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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Alison Brie

The Disaster Artist (2017)

Good story, Mark!

Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is just another young kid looking to become an actor. His dreams seem as if they’re finally going to be fulfilled too, when he meets the strange, mysterious, and downright weird Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). While the two are no doubt opposites, they hit it off because of their willingness to chase the American Dream of Hollywood, fame and fortune. It also helps that Wiseau has a place he calls home in L.A., so they move there and start trying to do what they can to break in the biz. For Greg, because he’s so young, fresh and good-looking, he gets small bits and roles in stuff, whereas Tommy doesn’t. He’s too weird and crazy to really work for most casting-agents and it’s why he decides to just say screw it all and make a movie himself. This then creates the Room, one of the most beloved and strange cult flicks that’s so bad, so ridiculous, and so out-of-this-world, guess what? It’s actually good. However, behind-the-scenes, nobody knew what the hell was going on, where Tommy was getting all of this money, why he was acting like such a freak, where he came from, and oh yeah, how the hell old he was, too. Basically, it all just revolved around Tommy being Tommy.

“I did naaaht.”

The Disaster Artist is one of those breezy, light-as-a-feather biopics that doesn’t get as deep as it should, but still works. Why? All about the source-material, baby! If you’ve ever seen the Room, know who Greg Sestero or Tommy Wiseau are, then yes, this will most likely all work for you. The movie, as directed by James Franco and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, is meant to please those undying and adoring fans of the cult-classic, while also attempting to bring possible interested-parties to just who the hell these people are, what the movie they’re making is, and/or better yet, why so many people love it.

In fact, the Disaster Artist itself doesn’t set out to answer all of the questions it raises and in a way, it’s better than most biopics because of that. It doesn’t feel the need to harp on something, or try to jam it all in – it gives us the characters, their backstories, their plot, their conflicts, and basically just runs with it all. Sure, the real lives of Sestero and Wiseau may be way more intriguing and odd than what we get here, but the movie doesn’t feel as if it has to be over two-hours to really get its job done.

Just a little over an-hour-and-a-half, honestly, is fine enough.

And it’s why, as a director and actor, James Franco does a pretty great job here. Despite him having made nearly six or seven movies in the past few years, none of them have really been all that good; they’re slow, meandering, pretentious and, despite the star-quality attached, a waste of some prime talent who are clearly just doing favors for a seemingly good guy. Here though, it seems like Franco’s at least somewhat poised to avenge himself as both an actor and director, because he doesn’t harp too much on the material – he gives us the funny stuff, the drama, and the characters that matter.

Bros love throwing that pig-skin.

And oh yeah, he also does a pretty great Wiseau which, all things considering, is pretty hard to pull-off, especially for someone as good-looking, tall, and recognizable as Franco. But Franco gets the cadences down perfectly, from the randomly slurred-speech, to the odd laughing and giggling in-between clever-phrases, that make this guy a delight to watch. He also doesn’t forget to show us the true dark and odd nature behind this guy, like where all of his money comes from, why he’s such a control-freak, and the idea that he may be a bit of a sexist asshole who, like most frat-boys, just wants to see boobs and be able to touch them. Once again, the movie doesn’t go nearly as deep as it probably should have into Wiseau, but Franco scratches enough of the surface to where it’s all fine and dandy.

After all, the movie’s so damn entertaining, you’ll soon forget about all of that stuff and it’s kind of the point.

The Disaster Artist makes it clear very early-on that no matter how awful the end-result turned out to be, the Room was absolutely what Wiseau and those involved wanted it to be: A stepping-stone to some sort of infamy. It’s what Sestero and Wiseau themselves have absolutely wanted and while what they really did, in certain situations portrayed throughout the movie, can be held-up to scrutiny, there’s no denying the fact that the movie they made, together, or apart, turned out to be something quite legendary. And the movie of its inception and ultimate creation, while not nearly as legendary, is still entertaining enough to remind us of the fun and the appeal.

If that’s even the right word.

Consensus: With a fun, light, and breezy direction, the Disaster Artist proves to be an entertaining and somewhat insightful look into the life of Tommy Wiseau, and a solid reminder that Franco’s got the goods to pull double-duty as actor and director, in an effective manner.

7 / 10

Gotta get the right shot for whatever the hell they’re doing.

Photos Courtesy of: A24

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The Little Hours (2017)

Let loose of Christianity. And your pants.

It’s the Middle-Ages and, as expected, basically everything, everywhere, is run by religion. And in these times, nuns Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Ginevra (Kate Micucci) lead a simple, albeit sex-free life in their convent. Their days are spent chafing at monastic routine, spying on one another, and berating the estate’s day laborer, who Fernanda, being the paranoid that she is, constantly thinks of him as being as a Jew. After a particularly vicious insult session drives the peasant away, Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly), who’s harboring some dark and dirty secret of his own, brings on newly hired hand named Massetto (Dave Franco), a young servant forced into hiding by his angry lord (Nick Offerman), who caught him sleeping with his wife and is currently hunting him down. So, in order to stay safe and sound, and away from his lord, Massetto must stay deaf and dumb, and act as if he has no interest in any sort of proclivities. Even though, he, like everyone else at this convent, does and it eventually comes to front-fold when they all get a nice look at Massetto.

“ARE YOU JAMES?!?!?”

The Little Hours is basically a one-joke movie, in which it’s the Middle-Ages and everyone speaks in a modern-day tone and dialogue, filled with curses, witticisms, sayings, and a lot of dead-pan. And as is the case with most one-joke movies, they can tend to get a little old and repetitive; see, it’s not what the joke is about, as much as it’s what you’re able to do with it, how you’re able to spin it, and make telling it, still seem somewhat fun and fresh. It’s what the Little Hours is able to do for awhile, until it doesn’t.

But man, what a cast.

Seriously.

Writer/director Jeff Baena hasn’t been in the game for too long, but has already somehow been able to get a bunch of famous faces in his various movies, and the Little Hours is no exception. In fact, one of the main reasons why the movie works as well as it does, is because of how dedicated and willing this ensemble is to make this material work and funny. Everyone here is dead-pan and while there are some people that seem to be funnier than others, everyone is in on the joke and it works.

Just a man and his ass. Don’t ask questions.

No one person in particular is funnier than the other, but one who stands-out, in my eyes, is Dave Franco, especially since what a lot of he has to do is physical and simply using his body, rather than saying everything. Franco’s always been funny and a blast to watch on-screen, but here, we see his talent tested to where, instead of saying everything, he has to act it all out, through body-language. It’s a gimmick-role, sort of, but it’s one that’s impressive because Franco seems to excel at this kind of stuff, even when he isn’t talking.

And yeah, everybody else is pretty great, too, but does any of that need to be said?

What Baena does do well, except offer some funny bits and pieces of comedy, is that he does offer-up an interesting look at religion and sex, through the clearly comedic-eyes. Baena doesn’t seem to be making a comment on Christianity, as a whole, and it’s positive, as well as negative effects, on those who support and follow it, but he does seem to be showing that sometimes, age-old stipulations and rules, that take away certain freedoms, are wrong and should be broken. Sure, it’s told to us in such a silly and raunchy manner, but it’s effective and shows that Baena has more on his mind than just a bunch of funny people cursing, getting naked, and having sex.

Although, there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

Consensus: Essentially a one-joke premise, the Little Hours grows to wear thin, but with a smart, funny cast who are all absolutely game, it gets on passable humor.

6 / 10

Let’s just pretend these three aren’t celebrities trying to be normal, everyday nuns.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Joshy (2016)

When depressed, hang with the bros.

Josh (Thomas Middleditch) and his fiancee (Alison Brie) were all set and ready to get married. However, she decided to take her life, leaving her family, friends, and most importantly, Josh, heartbroken. Why did she do it? Well, no one really knows why, however, Josh’s friends intend on cheering him up the way that they feel is necessary for someone dealing with a tragedy of this kind. That’s why, nearly four months later, the bros all come up to the house somewhere in the mountains, dedicated to them all partying it up and living life, as if it was Josh’s bachelor party, which was what it was supposed to be in the first place. But the guys don’t get bogged down by the sad details and decide that it’s time to get all of the beer, drugs, guns and women that they can find to get Josh’s mind off of everything. But it’s not just Josh who has some problems to wade through, as most of the guys seem to be going through their own issues on this one weekend, figuring out where to go next with their lives and how, just how the hell on Earth, are they going to grow-up and be responsible adults.

Cheer up, Joshy. They don't call you that name all of the time, right?

Cheer up, Joshy. They don’t call you that name all of the time, right? Cause if they did, that actually would kind of suck.

The mumblecore movement may not be quite as vibrant as it once was back in the beginning of the decade, however, it’s still alive and well, bringing in more and more outsiders to the indie-world, showing off their talent for improv and on-the-fly film making that can, often times, create things of beauty. Drinking Buddies seems like the highlight of the mumblecore flicks, in terms of its scope, who it involved, and what it actually did, but there’s been a few every now and then, offering up lovely bits of insightful entertainment.

And now, with his second-feature, Jeff Baena seems as if he’s ready to throw himself into the mumblecore world and doing a pretty good job at it, too.

Of course, what makes a mumblecore movie as good as it may set out to be, is that it needs a reason, or better yet, a purpose to exist. Most of the time, these movies can sometimes seem like low-budget versions of Adam Sandler flicks where, just like him, they use the excuse of a movie being made to get away with having a bunch of their friends around, do and say silly things. While this may work for most film makers because it doesn’t ask for all that much dedication and money, the problems that it can sometimes bring up is the fact that the story itself isn’t always the snappiest and, if anything, made-up as the film-making runs on by.

Here though, Baena does something smart in that he allows for the actual tragedy of Josh’s ex-fiancee to really carry the movie along, feeling less of like an excuse, and more of something resembling a reason. Of course, the darker aspects of the story come out in full-form by the end, and doesn’t quite connect, but at least it’s a movie that’s trying to be something more than the typical “cool, funny, and talented people hang out for a weekend”. While those movies can tend to be quite fun and exciting, they can also become a tad mundane, when you don’t have much of a narrative-drive moving it along.

In Joshy, aside from the tragic suicide early on, the real plot is figuring out these characters, their lives, their problems, and just how they’re going to get out of them. It’s almost too simple, but it kind of works, because Baena has been able to assess a great group of actors to make the material work, even when it seems like they’re just going with the flow. Nick Kroll, Thomas Middleditch, Alex Ross Perry, Brett Gelman, and Adam Pally play the core group here and they’ve all got their own problems to work through, some clearly more important than others, but all at least registering on some level.

Longed-hair Adam Pally? I don't know!

Longed-hair Adam Pally? I don’t know!

Of course, this doesn’t always allow for the characters to come off as likable, either, which is probably fine, in Joshy’s case.

Baena doesn’t allow for his movie to be too pleased or happy with itself; eventually, the characters do have to learn a thing or two about the lives that they live and why it’s not always best to act 13, when you’re 35, or at the very least, nearing it. Joe Swanberg himself shows up and brings these characters down to real life and it’s a honest, relatively tense scene, which is what Joshy seemed to be missing the most of. With the exception a confrontation by the end, Joshy doesn’t really have any confrontation or tension in the air, which I felt was necessary for a movie like this to really work, where jerks are hanging around each other too much, getting on each other’s nerves constantly.

Of course, Baena may not have cared much for this, but while watching Joshy, it’s hard not to imagine what could happen, had the movie tried a tad bit harder. It’s nice to get all your talented and lovely friends all together, in one room, let them do their things, and start shooting, but after awhile, it can start to feel like just a bunch of fun-sequences, and that’s about it. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how charming the cast is – sometimes, more story is better.

Consensus: With a likable and talented cast, Joshy‘s improvised, low-budget feel works, but also doesn’t allow for there to be much of a story, either.

6.5 / 10

I'll jump in. No skivvies is fine with me.

I’ll jump in. No skivvies is fine with me.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Bollywood Reads

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

How to Be Single (2016)

It’s actually quite simple: Just do it.

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

Drinking....

Drinking….

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

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

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

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

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

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

More drinking...

More drinking…

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

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

Hopefully not in Fifty Shades Darker.

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

5 / 10

The true life of a hard-partying single girl.

The true life of a hard-partying single girl.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Aceshowbiz

Get Hard (2015)

Just watch any season of Oz and you’ll be fully prepared for all the lovely surprises prison has for you.

When wealthy businessman James King (Will Ferrell) is wrongfully convicted of tax evasion, rather than taking the plea deal that would have him serve less time, in a far more secure institution, and also have him accept the blame, James goes down the harder-route: 10 years in San Quentin State Prison. Which, for anybody who knows anything about prisons, is pretty hardcore if you’re just a simple white fella who only knows jail through episodes of Lockup. But to make sure that he survives his whole, 10-year-sentence, James calls on his car-washer, Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart), who he thinks went to jail, only because of his skin color and not because of his actual criminal-record – which, had James read it, he would’ve realized that Darnell’s record is as clean as a whistle. Still, James makes Darnell an offer that he can’t refuse: He will pay him $30,000 if he teaches him how to be rough and tough to survive in prison. Darnell agrees, but he also knows that maybe there’s something to James that may actually be innocent in the first place, regardless of what the papers may be saying.

Get it? Because Kevin Hart is tiny.

Get it? Because Kevin Hart is tiny.

Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell are two of the most talented acts we have in comedy today, although, they still have their own brand that works. Hart is like a new-age Eddie Murphy in that he makes everything around him funny, no matter what the hell piece of crap he’s actually starring in, whereas with Ferrell, his humor tends to lean more towards the wicked side of life, with his occasional outlandishness taking center-stage. There’s no problem with either of these acts, in fact, they’re quite superb. They both make whatever it is that they’re doing better, and show that, if you give the time, they will make you laugh.

You’d think that putting them together would be an absolute home-run though, right? And not just for audiences all over the world, but each other, right?

Well, that’s the problem with Get Hard right from the get-go – while it boasts these two top-tier comedic talents, the movie saddles them with hardly anything funny to do, or say. Like, at all. Instead, we get to listen to Hart constantly yell at Ferrell for being nerdy and white, which then leads Ferrell to start crying and acting scared because his character isn’t used to this sort of thing. It sounds funny, but it isn’t, not to mention that it’s downright repetitive once you realize that practically the whole movie is just going to feature them two performing all sorts of stuff that happens in prison.

While that, on paper, sounds like absolute fun and ripe with laugh-out-loud moments, there’s something strange about Get Hard that feels like it wants to make fun of the whole prison world, yet, still not say anything about it either. Though I may be looking into this thing a bit too deeply, there’s a part of me that believes somewhere deep down inside of Get Hard, lies a flick that wants to discuss racial-roles and stereotypes, as well as those that lie within the prison-system, and how ridiculous it can sometimes get, that any typical, peaceful citizen would have to drop all senses of morality and act as violent as humanly possible. Maybe that’s all just me, but I feel like there are elements to this movie that want to shed some light on that and leave it up to the audience to make up their own decisions on it. But more or less, the movie doesn’t actually do that and relies on Hart and Ferrell’s improvs to steal the spotlight from everything else going on.

Which brings me to another problem with this movie and that’s the improv-element of this movie Hart and Ferrell were clearly told to do and have absolute free reign with, no matter where the story went. Normally, I am fine when certain comedians show up in movies to just improv and make things up as they go along; sometimes, it detracts from what’s really happening in the story, but other times, it provides plenty of wacky, wild and zany laughs that you can’t really get with when somebody’s writing it all out. Sometimes, you just have to let the performers do their stuff and if it works, then you’re golden.

Who says blacks and whites can get along? Look at that!

“Dude, what are we doing here?”

However, if it doesn’t work, then you, your cast, and your whole movie, may be screwed. Which is exactly the problem with Get Hard. Too often than not, the movie allows for Hart or Ferrell to take a crazy scene, and have it go to even crazier extremes, which should all be funny, but instead, just feel repetitive and tiresome.

Take for instance, a scene in which Hart’s character is describing to Ferrell’s about the yard in prison and how it is sometimes the most dangerous area of prison. Hart gets the chance to impersonate what seems to be a black gang-banger, a Hispanic one, and a gay prisoner, which all seems like it could be really funny, but goes on way too long and leaves Hart to just say the same thing, again and again. I’ll give it to Hart throughout this scene, as well as the rest of the movie, the dude goes for it all and lets it be known to us that he clearly wants us to laugh, but he just gets too carried away here. Maybe that has less to do with Hart, and more to do with the fact that director Etan Cohen should have known when the time was to pull the curtain and call it a wrap, but either way, it doesn’t work as well as it did in something like, I don’t know, say Ride Along.

Say what you will about that movie, but at least it had a few laughs, mostly thanks to Hart. Here, however, that hardly happens.

Which wouldn’t have been so bad to begin with, had Ferrell been there to save the day and make everything funny by just simply being there, but that doesn’t even happen. More or less, we’re treated to scenes where Ferrell acts like the typical goof-ball we normally see him as in many movies, but it’s never quite funny here. Like with Hart, his improv goes hardly anywhere fun or inspiring; it’s just him saying stupid stuff, as if he was definitely making it all up on the fly, but didn’t want the actual good bits in this movie so that he could possibly save them for another, far better movie.

And a far better movie, I hope, there is past after Get Hard. Not just for Hart or Ferrell, but for us all.

Consensus: Occasionally funny due to the talents of both Hart and Ferrell, Get Hard takes a neat premise, and hardly goes anywhere with it that’s hilarious, or even interesting. It’s just silly is all.

3 / 10 

Ah, racism. Gotta love it.

Cause Ferrell’s character wants to fit in and seem “gangster”. Get it? Ah, racism.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The LEGO Movie (2014)

Remember those small, yellow things you used to “accidentally” stick up your nose as a kid? Yeah, they have lives you know.

Normal, everyday Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) lives in a world that is controlled, run-by and practically dominated by the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell). In this plastic world, everyone is to wake up, follow their day throughout a precise set of instructions and guide-lines, always smile, swallow overpriced coffee, go to work, be happy about it, get that paycheck, sing terribly-catchy, yet excruciating pop-songs like “Everything is Awesome” and go home to watch mind-numbing sitcoms like “Where Are My Pants?“. It’s so painfully dull and monotonous, but nobody cares, nor does anybody fret, because quite frankly, nobody knows any better; not even poor Emmet, who is just like everybody else. But things begin to change for Emmet once he stumbles upon an an ancient artifact known as the Piece of Resistance. He knows nothing about it, but he’s soon picked-up by the rebellious ass-kicker known as Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and is told that the fate of humanity lies in his hands, and his hands only. In better words: He IS the “chosen one”, and it’s up to him to stop Lord Business’ maniacal ways.

The plot is the same old, cookie-cutter stuff that we’ve seen done in a million other movies (*cough cough* Star Wars), but that doesn’t matter because it’s all used so that the directors can get all sorts of these LEGO-pieces together and see what sort of magic they can make-up next. Needless to say, for a kid who has played with LEGO‘s all throughout his childhood, it was an honor to see the likes of 2002-era Shaquille O’Neal, rub shoulders with none other than Batman himself. And no, I do not mean that ACTUAL Shaquille O’Neal and Bruce Wayne got next to one another, showed their faces to the camera, and rubbed shoulders; I mean that their LEGO figures did.

Basically, he's like the LEGO version of Corporate America.

Basically, he’s like the LEGO version of Corporate America.

And that’s where all of the fun lies with this movie, whether you like it or not.

Chances are though, going into this, no matter how idiotic you may think the idea of LEGO movie being, you’re going to be laughing, be having a great time and totally surprised by what this movie does; not just with its animation, which is quite stunning to look at pick-apart, wondering just how they were able to film it all, but with its script, that displays hilarious wit at a non-stop pace. Most of the jokes here, are made solely for the adults that will most likely get roped into seeing this, and there is no problem with that whatsoever, because there’s a lot of humor here that had me howling like a banshee in my seat. I mean hell, there’s even a joke about how they refer to one character as “Michelangelo, the artist”, and another as “Michelangelo, the Ninja Turtle.” Now, if that doesn’t make you at least crack a smile or two, then I have no freakin’ clue what will!

But there’s definitely plenty out there for the kiddies as well, which doesn’t mean that there’s just a whole bunch of slap-sticky, or fart jokes to make them giggle – there’s a whole bunch of action, fun and excitement that gets thrown into this, all because you can tell that both Phil Lord and Chris Miller clearly care about the audience that this movie is being made for. Sure, you could argue that a LEGO movie actually does exist, solely to sell more toys and merchandise, and I wouldn’t disagree with you. However, the movie isn’t just an-hour-and-a-half ploy trying to grab your arm, snatch your wallet and long-dart you to the nearest Toys R Us or Wal Mart; it’s actually an animated-flick that’s pretty damn hilarious, fun and always able to gain your attention, no matter how many times you may have to remind yourself that you are in fact watching LEGO‘s, up on the big screen.

It’s a strange feeling that even I had a problem getting through on occasion, but I knew one thing: I was just happy knowing they weren’t actually MY LEGO‘s. After all of the abuse and torture I put those poor things through, lord only knows that if they ever became animated and alive, they’d come after me, and with a vengeance, too! Same goes for my sister’s Barbie Dolls!

Although, that may be a different story entirely….

Anyway, moving on!

Though it is hard to go on and on without talking about the voice-cast, I do have to give all of them credit because they do some energetic, spunky work here that definitely makes you see their wild and goofy figures brought to life. Chris Pratt is growing up more and more each day into the perfect “everyday man”, even if in this instance, it just so happens to be a LEGO; Elizabeth Banks sounds as sexy and dangerous as she should as Wyldstyle, almost too sexy and dangerous for a kids movie where young boys will most likely be present in viewing; Will Arnett is hilarious as Batman, by basically just being Gob Bluth, disguised as Bruce Wayne; it’s neat to see someone like Morgan Freeman lending his voice to an animated-movie as goofy as this, but you know, the guy gives it his all and really seems to be enjoying the hell out of himself; the same being said for Morgan Freeman, can practically be said about Liam Neeson who seems like he was definitely a bit tipsy during the voice-over recordings, but hey, it made it enjoyable to listen to; and if there was one weak-link to be found in this voice-cast, it’s probably Will Ferrell, who is definitely as harsh he should be with a name like “Lord Business”, but the act gets stale after awhile and you can sort of tell that Will Ferrell himself is enjoying this a bit too much. Maybe somebody like Nic Cage would have done this guy total justice. Actually, not “somebody”, definitely Nic Cage.

Look! That's the joke I'm talking about! And there's even a ghost in the background! Sweet, right?

Look! That’s the joke I’m talking about! And there’s even a ghost in the background! Pretty sweet, right?

But being that this is an animated movie, which is more often than not, being marketed towards the whole family, there obviously has to be a message learnt here, which there is. However, that may also be where my main problem came from – the way in which it kept on hitting me over, and over head with what message it was trying to get across. Granted, Miller and Lord take a very bold-step in the last-act with a twist that I honestly can’t say I saw coming (one which I won’t spoil here), but it’s one that didn’t feel necessary. Reason being is that whatever this movie was trying to tell us about “expressing ourselves no matter how strange or different we may be from the rest of the crowd around us”, all felt like something we understood right after Wyldstyle steps in and decides to shake things up with this story. Clearly this movie wanted to be more than just your typical, fun-for-the-whole-family animated-fare, but rather than being a simple, ode-to-love flick like the Croods, it ends up going for more of a Lorax-feel, that got a bit too preachy and a bit too strained with what it was trying to say. Doesn’t mean the fun didn’t stop, but it definitely did bother me a whole lot and took me away from most of the action that was happening on screen, most of which happened and was said so fast, I couldn’t make-out half of what was going on.

But you know what? That’s the fun of it, everybody! So definitely do make sure to go out and see this! Just make sure you have at least one cup of coffee to assure yourself that you’ll be able to catch almost anything and everything that Lord and Miller are throwing at you. Because do trust me: They’ll give you everything. Even the kitchen-sink.

Consensus: Almost anything and everything that Phil Lord and Chris Miller have at their disposal, they’ll launch at you, and then some with the LEGO Movie, but it’s always fun, exciting, hilarious, appropriate for all ages, and most importantly, as quick-as-a-Jack-Rabbit. So make sure to keep up and not get too distracted by too much butter being on your popcorn!

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Even cooler! I mean, how in how many lifetimes are you going to be able to say that you not only saw "Abe Lincoln and Superman together at the same time next to one another", but also with "The Statue of Liberty right next to them"?!?! Like, super rad!!

Even cooler! I mean, how in how many lifetimes are you going to be able to say that you not only saw “Abe Lincoln and Superman together at the same time next to one another”, but also with “The Statue of Liberty right next to them”?!?! Like, super rad!!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Kings of Summer (2013)

It’s the dream every kid before the year 2000 had. Now, they just want to play COD.

Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias star as three teenage friends who, tired of living with their constantly-nagging parents, decide to build a house in the middle of the woods during one summer. As the boys soon find out, it’s harder to be on your own, whereas the parents find out: they are just as crazy as they thought they were. Yeah, can’t find anything deeper than that. Sorry.

Most movies about kids usually show one thing and that’s how they all want to be their own type of grown-ups. It never works, but it always amuses us on-lookers due to the fact that we know that half of the crap we have in our lives and are able to do, wouldn’t be possible without our parents/family. However, you can’t tell that to the rebellious teen who’s expecting summer to be the time for him/her to shine and come into their own. I was one of them, and I soon learned: jeez, I love my mommy and daddy. As much as they drive me crazy, I know that I would be nothing without their help and support, so why the hell do these kids think that they can get past that long-lasting virtue!?!?? Those spoiled brats!

Whenever I see a movie like this that concerns young teenagers, being exactly that, I can usually connect considering I was one not too long ago. However, these kids I couldn’t really connect with all that much. It wasn’t because they were the nerds in school that spent more times stuffed in their lockers than in actual class, but I think it’s because the movie didn’t really give them any type of personalities that were more than just your typical, cliché. There’s one guy who’s just the standard kid, who’s chasing after this chick who’s stuck with the older, d-bag that’s holding her down; another kid that has parents that drive him ridiculously-insane; and lastly, there’s the weird kid that says nutty things, does nutty things, and has an even nuttier-reason for doing the things that he does (just to let you know, the reason is there is no reason: he just does it). It doesn’t really go any deeper than that with any of these kids and even though they seem like the type of kids I could meet in school, say “hi” to, and forget that they were even involved with my day, it still doesn’t make them the types of kids that I want to watch in a movie, let alone one about how they break out of their shells and get wild in the forest.

In a world where hipsters have finally taken over; then, and only then, I could believe these three being friends.

In a world where hipsters have finally taken over; then, and only then, I could believe these three being friends.

For me, that was the biggest problem for me with this movie. I don’t know if it’s a point of character or what it is with me, but these kids didn’t strike me as ones that interested me, had me feeling for them when they were being annoyed by their parents, and they sure as hell didn’t do much for me in believing that they could stay out of the world of technology, where Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram reigns supreme. Seriously, if you took three types of kids out their element, placed them in the middle of the woods, gave them a house with little to no electricity to support their asses; they would go completely insane. That’s rarely touched on here, and it seemed strange, especially when the movie seems as self-knowing about it’s premise and characters as it does.

That’s not to say I didn’t hate the movie, it just disappointed me in a way. I expected this to be that one “smart” movie about kids being themselves, and letting loose of all insecurities, but it wasn’t. Instead, I just got a movie that seemed more concerned with straining itself to be funny, show that nature is awesome, and also, be able to show that you should always stay with your mommy and daddy, no matter how much they may tick you off with their constant love and smothering. Well, because you know: having parents that love, care, and support your ass throughout every stage of your life blows, doesn’t it? Give me a break!

However, it’s not as bad as I may make it sound. In fact, I’d say that the movie still allowed me to have a good time, despite it not really delivering on many of the marks that usually make a movie like this, work for me. The characters don’t feel like memorable, but it’s the energy of summer that does. That feeling you get in your body when you know that just about everything and anything is possible, you can pull off any types of havoc or debauchery and be fine at the end of the day, is exactly what summer is all about and was practically made for, which is what type of presence this movies gives off. It reminded me of why I love summer so much (seriously though, which kid doesn’t?!?!?), and since it’s here; it makes me jitter-bug even more, as I type each and every word out.

Well, that and the fact that I’m still recovering last night. Holy shit.

So, basically: if you want a movie that you want to remind what it’s like to live in the feel of summer, and be young and wild again; then this is the film for you. That may be all that it’s worth remembering for, but at least that’s better than nothing. Can’t say I hated the film for that and it took me away from liking it more, but it definitely didn’t win much points for me either. It was just there, on the screen, having fun with itself, while I sort of sat there and wish I was having as much fun as these kids. God, what it would pay to be young again. And fun, too. I miss those days. Wah.

Next best thing to Rock Band.

The homeless person’s version of Rock Band.

Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias seem like they have much promise when it comes to their future film roles, however, they didn’t get much of a good start here. It’s nothing against them as actors, because they all do fine, it’s just that their character don’t seem to be as fully fleshed out as the film may have it seem like. Robinson is a bit dull as the type of kid that just goes about his day, gets slightly-picked on, and never sticks up for himself; Basso is fine as the one kid who just does his thing, doesn’t get in anybody’s way, but is extremely cool with his out-look on life, even if it is a bit ordinary; and Arias is the weirdo of the group, Biaggio, who’s fun to be around because of the manic energy he brings to the table. They all have good rapport together and seem like the type of kids that would be friends and do something like build a house out in the middle of the forest, but only one stood-out for me (Biaggio), and even he seemed like a one-trick pony that the movie, as well as the characters, loved to point at every so often and show us what a cook-ball he truly is. Funny for about 2 scenes, but gets old, REAL QUICK.

The adults probably fare better in this situation, and even they feel like they can get the shorter-end of the stick at times. At times. Nick Offerman is the best out of the whole cast for the sole fact that he was able to make me forget that he was playing a character, that reminded me exactly of Ron Swanson. Offerman is good as the father of the main kid who starts this whole plan and idea, because he’s able to have us gain sympathy for this lonely, depressed dude that seems to have lost it all in his life, but doesn’t want to lose his son. So, therefore, he tries his hardest to keep control of him, anyway he can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. What matters though is that he cares and loves his son, which is why he stole the movie for me. His real-life wife, Megan Mullally, is here as a mother of another one of the kids and is fine being goofy, but I think enough is enough with these two love-birds showing up in the same movies. I get it! They are married, love each other to death, and support one another on every decision (aka, movie) the other one takes, but separate yourselves for a bit, for godsakes!

Consensus: The Kings of Summer will make most people feel happy, young, and fun inside, but that’s not because the characters are three-dimensional or the plot-scenario is memorable in the least bit, it’s just because the movie is about summer, that also happens to feature kids living out on their own, but also not forgetting to learn some real important life-lessons along the way. Just go home, hug your mommy, or your daddy, or whoever the hell is closest to you and be happy.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Hey, you may not be able to live there anymore, but it sure as hell makes a great place to take the girlfriend back to when the rents are home. Am I right, hormone-fueled, teenage male?

Look at the bright side, you may not be able to live there anymore, but it sure as hell makes a great place to take the girlfriend back to when “the ‘rents” are home. Am I right, hormone-fueled, teenage male?

The Five-Year Engagement (2012)

Just wait for Russell Brand to ruin this chick, too.

The Five-Year Engagement is a romantic comedy following Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) as their relationship becomes strained from the continued delays of their wedding an prolonged engagement.

When you get a movie that seems like it’s going to be a mixture of something from Bridesmaids (producers),  Forgetting Sarah Marshall (director), and straight-up Judd Apatow (also producer) comedy, you would think think that this would be laugh out loud funny, right? Ehhh, who knows!

Director Nick Stoller does do what he does best; and that is, keep the laughs going even when the plot seems like it’s starting to float away. There’s definitely a great sense of improv here, which is what makes this cast so damn good; but regardless of whether or not this film’s jokes were actually written, I still laughed many more times here than I did with Stoller’s last flick. Yes, I know a lot of people praise Get Him to the Greek as if it was his end-all, be-all masterpiece, but I guess I’m just not with you on that one.

I also thought that it was cool to see this premise go down and show us something about two people in love, which is something I haven’t seen much in flicks that are about a happy-happy couple such as this. The film shows what it’s like for two people to be together and less of how easy it is to love the other person for all that they are, but at the same time gets into how hard it is to be happy for that other person when they’re doing the things that they’re doing as you’re in total and complete misery. I know this isn’t anything that’s necessarily ground-breaking or inventive to talk about, especially when you talk about half of the rom-coms that have come out within the past 10 years, but it’s still a subject/theme that is done very well here, and I don’t think you see too much of that in rom-coms nowadays.

However, that theme, along with a lot of the jokes, seem to somehow get lost in the shuffle of this 2 hour and 4 minute movie. It seems like every rom-com lately has started to fall into this path where they aren’t just about being a funny, romantic movie, but they also have to have a huge deal of drama in it too, just so it can even things out. The film seems very disjointed in parts, as it was more just a bunch of sketches put together, but they were still funny enough to hold me over and get past it. But by last couple of acts where the film shows Violet and Tom’s relationship starting to crumble down, the film starts to get a bit darker and focus more on the sadness these two have away from each other, rather than focus on some cool moments of comedy. It’s actually a big downer when these two aren’t together because not only does it take a lot of steam out of the comedy, but the idea of these two being perfect for each other is uprooted as well.

Also, did I mention that it’s a 2 hour and 4 minute movie?!? Only Judd Apatow can do comedies like that people so stop trying to hop all over that skill cause it ain’t happenin’, ight? I don’t know why I started talking like that but I guess I got so much love for my homeboy Judd Apatow, I had to back him up. Anywhoo, back to what I was talking about…

Another quibble I had with this flick was that since the film shows 5 years passing, you would think that these characters would change or look a bit older in anyway, but instead, the movie feels more like it’s happening in about 5 months rather than 5 years. Tom gets a caveman beard and Violet gets bangs later on, but other than that, nothing else really changes between these characters and they all sort of just stay the same without any difference in change, look, or act. Then again, not every person in the world needs to change every single day that goes by, but 5 years is a pretty long time.

What I can say about the pairing of Emily Blunt and Jason Segel is that they both have obvious chemistry and use it well with the surprisingly slim amount of scenes they get together. Segel plays more of the straight-man role and Blunt pretty much plays his somewhat goofy, psychiatrist honey and both display a lot of fun working together on-screen, but the film shows more scenes of them apart than together. I wish the film focused more on them just hangin’ out, goofin’ off, or just simply being a loving couple, rather than just worrying they’re going to go next with their relationship and whether or not they’re going to work out. Just be happy and loving you damn kids! Even though you are both older than me!

But since a lot of these scenes are dedicated to what’s going on around these two, the film gets to show more scenes with its awesome supporting cast. Chris Pratt (who looks like Patrick Wilson, if he just got back from an all-you-can-eat buffet) is hilarious as Tom’s bro-bro and steals just about every scene he has; and I probably would have liked to see a whole film dedicated to just him and his wife, Suzie, aka Violet’s sister, aka the hilarious and very sexy Alison Brie. Rhys Ifans is pretty slimy but good as Violet’s charismatic supervisor, Winton Childs. And there are so many others here that are worth mentioning but it’s really just such a huge supporting cast that it’s really hard to name them all.

Consensus: The tone may be a disjointed, the laughs may not be constant, and the run-time may be about 30 minutes too long, but The Five-Year Engagement still entertains enough with it’s very funny laughs, and it’s charming leads, that are backed by an amazing supporting cast that steals the scenes almost every chance they get.

6.5/10=Rental!!