Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Colin Hanks

King Kong (2005)

He must protect his house.

Carl Denham (Jack Black) is a filmmaker living in the 1930’s, meaning, he doesn’t have a lot of opportunities. And the ones that he does have, don’t tickle his fancy as much as they used to. That’s why, when he catches wind of a mysterious, huge and odd island out in the middle of nowhere, Denham soon gets the ambition and inspiration all over again. So, he assembles a team full of actors, actresses, crew, and handy-men, who know a thing or two about an adventure and are capable of solving issues, should any of them arise. Aboard the ship is leading-lady Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), who also is in desperate need of a hit and will do anything for the spotlight, just one more time. Screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) feels the same way, but also finds himself falling for Ann, leading him to make some pretty rash decisions along this adventure, all leading up to finally meeting, once and for all, King Kong – the giant gorilla who practically watches over Skull Island and kills any sort of threat that may come its way. In this case, it’s these humans and needless to say, not all of them are equipped to take him down.

Why would you want a human, when you could have a Kong?

After winning practically every Oscar that he could for Return of the King, it made sense that he would be allowed to make virtually any movie that he wanted. Cause it’s a known thing in Hollywood: Make a lot of money, win a lot of awards, earn respect, and guess what? You can make your dream projects a reality. And oddly enough, for Jackson, it was remaking the movie he grew up knowing and loving, King Kong. Oh, and by “remaking”, I mean making two hours longer and adding on more CGI, special-effects, and story than you could ever imagine.

But trust me, this isn’t a stab at Jackson.

If anything, King Kong is Jackson getting the opportunity to play in his sandbox, where the world is his oyster, sky is the limit, there are no rules, and even better, everyone’s watching. A lot of people may have complained about the fact that the movie is over three hours long, takes awhile to actually get to Skull Island, and yeah, features one too many monsters and creatures, aside from the titular Kong, but in a way, that sort of makes the movie more epic; it shows us that Jackson isn’t setting out to make a note-for-note remake, but bask in every single bit of this material and be as excessive as humanly possible.

Is it a little draining? Quite possibly, yes, but at the same time, watching Jackson having the time of his life is, in all honesty, a beauty to behold. There aren’t many directors out there in the world with the impressive and ambitious scope like Jackson’s, so when he’s given carte blanche to do all that he wants and not stop, it’s nothing if not entertaining. Also, when was the last time you saw a three-hour movie that goes by in a flash? King Kong should have been a slog, but it’s not and it’s a true testament to Jackson’s prowess that allows for him to make a three-hour movie about little humans and a big gorilla, feel a lot less than that.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Jackson directs the hell out of this thing and it makes sense why he wanted to bother with this story in the first place.

And even getting away from the technical side of the movie, and focusing more on the actual things that matter, like story, character development, etc., yeah, it still kind of works. The story isn’t all that different from before, but this time around, Jackson does up the emotion in a way that’s surprising, mostly because while we’re watching Kong up there on the screen, we’re watching something believable and impressively done – almost to the point where instead of being scared by him, we’re actually connected to him. The whole tale about this gorilla falling in love with a short little blonde thing is, of course, silly, but the movie doesn’t forget that sometimes, the seriousness of a tale like this can actually work, so long as you build enough tension and emotion behind it all.

That’s what Jackson does and it helps King Kong move along, even when it gets away from the gorilla beating the hell out of other monsters and dinosaurs. Cause even during those sequences, there’s a fun, crazy and almost hectic energy that’s a lot like the Lord of the Rings movies, but still its own kind of beast. Even when Jackson does dial it down for the characters, the movie’s still at least somewhat interesting, because we’ve spent so much time and energy with them, it’s hard not to understand them, at the very least.

Jack knows what I’m talking about.

Then again, the ensemble involved does help out with that as much as they can.

If there’s one thing that holds King Kong back from being a truly and absolutely great movie that it sometimes comes close to being, it’s that the performances can tend to be a bit bland, which may have more to do with the script and less to do with the actual actors themselves. Like, for instance, Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody are two perfectly good actors who can work well when given the material, but for some reason, they just feel underdeveloped; Watts gets some chances to be bright and shiny, whereas Brody is mostly just serious and not all that right for a movie that’s so concerned with everything else that’s going on around him. Others in the cast fare better, like Kyle Chandler, Jamie Bell, Thomas Kretschmann, and Colin Hanks, mostly because their characters aren’t made out to be the leads and can benefit from some goofiness, but with Watts and Brody, who are supposed to be our emotional anchors throughout this whole thing, it doesn’t fully work.

That said, the movie does benefit from having a very good, very surprising, and very dark performance from Jack Black. Of course, a lot of people will consider Black’s performance to be channeling Orson Welles, but if so, it’s still a good performance, because we see him lay down all of the usual trademarks and conventions that we’re so used to seeing, and hating with the sorts of characters he plays. What we get here, is a person we grow to love to hate and because of Black’s performance gets better, taking on more meaning as the movie develops and we start to see more sides to this twisted, sometimes sad little man.

Which is to say that I’m still waiting for that battle between Black and Kong.

Black Kong. What a name.

Consensus: Ambitious in scope, epic in its look, feel, and overall mood, King Kong is the movie Peter Jackson deserved to make and absolutely revels in the opportunity to do so, for the benefit of us all.

8.5 / 10

See what I mean?

Photos Courtesy of: Fernby Films


Elvis & Nixon (2016)

Had this taken place today, imagine the selfies.

In December 1970, Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon) was still considered “the King”, however, he didn’t want to be just that anymore. If anything, his one true dream was to become a CIA agent, where he would look over America and make sure all of the old past-times stayed put and that none of these hippy, flower-power children took over society. But in order to make all of his wildest dreams come true, he would have to be accepted into the CIA in the first place and, most importantly, have a chat with the one, the only, President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey). But even though he was the King and quite possibly, the most well-known and famous celebrity of all time, even Elvis himself couldn’t get into the White House with an appointment. So, in order to make sure that it all happened, he would need the help of a former friend/confidante of his, Jerry Schilling (Alex Pettyfer), to make sure that all that everything went down all according to plan. Of course, though, because it’s the President, it’s a known fact that everything has to work out perfectly, with no surprises whatsoever. However, when you’re working with the King, anything can possibly happen.

He's lonely.

He’s lonely.

And yeah, the rest is obviously history.

It’s hard to imagine that a movie could be made about the infamous meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon, two of the most iconic figures of the 60’s and 70’s, let alone, of all time. Of course, it was said to be a zany happening that nobody quite made sense of, yet, thanks to a photo and some speculation, we have a whole lot of odd history and yes, now even a movie made of the meeting and everything that went into it to make sure it all happened.

Did we really need one? Better yet, did we need an-hour-and-a-half one?

Probably not, but the best part about Elvis & Nixon is that it doesn’t strive to be anything more than what it is: The planning and eventual meeting of Elvis and Nixon. Director Liza Johnson does something smart in that she frames the story as this small, intricate little moment in history that didn’t really shake the world, change it, or make us all think of differently, but just make us think, “Well, how the hell did this actually happen?”, as well as, “Heck, what the hell even happened?”

Of course, a lot of what Elvis & Nixon does and says about the leading up to and the actual meeting itself, may be all bull-crap, but it makes for entertaining bull-crap that’s fun to watch. We don’t really need to know anything more about these two than what’s presented to us as is, and therefore, we sit, wait and wonder just when the two are going to meet, just what’s going to happen, and exactly what the heck Elvis himself was doing bringing guns into the White House after all.

Sure, you may not have these questions on your mind in the first place, or even care in the slightest, but Elvis & Nixon is the kind of movie that brings you into its story, whether you like it or not.

Then again, there is something to be said for the fact that the movie doesn’t seem to trust its two figure-heads quite enough to make this whole movie, their own, as there’s whole lot of attention paid to Alex Pettyfer and his character, Jerry Schilling. Yes, it’s to be said that Schilling played quite a big part in actually getting the two icons together on that one fateful day, but really, do we needed a whole subplot dedicated solely to him, his issues, and whether or not he’s going to make it home to Sky Ferreira? Not really, and while Pettyfer is fine in the role, it’s sort of thankless and doesn’t really seem like it matters in the long run.

He needs a badge.

He needs a badge.

Same goes for the likes of Johnny Knoxville, who gets one or two funny lines, but essentially, is just there to say somewhat perverted things and be the “comedic-relief”. And it’s a bit of a waste because, thanks to the likes of Colin Hanks, Evan Peters, Tate Donovan, Kevin Spacey, and Michael Shannon, the movie’s plenty funny. Why this character needed to be around, doesn’t really make much of sense to me and just seems like it takes up more unnecessary time in already very short movie.

But as is, thanks to Spacey and most importantly, Shannon, Elvis & Nixon works quite well.

Had the movie just been the two just them, sitting in the Oval Office, chatting it up, it probably would have been just as exciting. However, that doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t really matter; they’re both great, whether apart or together. Spacey may not seem like the right fit for Nixon, but fits into the role quite well, nailing all of the mannerisms that made Nixon himself such a character to watch. And then, yes, there’s Michael Shannon as Elvis, who is pretty great, showing us a humane King, that not only knows the limit of his ability as a superstar, but also realizes that the time has come for him to live a normal, everyday life as any other citizen. Elvis rarely gets the movie treatment, but here, it’s obvious that if they ever do give us another shot at watching Elvis’ story be filmed, Michael Shannon would be a perfect, if oddly unique choice to do it all over again.

Consensus: Surprisingly overstuffed for such a short movie, Elvis & Nixon isn’t perfect, but is funny, entertaining, and well-acted enough to work and make us think a little more about this odd slice of American pop-culture.

7 / 10

Together, they could be the bestest of pals.

Together, they could be the bestest of pals.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Parkland (2013)

We got Bobby, but now, here’s Johnny! Sort of.

When JFK was assassinated in Texas, the whole nation was left in a widespread panic of not knowing what to do next, how to pick themselves up from such tragedy and what would be the best way to move on. But before any picking up and moving on could be done, there had to be some simple procedures done, like finding out who killed JFK, who that killer’s family was, who the person filming the incidence was, how they can keep it away from the media, an so on and so forth. Basically, this is a look inside the various lives that were affected after JFK’s murder, and how most of them coped with the disaster in many different ways, sometimes some were more positive than others. But the ones who were negative, they really were hit hard, as you’ll soon see.

The JFK assassination is something that no matter what type of person you are, history buff or not, will always interest you. All controversies about whom did it, why and whom with, there are still some very interesting facts about it that many of us have yet to even know about, while some are still being unearthed. It’s strange to think that even 50 years after the fact that we’re still getting bits and pieces of info about what really happened, who was behind it and possibly just if it was all a ruse or not, is really surprising. However, one must remember that it’s the U.S. government we’re dealing with here, folks. They can’t always be trusted.

About to have themselves a bloody good time. What? Too soon?

About to have themselves a bloody good time…….. What? Too soon?

Anyway, those said interesting little facts about this well-known assassination is probably what does this flick some good in the first place. For starters, it gives us a glimpse inside the lives of a bunch of people we’d never expect to see get a movie made about and it actually allows them to have their story shown. Some get better than treatment than others, but overall, everybody here has a story to tell, and they are all somewhat worth watching and paying attention to, even if the direction doesn’t quite follow suit with that the whole way through.

Some have been having problems with this movie because it’s considered “overstuffed” and “jammed”, and I can’t say I disagree. With a movie that runs just about under an-hour-and-a-half, showing all of these stories, with all of these different, familiar-faces, definitely does come across as “too much to take in”, especially when you pretty much know that the material would benefit a lot more from something like a miniseries or hell, even a longer movie. The stories that are interesting get the most attention here, but the others that don’t, still feel like they have something that we would want to see or take notice of, yet, they aren’t really given much time of the day.

For instance, there’s this one story the movie focuses on that features Ron Livingston playing an FBI agent that knows all about what’s happening with the president, who killed him and where they can nab him, but we never actually see him go out onto the field, actually gathering info, clues, hints, or anything else that would probably help him get a clearer view of the case. This subplot also leaves more questions than actual answers as it becomes clearly evident that the movie, in some way, shape or form, is suggesting that Oswald didn’t act alone and had to have some outside-help in order to kill the president. Personally, I agree with this sentiment, but I feel like when you have a movie that’s dedicating its legacy to an event, as well as to a public, iconic figure no less, that it may not be right to choose sides. Then again, I’m always down for when things get shaken around a bit, so who the hell am I to even talk, you know?

Other than Livingston’s character’s story, there are plenty of other ones to that get the light of day, most are a lot more interesting than the one I just mentioned, and some far more deserving of their own movie or hell, one-hour running-time. The one story I’m mainly talking about is the one in which James Badge Dale plays Oswald’s brother that somehow gets wrapped up into all of this, all because he shares the same last name as the man who killed the president. The movie paints a nice picture of this conflicted man who knows what his brother did was wrong, and yet, still can’t bring himself away from totally abandoning him and leaving him out to dry. Because honestly, let’s face it: Family is family, no matter what.

Dale is not only great in this role, as he is in all of the 50 movies he’s shown up in in the past two years, and really gives you the sense that this is a good-natured citizen who knows what’s right, and what’s wrong, and yet, still can’t help but get thrown under the bus all because of who his brother is and the dirty act he committed. While Dale’s performance is very nuanced and subtle for this type of material, Jacki Weaver, playing Oswald’s crazed attention-whore-of-a-mother, is a little more nutty and over-the-top, but is still worth watching because if you watch any of the interviews with the real-life figure, you’ll see that she more than just hits the nail on the head. She absolutely bangs it in with utter force.

The rest of this studded-ensemble is a bit of a mix-bag, which is less of their fault, and more of the film’s because it doesn’t quite utilize their skills as well as it should have, which is a damn shame, considering the type of true talent we have on-deck here. Colin Hanks, Zac Efron and Marcia Gay Harden all play the nurses and doctors that examine both JFK one day, and Oswald the other, which gives us a nice contrast between the two, even though the characters themselves are never fully sketched-out to be more than scared fellas and gals. They all try, but their characters are thin. Billy Bob Thornton gets a chance to show up on screen and do his bit for a short while as the FBI agent assigned to figuring out what happened here and how they can fix it all up in a neat and tidy bow. Nice to see Thornton do something where he isn’t either a total and complete a-hole, or for that matter, a total and complete dirtball that has no sense of normal hygiene or normalcy.

"Make way! We got a guy trying to pretend he's dead!!"

“Make way! We got a guy trying to pretend he’s dead!!”

The one who I was most surprised by, not because he was bad or anything, but by how uninteresting his story actually was, was Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder who, if you don’t know by now, was the poor individual who had the displeasure (or pleasure, in some crazy mofo’s minds) of not only filming the assassination, but to be the one the media and FBI came to first, throwing away any price he would deem desirable. Giamatti is great in this role, as usual, giving us a distraught, scared old man that doesn’t quite know what to do with himself for the time being, but definitely doesn’t want to wake up and smell all of the real harsh realities that the world brings. While I felt these sad, emotional connections coming from Giamatti’s performance, I never quite felt that for his story, which actually felt like it could have been given its own movie, and maybe even be up for some Oscars along the way as well. However, we may never get to see that happen. And if we do, it won’t be with Giamatti. Poor guy. He so deserves better.

And don’t even get me started on Jackie Earle Haley as the priest who gives his final blessing to JFK’s corpse. It’s one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it roles, and is by far one of the strangest aspects of this whole cast. Heck, I’ll even go so far as to say the movie as well.

Consensus: The approach Parkland brings to its infamous event, surely is one of the far more interesting aspects going for it, but can’t help but feel disappointing once you realize how under-cooked, short and jammed-up it is, and even worse, it didn’t need to be either.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

How he didn't recieve an Oscar for Best Documentary short that year is totally beyond me......What?!?! Once again, too soon!??!

How he didn’t receive an Oscar for Best Documentary short that year is totally beyond me……What?!?! Once again, too soon!??!

Photo’s Credit to:

The Guilt Trip (2012)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

11:14 (2003)

The same old techinique that gets better every time.

Even though they’re strangers, Buzzy (Academy Award winner Hilary Swank), Mark (Colin Hanks), Cheri (Rachel Leigh Cook), Jack (Henry Thomas) and Eddie (Ben Foster) will become part of each other’s lives — even if it kills them — in this innovative drama composed of five seemingly random story lines that intersect at precisely 11:14 p.m.

Though the technique of telling a non-linear story is as old as film itself, for the past few years it has been all the rage in the indie world with varying degrees of success.

Right from the beginning you will probably notice how unusual this film is. So many little things pop in and out that have no meaning whatsoever, but later on in the movie if you just wait you will notice there is a lot of explaining to these certain situations. The twists and turns keep it interesting enough to keep your eyes on the screen.

The film has some great writing that is a nice blending of dark comedy and thrilling dramatic aspects. I feel like sometimes the film tried too hard to be a dark comedy but didn’t quite hit the mark mostly because of the situation but overall a nice blend.

I felt too much like the film was a gimmick. Honestly, I couldn’t take the film as a serious piece of work cause there are moments when things just happen and doesn’t seem very believable. I thought having all these crazy events happen at exactly 11:14 just gave it a catchy title and really nothing else.

The acting is surprisingly effective from this small ensemble cast. Out of the whole cast I was mostly surprised by Swank who actually adds a lot of emotional depth to her character in one little scene. Swayze as usual woos me away with his great performance and makes me miss him even more.

Consensus: Though it has some non-serious plot holes, 11:14 benefits from an interesting story, witty writing, and enough twists and turns to keep your interest, even though it feels a bit too much like a gimmick.


Orange County (2002)

Poor guy, all he wants to do is to get into Stanford, what’s so wrong with that.

High schooler Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks) dreams of getting himself out of the surf and sun of Orange County and knows that his best shot is college. But when a flaky guidance counselor (Lily Tomlin) sends another student’s transcript to Stanford University and Shaun gets rejected, he has 24 hours to convince the dean that he’s not who he seems. Desperate, he enlists the help of his slacker brother Lance (Jack Black).

Orange County is produced by MTV films, and what was expected was a film that heavily lies on very sleazy fart and sex jokes. However, this film is probably one of the smarter MTV films, even if it is just a tiny bit sleazy.

The film’s direction is very fresh and talented. I liked how many of the jokes were actually very good and could be understood by all crowds and would probably be laughed at. Much of the humor derives from quirky and at times highly off-beat, that is sensible and never gets carried away.

I do think a lot of this film was very over-the-top and unrealistic. Many of the situations these characters were put in, though funny but highly unrealistic, and wouldn’t resolve in average ordinary life. Also some of the film can turn out to be very flat and not all that funny as it tries hard to be. This film is also way too short with a run time of only 82 minutes, I still felt that there could’ve been more added to this film to make it memorable.

Most of the laughs come mostly from the performances and characters that lie within. Colin Hanks and Lily Tomlin both have charming performances in this film, but the one who really blows this film out of the water is Jack Black. Jack Black gives an iconic performance as the sort of Gen X stoner brother who is such a loser, but he reminds me a lot like this generation’s Belushi and could easily well be one of the best comedians in the business and he shows it in this film. John Lithgow and Catherine O’Hara though not very believable, were hilarious in this film and made every scene they had count.

Consensus: Though not very memorable, Orange County is genuinely funny in most places and is actually smarter than what you would expect from a typical MTV film.