Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Adam Scott

Fun Mom Dinner (2017)

Moms rule. Dads drool. Right?

Emily (Katie Aselton) is in, essentially, a loveless marriage and needs to have some fun in her life. Her best friend, Kate (Toni Collette), feels the same way and the two decide that it’s finally time to get involved with one of these “fun mom dinners” that they hear so much about. Okay, actually, that’s not how it actually goes down. Emily gets an invite from the two moms holding the dinner, Melanie (Bridget Everett) and Jamie (Molly Shannon), who as a result, also invites Kate who doesn’t actually like either Melanie or Jamie. Why? Simple mom stuff, honestly. And it’s why the dinner starts off a little weird and awkward, until the booze starts flyin’ and the weed starts gettin’ smoked and then, all of a sudden, everyone’s having a good time. And then, Emily starts talking to a cute bartender (Adam Levine), and heads off with him, putting the whole night into one, crazy funk where everyone’s scrambling all over the place, looking for her, while also connecting with one another and realizing that their moms and nights such as this need to happen more often.

This is the part where they sing “99 Luftballoons”. In German. H-I-L-A-R-I-T-Y.

Or yeah, I think that’s what it is.

Actually, for a movie that’s about 80 minutes along, it really pads itself with jokes, random bits of humor, and a plot that’s already thin to begin with. But honestly, that’s the least of Fun Mom Dinner‘s problems, because simply put: It’s just not funny. It tries so hard to be a cross between Bridesmaids and Bad Moms, but isn’t nearly as interesting, deep, or even funny as the two.

In other words, it’s just a bit of a bore, which is a shame because it’s a movie, written and directed by women, starring women, and about women being, well, women. It’s supposed to be a fun time at the movies, regardless of your sex, but for some reason, it just feels like a missed-opportunity for a lot of people who got together, spent some time working on this thing, giving it their all, and eventually, coming up short. It’s didn’t have to be this way, but sadly, it is.

But really, Fun Mom Dinner just doesn’t ring all that true.

These women, while all good in their own little performances, don’t feel believable as pals. Sure, they’re all connected by the fact that their kids all go to the same school, so maybe that’s the point, but still, when they do start to become closer and more acquainted with one another, it just doesn’t connect. It feels like a group of fun-loving gals who wouldn’t actually be fun friends together in real life, and can’t even act like it once they’re paid to do so.

And the part where they reference “Sixteen Candles”. Which they do a thousand times.

Once again, though, that isn’t to take away from any of the respective performances, because they’re all fine on their own. It’s nice to see the always lovely and joyful Katie Aselton get a leading-role, even if her character is chock-full of cliches; Molly Shannon feels wasted, especially after last year’s Other People; Bridget Everett is basically given the loud, obnoxious role that Melissa McCarthy’s usually stuck with, and while she’s still amusing, she feels like a crutch the movie constantly falls back on when it wants to be wacky and silly, for no apparent reason; and Toni Collette, for some reason, just feels bland here, which is weird, because at one point, she was considered one of the most interesting actresses working.

Unfortunately, not anymore.

Now, she’s playing second-fiddle in a movie that doesn’t really know what to do with much of these ladies, other than have them yell and act-out in crazy ways, yet, not really giving anything else behind it. It would all help if the movie was funny, but it’s not and because of that, it’s hard to really recommend the hell out of Fun Mom Dinner. It tries to be the next Bad Moms, but with that movie’s sequel coming out later this year, do we really need a copycat, or should we just wait for a, hopefully, superior second installment?

Probably wait it out. Or see this, too. I did that and it doesn’t really matter.

Consensus: Constantly straining itself to be funny and somewhat insightful, Fun Mom Dinner also feels weak and poorly put-together, despite the insane talent both in front of and behind the camera.

4.5 / 10

And yeah, where they just talk about their lives and stuff. UGH.

Photos Courtesy of: Momentum Pictures

Advertisements

The Most Hated Woman In America (2017)

Say what you want. Except if it’s about God. People really seem to like that person.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair (Melissa Leo) was known for being a bit of a shit-stirrer. She was one of the most vocal and well-known atheists in the country, who not just spoke out against the war when it wasn’t generally accepted to do so, but also made her case known about the separation between church, state, and most importantly, the state’s public schools. Due to this, a lot of people had issues with Madalyn, constantly threatening her and her family’s lives, leaving her to fear that she’d die eventually, and not by natural causes, either. But throughout all of the ranting and raving she did, some good came through it with the foundations she created for those who were in desperate need – something she continued to do until her death. And oh, about that death, well, that in and of itself is already a pretty odd and confusing spectacle. Then again, the same could have been said about Madalyn’s whole life.

Say cheese?

The story of Madalyn Murray O’Hair is perfect for a movie, just not for this one. Even though there’s already a documentary on her life, there’s still no reason you couldn’t do a full-length, scripted feature-flick, with this cast, and this story, but for some reason, the Most Hated Woman in America just doesn’t seem to be that one movie. It’s an confused movie about who it wants to be about, what it wants to say, and as a result, sort of muddles through everything in O’Hair’s life that makes her such a fascinating person to watch and listen to in the first place.

But thankfully, Melissa Leo does a slam-bang job as her.

Then again, are you surprised?

Probably not. Leo’s always been a solid actress who takes on rough and challenging roles like these, making them her own, and in a way, somehow making them sympathetic, in only the slightest bit. With O’Hair, Leo has the hard task of making this loud, obnoxious, and often times, incredibly rude woman, seem somewhat courageous and smart in her methods – it’s not like the way she is and goes about getting her point across makes her a bad person, but in any other movie, O’Hair would be the worst person ever. But because it’s Leo playing her, she gets by on pure charm from the actress who can do, essentially, anything.

And the rest of the cast is pretty stacked, too, surprisingly. Adam Scott shows up as a journalist who wants to discover the truth about O’Hair’s disappearance; Michael Chernus and Juno Temple play her two weird grand-kids; Vincent Kartheiser plays her son that goes through all sorts of expected problems, growing up with her as a mommy; and Alex Frost, Josh Lucas, and Rory Cochrane, despite playing conventional types, do what they can to make their kidnapper-characters more than just soulless creeps. They sort of are, but that’s not the point.

Yup. Still yelling.

But then again, with this movie, there doesn’t seem to be much of a point.

Director Tommy O’Haver makes the biggest mistake of taking this interesting and challenging subject, this person’s life, and all that they had to say, and not really saying anything about them. We get a nice history-lesson on who this woman took on and what she achieved, but how does the movie feel about that? And better yet, when does a movie such as this become less and less of a history-lesson, and more of a story being told to us? One with heart, emotion, and excitement in the air, as opposed to being just a slow, rather meandering WikiPedia entry put to film?

Either way, O’Haver misses a great opportunity here and it’s weird, too, because for a little over 90 minutes, the movie seems like it should have gone by so much quicker and had so much more to say. O’Haver’s story does, after all, deserve justice and is still a very relevant one, where certain politicians are, once again, using the big man in the sky to get away with discriminating against those who may be different than them. O’Haver fought for these people who didn’t have a voice as loud as hers and, somehow, yeah, she sort of came out on top.

Now, why can’t we get a movie that comes out on top, too?

Consensus: For all of the history it covers, the Most Hated Woman in America still feels like a missed opportunity that features great performances, but aside from that, not much else for O’Haver’s interesting life.

5 / 10

“Hug it out, son. Who needs faith when you have a mommy?”

Photos Courtesy of: The Daily Beast, Washington Square News, Tampa Bay Times

Sleeping with Other People (2015)

Men and women can be friends. But attractive men and women can’t be.

Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) haven’t seen each other for over 12 years, but they mean a whole lot to one another. Meaning, that, well, they both took each other’s virginity’s and never really talked about it ever since. However, many of these years later, they get back into contact with one another somehow and remember just how great of friends they truly were. They talk to one another about basically anything, have the greatest of times together, and yet, they still don’t see the reason in getting together in a strictly sexual, almost romantic way. For one, they know each of their own personal lives happen to be a bit of a mess. He’s currently playing the field, but getting a tad bit more involved with his strict boss (Amanda Peet), whereas she is having all sorts of hot, sordid sex with a married man (Adam Scott). Both know that they’d probably be great for one another, but when you’re having this much fun together and there’s nothing serious going on, then why ruin it all? After all, romance is so overrated after all, right?

Sometimes, all you need is a platonic friend who will lay with you in bed without ever making any moves.

Sometimes, all you need is a platonic friend who will lay with you in bed without ever making any moves.

It’s hard to do a really good rom-com in today’s day and age in which even though it follows through on the same old conventions and tropes of that never ending genre, there’s still enough interesting material brought to the table that it almost doesn’t even matter. The ways certain movies do get past the rom-com genre and do something neat, can obviously vary, but where the actual enjoyment of the said movies is that it not only feels funny and romantic, but also feels at least somewhat genuine. You can have all the meet-cutes, awkward exchanges, falling-in-love montages, and random conflicts to tear them apart that you want – as long as your romance feels somewhat believable, then you’re fine.

And that’s exactly what is the case with Sleeping with Other People.

While it isn’t necessarily the kind of rom-com that sets out to light the world on fire and make a comment on the actual rom-com set-up itself, it still does something good in that it allows for us to see the two people falling in love, further beyond their archetypal writing. While you may read that both characters are “sex-addicted” and have “commitment phobia”, writer/director Leslye Headland sees them more as troubled and beaten-down human beings who, yes, clearly make stupid decisions in their lives, but are still capable of giving love, as well as feeling it, too. At the same time, the whole idea of “friends with benefits” is another rom-com trope that’s been nearly done to death by now, but Headland shows that, in some cases, this most definitely can happen – whereas in other cases, it can’t.

Most of all though, Headland gives these characters personalities and likable traits that make them more than just types. Alison Brie’s Lainey, for instance, feels especially raw and hurt, even though she has plenty of sex and seems to go out with many good-looking people. What Headland shows us about Lainey is that it doesn’t really matter that she’s doing all of this stuff, as much as it matters that she doesn’t feel anything about them, or simply put, needs them in her life. She doesn’t know why she feels the way she does, or does the things that she does – all that she knows is that she can’t help herself and it’s a bit sad to watch.

Of course, Brie livens her character up a lot and shows that there’s more fun and charm to her sad-sack of a character, but it’s this extra attention to character detail that makes the movie a whole lot more compelling.

Same goes for Jason Sudeikis’ Jake, who very much feels like a typical character Sudeikis would play, but slowly but surely, starts to unravel and show more shades to his character. While he may seem like the typical womanizer who goes from woman to woman, with absolute reckless abandon, the movie shows that maybe there’s more to him than just all of that sly stuff, and maybe he does want something more meaningful and love-like in his life. He may not realize it, but we certainly do and it’s what keeps him interesting practically all throughout.

Or, a platonic friend who will go to random parties with you.

Or, a platonic friend who will go to random parties with you.

It also goes without saying that both Sudeikis and Brie have great chemistry together and it feels like they’re not just best friends, but the perfect kind of couple. We see them go through all of the motions of being friends, then going to becoming best friends, and then, predictably, getting to that awkward spot in their relationship where they don’t know whether or not they really want to give each other a try, or just take the safe route and stay as friends. For anyone who has ever encountered this sort of situation, it goes without saying that Sleeping with Other People feels almost too honest and real, but it still works.

But if there is anything to say about Sleeping with Other People is that I feel like it’s more “entertaining”, and less actually “funny”.

Of course, this may not sound like me saying much of anything at all, but as the movie progressed, I found myself more interested in what it was trying to do and where it was trying to go, rather than actually laughing hysterically at the jokes it had to say or do. Most of that seems to be due to the fact that the movie relies a tad too much on Sudeikis’ own brand of humor, and not on the actual jokes that are written themselves, but it’s still not a terribly bad thing. I just feel that if you’re movie is as reliant on having humor as Sleeping with Other People is, it would be smart to actually have some of that humor land and make a mark, rather than just being, at best, chuckle-worthy and leaving it at that.

Then again, I’m just nit-picking.

Consensus: Anchored by two strong, incredibly charming leads, Sleeping with Other People may not shake the rom-com world up, but it still shows the world what you can do with a familiar premise, and add a little heart and humanity.

7 / 10

Or, most importantly, teach you a thing or two about your own body that you never knew.

Or, most importantly, teach you a thing or two about your own body that you never knew.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Black Mass (2015)

Tim Burton must feel pretty useless right about now.

Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) was one of the most notorious criminals in history. He ran South Boston by his rules, which, for the most part, consisted of a lot of drugs, booze, women, and murder – actually, there was lots and lots of murder involved. But the reason why Whitey was so able to get away with all of his criminal escapades was because he aligned himself with an old pal of his, John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), who just so happened to be part of the FBI. Because Connolly looked up to and adored Bulger, he gets the FBI to strike some sort of deal where they’ll take down all of Bulger’s enemies (the Italian mob, local kingpins, etc.), and Bulger himself will practically be able to get away with anything he wants. Nobody quite catches on to this fact just yet, but eventually, the blood-shed, the drugs, and the murders become too much and too frequent to the point of where people start to notice that something is awry with this deal between Bulger and the FBI. And it all comes down to Connolly and Bulger’s relationship; one that will ruin both of their lives forever.

"Don't you dare say your sunglasses are cooler than mine!"

“Don’t you dare say your sunglasses are cooler than mine!”

Finally, after a few months of sitting through some okay-to-good movies, it seems like the time has come for extraordinarily great movies to start hitting the cinemaplexes. While I am very tempted to say “Oscar season is upon us”, my better-half doesn’t want to because that seems to have recently given off a negative connotation. Rather than just being about good movies that deserve our attention, Oscar season is more about how studios finagle and manipulate their way into getting more votes and notice from the Academy, so that they can make more money, become more successful, and continue to do so for as long as they want to. And while Black Mass may not be a total Oscar-bait-y movie, through and through, it’s still a sign of good things to, hopefully, come in the next few or so months.

Oh yeah, and Johnny Depp’s pretty good in this too.

In fact, he’s really good. As good as he’s been since he started hanging around with Tim Burton. And while you could make the case that, yes, Depp is once again playing a notorious gangster (like he did in Public Enemies as John Dillinger not too long ago), there’s still something that feels different about this portrayal here that makes it seem like we’re not watching Johnny Depp playingJohnny Depp“. But instead, we’re watching Johnny Depp play Whitey Bulger, a ruthless, cut-throat, mean and sadistic crime-boss that intimidated practically everyone around him, that nobody ever dared to step up to him.

Sure, some of that has to do with the sometimes-distracting make-up job that’s trying so desperately hard to make Depp have some sort of similarities to the infamous Bulger, but Depp is so dedicated to making a character, that it works throughout the whole movie. He’s one-note for sure, but he’s so scary and terrifying to watch, even as he holds conversations that seem to go south as soon as somebody steps slightly out-of-line, that it’s hard to take your eyes off of him. Which is an all the more impressive feat when you consider that Black Mass isn’t exactly a Depp-centerpiece, as much as it’s an ensemble piece, where everybody gets their chance to show up, do some solid work, and give Depp a run for his money.

Depp may still own the movie at the end the day, but it’s an effort that’s compelling.

This is mostly evident with Joel Edgerton’s performance as John Connolly, a close friend and confidante of Bulger who, after awhile, you begin to feel bad for. Though Connolly is dirty, corrupt, and tries to avoid every idea that Bulger may get incriminated for all the wrongdoings he’s committed, there’s still something interesting to view and dissect. That Connolly looks up to Bulger more as a big brother, rather than a pal, makes it all the more clear that there’s something inherently wrong with Connolly’s own psyche, but he doesn’t own up to the fact and watching Edgerton play around with this character, showing-off all sorts of shadings, is enjoyable. It may not be as showy of a performance as Depp’s, but there’s something that sits with you long after that puts Black Mass over the hill of being more than just “an entertaining gangster pic”.

Come on, David Harbour and Kevin Bacon: If you're an FBI agent in the 1970's, you've got to have a sweet-ass 'stache!

Come on, David Harbour and Kevin Bacon: If you’re an FBI agent in the 1970’s, you’ve got to have a sweet-ass ‘stache!

Which is to say that, yes, Black Mass is in fact, an entertaining gangster pic. Director Scott Cooper and co-writers Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth clearly have a love for these kinds of raw, gritty, and violent gangster flicks in the same vein as Scorsese and do well in constructing a movie that’s both fun, as well as emotional. While it’s hard to really get attached to any character in particular, there’s still interesting anecdotes made about certain character’s and their lives that make it more of an interesting watch.

For instance, though she only gets a few or so scenes, Julianne Nicholson is spectacular as Connolly’s wife who, from the very beginning, doesn’t like a single thing about Whitey Bulger. While she knows he’s helping her hubby out in getting a nice promotion, she also knows that the dude’s bad news; so much so, that she won’t even bother to sit at the same dinner table as him, let alone socialize with him at a party at her own house. Though this role is clearly limited to “disapproving wife”, there’s a lot more to her in the way Nicholson portrays her that makes us want to see a whole movie dedicated to just her.

Same goes for a lot of other characters here, as well.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Bill Bulger, Whitey’s bro, is a mayor who knows that his brother is up to no good, but is so willing to push it off to the side if that means he gets to have more power, politically speaking, that it’s actually scary; Peter Sarsgaard plays a drug-dealer that gets in on Whitey’s dealings and, although a total mess, still seems like a real guy who is easy to care for; Dakota Johnson only gets a few scenes as Whitey’s wife, but sets the basis for what Whitey himself will live by until the day he died; and of course, there’s the likes of Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, W. Earl Brown, Juno Temple, and a very emotional Rory Cochrane, that all add more layers to their characters, as well as the movie itself.

Though it doesn’t make the movie great, or better yet, perfect, it still makes it a highly enjoyable, mainstream gangster pic that has more to it than meets the eyes.

Or should I say, more than just bullets that meets the eyes.

Consensus: Led by a breathtaking performance from Johnny Depp, Black Mass benefits from its stacked-ensemble, but also has plenty more to say about its characters than just guns, blood, and crime.

8 / 10

Jack Sparrow who?

Jack Sparrow who?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Overnight (2015)

Always break-in the new neighbors.

Alex and Emily (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) have recently moved to Los Angeles with their young son and have no idea what to do next. While Emily’s got a job, Alex is sort of just left at home with the kid, where he hardly knows anyone and doesn’t know how to go about actually acquiring any friends. Emily tries to push him more and more, but constantly, Alex doesn’t bother; he misses home just a little too much. One day, however, when watching their son in the park, Alex and Emily encounter another couple by the name of Kurt and Charlotte (Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche), who not only take a serious liking to them, but even go so far as to invite them over to their house for a good time. Alex and Emily are nervous, obviously, but they decide to take the bait and wouldn’t you know it? They show up at the house and they’re having something of a fun time. There’s wine, pizza, good tunes, and a great overall mood. Then, Kurt brings out the bong and all of a sudden, things get very weird, very quickly.

It’s hard to not spoil a movie like the Overnight, due to the fact that it’s so simple in its shape, size and premise, that even go so far as to saying, “crazy stuff happens”, already feels a bit like a spoiler. There is truth to that statement, however, but the degrees to how far that crazy stuff is willing to go, what it reveals about these characters, and what it’s supposed to make us think about our own lives in general, all seem to not be as predictable. While it’s easy to think that this is just going to turn into another, old-fashioned sex-comedy romp in the same vein as something like Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, the Overnight tries to be a bit more.

Mah gawd. Toates awkward.

Mah gawd. Like, toates awkward.

Problem is, occasionally, the chances it has to be something more often feel like missed opportunities.

For instance, the movie actually has something very interesting to say about what it’s like for grown-ups, or, most importantly, parents, to go out there, make friends, and socialize as if they’re a bunch of freshmen getting started and situated on their first day of junior high. Very early on, the character of Alex states that “it’s weird” for him to actually go out there and try make friends with people when he’s a lot older than he was some many years ago. Sure, he wants to make friends and have more people to spend his time with, but at the same time, he doesn’t know how to go about it without being incredibly awkward because, well, he’s grown-up.

From here on, the Overnight works with an odd, but effective sense of humor where every discussion between these two couples can get pretty awkward; however, it’s not a crutch that the movie falls back on when it needs to. Instead, these awkward sighs, chuckles, small-talk, grins, etc., all bring out a certain level of honesty from within these characters and is eventually what leads to the later portion of the film. Now, this isn’t to get past the fact that the Overnight can be awfully funny, however, it isn’t always for the reasons you expect and most of that has to do with the fact that the cast do solid jobs in nailing down even the slightest hints of subtlety that make their characters more human and believable – even if some of the choices they make don’t always add-up.

But more on that in a little while.

Now, on with the awesome foursome here.

Adam Scott, as per usual with him, plays up his slightly nerdy shtick, but also allows for it come from a deeper place than him just relying on something we’ve seen him do before. As Alex, he gets a chance to reveal some insecurities that aren’t always well-written, but because Scott seems so into it, it’s okay to sit by and watch. And for Taylor Schilling, as Emily, she finally gets a chance to show the movie world, not only her comedic chops, but her dramatic ones as well. While she’s definitely the voice of reason in this whole thing, there’s still a feeling that even she wants to break out a bit and not be tied-down by the fact that she’s a mother, a worker, and a wife – sometimes, she just wants to have a little fun.

All lookie, but no touchie. Story of my life right there, folks.

All lookie, but no touchie. Story of my life right there, folks.

And with Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche’s characters, they definitely get this; however, it’s bit stupid at times. Sure, Schwartzman is great at seeming like he’s totally in on some sort of joke we aren’t too knowing about, and Godrèche gives off the idea that she’s a lot sweeter than her icy demeanor may have you think, but eventually, their characters begin to get a bit idiotic. For example, without saying too much, there’s a certain insecurity that Adam Scott’s character has, that Schwartzman’s doesn’t, and after this, it becomes all too clear that the movie seems like it wants to discuss real life, actual problems that adults have, and try to hide them underneath raunchy sex jokes about dicks, boobs, and butts.

In other words, it becomes a Judd Apatow movie.

However, whereas with Apatow movies, it’s clear that he’s trying to make a point and doesn’t quite know how to cut it all down to where we understand the point in a quicker, more efficient manner, writer/director Patrick Brice seems like he can’t help himself from throwing a sex joke whenever he sees fit. And then, sometimes, they’re not even jokes; in some cases, the whole idea is that this plot is going to lead to some very strange places in the bedroom and it seems oddly-placed, not to mention, not all too believable. It’s as if Brice knows what he wants to say, but still wants to appease those who were looking for a raunchy piece of sex-comedy.

And that’s what the audience will definitely get here with the Overnight – sometimes, it’s funny, other times, it’s not. However, there’s no denying that Brice, given the chance to maybe polish his script once or twice more, we probably would have had an even tighter movie than something that clocks in at 81 minutes or so.

Yep, believe it or not, could have been shorter.

Consensus: The Overnight is the type of sex-comedy that deals with real human issues that most of us all suffer, but still feels the need to point and giggle at penises and breasts, especially when it doesn’t need to.

6.5 / 10

Somehow, the dude wearing a cowboy hat in a children's park isn't the creep in this situation.

Somehow, the dude wearing a cowboy hat in a children’s park isn’t the creep in this situation.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

When present-day John Cusack says no to being in your movie, you know you’re in deep trouble.

Many years in the future, after they found certain ways to toy around with details that would make them billionaires, buddies Nick (Craig Robinson), Lou (Rob Corddry) and Jacob (Clark Duke) are all living the high life. Nick is a successful musician who can’t remember the original lyrics to most of the songs he’s performing; Lou is a billionaire, always drinking, always sexing, always doing some sort of drug, and always being a dick to whomever is around him; and Jacob, other than being that guy whomever Lou is a dick to, still moves awkwardly around in life. After Lou gets fatally shot in the penis area, the three all decide to take that one, final ride in their lovely little secret, the Hot Tub Time Machine. However, once they get where they’re, the three all realize that they’re in the near-future, where things a little bit more different than they are in the present time. But what’s really surprising to the gang is to see Adam Yates’ (John Cusack) son, Adam Jr. (Adam Scott), all grown up and ready to tie the knot. However, could he possibly be the one who shoots Lou in the past, or no?

"Jesse Eisenberg who?"

“Jesse Eisenberg who?”

Given its juvenile sense of humor, Hot Tub Time Machine was actually a pretty solid comedy. Not perfect, but not terrible, either; I guess given the fact that the title was so idiotic to begin with, that anything resembling something of actual quality was fine enough to be granted a pass. And even the idea of going back to the same premise and jotting around with certain little things here and there, still seems like a not-so-bad idea, so long as the creators behind the idea keep it all together and not lose themselves in a never ending stream of dick, gay, and sex jokes.

And sadly, that’s exactly what Hot Tub Time Machine 2 turns out to be – quite like mostly every other comedy sequel.

Where most of the problems with this movie come from, as they often do with most comedies, is that the jokes just aren’t funny. However, director Steve Pink or writer Josh Heald ever seemed to take the hint that their material just wasn’t hitting quite as hard as they may have intended for it, too. Rather than giving us funny, almost smart raunchy jokes about dude’s performing oral sex on one another, or someone drinking way too much and getting pretty messed-up, Pink and Heald go one step further and just continue on with showing these sorts of things, thinking that them happening is funny enough as is.

However, they’re wrong. But what makes it a tad bit worse is the fact that most of the jokes rely around that same kind “not-homophobic, but homophobic” brand of humor that works so well in Judd Apatow flicks. In the later’s films, most of the male characters act like they’re in love with one another in an all-too intimate way, all despite them clearly being straight. However, in order for these characters to make it feel as if they didn’t actually mean any heartfelt feelings with their gesture of tender love and care, they normally break out a typical, “Nah, bro. No homo.”

While these characters in Apatow movies are fine to do this, all because they actually do it all for a reason and helps improve the rapport between the actors who are supposed to be playing best friends of one another, here, it’s just wrong and slightly offensive. There’s a game show sequence in which anal sex is performed with two dudes and it’s just terrible to watch; not because I’m homophobic (which I’m definitely not), but because the movie just continues to go on and on with the joke as if it was all that hilarious to begin with.

The only time that whole overlong sequence is ever a tiny bit of funny, is whenever Christian Slater himself would show up.

And they act all surprised like they weren't gonna be back around.

And they act all surprised like they weren’t gonna be back around.

That’s right, people, you heard it first: Christian Slater actually made a movie better just by showing up.

And some of you may be pissed off at the fact that I’m spoiling a small bit of this movie for all of you sitting at home, wondering whether or not you should even bother with renting this in the first place, but that’s done so on purpose. Not only am I trying to save you, the dedicated and ever so loving reader, but also the people involved with this, because I know for an absolute fact that Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, and especially, Adam Scott, are a whole lot funnier than what it is that they’re forced to go through the motions with here. But somehow, Christian Slater made me laugh more than them?

What gives? Better yet, where the hell is John Cusack at?

See, what’s perhaps the most interesting anecdote about Hot Tub Time Machine 2 isn’t the fact that it wastes a potentially smart premise on a plethora on dumb, useless sex and gay jokes, is that John Cusack didn’t even bother showing up this time around. Maybe it made sense to him that since the movie wouldn’t be taking place in the 1980’s anymore (aka, his playhouse) and would instead be heading to the near-future where his stunt-casting may not be needed, or maybe John Cusack despised the script so much that he didn’t even want to bother trying to give this thing a go. Cause you know, I’m pretty sure that Dragon Blade needed all of the time and attention in the world.

But regardless about Cusack not showing up here, it probably wouldn’t have helped much. The jokes don’t quite land as well as they did in the first (if they do land at all), and honestly, it just seems like everybody involved was looking for a quick cash grab, all due to the fact that the first one was a mild hit. “Mild”, being the keyword.

Please don’t give ’em another.

Consensus: Without hardly any jokes that are actually funny, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 feels like a lifeless bore, only made so that important people could get rich and the occasional chuckle could occur.

2 / 10

My expressions exactly.

My expressions exactly.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)

Daydreaming stopped being considered “cool” after fifth grade.

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a quiet, simple and harmless guy who daydreams constantly about wild, unbelievable and over-the-top adventures in which somehow, and in someway, he’s the one who steps up to the plate and does heroic, cool things. However, in real life, he’s just another guy who sits behind a desk at Life magazine, and is desperately searching for his future Mrs. Mitty. He sees this ideal future-wife of his in co-worker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), even if he hasn’t mustered-up any courage to actually go up to her, and ask her out on a date. And while that may have seemed like an objective at one point in his life, now is not that time, considering that he is now searching all over the world for famed-photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), so that he can get the final frame of a picture he sent him, that was already supposed to be on the cover for the final issue of Life magazine. Through this wacky adventure of his, Walter discovers exactly the type of person he is, what he strives to be in life, and whether or not he has what it takes to win Cheryl’s heart in the way that he envisions in his mind.

While everybody knows Ben Still for his over-the-top comedies, the guy definitely has a lot more going on inside of his head than some may think, and this is the prime example of what that is. Remaking the classic Danny Kaye film wasn’t necessarily a very bold-step on his behalf, however, turning the original source material into something of a bigger, and a lot wider horizon, definitely was, especially if you’re Ben Stiller. While the results for this flick may be, at best, mixed, there’s no doubt in my mind that I think we’ve seen a new side to Ben Stiller; as well as one that I hope takes over more, just so that we don’t get another, freakin’ Fockers sequel.

Times have been tough for Derek Zoolander. At least he's a mountain-climber or something now.

Times have been tough for Derek Zoolander. At least he’s a mountain-climber now, or something.

Please, Ben! I’m begging you! No more!

Anyway, what Stiller does here, and does well, is that he gives us a simple tale of a simple man, and for that matter, it’s a pretty simple film. We see Walter as the type of sad-sack dude we all want to feel bad for, which we do, but at the same time, we still root for him as we know that he’s capable of so much more in his life than just going through the constant, day-to-day motions. We know he has a good heart; we know that he can give that heart to any person who is willing to accept it; we know that he cares for the people that care for him; and best of all, we know that he wouldn’t commit any wrong-doings to others, except for the ones who deserve it the most. So yeah, Walter Mitty is a pretty small and tender guy, but he also has a very big heart; the same big heart that Still doesn’t totally cram down our throats, which shows me that he has more resilience in his direction than some may expect.

In fact, I’d even go so far as to wager that some of the best moments in this movie come from when Stiller himself allows for everything to be down-played, quiet and peaceful, as if he himself has finally found a place in his life where he too can calm down, relax and find the more beautiful idiosyncrasies in life. Even if those beautiful idiosyncrasies are such things as staring at a computer-screen, staring at Icelandic mountains, pondering what you’re next move in life will be, etc. In these moments, we realize that while Stiller may love a lot of the insane and highly-electric dream-sequences he’s placed in this flick, he also cares for the character-driven moments where we see Walter for all that he is, and all that Stiller allows us to see of him.

Needless to say, it’s Ben Stiller himself who allows us to see Walter Mitty’s heart and also, to be a guy we care for. And to be honest, I’m a bit of a better person for it. Not only do I realize that Stiller is capable of a lot more than just do his nervous, twitchy thing, but that he’s actually able to take an ambitious story, and turn it into something that not only warms our hearts a bit, but also, makes us feel like we’re not wasting our times either. And I can’t go and tell you how happy I am to actually recommend a Ben Stiller film, right here and right now. You’ve kept me waiting, Ben. But I’m glad you finally paid-off, pal.

It should be said though, that the movie never really goes any deeper than it is, or should be. Instead, it’s just a movie about a shy guy, who discovers the man he can be, just through a couple of life-changing experiences he goes through. Nothing new, ground-breaking or life-changing, but still a simple and sweet tale that’s told with just enough heart and charm. Those looking for anything more than just that, may just be smoking weed before the wrong movie. If that is that the case, then go watch Cloud Atlas, or something of that nature, ya hippies!

Always fear the beard.

Always fear the beard.

Also, it should be noted that Stiller, while anchoring this movie as a director with a keen-eye for visuals, and a soft-ear for quietness, still does a relatively nice job at playing Walter Mitty. He doesn’t necessarily change anything about his persona that we haven’t already seen him do before, but he’s less about trying to force down our throats that he’s trying to be funny and quirky, and instead, is funny and quirky. Even when he does branch-out a bit and show something of a wild side to his personality, it feels real and honest, as if this is actually Walter Mitty waiting to show himself to the rest of the world, and to anybody who will accept him for what he is.

That’s why, even though Stiller is definitely the main subject we’re supposed to be paying attention to the most in this flick, he still lets everybody else in his cast do a little of their own thing as well. Kristen Wiig was pleasant and cute as Cheryl, the object of Walter’s affection, and it was nice to see her down-play it for once in a lifetime; Adam Scott may be too much of a dick as the guy that practically takes over Life magazine and bullies the hell out of Walter, but is still charming enough to watch; Kathryn Hahn gets to be weird and slightly off-kilter as the immature sister of Walter’s, but she never seems like she’s going too overboard with the whole act, and instead, feels like an actual gal who loves her big bro; Shirley MacLaine has a few scenes where you can tell she loves and adores her son, despite him being a stepping-stool for anyone who shows power and command over him; and Sean Penn, for the few scenes that he actually has as Sean O’Connell, is very charming, very strange, but altogether, very necessary for the type of message this movie is trying to force along. Then again though, he is playing a nut obsessed with nature here, so I don’t know how much of it was actually acting, or more of Stiller just finding him hiding up in the mountains, and decided to start the camera rolling.

Consensus: While it may definitely think it goes a lot deeper than it actually is, the Secret Life of Walter Mitty still has plenty of touching, charming and pleasant-enough moments to where you can gain confidence in the fact that Ben Stiller, despite his age, may still be a force to be reckoned with in show-biz, even if it is solely through directing.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

There's a smile we haven't seen in over 35 years. Give or take.

There’s a smile we haven’t seen in over 30 years. Give or take.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Aviator (2004)

Good thing those milk bottles didn’t go to waste.

This is the story of aviation pioneer Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio), the type of man that Hollywood adored, yet, had no clue what to do with. Then again though, he didn’t know what to do with himself half of the time, so it evens-out. Anyway, we follow Hughes’ life from when he sets out to make his first movie, Hell’s Angels, to where he spends ungodly amounts of money, and pisses off all sorts of people like his lawyers, his distributors, his agents, his lawyers, and even the major corporations that are trying to do business with him, however, he chooses to say “nay” to. Hughes has a vision that only he thinks he can achieve, not just solely through money or power (although that certainly does help), but through his determined heart and soul, that sometimes falls victim to his many bouts and problems with OCD, of which he gained at an early age through his mommy. But even through all of these problems though, Hughes still had a little bit of time to get down and dirty with the ladies, especially and most famously with none other than Ms. Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) herself.

Present-day Hollywood’s fascination with Howard Hughes seems like it may never end, and it makes sense as to why. Not only was Howard Hughes the type of creative genius that didn’t settle for something else that went against his original, near-perfect vision, but was also able to charm anybody over that he met, get rich, solving any problem that may have come into his way by throwing money at it and at the end of the day, still having enough time in his hectic schedule to go home to some of Hollywood’s spiciest, sexiest starlets of the day. Yep, that Howard Hughes surely was a man among men, and it makes perfect sense why fellow creative geniuses’ like Christopher Nolan, Warren Beatty, and yes, even Martin Scorsese would want to make a movie about him, his life, his struggles, his genius and what he gave the rest of the world.

Apparently Hughes also shacked-up with that chick from No Doubt, before they got big. Or hell, before they were even born.

Apparently Hughes also shacked-up with that chick from No Doubt, before they got big. Or hell, before they were even born.

Of course though, only one of those three was able to actually achieve their dream and get their project on him made. That person was Martin Scorsese, and what a great choice it was (although the other two wouldn’t have been so bad neither).

What Scorsese does expertly here, that he’s practically done with each and every one of his flicks, is that he’s able to take a long-winding, over-blown story, with an even longer run-time, and finds a way to have it go by in a total jiffy. There’s no room for error, or even breathing with Scorsese’s directing, no matter what it is that he’s doing and this movie is no different. He covers every aspect of Hughes’ life with just enough attention, detail and honest reality that we get a full, clear picture of what he’s trying to tell us, without ever being confused, despite the movie usually finding itself moving a mile-a-minute at times. However though, when you do have a movie that nears three-hours, you need to be quick, jumpy and to-the-point, but never so much, to the point of where you lose a viewer as to what the hell is exactly going on, to whom, at what time and why this all matters.

And with a movie about Howard Hughes’ life, that makes a lick of a difference since there seems to be so much that went on with this guy’s day-to-day life, it’s a surprise that Scorsese himself didn’t make it a four-hour-epic, 15-minute intermission included (then again though, I wouldn’t throw that out as if it wasn’t already a “possibility” inside the head of Scorsese’s). For instance, we stumble upon Hughes’ life right away and we get an idea of what he is doing and why: He’s making his Hell’s Angels epic, he’s trying to figure out a way on how to get it looking and sounding perfectly, he’s trying to create some of the biggest, and best airplanes the world has ever seen, and through it all, mostly, he’s trying to find that one sweet, everlasting soul that can fill up the damage and pain that’s been brewing deep down inside of him for a long, long time. In a way then, you could almost say that this is three different movies, taking place with the same subject: A movie about showbiz, a character-study, a romance flick, and an underdog-tale.

But see, the problem is that Scorsese doesn’t really nail all of these aspects that make this whole movie one, cohesive piece of nonfiction. The stuff about showbiz is interesting because it was very cool to see how Hughes, the creative visionary that he was, didn’t let high-heads in major corporations get in the way of achieving what he wanted for his movies, as well as how he just continued to throw his money away on certain smaller things that had to do with production like editing, sound mixing, color and, heck, even making sure that there were clouds in the sky when he was filming the airplane sequences for his movie (which, need I remind you, he did all himself). And even for the romance part of this story, Scorsese still nails most of it, although I’d wager that’s more because of the gals he gets to star as Hughes’ various lovers are usually better than the material given to them, but more on that later.

As for the other two parts of this story (the character-study and underdog-tale), I don’t know if Scorsese really hits, or hits well for that matter. We do sympathize with Hughes when we see him battling with his OCD, his paranoia and how it makes him totally lose his shit in public, in front of the people that matter the most no less. It’s sad to see this happen to this guy, since we know that when he has a clear-head on his shoulders, he’s the smartest, most charming guy in the room, and it does make you sympathize with him a bit. However, late in the movie, once we get an idea of who the baddies are in this story that want to go against Hughes, his vision and tarnish his name in the papers, it d starts to feel like we get more away from the inner-demons that Hughes himself battled on a daily-basis, and more towards how he fought against the big-wigs in corporations and came out looking like a superhero. That’s all fine and all, especially since it’s all true, but it doesn’t really do much to make us feel like we know this guy, nor do we feel like much is actually at-stake. It is more or less that we’re just watching a guy battle against a bunch of people that could bad mouth him even worse than what’s already been said about him, or that he could add more and more millions of dollars into his bank-account.

Either way, it seems like Howard Hughes, despite his inability to twist doorknobs, will probably be better off in his life, regardless of how this settlement ends.

That said, Hughes is somebody, even through the thickest and the thin, we stand behind, which is all thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio’s amazing performance, giving everybody our first glimpse at the type of stardom he was about to fully achieve. Nowadays, it seems like Leo’s on fire with each and every role he takes, but around the time of this movie, he was basically just another case of a “promising, pretty-boy face that may actually have acting-skills”. Sure, Catch Me If You Can showed us that there was more to him than just being the king of the world, but this was the movie where he really got his time to shine and showed everybody that he could make somebody like Howard Hughes seem like a real poor fellow, despite having all of the money, fame and skill in the world, that one human could possibly desire. But like I said, even while he may not be the nicest man in the world, he still is one we care for and get behind, even when the odds seem more than stacked-up against him.

"Whose balls were bigger?" was usually where most conversations tended to lean towards.

“Whose balls were bigger” was usually where most of their conversations tended to lean towards.

Cate Blanchett shows up to play Katharine Hepburn, one of Hughes’ most notable flings back in the golden days and does a pretty spot-on impersonation, but also shows us that there’s more underneath the whole facade of her being like “one of the boys”. She can be preppy, she can be spirited and she can sure as hell kick some other dude’s behind in a game of golf, but there’s a reason why she is the way she is, why it is that she falls so hard for Howard when she does, and why it is that she falls out of love with him, only to take up her time with the gruff, teddy-bear we all know as Spencer Tracy. We all know Blanchett’s an amazing actress and can seemingly do no wrong, but to show us that she could get us past the fact that she’s playing one of the world’s most famous, iconic actresses of all-time, was really something else. And hell, she won an Oscar for it, too, so good for her!

However, Blanchett and DiCaprio are just the two here out of this whole cast that seem to get plenty of screen-time and attention from Scorsese, but they aren’t the only good ones here. John C. Reilly is good as Noah Dietrich, the Chief Executive Officer of Hughes’ estate and is just kind and mellowed-out enough to make us believe that he does actually give two hoots about Hughes, but also cares more about his wallet than anything else; Kate Beckinsale plays another famous dame that Hughes hooked-up with, in the form of Ava Gardner, and is fine, although it’s fairly obvious that she’s nothing more than pair of nice teeth, eyes and, well, you get it; and Alan Alda and Adam Baldwin both play two of the main heavies in this movie that try to their legalities around and at Hughes, and do fine showing us that they want money, they love money and they need it, especially if its Hughes’ money it is that they’re taking. Don’t know how Alda got nominated for an Oscar for this, considering that he mostly just yells at and argues with DiCaprio, but hey, I guess it was about time that he got “some” recognition, you know? Oh, and Willem Dafoe is in this for one scene, and then he’s mysteriously absent from the rest of the movie. However, as weird as it is, I guess one scene with Willem Dafoe, is better than no scene with Willem Dafoe, am I right?

Consensus: Scorsese clearly has an undying love and adoration for Howard Hughes, the man he was, the man he set-out to be, and all of the achievements of his grand-staking life, but while the Aviator shows that, it can’t help but feel a bit jumbled in the process, especially since Hughes’ life as it was, seemed to be so hectic at one point in time.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Locked in, lonely, naked, bearded and pissing into jars is usually how most people in Hollywood end-up, so don't sweat it, Howie!

Locked-away, lonely, naked, bearded and pissing into jars is usually how most people in Hollywood end-up, so don’t sweat it, Howie!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

A.C.O.D. (2013)

30 years later and my parents are still together, and I’m still fucked up. So what does that tell you about children of divorce?!?!?

Carter (Adam Scott) is what some of us call an adult child of divorce (or, for a clearer term, A.C.O.D.). While there is a book written about studies that were done on him when he was young, everything that it predicted has not come true. Though his parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) are crazy and definitely have some sort of effect on him as a person, he rarely so often sees them, he’s successful, well-adjusted, with a very supportive girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and willing to help out anybody if they need it. Such is the case with his little bro (Clark Duke) when he decides that he wants to give marriage a try, despite only knowing the bride-to-be for no more than a few months. But hey, love is love, or so they say, so Carter decides to fund the wedding in hopes that it will go down smoothly, without a problem whatsoever, but now that his parents are both coming to it, and AT THE SAME TIME, IN THE SAME ROOM, well, then it seems like things may not go as perfectly as originally planned.

Comedies like this always get my happy and excited for what they may bring to me and my mood of that given day. More so this one because of the awesome cast that has almost anybody, and everybody that’s willing to bring out a laugh in me, no matter what the material is that they’re working with. As long as they’re funny, then I’m laughing and I’m happy. As simple as that.

Reserve me a seat at that Thanksgiving dinner table.

Reserve me a seat at that Thanksgiving dinner table. Please! I’ll literally do anything!

However, comedies like these also make me realize why I dislike so many comedies out there because while it may boast a cast full of people very capable of being funny, it gives them little to nothing to do that be considered funny. Of course there are plenty of gags here that the writers themselves probably thought were absolutely, positively hilarious in their minds and on paper, but when it actually comes to being on film, the gags just don’t work and seem more like they were perfectly for a small sketch you’d see on MAD TV or SNL. And for a movie that’s shorter than an-hour-and-a-half, that’s not a good thing to say, especially because you can tell that the premise itself is a nifty idea, it’s just one that never fully feels like it gets stretched out. Or, at least stretched out in a reasonable way.

The basic idea of this movie is to show how this adult child of divorce is coping in the day-to-day life, with a girlfriend who wants to get married, while also knowing that marriage is doomed from the start, all because his parents couldn’t seem to stay together and be happy while at it. That’s a story worth watching get developed and having jokes work off of, but the problem is that nothing in this story ever seems to mean anything, at all. You get a sense that this character of Carter is just creating more problems then there really needs to be, and after awhile, you stop to embrace this problem of his, and get annoyed by it.

While Adam Scott is sure as hell charming as Carter, the character can be so whiny and self-deprecating at times that it was hard to really care for him or even support him with the problems he had with the people around him. Yeah, so his little bro’s getting married to a chick he just met no more than a few months ago? Big deal, let him be. Okay, and so what, his parents are back together again, shacking up and knocking boots together again like old times? What’s the big dealio with that? Eventually, they’ll get bored of one another, realize the other’s faults and never want to speak to each other ever again, sort of like old times too, right? And so what if you’re girlfriend wants to get married, but you’re not ready yet? That’s your problem, so talk it over with her and do it whenever you feel is necessary?

So many problems this guy had with life just did not at all seem to matter to me. I don’t know if that’s because my parents have been together ever since they’re early-20’s and I don’t quite get the same crisis he’s going through as a middle-aged adult or what, but what I do know is that the movie has no central-plot that really feels like you’re strung along on. Instead, it’s more like a bunch of sketches were made up, with an idea of a story in mind, and somehow, someway, the writers were going to connect them all together to make it into one cohesive story, meant to compel us one second, and howling at the moon next.

Problem is, neither of which seems to actually happen, and that’s all made worse by the fact that everybody involved are very, very, VERY funny in almost all that they do. Just not so much here.

Like I was saying before, while I was having plenty of problems with his character, Adam Scott still does do a nice job as Carter, mainly because he has just such a likable personality, it’s almost too hard to despise the guy. He may be self-loathing practically all of the time, but when he wants to be funny in his own dry, sardonic way, it works and made me laugh like as if I was watching him tell me about Game of Thrones, all over again. He’s good with everybody here, but his best scenes definitely come when he’s with Mary Elizabeth Winstead who gives us a girlfriend that isn’t begging to get hitched right away, nor is she really wanting to wait forever. She just wants to make sure that when the time is right, it will happen, and that’s a nice breath of fresh air to actually see in a movie, even if it is a bit unrealistic (am I right, men?).

She even smiles at him when he's not looking or even saying something remotely funny. Whatta babe.

She even smiles at him when he’s not looking or even saying something remotely funny. Whatta babe.

The most fun out of this whole cast seem to be from both Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara as Carter’s parents who, after sheer-chance, start banging once again, which makes the movie a whole lot more enjoyable to watch since they just work so perfectly damn well together. Jenkins is fun when he’s being a likable prick, whereas O’Hara is always a blast when she’s playing up her mean-side, as well as her outrageous one as well. You combine them together, and you have the best bits of the movie that make this so worth watching, even when everything else around them seems to be mildly interesting, at that.

But sure, Amy Poehler has a few funny scenes as Carter’s detestable step-mother; Jane Lynch shows up and does her thing as the psychiatrist who continues to study Carter on and on throughout the years; and Jessica Alba, sporting a slew of arm-tats, maybe has about five minutes of screen-time in this movie, is charming, very hot and shows Carter a new life he could have. But as soon as she’s gone, she never comes back and that’s that. Disappointing, I guess, but then again, nobody has ever really noticed Jessica Alba for her comedic-chops. Especially no guy has.

Consensus: The more-than capable cast of A.C.O.D. make this a lot better than it truthfully is, but whenever they aren’t working their magic, the script takes over and becomes a mind-numbing bore, offering us nothing interesting to really care about.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Wonder where the hell he's at? Sure as heck not a "book store", is it?

Wonder where the hell he’s at? Sure as heck not a “book store”, is it?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Guilt Trip (2012)

I need to travel with Jewish family members more, problem is: I don’t have any!

An inventor (Seth Rogen) invites his mother (Barbra Streisand) on a cross-country trip as he tries to sell his new product to all the big-company chains, while also trying to reunite her with a long, lost love.

After appearing in both of the lame-o, Meet the Parents sequels, Babs is back and bitchier than ever! As you could expect from a woman of her class, there was a lot of turmoil on the set where she wouldn’t work anywhere that was 20 miles away from her house and even wouldn’t allow any scene to be shot, unless she had the right amount of make-up and shining-lights on her. I don’t know how Seth Rogen responded, he probably just nervously-chuckled his way through it all, but either way, it’s pretty great to see Babs back on the big-screen and it sort of has you realize that you know what? I missed the hell out of this gal, no matter how annoying she can be at times. I put an extra-strain on the term, “at times”.

The idea of a cross-country road-trip with an overbearing, embarrassing mother is pretty damn relateable and in ways, that’s where the magic of this flick surprisingly works. Hopefully, all of you have been able to have and interact with a mother, or at least, a motherly-figure, and realize how painful and annoying it can be to constantly be around them as they think that they always right, always think that they know what’s best for their child, and try whatever they can do to just make your life better, even though it just continues to add-on more annoyance. Not all momma’s are like this but basically, you get the gist of it all: mothers have love and warmth in their hearts, but they also can be a bit over-bearing at times and what better person to play the over-bearing, annoying mother than Babs herself??

"Yeah, that's right. That is Barbra Streisand. Betta recognize."

“Yeah, that’s right. That is Barbra Streisand. Betta recognize.”

I think having Barbra in this role as the mother, would have been a risky-move, mainly cause it would have just turned-on to be a caricature in and of itself, but Streisand makes her more than just that. Surprisingly, Striesand gives Joyce a lot more credit than the actual-script does and shows that this lady, although protective and annoying, does love her son, does feel as if she knows what’s best for him, and really just wants to have a great-time with her life, because it almost seems like that’s been missing as of late. This role of Joyce could have really gone as unbearable and annoying to watch, but somehow, in her own, crazy-way, Streisand makes her fun and heartfelt to watch and see the different layers of her character that come pouring-out, especially when you least expect it to.

Seth Rogen may seem like a bit of an odd-choice to play her kiddie, Andy, but actually does a nice-job with it, even though the guy really is toning-it-down a whole lot here. And I mean, A WHOLE LOT. You get the nervous chuckle, you get the awkward looks in his eyes, and you get the random banters and fits of rage, but nothing all that funny or hilarious to actually come out of his mouth and as much as it may work for this dorky, uptight character, it doesn’t quite work for Rogen, as you can sort of tell that he really wants to join-in the fun with Babs and let loose as well. Still, Rogen is good and gives Andy more depth and heart than we expect, even though it feels more like a step-back for Rogen, even despite co-starring with the one and only, Barbra Streisand.

He smoked so much weed on this set. You can just tell.

He smoked so much weed on this set. You can just tell.

Together, they make a nice, mother-son couple, and actually make a lot of the more obvious and conventional scenes between them work. Actually, the surprisingly work, mainly because the film is surprisingly, not what you expect it to be. From the trailers and advertisements, you automatically think that this is going to be another, wacky and goofy, road-trip comedy where the overprotective mother, constantly embarrasses and does stupid things to make her son go even crazier in his head. In a way, that sort of happens here, but in another way, it’s more dramatic and heartfelt this go-around. You’ll be surprised by how nice this flick can make you feel and even if you aren’t laughing your ass to death, you still find yourself a bit happy and pleased with a mother-son relationship, where they both obviously love one another and want nothing more than to make the other person’s life a little bit more pleasant whenever they aren’t around. It’s a nice sentiment to see on the big-screen, regardless of if you are close with your mother or not.

However, you can’t hide from the fact that this flick is as obvious and conventional as they come. Every single turn you expect for a film like this to take, it does take, and it just continues to go on, and on, and on, and on, until you finally just give-up, accept the way things are going to be, and decide to give-in to all of the cheeky, melodrama they begin to shove down your throat. Most of it is eye-rolling and most of it is cliche beyond belief, and for any viewer out there that demands more and more with your road-trip flicks starring two Jewish family members, then you may not appreciate this flick. However, if you are looking for that, then you may have a solid time. I use the term, “may”, very loosely so if you don’t like it, you don’t love it, or you don’t even come back in a happy-mood, wanting to give your big mommy a big, old hug and smooch on the cheek, don’t come to my house with fire and pitch forks because I did actually say: you “may” like it. You heard it from me, folks, give it a try if you’d like but I can say you “may” have fun. Once again, “may”.

Consensus: This is as obvious, as predictable, and as ham-fisted as they come with movies about mother-son bonding, but The Guilt Trip still isn’t a terrible-watch because of the fine chemistry between both Rogen and Streisand, ans the heartfelt emotions about a love between a mother and a son that feels more real, than actually manipulative. You may be a bit surprised by this one, trust me. Shit, there’s that “may” word again!

6.5/10=Rental!!

I seriously never thought that I would see these two together. Ever.

I seriously never thought that I would see these two together. Ever.

Bachelorette (2012)

Yeah, don’t invite you’re real friends to you’re wedding. They’re assholes.

A childhood friend (Rebel Wilson) is getting married, and her three jealous friends (Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan) are nothing but pissed about it. So, what better thing to do than party it up with beer, sex, and drugs? Woo-hoo!

When Bridesmaids came out last year, everybody was going around and hailing it as “The Hangover for gals”. In a way, it was sort of true since they did and said some dirty things that you wouldn’t normally see from a bunch of “ladies”, but at the heart of it all, there was a genuine and heartfelt look at the friendship that’s between two females. That made it a lot softer than people imagined so that’s why this film comes around, slaps them in the face, and gives the boys a little run for their money, and their coke as well.

Writer/director Leslye Headland based this off of her play (who the fuck would want to see a play about this?) and gives this whole premise a big deal of honesty that feels somewhat fresh. Rarely do we ever see in a film about three unlikable bitches, be so honest with itself as to why they hate everything around them and how they still don’t feel the need to change. It sort of gave me that Bad Santa vibe, that was mixed around a bit with Sex and the City, but even comparing these chicks to those prissy beotches would just be terribly wrong. Instead, these girls are the types that were the meanest, cruelest, and most evil girls you would have ever met in high school and still live in high school, and talk as if they were spreading the weekly gossip once again. These types of chicks don’t necessarily sound like the kind I want to spend an hour and 30 minutes with but somehow, Headland finds a way to make it a bit fun.

I don’t want to go far and say that I had an amazingly fun time with this flick but there is something entertaining about the big night before a wedding, going out, getting plastered, getting high, and hopefully by the end of the night, getting a little lucky. This film seems to have a bunch of fun with that aspect that we have seen done so, so many times before but it’s a bit darker and sinister here that seems to relish in the countless acts of debauchery. It makes me look forward to the night I may spend with my buds when they eventually get shipped off into the hell they call marriage, but hopefully it will be with a lot nicer people.

But as fun and entertaining as this film may be, the most surprising aspect that I found here was how little I actually laughed at everything. Watching somebody be messed up on coke and say stupid and uncomfortable things can be funny every once and awhile, but it seems like an old-trick done a thousand times to where it doesn’t even seem funny here. Even half of the mean and terrible shit these people say to each other isn’t as funny as it is just, well, whatever, they’re saying terrible and mean shit to each other so I don’t really care. Sometimes it’s funny, other times, it doesn’t matter. It’s just there and doesn’t do much for you.

Also, before I go any further I just want to point out the cheap trick that this film tried to pull by referencing Fast Times at Ridgemont High, not once, but twice in such a lame way! The first time they do it is almost like a homage to the whole infamous “Moving in Stereo” scene, and then the next one they actually talk about Damone and how much of a dick he was. First of all, it seemed cheap in the first place to have an homage but then to just actually go out there and reference the movie itself seems a little lame to begin with. Sorry if this doesn’t really seem like much of a problem to have with this flick but it came to me and I couldn’t let it go.

Back to these three characters though, because they never show us any reason to have sympathy or love for them but it doesn’t matter, because it seems like these actresses love playing that whole aspect up. Kirsten Dunst is a huge force to be reckoned with as Regan, as she shows that she can play up her bitchiness to her advantage, while also showing us a bit more about her character is in ways that we least expected; Lizzy Caplan can play the cynical bitch like nobody’s business, but there’s more to her character than meets the eye here and I think that’s where the most sympathy out of all of the characters go; and Isla Fisher has some of the best moments just being a total klutz on drugs and drunk, but now it’s sort of a cliche for her to play that type of character so it doesn’t seem like anything really new. Rebel Wilson has a nice screen presence as they’re friend who’s getting married, Becky, and does what she can with the limited screen-time she has, which is enough for me.

The problem with these characters isn’t that they are toothless and terrible to every one around them, it’s more that they are like this the whole way through and then they apparently have a change of heart by the end. All films like this one do the same-exact thing: show these characters doing mean things, showing that they never change, and then woolah, they all of a sudden love everybody by the end. The movie tries to convince us that these girls can all of a sudden end on a clean slate and act like everything they just did over the past hour, wasn’t something that mattered all that much and it comes off as fake and a bit too calculated for how these characters really are. I will say that Headland does show these chicks as being terrible at the start, and at the end, but the whole sympathetic route they take is not something that rang true.

Consensus: Bachelorette features a cast playing each of their roles perfectly and a fun atmosphere full of sex, drugs, and booze, but plays it too safe by the end with it’s sympathetic ending that seems a bit out of the norm after who and what we’ve been watching for the past hour.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Friends with Kids (2012)

Good-looking people should just stop boning each other if they don’t want kids.

The film centers a group of close friends at a moment in time when children arrive and everything changes. The last two singles in the group (Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt) observe the toll that having kids has taken on their friends’ relationship and wonder if there is a better way. They decide to have a child together and then date other people.

After last year’s sleeper hit ‘Bridesmaids’ came out it seems like every person in the world has been searching for that next big comedy that will not only do well with critics but also the box-office, because we all know how hard that can be…. Of course this idea went right into Jennifer Westfeldt’s head as she got her real-life boy toy, Jon Hamm, to give a call up to not one, not two, but three of his fellow ‘Bridesmaids’ stars and what we have here is anything but that. I mean that in a good and bad way.

Where this film works is in the way that it explores exactly what it’s trying to show and say. I’m not over thirty and I definitely don’t have any kids (that I know of) so this film seemed like it wasn’t going to really connect with me but through this script and all of the funny and sometimes sad situations these couples had to go through, gave me a better understanding of what being a parent in your 30’s is like. You see the couple that loves each other dearly but still bickers over the smallest stuff, you see the couple that were once red-hot every time they were with each other but now can’t stand the sight of either one, and then you have that one “bff” couple that doesn’t let things between them get serious at all and still are able to be cool with each other through everything. This film seemed very true in a lot of things it showed and it’s insight is not only humorous, but can also get somewhat dark especially by the end when a ski trip between all of these pals go sour as one person brings up the other person’s dumb thinking skills when it comes to being a parent. Hey, we aren’t all perfect!

The film has a lot of funny people in this flick but it’s not hilarious like you would expect. There were plenty of moments where I laughed and definitely had a chuckle but those moments were spread far apart from one another and I think it was more of the fact that it’s the cast that had me laughing rather than the script itself, which will probably disappoint everyone who goes out to see this expecting people to take craps in the sink. Then again though, not every comedy needs that.

The film for the first hour or so, feels fresh, somewhat original, and insightful. However, things start to get pretty familiar after this first hour and that’s where this flick started to lose me. It goes down this road of where the two bff’s start to realize that they really do love each other and I don’t think I’m really spoiling anything by saying that either considering it’s pretty obvious just by seeing the trailer.

Being conventional wasn’t just its biggest problem though, it also didn’t help that Westfeldt isn’t very good as a director. There were scenes that I wish went on longer because of how funny they could be and how much energy they had stored in them with all of this talent on the screen together but for some reason, those scenes felt like they were cut short. It may sound like I’m being a tad too nit-picky but I just couldn’t help thinking that if they put this film in the hands of somebody who knows how to film comedians improving without ever cutting away and just letting them rant on and on, then this film would have had some brighter moments, but ended up only having less than I expected.

As for this ensemble, everybody here is good even though I feel like the script didn’t allow them to be funnier and just wanted them to be somewhat funny but more honest. Jennifer Westfeldt has a likability to her that works for her character, Julie, but I couldn’t help thinking that there could have been more spirit in her act; Adam Scott is very good in this lead role as Jason and should definitely get more considering he’s not only funny every chance he gets, but he also can handle being dramatic without stretching his skills too far; Megan Fox is good as Jason’s first very serious girlfriend, and even though it’s nothing too spectacular, it’s still good to see her at ease but then again, I couldn’t help thinking that her role could have been expanded a bit more; and the real stand-out for this flick probably has to be Chris O’Dowd who is hilarious here as the always happy but honest husband, Alex, and worked particularly well as the voice of reason because he was funny but also seemed very genuine with everything else he had to say.

Consensus: Friends with Kids has some good insight, some funny moments, and a good ensemble that works well with this material, but it ends up falling into conventions that not only take away from the first hour but also make Westfeldt’s sloppiness as a director show up a lot more.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Piranha (2010)

This is the kind of horror I’m talking about. Fish that bite you to death.

When an earthquake tears open the bottom of Lake Havasu, schools of carnivorous piranhas are released from their underwater lair, and the lake turns into a bloody, frenzied death trap for unwitting water-goers.

This is one of those rare films that I really do wish I saw in 3-D and as well as in a packed theater, rather than an average sized screen TV with my two buds, because I would have been having the time of my life with this crap.

A lot of recent horror films don’t usually live up to their crazy premises and tries to pretend that the audience cares about plot or characters, but this one knows exactly what kind of shit-storm of craziness this is. Director Alexandre Aja doesn’t try to make any of this seem serious at all, which he shouldn’t because the whole time I was watching this, I just couldn’t believe anything that was actually happening, which is a good thing.

It also seemed like Aja was gunning for the heavy R-rating here and practically giving almost every guy who saw this film a woody. There are boobies just about everywhere, and when I mean everywhere, I mean, EVERYWHERE!!! Whether a chick is getting sliced in half, making out under the water, dancing, para sailing, or hell, just even standing there, the ladies always have to be naked. Trust me, this is no complaint but I mean this is practically soft-core porn at one point and if this film was aiming to make any guy watch this, horny as a priest, then it succeeded.

The boobies though aren’t even the most notable part of this movie, the gore is almost even worse. The whole film Aja is never really actually taking this film seriously, as he shouldn’t, but when it comes to these gruesome an gory deaths this film has, he does not back down with getting a little messy. You got these little fishies chewing people up all-over-the-place, with the exception of about 3 people, who actually die because of other random things that happen but the action is awesome and the constant use of blood and gore works so well, especially for the big “attack” scene that is still in my mind.

Although the film was fun, there were still some parts that bothered me. I didn’t like how slow it started off, and how it barely even led up to anything until the 30-minute mark when the film was already half-way over. I wouldn’t have minded this as much if one of the cheesy, and annoying stories didn’t constantly pop-up. The little romantic story between Steven R McQueen and Jessica Szohr is so remotely bad and poorly-acted, I couldn’t help but dread almost every time these two were on-screen together. It also didn’t make matters better when the film itself practically revolves around this which bothered me so much.

Another problem with this film is that despite it being pretty intentionally funny, I never actually find myself laughing at anything that was happen, as I do wish I could have. I mean the kills were cool to watch because all of the assholes that were being killed, were the tools you see on MTV during Spring Break every year, but nothing really had me laughing at it, except for maybe a couple of lines that I still don’t know if it was meant to be a joke or not.

The acting from this ensemble list of randoms is actually pretty good. Elizabeth Shue brings some straight-forward acting to her character as Sheriff Julie Forester; Ving Rhames is a bad-ass muthatrucka as Lieutenant Bishop Welleger; Christopher Lloyd is practically playing Doc Brown as Mr. Goodman; Richard Dreyfuss pops up for about 5 minutes for the beginning of the film to show us that this is practically a mini-sized remake/homage to Jaws; Adam Scott seems like he’s in a whole different other film; and Jerry O’Connell is so annoying as Derrick Jones, but he makes the best out of it and that’s some good stuff. The whole rest of the cast are basically filled with chicks that were just there to show their tits, which I have no real problem with in the first place.

Consensus: It could have been funnier and paced, however, Piranha 3-D made me realize that gore, blood, boobs, fish, and MTV tools all work out together well, no matter how campy the material may actually get.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Our Idiot Brother (2011)

Real men wear crocs.

Ned (Paul Rudd) is a seemingly clueless idealist who must rely upon his three exasperated sisters (Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel) for shelter and support after he’s dumped by his fed-up girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) and loses custody of his beloved dog, Willie Nelson. As he wreaks havoc on his sisters’ lives, Ned’s earnestness shines through until his siblings realize that family ties take priority over wealth and position.

I’m a huge fan of Paul Rudd so when I heard that he was going to get his own vehicle, practically playing the same guy he always plays, I was uber excited. However, there could have been a better film for that vehicle.

The script here is one of the major problems because it seems like the same thing over and over again. We get Rudd moving in with his sisters and one-by-one shows how each and everyone of them are so incredibly shallow and bad, just by being himself and gets kicked out of all of their houses. But then when all the sissies are pissed at Rudd, have them all apologize and try to get his love back, with a sub-plot from a dog named Willie Nelson.

It’s also a problem when the film also has one of those deals where all the humor is in the two-minute trailer clip, and the rest is all obvious and cheesy drama. I expected some pretty funny stuff here not only with the talent involved, but because of the plot and the actual title which seems like a title from a Marx Brothers or Three Stooges flick. It’s just that too much of it here is way too serious and thin to actually laugh at.

However, the things I liked about this film weren’t completley over-shadowed by the bad. I liked Ned’s out-look on life and just how damn simple and happy everything was in his life. This guy is just really cool, nice, and sweet to everyone to the point of where he gives practically every person he meets, a chance to do good. I wish there were more people like this that I knew in the world and I wish that the script didn’t just rely on this great character for some cheap gags.

Also, the cast is pretty alright here even though they have all done things 100000 times better than this, mainly Paul Rudd. Paul Rudd plays Ned the same way he plays every character in any of his film but he’s just so damn likable that it’s almost too hard to be annoyed by his coolness. He sees good in everyone and although everybody around him are a bunch of dicks, he still stays cool and true to himself, which is what Paul Rudd has always been able to show off well.

The rest of the cast does what they can but they all are just too one-note to actually seem believable and nobody really does anything funny. Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer play Ned’s sisters and do what they can but a lot of the time they just seem like their complaining about how bad Ned makes them seem, when they should because their all terrible people. Rashida Jones, Steve Coogan, Adam Scott, and Kathryn Hahn are also here as well and do their own thangs but really aren’t that funny.

It’s also a shame that the funniest member of the cast was T.J. Miller as the organic farmer named Billy, who has about 10 lines, which all seem ad-libbed, but is so cool and funny that’s almost hard not to forget him from an almost terribly forgettable film. It’s just such a shame that this whole cast really looks amazing but do nothing here in a film that takes itself way too seriously, and I think in the hands of Judd Apatow, this could have really been something hilarious, but instead just whatever.

Consensus: Paul Rudd is charming and the film has it’s fair shares of sweet moments, but Our Idiot Brother is too thinly written, too serious, and just too much of a huge comedic let-down to actually be one of the most memorable comedies I have ever seen, but it’s just OK.

5/10=Rental!!

Step Brothers (2008)

A comedy that almost every teenager in the 21st century quotes non-stop.

Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) and Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) might be grown men. But that doesn’t stop them from living at home and turning into jealous, competitive stepbrothers when their single parents (Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins) marry. Brennan’s constant competition with Dale strains his mom’s marriage to Dale’s dad, leaving everyone to wonder whether they’ll ever see eye to eye.

I remember when this film first came out in the Summer of 2008 and how almost everybody who saw it, hated it. Now, almost every single person on the face of this Earth has quoted it, or at least seen it.

This film deserves to be quoted so many times because it actually is really funny. I don’t know how much of this was actually scripted but I have to say a lot of the things that are said here, will have you cracking your ass up for days. I mean you have the usual gross-out humor that serves no meaning to the actual plot, slapstick, and these two grown-ass men acting like little kids. Much of this humor is just constant rambling about something completley random, but I have to say I laughed a whole lot.

Despite laughing so much at the beginning of this film, I have to say that there’s a middle part with this film that actually slows down. You can tell right where the laughs come around less and less, and this is what bothered me since my cheeks were practically hurting from the beginning. Also, I wish there was more sophisticated laughs here instead of just childish jokes because I think if the filmmakers actually gained some confidence in the audience, they could have made a lot more funnier stuff up there.

No matter what though, it’s always awesome to see Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly doing what they do best, be down-right hilarious. A lot of this you can already tell is improvised, but these two make it seem so natural and perfect, that you can’t help but believe these two guys as these sort of man-children. The script gives them a lot to work with here, but it’s how these two actually deliver it, that works so well and keeps the laughs coming and coming. Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins were also good as their parents, who both bring their own little laughs. Let’s not forget to mention Adam Scott as the asshole brother, Derek, who practically steals the show almost every time he’s on screen, and has one of the more memorable scenes. You know what I’m talking about.

Consensus: Step Brothers may get a little slow by the end, you still can’t help but laugh at all the non-stop gut-busting laughs here, that are delivered terrifically by naturals John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell.

8/10=Matinee!!