Boooooooooring.

Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have been life-long freinds that both share a love of magic, and have ruled the Vegas strip for the past two years. However, with the emergence of a more brutal type of magic, courtesy of Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), they’ve fallen on hard times and break-up. Burt is left in Vegas without any type of job, any money, or any inspiration for magic anymore. That is, until he goes back to reclaim the roots that made him love magic in the first place.

Usually when I see a trailer for a comedy, I either laugh-out-loud, chuckle, or just sit there in total and utter boredom. Every, single time I saw the trailer for this movie, nothing ever came to me. It wasn’t that I hate Steve Carrell, it wasn’t that I hate magic, and it sure as hell wasn’t that I wasn’t looking forward to seeing more Jim Carrey, play Jim Carrey (more on him in a tad bit later), it was just that it wasn’t funny. I didn’t laugh and it almost seemed like all of the best parts were in the trailer. That’s really saying something.

Most comedies at least try to be funny, and succeed at times. This flick rarely has that happen to itself. Most of the time during this movie I was just sitting there, watching, and waiting for something to come by and totally take me by surprise by how funny it was, but it never came to me. Instead of actually being smart or even remotely funny, we just get a bunch of characters that are sort of dick-ish, and a bunch of jokes towards the likes of David Blaine and Criss Angel, which seems like they would have been better, had they been done when they actually relevant, almost a decade ago. Automatically, I knew I wasn’t going to like this flick just from the beginning, but much to my surprise, it does get better. Well, sort of.

"I trick you into laughing. Please."

“I trick you into laughing. Please.”

Here’s the thing with this movie: when it tries to be funny, it feels painfully obvious and totally misses the mark. But, when it’s trying to be nothing but goofy and not even play-up for the laughs, then that’s where the flick really charmed it’s way into my soul. I don’t know if most of that credit is given to the cast, or the screenplay, but when I found myself laughing, it was long and hard, but only for a short while. After that said short while, then it just went back to boredom and I once again found myself sighing and eye-rolling my way through the rest of the duration of this flick. Most comedies try, but this one doesn’t even seem to and I still don’t know whether or not that’s a good thing.

Even magic lovers that go to see this, are going to be pretty disappointed since most of the magic is all CGI, special-effects, or played up to ridiculous laughs that could only happen if you watched a movie. Personally, I like the art of magic, what type of effort goes into it, and how it’s all done, which is why films like the Illusionist and the Prestige always do something for me, but this flick doesn’t even seem bothered with any of that. It’s almost like the flick just used the whole idea of having magicians battle one another, just for the sake of their being comedy and goofiness galore to occur. Nothing ever happens, and the magic never really sizzles or delights anyone. I even had a couple of magicians at my screening, and I felt like I wanted to give them a hug at the end of it. Not because it wasn’t funny (I’m sure they laughed their assess off like everybody else in the theater, with the exception of us high-level critics), but because there wasn’t much magic that felt natural or kosher to the story. It was just thrown in there to make us go, “Wow.” And you could say that’s what most magicians are supposed to make you go, but at least they’re stuff is real. This movie’s stuff wasn’t and it was a bummer for me, on both levels.

However, when you have a movie as bad as this, you can usually depend on the cast to save things and that’s what they do, for the most part. Steve Carell seems to be having fun as Burt Wonderstone, but here’s my main dilemma with Carell. Carell is hilarious when he isn’t trying too hard and just playing his own, natural-self. Usually, it’s when he’s playing the awkward-guy put into a real-life situation that he finds himself in (40 Year Old Virgin). But when he goes off and starts playing these obvious, electric characters that just seem to want your attention and praise; then, that’s when it seems that this guy is trying way, way too hard. Carell makes Wonderstone interesting, but that’s not saying much since this guy is a bigot, a dick, and just one of those dudes who acts like his shit don’t stank, all because he can do neat-o tricks that make people wonder how he did it all. I get that Wonderstone is supposed to start off as a deuche, and then progressively change into a better person as time goes on, but that didn’t matter to me because I didn’t really like this guy nor Carell playing it. Carell does what he can, but he is trying too hard here and almost made me feel like it would have been a hell of a lot better, had they casted somebody like Will Ferrell who is the man at making roles like these work. Wouldn’t have been the most original thing in the world to see, but at least it would have been more interesting and fun to watch.

Strike a pose, try to look funny.

Strike a pose, try to look funny.

It was great to see Steve Buscemi get a lead role in a movie for once, let alone one that’s a comedy, but even he feels wasted. And also, don’t let me forget to remind you that this guy shows up in almost every, single Adam Sandler comedy. If Buscemi is wasted in a flick like this, then that’s really saying something. Alan Arkin is fun as the old-school magician that every kid looked up to, Rance Holloway, and loves to just scream, shout, and be the old man that we all know and love him for. It helps that the guy was just nominated for an Oscar, but regardless, the guy’s a box of fun to watch. Also, Olivia Wilde is here as Jane, and really shows that she can play with the big-boys, even if she wasn’t as funny as we’ve seen her be in the past. Still, Wilde’s always charming and always easy-on-the-eyes. Rawr.

The real stand-out of this while movie definitely has to be Jim Carrey, as he’s the only one who really seems to be trying to make this movie and it’s comedy work, yet, does it so flawlessly that it doesn’t seem hard at all. Carrey likes playing strange characters like Steve Gray, and what only makes it better is that he isn’t at the fore-front of it all. Carrey actually allows others to take over the center-stage and wiggle their elbows a bit, only until he pops-up and starts having a ball. Carrey definitely provided the best moments of the movie for me and after awhile, was the only aspect of the whole thang that actually kept me watching. Sorry, Olivia. You’re hot and all, but come on. Jim’s still got it.

Consensus: If you like magic; you will be disappointed. If you like to laugh; you will be disappointed. If you like Jim Carrey; then you will probably be happy with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone for that reason, and that one reason only considering it’s rarely ever funny and tries hard while doing so.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Yeah, I'm shocked you're in this too.

Yep, I’m shocked you’re in this too.

Spring Breakers (2013)

Screw spring break. I’m staying home.

A group of college girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) have the bad idea of robbing a fast-food joint in order to finance their spring break getaway. As you could expect, things go awry until a strange dude named Alien (James Franco) arrives to bail them out. In exchange for his help, he convinces the girls to kill his nemesis Archie (Gucci Mane).

Harmony Korine is the type of dude who’s movies I just don’t care for. I’ve seen Gummo, I’ve seen Trash Humpers, and worst of all, I’ve seen Kids, and none of them did anything for me whatsoever other than make me want to throw up and slap this kid in the face. But all my problems with him aside, I was still interested in seeing him take on a sort of “mainstream movie” that’s advertised as if it was made straight for the MTV-crowd that loves boobs, booze, drugs, sex, nudity, and a whole lot of partying. However, that same demographic it’s being shipped towards, are the ones being made fun of here.

Korine starts this movie off like you’d expect from any typical movie where there is a bunch of partying going on. Gratuitous nudity, drugs, sex, violence, and drinking, all to the sweet and soulful tunes of Skrillex playing in the background, but then it changes and you realize something is up with this movie. You can’t really tell right from the beginning what this movie is all about, but once you get to thinking of it; the movie is actually poking-fun at the crowd that this flick is being aimed towards. For instance, after this opening-sequence, the rest of the movie basically consists of these girls doing all of the wild acts of debauchery that you’d expect them to do, but here’s where it takes a closer-glimpse: why are they doing all of this?

I have no clue who that extra person is in the back, but yeah. More hot and sexy women! Woo hoo!

I have no clue who that extra person is in the back, but yeah. More hot and sexy women! Woo hoo!

We all get that these girls want to have a good time but is it actually legitimate  or is it all a put-on so they can be apart of the crowd and hopefully get some cutie patooties by the end of the night? From this stance, I’m going with the latter option. Korine takes a comment on how certain programs like VH1, MTV, and YouTube have all made our world and idea of spring break to be nothing other than a wild time, with wild people, and wild things that will never, ever happen again. However, nowadays, it’s done in a more slight way that’s not as genuine as it once was, and is definitely a lot more shallow then ever before. People aren’t just going to spring break in order to let loose and have a grand time, they’re also doing it because what else better is there to do?

Now, I’m not saying that in the 21st Century, people can’t have fun if they’re drinking and acting crazy like they would on spring break. Not at all, but what it is that I am saying is that the times have changed and our society has definitely dropped a hell of a lot as of late where crazy shite like this, is apparently accepted and shown as a good time. Trust me, I’m not the biggest square in the world, sometimes I like to get a little crazy by drinking, getting wild, getting dirty, and getting nasty, but it’s all because I want to, not because of the others. What Korine is trying to say is that the world and society that we base ourselves around, is all based on the countless amounts of sex, drugs, and alcohol we can consume without dying, rather than how much fun we can have. If I lost you already, don’t worry; you’re most likely not the only one.

For this message alone, I have to give Korine a crap-ton of credit for going out of his way and making a stand about our society and the young people growing-up in it. What he’s saying now, like he did back in 1995, is that we, as a society and as a unit, are practically screwed. And who’s to blame? You? Me? Mom? Dad? Mom-Mom? Pop-Pop? The pets? MTV? VH1? Who knows! But what I do know is that it’s very sad to see a movie like this made and have me thinking the way that I do now.

But if you get past this message, you start to realize that there really isn’t much else going on here below the surface. If you like a bunch of T & A, then you sure as hell are going to be pleased, but if you’re expecting a fun and wild ride with a bunch of girls dancing, drinking, and being young: then you’re gonna be pissed. Heck, I was even a bit pissed-off, but I don’t count. Like with most of his movies, Korine doesn’t really like to follow any type of conventional-story so instead of showing us point-A to point-B in an understandable way, he jumbles things around and have us make up our own minds on what happens and what doesn’t. Sometimes it work, and sometimes, it totally misses the mark.

I don’t want to call this movie “boring” per se, because I was always interested and I always glued to the screen, but there just wasn’t much holding the fort down. After the 20 minute mark, I had it about up to here with these girls, the way they talked, the way they acted, and yes, even the way they dressed. I highly doubt it that they would go all throughout their days wearing nothing but a bunch of bikini’s and if that is the case in a world like this, then sign me right up! But still, for a movie like this, it didn’t seem reasonable and just seemed like another way for Korine to show us how much of a boner he has behind the screen. It’s a beautiful movie with visuals that pop-out like crazy, but the story lost me many, many times throughout and really took this flick down from being a very important movie that needed to be made and seen. Instead, without all of the fun, it’s just a message movie with a lot of titties. Good for some, not good for others.

"Okay girls. Just act like you're acting like a bunch of girls that want to be hot and sexy, but really aren't doing it in the way that would be deemed geuine or real. Basically, you just have to act hot and sexy, okay? Is that too much?"

“Okay girls. Just act like you’re acting like a bunch of girls that want to be hot and sexy, but really aren’t doing it in the way that would be deemed genuine or real. Basically, you just have to act hot and sexy, okay? Is that too much?”

The point in where my interest for this movie came flying right back was when Mr. James Franco showed up on-screen as the local rapper, drug dealer, gangsta, wanka, grilled-up mofo known as Alien. Almost everybody who saw Oz the Great and Powerful last week, almost had the same consensus on Franco and his performance saying it was dull, plain, and boring. For me, I liked his performance in that movie, but in this one, I absolutely loved it and I think those people who disagreed with me then, will agree now. As soon as this guy starts talking and being himself, you know the movie is going to turn-around and he’s going to give you all that he can as an actor, as a funny-man, and overall, as an entertainer. Franco lights up the screen with every scene he’s in where he plays up his wannabe-act as a gangsta that has a lot of money, has a lot of drugs, has a lot of guns, and has a lot of women, and this is where Franco works so perfectly. He’s absolutely hilarious and you can tell that a lot of the scenes he has, he’s just improving his ass off, because the people around him can’t seem to hold their laughter or joy in as much as they should. But still, it provides a bunch of hilarity and laughter for everybody who sees, but it isn’t all about fun and games with the dude.

There’s a couple of scenes where we actually see Alien show some vulnerability and even break character. He doesn’t really seem like a terrible guy to begin with, but just a hood rat that you wouldn’t want hanging around with you at all, unless you wanted all of your change taken. But still, that loveable side of Franco that we usually see, makes this character work wonders and makes it more than just him, goofin’ off and jerkin’ off (that’s Korine’s job), he’s actually got a show to do and does a fine job at that. Sweet job, James. Fuck all of them nay-sayers.

As for the girls, they are all fine with what they’re given even if that isn’t saying much. Vanessa Hudgens seems like she really effin’ wants people to forget that she used to be in all of those High School Musical movies, and it just may work if she keeps this pace up. The other two, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine, are just there for props and do what they can, but that isn’t saying much. The only weak-link here in the cast seemed to be Selena Gomez who seemed like she was on a entirely different planet from the rest of these gals. I get that since she was the church gal that never left mommy and never left home, that she was going to be a bit of a prude, but seriously, come on! Grow up, drink a beer, bone a guy, take some clothes off, and have some fun! You’re only young once. Trust me, I know.

Consensus: Spring Breakers is the type of movie that gets better once you start to think about it. The messages and ideas about society and how far we are going down the gutter, are as interesting as I think Korine has ever said in the past, but the fact that there is no type of story really backing it all up, seemed to be a major fault on his part.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Eeenie. Meenie. Miny. Moe."

It’s like the “choose which hand the penny’s in” game. But with bullets.

The Elephant Man (1980)

It’s like Forrest Gump, had it been directed by David Lynch. And instead of a box of chocolates, it was life-like bunny rabbits.

Rescued from his degrading life as a circus freak, John Merrick (John Hurt) is given a chance by a dedicated surgeon (Anthony Hopkins) to live his last years with comfort, respect, and dignity. But since life has not been so kind to John Merrick, he finds it hard to open-up to the rest of the world and let others in. Then again, can ya blame him when you look like this?!?!

David Lynch is a guy that I can never wrap my head around as to whether or not I like him, or just find him bat-shit crazy. Mulholland Drive had me for the first hour or so, then just totally lost me after about the box came into play; Dune just sucked and was a film I wish I couldn’t understand, just to add some more interest to it; Wild at Heart is strange, but very engrossing with its themes and different genres; and Blue Velvet is a very strange, dark tale that worked for me mainly because of Dennis Hopper. I know, I haven’t seen all of his movies, but from what I have seen, it’s been a pretty tough act to love, let alone enjoy. However, I think I can add this one to the list of “good Lynch movies” or “enjoyably pleasant ones”.

What sets this film apart from all of Lynch’s other flicks is that it’s not all that concerned with messing with the minds of the audience, as much as it’s actually more concerned about creating a story about a man that has an obvious set-back in his life, but finds anyway possible to get past that and live the life he wants to. Lynch focuses on Merrick and gives us a story that is not only inspiring, but is also very true in the questions and ideas it brings up about how it is to be human. People look at Merrick and see an “animal”, or a “creature”, and write him off as “stupid” just because of the way he looks. However, like every idiot-savant in movies like this (in real-life, I don’t know if they exist), we start to see more of a human-being behind the look and it’s an mesmerizing thing to watch.

Some form of the KKK, I guess.

The KKK for those who are less-fortunate than us.

However, that is definitely not the case because once Merrick starts to actually talk, we all start to realize that this man is brilliant and one that many of us should look up to considering he doesn’t once ask for any pity whatsoever. Nope, this guy just wants to move on with his life and get past the fact that everywhere he goes, somebody will be staring at him and try wondering what the hell is up with his face and body. To be honest, I’d wonder and probably stare too, but I wouldn’t be as rude about it as some of these people are because I’d realize something fairly quickly: this guy’s a human-being and has feelings like any other human. It’s very hard for anybody to feel and act like this in life, and it’s even harder for a guy like Merrick, but he somehow lives this life-style the whole way through and you are ultimately pulled in right from the start. This is mostly thanks to Lynch’s directing skills because he’s able to play everything straight, while still have a little bit of his weirdness here and there. But Lynch never loses himself and always keep his heart in the right place to give us a story that is one for us all to remember and feel touched by. Sounds strange that this is coming from the same dude who gave us a Naomi Watts lesbian scene, but that’s the whole beauty of this film and what Lynch can do as a director.

But also, that was also my one big problem with this flick. See, as much as Lynch dedicated this flick to being one hell of a story about a man with problems, he still brings in all of these freak-show elements that kind of make this film more confusing than it has any right to be. The first five minutes, we get the signature, Lynch freak-out scene but then it doesn’t come around again until the middle, where Lynch starts touching on all of these freak-shows and other themes of his like the night of the obscure and some strange, sexual obsessions that people have. This wouldn’t seem like something as bad to include in one of his total, mind-fuck movies we all know and sometimes, love him for, but when you place it in a film like this, it seems a little cheap. Also, based on the story we have here, it’s very confusing for a viewer to fully understand just what the hell it is that you are trying to say in the first place. Once again though, it is Lynch we are talking about here and the guy’s never been a fully-sane, fully-functioning person to begin with.

But then again, that’s why we have characters to look at and what a character John Merrick is. Not only is Merrick an inspirational-figure in real-life, but also in this movie and wouldn’t be that way if it wasn’t for John Hurt in this almost unrecognizable role here. The makeup job is done perfectly here and captures exactly what the real person looked like (actually, that guy was worse looking it seems) and I could have only imagined how much of a bitch it must have been for Hurt to have to constantly put that on, day after day. But regardless of how annoying it must have been for him, Hurt still gives off a powerful performance and totally transforms himself into Merrick, whole also actually down-playing the role with ease and subtlety. It’s hard to be subtle when you have a shit-ton of make-up and costumes on, but Hurt is able to capture a sincere presence with his eyes. Oh, those enchanting eyes. Shame that this guy hasn’t fully gotten his due yet from the Academy, but hopefully he will soon.

"Hold me?"

“Hold me?”

Anthony Hopkins, another legend on the big-screen, is also very good in a role that seems very fit for him: Frederick Treves. Treves is a character that thinks he is doing the right thing by going around and showing off Merrick to other people, only to realize that he is pretty much doing the same exact thing to him with these meetings, as the last guy was doing with all of those “freak-shows”. It’s one of those characters that hits the dilemma of doing the right thing, but soon realizes he’s way too in over-his-head. But yet, Hopkins always keeps him loveable and for the most part, a guy that’s easy to fall back on, even when shit seems to get a little too hectic for Mr. Merrick. If there was any problem I had with Hopkins, it’s that he always has that frozen look in his eyes where you don’t quite know if he’s nice or just scary underneath all of the glitz, glamour, and charm, but it works for this character and still makes it easy enough for us to care about this guy because he means well, even if others may view it differently.

Consensus: With a surprisingly straight-forward direction by David Lynch, a pair of great performances from Hurt and Hopkins, and an inspirational story at the heart of it all, The Elephant Man is a wonderful flick that will make you feel for it’s main subject but also realize what it’s like to be a human, and what it takes to care for the other humans around you as well.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Proof that Bradley can do it all.

Proof that Bradley can do it all. Kind of.

Swimming with Sharks (1994)

Yeah, bosses suck.

When Guy (Frank Whaley), a recent film-school graduate with big ideas, takes a job as assistant to major studio executive Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey), he believes his ship has finally come in; little does he know it’s a slave ship, for his boss is indeed worse than a slave driver. But yet, he still puts up with it all thinking he has the dream job in the palm of his hands.

Anybody who has ever worked in a day in their life, probably know that bosses suck. There’s always a time and place where a boss will get on your nerves, piss you off, and just make you want to beat the shit out of them with no end in sight. However, that’s what bosses are there for and if you decide to break they teeth, just be ready for a pink slip and possible lawsuit some time soon. That’s why we hate bosses: they yell and scream at us, and we can’t do shit about it. That’s what I love about being un-employed. Yay for me.

Writer/director George Huang does a pretty impressive with this film, showing us the highs and lows of working in Hollywood, the people that can make it some of the worst days of your life, and just what it may do to all of your dreams of one day running rampant, happy, and free through Hollywood, making as much mooolah as you can. We all know that Hollywood is a vicious place to make money and work, but this film really hits that idea home hard and shows just what psychological effects it can have you. You probably won’t go full, Travis Bickle-psycho working in Hollywood, but it will definitely ‘eff with your mind and probably make you feel like you’re worse than you really are. It makes you wonder how much pain and agony like this Huang had to endure before making this movie. Poor guy, but at least he was able to get this one out there and show his former bosses over the years that he could kick-ass.

"Excuse me sir, could you hold on a second? My boss is calling me a dick-nosed prick and needs my attention."

“Excuse me sir, could you hold on a second? My boss is calling me a dick-nosed prick and needs my attention.”

The film starts off very dark, showing us a hostage situation where Guy traps Buddy into his house, but then keeps on flashing-back to Guy’s early days of working with Buddy and finding out just how they go to this point. This is particularly interesting because the film seems to juggling two types of genres (dark comedy and psychological thriller) and making it work since everything here (including the comedy), is so damn bleak. Honestly, all of the shit that Guy has to go through is some really, painfully sad stuff that I barely even laughed at because I just felt so sorry for the guy. But even though I didn’t really laugh at this flick, it was still well-written by Huang and I thought the balance of dark comedy and psychological thriller worked well just because he never fully changed the pace and kept it one, long, sad adventure through the inner-day workings of Hollywood.

What didn’t work for me was that Guy isn’t really a character you can’t get behind, no matter how hard the film tries to make us feel for him. Yeah, it’s pretty easy to feel bad for a guy that gets shit on at work as much as he does but the guy (pun intended) never shows any backbone and is pretty much just an ordinary, stepping-stool for Buddy. I get that this is what Huang was trying to do, but it seemed like almost every scene with Buddy and Guy was just going to show Guy effin’ up and having Buddy insult him in a very witty, but terribly mean way (then again, when are insults ever nice?). This sort of formula of gets a tad old and repetitive after awhile and you just want Guy to stand up for himself, which he never does, that is until when we know and it’s a shame cause this could have been a whole lot more interesting if that idea was pursued more thoroughly.

Guy is also a pretty bland character no matter how hard Frank Whaley may have tried here as well. Whaley is a good actor, and even if he isn’t a mainstream name (his villain role in Vacancy is probably his biggest role, which really isn’t saying much), can still prove that he has the chops to pull-off any character but he seems a bit miscast here as well. Whaley is good when it comes to showing the bumbling, bright-eyed boy who comes into a new work office expecting to hit the big times, but when all of that starts to change and he gets a little crazy, Whaley doesn’t seem that powerful or freaky to make psycho work. I could believe that a guy like this would go so insane to capture and torture his boss, but Whaley just doesn’t have that strong of a delivery to make you believe so. Maybe it was also the character of Guy himself that didn’t feel all that fleshed-out for but either way, something was just missing here.

Whaley definitely needed help somehow.

Whaley definitely needed help somehow.

But where Whaley seems to fail, Spacey succeeds and flies with flying, fucking colors. Basically, anybody who has seen Horrible Bosses knows that Kevin Spacey can play one, bad motherfucker of a boss but even if you haven’t seen this movie; you still don’t even know. Spacey is so detestable as Buddy, that it’s almost likable. Spacey is perfect at playing this prick that almost everything that comes out his mouth, seems to fit his character so well and it just gets better and better as the insults start to get meaner and meaner. But it’s not all about being a terribly-mean asshole that makes Spacey’s performance work so well as it does, he actually shows a lot of compassion behind it all that works, mainly because of Spacey’s talents as an actor. Spacey gives us a reason as to why he is, the way he is and it makes sense but it also seems unfair, making his character a very hard one to feel compassion for even when he seems to be deep down inside, a very sad, angry, and lonely person that just preys on making the weaker ones feel inferior to him. He’s an asshole, but he’s an asshole that has depth and only Spacey can show that in as perfect of a way as this. Way, way better character that blows Guy right out of the water in terms of complexity.

Consensus: Swimming with Sharks is perfectly acted by Kevin Spacey, who is at the top of his game here as the detestable Buddy Ackerman, and features a lot of insight into how vicious of a place like Hollywood is to be working at, but it’s main character seems very ordinary. Hell, maybe almost too ordinary and takes away a lot of the promises that this material could have easily went with, had Huang decided to go down that path.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Don't worry, I'd shit my pants too.

Don’t worry, I’d shit my pants too.

Rocky II (1979)

“Yo Adriaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!! I’m baaaaaaaackkk!!”

Beginning right where the first left off, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) marries Adrian (Talia Shire) and promises never to fight again. But when the two run into a bunch of moolah-problems and find out that Rocky can’t make a living any other way, he agrees to a rematch with heavyweight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), who wants to prove Rocky going the distance with him in their first match was nothing more than a fluke. However, there’s more skill and smarts in Rocky, but also in Apollo. Ding ding ding!

Much like other films such as Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and plenty other flicks, Rocky may have been a classic film by all-means, but it’s reputation still gets hurt a bit by the endless need of unnecessary sequels that were made after the original. It’s already been six movies later, and I think it’s safe to say that everybody, and their mothers have had it up to here with Rocky, Adrian, Paulie, and all of the other, over-the-top villains they could pick-up next. Thankfully, this one didn’t do too much to ruin the legacy, but instead: just repeated it. Doesn’t hurt, but doesn’t help much either.

Rather than bringing the awesome John G. Avildsen back to the director’s chair, Stallone takes his own shot (pun intended) at writing and directing this flick and it isn’t as bad as you would imagine from this big baffoon. Stallone redoes everything here that we saw and loved from the first one, but this time, adds a little bit more drama and character development to it. I liked that approach because it not only showed us just how Rocky would grow-up as a father and a husband, but also as a guy that’s trying to make a living with whatever he can do other than knocking out other dudes. You never know what it’s like for these dudes after they hit their peak and realize that they have to live in the real-world, with real families, real people, and make real money, so that was pretty interesting to see from a sequel that was all about the hustle, the bustle, and the glam of being a pro-boxer and being stuck in that world. There’s also more development between Rocky and Adrian and it’s sweet to see, as we all know that they love each other, but never fully got the sense of it until now. It’s great to see them live together, inter-act with one another, and try their hardest to live in a nice home and not chop each other’s neck’s off. It’s a hard thing to do as a married-couple, but it can work.

It was getting relatively close to the 80's, so red head-bands seemed reasonable by then.

It was getting relatively close to the 80’s, so red head-bands seemed reasonable by then.

Then again, this direction isn’t anything all that special because it’s basically the same, exact movie, just done again with more character development. This wasn’t something that bothered me as much but it didn’t really offer me up any surprises that much either. You could practically put this and the original back-to-back and not really notice a difference at all: Rocky starts off like a bum, then focuses on jobs, then focuses on Adrian, then gets ready for the big fight *cue training montage*, and then the big fight at the end. That’s pretty much the same formula done for both movies and it seemed like a lazy-job on Sly’s part, mainly because we all know what happens, and aren’t thrown many surprises or curve balls to take us off-guard.

It was also kind of a problem that I didn’t really feel any true tension or excitement going into the big rematch with Creed, I was sort of just like: “ehhhh”. The first movie, regardless as to whether or not you actually saw it when it first came out, was a movie that people were just hyping up and up and up for those last 15 minutes, all because of the big fight. Not only was it bloody, gruesome, and ultra-violent, but it was also very unpredictable as nobody had any clue whatsoever as to who the hell was going to pull this off in the end. However, it’s pretty obvious where Sly is going to go with this story, which makes it even more obvious as to who the winner is going to be. I get that you don’t see these types of flicks to see something terribly new or original, considering that it’s all been done before, but you gotta give me something to chew-on here, or I’m going to lose my leg. Don’t know what that is even supposed to mean, but just go with it for now.

As much as the movie’s final-bout may not be as invigorating or compelling as the first’s, it still helps the movie gain some much-needed steam and end in the sort of way we’d be happy to cheer on. The ending fight in the first flick was a lot better, but this one still stands on its own two feet with a lot of close-calls that actually kept me on-the-edge of my seat, even though it’s pretty obvious you know what’s going to happen. It’s a good fight and definitely brought a lot more energy to the end of the film, but it was almost a bit too late in the movie to play up. Then again, it was entertaining so I’ll give it that.

No matter what though, Sylvester Stallone is definitely the main reason to see this flick because he does everything he did as Rocky in the first movie, and adds a lot more sincerity and heart onto him here. Stallone is such a likable character that the whole 1 hour and 59 time-limit could have been dedicated to him just making corny jokes to Adrian and slurring every single sentence, which he does show a lot of that here, but once he starts to hit the emotional moments, it may actually take you by surprise. Stallone has never been a Oscar-caliber actor by any means, but he definitely shows that he has the chops to pull off plenty emotional moments and have you believe in him as his character learns more about life. But like the rest of the movie, you could pretty much say that about the first one, just with a few more added-elements.

Deja vu maybe?

Deja vu maybe?

As for the rest of the cast, they’re all fine and pretty much doing the same thing they were doing with the first, just a tad different this time-around. Just a tad, mind you. Talia Shire is great to watch as Adrian as her and Rocky inter-act with one another and figure-out ways to get their marriage to work. The two have good chemistry and shines through in almost every moment they share the screen. Carl Weathers bothered the heck out of me with the first one, but does a fine job here as he keeps that annoying, showmanship-thang going on, but still gets to the human-aspect of his character as well. Ain’t so bad once the guy dials it all down, I see. Burgess Meredith is yelling at Rocky again and having a ball doing so, and Burt Young is being a drunk d-bag, that beats-up his sister, makes d-bag jokes, and bothers the hell out of Rocky. The typical, Philadelphian-bum. Gotta love ’em.

Consensus: Rocky II has the same heart, look, feel, and entertainment from the original classic, but that’s just it: it’s practically the same movie. Yeah, it’s more character-based and features development of those said characters as they move-on with their lives, but it isn’t anything special when you take into consideration how land-mark and iconic the original was, where this just seems to cash-in on that name and love. Sadly, it would continue on for a couple more years, only to be deceased by Sly himself. Thank heavens for that.

6.5 / 10 =Rental!!

So. Many. Autographs!

Beautiful shot of the city I love, and a bunch of people running away from it. Oh, sweet, sweet Philadelphia.