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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Cedric the Entertainer

Street Kings (2008)

Don’t mess with Johnny Utah. Ever.

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a veteran member of the LAPD who has definitely seen better days. While he does still do his job and take down the bad guys that need to be taken down, he also does so by sucking down bottles of vodka. He does this because he is still mourning the loss of his wife and as is such, has alienated a lot of those around him. One person in particular is his former partner, Officer Washington (Terry Crews), who now looks back on his time with Ludlow in disgust. Ludlow knows this and doesn’t like it, which is why he decides that it may be time to get Washington to shut up, before certain people start listening in on to what he has to say. But wouldn’t you know it that when Ludlow does get a chance to shut Washington up, Washington is gunned-down in what happens to be a random corner-store robbery. Feeling some echo of guilt, Ludlow decides to set out and find out who did this to Washington, but unfortunately, the more he digs up, the more dirt begins to show.

That Forest Whitaker eye is not to be messed with.

That Forest Whitaker eye is not to be messed with.

David Ayer can handle these types of dirty, gritty and violent thrillers about corrupt cops and politicians being, well, just that, corrupt. However, there does come a point where eventually, all of the same things that you made your name on, can get to be a bit too old, especially when you’ve got nothing left to say. Sure, a movie like Street Kings should resonate more so now, than it ever has before; police corruption is at an all-time high and people seem to really be demanding questions more than ever, but for some reason, it’s the kind of movie that brings these hard and questionable figures up, without ever seeming to bother to really say much more about it.

Instead, Ayer is more interested in shooting things and throwing blood anywhere he can set his sights to.

That’s fine because Ayer can handle action well. The best parts of Street Kings, actually, are when it’s just a few characters sitting in a room, expecting there to be some violence occurring soon, with their hands firmly on the trigger’s of their guns, not knowing when the other shoe is going to drop and people are going to have to be lit-up. It’s why some of the best moments of Training Day, were the ones where you had no clue exactly what was going to go down, even if you had a general idea.

Problem is, with Training Day and countless other flicks that Ayer has attached his name to, he’s become a tad too conventional. Street Kings feels like the kind of cop flick that would work somewhere back in the mid-90’s – ideas like these weren’t new, but they were still sustainable for entertainment. You could make the argument that Street Kings is sort of working with the same environment, to just be fun and nothing else, but when you have brothers in blue, who are literally doing terrible, immoral things, or getting killed, left and right, there’s a feeling that maybe, just maybe, someone needs to ask, “why?”

In a way, it’s almost like Ayer has a responsibility to ask those questions and get, at the very least, an idea of an answer. To just service your plot with cops and criminals getting shot and killed, without ever saying anything else about it, seems wrong. Trust me, I’m all for the down, dirty and immoral action when push comes to shove, but Ayer doesn’t really have his flick placed in any sort of fake world, or universe – it’s a real world/universe, where cops are meant to stop bad people, from doing bad things.

In fact, it’s the world in which we live in now.

"Uh. Hey. Freeze, man."

“Uh. Hey. Freeze, man.”

But honestly, besides that, Street Kings can be fun, when it actually cares to be fun. There’s a lot of the same stuff seen before, especially from Ayer’s pen, and you can tell that he’s trying to change everything up, yet, fall back on  the same conventions that have made cop-thrillers, such as his, hits in the first place. Ayer is a good director and writer when he wants to be, but here, it feels as if he’s just moving along, steadily, not trying to rock the boat and rely on what he knows best, without trying to change up any sort of format.

The only opportunity Ayer really gets a chance to liven-up things in Street Kings is with his wonderful ensemble, all of whom are having a great time. Keanu Reeves is actually quite good as Ludlow, mostly because the guy doesn’t always have to say something – some of the times, he just backs it up with his gun, or his fists. This suits Reeves just fine, just as it suits him playing the mentor-role to Chris Evans’ young, hotshot rookie character, both of whom work well together. Evans, too, in an early role before he truly broke-out into stardom, seems like the heart and soul of this cruel, dark and upsetting world, which works, until the movie decides that it cares less about him and more about just shooting people’s heads off.

Once again, there’s nothing wrong with this, but there comes a point where it’s overkill.

Others randomly show up like Common, the Game, Cedric the Entertainer, Jay Mohr, John Corbett, and Terry Crews, and all add a little something to the proceedings. You can tell that Ayer likes to cast these known-actors in roles that you least expect them to work with and it actually works in his favor. However, had he given more screen-time to Hugh Laurie and Forest Whitaker, equally the best parts of this otherwise mediocre movie, all would have been right with the world. The two play opposing chiefs who may or may not be as evil, or as good as they present themselves as being. Ayer always treads the fine line here between these characters and it makes me wish that he decided to do more with the other characters, or even the plot.

Consensus: As conventional as cop-thrillers can go, Street Kings boasts an impressive cast and some fun moments, but ultimately seems to concerned with blowing stuff/people up, and not ever asking why.

5 / 10

"Let me give you my card. And no, I'm not playing that cynical doctor this time."

“Let me give you my card. And no, I’m not playing that cynical doctor this time.”

Photos Courtesy of: Roger Ebert.com, IMDB, Deep Focus Review

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Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016)

No more haircuts. Just do them at your own house, dammit!

A little over a decade after we last left him, Calvin (Ice Cube) has now found his long-loved barbershop molded together with the beauty salon. Most of this is to keep alive and well in today’s economic times, but this also brings along some more unneeded craziness and drama, like with customers and co-workers. But for the most part, some of the same faces are back, along a few new ones like Rashad (Common), who is currently married to Terri (Eve), even if he can’t keep himself from flirting with co-worker Draya (Nicki Minaj); there’s One Stop (J.B. Smoove) who uses the barbershop as a front for all of his shady and underground dealings; and Dante (Deon Cole), someone who is there for sassy remarks. There’s plenty more where that came from, but for the most part, it’s the same old gang together, bickering and joking around like the old days. Except that now, there’s a new threat on the rise, what with gang violence become more and more relevant on the streets of Chicago. This leads the barbershop to think about how to address it, while also maintaining their sense of community and respect for one another.

The paw prints are back, but hidden beneath corporate America? No!!

The paw prints are back, but hidden beneath corporate America? No!!

There’s more laughs in the Next Cut than there are in either of the other Barbershop movies. While that isn’t to say that those movies aren’t “funny” to begin with, but here, while watching this, there felt to be a greater amount of laughs, in a row, as opposed to the other movies where they feel like their laughs a whole lot more scattered. That may have something to do with the direction and pace, as well; as opposed to the first two other movies, director Malcolm D. Lee feels like he’s in a more frantic mood to tell this story, these characters, and give us all the subplots imaginable.

That’s both good, as well as bad for the Next Cut.

By getting rid of the carefree, easygoing, and breezy feel of the first two movies, we now have a much broader, more obvious comedy than ever before. But what’s interesting is that the movie actually gains more laughs by doing this. There are certain tangents by Cedric the Entertainer that start, and hit their mark, whereas there’s other characters on the side who may not seem like they matter much in the grander spectrum of things, but still bring a little something to the movie with a laugh or a chuckle, as small as it may be. In fact, most of the laughs of the movie come from when everyone’s chiming in on a subject, allowing for their voices to be heard, making whimsical statements, and overall, reminding the audience that they’re characters in this movie, that they have a personality and hey, maybe remember them when all is said and done.

And because this is all taking place in a barbershop, yeah, it makes sense that people would actually get into some heated discussions about race, sex, gender, love, violence, gentrification, and all of that fine and fun stuff. Sure, the dialogue isn’t nearly as clever or as smart as it thinks it is, but is there is such a problem with that when it’s actually funny? Nope not really, which is why it was hard for me to really get on the Next Cut‘s case.

Even if, yeah, they kind of flub the ending a bit.

I admire those involved with the Next Cut in making it more than just your average, run-of-the-mill comedy with dirty jokes. Instead, the movie’s following the same them as the two others where it’s trying to be more about the importance of community and having a sense of feeling apart of something, especially what with all of the gang violence erupting in Chicago. It’s an interesting angle that the movie discusses and shows to great lengths (even if the gang scenes with Tyga are unintentionally hilarious and reminded me a lot of Gran Torino‘s equally laughable Hmong gangs), while also reminding us that it has a point and is trying to address something.

Red, white and phew!

Red, white and phew!

But at the same time, it doesn’t know what to do with that message, nor does it know what to say with it. To state, “hey, we need to stop the violence, guys,” isn’t enough. I know a movie like the Next Cut isn’t trying to be a piece of solutions-oriented journalism, meant to change the world for the better, but what it seems like the people behind it felt like if they just brought up gang-violence, talked about how bad it is to sweet, wholesome families still trying to make a life in Chicago, add a gimmick where the barbershop is now advertising some sort of a Cease Fire, and not really explain why the violence is happening, or explain to even further lengths on how to stop this sort of violence, then they’d be fine.

Hey, so long as they showed people that they knew about it, right?

And sure, you could make the argument that the Next Cut is showing us how to exactly stop the violence in the first place (what with the Cease Fire and all), you could also make the argument that it’s not really doing anything at all. In pure Hollywood terms, a Cease Fire is the cheap, easy and simple way of getting past actually answering issues of violence and gangs, without ever trying too hard to actually solve them to greater lengths like, in real life, they have to be. Also, it’s a little hard to take a movie like the Next Cut so seriously with its anti-violence stance, when it seems all involved with Nicki Minaj’s booty, who Common is banging, and whether or not if one character in the barbershop may be gay. All of this is fine to have as just subplots for your broad comedy, but when you try to plaster it together with a hard-hitting, heavy statement against drugs, violence and gangs, then it all seems too odd.

Next time, just stick with the dirty sex jokes. They tend to seem to work better.

Consensus: Even if its the funniest of the franchise, the Next Cut also feels like the messiest, with a statement about gang violence that deserves to be said, but perhaps in a much better, smarter and less messier movie.

6 / 10

It's West Coast vs. East Coast all over again! Except, not really. Everything's all good.

It’s West Coast vs. East Coast all over again! Except, not really. Everything’s all good.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)

Sometimes, when you’re getting a buzz, you just want to be left alone in peace.

Nearly two years later and guess what? The South side Chicago barbershop is still up and running, mostly due and thanks to Calvin Palmer Jr. (Ice Cube), who decided that it was up to him to keep the legacy alive and running. And along for the continous ride with him are his lovely, loyal and entertaining employees – Isaac (Troy Garity), Terri (Eve), Ricky (Michael Ealy), Dinka (Leonard Earl Howze) and the newly-employed Kenard (Kenan Thompson) who may or may not have any clue on how to cut hair. Each and everyone of them have their own personal and workplace problems, and now, it’s only going to get worse, what with a new barbershop called Nappy Cutz moving in across the street. As Calvin tries to change the character of his business, Nappy Cutz, as well as gentrification become a threat to the surrounding community. However, Calvin also knows that it’s up to him, as well as those that love and support him to keep the spirit alive and well of the barbershop and not to let a little business-rivalry get in the way of a good thing.

Yup. Those paw prints will get a man for sure.

Yup. Those paw prints will get a man for sure.

Like I’ve said before, Barbershop was in no way, shape, or form, a solid, comedic masterpiece. If anything, it was just a fine and funny piece of comedy that didn’t ask for too much, and didn’t expect much in return; it just wanted to make the audience laugh, have a good time, and hey, if they learned a thing or two at the end of the day, then guess? All is well and right with the world.

And that’s one of the main problems with Barbershop 2 – it sort of loses that same heart and edge that made the first so lovely in the first place. As is the case with most sequels, there’s a lot more of everything that made the first movie such a joy to watch. That means, more characters, more subplots, more messages, more time spent, and most importantly, more jokes, no matter how hard they fall, or how much they may miss. Sequels in and of themselves have a bad rap, but comedy-sequels usually tend to be even more hated as they overdo almost everything and just become grating.

While I wouldn’t necessarily call Barbershop 2 “grating”, I wouldn’t call it the greatest 100 minutes I ever spent.

Most of this comes down to the fact that the movie isn’t really that funny, or better yet, nearly as funny as the first. A few jokes here and there, make their mark and bring out a chuckle, but plenty of them also come around, miss their mark and don’t really bring out much of any emotion. They’re just dull and plain jokes, for the sake of being told to remind people that this movie is, yes, a comedy.

And because of that, there’s maybe only at least 20 minutes where the movie’s actually funny. There’s one key sequence in which Robert Wisdom’s mayoral elect character comes into the barbershop for shameless advertising and propaganda purposes and it’s the funniest scene of the whole movie. I won’t spoil it here, but it constantly builds and builds and builds to an extreme where it’s almost too crazy to not laugh at, and it’s what every comedy should be like. A situation gets placed, the characters are set, and then, we watch it all play out in front of our eyes, waiting for the laughs to start hitting.

Beauty Shop > Barbershop.

Beauty Shop > Barbershop.

Eventually, they do, however, they don’t always last.

It’s a shame, too, because everyone here seems to be back, ready, and excited to have an even better time with the material here. Cube does his best to remain our eyes and ears of the story, which is fine, because he does it well; Eve is sassy and smart, as expected; Michael Ealy and Troy Garity’s characters still don’t get along and always seem to battle it out over something we don’t really care about; Kenan Thompson brings an added-level of zany fun that’s nice to see; Queen Latifah shows up, essentially, just to plug and prep us all for Beauty Shop, but is such a charming presence that it almost doesn’t matter; and yeah, there’s plenty more to choose from.

However, the one who gets the real time and dedication of Barbershop 2 is Cedric the Entertainer’s Eddie and with good reason. Not only was Eddie the best, most funniest part of the first movie, but Cedric himself is just so damn exciting and funny to watch, that it’s hard not to get wrapped-up in almost everything he has to do or say, even if it seems like he’s doing a whole bit of improv. Either way, Eddie gets more of a backstory that has to deal with the history of the barbershop and it’s a bit dull. Mostly, this is due to the fact that a lot of what we see is just flashbacks that, yes, build this character and this barbershop a bit more, but really, doesn’t do much but take time away from the other characters here, as well as add-on more minutes to an already rather long movie. Of course, Cedric is funny. Nobody’s denying that, but all of the backstory with his character seemed to go on for so long that, after awhile, I felt as if they were prepping us all up for Eddie’s own movie.

Surprised it never happened, but I can’t say that I’m too upset about it, either.

Consensus: Like the original, Barbershop 2 features a bunch of charismatic performers in nice roles, but doesn’t know how to use them as well, with so much going on, and nothing actually being all that funny.

5 / 10

Ice Cube just don't care anymore. He's cut way too much hair by now.

Ice Cube just don’t care anymore. He’s cut way too much hair by now.

Photos Courtesy of: Movie Man Jackson

Barbershop (2002)

Everybody likes to have a little conversation while getting a trim.

On the south side of Chicago. Calvin (Ice Cube) runs a barbershop that he inherited from his deceased father. Since it’s been struggling for the past few years with funding and whatnot, Calvin himself views the shop as nothing but a burden and a waste of his time that he absolutely can’t wait to get rid of so that he can go on and move on with his own life for a change. Granted, there’s other people in the barbershop who may be upset or disappointed with seeing it gone and dead, but Calvin is just thinking for himself and his own life. And now, after selling the shop to a local loan shark, Calvin slowly begins to see his father’s vision and legacy and struggles with the notion that he just sold it out for nothing more than pure selfishness. However, on this one fateful day, a lot of other stuff that happens that begins to affect the others who work in the barbershop, as well as those who come to it, day in and day out, expecting a fine cut, some good conversations, and a greater feeling that they did something right for their community.

Judging by that grin, somebody may be demanding their money back.

Judging by that grin, somebody may be demanding their money back.

Barbershop isn’t, by any means, a stone cold classic in the comedy genre. It is, if anything, a small, simple and easygoing comedy that has a nice, breezy pace, doesn’t ask the hard questions, doesn’t demand the hard answers and, at the end of the day, also doesn’t forget to make its audience laugh. Sure, you could say that’s the deal with a lot of other comedies just like it, but there’s still a special feeling with Barbershop that, even after all of these years, makes me feel like it’s legacy may forever live on, just by how good-natured it is.

Once again, does that make it “a classic”?

Nope, but it does make it a perfectly watchable and fun movie.

This mostly all comes down to the talented cast and the fact that, a lot of them, all seem to get along and have a nice bit of chemistry between one another, even if their characters don’t always get along or seem like the best of friends. Ice Cube, for one, shows that he can be an awfully charismatic and fine lead when he isn’t glowering over those around him as Calvin, giving us a good enough character that we at least identity with him, but not too much of a presence to where he takes over the whole movie and makes us forget about everybody else. In a way, Cube is perfectly fine playing the straight man in this cuckoo’s nest of wild and crazy characters, and that’s why he deserves extra brownie points here.

If anybody is the one who steals the show away from everyone else, it’s Cedric the Entertainer as Eddie. Cedric is doing a lot of hamming it up here and while his character can definitely be taken in for small doses, those doses, as meager as they may be, are still fulfilling and healthy enough that they keep him funny, and the movie going at a fine pace. Much has already been said a lot about the tirades and rants that Eddie goes on and on with about Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and more famously, Jesse Jackson, and with good reason – not only are they very funny, but they also prove to be some of the smartest comedy bits that Cedric has ever done (with the exception of everything he had to do or say in the Kings of Comedy).

Of course, some of that could have definitely been improved by Cedric and it would have been perfectly fine, but yeah, it doesn’t matter that he sort of steals the show. Everyone else here is still fine and charming enough that they at least make their presences known, even if they don’t take over the whole film. Peeps like Troy Garity, Anthony Anderson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Michael Ealy, Leonard Earl Howze, and plenty more all show up, do their things and remind us why they matter in a story like this.

Cover up those paw prints, missy!

Cover up those paw prints, missy!

Even if, you know, the movie itself sort of jumbles them around a tad too much.

Because Barbershop is such a small, relatively contained comedy, it almost feels like a disservice to the rest of the characters that there’d be so much plot and twists and turns that are, for the most part, as predictable as they come. It’s as if director Tim Story didn’t trust his comedy enough to move and tide things along, that he felt the absolute need to have a whole robbery-angle and a love-story to accommodate it. Sure, these things are fine to have if you’re trying to build up characters, but it can also hurt when it’s taking away from some real moments of fun and laughter. If anything, it just breaks up the joy that everyone’s having and making them all realize that, oh yeah, there’s something of a story here that’s supposed to be told and yeah, it’s kind of lame.

But at the same time, Barbershop isn’t trying to light the world on fire, so even if it does take a few pratfalls here and here, at least it gathers itself back up, brushes off the leftover hair from the ground and continue on with itself, as if it’s not fazed and just having fun.

Or yeah, something like that.

Consensus: Though its over-reliance on plot can become a bit much, Barbershop is still a funny and enjoyable enough movie to get through, if mostly because of its charming cast.

6.5 / 10

I'd take a seat in that chair.

I’d take a seat in that chair, provided laughs were involved.

Photos Courtesy of: Youtube, Qwipster’s Movie Reviews, Superior Pics

Top Five (2014)

Man, sometimes I wish that more people other than my mom thought I was funny.

Mega-superstar Andre Allen (Chris Rock) has a lot going on in his life right now. For one thing, he’s got a new movie coming out that may, or may not, signal his change from being in/apart of “comedies”, and doing more dramatic, emotional pieces that show him in a serious-manner. He’s also supposed to be getting married to his rich and famous fiancee, Erica (Gabrielle Union), even though some of it seems like it’s all being made up for the reality show they have on Bravo. And, to make matters slightly a bit worse, Andre’s now got to promote his new movie in this one weekend, where he’s going to be interviewed and accompanied by New York Times writer Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson). Though the two don’t get along at first, they eventually start to hit it off where they learn more and more about one another, and eventually, try to help each other with their own respective careers. Even if both of them feel like they don’t need much help to begin with, whether they realize it or not.

If Charlie Rose thinks you're funny, then hell, you must be!

If Charlie Rose thinks you’re funny, then hell, you must be!

I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again for any of you out there keeping score at home: Chris Rock is by far one of the funniest comedians we have working today. Sure, the man has had his flops and has definitely gotten a bit too comfy and cozy with the likes of Adam Sandler as of late, but for the most part, when Rock brings his A-game, the laughs just never end. Take for instance, his relatively recent SNL hosting gig where, during his opening monologue, he went on and on about such controversial topics as 9/11, the Boston Marathon,the Freedom Tower, and guns. While some cried foul and felt as if it was in poor taste from SNL to let somebody like Rock not just go on about this, but to do so with his own writing.

For me though, it was a hilarious monologue that yeah, may have definitely been a tad bit uncomfortable to sit through at times, but that’s sometimes where the best bits of comedy comes from. If somebody says something you’ve been thinking your whole life, but had never mustered up the courage to actually get out and say yourself, it’s automatically hilarious. Not because what the person said is actually funny, but because they’re bringing out something within you that you’ve been keeping bottled-up inside for so very, very long, and it was about time that it got out there for the whole world to see.

However, that was nearly a month ago and now, we have Rock’s new movie, Top Five, which, once again, proves my point to the rest of the world out there: Chris Rock is one of the funniest comedians working today.

And because this is Rock’s baby right here (he wrote, directed, starred, and made love to this movie), this is a huge aspect in judging how much one person can enjoy this movie. Because while, on paper, it seems like what Rock is doing is trying to make bygones for all of the silly decisions he’s made over his storied-career, it’s more of a piece that shows us why he still deserves to be taken in by the current mainstream audience and not just forgotten about. Rock wants us to remember the simple fact that he’s still got the funny in him, and he spends nearly the whole movie showing us this.

Thankfully, too, it all works. Without ever seeming desperate or as if he doesn’t have his own laugh-track, Rock allows his Andre Allen character to be a perfect example of what Rock does best; the guy riffs on everything around him, and seems to never ever take anything around him seriously. However, he still wants to be taken seriously – not just as an actor, but as a person. While this could have definitely been another one of those “oh great, here we go” moments we normally see in these kinds of movies, Rock steers clear of this and actually seems genuine when he’s being dramatic. He doesn’t try too hard, but more or less, allows himself to just be seen by the audience, picked apart as much as they choose to do so, and looked at in a different light. This doesn’t mean that Rock spends the whole movie just moping around, begging people to love him like it was New Jack City all over again, but he’s more or less utilizing some of those dramatic-skills of his that may have been there his whole life, and we’re just finding out about now.

But I don’t want to make it seem like Rock makes it all about him, his specialties, or even what he wants to get across, because this here movie is a joint-effort and it’s nice to see Rock sit aside and let the rest of his star-studded cast just take matters into their own hands and see what magic can happen. It’s a sign that not only is Rock a lenient director, but that he’s also a nice guy who is willing to let his fellow friends and confidantes take over his show. Even if it is for only slightly a bit.

Rosario Dawson gets the biggest role out of the whole supporting cast and does a great job as Chelsea Brown – the kind of journalist that makes some people, such as myself, who are in that line of profession a bit sick, but is still charming enough, that it’s okay to get past many of the unethical journalistic moves she makes throughout. What’s so interesting about the way in how Brown is written, is that, on paper, she seems conventional; she’s the simple, easygoing gal that’s going to save the big time Hollywood actor from all of the spotlight, glitz and glamour. But while she may seem like this, at first, Dawson builds her to be something of a genuine character with hopes, feelings, and emotions that wants nearly as more from life as Andre does. The movie never tries to look down upon her, or even the sort of effect she’s having on Andre, as much as it just looks at them two together, smiles, and lets them do their thing.

The perfect Hollywood romance. Somewhere, I know there lies a sex tape.

The perfect Hollywood romance. Somewhere, I know there lies a sex tape.

Which already means that yes, Dawson and Rock are great together and seem like they’re actually good pals off the screen. Whatever the inspiration may have been behind Dawson’s casting for Rock is definitely interesting, because she fits into this role perfectly and it becomes abundantly clear whenever the two are walking around the streets of New York City, talking about life, romance, kids, sex, parties, and yes, their top five favorite rappers. But, like I said before, it isn’t just Dawson and Rock’s show, as they’re more than willing to share the spotlight and let the rest of the cast do their thing, shine a little bit, and continue to allow the movie to move on as it so pleases to do so.

J.B. Smoove plays Rock’s bodyguard/assistant and is great in a role that has him being the guy who hits on every woman he sees, in the most casual, innocent way possible; Gabrielle Union plays a character that seems very shallow and one-dimensional at the beginning, but actually has one scene where we see her for the person she truly is and it’s not only a surprisingly effective dramatic scene here, but puts her whole character into perspective and allows us, the audience, to gain just a smidgen of sympathy for her; Cedric the Entertainer also shows up here and reminds everybody that he’s still funny, especially now that he’s away from that strange Who Wants to be a Millionaire? gig; current SNL cast-members, Leslie Jones, Michael Che and Jay Pharoah all make it clear why they should get better material to work with every time we turn on the tube to see them; and last, but certainly not least, Tracy Morgan’s here in a very comedic-role that shows him being the big, lovable goof that he was, making it all the more of a travesty that we may never get to see him acting like this again.

But while I may have only touched upon a few or so people here from this cast, I can assure you, there’s plenty more where these ones came from (especially an amazing cameo from a personal hero of mine). Which is hard for me to not go into further detail about, because everybody who shows up here is, in one way, shape or form, funny. Some of it seems like they’re funny because of what Rock has wrote for them to be funny with, but some of it also seems like they’re all just riffing with reckless abandon. While this would seem pretentious and almost too self-important to be considered “entertainment”; it’s not only just that, but assures us that Rock, along with his very funny friends, are here to stay.

Thank heavens.

Consensus: As ambitious as it is thought-provoking, Top Five finds Chris Rock not just back in his comfort-zone as a comedian, but as a guy who is willing to remind people of the very hilarious talents that are out there, just waiting to be discovered, or at least found again.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Subway romance: So cute, but please, shut up so that I can rock out to my RATM before work.

Subway romance: Cute and all, but please, shut up so that I can rock out to my RATM before work.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

Divorce isn’t all about breaking the others person’s heart, it’s mostly about breaking their bank accounts.

A fabulously successful Los Angeles divorce attorney, Miles Massey (George Clooney) who is so sated on success, that he doesn’t quite see enough time for recreational activities like hanging out with friends, going to the bar, getting laid, or hell, even finding his one true, and only love. He doesn’t care much for that stuff anyway, but if it ever came around his way, then so be it, but just as long as it doesn’t get in the way of his business and his path-to-success. Now though, Miles may get exactly what he wants in the form the much-divorced Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a hard-headed woman pursuing financial independence through serial matrimony, except it may come with a price. That price? His heart, which as we all know, when one is placed solely in the firm grasps of a woman, nothing good can ever come of it. Poor guy.

The writing/directing brother duo known as the Coen Brothers, are pretty much known for wacky, twisty dark comedies, that feature plenty of weirdness and violence to go along with their final-product. You know this, I know this, hell, we all know this! However, what we don’t really know about them all that much are their passions for anything even remotely close to “rom-coms”. But here we have a rom-com, featuring two of the sexiest, most vivacious stars of the past ten years, and we have the Coen Brothers leading them. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?

Men, hate to say it, but another good one bites the dust.

Men, hate to say it, but another good one bites the dust.

That’s because it is. But it’s “Coen Brothers strange” and yes, there is such a thing.

The are in which I think the Coens get most of a bad-rap from this movie in is that it’s pretty obvious what they’re setting out to do here, and that’s to make a mainstream rom-com, obviously with their own little stamps of originality here and there to spice things up. They aren’t necessarily trying to spellbind an audience that may not know what to expect from their types of movies, nor are they trying to piss off their most loyal, nearest and dearest fans neither; they’re simply trying to make a movie that can be somewhat be enjoyed by anybody who cares enough to give this one a shot. And while the end-result may not be all that perfect, there’s still plenty of interesting stuff going on here that makes it easy to understand why no matter what type of stunt they’re trying to pull, a Coen Brothers movie is always worth watching. For one reason or another.

For instance, take the premise: It’s fairly dark in the way it looks at the world of love, lust and money, and how it’s all connected in a terrible web of lies and deceit. Not the happiest, most pleasant premise out there to-date, but it’s what you get from the dudes who put a dead dude in a wood-chipper. The Coens seem like they have a lot to discuss when it comes to the discussion of how money just makes people happy, regardless of if they’re in love or not. Usually, money solves everything, not love. Hate to say it, but for some peeps, that’s nothing other than the truth, and to see the Coens tap into this idea, while also springing-up some fun, twisty and surprising plot-points, made this a better watch then I expected.

However, it cannot be argued that this movie is still a bit messy, all due to the fact that it’s a rom-com, trying so hard to be in fact, a rom-com. It’s not that I took points off because the Coen Brothers were trying something new and inventive with something we’ve seen done a hundred, million times (hell, it’s practically what we see their movies for in the first place), it’s just that the transition from this strange, sort-of love story, to the mysterious, cold and dark story that Clooney’s character gets wrapped up into, isn’t as smooth. Once again, it seemed like the Coens may have had a bit too much on their plate to chew on, but this time, instead of having all these different strands of plot, story and development going on, it’s just two stories and they never quite converge the way they should.

Like I said before though, it is a Coen Brothers movie, and for what that’s worth, there’s still plenty of non-stop chuckles, pieces of dry wit and overall fun to be had here, it’s just obvious that these guys have done far-better stuff before. Especially with premises that didn’t at all resemble a silly, stupid rom-com. Seriously, I hate those damn things! Hate ’em!

Somebody grab me a damn fan!

Somebody grab me a damn fan!

George Clooney plays the same role here, that he plays in every other one of his movies: The fast-talking, slick, charming guy that makes every other slouch in the room, look like they just got out of the freakin’ dumpster. But, even though that’s what he may seem like at first, you’ll be a bit surprised to see that he’s a lot more stranger-developments going on with this guy, that make you see him for a bit of a different cat altogether. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Miles Massey, in his own way, is a bit off-kilter and neurotic, something we don’t usually see Clooney play, especially given the fact that the ladies couldn’t ever imagine him as being something other than the most handsome, most charming dude in the world. Heck, I don’t blame them, because I even freakin’ see it! But watching Clooney try something new, is one thing, and it’s another to actually see him pull it off, which he does so effortlessly. You really do begin to feel something for this Miles Massey guy and even though he majors in taking the wounded’s good-earned money in every cheap, dirty way he can, there’s still a part of you that wants him to find that dream girl of his. Even if she is somebody as devilish and vindictive as Marylin Rexroth. Ooh, that name. Just gets me all hot, bothered and scared, everytime I hear it.

And with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the role, it’s easy to see why. No seriously, “seeing” is exactly what you’ll be doing everytime she’s up on-screen because she just nails that perfect eye-candy a movie like this needed. Therefore, when Massey started to fall for her, it was easy to see why, especially since every other dude around her started to fall weak at the knees as well. Yeah, a side of me wishes that there was more to this Rexroth character other than just an untrustworthy, gold-digging tramp, whom you don’t want to be messing around with Massey’s vulnerable heart, but I still can’t find anything bad to say about the gal’s performance. She’s spicy, nasty and willing to get down and dirty if she needs to make herself happy. In other words: She’s the type of girl all us men are afraid to be with, yet, we just can’t say “no” to. Rawr.

Consensus: Take with it what you will, Intolerable Cruelty is probably the Coen Brother’s most mainstream movie they have ever done, but still shows all of their usual trademarks for what they are, while also giving us some fun turns by the whole cast, especially a very charming and likable duo of Clooney and Zeta-Jones.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Something tells me the over-abundance of red means something despicable is about to happen. Just a hunch.

Something tells me the over-abundance of red means something despicable is about to happen. Just a hunch.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

A Haunted House (2013)

Please let the ghost prevail in the end. Please.

A young couple, Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) and Keisha (Essence Atkins), have recently settled into what they believe is their dream house but all of a sudden figure out that there is a ghostly/paranormal presence around and they try and figure out what to do next with it. Hi-jinx and shenanigans ensue, as you could assume.

I don’t think the plot-synopsis up above even deserves to be there as I could probably describe this movie to you in three words and you’ll most likely make up your mind as to whether or not you want to see it; fart, sex, race. If that is your type of lowbrow humor, then hey, this is your bag, baby, but if it’s not and you like a little more jazz for your material, then you may not want to even bother checking out this bag, baby. Seriously, baby, just don’t!

To be honest, I’m no square when it comes to my comedy. I don’t mind if they’re stupid and just like to throw the dirty jokes at the wall, and see what sticks, just as long as it’s funny. This movie has those same, exact elements but yet, just isn’t funny. I will admit, there were probably five times (that’s one hand) that I actually chuckled during this movie, but other than those times, the rest of the hour-and-thirty-six-minute movie just felt like pure torture while everybody else around me laughed, heckled, and practically pissed their pants. Hey, I guess that’s just the life of a movie critic. It’s the road I chose and it’s the road I have to deal with, and that’s why watching movies like these definitely make me re-think that road, sometimes.

Actually, I wouldn’t even go that far but I will say that this movie is just not funny. Any time it seems like Marlon Wayans has a chance to be smart or witty with his jokes about how generic the horror-genre can get, he drops the ball and replaces those jokes with another fart-noise or scene of somebody having intense, crazy sex. The horror genre definitely got a nice refresher last year with Cabin in the Woods, and it would have been nice to see another hit at that same genre, from a guy who was one of the first to really hit it hard (Scary Movie), but Wayans and director Michael Tiddes aren’t too concerned with that. They just want to be lowbrow, for the sake of being lowbrow and not realizing that if a joke doesn’t work the first time, then by God all means, it most likely won’t work for the seventh or eighth time.

I don't think anybody told him that getting in bed with a Wayan, won't and hasn't been able to help your career out since 2000. And that's pushing it.

I don’t think anybody told him that getting in bed with a Wayan, won’t and hasn’t been able to help your career out since 2000. And that’s pushing it.

Take this for instance, the other characters in this movie that just show-up, act and make total asses of themselves, and leave. Nick Swardson is a guy I always find funny in all things that he does (Bucky Larson doesn’t count, Bucky Larson should never count) and here, it seems like he would have a scene-stealing role as the gay psychic who constantly hits on Wayans and tries to get him to turn to the gay-side. However, as soon as the guy shows up on-screen and continues to ask him if he’s ever been with another man, it just continues on and on and on, almost until the movie never feels like it’s going to end with the non-stop gay jokes. I like a good gay joke as much as the next, straight man that just so happens to be watching, but when you do it time after time, and make it the same joke, then it’s just annoying and seems like you may need a bit of help when it comes to being fresh or original. Whether you choose one or the other, this flick is neither.

The same thing you say about Swardson, could be said about everybody else in this freakin’ flick, especially Cedric the Entertainer, who really seems like he needs a stand-up comedy gig, and soon as well. Actually, everybody who shows up, at least tries and barely (I do repeat, BARELY) got a few chuckles out of me, but they are basically the whole backbone to this movie and are simply there to save it. However, saving this movie, is just something they cannot do when they are given this terrible of a script. It’s a shame too, because you have a lot of talented people here that seem like they were once at the top of their game and in ways, still are, but just don’t have any clue what to do here when it comes to being caricatures. And even if they have been caricatures before, then let me just say that these are not good caricatures that you can laugh at. You more or less want them to just go away and not come back to the flick and yet, they continue to show-up. I guess Wayans just didn’t know when to stop, in terms of script and the characters.

Oh, sweet, sweet memories of Pulp Fiction. And even worse, they fucking reference that movie in this!! What the fuck?!?!?

Oh, sweet, sweet memories of Pulp Fiction. And even worse, they fucking reference that movie in this!! What the fuck?!?!?

Even Wayans himself is oddly annoying and throughout the whole movie I just kept thinking to myself, “Wasn’t this guy freakin’ amazing as the druggie from Requiem for a Dream?!? Holy Shit! He was!!”. Now, obviously some people would probably argue with me and say otherwise, but you can’t lie, he was good in that movie and he was pretty good at comedy back in his hey-day, but now, he just seems like the old guy that can’t get rid of the same punch-lines he’s used before. He’s like that old cook who’s going through Alzheimer’s and doesn’t realize that everybody’s giving him pity laughs, when he tells a joke, because it’s the same one he’s been using for the past 10 years. Now Wayans is only 40, but it still seems like he is way far back in his head and in the game to be making jokes, let alone to be acting like a little teenager again, as if he just snuck-out with mommies car. It may be a tad weird saying this, but; I think Wayans is way past his prime and should just hang-up the mic before he gets way, way into over his head. Sort of like Eddie Murphy before him. Heck, wasn’t this guy supposed to play Richard Pryor!??! Hell to the no on that shizz-nit!

Consensus: A Haunted House will probably have any bored and sexually-frustrated thirteen-year-old, crapping his pants at what’s on-display, but if you’re a person who wants more than just fart, poop, ball, dick, sex, gay, and racist jokes, then you may shit out of luck here and don’t worry, Scary Movie 5 is on it’s way soon! Woo-hoo!

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

I guess they got a chance to see the final-product.

I guess they got a chance to see the final-product.

Larry Crowne (2011)

Forrest is all old now, and out of a job.

After being laid off from his longtime job at a soulless retail giant, average middle-aged guy Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) decides it’s time to change up his life, so he heads back to college. There, he finds a new perspective — and a new romance with a professor (Julia Roberts).

This is Tom Hank’s big return to the director’s chair after almost 14 years, and although it’s not a perfect welcome back, I still have to say that I’m glad he’s still happy.

The screenplay was co-written by Hanks and buddy Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), and for the most part it had me smiling more than I actually rolled my eyes. What I liked about this film is how it was sort of a comedy, with just the slightest hint of romance, but in the end it was about a dude re-discovering himself amidst this huge recession the country is going through.

For the most part, I liked watching Larry Crowne just interact with everybody around him and just go about his day with such a smile, and mainly because it had me going on through this film with a smile as well myself. There were a couple of chuckles here and there but to say the least, it’s nothing hilarious which isn’t really what this film was gunning for.

However, there still are plenty of problems to be had with this one. I thought this was a cute little movie, but there were too many parts where I felt like this film just had the forced “cuteness” to it. Like the snapping motorcycle gang, or the romance with Roberts and Hanks, and the little supporting characters that chime in every once and awhile. This sort of bothered me because I didn’t think the film had many fresh ideas that could actually be viewed as funny, so instead Hanks and Vardalos just aimed for sweet and thought they could get away with it. Not so much.

I also still don’t know why this film is being hugely advertised as a rom-com when the whole romantic angle only comes in the film when there’s only 30 minutes left. Once the romance gets started, you know exactly where it’s going from there, which is no surprise to anyone who goes to see a romantic comedy in today’s world. They could have left that angle totally out of the film, or done something with Roberts’ character that would make her less of a romantic lead and more of a bigger part of the story that had to do with Larry Crowne’s impact on the others around him.

Tom Hanks is still incredibly likable no matter what here as Larry Crowne. In some ways, it would have been very creepy watching this 50-year old guy walk around with kids 20 years younger than him, but Hanks just has that appeal that makes it seem less strange and more cool. Hanks is a pro no matter what, and he makes Larry Crowne so damn likable that I just wanted to hang with him more throughout this film. Julia Roberts is playing her usual hot and sexy, but still sassy and spicy diva as  the always drunken teacher Mercedes Tainot. Roberts has that appeal about her that even though she’s playing a bitch she still knows how to make her character so damn likable despite her looks. These two chemistry feels easy and relaxed to work with which really benefited a lot of their scenes together.

The rest of the supporting cast is filled with a whole bunch of crazy names like Wilmer Valderrama (could have swore he was dead), George Takei, Pam Grier, Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, and Taraji P. Henson. They all do a good job but I have to say that I was incredibly surprised by a really good performance from this chick named Gugu Mbatha-Raw (a name I still can’t pronounce). She’s cute, funny, and keeps the film’s heart running the whole time. Hope to see more of her.

Consensus: With it’s problem’s of being way too cute for no reason, Larry Crowne may not be the funniest thing to see, but the cast, especially an always likable Hanks, a cool and relaxed pace, and good themes make this a good watch for people who just had their mid-life crisis’, as well as for people who just want a smile.

6/10=Rental!!