Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Helen Hunt

I Love You, Daddy (2017)

Probably intended to be a porno. Title included.

TV producer Glen Topher (Louis C.K.) has a pretty care-free and lax life. He likes his work, he loves his daughter, China (Chloe Grace Moretz), and yeah, doesn’t seem to have many problems. The only problem that seems to be on his plate, at this current moment-in-time, is whether or not he’s going to be able to bag his leading-actress (Rose Byrne), who also happens to be pregnant, for some reason. Also though, he’s got issues with legendary writer/director Leslie Goodwin (John Malkovich), who strikes up something of a friendship with his 17-year-old daughter, making Glen feel all sorts of weird. Does he condone the friendship, that could suddenly turn into a relationship? Or, does he stick his head out of it because, like Leslie, Glen may be a bit of a dirt-bag, too?

So yes, obviously, I Love You, Daddy is a hard movie to review. All controversies aside, the movie doesn’t seem like it will be released in the foreseeable future and if it does, hardly anyone will want to see it. Nor should they: It’s a movie by a known sexual-abuser, that’s literally about sexual politics, what’s right, what’s wrong, men being dirty, and women having to be on the tail-end of it all. It’s like a Woody Allen (which it clearly aims for, uncomfortably so), but with a lot more F-bombs and n-words.

“I’m allowed to lock women up in closets! Come on!”

It’s also kind of funny and well-acted, all things considered.

That’s why, for me at least, I Love You, Daddy gets two ratings; one is for the movie I saw, two or three days before the New York Times article dropped, and the other, is for the kind of thought-process that went throughout my brain, days after having seen the movie, thinking about its intentions, and what it ultimately had to say. Cause for something like this, you truly can’t treat it just like any other movie – sure, it wasn’t made to be watched, thinking about what its co-writer/director/star does to do women inside locked closets and offices, but hey, we know this now and we can’t help but think about this stuff. After all, like Louis himself, we’re only human and can’t help this stuff.

Even though, he certainly could have and should have.

Anyway, I Love You, Daddy is, at times, a funny movie and that’s just because C.K. himself, is a funny writer. He knows how to write conversations between odd-ball characters that, while they may seem a tad unrealistic, still work because they’re enjoyable and funny. It also helps that the ensemble here, is so impressive and stacked, that they make it all work, even when they shouldn’t. C.K. is, as expected, a bit of a blank-slate, but that’s sort of on-purpose – the movie wasn’t entirely made to be just about him. The rest of the cast, like Malkovich, like Moretz, like Charlie Day, like Edie Falco, like Pamela Adlon, and most of all, like Rose Byrne, all get chances to bring some light and fun to this movie and they do.

Get it? It’s supposed to be Woody Allen! How creepy…..

They all shine with the material and sometimes allow us to forget how sleazy and mean it can get. Byrne especially who feels like a real, understated and smart character, and trapped inside something that should have done a whole lot more with her, rather than just having to sleep with its co-writer/director/star. After all, it’s a little strange that she’s pregnant and hardly anyone brings it up.

But once you get past that, don’t forget, the movie is dirty, mean, sleazy, and most of all, troubling.

There are certain conversations that happen in this movie, where it’s C.K’s character, talking and going on about what is right, what isn’t, and what certain people shouldn’t do during sex. There’s a few scenes or so like this, which are entertaining to listen to, but also eerily insightful into the way that C.K. himself thinks and feels about these topics. It’s weird and in a way, disgusting; to think that a man who literally trapped women to watch him masturbate, would write a movie where consent is something joked about, isn’t just stupid, it’s downright wrong. It’s the kind of movie where you know Louis wanted to be smarter than he looks here, but he just can’t.

We already know way too much about him, his perverted ways, and what he thinks is, and isn’t allowed when it comes to sex. I Love You, Daddy only helps to prove his misunderstanding of everything and it doesn’t make matters any better that the movie may never reach the general-public, or ever be seen.

And maybe it’s better off that way.

Consensus: Even with a very good cast and some funny writing, I Love You, Daddy is also a rather queasy, somewhat dirty look into the mind of C.K., which we already know, is pretty troubling.

Before Controversy: 6 / 10

After: 3 / 10

The look on the face of a man who just caught and has seen all of the hard work, crashing and burning before his eyes. Perhaps it’s better that way.


Ride (2015)

Mom’s are so hip!

Middle-aged New Yorker Jackie (Helen Hunt) isn’t ready to let her son, Angelo (Brenton Thwaites) go away to college. Even if it is NYU, she’s still worried that he might lose himself and even lose the skills he has gained as a writer over the years as well. That’s why when Angelo decides to skip NYU altogether and move right out to California to become a surfer, Jackie is thrown into an insane panic. All of a sudden, her one and only child is now very far away from her, where he may, or may not, lose all sight of his talents – all for the fun of surfboarding, mind you! Acting on total instinct, Jackie decides to go out and visit Angelo without him knowing; until he does find out and Jackie’s left to figure out whether she can go back to her life in NYC, or just have to get used to things in California so that she can spend more and more time with her son. Well, Jackie decides to go with the later option, but only for a short while, so that she can learn how to surfboard and finally try to understand all of the joy that it gives her son.

There’s hardly anything wrong with Ride. It’s peaceful, sweet, earnest, entertaining, simple and as safe as you can possibly get with a movie, let alone an indie. Being a critic like I am, I normally look far and wide to discover something wrong with any movie that I see, but such is the dilemma with Ride: There isn’t anything wrong with it, and that’s sort of the problem.

Don't know the "x" that she's signaling about, but whatever.

Don’t know the “x” that she’s signaling about, but whatever.

See, with Ride, Helen Hunt takes over as not only writer and director here, but also as the star of her own movie, where she’s able to be held up against scrutiny for being the slightest bit vain. While I have much hope in Hunt to know that she wouldn’t allow for a project such as this just toot her own horn, there’s still something here that didn’t do much of anything for me. Once again, it’s a pleasant movie that doesn’t try to offend anybody, or even change people’s lives; it’s, simply put, a safe and earnest crowd-pleaser that’s meant to tell a heartfelt story, give us comedy, heart and, hopefully, at the end of the day, teach us some lessons about life, love, and the most important aspect to all of life, family.

Sweet, right?

Well, that’s because it is and Ride isn’t the kind of movie that sets out to do much of anything ground-breaking or life-altering to those who see it. Whether or not this was Hunt’s sole intention in the first place or not, is totally unknown, as she never seems to want to go deeper than what’s presented on the easy-going surface that is this movie and the themes it represents.

As I’ve said before, however, there’s nothing wrong with that, but then again, there sort of is. While Ride can be enjoyed, as soon as it’s over, you may totally forget that you had ever seen it. Sure, you may remember there was a movie where Helen Hunt surfed and bonded with her kid, but that’s about it, right? Oh, and I guess you’d maybe remember that Luke Wilson was in it too, right? Or, also that it included Angel from Dexter? Or, don’t forget, maybe even T-Bag from Prison Break?

Yeah, you’ll probably remember who was in it and what role they may have had in it, but that’s pretty much it, right? Everything else from the plot, to the twists (or in this movie’s case, lack thereof), to the jokes, to the conclusion of it all may go right over your head and be totally forgotten about. However, you’ll remember that you’ve seen the movie and I guess, for better or worse, there’s something inherently wrong with that; however, I just can’t seem to put my finger on it.

That's love right there. And not in that kind of way, you sickos.

That’s love right there. And not in that kind of way, you sickos.

And that’s where most of the problem with Ride waves in – while I want to have so many problems with it being so incredibly forgettable, I still can’t bring myself to do so for a movie that is so unabashedly not doing anything out-of-the-ordinary. Helen Hunt is a very charming and likable presence in just about everything she shows up in, and there’s no difference with her performance here as Jackie. While she may be an upper-class smarty-pants of a character, her whole persona seems to come from a soft place in her heart and because of that, everything that she does in the next hour-and-a-half or so, whether it be ridiculous or believable, at least has some semblance of sympathy. The fact that she follows her son all over the country like a crazed and psychotic ex-girlfriend may seem strange on paper, but considering the relationship she has with him, it isn’t all that creepy.

Okay, maybe a little bit. But come on, people! It’s Helen Hunt for gosh sakes!

She was, at one time, America’s sweetheart!

Anyway, the rest of the cast is just like Helen Hunt: Charming, likable and fine. Nobody’s really setting out for an Oscar of any sorts and because of that, nobody really stands out. Luke Wilson is playing a cool, relaxed “bro”; Brenton Thwaites is there to go “aw shucks” whenever his mom does something silly; David Zayas is there as a comedic sidekick; and Robert Knepper is hardly even around. Everybody clearly shows up to make Helen Hunt happy as can be, and because of that, we can get a bit happy in return. It’s just a bit of a shame that they’re not given much more to do, as we all know that they’re more than capable of it.

Oh well.

Consensus: There’s nothing really wrong with Ride as it’s pleasant and easy-going, however, it’s incredibly forgettable and wholesome in nature that it feels like a fine movie to watch when you’re not at all paying attention to what’s going on.

5 / 10

You go, Hel! Show Johnny Utah who's boss!

You go, Hel! Show Johnny Utah who’s boss!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Sessions (2012)

A man is a man, and he needs to get laid. Ain’t nothing else to it.

Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes) is a man in an iron lung who decides he wants to lose his virginity. After consulting with his priest, Father Brendan (William H. Macy), he gets in touch with a professional sex surrogate named Cheryl Cohen-Greene (Helen Hunt). What starts off as sex, soon turns into something more than they ever realized was imaginable in the first-place.

Not only does this flick seem like a tough-sell to the regular, movie-going audience out there but it also seemed like a tough-sell in my own damn household. Seriously, I was struggling to get people to go with me and see this and even though my sissy and I ended up spending out Thanksgiving night together at this, I still couldn’t believe that nobody wanted to see a movie about a dude with polio, making sexy-time with a therapist. Now that I think about it, it is a bit of a weird movie to want to go out and see, especially on Turkey Day but it ain’t that bad, right? I mean, Helen Hunt was once everybody’s favorite sweetheart and still can considered one too, right?

Actually, even though Hunt is probably the biggest-name they have going for this thing, it’s a shame it’s not going to get the film any publicity anyway because it deserves it. Let’s be honest here, this is basically a movie about a dude, trying to get laid, can’t seem to move any part of his body except his neck and man-meat, and ends up having “sessions” with a lady who he pays money to, but at the end of the day, she is still a therapist. It’s a pretty dirty story once you think about it and one that really doesn’t catch you right away and have you think of it being “the feel-good movie-event of the year”, and even though it doesn’t go right up to that praise, it still has a lot that puts a smile on your face.

I can’t believe that this was based on actual guy, an actual story, and that the dude freakin’ posted all of this info into a magazine-article. It just goes to show you that you can do anything if you have a gift, but yet, also shows you if you are able to look on the bright-side of things no matter how shitty life may get, and that’s what the whole-point of this flick is all about. O’Brien is definitely a guy who seems like he deserves pity from us because he can’t do anything other than move his neck around and about, and has to be wheeled everywhere, but he never asks for it. Instead, he just looks at everything with a big smile on his face and feels the need to not let the shitty-things get in the way of what could be a pretty enjoyable life, despite the obvious problem of not being able to move any parts of your body. With the exception of your neck, head, and *ahem*, “other” head. I’m funny, I know.

That’s why the mixture of all of this sex-stuff and this inspirational, life-notes from a guy who’s happy to live it, doesn’t seem like it would mix well at all no matter who or what you threw at it, but it does. The sex-scenes are so frank, so honest, and so up-front that they never feel like you’re watching sex-scenes straight from the Hollywood mind and soul. They are shown in a way where two people, engage in an act where they both connect, amongst other things, with one another through their powers in their bodies and it’s as real as you’re going to get from sex-scenes in movies. Yes, people get naked, people do ejaculate, and people do do a lot of heavy-petting to get another aroused, but it isn’t as exploitative as it may sound. It’s sweet and used in a way to show us these two characters, and the way they connect with each other in a way that they never, ever thought was remotely possible. It’s a great-way to use sex to enhance your story, without going overboard.

However, you take away all of that nudity, you take away all of that sex, and you take away other dirty-stuff that goes down, then you really don’t have anything you haven’t seen before. Even though this story is obviously based on a real event and even better, is based on a real dude, the film still never fully gets off the ground and you feel a lot less inspiration than you would have expected from a story about a guy who finds himself through sex. It’s a story that reminded me a lot of My Left Foot and even though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that movie was an all-out masterpiece, it still played-off as if it was a character-study that had some inspirational backgrounds about never letting the odds stack against you and living up to all you can be in life. All of those same, inspirational themes and elements are shown here, but never to the point of where they really impact you. They just feel like they’re there to tell you a story, show you how your life ain’t all that bad to begin with, and how we can all do the same as this O’Brien guy. It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s nothing new that I haven’t seen done or heard before in other, more inspirational movies about beating the odds in-life.

And also, the editing was a bit weird in this movie as well. I don’t know whether or not this flick went through a couple of rough-cuts through the numerous festivals it showed-up at, but a lot of this movie feels like it could have been trimmed off, or even better, left in there but given a reason for even showing-up. One instance is the scene between O’Brien’s handler and a hotel clerk that is obviously hitting on her, trying his hardest to do so, and just being confused about what’s going on between the sex surrogate and O’Brien. This instance does contain a couple of the funnier-moments in the movie (and there are many), but just did not feel needed for the final-product and made me wonder why a lot more of this film wasn’t cut, just to make sure it wouldn’t drag. Then again, it does run a lean 93 minutes, and another significant-cut would have probably knocked it right-down to 85 or 86 minutes. Not a terrible run-time, but a bit weird to have I guess.

The one person who pulls through all of this material, no matter how choppy it may get, is John Hawkes as Mark O’Brien and proves why the guy should be in more leading-roles, rather than just standing in the background, giving his two cents every 20 minutes, and letting the leading-star take over the reigns. Hawkes does a great-job with this role because he’s forced to convey a lot of emotions through his face, neck, and head, that surprisingly, all tell a story of a man that obviously has good-intentions, doesn’t want to be looked down on, and most of all, just wants to feel and understand what all of this beauty about sex is really all about. It’s a nice sentiment for a character to have, but Hawkes makes us truly believe in this good-natured act for so long, that it doesn’t even seem like an act. He seems like a real person that just wants to experience life, just like everyone else, regardless of the odds that stand in his way. I think Hawkes is very good in this and may just get an Oscar nomination, but if not, it doesn’t matter because the guy is still so, so freakin’ good at every role he takes.

Playing the sex surrogate that makes all of his wildest dreams come true, is Helen Hunt who is a gal I haven’t seen in awhile, but shows right back-up and reminds us why she is so damn lovely and amazing to watch as an actress. What I liked so much about Hunt’s character here is that even though she may have some insecurities here and there, she’s still a strong-willed, understandable woman that is only doing this to help people out there in the world and still goes home to a son and husband every night, in a very happy-mood too, may I add. Hunt is pretty daring with this role because she lets loose of the clothes a lot and spends a lot of the time just naked, for the sake of being naked, and it doesn’t matter one-bit because she’s in great-shape and is even better to watch since this is one of the most-meaty roles we’ve seen from her in quite some-time. She’s likable, understandable, and most of all, human and I hope she gets an Oscar-nomination for this as I think she definitely should because of what she’s able to do, pull-off, and have us think about her in the end.

William H. Macy isn’t really as huge of a part in this story as much as the previews/trailers may have you think, but the guy is still great as the down-to-earth, mellowed-out priest that hangs-out with O’Brien and never gets on his shit for doing the dirty deeds that the lord frowns upon. It’s great to see a religious-figure play such a big-part of a movie, without making it totally about that aspect and throwing away any type of other ideas or themes about love and sex that may be out there. Still, Macy is awesome and I have to wonder: why does that hair-do make him look so freakin’ cool?

Consensus: The Sessions is not the special type of life-changing experience you may expect from a movie about a physically-handicapped man finding love and sex, but is still well-acted from everybody involved, treats it’s subject and characters with decency, and never holds anything back in terms of where it goes or what it shows (sex scenes, I’m talking about you you dirty-boys).


Cast Away (2000)

I wonder what I would do if I was on an island for a whole year.

After FedEx systems engineer Chuck Noland’s (Tom Hanks) plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean, he finds himself fighting to survive on a deserted island with nothing but a painted volleyball — a silent partner he names Wilson — for company.

Director Robert Zemeckis is known in today’s world as the guy who can’t get enough of that weird-ass CGI with such movies as Beowulf, A Christmas Carol, and most recently Mars Needs Moms. But it’s always great to see what this guy can do when he’s given real-life people, or for this matter, one real-life person.

Zemeckis does a great job with the overall feel and tone of this story. He uses no music whatsoever and uses the sounds of the ocean breeze, to give us this huge sense of alienation that Chuck is going through as well. There are also longs periods of time where there is barely any language spoken at all, and it really does work because you feel like you are right there with him, stranded on this unknown island. The cinematography is also so beautiful to look at, as there are moments where I could not take my eyes off the screen because I was so amazed of what I saw.

However, I think the main problem with this film is that it’s pace will have some viewers checking out their watches many times throughout. There are long strains of time where there is no dialogue, and sometimes people will find themselves a little bored with everything that’s going on. I know moments in this film had me more fascinated than others, but I know this film will have many viewers most likely snoozing.

I liked the fact that the minimalist screenplay does a good job of portraying the human will to survive and how its tone is actually very unique, but my main problem with this script is how it’s resolved. I don’t want to give away too much but there’s a certain element to this story that opens and closes the film which actually is pretty weak compared to what they could have done with the story. Again, I can’t give too much away but when the film is over, I think you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The real show to watch here is the always amazing, Tom Hanks. A lot of the film is spent just watching him go about his days on the island, and all of it is so great because Hanks just is a presence that cannot be taken away no matter who else is around him. Hanks is so familiar to everybody, yet he loses himself in this character and we really do sympathize with him through this long adventure on the island all alone. But let us all not forget everybody’s favorite volleyball, Wilson. I must say watching Hanks having a conversation with this volleyball made me laugh, and at parts had me actually believe that he could actually be having a conversation with this thing. Helen Hunt also shows up and is just OK, but that’s how she usually is in most films.

Consensus: Many moments will put viewers to sleep with it’s slow pace, and bother others with it’s crappy ending, but Cast Away showcases Tom Hank’s amazing skills as an actor, and provides a smart directing job from Zemeckis.


Mr. Saturday Night (1992)

Made me think that Billy Crystal is actually hilarious.

Actor-director Billy Crystal gives a searing portrayal of fictional comic Buddy Young Jr., a classic borscht belt stand-up comedian whose skills can’t sustain a career undermined by his acidic self-loathing. A character study with bite, Mr. Saturday Night features the underrated David Paymer as Buddy’s loyal, long-suffering brother and Helen Hunt as the new agent reluctantly assigned to Buddy.

This is Crystal’s directorial debut and it kind of suits him very well. He, himself is a comedian, that also went through the same things his own character has gone through as well.

The film is directed with a lot of sure inspiration. Crystal weighs out the film between truly hilarious moments, and than some actually nice touching dramatic scenes. Many people upon first view will think its a gut-busting comedy, instead its more of a character study of how much fame can actually make you go over your head.

The one major flaw with this film is its main character, and mostly the writing. Crystal does some of the writing in this film and you can tell when he’s ad-libbing, but the problem was that his character was too off-the-walls. We didn’t know on whether to love this guy cause of his huge sense of character, or hate him cause of all the mean and cruel things he says to other people in such a demeaning way. Also, the film doesn’t prove any insight to his wife’s own character. Throughout the whole movie she is basically a one-note character, cause the only scenes she does stuff in is when she is saying she loves him. When in reality we have no idea of why this chick loved and has loved him for so long.

Crystal does give a wonderful performance here as Young Jr., and matches a lot of his hilarious stand-up comedy, as well as his emotional scenes. I feel like Crystal, the actor, is too likable as a whole and is hard at trying to convince us he can be such a deauche bag. David Paymer is very good here as his brother who never loses the screen when he and Crystal are on, he provides more of three-dimensional character than you would expect.

Consensus: Crystal’s directorial debut is impressive, with nice touches of comedy and drama and good performances, but its writing isn’t as up to date, especially with its characters.


What Women Want (2000)

Now that I look at it, is Mel Gibson really what women want?

Advertising executive Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson) is as cocky as they come. But what happens to a chauvinistic guy when he can suddenly hear what women are thinking? Nick gets passed over for a promotion, but after an accident enables him to hear woman’s thoughts, he puts his new found talent to work against Darcy (Helen Hunt), his new boss, who seems to be infatuated with him.

The premise for this movie is what actually at first attracted me to the film (other than my undying love for Mel Gibson). But it takes something that all guys want to have the ability to do, and that is read what’s going on in chicks’ minds. This films uses that exact idea very well, and gives us plenty of funny moments, where we hear some hilarious but also true things that women are thinking.

The film is more silly than it is actually funny. The film reminded me a lot about another film, Tootsie. They both have the same idea that these guys who are total jerks start to understand how women feel and are. Hoffman, dressed up as a woman, and Gibson hearing woman’s thoughts. He hears these thoughts and really he isn’t the guy he thinks he is. People hate him, and don’t find him that attractive, which provided plenty of laughs along the way.

Though I thought the film was at times very funny, it did fail at many points. First, it clocks in at about 125 minutes, which is simply far too long for a film trying to make it as a breezy romantic comedy. And make no mistake, you will notice the pacing, especially after you realize you had to sit through two completely superfluous subplots and an entire five-minute scene that simply had no business making it out of the editing suite alive.

When Mel Gibson gets the ability to hear what women are thinking, why are we spending an entire sequence 30 minutes into the film watching him try to get rid of his dubious gift? We know he’s going to fail because we’ve got 90 minutes remaining to kill, and the scene’s not even funny to boot, a fact which is only hammered home repeatedly when he pulls the same gags that got him into this jam in the first place. That kind of sloppy screenwriting and editing doesn’t bode well.

It was a surprise to see Mel Gibson in his first romantic comedy role as he does very well with his material. He just show a lot of charm and is a guy that you want to hate, but can’t really cause of how likable he actually is. The women in the cast also are very good, as they speak from their minds and you can sort of see their reactions on the screen of what their saying, and it all seems very realistic.

Consensus: With some hilarious moments and a charming lead performance from Gibson, What Women Want shines in some places but is brought down by some choppy editing, meaningless sub plots, and a time limit of over 2 hours that is very unneeded.