Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: David E. Talbert

Almost Christmas (2016)

It’s Christmas. Commence the fighting!

One year after the death of the mother, the Meyers family has been a bit of a wreck. Walter (Danny Glover) was a mechanic who finally got the chance to retire, but now, has so much time on his hands, he doesn’t know what to do instead of trying to sell the family-house. Rachel (Gabrielle Union) is constantly losing money and doesn’t know how she’s going to pay for anything in her life, while Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) is the complete opposite, with a successful career and a husband (J.B. Smoove) who she loves, even if he may be looking elsewhere. Christian (Romany Malco) is running for Governor and because of that, has to be constantly on-edge of what to do next, however, his wife (Nicole Ari Parker) is there every step of the way, whereas Evan (Jessie T. Usher), a professional football player, seems to be having problems of his own with steroids and can’t seem to control his emotions. All of them, including many more, all come together for Christmas, even if hardly any of them can get along or even bother to in the first place, something that upsets Walter and makes him think longer and harder about what to do with the family-house.

Who doesn't take a snooze in Church?

Who doesn’t take a snooze in Church?

Almost Christmas, like every other Christmas movie to come before it, is manipulative, sappy, cheesy, and above all else, sentimental-as-hell. Then again, however, it is a Christmas movie, so should it be judged differently? In a way, yes.

See, with Christmas movies, it seems that everyone who sees them, are in such good spirits that it hardly matters how maudlin or corny the proceedings can get; love is in the air and happiness abounds, therefore, who cares how tawdry the emotions can get. And with Almost Christmas, that’s perfectly fine, because it’s one of those movies that you put on around the holidays, not really paying attention to the screen, but doing other things like baking, wrapping presents, bickering with friends and family, etc., and every once and awhile, checking up to see that it’s on, maybe laugh, or maybe not. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that it’s an incredibly forgettable movie that doesn’t harm anyone, but doesn’t do much else, either.

So like I said, should it be judged harsher than any other movie, let alone, those involving Christmas?

Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Movies like this and last year’s awful Love the Coopers, will continue to come out and cash in on the holiday love and spirits, which is fine and all, because they aren’t really going out there to ruin anybody’s lives in the slightest. They exist simply to bring some lovely, wacky and fun charm to the already joyful proceedings, while also shining some small lights on what the holidays can mean for families getting back together after all of these years, as well as for those who don’t care much about family, the holidays, or people in general. In a way, they’re the kinds of movies that nobody really gets scared of, which is why Almost Christmas, for all of its faults, really is harmless, above all else.

With it, we get a lot of heavy drama, some cheerfully wacky fun moments, and most importantly, a whole bunch of Christmas shenanigans, like ugly sweaters, snow, Santa, reindeer, tunes, and so on and so forth. I know, this makes me sound like an absolute Grinch, but I can assure you, that’s not the case – normally, Christmas movies are my kind of thing, regardless of the season or time of the year. That’s why a movie like Almost Christmas, which should work very well, also seems like it was written in January, cast in February, filmed in March and April, and edited all up until its release-date at the beginning of November.

You two, get out of here and into a better movie!

You two, get out of here and into a better movie!

Which is to say that, yeah, it’s a mess.

But it’s an okay kind of mess, because once again, it isn’t really setting out to ruin anyone’s day. There’s a lot of heavy, deep discussions about life, death, love, marriage, suicide, drugs, and divorce, but none of it really registers as being anything meaningful, or even needed – it all feels like the movie was just checking off a list that they felt was absolutely necessary to make the perfectly conventional and formulaic Christmas movie. And in that sense, yes, director David E. Talbert achieved everything he probably wanted to, but does it really matter much when everything he achieved is so run-of-the-mill?

The only instances of pure fun and enjoyment found within Almost Christmas is the well-stacked and perfectly-cast ensemble, who are clearly making the best of what they’re given. Danny Glover is heartbreaking to watch as the beaten-down patriarch of the family, trying to keep it all together; Gabrielle Union does a fine job as Rachel, even if she’s still, I hate to say it, not funny; Kimberly Elise seems like she was primed and ready for an Oscar-winning role here, but unfortunately, her really good performance is trapped in a silly Christmas flick; J.B. Smoove is having some real fun as her philandering husband, making me itch with more and more excitement over the prospect over a ninth season of Curb; Romany Malco needs more funny stuff to do here (do people forget that he stole just about every scene in the 40 Year Old Virgin?); Nicole Ari Parker is barely around here, which is a shame, because she’s a great actress when the material is there (see Brown Sugar); Jessie T. Usher brings the movie down every second he’s on-screen, although, I highly doubt that’s his fault and more of just his poorly-written character’s; and Mo’Nique, as per usual, steals every scene she’s in, making us laugh with what seems to be constant improv, but also shedding some true heart and emotion by the end, proving to us why it is that she deserves that Oscar of hers, while also showing us why she needs to be in more movies.

Get it together, Hollywood.

Consensus: As conventional as you can get with a Christmas flick, Almost Christmas features sentimentality, comedy, melodrama, and cheesiness, yet, doesn’t set out to severely injure or kill anyone, so it’s okay to keep on by the fireplace on a cold night. That’s about it, though.

5 / 10

Why's everyone standing around? Dig the hell in dammit!

Why’s everyone standing around? Dig the hell in dammit!

Photos Courtesy of: Gorgon Reviews, Vox

Advertisements

Baggage Claim (2013)

Good thing she wasn’t afraid of flying, because otherwise, this would have been a hell of a lot longer.

For some odd reason, Montana Moore (Paula Patton) has just never been lucky in her life when it came to men. She’s always had boyfriends and some serious relationships, but they’ve just never panned-out much to be as serious as something like, say, “matrimony”. However, Montana’s little sister has just got engaged, which makes her see this as the time for a change in her life where she needs to find Mr. Right, even if that means going back to all of her exes. With her besties (Adam Brody and Jill Scott), Montana goes all around the world, hops from plane-to-plane, in hopes of meeting up with these guys while they’re flying up in the air. Most remember her and want to continue talking and being with her, however, some of them aren’t always winners.

So yeah, this is pretty much the African-American version of that dumb-ass, Anna Faris rom-com that came out a couple of years ago called What’s Your Number? If you don’t remember it, that’s fine, because you most likely aren’t alone but basically, it’s close to the same exact premise as this, just minus all of the black people, soothing R&B tunes, and the whole “baggage claimer” angle that seems as new as the Walkman. Anyway, everything I’m saying is practically rubbish because it doesn’t matter, just like this movie doesn’t matter. But in a weird, offensive way, it sort of does.

See, they make a man strip-down half-naked! Damn woman!!

See, they make a man strip-down to being half-naked! Damn women!!

See, what’s so strange about this material is how the film treats its main subject, making us believe that not only can somebody who looks and acts like Paula Patton, NOT find a dude that she could love and settle down with before she hit her 40’s, but that it’s right for somebody like her to find someone that she could love and settle down with. I get why her mother feels like she should, but that’s excusable. Once the movie starts to point its big finger at Montana and tell her that she must get married, she must find that special person, and that she must do it before her little sissy does, honestly, just felt wrong to me. And yes, this is coming from a dude.

It’s pretty weird to see that we could have a chick-flick, rom-com that actually speaks against a woman being her own, independent-being, and more for finding somebody that she can be with, mainly because she has to. Not because she necessarily wants to, but because she needs to so that she can prove a point and not look like such a unlovable wretch in front of every person she meets. To me, this all just felt wrong, and supremely outdated since feminism sure as hell has come a long way since, say, I don’t know, the 1950’s!!!

But honestly, this is just me trying my damn near hardest to try and get past the fact of the matter with this movie; the fact which is that it’s just not funny. I understand that most of these rom-coms are going to follow the same formula, with the same rhythms, beats, conventions, clichés, etc., but there has to be something, hell, anything to get me happy, laughing, and the least bit interested in this material as it’s playing-out. But no, nothing. I couldn’t find anything really, so I just paid attention to its central message, and realized that it’s a bunch of crap that no woman should take to heart, let alone even take notice to. And I get that most women will want to see this movie and think that it’s an empowering-statement of how women should be able to choose who they want to spend their lives with, regardless of what others/society think, but I don’t think that the movie even goes that far, let alone scratches that surface. It just wants to be a goofy, silly, and dumb romantic-comedy that’s supposed to have a meaningful heart, but comes off as somewhat mean-spirtied.

Not fully, but somewhat. However, I’m just going to quit it while I’m ahead because I sound like a complete nut talking about the meaning and understanding behind a movie like Baggage Claim.

Seriously, where has my mind gone?

I wonder what has HER so shocked. No, I seriously wonder.

I wonder what has HER so shocked. No, I seriously wonder.

Okay, anyway, as I was saying about the movie: Yeah, it’s pretty dumb and oddly-delivered, but the cast is good and charming, and I think that’s worth talking about, let alone praising. It should come as no surprise that Paula Patton would get a chance to have her own rom-com vehicle, seeing as that she’s been getting to be a bigger and bigger star by the role she turns in (and who she’s “sadly” married to), and she is charming enough to make her character work for awhile. Montana isn’t as much of a bore to watch as most of the female lead-characters in these dry rom-coms are, but she isn’t necessarily “different” either. She’s always running, always looking to get laid by the hottest man possible, and always has to fall over or hit something when she’s trying to be cool or swift. It’s the exact type of character you’d expect from a rom-com of this nature, but Patton pulls it off well and makes you forget about her character’s many, MANY, shortcomings.

And as for everybody else, well, they’re all fine and sometimes very charming, but ultimately, feel wasted on some pretty cruddy material. The only two who really deserve credit among this supporting cast is Jill Scott and Adam Brody as Montana’s two best-friends who bicker and bat with one another, yet, still love and help their friend whenever she needs it the most. There’s something endearingly sweet to them, but also hilarious to watch because they hold great screen-chemistry together and had me laughing whenever they had something to say. Especially Brody, who hasn’t been this funny since, like, like, LIKE, ever. Also, note to future film makers out there: Next time you put Djimon Hounsou in your movie, make sure the dude’s got some sort of facial-hair to cover-up his scary mug. I sound like a dick, I know, but the dude’s got a scary look to him when he’s trying to be nice and charming. Oh well, he can still sure as hell kick my ass, so I better watch what I say.

Consensus: One could get past the unfunny jokes, constant clichés, and downright predictability of Baggage Claim, however, with the sideways-message at the center, you can’t help but be a little turned-off, even when Paula Patton’s beautiful-self is on screen the WHOLE, DAMN TIME.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

She's looking for the best available escape-route.

Just look at her, she’s so looking for the best available escape-route.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net