Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Emma Roberts

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2017)

School sucks. So just go home.

It’s February, which means that it’s cold, snowy, and absolutely miserable outside. The best option for mostly everyone is to stay indoors, keep warm, and just hope that the snow doesn’t come down too much for shoveling the next day. During this deadly cold time, a troubled young woman named Joan (Emma Roberts) for some reason, gets picked up by an older couple (Lauren Holly and James Remar), who take a liking to Joan and need her for something. Joan doesn’t really know what, but she’s happy to be out of the cold for once and appreciates all of the hospitality. Meanwhile, at an isolated prep school, there’s Rose (Lucy Boynton) who has a bit of an issue of her own, and doesn’t know how quite to deal with it, whereas her fellow student Kat (Kiernan Shipka), also is dealing with something going on with her, too. The two students are basically trapped in this school over this winter-break, without barely anyone to talk to or hang with, except for each other, which makes all of the strange happenings around the campus all the more weirder and scary. Somehow, these three stories are connected, but neither knows just yet.

Mad Men‘s over. I know. Shocking.

Oz Perkins clearly likes to take his stories slow. As he did with I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House, Perkins showed that he has a love for taking his time, keeping his camera still, and constantly building and building on atmosphere, as opposed to just throwing all caution to the wind and letting loose. In a way, there’s no problem with that – as long as you’re building on something interesting and compelling, then really, there’s no problem.

And for awhile, it seems like that’s what the Blackcoat’s Daughter (or as it used to be known as, February), is rolling with.

For the most part, Perkins helps his case out by giving us three interesting stories of three relatively different women, without fully divulging into each and everything we need to know about them. They’re dark, quiet, and a little mysterious, which makes them watchable and for us, the audience, curious of where the story may take them; Perkins doesn’t really show too many instances of horror in the first half-hour of this movie, but instead, just building small, ever so brief moments of character and mood that gradually, over time, come together and help the movie out.

And sure, it does aid these characters that the three gals playing them, Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, and Lucy Boynton, are all commanding presences. Roberts seems like she’s got something deeper and darker going on with her; Shipka just seems creepy altogether; and Boynton, while clearly getting the most to work with out of the three, seems like she could have really worked in something that was perhaps more dramatic, and less sinister. But still, all three here are good and keep us watching, even when we’re not quite sure just where everything is going.

Cause when it does get to where it needs to, Blackcoat’s Daughter doesn’t totally disappoint, but it does feel odd.

Cheer up, Scream Queen. (TV references are all that I’ve got)

In a way, a lot of crazy, bad, ugly, and scary stuff happens in the final-act, but there feels like there’s more behind it and we just never get to see it. It’s as if Perkins himself had the material in mind to help us make better sense of all the scary stuff that’s happening, but either didn’t have the time, or budget, to really develop it more. You can sort of tell this is a problem, too, with certain scenes getting really gory and graphic, but other ones, hinting at something more underneath, and we just never get to see that.

The horror itself is still effective, but when it feels like there’s something missing behind allowing it to hit even harder, it’s a bit of a problem. Most horror movies suffer with this, mostly because it seems like they just don’t have any ideas in the first place, but just scares, but it seems like Perkins himself is a step above that. Perhaps, he’s got a few too many ideas to really connect-the-dots between them and his scares, because there’s just something missing here.

One of these days I’ll figure it out. Hopefully.

Consensus: Effective in building on its atmosphere and chills, the Blackcoat’s Daughter shows Perkins is able to conjure up horror, even if he doesn’t have all the nuts and bolts down.

6 / 10

“Yeah, this vacation blows already.”

Photos Courtesy of: Gruesome Magazine


Nerve (2016)

Truth, or Dare, or Die?!?!

Set in the world we currently live in, a social-media platform exists and is quite popular in which players can choose between two options: Either be a “watcher”, or a “player”. If you choose the former, you get to sign into your account, pay a small fee, and watch as people do all sorts of crazy and death-defying stunts and dares. However, choose the later, and you’ll be given all sorts of cash from users, daring you to do one thing, after another. There’s more rules to the game itself, how it’s played, and why outside interference (i.e. the cops), is extremely frowned upon, but all that needs to be known is that it’s a sick and twisted game, that finds high school senior, Venus (Emma Roberts), not sure if she wants to go as far as the users want her to. Eventually, the night takes her to meet another user (Dave Franco), who can’t help but love the money thrown his way, even if the dares themselves start getting more and more dangerous. Which is what happens, especially when it turns out that they’re both the most-watched and popular users in Nerve, making them not only richer, but even bigger targets.

"Hey, girl. Wanna ride?"

“Hey, girl. Wanna ride?”

Nerve is a neat idea that, for awhile at least, is as fun as it promises. The dares themselves continue to get more and more wild, there’s a certain air of tension no matter what, and yes, the fact that it’s meant to take place on this one single night in a colorfully-lit NYC, makes it all the more fun to watch. The world in which Nerve takes place in, isn’t all that far-fetched, what with Pokemon Go taking over the whole world, and yes, even the dares themselves still seem somewhat in the realm of possibility.

So why is that the movie falls apart by the end?

Well, the fact remains that sometimes, just having a good idea, isn’t enough to sustain a whole movie. Because when you take into consideration that movie’s themselves need to have a story, with characters, archs, some twists, some turns, and most of all, a satisfying, if also, believable ending, then you’ve got yourself what some people consider “a movie”. Nerve is “a movie”, obviously, and while it definitely has a good portion of what I just listed, eventually, it starts to show cracks within itself.

For one, it tries to be about something that doesn’t quite work. It wants to have discussions about social media, privacy, and the government, but doesn’t really connect with either message/viewpoint; if anything, Jason Bourne was more effective discussing and allowing for the same ideas to find its way into the plot. It’s not that what they’re saying is dated or wrong, it’s just that they come into a movie that feels more like giving us high-flying and crazy stunts, rather than actually sitting down, looking up to the sky, and ponder what it all means.

Which, isn’t all that surprising, when you realize that the same directors behind Catfish, henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, are helming this feature and are showing why they don’t trust the internet. That movie, honestly, came at a time where there was a lot meant to be said for Facebook and Twitter and all sorts of other social-media, but here, they don’t seem to be able to connect their themes to the plot. What they do know how to do is keep the excitement going, whenever they rely on the actual dares themselves.

But like I said before, everything else just doesn’t quite work.

Listening to whatever the cool kids listen to nowadays.

Listening to whatever the cool kids listen to nowadays. Or whatever the cool kids in the early-90’s listen to back then, because that’s what’s “in” now, right?

Well, with the exception of the acting, that is. While it may be a tad difficult to believe Dave Franco and Emma Roberts as high school-aged kids, together, their chemistry works like gangbusters. Roberts works well as this very repressed teenager who clearly seems like she has a lot of personality-issues to work through, whereas Franco’s character is hard to pin-down. We know that he’s supposed to be the love-interest here, and therefore, we’re supposed to like him, but there’s something a little troubling about him and his character that, quite frankly, makes their night more interesting.

There’s others on the side of whatever Franco and Roberts are doing together, like Emily Meade stealing the show, Juliette Lewis having the duty to play dim-witted mommy, and Machine Gun Kelly being less annoying than he is on Roadies, but honestly, characters don’t really matter in a thing like this. What Nerve proves is that sometimes, all you need is an interesting idea to roll and have fun with. Then again, it’s also the same kind of movie that proves that maybe, just maybe, more thought has to go into all of the other pieces of the puzzle, so that audiences don’t lose interest in something that had already been grabbing their attention in the first place. And this matters, too, because when you have big theater chains trying to incorporate cell-phone usage into the movies, well, then you know you’ve really got to work extra hard to keep those teenie-boppers off of their damn phones.

Then again, you could just play this PSA before every movie and it’ll probably do the trick.

Or, maybe not.

Just turn your cellphones off in the theater, people!

Consensus: Interesting and compelling for a good portion, Nerve is surprisingly entertaining, but then it all starts to fall apart by the time the implausible and silly final-act comes around to spoil all of the fun being had in the first place.

6 / 10

Oh man. What a shame it would be to have to walk around, half-naked, with the bodies of Dave Franco and Emma Roberts. Jeez. Could. Not. Imagine.

Oh, man. What a shame it would be to have to walk around New York City, half-naked, having the bodies of Dave Franco and Emma Roberts. Jeez. Could. Not. Imagine.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz, Indiewire

Palo Alto (2014)

California has some creepy-ass parents. And even more messed-up kids.

In California, a group of high school students come to terms with what’s supposed to be “adulthood”, yet, can’t seem to shake the fact at all that they might actually have to go through with it. Fred (Nat Wolff) is a wild, crazed lunatic that is downright unstable and on the verge of having himself a full-on, mental breakdown; Teddy (Jack Kilmer) is a meek, quiet, and reserved kid that likes to do most things that any teen on the face of the planet enjoys to do, but finds himself in a bit of a rut when he gets arrested one night; Emily (Zoe Levin) is a girl who gets around and uses sex as a tool for attention, but finds herself actually wanting a relationship with the wild-card that is Fred; and then there’s April (Emma Roberts). April is a smart one, but she’s also confused, angry and bored, which leads her into the arms of her soccer coach/baby-sitter employer (James Franco), and further away from the one that actually wants to be with her (Teddy). These four teens all know each other and find their stories interconnecting in ways, while also share the same idea: Being a teenager blows.

To be honest, that synopsis there was a bit of a stretch for me because there isn’t really much of a premise here. Instead, writer/director Gia Coppola (if you know the last name, you know exactly which family she comes from) just sort of moves this film from one event to the next, without much conflict, arch, or narrative to be found in there. It’a almost as if Coppola got this whole cast together, plopped the camera on the ground, and told them to “go!”, without really taking much initiative.

Probably listening to the Antlers, or whoever the "hip" band is nowadays.

Probably listening to the Antlers, or whomever the “hip” band is nowadays.

This may all sound like a bad thing, but I can assure you, it’s not. Somehow, this absolutely works for Coppola’s movie because it shows that she’s not judging anybody here whatsoever; there’s no villains, heroes, or clear-cut person that’s easy to predict what their actions next will be. Everybody here is a human being, and because of that stance Coppola seems to take, the movie feels exactly like that: A snapshot of real life, happening in front of our own very eyes. Sometimes, you could even say it’s a bit too real, but there’s something different here about the reality of these teen’s lives that Coppola creates, then against something like say, I don’t know, a Larry Clark movie.

Here, Coppola distances herself away from the material and just allows everyone, and everything to tell itself out; whereas with most of  Clark’s movies, it’s clear and obvious that he has some sort of agenda – almost as if he’s just rubbing all of this meaningless debauchery in our faces to show us how realistic it all truly is. But Coppola isn’t that type of director, and while there may be some lurid acts here that may not sit well with possible-parents out there, it still works as a way of getting us deep inside this small, boring life that these young, privileged kids have surrounded around themselves. While plenty of kids do drugs, drink, have sex, break stuff, drink flower-pot water, get into car accidents, and listen to deafening hip, EDM-jams, it’s never supposed to be seen as fun. It may cause some people to laugh in a nostalgic, “hey, I remember when I did that back in the good old days before I got old and boring”-way, but for the most part, it’s supposed to show us, the audience, that these kids are living dull lives.

Yet, it’s all that they have and somehow, you end up feeling bad for them because of so.

For example, take the character of Fred; the kind of guy you knew in high school who didn’t take shit from anyone, anywhere, regardless of it was reasonable or not. He just loved to be an asshole and get his point across, so therefore, he wasn’t the most popular/loved guy in high school, but everybody still knew exactly who he was. Watching him go around, insult people to their faces and basically say, or do, whatever comes natural to him, definitely strikes a chord with most of us who have ever felt that rebellious spirit burning deep down inside of themselves at any time in the adolescence. And because of this, Fred’s a pretty cool guy, albeit, a very dysfunctional one that doesn’t always make the right choices, with the best intentions.

However, that doesn’t make him a terrible human being, per se. It makes him somewhat thinly-minded, but he’s not a terrible person, which is something that Coppola wants to get across about each and everyone of these characters; they make decisions, not all of which will be morally correct in the eyes of “the perfect human specimen”. Because of this, it’s characters like Fred that are seen as honest and raw kids that you could walk into on the street, or may have even met back in the day, before all of the selfies and Twitter took charge of the young, fragile minds.

Gosh, this generation truly is fucked. You know?

Anyway, speaking of Fred, Nat Wolff is a downright scene-stealer in this role and shows me exactly why this kid is a young talent to be looked after. As I’ve said before about Fred, he’s a bit of a punk that doesn’t always do, or say the right things, yet, has a conscience that wants to be with those who appreciate his company and also wants to have a good time. There’s a possibility that his character and Zoe Levin’s may start up something very serious and committed together, and it shows them two as more than just a bunch of reckless, shallow teens; they want love, but they’ve never felt, or had it before, so they don’t know how to approach it or go on about it. Zoe Levin is great too, by the way, and gives Emily a very sad-streak that reminded me of plenty of girls in high school that I “knew”.

I won’t say anything more than that, but yeah, you get my drift.

"Hey, 'James Franco: Soccer Coach', has a pretty nice sound to it."

“Hey, ‘James Franco: Soccer Coach’, has a pretty nice sound to it.”

The other “love” on the other side of this story is supposed to be between Teddy and April, but without saying too much, that angle gets shelved for April and her soccer-coach to engage in some heavy, full-on flirting and kissing. Which, oddly enough, seems to be the main-attraction for this movie, only because of James Franco, but is probably the least-interesting aspect of the whole movie and isn’t even featured all that much to begin with. Franco is good as the pervy older-guy who creeps on April and possible other young gals her age, but isn’t in it all that much to really show him as anything more than just an “old dude who wants to rob the cradle a bit”. You could pretty much just say “half of Hollywood”, but you get the picture.

As for Emma Roberts, she’s amazing as April because, even though her character does some foolish, child-like things, she always seems smarter and more thoughtful than she lets on. When it becomes apparent that she may in fact love her soccer-coach, it isn’t done so in a way that makes it seem like a total fantasy, it’s shown in an understandable, believable way that has us feel bad for April because there’s absolutely no good that come of this, while simultaneously also feeling happy for her that she’s found a possible love in her life and may actually be pursuing it for the first time. This may sound like a total compliment to Coppola, but it’s really to Roberts who allows April to say so much, without saying anything at all and adding layers to her thought-process and the way she handles certain situations.

But the best for last is Jack Kilmer as Teddy, who, if you don’t know by now, is the son of the almighty Val Kilmer (who cameos up in this movie and just about steals the whole thing with only a few words of dialogue). However, just by taking one look at the kid, you’d know that right away because not only does he look a lot like his daddy did when he was a lot younger (and thinner, just saying), but even shows some of the same strengths as an actor as well. Kilmer does a lot of looking, which may seem boring and uninteresting to some, but really emphasizes a certain amount of mystery this kid has going for him and why it matters how quiet he stays. He’s the kind of kid that didn’t really talk much in high school, yet, was always there and was always doing nice things. Like everybody else in this movie, he’s not perfect, but then again, who the hell is?

Better yet, who the hell is considered “perfect” in high school – the time where practically all of us hardly have any idea of what to think of ourselves as being?

Consensus: Well-acted by just about everybody in the cast and thoughtful, Palo Alto is a promising directorial-debut for Gia Coppola that shows her inherent beauty for some of the more quieter moments in adolescence, as well as the ones that have most of us thinking about what’s right, and what’s wrong.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

No way in hell would this ever work! You really think that this person and that person wants to be related to one another?

No way in hell would this ever work! You really think that this person and that person want to be related to one another?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

We’re the Millers (2013)

Maybe I’m not really “the Man” I say I am. Maybe I’m just a 19-year-old blogger, who watches a shit-ton of movies and can write snappy-sayings. Just maybe.

After being robbed of his weed-stash, small-time drug-dealer David Clark (Jason Sudekis) is left owing a bit of money and hash to his main-supplier, who just so happens to come in the form of a very rich, very snobby millionaire named Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms). Even though David thinks he’s through and going to get off’d, Brad offers him a way “out” of sorts: Find a way to smuggle a “smidge” of weed from Mexico to the U.S. without getting caught. Sounds easy enough, however, David looks and acts like a drug-dealer so he knows that he can’t get by in his normal skin. Therefore, he gets whoever he can around him to create a fake, happy-go-lucky family that, from the outside, look all loving and dorky enough to get past any suspicious law-enforcers. Problem is, David can’t find “classy” enough people to help him get away with it all, therefore, he gets whatever he can find in the form of down-on-her-luck stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston) as his fake wife; a runaway teenager (Emma Roberts),as his daughter; and a socially-awkward nerd who lives in his building and is practically left alone for all hours of the day (Will Poulter) as his son. It’s the perfect plan, well, sort of.

Some may disagree with me, and if so, that’s cool, but I will say that the one aspect working for this movie is it’s premise. Granted, nothing really new or cool, but it does offer plenty of room for comedy and serviceable moments of human-interaction, both of which did not seem at all evident in the first 30 minutes of this thing at all. In fact, none of the charm, humor, or fun that occurs in the last hour or so, even remotely shows up in it’s first-and-a-half act. Instead, every line of comedy, every joke, and every pop-culture reference that this movie drops out of it’s behind, hits the ground; and not with a whimper, but with a bang. Also, mind you, it was an R-rated comedy that made it seem like it could just get by on throwing the F-word around, in order to make a line of dialogue even close to be considered “funny”. Wasn’t working, I was pissed, and to be honest, I wondered if this was going to be the worst comedy of the summer (second to that crap-fest the Internship).

"I work with this piece of sex and go home at night to an even better piece. Trust me, you don't have to tell me "I'm lucky". I already know!"

“I work with this piece of sex and go home at night to an even better piece. Trust me, you don’t have to tell me “I’m lucky”. I already know!”

However, something changed within me, as well as with this movie. First of all, once the plot got going in it’s quick, contrived way, suddenly, the movie found it’s footing and the charm was working. Not just on the crowd around me, but myself most importantly. I found myself laughing, grinning, chuckling, and even gut-busting a couple of times, and that’s when I found myself in my comfort-zone. Of course it still continued to be raunchy and low-brow with it’s moments of mistaken incest, spider-bitten testicles, and couples “swinging together”, but it did so in a way that still made me laugh, without really making me feel like it was trying too hard.

During some parts, the movie does seem to try hard, a little too hard I may say, but it had me laughing a lot more than I expected and with a comedy such as this, when it’s obvious that most of the jokes are going to come completely from below-the-belt, I’m more than happy to embrace it. I still acknowledged it’s flaws, but I also recognized that it made me giggle, and didn’t make me feel like the only person either. Maybe that’s why comedies are so enjoyable to see at the movies in the first place. Not only do you laugh, but others join in on the fun and laughter as well. It’s what makes the movies, THE MOVIES, and it was nice to get at least a little bit of a solid-reminder that modern-day comedies can still be considered “funny”, especially with a larger-crowd.

Then again though, I can’t get too swamped-up in the people around me because, as you know: I am a film critic, and it is my responsibility/duty to make sure that I see and focus on all aspects of a movie, both good and bad. Thankfully, the bad doesn’t out-weigh the good, but it does show many times, mainly in it’s sympathetic-route it so obviously takes, yet feels a bit twisted in it’s own morals. The whole premise behind this flick makes it sound mean, dirty, disgusting, and naughty, which it is for a long while, but once the flick begins to show it’s softer-side and get all heartfelt on our asses, it doesn’t work. Cause don’t let me forget to remind you, this is a movie about a drug-dealer who gets a stripper, a homeless girl, and some nerd-a-tron to pose as his “family”, just so that he can make a pay-day with the drug kingpin he owes money to. Doesn’t sound so sweet and innocent now, does it? Exactly my feelings, hence why it’s so odd when the flick starts to make us feel like there are lessons to be learned, and they come at a cost.

The cost being: Less laughs, more sympathy. Not terrible to watch, but it does drag the movie down a big-step.

"Folks, I just wanted to say good-bye and enjoy the rest of your trip?"

“Folks? I just wanted to say good-bye and enjoy the rest of your trip.”

With this type of movie though, you have to have a cast that’s willing and able to do all sorts of the raunchy, baddie-bad shenanigans that ensue, and I think everybody is more than able to participate: They actually show themselves having a grand time and loving the hell out of it. I have to say, even though I think he’s pretty funny on SNL, Jason Sudeikis has not done much for me with his movie-choices. Some of them are inspired, showing more of a human behind the hilarity (Going the Distance), whereas others are just lazy and used as an obvious ploy to make us see him as the funny, everyday man (Hall Pass). Thankfully here, he shows that he can be funny in a way that’s not asking him to stretch much of his acting-skills, but also doesn’t need him to when the material’s as simple as they come: Look charming, be witty, and have fun. That’s all there is to this material, and Sudeikis owns it, giving his own pieces of dry-sarcasm whenever possibly needed.

Some may also be a bit worried about whether or not the simple-gal nature of Jennifer Aniston’s image will get in the way of the stripper character she’s playing here, but have no fear, because the chicky holds her own and is very funny. Honestly, she doesn’t look the part of a trashy-stripper, in fact, her body’s too natural for that type of decked-out, busty-look that most associate with strippers, but when it comes to holding her own with the raunch and the lowbrow, she does a spectacular job. She’s got that charm about her that always works, no matter if you want to admit it or not. As for the kiddie-bops, Emma Roberts and Will Poulter are also very good and funny, especially Poulter, who shows us all of his geeky character’s antics, doesn’t let up a bit, but also gets beneath him as well and shows a bit of a softer-side that we expected to see, but not to actually believe in. The movie gives him his moment to shine and rather than it being stupid, trite, and predictable, it’s surprisingly cute and heartfelt, aka, the only instance where the movie’s seriousness worked. As for all of the other moments: Just should have stayed smug.

Consensus: Don’t expect We’re the Millers to win you over right away, it takes time and a force of will, but once it’s charm starts moving, and the cast begins to get more involved with the material, then you’ll have a fun time, laughing-while-holding-your-belly and all.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

So natural, yet so smokin'. The End.

Just as speechless as you.

Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)

Chicks got to make up their minds.

Best friends and lovers since high school, Jesse (Andy Samberg) and Celeste (Rashida Jones) got married in their twenties and, after a few years of wedded bliss, woke up to discover that they love each other as pals but not as husband and wife. So Jesse moves on, while Celeste is left to wonder just what the hell did she do.

It’s a surprise that this flick hasn’t gotten a bigger distribution than what it already has, because the material here could probably end up making this a sleeper hit of the late Summer, much like (500) Days of Summer did way back in ’09. No, it’s nothing as brilliant and original as that, but it says the same stuff and makes you feel the same emotions, except there’s no Hall & Oates in this one. That already puts it a step-below.

What I think touched me about this story right off the bat was how honest it was about itself. I don’t know how much Jones and co-writer/co-star Will McCormack have experienced in their lives from the past, but it seems like they know a whole lot about relationships, how you make them work, and sometimes, how you can make them fall-apart just by trying to change that other person. There’s a lot here that speaks out to people who think they are too good for their soul-mate and think that it’s time to call it quits just because they aren’t up-to date with them, as much as they are with everything else in the world. There are plenty of people out there just exactly like that, and 9 times out of 10, those people start to realize that they made a huge mistake because they never once thought that the person they’d tried to get rid of, would eventually come back and be the person they always wanted them to be.  It’s a very true testament to not just how relationships work, but people as well, and Celeste and Jesse are no different from that.

What I liked most about this script was how every single part of this flick was set-up as a rom-com cliché. Gay best-friend? Check. Chick that needs to get her love-life back on-track but ultimately fails? Check. Witty best friend that tells it like it is? Check. Big speech at the end where the character tells everybody all that they have been through? Double check. The difference here is that this film sees those conventions, and sort of spins them on its head and give us a true tale of love being lost, love being unrequited, and love almost being found once again. The story I have been describing to you for the past 3 paragraphs now, may seem like a total drag but I can assure you that it’s not. There is a lot of material that is funny here and even though every once and awhile this film will show us something we have seen done before in thousands of other rom-coms, it still feels true to itself and to the situation these characters are in.

By the end, when this story started to show it’s true colors and what it was really trying to say, that’s when I actually started to feel a little emotion here and there. The whole idea of this chick getting fed-up with her old husband because he won’t grow-up and then wants him back, doesn’t seem that sympathetic, but the way it’s played out here makes it seem so and you feel for this Celeste character. Not only is she a very realistic female character that you could easily meet at a bar or somewhere in a downtown night club, she’s also a gal that feels some sort of emotions whenever her feelings are hurt and when she wants to just be loved. You don’t really see female characters in rom-coms go through the type of shit Celeste goes through here, and I think that’s what makes her development as a character, all that much better and smarter.

My problem with this script was that I did feel like they took a little bit too much away from Celeste, just in order to give-up some time to random side characters that could have honestly been cut-out. I liked Elijah Wood as the stereotypical gay boss/best-friend, but he doesn’t add a single thing to this whole product and if they were to get rid of him, I don’t think much would have been missed. Not saying that he’s bad or anything, it’s just that there isn’t much to hold onto when it comes to his character. The same could be said for Emma Roberts who plays a Ke$ha-like teen-star that just wants to rock-out with her whatevers out. Roberts is fine in this role too, but she doesn’t add anything either other than a bunch of dumb dick and butt gags that seem tired by the third time they even mention it. Other characters like Chris Messina as a hopeful boyfriend that will take Celeste out of her funk, and Will McCormick as the stoner buddy named Skillz, are all fun to watch but also seem like another example of this film having too many ideas and too many side characters that eventually take away from Celeste’s real problem at-hand: the chick can’t move on.

Andy Samberg finally gets his real taste at drama and plays it up very well, when he gets the chance to. Samberg, at-first, plays Jesse as his usual jocky, young-minded, goofy persona that always seems to take over his characters but by the end changes it up a bit and starts to grow-up into his own person that is just as confused with what he wants as Celeste is. Jesse’s whole story development seems a little forced (the guy already wants to have a family with this one girl after one date?), but Samberg makes it seem believable with a nice amount of honesty and sensitivity that is unlike anything we have ever seen from him before. It’s not one of those roles that really stands-out and shows that this guy can almost do it all, but it’s a nice way of showing that maybe there is a life for this guy after leaving SNL and doing a shit-fest like That’s My Boy.

The real star of this whole movie, as you probably predicted since she co-wrote it, is Rashida Jones as Celeste. Jones is an actress that we all know can be funny (just watch Parks & Recreation), but she has never really been given that great amount of drama to work with that makes her stand-out from the rest. This performance here is that game-changer for her as Celeste is not only a great character to play, but is also a great performance for Jones where she shows that she can make any character likable and easy to root for just by using her mysterious charm that she has about her. The scenes her and Samberg have are dead-on, as their chemistry is as perfect as you could get it, but when it’s just Jones allowing herself to be shown in such an uncomfortably sad light, it feels real as if Jones is just reliving a past break-up that she still feels terrible about. But even when she has to do the comedy act with her performance as well, she nails it there too and it just shows you that this lady has a very bright future in Hollywood. Hopefully, this is the film that shows it off, too.

Consensus: Celeste and Jesse Forever may suffer from too many ideas and characters but never feels too jumbled up due to a great script that shows the emotional turmoil you go through during heartbreak, as well as what can happen to one person when they realize that the person they got rid of in the first place, was probably the best person for them in the end.


It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

Cheesy titles don’t always make cheesy movies.

Being a teenager is too much for 16-year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist), who shocks his parents (Lauren Graham and Jim Gaffigan) by checking himself into a mental health clinic for a little R & R. But when the youth ward is unexpectedly closed, he’s forced to live among the adult patients.

Being a teenager can be a bitch, hell, I should know because even though I’am the big 18, that still means I have lots of more problems to come along with me in life. All teenagers have gone through that time in life where you all of a sudden get very sad, depressed, and almost start changing into a whole different person. This actually happened to me and in order to get my sadness out of me, I made what you now may know as, Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews. Yes, sadness created this happy-go-lucky review site.

The tag-team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (‘Half Nelson, ‘Sugar‘) capture what it is to be sad and almost feel like you are the only one who feels like this. They also have a great deal of funny moments that really kept me laughing and get past more of the fluffy moments that actually happen. There is drama here as well but it’s not particularly over-dramatic which was good, but in a way, a little bit of a problem that I had with this film.

The film made me feel for the characters and get attached to the story but there were too many moments where I felt like this film fell into the fun-loving idea of these little teenagers being teenagers, and stepped away from the sadness that happens with depression and suicide. There were times where it got a little dark, but never to the point of where it felt compelling or believable enough. I guess that Boden and Fleck were afraid to get too dark and depressive when they have all of these funny moments but I still would have liked to see more.

Another part of this film I never understood was why exactly were these crazy people and suicidal people in the same exact ward together? I realize I may be nit-picking just a bit but I don’t think that totally insane people would be together with these angsty kids that are on the suicide watch or anything. I also never understood why all of these kids brought Craig stuff from the outside world but the stuff was never checked and how anybody could bring anything they wanted to bring. I mean if a kid really wanted to off himself, he could have easily just called up his best bud to bring him his gun. It would be as easy that.

The cast is fun and probably what always makes this film fun to watch. Keir Gilchrist is pretty good as the nervous, sort of sad, and pretty awkward Craig that always seems to know how his potential but for some reason can’t get by it. Gilchrist is good at making this character likable even though we never understand fully as to why he’s so sad, but it’s easy to actually stand behind the kid. Emma Roberts is also good as his little romantic interest, a girl named Noelle, who even though we never understand why she’s in there, we just know that she is cool and always lets Craig be himself, when it seems like he never will. They create a good chemistry together but they weren’t in this film together as much as I was expecting.

The best part of this whole cast was actually Zach Galifianakis as Bobby. Zach is so good here because he shows a lot of the usual goofy and eccentric comedy that has made him so known, but he’s not as hyper and crazy as he usually is, which probably makes him a lot easier to stand as a character. Bobby also has a very dark side to him which is what Zach shows a lot of promise in basically having you really get behind his character, and believe that this guy could be so funny, yet so sad deep down inside.

Consensus: It’s Kind of a Funny Story is pretty funny, entertaining, and features a lot of heart as well, but it almost feels like it’s a little too scared to step into some very dark spots where I think it would have really worked a whole lot more if the directors and writers went that extra mile.


Scream 4 (2011)

Something I’ve been wanting for awhile now, and I wasn’t disappointed. Love when that happens!

Perennial survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now a successful self-help author, returns to her home town of Woodsboro. Sidney’s homecoming, however, coincides with a slew of unsettling new murders.

I have and always will be a huge fan of the Scream franchise. Scream was awesome, Scream 2 was almost even better, and although Scream 3 wasn’t as good as either, it still wasn’t terrible. Thankfully that this is just about in between all of them.

So finally about 15 years since the original, director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson got back together and did what they do best, make funny effective horror films. Williamson keeps a lot of that self-referential talk here about the constant horror movie cliches, and what to do and what not to do, but there were also some great moments of actual comedy. I have always laughed at the Scream movies, but here I was actually “LOLing” all over the place much to my surprise. I won’t lie some of this smart talk does seem a little bit dated, because it has been done three more times, including this, and it may get annoying for some viewers. But for me, I had a ball with all this talk, and it really did assure me that Williamson hasn’t lost that touch.

Craven also brings back his horror hand back, and even though the times have changed since 1996, he still shows that he can go along with them. Craven does a great job of keeping the suspense with this story alive the whole time, and guessing just who the killer really is. In the first one, I had no idea but in the later two, I knew right away so it was a real treat to keep on guessing just who Ghostface really was. I must say you will be shocked by this twist, but it’s all thanks to Craven who actually made us guessing. It’s less scary as it is actually insanely suspenseful, but still works none the less.

The one thing about this film that really had me happy was that it seemed so much smarter than any other horror film has been in the past 10 years. The usage of cell phones and the internet works well here because it gives us more chilling and suspenseful moments, and keeps us on the edge of our seats the whole time. I’m not going to say that i could see any horror film actually happening, but this one is actually kind of believable with the things that happen. These characters know what to expect next, so sometimes they make a smart decision and live, others make a dumb decision and die, and then sadly others make smart decisions and still die. As the body count goes up, so does the blood and gore, and I must say that Craven hasn’t lost his knack for that either.

It was also good to see some of the old crew back together, even though it was only three of the original cast members. Neve Campbell still looks stunning, and can hold the role of Sidney Prescott like no other. David Arquette is still awesome as Dewey even though he is getting older, and looking creepier with that stash, but didn’t he have a limp in the third and fourth? Courtney Cox is also still sexy as Gale Weathers, and it’s such a shame to see her and Arquette’s marriage fall apart since they were the real heart of these films. But then again, I guess if you name your kid Cocco, you don’t have much luck anyway.

The rest of the uber young cast is solid too. Emma Roberts is still that spunky, little girl and isn’t fully grown-up yet to take these roles yet, but with what she’s given, she does her best. Hayden Panettiere is actually very smart and witty as Kirby, Rory Culkin as Charlie also has some good lines, and Erik Knudsen is also very funny. But let’s not forget the awesome Adam Brody and Anthony Anderson as the two bumbling coppers here, who literally have the best lines in this film, and I’m still laughing about one line, but I can’t say which one. Have to go and see for yourself.

Consensus: Scream 4 may have it’s fair share of annoying self-referential language, but the scares are well done, the suspense ins numbing sometimes, and the script is funny enough to keep you laughing. Overall, I’m just glad to see the franchise back, and glad to see it keeping me fully entertained.


Valentine’s Day (2010)

I guess good-looking people can find love on Valentine’s Day too.Very surprised.

In this Los Angeles-set comedy from director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman), the tripwires of modern love are exposed in a carousel involving relationships and the single life on the most romantic day of the year: February 14. Proposals, infidelity, loneliness and more are explored.

Valentine’s Day isn’t an actual holiday, I hate to break it to all of you romantics out there. It is a lame excuse for Hallmark to sell more gift cards, flowers, and of course those dark chocolates that the person doesn’t eat. This movie is kind of like those dark chocolates.

The writers of this film have a lot of stories going on here, and in all honesty I think they only care about probably two or three here, the others are just let’s throw random big celebrities in this film. It was probably about 30 minutes into the story and I noticed that they were still introducing characters here. There is also of problems with script because it does hit almost every single rom-com cliche you can think of, but you can’t really hate on the film for that, cause it’s what you expect.

From the beginning, I knew how this was going to start, fizzle, and end. But it does have its moments of likability, and surprising charm. For this type of film you just have to take it for what it is, and that’s just a film that keeps you mildly entertained even though you know what’s going to happen in the end. Yes, some moments are just cheesy and obvious, but it all ends well in a film where you expected it too. If you also need a perfect date movie for you and your girl, just sit, watch, and laugh at this when she laughs, and you are all hers for the taking.

The cast is humongous to say the very least. There is a lot of good people such as Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, and Topher Grace among others. Also you have the funny side performers that aren’t really doing anything but just there to make you laugh: George Lopez, Queen Latifah, Hector Elizondo, and Shirley MacLaine. And then there’s the awfully random: Jamie Foxx, Taylor Lautner, and Taylor Swift, who was actually surprisingly funny. All the performance I guess are good, which is what brings out more likability within the film, but some stories aren’t given enough time to develop so their just kind of left out to dry.

Consensus: Basically what you have here is Hollywood trying to make big bucks by having A-list beautiful people, a simple premise, and a lot of rom-com cliches, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a little bit entertaining and harmless.