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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Donald Glover

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Alright. No more reboots!

After being recruited by the one and only Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and kicking all sorts of ass in the so-called “Civil War”, 15-year-old Peter Parker (Tom Holland), when he isn’t in school, cutting class, or crushing hard on his fellow classmate (Laura Harrier), he’s throwing on his red and blue jumpsuit, shootin’ webs, and yes, stoppin’ crime. The only issue is that he was given specific instructions not to act out in this manner, or else, he wouldn’t be allowed in the Avengers, something Peter has wanted since day one. But Peter thinks that he can keep a low-profile, until real bad stuff starts happening, like when a low-level arms-dealer (Michael Keaton), begins selling highly illegal and dangerous weapons to all sorts of criminals on the streets. Sure, he was supposed to stay cool and calm, but after awhile, Peter just can’t stand by and let this happen, which means that it’s time for him to get involved and kick some butt. The only issue is that he’s got so much pressure, both at home and at school, that he doesn’t quite know how to juggle everything with his personal life and still, at the end of the day, save the world.

Just your friendly dorky neighborhood Peter Parker, everyone!

Such is a daily dilemma for all superheros, I presume.

So yeah, first things first: Spider-Man: Homecoming is, get this, not necessarily an origin story. Believe it or not, what we got to see of Spidey in Civil War was basically all we needed to know about him; he’s fun, goofy, quick-witted, and oh yeah, brash. That’s basically. Co-writer/director Jon Watts, as well as the five other writers here (Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers) are all smart enough to know that by now, we’ve seen and understood all that there is to know and understood about Peter Parker, his upbringing, where he came from, and all of the backstory that usually plagues another origin-story such as this.

Instead of showing us his first steps, or better yet, the first time he learned how to swing a web, we actually get character-development for Peter, as well as all of those that surround him. Sure, there’s plot about growing up, this baddie lurking somewhere in the distance, and of course, all of the tie-ins to previous Marvel stuff, but really, the movie is all about the characters, how they work with one another, and how exactly they work in this universe. It’s the small things that make these mega-budget, loud, and bombastic summer blockbusters so worth while and it’s why Marvel’s got a solid formula to keep on working with.

Which means that, yes, Homecoming is a swing and a hit. It’s not a home-run, but it’s definitely a solid piece of Marvel entertainment that feels like it’s not just giving us a nice peak inside this already large universe, but also allowing us to get used to these characters for future installments to come. For someone such as myself, who grew up on and adored the Sam Raimi Spider-Man flicks, it’s a little difficult to fully take in this new band of trustees, but after this first showing, they could grow on me. They’re easy-to-like, charming and yes, different enough from the original to where it doesn’t feel like we have to sit down, compare and contrast the two products the whole time.

Wait. Batman? Birdman? Some dude called “Vulture”? What’s going on?!?

Instead, it’s just nice to sit down and appreciate a popcorn superhero flick for being, well, exactly what it sets out to be: Fun.

End of story.

And if we are going to compare, then yes, it’s safe to say that Tom Holland more than fits into the role of Peter Parker because he’s not playing a total and complete dweeb. Sure, Maguire’s take is still heartfelt enough, but really, Holland’s Parker is portrayed more as of a bit of a smart-ass, who also happens to be incredibly smart. Holland’s fun to watch as Parker, but it also helps that he feels and looks like an actual kid; Maguire and Andrew Garfield were both nearly 30-years-old, playing a high-school-aged Parker, seeming like they were just doing dress up for October the 31st. With Holland in the role, he seems like an actual high-school kid, stuck in this sort of situation and because of that, it helps to relate to the kid a bit more.

And really, with our superhero flicks, isn’t that all we want? Someone we can root for, sympathize with, and even identify with? Probably not, but hey, it works for me.

Consensus: Fun, quick, and pretty smart for a superhero flick, Homecoming proves that Spider-Man doesn’t need another damn origin-story, but does need/get/deserve a solid bit of players to look forward to seeing in the near-future.

7.5 / 10

Brought to you by Jansport.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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The Martian (2015)

Didn’t Christopher Nolan already make this movie?

After a crazy super-storm hits Mars, the Ares 3 mission is forced to abort their mission and head on back to Earth. Problem is, they do so without one of their members, a fellow by the name of Mark Watney (Matt Damon). Because he got by some space-thingy during the storm, everybody assumes that Watney died, but wouldn’t you know it? He wakes up the next day, stranded and no way to contact home. The only thing he’s got to work with is whatever gear the crew left back, which eventually equals out to a month’s left of food. Considering that it’s going to take nearly four years for NASA to send out another mission to come and rescue him, Watney’s got to come up with some neat, interesting and MacGyver-ish ways to create some food with what he’s got around. While he’s doing this and not trying to lose his freakin’ mind, back on Earth, NASA headquarters is figuring out a way that they can save Watney and to be able to do so in the most efficient way that’s not only safe to Watney, the crew, and the spaceship, but also to NASA’ public persona, as well.

Yep. Totally not the same director who did Prometheus.

Yep. Totally not the same director who did Prometheus.

Take all of those challenging, rather annoying aspects of Interstellar and Gravity, give them a sense of actual humor, throw in a Cast Away subplot (with no Wilson), and ensure that the audiences understand just what the hell is actually going on at any given time, and you have the Martian. And while I’m definitely not doing it any favors by making it sound like a carbon-copy of other, much better movies, I can assure you, that it’s better than that.

In fact, it’s way, way better than that.

For one, the Martian is a movie that never takes itself too seriously. While all of the trailers and ads have been promoting an ultra-serious, inspirational survival story, the movie’s actually a lot more fun and lighter than that. In fact, it’s humor is what just about saves it! At times, sure, it can seem like they’re playing “the joke card” a little too much, but if a movie about a dude stuck in an amazingly depression, isn’t depressing and finds ways to have me howling at the Lunar Eclipse, then sure, count me in. Hell, take all of my money!

Just make me laugh, dammit!

And while I wouldn’t necessarily tag the likes of Ridley Scott and “the comedy genre” together, somehow, they work perfectly with one another. Scott has been in desperate need of a winner these past couple of years, and now, seems like he finally has it. Sure, Scott isn’t trying anything new, experimental, or awfully hard that’s taking him into new areas that we may never see him try again, but there’s a nice feeling about that. For one, he’s not getting in the way of the movie and/or the wonderful script by Drew Goddard.

Secondly, he just allows for the story to tell itself. I know that this may sound like an easy compliment to give away – in fact, it may sound like something I’m just throwing out there to make my job a tad bit easier (you’re right). But no, seriously, making a movie with a story that seems as simple as this, and having it play out that way, yet, still being able to travel through little alleyways and side-streets to make it still seem fresh, exciting and most of all, original, is something extraordinary. Like I mentioned before, we’ve seen the Martian many times before in movies that, occasionally, are better. But the fact that this movie still finds a way to get you glued into its story, never let its grip get loose, and make you give a hoot about what happens to which characters, is a beauty to behold as it is.

There’s literally no reason we should care at all about Mark Watney, his crew, or those ass-bags back on Earth that work in a place called NASA (never heard of her), but as soon as Watney gets hit, the crew leaves without him, and NASA gets word of this, it’s an automatic adventure right from then on out. Now, to be honest, did we really need all of the NASA headquarter shenanigans? Probably not, but they help round the movie out a whole lot more and keep things exciting and above all else, interesting.

See, even though it is Matt Damon playing Mark Watney, watching him, and only him, try to survive on Mars, talk to cameras, listen to disco, use clever witticisms to express his feelings of the situation he’s in, and eventually, get a grip on the life he’s living and try to keep it going, probably would have gotten a bit boring and tedious. I mean, despite the recent flubs he’s been letting loose of, Matt Damon is, generally, a guy we all love to watch on-screen; he’s got that general, normal guy, everyday kind of feel where he seems like a bro you could hang around, enjoy his company, and go on happy about your day.

He wouldn’t give two shits because, well, he’s Matt Damon and he’s got celebrities to have brunch with.

A few years of community college and woolah! You're working for NASA, baby!

A few years of community college and woolah! You’re working for NASA, baby!

But what I’m trying to say is that yes, Matt Damon is a charming dude in practically everything he does, and that’s no different here with his performance as Mark Watney. Because Watney’s a wise-cracking, smart-ass dude that would much rather use sarcasm to mask his actual, genuine thoughts, Damon fits perfectly. He not only seems like the kind of dude who would have the next best, funniest thing to say in a conversation, but could also, in his own words, “science the hell out of this thing!” Not just because he works at NASA, mind you, but because he’s Matt Damon and he always seems like the smartest dude in the room.

Like I said though, the good thing about the Martian is that it takes its focus away from Damon’s Watney a bit and show just what the hell’s going on on planet Earth, what’s everybody trying to do to get him back home, and how it’s all going to come together. Now, the science in this movie I’m not too sure of, but I don’t think I needed to be – which is a good thing. Most sci-fi movies get themselves all tied-up in trying to explain too many loose-ends where it’s almost as if, rather than just actually giving us a random doohickey and letting us roll with, they have to go on and on about it as if it cares!

We get it! The thingy-ma-bob goes back in time! Cool! Move it along, folks!

But with the Martian, the science is there as a placement to show just how brilliant NASA is. And I kid you not, I am not joking here; the Martian is, in many words, an absolute, unabashed tribute to NASA, the powerful, enigmatic and brilliant minds that inhabit it and the inspiration it can give us all, so long as we think just like each and everyone of its workers do. This is as hokey as a blind girl touching a horse’s nose, but somehow, it all works and is, as much as I hate to admit it, inspiring.

Though the Martian is, basically, a sarcasm-laced, sci-fi survival tale, above all else, it’s a movie about the power of what can be done when you’re using your brain. If you think things through to the best of your ability and seem to know what you’re talking about, then you too, can learn to live and survive on a planet like Mars longer than anybody ever expected you to. All you have to do is put your mind to it, long and hard enough, and eventually, you’ll get there. If you don’t, then think harder or open up a book! Learn something dammit!

Gosh! I gotta go back to school!

Consensus: Exciting, compelling, emotional, and surprisingly hilarious when you don’t at all expect it to, the Martian is the best kind of sci-fi blockbuster that has you using your brains, but at the same time, still enjoying the wild and fun ride while it lasts.

9 / 10

I won't even dare tell you what that actually is.

I won’t even dare tell you what that actually is. Just know this, count me out for a trip to Mars anytime soon.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Magic Mike XXL (2015)

Bigger, longer, uncut. And I’m not even talking about the movie itself.

A few years after Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) left his fellow stripper bros in Tampa, he’s struggling a bit to say the least. Sure, he finally got his dream job of owning his own custom furniture company, but can’t even afford to pay his one employee’s insurance, and not to mention, is living all by himself after his girlfriend (Cody Horn), left him because she “just wasn’t ready yet”. Eventually, the Kings of Tampa reach out to Mike and ask him if they’ll come along and join them as they travel from Tampa to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for their last show before they bow out and get on with their real lives. Mike’s hesitant at first, but he soon gives in and realizes that the trip’s going to a lot harder to complete than he expected; problems arise, women come and go, and friendships are maintained. However, what Mike wants to do the most is break away from what his old boss, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), made him and the guys do. Instead, he wants to dance, shake, jive and strip the way he and his boys know how – it just takes a little creativity is all.

No matter how many people got on my case about it, I never tried to get the past that I actually quite enjoyed Magic Mike – or, as it was known back in the summer of 2012, “the male stripper movie”. Sure, it was filled with half-naked dudes, dry-humping, and dancing on top and/or around women, but because Steven Soderbergh was attached to it, it was surprisingly something more. While it was definitely a movie that featured males stripping to their skivvies for money, it was also a smart tale about growing up in the U.S. and living the American Dream anyway that one person can. Some prefer to work boring 9 to 5, whereas others prefer to get nearly naked for all sorts of women throwing dollar bills at them left and right.

Bro time is the best time. With clothes on, of course.

Bro time is the best time. With clothes on, of course.

With Magic Mike XXL, it’s less about the actual American Dream and more about the dream of, “man, being a male-stripper would be kind of cool”.

Because Soderbergh isn’t around this time again to direct (he does shoot the thing, as you can plainly tell in each and every shot), the movie feels more like it wants to be just a good time, without all that much thinking having to be done in the process. And that’s fine because director Gregory Jacobs understands that most of the people who come to see Magic Mike (see, not critics), may not care about whether or not there’s a heartfelt, compelling story about the human condition placed underneath – he knows that people will just want to see these guys dance, take their clothes off, and look buff as hell. Nothing wrong with that, honestly, it’s just a bit of a disappointment considering that the first one was actually a bit of a surprise by how much it sort of went against its target-audience; something most love and appreciate Soderbergh for.

But like I said, this isn’t a Soderbergh movie and even though the whole story of Magic Mike may not be as deep as the first, it’s still a bunch of fun to watch. The stripping scenes, as predicted, are a lot of fun but seem as if they’re more ridiculous and extreme this time around. That the plot is centered around these guys going on some sort of road trip, we’re now able to peak into all of these neat, little worlds where these guys can sometimes excel. We get to check out a drag club, a mainly African American club, a huge house filled with rich, older women, and, believe it or not, an actual convention for male strippers.

Highly doubt those exist, but for this point in time, I’ll let it all slide.

And with these new set-pieces, Jacobs gets his chance to light the screen up with as much crazy, over-the-top stuff as he wants, and it all makes sense. The art (or in this case, I guess lack thereof) of male-stripping is that you get as wild and as sexxed-up as you possibly can be, because the crazier and more fun you are, the more tips get hurled at you from incredibly horny women. Because male-stripping is such a wacky occupation to have secured in the first place, Jacobs finds himself in a safe place where he can go the extra mile with all of these stripping-sequences, and still be considered “believable”. I’m definitely sure that Jacobs and the rest of his crew weren’t wholly aiming for that element to the story, but it’s the little attributes like that, that help certain movies such as this all the more entertaining to watch.

Also, it helps that you have a solid cast to help work things out, which Magic Mike XXL does, and then some. Considering that Channing Tatum was basically playing a slightly heightened version of himself in the original, it’s no shock that C-Tates plays Mike this time around, the exact same way as before. He’s cool with the ladies, a good dancer, and all around bro that likes to party, but also wants a little more out of life than just fine women, fine cars, fine booze, and fine parties. Sure, we’ve seen Tatum challenged a whole heck of a lot more in the past couple years, but in all honesty, that doesn’t matter considering he’s fine as is here.

Eh. I've seen better.

Eh. I’ve seen better.

Now, when I first heard about Magic Mike XXL, I was very disappointed (but not too shocked) at the fact that neither Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, or Alex Pettyfer would be returning to their original roles here. While most of them are surely missed, the movie still does a fine enough job of filling up their roles, even if too manipulatively so. Though Horn isn’t here as Mike’s girlfriend, Amber Heard is sent in to pick up the pieces as a hipster-ish chick named Zoe, who sweeps Mike off his feet by how “artsy” and “cool” she seems to be with her tats and camera. Heard’s fine here, but her character does feel unnecessary, especially considering all she does is show up, flirt with Mike, and offer him something of a romantic love-interest to look forward to when he’s done his little trip.

But other than that, everybody else is fine and more than welcome to participate in the proceedings.

Most people who moaned and complained about the fact that the original didn’t give a whole lot of development to the characters of Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, or especially, Kevin Nash – well, have no fear. Not only do these characters get plenty of development here, but they even get some of their own moments to shine and reveal something about their personalities. Bomer’s character likes to sing and meditate; Manganiello’s wants to settle down, get married and have a family; Nash’s wants to be, oddly enough, an artist; and as an added-on bonus, Adam Rodríguez’s new character, Tito, likes Frozen Yogurt and wants to sell it in the future. Other characters show up such as Jada Pinkett Smith’s Rome, who had something of a relationship with Mike in his early days, Donald Glover’s Andre, who wants to sing, and Stephen “tWitch” Boss as Malik, who doesn’t have any development, other than that he’s probably the best dancer of the bunch, aside from Tatum himself.

It’s all so incredibly goofy, but it works well because it seems like it wants to make these characters more than just caricatures of puffed-up beefcakes – they’re actually human beings, like you or I.

And yes, we’re still talking about “the male stripper movie” here, folks.

Consensus: While not as exceptional as the first, Magic Mike XXL still provides plenty of fun for anybody looking to see these characters strip-down, dance and hump all the ladies, while also still getting opportunities to talk about their lives.

7 / 10

Enjoy it while it lasts, ladies. Cause after this, it's back to the real world.

Enjoy it while it lasts, ladies. Cause after this, it’s back to the real world.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Lazarus Effect (2015)

Keep the dead, dead. Just a token of advice.

After much time, dedication, and money handed to them through the university they work in, a group of scientists have discovered a serum that brings the dead back to life. At first, they perform it on a blind dog named Rocky who, once he wakes up and comes back to life, can see. However, he’s acting a bit strange. More so than any other normal dog would. But before they can ever do anything to fix Rocky and figure out just what’s going on, the university decides to shut the project down, leaving all of the scientists without hardly any evidence to make up for their thesis and, possibly, even get their experiment taken away from them. Though, they realize that it’s not time to give up, so late one night, they all decide to sneak back into the university and finish their study, once and for all. That is, until tragedy strikes one of the scientists and leaves them dead. Thinking quickly, they try to bring the person back with the serum, seeing as how well it worked for Rocky, until it becomes apparently clear that the serum has some extreme, rather deadly side effects.

Sci-fi horror films like the Lazarus Effect have been around since the early days of film and it’s no shock to anyone that, after awhile, they can get repetitive, forgettable, and downright boring. However, the one interesting element surrounding the Lazarus Effect is that it’s actually stacked with an interesting; a cast who, may I add, don’t seem like the typical chumps to take up material as cheesy and as underwhelming as this.

The look of someone who just DOES. NOT. CARE.

The look of someone who just DOES. NOT. CARE.

For instance, you have Mark Duplass, playing our main protagonist, Frank. Duplass is a joy to watch in anything he shows up in, whether it be from random spots on television, movies, or in actual, real-life interviews. The guy just seems like a class-act who was, like you or I, a normal dude who dreamed of one day making movies for everyone to see and love, and wouldn’t you know it? His dream came true.

That said, it’s utterly confusing as to why he would bother to show up in something like this. His performance is a bit on the bland side, but honestly, a part of me wants to believe that’s just because the material is so thin and poorly-written for him, that even someone as talented and as likable as Duplass, find it a near impossibility to bring some sort of fun or charm to this whole piece. Same goes for the rest of the cast who are, sadly, thrown into a movie that doesn’t seem to utilize their talents well enough, except to have them deliver lame, exposition, or, occasionally, show some sort of personality that only works because of the convention their character is.

Another example of this cast gone to waste is Evan Peters, who mostly everyone and their mothers loved as Quicksilver in Days of Future Past, who is basically given the role of “the stoner”. This means that, yes, he does smoke an awful lot of weed (through a vape, I may add), eat a lot of snack-foods (munchies, bro), and, seemingly out of nowhere at times, prove to the rest of his confidantes that he is a smart science guy who knows a thing or two. All we’re supposed to do with this character in this film is laugh at him and hope that he comes around to deliver a punchline, whenever the film seems to need it the most to clear the air and stop everything from being so serious. Problem is, the movie never gives him anything funny.

Not to mention the fact that what serious proceedings he’s supposed to be breaking up with his lovely smile and grin, aren’t really all that exciting to begin with.

See? Scientists can be cool too, guys!

See? Scientists can be cool too, guys!

Like I’ve said before, everything in the Lazarus Effect has been done before, and while there can sometimes be some fun to be had in knowing what’s coming next and seeing how the characters react to it all, there’s something so dirty and ugly about this movie that makes all of the fun go right out of the window. For instance, the movie flirts with the idea of there being a spirituality vs. actuality battle going on between some of the characters and while the conversations they have can be interesting, the movie takes them to heart so much that when shit hits the fan, it is so extreme and insane, that it seems like there’s hardly anyway for any of the carnage to end. Basically, you just sit back and watch a bunch of people, some you care about, some you don’t, get killed in gruesome, horrific ways and it’s not fun – it’s just gratuitous.

It also feels lazy after awhile, too, because once you realize what’s causing all of these horrific happenings, it becomes clear that the movie doesn’t have anything interesting to do, say, or actually make you think about after leaving it. It’s just pure, unabashed blood, gore, and violence, and it’s rarely exciting to watch. Just dull as dull can be.

The only chances of some hope that the movie gets is whenever it allows for Olivia Wilde, a bright and bubbly screen-presence when she’s given the opportunity to be so, to camp it up. Wilde’s good as is, whenever she’s playing a normal person who wants to figure out a way to save lives and possibly even revive them, but when her character eventually starts to turn the other cheek and you realize that there’s something a tad bit dangerous to her, then that’s when she seems to actually be having fun. In a movie as lame as this, it would be incredibly hard for someone to even have the slightest bit of joy in their stomach while performing, but Wilde, for what it’s worth, seems like she’s giving it her all, even if the movie doesn’t always have her back in the end.

What a shame.

Consensus: Dull, dark, drab, and ugly, the Lazarus Effect takes an interesting concept, cast, and group of ideas, and goes nowhere with them you don’t see coming from a mile away and already don’t care for.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Eh. Still take her out on a date and meet my mom.

Eh. Still take her out on a date and meet my mom.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

Next time, when you’re making a film geared towards kids, go for a smaller, more comprehensible title.

On the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould), nothing seems to be going right for him. The most popular kid in his school seems to be planning on having his birthday party, the same day as he’s having his; his dad (Steve Carell) is out of a job and currently staying at-home to watch the young baby, who also won’t stop crying; his mom (Jennifer Garner) has a new book that’s about to hit the shelves and possibly break records; his older brother (Dylan Minnette) has prom and his driver’s test the next day, so of course, he’s being a jerk; and his older sister (Kerris Dorsey) is currently getting ready to take the stage for her school’s rendition of Peter Pan. Everybody’s getting on Alexander’s case and it seems like his days are just getting more and more bad as they go on. It’s getting so bad that, before he goes to bed, Alexander makes a wish that all of this bad luck for him would just go away. Well, the next day, guess what happens? It does! But somehow, it’s spawned-off to the rest of the family and it just continuously gets worse for all involved, in the worst possible ways imaginable.

So many first world problems just awaiting somewhere in the distance.

So many first world problems just awaiting somewhere in the distance.

It’s difficult to make a family movie, that’s literally made for the whole family. Meaning, that while you don’t necessarily have to be catering towards the kiddies of the clan with fart, poop, and pee jokes, you also don’t have to make your humor so subversive for the grown-ups of the group, to where it’s almost inappropriate for anybody to watch, let alone, for family movie night. But also, in making sure that you’re both funny enough to appeal to all parties of the illustrious fam-squad, you also run the risk of actually being a mess of a movie that hardly anybody would be able to see or enjoy.

Somehow though, Alexander and… (I’m not going to list the whole thing, sorry), runs through that slippery-slope and lands somewhere in the middle. That’s to say that it doesn’t necessarily offend anybody, as much as it just offers little, short splices of adult-humor, amongst all of the crazy, wacky hijinx the non-stop barrage of slap-stick offers. This would usually bother the hell out of me, but considering the time-limit (just under 80 minutes), the family-feel nature of it, and the willing cast, I found myself more entertained and pleased than I would have wanted. Doesn’t mean the movies perfect, or without any types of flaws because it’s serviceable and nothing more, but that doesn’t also mean I should get on the movie’s case much either.

It’s simply not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings, so therefore, I’ll try not to do the same; even though, yes, I’ll probably fail.

Though it’s mostly filled with the same old “whatevers” you’d see in these kinds of family-friendly films, the one interesting element of this movie to note, was that Miguel Arteta directed this and, judging by his past-work, you would never know it. Arteta, if you’re a hip, fly and cool movie-watcher, is known for directing such comedy-based indies like the Good Girl, Youth in Revolt, and Cedar Rapids, and while I’d never call any of them masterpieces in their own rights, they’re still different than what I’d expect from him here. They’re all funny movies, but they’re also a tad darker and heavier on the drama than this movie here. Not to mention they’re also all rated-R, but that’s beside the point.

What I’m trying to say, is simply this: Miguel Arteta doesn’t make movies like this and that’s why it surprised me to discover he was the one behind this movie. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s interesting to see, because Arteta handles the material well; it’s quick, fast, and punchy enough to where the visual, slapstick-gags do their thing and while they may not always hit the mark, there’s not much time spent to think about or dell on them, so you just sort of just take them as they are. Slap-stick, when done right, can be downright hilarious and make me squeal like a 10-year-old girl, but if it’s done wrong, or better yet, too much, then it can sometimes be grating.

#Lolz

#Lolz

Here, the slap-stick continues to get piled on so much, in so many extreme ways because it’s ridiculous as is written – that’s the point. So, because sometimes the slips, slides, prat-falls, and embarrassing moments are so random, they’re actually kind of funny; they don’t need any rhyme or reason, and that’s where some of the fun lies. Of course, the movie tries to barrow itself down and hit some sort of message by the end, but by that point, I didn’t care how sappy it was. The first two-halves of it had entertained me enough to where the movie could have literally ended with them curing world hunger, and so long as they had at least a gag or two dedicated to Steve Carell making funny faces, then I’d have been totally cool with it.

Gosh, now that I think about it, why didn’t they do that? So many missed opportunities here, people!

And speaking of Carell, the dude is so earnest here, that even though the character he’s playing is a bit of a dork, there’s something so incredibly sweet and charming, that it hardly ever matters; Jennifer Garner isn’t my favorite actress, but she’s so down to do whatever the movie throws at her (sometimes, literally), I couldn’t help but respect her just a tad more than usual; Ed Oxenbould is in the typical “smart kid”-role, but the movie doesn’t constantly focus on him, so I was okay with that; and the rest of the cast, with what they’re given to do, all put in some funny moments that may have otherwise been forgettable, stupid and the exactly what this seems to be: A paycheck gig.

Albeit, a fun one where everybody involved seemed to actually be pleased to do.

Consensus: Typical family-fare, but Alexander the… is still charming, fast-paced, and funny enough to where it’s fun for the whole family, as well as for 21-year-old anti-social d-bags. You know, like yours truly.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"Oh my gosh! Minimum-wage jobs!"

“Oh my gosh! Minimum-wage jobs!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The To Do List (2013)

Teenagers are already awkward as it is. Throw sex into the equation and it’s just a huge mess. Literally and figuratively.

Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) was not the type of girl that did much with her time in high-school, other than study, study, and do some more studying. It all built to something and got her the sweet title “Valedictorian”, however, she still didn’t have much time or opportunity to fool around with boys and test the waters of sex out. Now that the summer has begun, the one before college resumes in the Fall, Brandy believes that it’s her time to shine sexually and show all the dudes out there what they’ve been missing out on, when in fact, it’s her who’s the one that’s missing out. But in order to feel fully prepped-up and ready for the wirl-wind of sex and fluids that Freshman year of college is going to be, Brandy has devised a list of all the sexual acts that’s she’s heard of, but never actually knew about or performed. All while leading up to losing her V-card, to non other than a college student (Scott Porter) she can’t help but have eyes for.

Here’s when I knew something was wrong with this movie right from the very beginning: The title-sequence was not only shown in it’s entirety, but didn’t do anything funny or original that had to do with the movie it was representing. Whenever any movie does that with their opening-credits, let alone a comedy, you know something’s not right, but then again, that could also just be me. I have a weird instinct about stuff like that so yeah, maybe I overreacted a bit too early in the game. OR MAYBE I DIDN’T?!?!?

Like the first time I kissed a dude. I mean, WAIT, WHAT?!?!??!

Like the first time I kissed a dude. I mean, WAIT, WHAT?!?!??!

The problem with this movie all stems from the sole fact that it holds so much promise for hilarity, wit, insight, and an emotional connection, that it makes me more depressed knowing that it was all squandered in favor of a bunch of nonsensical, unfunny jokes that go nowhere and are only meant to shock us, or get a rise. Either way, it tried too hard and it showed because nothing hit it’s mark here, not even the constant sex-jokes that they decide to throw at us. However, the movie has plenty of jokes that made me chuckle at least once, and hell, when I think about it now, maybe even twice, but those were very few and far between, and I have yet to even remember them now specifically, even as I’m typing away here.

Then again though, this whole movie could be considered “unforgettable”, and it will only hit the nail on the head. Except that I realize that underneath all of the non-stop layers of poop, fart, dick, balls, boobs, and sex jokes; there’s an actual point and story meant to be told here. Problem is, it never shows up or when it does, it comes out in the cheesiest, most-innate way possible; as if the flick itself needed to “have a point” in order to be more than just “a story about some chick trying to get her cherry popped”.

You can do so much with a raunchy, teen comedy, especially because any person, no matter how old or young they are, is able to connect with it. Everybody in their life has been a teenager, and has been sexually-frustrated or curious at least one time in their life. So right there is enough material to make the young, brass, sexually-problematic teenager come out from within us, connect with the material, and make us long for the old days when a sudden glance from the crush you had in school, gave you the sweats for the days. However, that said material is lost and never to be found again because the movie isn’t funny, tries to be, and doesn’t even make sense really.

If you think about it: This movie has no point to be taking place in the 90’s. With the exception of a VHS copy of Beaches, and a hip, nostalgic soundtrack that boasts some of the most obvious songs from the day, there’s nothing here that’s necessarily of the time of the 90’s, which means I never felt it either. I always felt like I was just watching a bunch of people dress-up in some odd outfits, and let that be it. They also said and did some dirty things that I highly doubt we’re really “named” back in ’93, but that’s just me. I was just born, so what the hell do I know? Basically, where I’m trying to get at it with this point is that the movie could have been placed during any decade or any year, and it wouldn’t have mattered a single bit. Why? Well, it’s not funny and the movie as a whole just doesn’t matter. You won’t learn anything new about growing up and coming to terms with your sexual-awakening, and you sure as hell won’t be telling your kids to watch it if they ever need something to connect to.

For all of us Gen-Y kids, we have American Pie and Superbad for that. And we’re better adolescents for it.

But nothing about this movie, not a single thing about it was as disappointing as the next aspect of this movie I’m about to cover: Aubrey Plaza in the lead role. It should come as to no surprise to anybody that knows about my love for Parks & Rec. that I love the hell out of Plaza and consider her one of my biggest crushes working today (her and Rosemarie Dewitt, oddly enough). Hell, I even went to school with her younger sister for one year, so if that doesn’t tell you anything about me and my connection to her throughout the years, then I have no clue just what the hell will! Fact is, I love the hell out of this chick and believe that she’s so talented and hilariously deadpan, that I was left down in the dumps when I realized that she just couldn’t pull through with this material and her lead performance as Brandy.

RED CUP ALERT!!

RED CUP ALERT!!

And to be honest, I can’t really put the blame on Plaza herself. She tries, it’s very obvious, but she does at least give it her all. Problem with Plaza is that she’s so used to deadpanning her ass off, that instead of giving this character any type of energy and charm, she seems to just be sarcastic all of the time, as if she was never really taking the premise or the material seriously enough. Plaza’s sense of humor works wonders in almost everything that she does, but she’s oddly-miscast her, almost to the point of where it was unbearable for me to watch. I have myself to blame for that, but I just couldn’t help myself dammit!

An even bigger shame about this movie (as if you haven’t been able to tell by now) is that the rest of the talented-cast is wasted as well. The only ones out of this huge ensemble that were able to get a slight giggle out of me were Clark Gregg, Connie Britton, Alia Shawkat, and most importantly, Bill Hader. That’s it. Everybody else is left to try and be funny, but just end up falling flat on their faces because either they don’t have the guts to make the material work, or it’s the material itself that’s failing them. I feel like it’s more of the latter, but there is some of the former thrown in there as well and it shows more than once. Just overall, a total disappointment and makes me sad to see many of these talented people stoop to the levels of this crappy script.

Consensus: Despite a heavy-presence of some very, very funny people, The To Do List never ends up being that: Funny. Instead, we get a bunch of dirty jokes that go nowhere and are only left to make us realize that being a teenager was so awkward.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

It's the 90's because of the hair, right?

It’s the 90’s because of the hair, right?