Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – With a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton (2017)

Oh yeah. That movie named after that R.E.M. song.

In one of the biggest roles of his already amazing career, Jim Carrey was set to portray one of the oddest comedians of our day: Andy Kaufman. But because Carrey wanted to do the role justice and honor the legacy of his late hero, he went full-on method throughout the role, literally speaking and acting like Kaufman, regardless of whether or not the cameras were actually rolling. The footage itself has been locked away in a vault for nearly 20 years, but now it’s out and we get to see the true mayhem and craziness that took place, both on and off the set of Man on the Moon.

Jim & Andy will probably give people much more admiration for Jim Carrey, the actor, as opposed to the persona that he constantly plays out there in public. As of late, Carrey seems to have had a screw-loose and with the personal tragedies that he’s hit, it’s no surprise. It’s sad and awful, but it also calls into question why he’s acting the way he is: Was he always this crazy and we just didn’t care? Or, is he genuinely having a nervous-breakdown, but nobody knows whether or not to take it as serious because it’s one of the world’s most known funny-men, Jim Carrey?

Can’t tell who’s playing who here.

Either way, Jim & Andy will remind you that, first and foremost, Jim Carrey is a great actor. He may not always show it and may not always care, but when given the opportunity to, he can work wonders and have us forget about Fire Marshall Bill for a few hours. You could chalk Jim & Andy up to being a puff-piece for Carrey and to show the great workman that he is, or you could chalk it up to being an honest, behind-the-scenes look at Carrey, in character, for a movie that, honestly, hasn’t really stayed around as much as people would like.

But still, that aside, Jim & Andy is a solid piece of work that gives us complete access to the sheer craziness that was the production of Man on the Moon and it works mostly because director Chris Smith was able to track down this footage, get the “okay” from the studio, from Carrey, and just let us soak it all in. It makes sense why the studio wanted to hold on to this footage for as long as they did; Carrey does look like an asshole, but it also makes the rest of the production highly unprofessional and a little amateurish.

Yeah, I don’t know what he’s been smoking, either. Hopefully he stops?

But that’s also what makes Jim & Andy so much fun to watch.

We get to see a Jim Carrey like never before and because he’s the only interview here, hear him like never before, either. Sure, he, as well as the movie itself, get a bit too carried away with all of the philosophizing about life, comedy, entertainment, and the meaning of the universe, but when it’s just focusing on Carrey in-characetr, practically egging on everyone around him, it’s truly astonishing. We sit there wondering how long or far this could go on for, and whether or not Carrey himself ever regrets it.

In all honesty, the answers aren’t all that easy to come by, which makes Jim & Andy something of a mystery. It’s not as particularly as deep of a documentary as it hopes it is, or wants itself to be, but it is a solid documentary that pulls back the curtain, shows us the man beyond the laughter, the funny-faces, and the general goofiness, and reveals a hard-worker who did anything and everything to make the role work to perfection. Even if that meant literally making a joke out of one of the greatest directors ever (Miloš Forman), or making a mortal enemy out of Jerry Lawler, it was all for the tribute.

Even if, yeah, the end-result was something magical, within something that was a tad mediocre.

Consensus: Raw, funny, entertaining, and surprisingly chaotic, Jim & Andy is the kind of interesting documentary that doubles as a look at the life of Jim Carrey, but also doesn’t reach the ambitions it sets for itself.

7 / 10

“That means that Mighty Mouse, is on his way!”

Photos Courtesy of: Netflix


The Comedian (2017)

Isn’t stand-up comedy supposed to be funny?

Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro) has seen better days. He was once the star of a much-loved sitcom from the 70’s, hit the stand-up circuit as one of the biggest, loudest and meanest shock-comics out there on the scene, and yeah, he had a whole bunch of love and adoration from people in his world. However, time went on and eventually, the rest of the world sort of forgot about Jackie. Nowadays, he’s forced to work for the nostalgia circuits, playing to small crowds, filled with either hapless teens, or barely-there senior citizens. Jackie realizes this and because of that reason alone, tension builds up within him, more and more. One event goes bad when Jackie beats up an audience-member filming and heckling him, leaving Jackie to have to serve out a some jail time and community service. While on community service, he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), a troubled gal who gravitates towards Jackie and his ways. But she doesn’t really know what’s underneath all of the jokes, and he doesn’t really know what’s underneath all of her beauty, either.

Ladies love those has-beens! Especially the ones without money, right?

Ladies love those has-beens! Especially the ones without money, right?

The Comedian is a perfect example for what happens when you have a good cast, and that’s about it. The plot, the jokes, the heart, the humor, the meaning – just about everything about it is odd and doesn’t quite work. But man oh man, whenever they’re given the chance to do so, the ensemble here tries with every bone, every fiber, and every material of their body to make this material work.

And because of their effort, and because they’re all good, yes, they do help the Comedian out a whole bunch. Does that mean it’s a good movie? No, it does not. But it does help make a very bad movie, slightly less worse than it could have been, with less talented and committed people involved.

And this doesn’t just go to the cast, either – behind the cameras is director Taylor Hackford, who hasn’t always had the best track record, but does have more hits than misses, and four writers, Art Linson, Jeff Ross, Richard LaGravenese, Lewis Friedman, all of whom seem to know what they’re doing in their own, respective projects. But for some reason, they just didn’t quite know what to do here; it’s as if they signed on to do a movie about comedians and late-aged ones, but ended up just telling one too many dick, fart and sex jokes.

And oh yeah, the jokes themselves are pretty lame, too.

If there’s one big no-no in movies about comedians, it’s that the comedy you’re selling us on, in the first place, has to be funny. Like, does anyone remember that subplot in Mother’s Day where the British dude wanted to be a comedian and strutted his stuff out on the stage, told really awful jokes, and everyone in the movie was laughing at him, as if he was some sort of godsend? Well, if not, don’t worry, because you didn’t miss much. But if you did see that, then you get an idea of just how the Comedian is – not really funny, even though no one seems to have told it so.

There are the occasional moments of actual humor, but it’s mostly because of Jackie’s brand of comedy – he’s the kind comedian who Stern would have had on his show every day, just going as deep and as far into the dirty talk as either of them could. If that’s your brand of humor, then yeah, a lot of De Niro’s jokes will work perfectly for you and hit the mark, but if not, well then the jokes will just continue to be more and more grating as they go on. De Niro’s character gets grosser, meaner, and far more idiotic, making us wonder whether anyone involved knew what actual humor was in the first place?

"Get it? Fart!"

“Get it? Fart!”

Or, at the very least, just how stand-up comedy worked?

And then it goes on. The movie then tries to deal with romance, drama, and almost attack the showbiz industry itself, but it just never makes sense, mostly because a good portion of it can be unbelievable. Jackie goes viral at least three times, none of them ever making sense, or seeming as if they could happen in the real world that the Comedian seems to inhabit. It’s odd because it seems like everyone involved behind the cameras are so out-of-touch, you almost wonder just how long this script was sitting around on the shelf for, never got looked at, and collected up dust.

Probably a lot and yeah, it shows.

But like I said, the cast really does help this movie out, a great bunch. De Niro does what he can in the lead role; he’s deliciously mean and cruel when he wants to be and it works, but the jokes just ruin him. De Niro’s line-delivery feels awfully too stilted to make it sound like we’re hearing an actual comedian on the stage, and not just an actor reading lines and forgetting where the punchline is. Still, when he’s off the stage, De Niro is compelling, as we get to see a sad, old man for what he is: Sad, old and kind of miserable. This character and this performance deserve a way better movie, which is why it’s hard to just accept this one for what it is, as poorly-written as it can sometimes be.

Then, there’s everybody else. Leslie Mann is charming, despite her character having some awfully weird baggage going on that’s never fully explained; Harvey Keitel plays her controlling and generally creepy father who is way too over-the-top, but has some fun scenes with De Niro; Patti LuPone shows up as De Niro’s sister-in-law to yell at him and get in his face, which is fun; Danny DeVito plays his brother who basically does the same thing; Edie Falco plays his manager and has nice chemistry with him; Charles Grodin shows up as a rival who’s barely around; Cloris Leachman shows up as this sort of aging Lucille Ball character and is fine; and yeah, there’s many, many more cameos from all sorts of real life, well-known comedians. It makes you wish there was more of them and less of the scripted jokes, because lord knows the Comedian would have been, well, funnier.

Consensus: Try as it might, the Comedian just doesn’t have enough juice to make itself funny, relevant, sad, important and interesting enough, even with the talented ensemble helping out as much as they humanly can.

4.5 / 10

"So yeah, when's Marty going to get going on this Irishman movie, so we can stop doing stuff like this?"

“So yeah, when’s Marty going to get going on this Irishman movie, so we can stop doing stuff like this?”

Photos Courtesy of: Kenwood Theatre

Get Shorty (1995)

Be cool. Not the sequel. Just be cool in general.

Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is a Miami mobster who gets sent by his boss, “Bones” Barboni (Dennis Farina), to collect a bad debt from someone who Bones a whole lot of money. However, Chili’s not just going out and roughing up any normal dude, he’s going out to meet the one, the only Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), a Hollywood producer who specializes in all sorts of flicks, but most importantly, horror flicks. And Chili meets Harry’s leading lady (Rene Russo), he can’t help but fall a little head over heels for her. So of course Chili wants to join up in the film-business and eventually sells his life story to Harry, and a few others in Hollywood. Sooner than later, Chili finds out that being a mobster and being a Hollywood producer really aren’t all that different, even if one does concern more ass-kicking than the other. Oh and while this is all going down, Bones is still out there looking for his money – something he will not let go of until it is in his hands.

Don't get too close, Rene. You have yet to be "audited".

Don’t get too close, Rene. You have yet to be “audited”.

It’s easy to do a Hollywood satire. All one really has to do is find some sort of way to say that “Hollywood is a sick, evil and cruel place where people with barely any talent flourish, and those who actually do possess a certain level of said talent, don’t.” It’s that simple and honestly, it’s why so many showbiz satires can sometimes feel tired, even if they are funny; Birdman was the latest showbiz satire that actually had a bite and sting to it that worked and made me laugh, beyond just being mean.

And yeah, Get Shorty‘s got a lot of bite to it, too. However, by the same token, it’s not trying to pass itself off as a Hollywood satire, through and through. If anything, it’s a fun, sleek, and cool crime-comedy, that also just so happens to take place in Hollywood, with actors, actresses, producers, directors, screen-writers, dolly-grips, interns, and etc. But it’s not as silly as it sounds – somehow, writer Scott Frank and director Barry Sonnenfeld find the perfect combo of action, comedy, drama, romance, and satire that, yeah, may not always make perfect sense, but still works out smoothly.

Which is more than I can say for some other Hollywood satires who really try to take on too much, without ever realizing that they have a story to continue with beside their mean-spiritedness. But really, underneath all of this, Get Shorty is just a fun movie that’s hard not to be entertained by. Frank’s script, when he isn’t riffing on any of the mechanisms of Hollywood or the film-business in general, is funny and features a great list of colorful characters that more than make up for some of the dull moments in the movie’s languid pace.

John Travolta, when he actually seemed to give a total damn, did a great job as Chili Palmer. There’s a sense of coolness about Travolta that, despite current controversies, we tend to forget actually exists, but here as Chili Palmer, he showed that off perfectly. At some points, he’s supposed to be this mean and tense figure, but then, he changes into being someone nicer and more charming. Some people may not believe both of the sides to this character, but it works, because Travolta could somehow be both menacing, as well as likable at the same time.

Always listen to Gene. Even when he sounds crazy, always listen.

Always listen to Gene. Even when he sounds crazy, always listen.

Where all of that has gone, is totally beyond me.

Anyway, he also has wonderful chemistry with Rene Russo who, as usual, is great here. The movie does kind of deal with the fact that her character is an aging actress in Hollywood, but doesn’t seem to be getting on her case – if anything, it makes her more sympathetic and makes us want to see her and Chili run off into the sunset at the end. Why she wasn’t around for the second movie, is totally beyond me, but then again, it may be more of a blessing than a curse.

Everybody else is pretty great, too. Gene Hackman seems to be having a lot of fun as the perfectly-named Harry Zimm, someone who is actually quite infatuated with the lifestyle that Chili seems to live; Danny DeVito is pitch perfect as Martin Weir; Dennis Farina gets plenty of chances to curse and act psycho, which is always a treat; Delroy Lindo shows up and he’s always good; and there’s even a few, oddly surprising cameos that seem to come out of nowhere, yet, still work.

Get Shorty is the kind of movie that may seem dated, considering it’s over a decade old, but it still works. The breezy pace helps a lot of the movie’s heavy-lifting and moving, feel as if we’re spending a lot of time with characters that we can learn to love, forgive and forget that they can sometimes be evil human beings. They may not be as lovely to learn about as they were in Elmore Leonard’s original book, but hey, they’re still fine as is.

Heck, they’re way better than whatever happened in the sequel.

Seriously, stay away from that movie.

Consensus: With a smart script and charming performances from the solid cast, Get Shorty is more than just another satire with jokes aimed at Hollywood for giggles, and it’s what matters most.

8 / 10

"I've got this great idea. How about a sequel?"

“I’ve got this great idea. How about a sequel?”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Qwipster

Wiener-Dog (2016)

Anyone else a little hungry?

A cute, lovely and adorable dachshund puppy finds himself shuffled around a wild list of wacky individuals – some good, others, well, maybe not so much. The first suitors for the dog is a little boy and his two parents (Julie Delpy and Tracy Letts). The kid loves the dog, going so far as to call him “Wiener-dog”, but the parents aren’t too stoked about the pooch. Eventually, the dog gets shipped to Dawn Wiener (Greta Gerwig), who is now a veterinarian and meeting up with an old classmate of hers (Kiernan Culkin), who takes her on a weird trip. Then, the dog meets Dave Schmerz (Danny DeVito), a film historian who hasn’t made a decent script in nearly two decades, hates his job, is constantly under pressure from the people around him, and has no clue what the hell he wants to do with the rest of his life. And then, finally, there’s an aging, nearly blind lady (Ellen Burstyn), who gets an unexpected visit from her needy and relatively bratty granddaughter (Zosia Mamet), who may or may not have some sinister intentions with her popping-up.

Oh, Danny. Do your thing, guy!

Oh, Danny. Do your thing, guy!

Todd Solondz is obviously not an easy writer or director to get used to. However, when you do actually “get used” to him, magical and wondrous things can happen. Rather than feeling as if he’s being salacious and vile for no apparent reason other than just to be so, the dirty and sometimes disgusting material and themes in his stories take on a new light and seem honest. Honest about the human condition and just honest about the world we live in. Solondz is subtle with what he’s trying to say, but at the same time, not. He tells these stories of these odd, leftovers of society, giving them all the attention and focus that they probably don’t deserve and, well, making them seem at least somewhat compelling.

Yeah, he’s dirty and all that, but yeah, it works.

That’s why with Wiener-Dog, Solondz gets another chance at approaching an ensemble tale, with all sorts of wacky and wonderful characters to play and toy around with. The results, as anyone can expect from his other ensemble pieces like Storytelling and Happiness, are interesting; you can tell that Solondz is more comfortable when he has a lot more space and room to work and stretch his legs out in. Anything where Solondz is tied down to one particular story, doesn’t quite cut it.

And when he has the chance to play elsewhere and not be tied down, you get a sense that Solondz is having fun; in Wiener-Dog, there’s the usual cruelty and cynicism that we’ve come to expect from Solondz, but it’s all become so expected by now, that it’s actually kind of fun. You know that his characters are all going to be horrible to one another, saying things that they shouldn’t say, and deadpanning some pretty silly dialogue. And yet, it all works. We have come to learn and expect this from Solondz and he isn’t hiding behind anything.

That’s because, if you get right down to it, Solondz is a real sweetheart deep down inside and truly does want to show these character’s lives as being, yes, the butt-ends of jokes, gags and puns, but at the same time, earnest and heartwarming; he likes to poke fun and kick people when they’re down, but the fact that he’s showing these characters at all means that he at least has some bit of respect for them. So it’s obvious that when he has the chance to work with more characters, on a bigger playing-field, he can go anywhere he wants and however he wants, giving us all sorts of small, but detailed stories of these weird people’s lives.

That's Ellen Burstyn over there. Just chillin' as always.

That’s Ellen Burstyn over there. Just chillin’ as always.

But it’s also why Wiener-Dog isn’t as good as it should be.

There’s at least four stories in Wiener-Dog, two are meh, one is good, and one is terrific. Through it all, the cast is perfectly game for this material and great for it. Some people far better off than others, but mostly, everyone seems like they knew what to expect from a Todd Solondz film and brought the right amount of craziness, mixed with surrealism that plays out in almost every performer’s benefit.

But really, it’s Danny DeVito’s performance, character and story that steals the show. In literally 20 minutes or so of the movie, DeVito’s story is the most compelling, interesting and entertaining, because we actually want to see what happens with this character. There’s never a sense that we know where his story is going to go, nor do we get a full idea of who he is; we know he’s a sad sack and more than depressed with his life, but what’s he going to do with that? And better yet, at what cost? DeVito’s character is the strongest, which helps his performance in some light, but still, it’s the best of the movie and shows what can happen when Solondz is on, and darker than ever.

But like I said, there’s the other stories here and they’re not all that to hoot about. The first involving the upper-class family gets very weird, very quick and sort of feels as if it could have taken up the whole film (even if it is fun to watch Tracy Letts curse constantly and Julie Delpy act like a casual nut-job). The second involving the new and slightly improved Dawn Wiener may be interesting for Dollhouse fans, but can get so slow and meandering at times that it can kind of drag the movie to a halt. Then, there’s the last story with Ellen Burstyn’s granny character and it ends the movie on a solid note. While it’s definitely crazy, there’s some real truth to it and feels like Solondz is, once again, in his wheelhouse and enjoying it all.

If he was like that for every story, Wiener-Dog would be Solondz’s best since Happiness.

But, unfortunately, the wait goes on.

Consensus: As usual, Wiener-Dog highlights Solondz’s odd brand of surreal humor and characterization, even if he doesn’t always deliver at the end.

7 / 10

Not Dawn, but whatever. It's Todd Solondz we're talking about here.

Not Dawn, but whatever. It’s Todd Solondz we’re talking about here.

Photos Courtesy of: Citizen Charlie

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

*Spoiler Alert*: not all of them are quite the virgins that the title makes you think. Teeehee

This is the story about a group of teenage boys who delve into the mysteries of womanhood through their discovery of a personal diary belonging to the beautiful Lisbon sisters. The five girls, Cecilia (Hanna R Hall), Lux (Kirsten Dunst), Bonnie (Chelsea Swain), Mary (AJ Cook) and Therese (Leslie Hayman), are aged 13 to 17 respectively. Through the diary the boys start to learn about the girl’s lives, coming to hold the girl’s collective memories and experiences as their own.

Writer/director Sofia Coppola is just one of those directors that has her own type of style, and it’s either you love it or you absolutely loathe it. Somehow I found myself in the middle but this flick definitely makes me think more of her in a good way.

This premise isn’t a very happy and light one, but Coppola gives it this stylish and compelling treatment that is sure to win anybody over right away even as grim as the material may be. Copp0la perfectly matches the look and feel of the 70’s with all of the tacky designs, poofed up hair, and rockin’ soundtrack, but there’s just something that Coppola brings here that makes it worth noting more than just a fine looking period piece. Some shots in this flick are beautiful to look at, with Coppola bringing plenty of real-looking hand-held camera footage that gives it this realistic look, but there are also some shots that are not just beautiful but also devastating. There’s a lot of color in this flick but also a lot of darkness and even though the story may take place in a sunny part of Detroit, I couldn’t still help but be placed inside this dark, sheltered, and cooped up world that these girls also had to live in as well.

Coppola also shines when it comes to creating a compelling story that shows 70’s suburbia for what it was for some families, and the effects it would have on the children. The film’s subject material is very disturbing (I mean suicide is never a fun subject to talk about) but it’s not like Coppola depends on that to have us feel something for these characters. We sense that there will be dread coming on its way soon but we can’t help but get lost in these girls’ stories and just how they are constantly being strangled by their parents control, just so they can be safe from the cruel and outside world. I liked how we see an outside view telling us about this story because it doesn’t give us every single little detail about these girls’ lives, but just the right amount to where we are actually able to connect parts of the puzzle together and understand what really made these girls tick after all.

Where the film really shined for me was how it accurately showed the way two opposite sexed teenagers react with one another. Being a young adult like myself, my awkward teenage years are pretty much behind me but I can remember those days when it was so hard for me to actually talk to girls because all that I could keep on thinking about was how big their boobs are. Yes, if you were a teenage boy, you always thought like this no matter what girl you were talking to and this film shows that incredibly well here. I loved when this film focused on these girls and their reactions to other people, especially boys, and it also made many moments that through me off guard by how darkly funny they were. It’s about suicide, but it’s also quite funny. Good job Sofia!

Where this film really lost me was about the last act when the film really starts to stumble and I think lose some steam. The main story-line that has to do with the high-school hunk and Lux, was probably the highlight of the movie for me, so when that seems to go bye bye, the film also seemed to say the same thing to creativity as well. Instead of actually making a compelling ending, Sofia depends more on making everything look cool that seems more like her attempt to get past the fact that she can’t come up with an ending that will truly hit us where it hurts. The motives of these girls also come up a little too late for us to ever really believe in it in the first place, and when they show this random-ass party where all of these rich people are partying with gas-masks seems exploitative and unneeded. I think if they ended the film a little earlier it would have had a better effect overall, but it was just a shame that the last act seemed to just drag.

What really got me into the authenticity of this flick was the fact that almost everybody that’s cast here, were all pretty damn close to the ages of the characters they were playing. This is a huge cast, that features some familiar faces we have seen before but there is only a couple that really stand-out for me. Kirsten Dunst is amazing here as Lux, the sexy and bad girl of the family and just about every scene she has feels real and how a teenage girl would act, if she was given a chance to just break-out. Josh Hartnett is also great in the role as the high-school hunk, Trip, and he was such a delight every time he popped up on-screen that I honestly wish they had more of him but then again, the amount that he did actually have felt right. James Woods and Kathleen Turner are also great in these roles as the mommy and daddy and even though their characters may not be as fully fleshed-out as I would have liked to have seen, they still were very restrained which is a huge surprise from both of them.

Consensus: The Virgin Suicides may start to disappoint once it comes to its final act, but Sofia Coppola’s debut still features a stylish direction that adds so much more to this compelling story than just your usual teenager story, as well as the great ensemble cast that feels real and authentic as if you are watching real people on-screen.


The Lorax (2012)

Don’t mess with the little orange people mob.

The story around the journey of a boy (Zac Effron) as he searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams (Taylor Swift). In order to find it, he must discover the environmental tale of the Lorax (Danny DeVito), the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world against the unscrupulous Once-ler (Ed Helms).

There’s been so much controversy surrounding this flick already about how it’s too political and is basically getting kids too involved with politics and right-wing messages. Haven’t these people ever watched the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons!?!

What works for this flick is that it is definitely one of the better-looking animation flicks I have seen in 3-D in a long time. Being that this is a Dr. Seuss adaptation, it’s pretty cool to see all of the characters and locations look like they just came from his own hand and given an extra-dimension. The 3-D also works because it is used in a way that is meant to thrill you but then again isn’t that what 3-D is meant for? You see almost every little piece of hair in The Lorax’s mustache, the drool coming from the bears’ mouths feel as if they’re coming right towards you, and when a tree grows, it almost seems like it’s growing right in the movie theater. This is 3-D that is meant to feel like it’s actually there and even though so many other countless animated flicks do the same thing, they don’t do it quite as well as this flick. Basically, this is a very good-looking film that should be seen in 3-D, but if you can’t see it with the funny glasses then don’t feel bad because you’re not missing a whole lot.

Another part of this film that works is that it is a kids flick that has a good spirit with it the whole way through. Throughout the film, we get nice bits of comedy that will not only appeal to the parents but also provides some slap-stick for the kids that will always seem to get them laughing no matter what. The songs are also very good and original and I like the way that they didn’t try to take any old songs and rehash them into the plot to make them seem relatable to the plot, instead they just made their own original tracks and they work. “Let it Grow” and “How Bad Can I Be?” were definitely two songs that I couldn’t stop humming on the way home even though I had some Bob Marley cranked up real high.

Where I think this film hits its problem is its whole political message that may seem like the wrong taste for a flick like this that’s centered towards kids and most adults bringing their kids to see it. I’m not against a film having their own agenda and trying to reach out to kids and making a point but in a film about a little orange tree hugger named The Lorax? Really? It also didn’t help that within the first 5 minutes the film was already showing these people of Thneedville as totally oblivious/and or ignorant townspeople that just brought everything because it was plastic and it was hip. Much like ‘Despicable Me’, too much of it seemed a little too mean to be taken seriously and a subject to ever be taken lightly.

Don’t get me wrong here though folks, I did like the message that this film brought up to kids and I hope it definitely gets them out there trying to preserve the land we live on and making sure that people are taking care of our beautiful planet, but then when they throw in the really crappy villain named Mr. O’Hare, who owns an air company, it seemed to get really really lame. The whole villain plot of this film seemed like the last thing we would see in anything from Dr. Seuss and I almost wish that they went for a villain that was a little more wild, crazy, or just overall outlandish. Rob Riggle does a pretty good job with O’Hare’s voice but they then ruin it by using the most unoriginal use of a villain by showing how small he is. I’ve seen the same damn thing in ‘Shrek’ and so many other animated flicks that have a villain, so show me something different for once people!

As for the rest of the voice cast, they all do pretty fine jobs. Ed Helms is pretty good at handling this film all by himself as The Once-ler, and does a great job especially when it comes to the music where he gets to show off some guitar-o skills; Zac Efron does an alright job as Ted, our main protagonist, but it seems like he’s a little too old for these sorts of voice roles and I think he may have to start to move onto his bigger roles he has lined up; and Taylor Swift may seem like another piece of stunt casting to get teenage girls seeing the flick and buying the soundtrack but she’s fine as well. The best out of this whole voice cast is probably Danny DeVito as The Lorax who is a perfect fit because he’s funny, charming, a bit of an ass, and they are both the same size. I don’t mean any disrespect when I say that though Danny, I really don’t.

Consensus: The Lorax may run into problems about getting a little too political with its message, but the talented cast and beautiful visuals keep this film going even when the story seems to slow down.


The Rainmaker (1997)

This is what Coppola has done ever since his days of The Godfather. But that’s not so bad.

When Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon), a young attorney with no clients, goes to work for a seedy ambulance chaser, he wants to help the parents of a terminally ill boy in their suit against an insurance company (represented by Jon Voight). But to take on corporate America, Rudy and a scrappy paralegal (Danny DeVito) must open their own law firm.

Director Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, etc.) is a guy known for making classics, but has recently fallen off the map. However, even an OK effort by him isn’t so bad.

Coppola does a very good job with this script because he just directs this the way it should be directed. He isn’t really trying to go for any big emotional punches with this story, he just shows what this court case is all about and how to win it basically. I actually found this more entertaining than anything else because I just want to watch a courtroom drama, and I don’t really need some big life-lesson out of it.

The screenplay is also very well done here and not only has a lot of good moments where their all in the courtroom “duking it out”, but there are also a lot of moments of actual comedy that had me laughing a lot much to my surprise.

However, there are still problems that lie here. The problems that Damon’s character has to go through to win this case, aren’t so deadly as the film makes it seem to be. His character is made to be looking like he’s struggling against all odds, when really he’s just a rookie lawyer going up a lawyer who’s been in the game for about 30 years. I mean yeah, that is pretty nerve-raking but the film made it seem like he would never be able to pull it off, when in reality, it was pretty obvious he could.

Another problem with the movie is the sometimes ridiculous names these characters were given. A major insurance company named “Great Benefit” seems just a little corny to me, as does a sneaky lawyer named “Deck Shifflet,” and a woman who is looked on by her insurance company as a piece of trassh, named “Dot Black.” I mean, come on, you actually expect me to believe these almost comic-book-like names.

The real benefit of this whole film is the cast that really brought these characters to life. Matt Damon is charming here as our hero, Rudy Baylor; Danny DeVito is perfect as this sneaky and shady para-lawyer named Deck Shifflet; Mary Kay Place is good and emotionally there as a mother; and Claire Danes is sort of chilling in her performance as Kelly Riker, who has to constantly put up with the assault from her hubby. There are also some nice little spots in here from the likes of Virginia Madsen, Mickey Rourke, Roy Scheider, and a randomly uncredited, Danny Glover as our judge. He was probably getting too old for that shit too! OK that was lame I know.

The best out of the whole cast though is Jon Voight as this smarmy and ruthless lawyer named Leo F. Drummond, who on paper seems like a totally cliche and predictable character, but the way Voight plays him makes this character a great guy you just love to hate because you can always see that he’s one step ahead of everyone else. The film brings no actual surprises but at the end of the film, there’s this little touch that the film provides and basically tells us that even when you win, sometimes you lose, and this is what Voight shows perfectly.

Consensus: The Rainmaker may not offer any real surprises, but the strong direction from Coppola and the good performances from this ensemble cast, keeps this film watchable and interesting as it goes along.


L.A. Confidential (1997)

Not as amazing as everybody says it is, but still awesome.

In 1950s Los Angeles, three wildly different cops (Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey) form an uneasy alliance to ferret out deep-seated police corruption. But some people will do anything to land their faces in the pages of trashy Hollywood tabloids such as Hush-Hush magazine.

This is one of those films that almost every film geek has as one of their all-time favorites. I wouldn’t really put it in mine but I will say I had a great time.

The best thing about this film is it’s overall feel is just very cool and slick. The story is your typical detective story that you would see in any neo-noir film, but there are little twists and turns that really keep you involved with it. But this is also a great “whodunit” as well because you have to pay attention real well to the story as it moves along because all the little clues, double-crosses, and twists come when you least expect it too. The whole time you’re constantly wondering just what’s going to happen next, and the script really adds to that suspense level well.

Curtis Hanson does a great job here as director because he takes this pretty enjoyable script, and makes it even better on-screen. This is a great detective story, but also a very fun one because it just looks beautiful, with the 1950’s look and the action is great too. You have a lot of great shoot-outs here, to add to the mystery appeal of this film, and the pace is very taut and gives enough detail to the story so we’re not totally lost.

However, my only problem with this film is that something just didn’t fully glue me in like I was expecting it too. Something was just not there and I don’t know if it was the script that kind of left me hanging, or the direction that was just a little too taut for me, I don’t know what it was but I just couldn’t get fully involved with this story, even though I liked the angle on police corruption. Not much really has changed in the past 50 years, and that is a real damn shame.

The ensemble cast is what really had me going with this film. The best thing about this cast is that they do so well with characters that are so fully fleshed out, that they could have had about dozens of spin-offs of each and every one of these cool characters. Kevin Spacey is great as Jack Vincennes and plays that cool, but slick cop so well. Guy Pearce is very good as Ed Exley because he starts out as this smiley-faced, bright-eyed rookie who just wants to do the right thing and make sure justice is served. However, he starts to get a little more vicious as he soon starts to realize all the corruption within the force, and he does a believable transition too. This was probably the first introduction of Russell Crowe to the world, and with good reason because he’s awesome as brutish, brawling and self-righteous police “Bud” White. Crowe is great at playing those big and bad characters who have a lot more to them then meet’s the eyes. Kim Basinger won an Oscar for her role as Lynn Bracke, which is OK, but she didn’t do an amazing job here, just pretty good. Danny DeVito is perfect as the slimy and snarky gossip magazine writer Sid Hudgeons, James Cromwell is ever so evil and corrupt as Dudley Smith, and David Strathairn is only in a couple scenes as Pierce Patchett but does a good job as well.

Consensus: Though there was something that just didn’t compel me as much, L.A. Confidential is still a well-directed, perfectly scripted, and fun detective story, that keeps you guessing with it’s smart story and will just entertain any popcorn-friendly watcher.


Heist (2001)

Almost two hours of trick after trick.

After being caught on security cameras during a robbery at a Manhattan jewelry store, master thief Joe Moore (Gene Hackman) grudgingly agrees to pull off one last job at the behest of his maneuvering fence (Danny DeVito). Trouble is, pinching a shipment of gold ingots from a Swiss cargo plane won’t be easy.

Writer/Director David Mamet has always been known to be a very smooth, stylish director, that always seems to be one step ahead of the audience. And with this film he shows that very well, as he keeps this story interesting more, and more as the film goes on. There are plenty of plot twists mainly because a lot of the film is a bunch of acts created by these guys. What you see, isn’t exactly as it seems, and it was such a joy to see double-cross after double-cross, and how each one plays out.

I liked the old-school vibe to this film as it all played out so cool, and classy. Mamet doesn’t focus on random shoot-out sequences, instead he uses words to describe his actions, and the heist scenes themselves are actually pretty awesome and keep you on the edge of your seat.

My main gripe with this film however is the fact that not all of the double-crosses seem realistic enough to actually be believable. There are some moments where I thought to myself as to whether or not certain events or happenings would pan out the way they did realistically in real life, and some usually they didn’t seem believable. There isn’t also anything incredibly new that’s brought up here, but yet, I don’t think that’s really harming anyone either.

Gene Hackman does a good job as Joe, making him a likable character even though he does seem like sort of a grouch. Danny DeVito may not have the height to pull off a dangerous character such as the one he plays here, but he still makes it worth it, and has you believe that this small, tiny, bastard could really kill your ass. Delroy Lindo is basically the man in everything he does, and it’s nice to see him, playing the bad-ass he always is. Sam Rockwell also shows up, and does an amazing job as Jimmy, and brings a lot more to the screen, than the film had in mind.

Consensus: Not everything is believable, and certainly not different, but Heist offers up some good twists, with a good, old-school direction from Mamet.


What’s The Worst That Could Happen? (2001)

Basically a title that defines its self.

Wealthy Max Fairbanks (Danny DeVito) wakes one night to find Kevin Caffery (Martin Lawrence) robbing his house. Max swipes Kevin’s lucky ring and claims it as his own when he reports the crime. Afraid he can’t pull off another job without his lucky charm, the thief starts an escalating war with the billionaire to get it back.

Just once, I’d like to see a Donald Westlake novel adapted with half the wit of the original book. Instead, they just mine his rich storyline for cheap jokes and throw away the priceless characterizations, substituting them for dumb and dumber. Are these filmmakers all stupid, or do they assume we are?

The writing here is just drop dead terrible. Honestly, there is probably a funny joke every 30 minutes, and its not even that good. The film relies way too heavily on slapstcik, sex, and of course the rest of all, fart jokes. Yes, my friends there are actually of course fart jokes in this Martin Lawrence PG-13 comedy.

The film is directed so awkwardly with ideas that this film wants to do so they just put it out there. Like a model wanting to become a news journalist, Lawrence and John Leguizamo dressing up as Arabs, and cursing on live TV. The way this movie is paced, is the awkward part cause at times the film moves fast, then slows, and then slows again to a point of where I’m going to fall asleep.

The biggest problem with this film is that its characters really are nobody. DeVito in almost every role he is given, basically shines except for this one and is just a rich bastard that you really wouldn’t like to be around. Lawrence makes the biggest mistake of trying to be too funny when there is really nothing to work with, so he goes into these random bursts of dance and improvisation, and all of it just seems random. John Leguizamo and Bernie Mac actually bring out some laughs in this film by the end with their charisma but can’t stop this film from falling.

Consensus: Basically a title that sums it all up, with terrible writing, awkward pacing mostly from the poor direction, and characters that couldn’t be liked no matter how charming the performances were.


Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

God, I even wanted to throw that momma from the train!

When struggling mystery writer Owen (Danny DeVito) realizes that he and his teacher, Larry (Billy Crystal), are both slowly going crazy thanks to the women in their lives, he gets a great idea: He’ll kill Larry’s devious ex-wife if Larry offs Owen’s domineering, overbearing mother. Expect classic black comedy after Owen fulfills his end of the bargain — and Larry’s stuck without an alibi!

The film takes inspiration from the Hitchcock classic film Strangers On A Train, where the perfect murder is where 2 complete strangers exchange murder victims.

The film acts like a black comedy, but isn’t all that dark at points. Yeah, it talks about murder and death, which is a dark subject, but many of the other things that happen or joked about aren’t very dark.

With this film you would expect to have been hilarious, when really its only slightly funny. Some jokes seem forced, and some are just too obvious and not very funny after all. It doesn’t have that hilarious satirical look, and feel you would expect from a film of this nature.

Instead, we get a lot of these little whimsical tales, which I thought were the best parts of the film. DeVito does a great job at directing showing himself as this pathetic young kid, who still cannot seem to get any respect from his mama. At times, the film played as it was more cute than it was more dark.

The cast does an OK job as playing their respective parts. Crystal, who I admire, is all around the place screamin, yelling, and just going insane over nothing and doesn’t make any sense in this performance. DeVito does a great job at playing this child-like man who you actually do feel pity for. But the best here is Anne Ramsey who plays Momma. She is so ruthless, and cranky that it is actually where a lot of the comedic element for this film comes from.

Consensus: DeVito’s directorial debut is impressive with some funny moments and OK performances from the cast, but doesn’t have enough humor, and has Crystal acting as a madman for no reason.


One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

The showdown between a nurse and a patient. Let the games begin.

Implacable rabble-rouser Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is committed to an asylum and inspires his fellow patients to rebel against the authoritarian rule of head nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher).

The film has one of the greatest feuds between 2 characters I have ever seen on film. A nurse and a patient doesn’t seem so heavy you say, but after you see this then you will question no more. Nurse Ratched is all about order and discipline. Randle on the other hand represents everything anti-establishment, who is in the nut house pretending to be crazy to escape being in incarcerated.Both feud and show dislike towards one another and its surely something great to see.

The film has a great sense of the human qualities to it. Randle treats these patients as if they are normal old human beings and not some drugged out nut cases that have to follow a same routine everyday. This makes you think and makes you feel about life in a great and wonderful way of who you really are.

There are scenes that are just simply unforgettable much of due to the charisma of the stars portraying these characters. They all seem so real in a creepy kinda weird way. Jack Nicholson gives an amazing performance that is too great to be true and brings all of the energy to the film. Having Louise Flecther playing the quiet but very strict nurse is totally effective as she is a lady that doesn’t talk too loudly and wants everything done her way but when that flip switches, oh god it sure as heck switches. The rest of the cast do very exceptional jobs as many will see great debut films for such stars as: Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Brad Dourif.

The mixes with comedy and drama throughout but ultimately is the most effective tragedy of all-time. The on-going feud between Nurse Ratched and Randle are simply one of the greatest feuds on screen of all-time and set the grounds for many more effective feuds in cinema history.

There is nothing bad I can say about this film other than it truly is a wonderful American Classic. All should see if you want a film that will make you laugh, cry, think, and overall be happy about your own life, and not many films nowadays do that.

10/10=Full Price!!!

The War Of The Roses (1989)

I thought one of these days it would be nice to be married. Then I saw this movie.

The War of the Roses is a Black Comedy about a wealthy couple with a seemingly perfect marriage. He is a successful lawyer and his wife is building her own catering business. When their marriage begins to fall apart, material possessions become the center of an outrageous and bitter divorce battle.

The movie gets most of its laughs from the progress of this couple to the point of no return. They are both two stubborn people and neither one will back down from each others fight. And when they really want to hurt one another they know exactly what buttons to push. The credit has to go to DeVito ,who is director and an actor in this,  this film does not take any prisoners for what is over the top.

The big thing about this film is that its not light one bit , it keeps getting darker and darker and darker to the point where its just pitch black comedy. This film holds some type of message about married couples that feature two people that think that they are better than one another. The real great thing about the film is that its not all-in-all a comedy it does hold some truth. The truth is that you can start hating somebody if you know everything about that person and if you’ve lived under the same roof with them for so long, as in this case 17 years.

Douglas and Turner have great chemistry as a couple who falls deeply mad in love with oneanother then turning into deep and passionate hate for each other. Both of their facial expressions just show how they feel at that exact moment and you know when they are angry.

The only problem I had with this film was that at times I felt it was over done too much with the rampage. When I thought they couldn’t go over the bridge enough they went right over and I thought it couldn’t get any worse. Lastly, we never really see why Turner’s character starts hating Douglas’ so much and it kind of left me off at being really confused since I didn’t know what the reason was for so much hate.

The film is great at showing a portrait of how you can be so happy as a couple and that can all just change and become ugly. Not many comedies can get as dark as this and DeVito surely shows his directing skills.