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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Faizon Love

Friday (1995)

I guess the hood ain’t such a bad place to live after all.

Craig (Ice Cube) spends most of his days doing nothing, staying unemployed, and just trying to get by in life, constantly chilling with his boy Smokey (Chris Tucker). However, the day that comes between Thursday and Saturday hits and for some reason, there’s something different about the day that isn’t like every other one.

By the mid-90’s, the hood subgenre of film became a bit of a joke. The themes, the violence, the stereotypes, etc., had all been played-out so much so that by a point, there was even a Wayans spoof on it all. What once had been a reliably sad and effective genre of film-making, soon became a bit of a stale product, that only seemed to get worse with each and every attempt at creating something close to resembling Boyz N the Hood.

Every neighborhood’s got a dude like this.

Which is why, at the time, and of course, now Friday is such a breath of fresh air.

Sure, is it a “hood film”? Yeah, it is, but it’s a different kind of one. It doesn’t really try to lay down some life-altering message about getting out of the hood and making a better future for yourself, nor does it ever seem to try and ever take itself too seriously. If anything, it’s just a smooth, relaxed, and downright silly comedy about one day in the hood, where some good stuff, some bad stuff, and some wacky stuff happens in, of all places, the hood.

And yes, Friday works because of that; it’s a very chilled-out kind of movie that doesn’t rush itself, doesn’t have too much of a plot to really get going with, and it sure as heck isn’t running too long with its barely 90-minute run-time. And none of this is a bad thing, either – most comedies, like John Waters always says, should barely be 90 minutes and Friday works well for that reason. A lot of the gags are so quick and random, that they somehow just work and come together, because the movie doesn’t harp on them too much, just like it doesn’t slow itself down with jokes, either. And it all matters, too, because, well, the jokes are actually pretty funny in and of themselves.

Which is why it’s hard to go on and on about Friday without talking about the one and the only, Chris Tucker.

Gotta get down on….

I think it goes without saying that Tucker makes Friday as funny as it can get. He’s often the scene-stealer, using his high-pitched squeal and delivery to make any joke land, as well as seeming like the funniest guy in the room, amongst a pretty funny crowd. It’s not really known how many of his lines were scripted, or how much everyone involved just trusted him to do his thing, but whatever it was, it works and it’s because of Tucker that even when Friday seems to meander a bit too far away from itself (which it often does), it still comes together in the end.

Which isn’t meant to take away from everyone else here, but yeah, when compared to Tucker, it’s hard not to notice. For instance, Ice Cube plays the straight-man, and seems to be having fun, even though often times, his role seems to just be used as the protagonist we see everything through. John Witherspoon is also a lot of fun as his daddy and kept me laughing every single time he showed up but also provided a lot of insight into how daddy’s usually are with their older, bum-like children. Nia Long is also nice as, once again, the romantic love-interest in a hood flick, while such comedic-greats like Michael Clarke Duncan, Faizon Love, and Tiny Lister, and oh, of course, Bernie Mac, all show up, do their things and remind us why they’re so funny in the first place.

But where Friday doesn’t hold up for me (and granted, I have seen this movie about four-to-five times now), is that it’s direction is a bit sloppy, however, with good reason. At barely 25 years of age, F. Gary Gray took over Friday and seemed like he didn’t have to do all that much, but somehow, the movie is still a bit messy. The best aspect of the movie is how, for the longest time, there’s really no plot and nothing needing to drive it by, but by the end, all of a sudden, there’s a plot, there’s a serious conflict, and there’s a, unfortunately, message that we’re all supposed to learn from. If anything, it feels lame, tired and annoying, and it seemed to only happen because Gray was just getting started and needed to get his foot in somewhere.

Thankfully, he did.

Consensus: Even with a slightly amateurish direction, Friday still works because of its odd gags, relaxed, yet pleasing tone, and of course, the exciting cast, led by a stand-out performance from Tucker.

8.5 / 10

Damn, indeed.

Photos Courtesy of: Filmaholic Reviews

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Posse (1993)

It’s like Unforgiven, except with a beat.

The film tells the story of a posse of black soldiers who are living and dying by their own ways and codes, team up with an ostracized white soldier (Stephen Baldwin), after they are all betrayed by a corrupt colonel (Billy Zane). Together, they decided to team-up, take him down and show him that he messed with the wrong cowboys.

After kicking complete ass with his gangster flick debut, New Jack City, writer/director/star Mario Van Peebles had a lot of pressure on his back to make something worth being mentioned in the same boat as that one. So yeah, it seems pretty obvious that the guy would take on a passion project of his and give us what is essentially the untold story of African American cowboys.

"Wait. I thought I asked for Alec?"

“Wait. I thought I asked for Alec?”

Right? Well, maybe his passion got a tad too ahead of him.

Van Peebles starts this movie off as if this was going to be a history lesson on how African-Americans had a place as cowboys in the Wild West, but just never really got the credit they deserved. This beginning threw me off for a loop and I honestly thought that I was going to be sleeping throughout the whole thing, but what surprised me the most was how much fun it seemed to have with itself once it got past this. There’s all of the typical trademarks you need with a Western, like the guns, the shooting, the desserts, the horses, the sexy ladies, the gambling, the sweat, the sheriffs, the saloons, and of course, the awesome show-downs. That’s all here and it seems as if Van Peebles is having a lot of fun with it by the way he makes everything so damn hectic all of the time; while “hectic” is usually not a positive word for most movies, but here, it worked and kept me entertained for the most part.

However, anybody wanting exactly what I was afraid to get, will be utterly disappointed as it’s just silly, stupid, and terribly-written. Every single line in this film is just a cliche or line taken from another, or far better Western that not many people have heard of, but know that they heard the line used before. Normally, bad dialogue doesn’t matter, as long as the creator behind the dialogue seems as if they’re having a ball with it – Van Peebles doesn’t give off that vibe, though. In fact, he seems so damn serious about it all, that anytime a character opens their mouth, you almost have to hold back the laughter.

Which is a shame, too, because Van Peebles clearly has a lot to discuss and highlight here.

No woman can resist that Mario charm.

No woman can resist that Mario charm.

There’s a lot of talk about slavery, racism, untold stories of the West, and points about what the black man always had to go through, but none of it ever comes through fully. All of the walking and talking could have been placed in any other flick other than this, and totally worked, but since this is something of a silly Western, it doesn’t fit altogether. In a way, it feels uneven and it can get pretty annoying because once you think the film is about to pick-up it’s feet and start kicking some Western booty, it stops and starts to tell it’s story in some lame flashbacks that all make sense, but we still didn’t need to see.

As for Van Peebles and his acting, he’s pretty good and has a nice presence about him that makes you understand why so many people fear him in the first place, but he does show-off his ego a little bit too much. What I mean by that is that there a couple of scenes where it’s just him, with his shirt off, and standing there looking all ripped-up and tough, while getting a hot girl. It’s obvious that this is his movie and he’s able to do what he wants to do but this just came-off as him trying to hog the spotlight a bit too much, in all of the wrong ways. Then, of course there is everybody’s favorite eye-patch-wearing villain, Billy Zane, who is corny, lame, and nonthreatening, but also very fun to watch because come on, it’s Billy Zane dammit!

Everybody else in this strange cast does a fine job with what they’re given, but it’s what Van Peebles does with them that really works. While there’s clearly a silly aspect surrounding some of the names here (Big Daddy Kane, Tiny Lister, and Tone Loc, for instance), Van Peebles still seems happy to have them all around. Maybe the lame dialogue was to make-up for the fact that some of them were really well-trained thespians in the first place, but still, the bad dialogue aside, Van Peebles knows his cast’s strengths and their weaknesses, which helps make the final showdown, where some important people do get mowed-down and taken out, a tad more exciting and watchable.

If only the rest of the movie had been like that, then we would really have something to talk about.

Consensus: Stupid, frenetic, crazy, overstuffed, and disjointed, Posse is not the best film to watch if you want a smart piece of commentary about African Americans and their roles in the West, but is still a fun flick that will keep your interest for the time it’s on-screen.

5 / 10

True.

True.

Photos Courtesy of: Blaxploitation Pride

Made (2001)

Being a player: money! Being a mobster: not so money.

Bobby (Jon Favreau) is an aspiring boxer who refuses to abandon his dreams, despite the urgings of his friend Ricky (Vince Vaughn) to pursue a higher position in the organisation of old-time mob boss Max (Peter Falk), who offer both of them a job.

OK, so who doesn’t love Swingers? I think it’s pretty safe to say that everybody does but I think that people loved it so much that maybe they weren’t able to even give this film a shot. Maybe they shouldn’t have gotten rid of Doug Liman in the first place, huh?

With Jon Favreau taking over writing and directing duties, the film gets a very personal feel from him as he keeps the story moving as well as the hand-held camera style that almost makes it seem like we’re watching a documentary in a way. What I can say about this flick that Favreau does do well with its story is that he keeps it somewhat character-based, where we see a lot of interaction between his character and Ricky, whether they’re fighting, arguing, or showing that they have each other’s back, you can tell that these guys have been life-long friends ever since they were little tikes. Also, when you do practically have the main two guys from Swingers, you have to expect a nice amount of laughs and even though they definitely aren’t as rapid as I would have expected, I still had some nice laughs and chuckles here and there that held me over for the rest of the flick. That Dustin Diamond cameo was probably my favorite part of this flick now that I think about it, but also very random.

Where I think Favreau messed up with this film was not giving us much to care about, let alone, anything cool with the plot to see. Granted, Swingers didn’t really have much a plot other than just a bunch of guys hitting on chicks and trying to get laid, but at least that film had a whole bunch of buddy-buddy energy that kept it going, this plot sort of just meanders on and on. Actually, some of it I thought would have done better as a drama because you have all of these problems with these characters and even at times, they are scared to death that they may get “whacked” but the film treats it as a joke, but an unfunny joke at that. And I also guess that the joke of this movie was that they just wanted to go from scene to scene to scene of showing Vaughn ramble on like an ass and have Favreau play off him as the long suffering friend that can’t seem to escape his childhood buddy. Lame, lame, lame!

However, even when the film does try its hardest to go into drama, it comes off pretty corny. The “relationship” that the film tries to force down our throat between Favreau and Famke Janssen was totally unbelievable and very predictable as to how it was all going to end, and even as cute as the kid was, the film uses her more as a reason why Favreau has something to live for. Hey, I don’t mind when a film tries to give us reasons to care for a character, but when the reasons are as contrived and obvious as this, then don’t expect me to even care. Also, what the hell is this dude doing with a chick that basically rides on dude’s erections for a living? Come on Jonnny!

With ‘Swingers’, it’s pretty much the same thing where you have Vince Vaughn playing Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau playing Jon Favreau, which isn’t so bad really. Vaughn is a wild-fire pretty much throughout this whole flick and just doesn’t let loose of his energy one bit. He’s funny, quick, and a character that makes you feel so damn uncomfortable because of some of the shit he says with the people he’s around. Favreau is also pretty good as Bobby, and gives another one of his silent, but lovable guy performances that we see from him so very often. But hey, that’s not a complaint. Also be on the look-out for two little performances given here by Peter Falk as the menacing gangster, Max, and a menacing “gangsta” named Ruiz, played by none other than Sean “Puffy” Combs. Yes people, before Get Him to the Greek, Puffy played another bad-ass mofo.

Consensus: Made is basically living off the legend of Swingers but still has enough laughs and good performances to hold you over, even if the contrived emotions of the so-so plot are too obvious to ignore the whole time.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Couples Retreat (2009)

All in the title.

Desperate to save their marriage, one couple convinces three other couples to go in on a group rate price for an island retreat designed for troubled unions. But the “mandatory therapy” brews up nothing but trouble for everyone. Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis and Faizon Love star in this comedy penned by Favreau.

The movie tries to work really hard as being a date movie like Forgetting Sarah Marshall or Sleepless in Seattle, but it doesn’t give any answers to how these couples can react to their problems they face as a couple.

The script is written by Swingers stars Faverau and Vaughn, and you can actually see some really good interplay between them two really does shine through on this script. This movie has it’s moments, and some parts that don’t seem funny actually end up being funnier than you expected.

Though the script was good it did feel a little lazy and the jokes really got repetitive and annoying. There were countless amounts of dirty sex jokes that we’re not only meaningless to the plot at hand but overall just not funny and stupid. The jokes also really do start out as really funny, but then they really over due and just have the jokes go on and on, till where it just becomes tiring and you want a new scene. The perverted muscle dude scene got out of hand and although I laughed for awhile I felt like they were just finding any sex position to role play with.

I liked the good cast with some great stars, but most of them didn’t create laughs for me like I thought they would. It was funny seeing Vince Vaughn as being the responsible father figure, but he does actually give some really comedy even though he doesn’t play himself. Along with Faverau who once again is acting like a fool. Though I was confused of why Jason Bateman was used so wrong. He’s one of the more funnier men in Hollywood, but he just doesn’t have any funny material to work with here and comes off as very misused.

Consensus: Though with it’s moments, Couple Retreat seems very lazy, and not very funny nor very providing on relationships and couples.

4/10=SomeOleBullShiittt!!!