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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Dax Shepard

CHIPS (2017)

Cause idiot cops can still be funny in 2017, right?

Jon Baker (Dax Shepard) and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Michael Peña) have just joined the California Highway Patrol in Los Angeles, but for very different reasons. Baker is a former motorbike rider who’s trying to put his life and marriage back together, whereas Poncherello is a cocky, undercover FBI agent who’s investigating a multi-million dollar heist that may or may not actually be an inside job. The two are somewhat of opposites, with Baker being the far more touchy-feely of the two and even though they don’t seem to necessarily understand one another just yet, they know one thing is certain: They absolutely have to nab the bad guys. But in order to do that, they’re going to have to do some straight-up detective-work, that may or may not also include a whole lot of faith and trust between the two being exchanged. Baker’s ready for that, but Ponch, when he isn’t having all sorts of hot sex with the ladies, isn’t.

Hey, at least there’s always Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television.

Hollywood’s got the bright idea that what the world needs right now are more and more of R-rated reboots of old-school TV shows. Whether the actual shows themselves were good, bad, or even memorable in the slightest, it doesn’t matter – if they’ve got some form of nostalgia attached to them, Hollywood’s going to take it over and bring it back to the mainstream, but with naughtier, louder, and much more current jokes. And Hollywood can’t be blamed for this either, because with the success of 21 Jump Street, both commercially and critically, it’s no shock that Baywatch and eventually, CHIPS were next on the list.

Did either of them need to be? Probably not. Especially CHIPS, though, and it’s fairly obvious in the first ten minutes that this is going to be a misguided affair. Writer/director/star Dax Shepard, for some odd reason, may seem to have a love and passion for the original show growing up, because taking on triple-duty just doesn’t work for him. What should have been a joyous moment in his life and career, honestly may have been a little too much to deal with, as the direction itself, while loud, bright and big, equals up to nothing. His script is even worse with jokes just not connecting at all, or bordering on mean and offensive, and his performance, while somewhat charming, also feels like it’s him just doing the usual act we’ve seen from him, time and time again. And it’s a shame, too, because Shepard’s an actually likable guy who seems genuinely talented.

Why he wanted to make this movie so bad, is beyond me and it shows.

Sheeeeeeeit, indeed.

Sure, there’s a few jokes every so often that connect, but not really as they’re just the bottom of the barrel. There’s too much gay-panic jokes that are trying to poke fun at the idea of gay-panic itself, but still seem to make fun of the idea of two men being close and intimate; women are clearly hated here with barely any female character being a nice person; the central-conflict and supposed villains never make any sense, nor do they ever seem existent; and oh yeah, everyone else feels wasted and somewhat bored. It’s nice to see a great and underappreciated talent like Michael Peña get a lead role in a major motion-picture for once, but even he’s saddled with a boring character who’s main purpose to serve to the plot is that he forges no connections with anyone around him, sleeps around, is a bit of a jerk, and oh yeah, doesn’t like touching dudes.

It’s hack comedy for someone who isn’t a hack and it makes it all the more disappointing to watch this go down. Cause even at 100 minutes, the movie feels at least three-hours longer than that, with a plot that never comes together, character’s that feel false, and most importantly, comedy that’s just not funny. The only person here to blame is Dax Shepard, since this seems to be his baby, and it’s sad.

Let’s hope that he wakes up and does learn a little bit from this.

Consensus: Frequently unfunny and mean-spirited, CHIPS features an A-list cast and crew and saddles them with hack-jokes, a weak-story, and no reason for existing, except to hopefully make some nostalgia-money. And hell, it couldn’t even do that correctly.

2 / 10

Oh, what an odd couple!

Photos Courtesy of: Warner Bros. Pictures

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Baby Mama (2008)

Who doesn’t have baby mama drama?

Kate (Tina Fey) is a businesswoman who, for the most part, has been pleased with her life thus far. She has a good job, a nice apartment in Philadelphia, and generally considers her life simple and easygoing enough that she doesn’t have to worry about too much. Problem is, there’s one thing that she really wants to do with her life that sadly, she may not be able to do: Have a child. Due to her being infertile, Kate has not been able to, no matter how hard she has tried, to naturally have a child; so, she takes the next best step in the matter, which leads her to becoming apart of a surrogacy program. In the surrogacy program, for those who don’t know what that means, Kate’s baby will, through sperm injections and all sorts of other medical shenanigans, be conceived and born through some other woman. This other woman in question just so happens to be Angie (Amy Poehler), someone who is definitely not at all like Kate. Which is fine for Kate, so long as she can trust Angie to be smart about her body and realize that there is indeed a human growing inside of her. But after Angie runs into issues with her own husband (Dax Shepard), she begins to live with Kate, which is when the two begin to learn more about one another, even if they also have differences as well.

Tina doesn't need Greg Kinnear in her life, but hey, she'll take him!

Tina doesn’t need Greg Kinnear in her life, but hey, she’ll take him! And you know why? ‘Cause she can!

Of course, in Baby Mama, wacky hijinx ensue. That’s obvious from the very start, however, Baby Mama is a tad bit smarter than most of the other broad comedies out there that would have attacked this premise as dumb as possible. This isn’t, of course, to say that Baby Mama isn’t predictable, by-the-numbers, or at least, conventional, because it’s each and everyone of those things – but working behind all of those conventions and obvious story-structures is, for one, laughs, and also, a decent-sized heart that reminds you that you’re watching a female-lead comedy, that can appeal to basically everyone.

Sure, it may definitely help if you’re a woman or going through the same life event as the one depicted here, but regardless, it doesn’t matter.

Baby Mama is, first and foremost, a comedy. And a funny one at that. Most of that comes from the fact that both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have such great chemistry between one another, that it’s hard not to get wrapped-up in the fun and enjoyment they clearly have playing side-by-side. Even though their characters are, obviously, general opposites, not just in terms of personality, but also in social backgrounds, you still get the feeling that Fey and Poehler can’t wait for that moment in this film where their characters start to put all of their issues aside, take some shots, get wild together, and generally, have fun together.

To say that Fey and Poehler are both funny here, is doing them justice. However, there’s also another element to their performances that factor in well and that’s that their characters are actually well-written, despite initially seeming like stupid and dull caricatures from the beginning. Like, for instance, try Fey’s Kate: While she appears to be a stuck-up, way-too-serious businesswoman who is all about her job and not much else, eventually, the story goes on and we see that there’s actually a lot more fun and excitement to her life. Heck, the reasons for why she wants a baby to begin with, regardless of whether it’s naturally or through agencies, are understandable; she’s gotten to that point in her life where she wants one, she doesn’t need one, but wants one.

It's set in Philadelphia, so of course the bell-hop is a token black guy!

It’s set in Philadelphia, so of course the bell-hop is a token black guy! Gotta love my city!

That is, most of all, perhaps the greatest distinction this movie makes and is truly a smart piece of writing. It shows that woman like Kate, whether they be successful or not, don’t need to have babies to make their lives feel fulfilled. Does that mean that they’re not nice to have around? Of course not, but Baby Mama doesn’t believe that in order to make sure that your life is great and superb, it needs to be so with a baby by your side. It’s a small piece of writing, I know, but it’s what sets it apart from most other female-driven comedies out there that are all about getting married and having kids, because of some ill-conceived notion from many, many years ago, that says women need a certain amount of requirements to make their lives great.

But still, seriousness aside, Baby Mama is still a fine comedy.

Like what I said for Fey’s Kate, can be said the same for Poehler’s Angie: She may seem a bit white trash-y, but after awhile, the movie just shows her more off as a wild girl who not only likes to have some fun, but also wants to be a bit more serious in her own life as well. She doesn’t need to be serious, but she wants to be. There are others in this movie that show up in this movie that are funny, charming and welcome, but it’s really Poehler and Fey who make the movie work the most.

Even though the movie does admittedly get a bit syrupy and sentimental by the end, Poehler and Fey still feel fun and fresh, adding another sense of enjoyment to the proceedings. The plot does eventually get to be a bit too much and be about things happening, one after another, with random twists coming out left and right, but regardless, Baby Mama can still be funny and at times, relatively insightful. It may not be trying too hard, but in its own way, it sort of is; it’s taking the female-driven comedy and doing something with it that isn’t revolutionary or game-changing, but normal.

And hey, there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

Consensus: Predictable and lightweight for sure, but regardless, Baby Mama still offers up plenty of laughs and enjoyment courtesy of Poehler and Fey’s lovely chemistry.

7 / 10

Does this tend to happen? Ladies?

Does this tend to happen? Ladies?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Judge (2014)

Usually it’s the dad bailing the son out of jail, not the other way around. But hey, I’m not from the South, so whatever!

Henry “Hank” Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is a hotshot lawyer who always defends the obviously-guilty, and somehow, always ends up winning. However, his shattered personal life is starting to catch up with his successful professional-career, when he hears news of his mother’s passing. This puts him on a journey to go back to where he started from; which, in this case, would be the small town of Carlinville, Indiana where, unsurprisingly, his estranged father (Robert Duvall) is still the town’s respected judge. But see, even his personal life begins to catch up with him when, on one fateful night, the Judge supposedly runs over and kills the town degenerate. And normally, nobody would care, because the guy was a total prick, but the family does and they’re taking the Judge to court! Not to mention, they’ve equipped themselves with one of the meanest, cruelest lawyers in the world, Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton). This seems like the perfect opportunity for Hank to stand up and defend his father, but since their relationship isn’t the most ideal, he hesitates. That is, until he realizes that maybe his father needs him, and now, more than ever before for reasons that will shock and shape his life, whether he wants to accept it or not.

So while this movie seems like total Oscar-bait from the plot, to the cast, and even to the subject-matter itself (courtroom genres are usually a big plus in the eyes of the 80-90-year-old Academy voters), there’s just one big element keeping it away from making that a reality: Director David Dobkin. Sure, to some, the name may not mean much. Well, let me put it in terms to make you understand: Dobkin is the director of such hits as Wedding Crashers, the Change-UpShanghai Knights, and Fred Claus.

Judge1

“Vera Farmiga with arm-tat” is totally “slumming it”.

Yes. Fred freakin’ Claus, everybody! The movie still finds a way to pop-up in everybody’s head, even if it’s as relevant as a box of Chia Pets.

And while at least more than half of those movies are fine, entertaining-pieces of cinema, they’re mostly all, immature, R-rated comedies that make people stand up, laugh, hit themselves silly, go home, and continue on with their everyday lives, but now continuously quote “that hilarious movie they saw with their buddies last weekend”. Those are the same kinds of people that, mind you, don’t really seem like they’d be all that enthused by the Judge, even if it does have a few of those “hee hee” moments.

But then again, I can’t hate on a director who wants to actually branch-out and try something new for once. Sometimes, the most unique movies come from those creators who were pigeon-holed as being a director of one certain genre and sticking to it, and decided to tell the world to “kiss off” and do something different, regardless of how much it would set people back. Though I’m drawing blanks on a few examples, I know they’re out there! But sadly, David Dobkin’s the Judge won’t be joining that list because this is a mess, and understandably so. Dobkin is a director that’s too inclined to just throw in a poop or fart gag, so that when he has to deliver on these strong, compelling moments of drama, they don’t quite mesh so well with the many scenes we get in which we think Downey’s character has possibly hooked up with his own biological daughter.

Not only does this create a jumble between tones, but it makes you wonder what could have happened, had the Judge been given a director that’s more comfortable with both sides of the table. Because, as much as I didn’t want to admit it, there are a few scenes of drama that are well-done and make some of this material, as well as the characters, slightly interesting. But then, moments later, after this touching scene has occurred, Dobkin will make a kind-of-a-joke about how Duvall’s character is incapable of controlling his bowels. And no, I am not kidding you, some of that is actually played up for a joke and it feels oddly-placed.

And that’s pretty much how the whole film is: Sometimes interesting, sometimes not. Most of this is because Dobkin isn’t all that capable of handling drama and comedy together, and also, because his movie just gets more and more conventional as it runs on along. Which was fine because I knew it was going to turn into that after a certain while, but nearly two-and-a-half-hours of waiting till a conclusion that we can already pin-point from a mile away, is a bit too much. Especially when one has to deal with all of the rough patches Dobkin goes through in order to build up to the predictable climax.

But if anything, the Judge makes you wish this kind of high-caliber cast had been given a better movie, because mostly everybody here is good, and sometimes, trying way harder than they need to. Though Robert Downey Jr. is, essentially, playing the same snarky character we’ve seen him do since the beginning of his career, there’s something slightly refreshing in seeing it done now, as an actual person, rather than as Tony Stark, or Sherlock Holmes. Not saying that either one of those characters are bad, but if it came down to RDJ having to play human beings for the rest of his life, as opposed to multi-million-dollar franchise “names”, I’d be happy with him just being Charlie Chaplin again.

RDJ just can't handle this right now. Like OMG.

RDJ just can’t handle this right now. Like OMG.

As long as he stays away from the drugs, that is.

Same goes for Robert Duvall, an actor who, because I haven’t seen him in quite some time, totally left my mind as being a capable actor. But here he is, pushing 83 and giving a good performance as the grumpy curmudgeon that is our titled-character. Though most of the movie is Duvall growling and looking pissed, the scenes he has with Downey Jr. feel like they come from a soft spot in both of their hearts, and to me, really struck a chord. Even if the rest of the movie was manipulative, over-stuffed, over-long, jumbled, and messy, these two being on screen together and just acting their behinds off was more than enough for me.

That said, David Dobkin should just stick to hand job-gags. Those seem to work out best for him in the end.

Consensus: Despite a strong cast trying with everything each and everyone of them have got, the Judge turns out being a jumbled-up mess of comedy, drama, family-dynamics, courtroom arguments, and ill-placed jokes, all coming to a predictable end.

 5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Grrrrrrrr!"

“Grrrrrrrr!”

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

This Is Where I Leave You (2014)

I’m Catholic, but if Jason Bateman and Adam Driver want me to sit Shiva with them, then yeah, I’m totally Jewish.

After the patriarch of the family passes away, the Altman siblings all decide to honor his final wish and sit Shiva for the next week. Although none of them really want to, they decide to anyway, not to just honor their dad’s wishes, but to ensure that their mother (Jane Fonda) doesn’t have a total hissy-fit. The problem is though, none of the siblings really get along. The eldest, Paul (Corey Stoll), is always so very serious and is having a problem impregnating his needy wife (Kathryn Hahn); Wendy (Tina Fey) is sort of having the same problem of her own with her kids and husband, although she’s finding some peace with her ex-boyfriend (Timothy Olyphant) who happens to still be living in town; Judd (Jason Bateman) is in the midst of divorcing his cheating wife (Abigail Spencer), but finds some solace when he reconnects with a long lost of his own, Penny (Rose Byrne); and lastly, the youngest, Phillip (Adam Driver) is a bit of a wild child that not only brings his much-older girlfriend with him (Connie Britton), but finds it hard to ever really think about why he misses so much of his dad to begin with. Then again, none of them really do, which is how most of their fights pop-up in the first place.

Though I have never read the original-text from which this movie is an adaptation of, I assume that it’s a great piece of work because of how much critics seem to be trashing this movie. Sure, there are some good reviews to be found here and there, but overall, This Is Where I Leave You seems to be a real disappointment. And while I can’t say that I particularly agree, or disagree with the general consensus of this film, I can at least attest to the fact that I’m one of those reviewers who didn’t hate it that much.

There's a Manic Pixie Dream Girl out there for all of us.

There’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl out there for all of us.

Is this, as most note in their reviews, something of a “letdown”? Of course! You’d think that with this premise and this cast heavily-stacked cast involved that not only would we have something of a classic on our hands, but a near-Oscar contender. Maybe that’s going a tad far, but seriously, just look at that IMDB page and try to tell me you’re not at least somewhat impressed with how many great talents decided to work on this. It’s almost as if director Shawn Levy himself had a piece of evidence that was detrimental to each and everyone of these star’s personal and professional lives, that he was able to bribe all of them into not just working with him on this movie, but actually putting in some fine work.

That said, the movie is not a very good one. You can clearly tell that Levy (the same guy who has directed all of the Night at the Museums‘) doesn’t really have much of a background in directing actual moving, compelling scenes of drama and instead, more or less opts for melodrama that sometimes wants to be about “adult things”, happening with “adult people”, but in the end, just turns out to be not all that important/heavy at all. That it wants to be both a comedy with various poop and sex gags, as well as a heavy-handed drama dealing with infidelity, fertility, family, depression, and other such themes, makes it feel confused and messy.

However though, there is something to be said for when you can get an ensemble this good, to really try their hardest with material that, quite frankly, doesn’t really deserve them. Once again, never read the book so all I can assume is that it was pretty great, but whatever they did with this script here is disappointing.

But that’s why we have movie stars – they’re able to not only make us happy, pleased and be entertained, but also there to remind us each and everyday why they still deserve to work, and why exactly it is that we should continue to see them in whatever they decide to do. And this is exactly why I can’t get too mad at this movie, or what Levy does as a director. Sure, it’s a hack job from someone I didn’t expect to otherwise create, but when he allows for his cast to just do what they do best and interact with one another, the movie hits some highs and makes most of the trip worth taking.

For instance, Jason Bateman is doing what he always does: Dead-pan the crap out every line he has to deliver. It’s definitely an act of his that we’ve seen for a very long time and honestly, it never seems to get old. Not there as Michael Bluth, and definitely not here as Judd Altman; which is definitely effective because he’s the sibling who gets the most attention. He’s a sad sack, but he’s the funny one of the group that also happens to be the voice-of-reason, despite him being severely depressed. Though the romance between he and Rose Byrne’s character does feel a bit tacked-on, the two at least try to create some sort of honesty that doesn’t really show much throughout the rest of the film.

Jane Fonduh!!! Holla!

Jane Fonduh!!! Holla!

But what I’ve said about Bateman, his character Judd, and what he does with him, is pretty much the same thing that could be said about the rest of the cast: They’re all putting in good work, although it’s not much different from what we’ve seen them do before. Tina Fey is funny as the jokey and wiser older sister, although it does seem like her dramatic-acting needs a bit of work; Adam Driver is his usual goofy, eccentric-self and steals mostly all of the scenes he’s in; Corey Stoll is the serious one of the family and does fine with that; Kathryn Hahn plays his wife and seems like she wants to be another one of Hahn’s crazy characters, but just ends up being a repressed wifey-poo; and Jane Fonda plays the matriarch of the Altman family, does what she needs to do, is funny, inappropriate and a bit smug, but she’s a pro and handles this material so well, as one could expect her to do.

And honestly, the rest of the supporting cast is fine, too. Some recognizable faces show up and remind you that they can still put in great work and make something of an impact, regardless of how small their screen-time is (Abigail Spencer makes her conventional-character of the cheating-wife seem somewhat sympathetic). Should this have been a better movie? Oh, totally! It not only should have been an Oscar-contender and definitely something people will keep on turning back to every couple of months or so. But given what it is, most likely, it’ll just be the kind of movie you find while searching through your cable. Not saying that’s a bad thing, really, but it’s definitely not supposed to make you fully pleased either.

Consensus: Given the cast involved, This Is Where I Leave You should have definitely hit harder, but everybody’s so fine that it’s at least worth watching, if only for a single-viewing and leaving it at that.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Usually how me and my siblings start off nights together. How they end is a totally different story.

Usually how me and my siblings start off nights together. How they end is a totally different story.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Veronica Mars (2014)

High school is always such a drag without murder-conspiracies swelling around.

It’s been nine years since teenage detective/professional snooper Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) was last seen in her hometown of Neptune, California, and that’s how she would like to keep it. She’s got a nice lawyer-job coming her way in New York City, a boyfriend that she wants to get serious with and sees all of her hard work and time finally paying-off. That is, until she checks out the news and one day and spots an old-flame of hers (Jason Dohring) is embroiled in some sort of murder-scandal. Veronica doesn’t know what to believe, so she decides to take matters into her own hands and see what really happened, who was apart of it and even see if she wants to continue her ambitious-life in NYC, or just stay in Neptune for as long as she possibly can. Because, come to think of it, her high-school reunion is coming up. And even though she sure as hell doesn’t want to be spotted at one of those petty social-events, she might just decide to take one for the team and see if she can get ahead of her case; you know, the one that she’s decided to go out on a limb for herself. Nobody else. Just her. Veronica Mars, baby.

In case any of you lovely humanoids were wondering, the answer is “no, I never watched the original, Veronica Mars television show in its entirety”. I’ve seen a few episodes here and there, and with those few episodes, not only did I realize that it wasn’t exactly my cup-of-tea at the age of 12/13, but that those times would probably be the last I ever heard of the show in general. It wasn’t until a few years later that I decided to actually do some research of my own, then I realized: People love the hell out of this show.

"Token black friend", and "token nerd friend", all in one place. So lovely!

“Token black friend”, and “token nerd friend”, all in one place. So lovely!

I don’t know what the case was for me – maybe I wasn’t fully established as an “entertainment-junkie” by that time, or maybe it was just that something about the show really did bug me. Either way, I was surprised to see that so many people adored this show. Maybe one of these days I’ll get to watching it all in its entirety, then again, maybe not.

Regardless though, the fact of the matter remains that this is in fact a sequel-of-sorts of what happened after the show ended its original run and if you’re like me who was worried right from the get-go, here’s some friendly advice: Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the show already. The movie starts things off quite perfectly in giving us the events, happenings, ideas and themes from the show, in a neat, little “Previously On”-like method. It works because, for somebody like me who had barely any clue just who these people were or why any of them even mattered, it kept me glued-in and absolutely did the homework for me, allowing the movie to work its magic as it went along.

In fact, if there is any criticism I may have against this movie, it’s that some of it was a little too “insider-y” for me at times. That’s more of a negative towards me as a viewer for not catching up on the show beforehand, but I think for some people, it will be a bit jarring, especially if they haven’t seen the show beforehand, or understand some of these characters’ significance to the overall plot and setting. Basically, every once and awhile, a certain character will show-up who clearly is meant to be there for the die-hard fans to go nutso over, which is fine. The only problem is that, like I said before, the rest of us will find it a bit jarring and left in the dark. The good news is that that doesn’t always keep on happening throughout the whole movie, because once you eventually get used to the surroundings built here, you’ll find it to be a pretty fun time. As did I.

What works well with a movie like this is its central character, Veronica Mars. And what that really boils down to is the fact that she is so perfectly-played by Kristen Bell, it’s hard for me to imagine anybody else ever playing her before, let alone filling her shoes for a reboot or something. Bell is always lovely, funny, spirited and energetic, and always seem to make the most out of whatever crapola she accidentally shows her face up in. But, all of those bad movies she took her time to do, all cancel-out with Veronica Mars, because it’s the role she was born to play, the one that put her on the map and made us see her for an up-and-coming talent, and it’s so damn easy to see why.

As Veronica Mars, Bell gives us the impression that she’s always one step ahead of everyone around her. Whether it be in a physical or mental way, either way, Veronica Mars always has a trick up her sleeve and does a pretty fine job at making those around her feel like small, meaningless imbeciles. Which, granted, is fine because most of the people surrounding here are in fact, small, meaningless imbeciles. But Mars, being Mars, just calls it like she sees it, which not only makes her character sympathetic throughout the whole movie, but also makes believe her as somebody that can get done, what needs to be done, in order to do good for those around her; even if that does mean she’s doing the right thing for people she doesn’t particularly care for.

Everything I’m saying about Veronica Mars is probably no surprise whatsoever to fans of the show, but for me, a newcomer to this sort of thing, I found myself happy with this character, with Bell and totally understanding as to why her character, as well as her show, was so loved and beheld in the first place.

Slim pickins. Right, gals?

Slim pickins. Right, gals?

Damn you, CW! Damn you!

Though this is clearly Mars’s show that she gets to flaunt and run away with practically the whole time, the rest of the cast is pretty good, too, with a few cameo surprises thrown in there for good mix of fun treats. Jason Dohring is alright as Mars’ old boy-toy that she decides to help out after all of these years, and while I do see why so many ladies would fawn over him and his rockin’ bod, I can also see why the guy hasn’t quite been known or seen since he’s done Veronica Mars. He’s not necessarily a stiff, but most of the funny lines people are given here, feel genuine and make us laugh. Him, on the other hand, just makes you feel like he hasn’t acted in quite awhile and still has some rust left in the tank. That’s why when certain faces like Ken Marino, Krysten Ritter, Gaby Hoffmann, Ryan Hansen and plenty more from that, show up, do their thang and be funny, then it works like gangbusters and makes us laugh along with the ride.

You can tell that everybody is happy to be back with the gang and hoping that they are able to do this again in the near-future, even though it doesn’t seem too promising. Still though, one reunion, is better than none. Especially when your amongst a fine group of characters like these.

Yup, consider me sold on the whole phenomenon surrounding Veronica Mars. Adding it to my queue now as we speak!

Consensus: Going in and already being acquainted with the original source material may help you connect the dots when watching Veronica Mars, but is definitely not a “must”, as it still works on its own terms as fun, witty and energetic comedy, disguised as a detective tale.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Phones are like toates better at doing that sort of thing! Like, hello! This ain't 2005, or whatever, anymore!

Phones are like toates better at doing that sort of thing! Like, hello! This ain’t 2005, or whatever, anymore!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Hit & Run (2012)

I’d run away from Dax Shepard the first chance I’d get.

Former getaway driver Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) jeopardizes his Witness Protection Plan identity in order to help his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) get to Los Angeles. The feds and Charlie’s former gang (led by Bradley Cooper) chase them on the road.

Anytime, within the past month or so that I’ve wanted to watch a video on YouTube, I couldn’t help but just get pissed off by seeing an ad for this movie come out right before it. Worst part was that you couldn’t even click away to skip the ad, you had to watch it, in it’s 15 second entirety, which isn’t a huge problem if it wasn’t the same damn clips.

However, being pissed at this movie going in just wasn’t the right way to feel as I couldn’t help but be surprised in the death days of Summer. That’s right people, August is almost over which means all kids go back to school and nobody goes to the movies anymore because they spent too much on The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I went into a huge rant that nobody wanted to read so I’m just going to dive into what I really wanted to say. For the first 30 minutes or so, nothing was really catching my eye and getting me involved as much as I would have liked. They start off with an ultra-sappy and contrived emotional scene where Shepard is telling his gal-pal to “close her eyes and think about the moment, nothing else”. Then after that, they suddenly go right into a scene with Tom Arnold chasing after his minivan and blowing holes everywhere, while screaming “fuck” at the top of his lungs. And to top that off, it just wasn’t funny no matter how hard they were trying and trust me, they were trying. It seemed like this was going to be one of those flicks that just wanted to be so wacky and funny, but also have an emotional story in the middle to even it all out but it wasn’t working and really got me worried of what I got myself into. Thankfully, it was only for those 30 minutes where I nearly lost my mind.

After the first 30 minutes or so, the film all of a sudden kicks its story into high gear and becomes a fun ride that delivers on the cool look, the cool thrills, and the funny laughs that sometimes came out of nowhere. It’s obvious that Dax Shepard (who just so happened to also co-write and direct this, and do his own stunts) loved Smokey and the Bandit as a kid growing up, because that’s the same exact kind of style and feel he gives this movie that automatically makes it a wild ride that doesn’t have to try too hard to charm us. So, if there is any credit going to towards this film and making it fun, it’s Shepard who deserves the most because he was able to somehow get this filmed in only 10 weeks, and used a very low-budget that will probably make a lot of the other big-budget action picks a whole lot more jealous by how polished the action scenes look here.

As you could probably tell by now, this film was pretty exciting when the action scenes came up and even if there is only about 3 in whole movie, you still get a great feel of energy and adrenaline every time they pop-up. But what really works with this film is that it hits its funny-marks very consistently in the last hour, which surprised me because they seem to be going all-over-the-place with its comedy. Sometimes it was trying to go for the wacky, rom-com aspect, others it was going for edgy and raunchy (that one scene with the naked old people will really shock some people), and other times it was your typical, conversational humor that can either make, or break a film depending on how well they use that aspect of comedy. Well, to say the least, the film’s comedy works and you’ll find a couple of gags that continue to show up every now and then that really catch you by surprise.

What really makes this film work out in the end is the cast that Shepard was able to assemble, obviously by just calling up a couple of pals for a little favor, which all work to his advantage. As for Sheperd in the lead role, he’s actually very charming and has the everyday likability to him that makes us forget about any dumb-ass role he has chosen in the past decade or so. The guy has a great comedic timing and can be sweet and enduring when he wants to be. If this guy can get his ass in the right rom-com and role, he may be destined for leading man material, which he sort of is here, but I mean on his own when he isn’t the co-writer/director. Tom Arnold plays his federal marshal buddy that just never seems to be able to do anything, without effin’ it up one way or another and the scenes where it’s just him being a goof-ball, sometimes left me in stitches. It’s been awhile since I last saw Tom Arnold in a big-budget, Hollywood movie like this (if you want to call it that) and it’s great to see that he can still deliver on being wacky and funny.

Perhaps the easiest favor that Shepard had to call up from anyone in this entire cast was in fact, his girlfriend in this movie and in real-life, Kristen Bell. I bet you are all pretty surprised to see that this gorgeous woman has been going out with this weirdo for the past 5 years, and you honestly have to be thinking to yourself, “Why?”. Well, after seeing this movie I have to say, “Ohhh, now I see why!”. It’s pretty obvious that these two have a genuine chemistry and love in real-life, because it spills out so well in this film whenever they are together just being themselves, or discussing what it takes to be in a relationship with another person which may seem really strange since it’s in a movie like this, but still works because these two have an emotional honesty between that feels real, as if you’re almost watching a real-life couple right in front of your eyes. In a way, you are, but this film offers them a lot more challenges in their respective acting departments that anybody has ever seen from either of them. As for Bell herself, she’s lovely as usual and it makes it better that she seems to be having a whole lot of fun playing chase with her boyfriend and pals.

The one that really steals the show in this whole cast is probably Bradley Cooper who seems to really lovin’ life playing an against-type role as the murderous thug, with really bad dreadlocks that makes him look more like the wrestler Raven from his WWF days, than actually intimidating. We’ve all seen Cooper do the villainous act before, but never quite like this to where the guy seems to really be having a ball just being mean, brutal, and a little weird as well. Cooper always has some great comedic timing with everything he does but I think his best showing of that is his one scene where he admits to why he’s come after Shepard after all of this time. To top it all off, he’s a fellow Philadelphian and that makes me feel a whole lot prouder to show him my love and support. Go Bradley!

Consensus: Definitely does not start off on the right foot and can be a bit uneven throughout, but when Hit & Run does gets itself moving, it’s a wild, cool, funny, and entertaining ride that seems like everybody had a ball making regardless of how much money they spent, and/or thought that they were going to make back. They’re simply making movies, to make movies. What’s so wrong with that?!?

7/10=Rental!!

Idiocracy (2006)

Believe it or not, this is the direction our world is headed. Just check out the trending topics on Twitter.

To test its top-secret Human Hibernation Project, the Pentagon picks the most average Americans it can find — an Army private (Luke Wilson) and a prostitute (Maya Rudolph) — and sends them to the year 2505 after a series of freak events. But when they arrive, they find a civilization so dumbed-down that they’re the smartest people around.

Sounds like Mike Judge doing a live-action adaptation of ‘Futurama’, but this time, with so many more stupid people. Maybe almost too stupid if I think about it. Hell I’m thinking about it and I’m turning stupid.

The one thing I like about Mike Judge is that his writing and comedic style comes from just being very simple. He doesn’t really try to do anything new or inventive with his comedy other than just give us something to laugh at, even if he and a couple of his other buds may only think it’s funny after about the 20th time they bring up the joke. This premise is definitely one of his first “high premise” comedies and it’s also one of his more ambitious flicks as of late too.

Where this film works is in its satire that takes over the whole film and how he shows the world as a completley and utterly stupid place to be in. He shows how the world will be watching TV shows like “Ow! My Balls!” and buying a drink with electrolytes in it, even though none of them even know what the hell electrolytes even are. It’s funny to see how much fun Judge pokes at this dystopian future that may seem very funny to make fun of now, but it’s also kind of sad because we can see that this is the direction our world is heading in. I don’t want to go out there and state that the world is going to be filled completley with idiots but we’re getting dumber and dumber as the years go by and it’s kind of surprising how Judge brings this point up better than anyone else ever could have. Yes, I’m talking about you Woody Allen.

The comedy for this film isn’t just all about satire though, it’s also just about being plainly stupid which can make and break a film. Whenever a comedy just wants to be stupid and silly, it totally works, but in the case with a flick like this, it can also get terribly annoying to the point of where it almost seems over-done. Yes, there are plenty of times where the stupidity of these characters and this future had me laughing but at the same time, I feel like Judge really hammered down the whole “stupidity” thing a little too far considering it’s almost every joke he makes in this film. Hey, I guess with a TV show like ‘Beavis & Butthead’, Judge is known world-wide for constantly repeating jokes until they’re dead in the water, but here, it became a little too much.

Another problem with this flick was that as much as the premise was really cool and held my interest, I couldn’t help but think it would have been used a lot better with a bigger budget and longer run-time. The film does get to do what it wants without ever really trying to shoot for the stars but the effects are really crappy and the story seems to start to run out of any creative steam by the last 20 minutes. I guess I can’t really blame Judge for the budget that he was given but I just wish that he did more with this flick and I wish it didn’t look like it was made on a DELL computer.

As for the cast, they are all pretty much pleasant enough to make this dumb film work and seem more realistic than it had any right to be. Luke Wilson is once again the most charming and likable dude to ever grace the screen with his performance as Joe Bowers; Maya Rudolph is fine as the prostitute/”artist”, Rita; Dax Shepard is border-line mentally-challenged with his performance here as Frito, and even though he’s very good at playing dumb, it’s no surprise that this is probably the best thing that this dick has ever done in his whole career; and Terry Crews is the man as President Camacho, aka the President that would kick Obama’s ass any day. Once again, nothing special from this cast but still pretty good considering what they were given with the loose script.

Consensus: Idiocracy may be a little too dumb and stupid for its own good, or bad, but where the film succeeds is in Judge’s satirical writing that makes this film funny, biting, and a little bit more realistic than it should be even though this is coming from the same dude who invented The Great Cornholio.

6/10=Rental!!