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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Bella Thorne

The Duff (2015)

Dang teenagers and their technology.

High school teenager Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) is smart, quick-witted, is sure of herself, and also has a bunch of friends that love and support her. However, she soon realizes that maybe her social life isn’t all that great to begin with; sure, she has friends, but is she really as successful or as popular as them? Better yet, is she really all that pretty, either? Eventually, Bianca stumbles upon the realization that she is, sadly, a DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). This shakes Bianca to her core, so much so that she realizes it’s about time that she realizes it’s finally time for a change of pace where she can have more men look her way, more people talk about her with positive connotations, and more friends, as a result. This is when she enlists the help of her neighbor Wes (Robbie Amell) who is also using her as a way to ensure that he gets good enough grades in class so that he can pass, get those scholarships to the colleges he wants, and live his life, happily forever after. But somehow, through all of the hanging out they’re doing, Wes and Bianca soon realize that maybe what it is that they need, isn’t just to look pretty and be popular – maybe, just maybe, it’s to have someone special in your life?

Selfie, with her?

Selfie, with her?

Basically, take the premise to Not Another Teen Movie, make it serious, and wouldn’t you know it? You sort of have what the Duff is; while it is, at one point, insightful in exposing the true nature of young, impressionable, high school kids and their sometimes evil, maniacal ways of pushing people into stereotypes, regardless of whether they accept it or not. Then, on the other point, it’s also a movie that feels incredibly content with keeping things as simple and conventional as possible, without ever trying to change, or shake up the genre it seems to be playing around in.

To be honest, the Duff is a little bit of both, but it’s at least ten times better than a mega-serious Not Another Teen Movie.

What works in the Duff‘s favor is that it has a fresh voice to tell us all that we need to know about the current state of high school’s social life today, to ensure that everybody’s on the same page. While it’s only been a few years or so since I last stepped in a high school classroom, there’s still a certain feeling that even though most may stay the same about high school and all of the social politics that go into, the landscape may alter a bit to where there are more cliques than ever before. Through Bianca, we see, hear, and understand what it is that’s around her and it helps us to create a bubble around each one of these character’s lives and how they’ll affect her.

And this also helps out the fact that Bianca, the character herself, is actually pretty smart and funny. Some of that has to do with the fact that Mae Whitman (yes, her?) is charming in her own ways, but some of it also has to do with the fact that she’s actually an interesting character that feels lived-in and not just an archetype of what some writer’s would deem as “hip” or “cool”. Sure, she’s both of which, but she isn’t bragging about it, either; that’s just not her style. She’s much more subdued than that and it helps her character come off as more realistic than anything else.

Not to mention that, despite seeming like he’s way too old for high school, Robbie Amell and Whitman have something of a sexy bit of chemistry together. Though the pairing is, I must admit, odd to say the least, these two make it work somehow by showing that these two need one another. Sure, the ways we are shown this are hackneyed, corny and wildly predictable, at best, but there’s still some shed of truth to be found in these scenes.

Oh yeah, totally what high school jocks looked like in high school. Grey hair and all.

Oh yeah, totally what high school jocks looked like in high school. Grey hair and all.

Not too much, but just enough to keep me away from barfing out my lunch by all of the sappy teen romance.

Like I said, however, the Duff does feel like it gets a tad too predictable for its own tastes and while it can sometimes get away with its sarcastic smirk, it doesn’t always save the day. For instance, take the character of Bella Thorne, who plays the stereotypical bitch of the school who’s only concern is whom her boyfriend is of the week, whether or not she’s having a party later in the day, and if there are enough cameras around her following her every move. Despite Thorne trying here, it still seems like the kind of lame role that’s written for a sitcom; whereas instead of getting to see the deep shades beneath her exterior, we just see an annoying, villain of a girl. It’s quite bothersome actually and doesn’t do much to help the movie, except just ad needless conflict.

Then, of course, there’s the message of this movie, whatever it is that may be. See, a part of me wants to give the movie the benefit of the doubt and say that, in the end, the movie’s all about the triumph and the will of one woman’s journey to make herself feel better for who it is that she is, rather than what others see, there’s still another part of me that thinks the opposite. See, without saying much, Bianca changes herself up in a manner that makes her seem more appealing to those around and even though Whitman is already plenty fine to look at, the movie tries to make it seem like she needs to look and fit a certain way to get the guy, to get the friends, and ultimately, get the life they oh so crave and desire.

To me, that doesn’t sit well. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking to young high schoolers or senior citizens, it just feels oddly-placed is all, especially in a movie that seems so against selling out and being along with the crowd in the first place.

Then again, that’s high school for ya.

Consensus: The Duff‘s familiar premise and feel waters it down from being like other high school comedies released in the past few years, but still offers up enough charm and wit to make up for some of those problems.

5.5 / 10

Yup. Totally ugly and fat.......

Yup. Totally ugly and fat…….

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

Next time, when you’re making a film geared towards kids, go for a smaller, more comprehensible title.

On the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould), nothing seems to be going right for him. The most popular kid in his school seems to be planning on having his birthday party, the same day as he’s having his; his dad (Steve Carell) is out of a job and currently staying at-home to watch the young baby, who also won’t stop crying; his mom (Jennifer Garner) has a new book that’s about to hit the shelves and possibly break records; his older brother (Dylan Minnette) has prom and his driver’s test the next day, so of course, he’s being a jerk; and his older sister (Kerris Dorsey) is currently getting ready to take the stage for her school’s rendition of Peter Pan. Everybody’s getting on Alexander’s case and it seems like his days are just getting more and more bad as they go on. It’s getting so bad that, before he goes to bed, Alexander makes a wish that all of this bad luck for him would just go away. Well, the next day, guess what happens? It does! But somehow, it’s spawned-off to the rest of the family and it just continuously gets worse for all involved, in the worst possible ways imaginable.

So many first world problems just awaiting somewhere in the distance.

So many first world problems just awaiting somewhere in the distance.

It’s difficult to make a family movie, that’s literally made for the whole family. Meaning, that while you don’t necessarily have to be catering towards the kiddies of the clan with fart, poop, and pee jokes, you also don’t have to make your humor so subversive for the grown-ups of the group, to where it’s almost inappropriate for anybody to watch, let alone, for family movie night. But also, in making sure that you’re both funny enough to appeal to all parties of the illustrious fam-squad, you also run the risk of actually being a mess of a movie that hardly anybody would be able to see or enjoy.

Somehow though, Alexander and… (I’m not going to list the whole thing, sorry), runs through that slippery-slope and lands somewhere in the middle. That’s to say that it doesn’t necessarily offend anybody, as much as it just offers little, short splices of adult-humor, amongst all of the crazy, wacky hijinx the non-stop barrage of slap-stick offers. This would usually bother the hell out of me, but considering the time-limit (just under 80 minutes), the family-feel nature of it, and the willing cast, I found myself more entertained and pleased than I would have wanted. Doesn’t mean the movies perfect, or without any types of flaws because it’s serviceable and nothing more, but that doesn’t also mean I should get on the movie’s case much either.

It’s simply not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings, so therefore, I’ll try not to do the same; even though, yes, I’ll probably fail.

Though it’s mostly filled with the same old “whatevers” you’d see in these kinds of family-friendly films, the one interesting element of this movie to note, was that Miguel Arteta directed this and, judging by his past-work, you would never know it. Arteta, if you’re a hip, fly and cool movie-watcher, is known for directing such comedy-based indies like the Good Girl, Youth in Revolt, and Cedar Rapids, and while I’d never call any of them masterpieces in their own rights, they’re still different than what I’d expect from him here. They’re all funny movies, but they’re also a tad darker and heavier on the drama than this movie here. Not to mention they’re also all rated-R, but that’s beside the point.

What I’m trying to say, is simply this: Miguel Arteta doesn’t make movies like this and that’s why it surprised me to discover he was the one behind this movie. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s interesting to see, because Arteta handles the material well; it’s quick, fast, and punchy enough to where the visual, slapstick-gags do their thing and while they may not always hit the mark, there’s not much time spent to think about or dell on them, so you just sort of just take them as they are. Slap-stick, when done right, can be downright hilarious and make me squeal like a 10-year-old girl, but if it’s done wrong, or better yet, too much, then it can sometimes be grating.

#Lolz

#Lolz

Here, the slap-stick continues to get piled on so much, in so many extreme ways because it’s ridiculous as is written – that’s the point. So, because sometimes the slips, slides, prat-falls, and embarrassing moments are so random, they’re actually kind of funny; they don’t need any rhyme or reason, and that’s where some of the fun lies. Of course, the movie tries to barrow itself down and hit some sort of message by the end, but by that point, I didn’t care how sappy it was. The first two-halves of it had entertained me enough to where the movie could have literally ended with them curing world hunger, and so long as they had at least a gag or two dedicated to Steve Carell making funny faces, then I’d have been totally cool with it.

Gosh, now that I think about it, why didn’t they do that? So many missed opportunities here, people!

And speaking of Carell, the dude is so earnest here, that even though the character he’s playing is a bit of a dork, there’s something so incredibly sweet and charming, that it hardly ever matters; Jennifer Garner isn’t my favorite actress, but she’s so down to do whatever the movie throws at her (sometimes, literally), I couldn’t help but respect her just a tad more than usual; Ed Oxenbould is in the typical “smart kid”-role, but the movie doesn’t constantly focus on him, so I was okay with that; and the rest of the cast, with what they’re given to do, all put in some funny moments that may have otherwise been forgettable, stupid and the exactly what this seems to be: A paycheck gig.

Albeit, a fun one where everybody involved seemed to actually be pleased to do.

Consensus: Typical family-fare, but Alexander the… is still charming, fast-paced, and funny enough to where it’s fun for the whole family, as well as for 21-year-old anti-social d-bags. You know, like yours truly.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"Oh my gosh! Minimum-wage jobs!"

“Oh my gosh! Minimum-wage jobs!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Blended (2014)

Adam Sandler, do everyone else in the world a favor and keep your movies in America. Don’t bring your stink to Africa.

After Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren (Drew Barrymore) participate in one of the worst blind dates known to man, they hope to never see one another again. That is, until both them and their kids end up staying at the same vacation resort, in the same country: Africa. Through a convoluted series of unfortunate events, they both have to stay in the same suit, sit at the same table, and practically, can’t avoid either of each other, so they just decide to be as civil as they possibly can with one another. However, when you have somebody as scrumpy, lazy and inappropriate as Jim, and somebody as neat, prissy and up-tight as Lauren, things don’t always go as civil as originally planned. Especially when you throw CGI zebras, giraffes, and rhinos in there! Oh my!

By now, in the 21st Century, I think it’s pretty easy to assume that anything Adam Sandler touches, will not be anything worth seeing. Yet, time and time again, people continue to see his movies, which, as a result, also gets him more money and “ideas” to do more films. Therefore, he gets more money and just never seems to stop making movies, with the same people behind and in front of the camera, same plot-lines, and ending it all with the same message about how “family is important, no matter what.”

It’s been the same tune Sandler’s been playing for the past decade, and though there’s been some changes here and there in the roles that he chooses, nothing since Punch-Drunk Love has really left an impression on anyone that doesn’t already love his idiotic-brand of comedy.

I think I see Jesse and Walt cooking back there.

I think I see Jesse and Walt cooking back there.

And don’t get me wrong, I do not hate Adam Sandler movies. Sure, the 90’s was his decade and definitely where most of my love and adoration comes for him, but for what it’s worth, the guy himself is still capable of making me laugh. It’s not that he’s lost his knack for comedy – it’s more that he’s just put it off to the side so that he can practically keep on doing the same thing, time and time again, while making a heep-load of money. Which, when you’re in Hollywood, I guess is your one and only objective, but it does do a killing to your reputation, which is why I think Sandler needs to start mixing things up, and quick!

However, everything I was about to just go on and on about, can be seen from my Grown Ups 2 review. Anything else that I need to say about Sandler and his career can be seen there. As for Blended, well, I guess I have to start somewhere by saying, yep, this movie’s crap.

But what’s separates this movie from the rest of the Sandler train-wrecks we’ve all come to know and despise, is that some of it made me chuckle. From what I gathered too, it’s because the movie itself is sort of a weird hybrid between a G-rated kids movie made for the whole family, yet, by the same token, has PG-13 gags about boners, rhinos humping, groping, and a whole lotta racism. In fact, this feels like the type of movie my dad would love the hell out of, despite not really caring for Sandler or anything that he does – it’s inappropriate in every way, yet, it still has the guts to make itself “a movie for the whole family”.

With that, the movie’s actually somewhat interesting, but not in the way that Jack & Jill or That’s My Boy, where everything that’s happening is so bizarre and outrageous, you can’t help but actually watch and see just what the hell happens next. Here, with Blended, it’s fun to dissect this movie because it’s never clear who this movie is for and why it’s even made. Clearly this is a movie for Sandler’s already-made audience full of people that, I assume, love drinking Heineken, driving their trucks onto to their porches, farting in public, and listening to Toby Keith, but it’s also a movie that seems like it was made so that Sandler and most of his crew could go take a vacation to Africa, hang out, spend a crap-load of money, and still somehow be able to make a movie, filming whatever they could come up with on that one day.

That’s the impression that mostly all of Sandler’s movies give off, but what’s weird here is that even though it takes place in Africa, I highly doubt that most of the crew actually went to Africa. We see a lot of leopards, zebras, giraffes, and rhinos (who are usually just humping, or getting humped), but they’re either cheap-looking CGI, or stock-footage. The only parts of Africa we do see is this highly extravagant, paradise-like resort that seems like it’s on another planet altogether, forget Africa, and the deserts, which could have easily been filmed out in Arizona or Nevada.

Either way, I hope that Sandler enjoyed his trip to Africa, cause I sure as hell didn’t enjoy his!

I know I keep on putting the focus on Sandler, but it’s really his fault these movies continue to be made and are as shitty as they are. But here, with Blended, not only does it seem like the movie doesn’t care whatsoever, but neither does he. I kid you not, there is one scene early on in the movie in which Sandler is insulted and decides to ignore the person he’s talking to by staring at the TV-screen up above him. However, when watching it, because Sandler seems so bored and dazed out of his mind, it just seems like the guy had a stroke and for some reason, just stared at the ceiling, leading it to be one of the most awkward scenes of the whole movie. And trust me, there are plenty more here where that came from.

What a waste of perfectly-ripped abs.

What a waste of perfectly-ripped abs.

Though you know what? Sandler deserves these shitty movies, because it seems like they are all he wants to do nowadays. But don’t bring Drew Barrymore into this! Cause, for what it’s worth, Barrymore does try here – maybe moreso than she should with this junk. Barrymore is pretty much doing the same thing here that she always does in her movies, which isn’t necessarily bad because she’s so charming, but does make me feel bad knowing that she’s really going for it all here. Much like Elizabeth Banks was doing in Walk of Shame: You can tell that the effort is there, but it’s just misused in a movie that doesn’t give a shit about her or anything she does. They just want her to fall down, act like a woman, be naggy, and eventually fall for the guy because of how much of a charmer he is.

But most of what this movie has going for it is that it’s the reunion between Sandler and Barrymore as co-stars which clearly transcends beautifully off the screen, than it does on the screen. However, if there is a saving grace to this movie, it’s that their chemistry is actually good and makes this movie slightly more entertaining than usual. Some of it seems improvised, and some of it doesn’t, but when you’re dealing with an Adam Sandler movie, you need anything you can get. And if that means watching two close-friends act like they’re besties, then sure, I’m all for it. Just keep me away from the poop-gags, please.

Consensus: Much thanks to the natural-feeling chemistry between Barrymore and Sandler, Blended isn’t as cringe-inducing as it should be, but it’s still not very funny, feels lazy, and doesn’t really seem to be for any audience in particular. Except for those who already love and adore Sandler and the carnage he brings to the screen.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

"So uh, are things going well enough that you could team back up with me?"

“So uh, are things going well enough that you could team back up with me?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net