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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Ashley Greene

Tusk (2014)

Kevin Smith: He is the walrus. Coo coo ca choo.

Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) is a bit of a jerk, but he gets by on running a podcast with his good buddy (Haley Joel Osment) and banging his smokin’ hot girlfriend (Génesis Rodríguez), even though he’s a total dick to both of them. Lately though, Wallace has felt like his podcast needs a bit of a energizing-up, so he decides to venture out to Canada where he’ll interview a kid who became famous after a video of him accidentally slicing off his own leg with a samurai sword goes viral and entitles him as “Kill Bill Kid”. However, sadly for Wallace, he finds out that Kill Bill Kid has passed away, which leaves the poor pod-caster in the dumps. That is, until he sees a notice for a sit-down with a man who promises to tell interesting stories. Wallace sees no harm in it at first, even if the man (Michael Parks), seems a bit creepy. But eventually, the harm becomes all too real and wouldn’t you know it, the creepy old man actually has Wallace over for some unknown, nefarious purposes. Which, wouldn’t you know it, has him turning Wallace into a walrus.

I apologize if that spoiled the big twist for anybody but trust me, there’s no real twist to begin with as it’s been heavily talked-about since the movie’s idea had ever came to fruition.

It's a metaphor. or something.

It’s all a metaphor. or something.

Now, normally, I consider myself a huge, adoring fan of Kevin Smith’s work. Not only do I find him to be one of the funnier, smarter writers working in comedy today, but I also find him to be a very honest, realistic-thinking guy when it comes to his own career, Hollywood, and all of the bullshit that usually follows along with it. Sure, some of his escapades are a bit questionable and definitely make you wonder if he’s actually a nice guy underneath all those hockey jerseys, or if he’s just playing the role so well, that anybody who slightly “likes” the guy, ends up falling head-to-toes in love with him, all because he seems like them, a real person.

Except that, for the fact, that this real person writes, directs, and occasionally stars in movies for a living.

However, a part of me has been slowly, but surely dying inside ever since Kevin Smith has decided that he’s about had it up to here with being taken as a joke and only known for the potty-mouth characters he creates. While I have absolutely no problem with a film maker wanting to change their style up a bit so that they can eventually be looked at in a different light and possibly show the rest of the world what they have left to offer, other than just what they’ve been known for, I feel like what Smith has been doing ever since Red State has sort of been throwing him down a pipe-line that he can’t get out of. He wants to be taken as a serious director, yet, he also tries so hard to make this idea a reality, that he loses what made his movie so charming and enjoyable to watch, or better yet, listen to, in the first place.

And with Tusk, this is evident, except maybe even worse. Because while, yeah, Tusk is a sometimes serious, rather horrific-tale about a man being turned into a walrus, there’s still plenty of humor written into the script; none of it works, but it’s humor nonetheless. Mostly where this humor comes from is in Smith’s way of pointing to something weird, or off-kilter that Canadians do, and never letting it go. He’s sort of like the guy in your group who finds one flaw within your whole human existence and rather than confronting it one day, accepting it for what it is, and moving on so that each and every person around you two, including yourselves, can live in perfect harmony, he just constantly hammers it into the ground, not only making you feel more uncomfortable because they simply don’t get that the joke isn’t landing anywhere, anytime soon, but that they look like total dicks.

Here, in case you couldn’t, tell, Kevin Smith is the total dick and it’s just all the more disappointing for someone such as myself who has looked up to him as one of the better writers and directors in today’s day and age of comedy. And trust me, I’m not being all pissy and moany like this because Smith wasn’t giving me the return of characters like Jay, Silent Bob, or even Banky – those times are all said and done and I’m fine with that. It’s time to move on and I’m perfectly fine with that. However, if Smith can’t grow in an efficient manner, then I will continue to be unhappy. Better yet, if he can’t write funny jokes anymore that at least hold more merit than as if they were being told by a fifth-grader, then sure, I’m all for a career resurgence of sorts.

But for now, I will wait and wonder.

Mostly though, the huge problem with Tusk comes down to the fact that the story just doesn’t have enough steam to last its near two-hour run-time. It’s been made clear to anyone who pays attention to Smith’s podcast known as Smodcast that the idea for Tusk, originally came through a story he read on an episode. While it may work as a live-reading and better yet, maybe even as a short film, when given a larger-budget and more time to work with, the movie comes off incredibly meandering, ponderous, and overall, stale. You wonder if Smith had any intentions of making this story go on as long as it is, or if he just decided to say “‘eff it” with all of the money he was given and focus on parts of this story that didn’t matter.

For instance, we literally get a ten-to-fifteen-minute flashback with Wallace and his girlfriend where they’re not only sharing an intimate moment together (meaning blow-jobs), but are even revealing certain depths of their characters that we probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. It’s supposed to work, but because these characters are so one-dimensional as is, we don’t care for anything they’re saying, nor the scene altogether. It just feels thrown in there to add some sort of emotional-heft to an already overlong movie; one that could have ended in nearly twenty-minutes and nobody would have felt ripped-off. But you add another hour-and-thirty-minutes to that run-time, and you’ve got a whole lot of pissed off people. I’m one of them, if you couldn’t already tell by now.

If you're girl ends up getting comforted by that kid who saw dead people, you better make sure you're a damn walrus alright.

If you’re girl ends up getting comforted by that kid who saw dead people, you better make sure you’re a damn walrus alright.

And as for the cast, god bless all of their working hearts, but hardly anybody comes away unscathed from this. Justin Long is a funny guy and when, given the right material to work with, can do wonderful things. However, his role as Wallace is so one-note and prickish, you wonder if Smith thought that being a perverted, 30-something a-hole was funny, especially when you give him impressions and funny voices to do. Whatever he thinks is funny, doesn’t matter, because it’s hardly ever funny and only gets worse for Long as he then is soon made into a walrus, where we care so little for him or the situation he’s thrown into. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh, because it is easy to feel bad for somebody who, for no reason other than to service an already overlong script, gets transformed into a walrus, but it’s just that we don’t care for his character to begin with that really hurts him.

Then, there’s Haley Joel Osment as his best buddy who may, or may not be up-to-no-good. While it’s nice to see that Osment’s still working, and with Kevin Smith no less, this role is so dull, it makes no sense why he’s even in it to begin with. Génesis Rodríguez is here to look hot and have the camera focus in on her curvy body, and with that, she’s fine. And Michael Parks, as gifted as he may be, doesn’t have much to do as the evil scientist who turns Wallace into a walrus, as all he has to do is yell and preach a lot, about seemingly nothing really. It’s sort of like what he did in Red State, but at least that had some reasoning to be done there; here, it’s just over-bearing and random.

But the one I feel the most bad for here is Johnny Depp who, spoiler alert once again, I guess, shows up as a local Canadian detective by the name of Guy Lapointe (it’s supposed to be word play, you see). Depp literally seems like he showed up on-set one day and decided that he didn’t mind wearing a silly hat, a large nose-piece, and acting as drunk as he usually does in most of his movies. While it’s occasionally pleasing to see Depp riff into some rather strange, often interesting areas of this story that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise with a lesser-actor who was demanded to follow the script, it still doesn’t do much good for the rest of the movie as it just uses him as one punch-line and that’s it.

Nothing more, and you know what? Johnny Depp deserves more!

Consensus: While it’s nice to see Kevin Smith trying something new, Tusk is a poorly-done, overlong, and just plain stupid movie that hardly goes anywhere funny, interesting, or even entertaining. Simply put, it’s boring, but it never knows it well enough to just cease what it is doing and get to the point already.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Poor guy. Actually, no. Who gives a hoot. Eh? #CanadianJokes

Poor guy. Actually, no. Who gives a hoot. Eh? #CanadianJokes

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Also, if any of you are at all suspicious of whether I’m not an actual fan-boy of Kevin Smith to begin with, or am just posing as one to disguise my utter disappointment with this movie, check out this link, go to 1:19:48, and listen to the question asked. You might just hear yours truly talking to a personal hero of his.

Hopefully Kevin and I can make amends in the near-future.

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Wish I Was Here (2014)

Somewhere out there, James Mercer is pissed that he didn’t get a paycheck.

Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff) is an aging, near-40-year-old dad who is struggling to make ends meet with his life. He works, but as an actor, which only means that he sometimes gets a role, and sometimes, he doesn’t. Basically though, he just day-dreams and longs about the good old days in which he and his brother (Josh Gad) used to dream about being in some sort of futuristic, sci-fi world where they were the good guys and everything that they wanted to happen, did in fact happen. However, the reality of it is that Bloom’s life kind of blows: His kids (Joey King and Pierce Gagnon) get kicked out of their private Jewish school; his father (Mandy Patinkin) is slowly dying; his wife (Kate Hudson) is working a dead-end job that she hates and gets hit on by a co-worker at; and worst of all, the family is on the end of poverty. Without knowing full well what to do, Aidan decides to home-school his kids into being the best that they can be, while at the same time, seeing if he can be there for his dad when he needs him the most, especially during this critical time.

Though I clearly wasn’t in the intended age-group, Garden State still worked like gangbusters and gave me the impression that Zach Braff was capable of doing wonderful things with his career when he wasn’t being goofy, yet lovable J.D. Dorian. That said, Garden State was released nearly ten years ago and it makes you wonder exactly why it took Braff so damn long to get something out in the first place. Sure, people will say it was because no major-studio would back a project of his choosing (hence the infamous KickStarter campaign), but personally, I think it’s because Braff didn’t have much of a story to really work with. Maybe, just maybe, Garden State was all he had to say or do for the movie world, because when it comes right down to it: He’s sort of left treading the same waters.

He still obviously can't get over another charmingly beautiful blonde.

He still obviously can’t get over another charmingly beautiful blonde.

Because, in the case of Wish I Was Here, as much as it pains me to say, it seems like Braff just remade Garden State, but this time, set it in Hollywood, get a bigger-budget, and involve less hipster-ish things to be found. Because yes, Braff is almost 40 and with that title comes going through the motions that most adults go through, and that’s what we all call “adulthood”. And it’s a shame to see somebody as lively and as charming as Braff to get older, grow up a bit and have to deal with real issues that most adults have to deal with on a daily-basis, but he’s only human dammit, so I guess it was inescapable.

However, him being older in age and in the brain, doesn’t excuse this film from being a mess; much rather, a mess that doesn’t know what it wants to say. I already made a mention of this being like a sort-of remake of Garden State, but the real fact is that this movie doesn’t have a clue what it wants to do, whereas every move that movie made was clear, inspired and brought the whole piece together. Here, with Wish I Was Here, you can almost see Braff fumbling with this story, what it means, what he’s trying to say, and how we’re all supposed to make sense of it. Which, in all honesty, would have been fine really, had anything in the mess been all that interesting to begin with. But there isn’t anything of that nature.

Seeing Zach Braff in a movie and his wife being Kate Hudson is interesting, I guess, but they’re kind of a traditional-couple that doesn’t quite feel like anything we haven’t seen done before. In a way too, we sort of feel bad for her and have a problem with him, because while he’s off trying to live his dream (aka, sit at home, mope, whine and not do shite with his life), she’s out at work, with people she hates, doing work she downright distastes, and practically supporting the whole family. Hudson’s fine in this role and has more than a couple of scenes where her charm comes out, but her character seems like she’s just a stepping-stool and after awhile, you’ll wonder when she’s going to get fed-up with all of this crap, take the kids and leave Braff’s bum-self.

And that’s not saying Braff is at all bad in this movie – in fact, he’s very much still Zach Braff, if that makes any sense. He’s still quick-witted, smart, charming, a tad goofy, and capable of being serious when he so damn well pleases, but his Aidan Bloom-character just isn’t all that fascinating to begin with in order to have us want to see where his life goes and why. We know that he wants to support his adoring-family, while also maintaining a respectable career as an actor, but sooner or later, it gets to be a bit tiresome to see him constantly try hard and then end up bummed out about life. I get that’s how life works in general, but it’s not something I want to watch for nearly two hours, especially not in this pretentious of a way.

Also, with that being said, the movie does feel like its every bit of two hours, which really does this movie in. And because of its length, more of the movie’s weaker-points begin to show a lot more. For instance, the whole subplot with Bloom’s brother, could be taken out completely and there would be nothing at all wrong with this movie. Not only would it trim some film, but it would also spare us the corny message Braff ends up summing this film on.

Back together, at last. Sadly though, no Turk dance. Dammit.

Back together, at last. Sadly though, no Turk dance. Dammit.

Basically, by connecting each and everyone of the subplots he has cobbled-up here, Braff lets us know that parenting is hard, and that’s about it. There’s a lot more talk about the Jewish faith, where we go when we all die, some of his thoughts on that, and why family is important, but it never quite builds to anything. All it is is filler for Braff to keep his movie long, over-stacked and as pretentious as he can possibly make it. And yes, I know I sound terrible and all, but seriously, was this really the type of movie us fans donated money towards? Something that just repeats exactly what Braff did nearly ten years ago, except this time, have it include family, and death, and the Jewish faith?

I don’t think so and honestly, if I were Zach Braff, I’d feel a little ashamed in myself. That’s not to say that everything in this movie is terrible; more often than not, the choices Braff makes as a director are as bold as they could come from somebody not being fronted by a major-studio. However, more often than not, Braff falls down with whatever message he’s carrying, and while he does get back up to fight again, and again, and again, you have to wonder when he’s going to just stop, give it up and let us realize that maybe he doesn’t have much left to say at all.

Except that the Shins are a really rad band. Man.

Consensus: While it may be nice to see Zach Braff both in front of, as well as behind the camera after all of this time, Wish I Was Here still can’t help but feel like a disappointing retread of ideas, themes and messages he’s explored before, to a much better result.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

That's all of your money, people. Hope it was all worth it.

“Hey, aren’t you that guy from that show where you played the doctor who was sort of goofy and had all of these day-dreams and it was funny?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

Butter (2012)

Hey, that’s one way to stop obesity in our country. Make butter sculptures!

A young orphan named Destiny (Yara Shahidi) who, after being adopted by a Midwestern family (Rob Corddry and Alicia Silverstone), discovers she has an uncanny talent for butter-carving. She eventually finds herself up against the ambitious wife of the retired reigning champion named Laura (Jennifer Garner) in a town’s annual butter-sculpting contest.

Director Jim Field Smith surprised the hell out of me two years back when he showed-up with what was yet, another typical rom-com in the name of She’s Out of My League. What surprised me about this flick was not just how it was actually funny, it had some nice insight to relationships and the way dudes and girls are looked at when they’re both together. It surprised the hell out of me, even if the formula didn’t. However, Smith is right back to formula this time around and this time, it’s not so commendable.

The problem with Smith’s direction here is that he never seems to get as dirty or nasty as he wants to get. The satire is so freakin’ obvious it’s not even funny (seriously, it isn’t). Basically, by showing us this butter-sculpting competition, Smith is poking fun at corporate America and how they look at the world in their own eyes. Is it a smart idea? Of course. Is it executed well at all? Nope, not at all and I think the main problem with that is because Smith plays it a bit too safe with a story that could go anywhere (and sometimes does), but ends up going along the lame-o types and formulas we have come to expect from movies of this same nature.

Playing it safe is what bothered me about this film, but the other element that seemed to annoy me was how the story never followed a pattern. For instance, it’s comedy would seem to come out of nowhere and be that raunchy, dirty-type of comedy that pleases Apatow fans only, but then suddenly changes itself into a sappy, corny story about a young girl who’s trying to make sense of the world. At some points, it’s edgy, and at others, it’s plain and soft to the point of where you almost feel like they want to give you a hug. This comes in the way of all of these stories that never really seem to have any meaning, other than to just be there and make use of their big-names on the posters. Olivia Wilde’s character, as amazing as she may be here, still did not need to even be in the movie except for about the first 5 minutes were with her, so every other time she shows up, it seems like over-kill and Smith’s only way to get comedy out of a tired-plot.

That’s not to say that this film isn’t entertaining, because it really is and with the laughs that work, they really do work. The first 45 minutes or so work because it gets us ready and prepped-up for the whole butter competition, shows us the goofy characters, and gives them enough characterization to make us feel like we’re in for a big and wild surprise. Sadly, that only stays with us for about 20 minutes or so, but for those 20 minutes, I was laughing and had a good time.

The main reason why I laughed a good amount of times was mainly because of the cast and what they’re able to do with some caricatures. One of the biggest surprises of this whole cast was Rob Corddry who really dials it down here as Destiny’s adoptive father. What I liked so much about Corddry here is that there is a nice feeling of warmth and support in his character, that comes through in every frame. Corddry is usually that one guy in raunchy comedies that seems way too over-the-top to even be considered entertaining or funny, but here, he shows that it sort of just comes naturally to him and it makes me wonder what else this guy can do with his career. Maybe he can pull-off a drama in the near-future, or maybe he’s just going to stick to R-rated comedies that barely get him noticed as anything else but that crazy, loud bald guy that seems like he’s high all of the time. Maybe that is the case, but hey, I’m not judging.

The one star in this film that did not work-out as well as Corddry did for me, was Jennifer Garner as Laura. Here’s my thing with Garner, the girl is good when it’s her in drama, but when she tries to step her foot into comedy, she falls flat on her face and never seems to get up. That is exactly the same case we have here with her character, Laura, as she’s just another one of those self-righteous bitches, that nobody likes, nobody wants to see, and 9 times out of 10, doesn’t even laugh at because she’s so freakin’ evil. Laura isn’t as evil as the film may want you think, since the only real bad thing her character even does is lie, but Garner tries so damn hard to push her character to those bitch-levels, that it seems forced and never like Garner really has what it takes to make an entertaining bitch. She’s insufferable to watch and I think that Hollywood just needs to stop throwing this girl’s comedic-skills (or lack thereof) down our throats and just realize one, simple damn thing: Jennifer Garner, aka Mrs. Ben Affleck, is not funny! Never has been, and never will be so stop giving her big comedic roles where we need to laugh at her to enjoy ourselves. It just doesn’t work.

Consensus: Butter has some delightful moments and features a fine cast, except for Jennifer Garner who is annoying to watch and listen to, but never goes down to those deep deaths of hell that they call satire and decides to play it safe with it’ story and what it is essentially poking jokes at.

5/10=Rental!!

The Apparition (2012)

If you think about it too much, you die anyway. So in reality, it doesn’t effin’ matter what you think about. The resolution is always the same.

This is the story of a couple (Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan) who are haunted by a supernatural presence that is unleashed during a college experiment, and the fellow student (Tom Felton), who helps them out.

I know I didn’t want to see this movie (even though I did), but to be honest, it doesn’t seem like Warner Bros. wanted anyone to see, either. This has sat on the shelf for over two years, hasn’t had a single trailer or commercial ad that I have seen so far, and nobody has even asked me about it which is strange, since all of my lame-o friends seem to ask me what I think about a new horror movie coming out soon. What’s even weirder is that the film has been screened for only a couple of critics, for a screening that was to be held 4 hours before the film actually came-out. That really shocked me, except for when I actually saw the movie. Now all of the clues finally make sense. This movie, just plain and simply sucks.

This is the feature debut of writer/director Todd Lincoln and to be honest, I sort of feel bad for the dude. It seems like his vision has been tampered with so much because of this being in post-production for over 2 years and whatnot, but I can’t feel that bad since this movie is just god-awful. Honestly, if a horror film is not scary but at least has fun with itself, I’m fine with that, but when I get a horror film like this, that doesn’t even seem to try hard one bit in making us scared or to even have fun with itself, then I’m totally against it. The latter part is exactly what this film is and it doesn’t even seems like it tries at all. Nothing here scared, compelled, or even entertained me for it’s 77 minute time-limit. Instead, I just nodded off, thought about what I would do to save this movie and even went so far as to take out my phone and just text people, asking what they’re plans are for the night. I never do that when I’m in a movie theater, but seeing as this movie totally blew and I had only 2 other people in the lobby with me, I decided to go for it.

It’s sort of sad to see such a film like this not do anything with itself at all, because this film in particular, really seems like it gives up right from the start and just doesn’t even try to liven itself up with any cheap scares one bit. I hate jump-scares, but I don’t think there was one at all throughout this whole film and instead of that, we had slow-burning scenes where the camera would just linger up to the scene of scares, waiting for us to feel the effects of the tension. Problem was, there was absolutely no tension there whatsoever and it just made this flick a whole lot more boring. I think the most tense I was when watching this flick, was the previews that came before it and Taken 2 showed up. That trailer still gets me all of the time. Horror films, when they aren’t good, can be pretty boring, but never THIS boring. Seriously, I was just dozing off at points, whenever I wasn’t texting or day-dreaming and I don’t feel ashamed for it one bit.

Perhaps what makes this film even worse is that the cast does nothing else to keep us watching. Granted, they can’t really do anything with such a script like this unless it’s the likes of Meryl Streep or Marlon Brando acting in it, but they do nothing throughout this whole movie. Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan play the dullest couple I have ever seen in a horror movie, let alone any movie, ever. They really do try but there is no chemistry between them, no sense made as to how the hell they barely talk about any of this bad stuff, and how they even make a living in this big house, when neither of them have heavy-paying jobs that they go to. What also surprised me was how Stan’s character in the beginning, is shown trying to conjurer up the dead, only to have his gal-pal at the time, mysteriously disappear and never to be heard from again, but once all of the freaky shit actually starts to happen, he’s the first to dismiss it as anything else. It’s almost as if the guy forgot he had a girlfriend that was taking by a ghost randomly. I mean plenty of my girlfriends in the past have gotten taken away from me due to ghosts, but I’ve never forgotten about it. Oh well, I guess they must have been going through a real rough patch at the time.

Then, there is Tom Felton who shows up for about 7 minutes throughout the whole movie and I actually wish, showed up more because he brings some excitement to a film that needed some for sure. Felton seems like a kid that can act, if he’s given the right script, but here, he’s given absolute dog shit but makes the best of it so I have to give him that credit. Sadly, he’s barely in the film which means it’s all up to Mr. Stan and Ms. Greene to hold out attention, and that is something they do not do a lick of.

Consensus: The Apparition was destined for disaster right from the start, and a disaster is what it is. With barely any scares, any excitement, any type of fun in this flick at all, we get what is essentially one of the most boring horror films out there, that seems like it should have never, ever been made, even if it was just for the dog days of August.

1/10=Crapola!!