Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Jackson Nicoll

The Book of Henry (2017)

And what an odd book that is.

Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) is a lot like every other 11-year-old-kid out there in the world. He’s awkward, a little weird, sometimes quiet, nice, sweet, and oh yeah, brilliant-as-hell. In fact, he’s maybe a bit too smart for his own good and at times, that finds him not just getting into trouble with people who could possibly be his friend, but even his own family. Although, both his mother, Susan (Naomi Watts), and little brother, Peter (Jacob Tremblay), love him immensely, they also know that he can be a bit much. They also know that his brain is so huge, with such an insane amount of knowledge, that they actually use it to their advantage; her, for help on the stocks and how to save money, and him, for emotional support through these rough times of growing up. But something changes in all of their lives that not only affects Henry especially, but all the other people around them, leaving the family to make some drastic, almost disastrous decisions.

If you thought one annoying precocious kid was bad enough……

A part of me wants to absolutely and totally annihilate the Book of Henry for being a ridiculously messy, uneven, weird, sometimes way-too-stupid-for-its-own-good take movie about growing up, learning who you are, death, and oh yeah, child-abuse, or more importantly, rape. However, there is another part of me that wants to praise it and, at the very, absolute least, respect it for going all-out on a plot that could have been absolutely cookie-cutter and derivative of everything we’ve ever seen done before and taking risks, chances, and certain unpredictable roads, even if yeah, they don’t quite work out. But then, there’s that middle part of me that doesn’t know what to think, say, or hell, even believe in.

After all, if a movie as muddled and as nutty as the Book of Henry can, for at least an-hour-and-a-half, entertain me and sort of surprise me, yet, at the same time, still feel way too weird, than what’s that say about me? I do like bad movies? Do I give them a pass just because they try something different? Or, am I just too broken down and beaten-up by the everyday, conventional blockbusters that are pushed in front of my face that, when something comes to me, from someone, somewhere, regardless of how messy it is, still makes me think and expect something different, that I just have to accept it for what it is and yeah, possibly even like it?

Once again, I don’t know what to think.

A movie like the Book of Henry is challenging. Not because it’s an altogether deeply confusing, or hell, even psychological movie, but more that it’s the kind of movie that doesn’t know what to make of itself so, as a result, the viewer is left with the same feeling. Director Colin Trevorrow, after breaking all sorts of records with Jurassic World two years ago, seems to have gotten carpe diem for the Book of Henry and in a way, is allowed to make this movie as crazy and as weird as he wants. Screenwriter Gregg Hurwitz does deserve some credit for trying something new and, dare I say it, intriguing with the YA genre of films, but even he, at certain points, seems like he’s losing all control.

Which is to say that the Book of Henry, in all honesty, isn’t a good movie; it’s tone is so over-the-place, with a plot that continues to get wackier and wackier, and a silly twist that happens midway through, it’s just not that easy to say it totally works out. If anything, it misses the ball, more than it actually connects with it and because of that, it’s hard to fully recommend this movie to anyone, or hell, even for myself.

…try two!

But like I said, it’s definitely an original. Whether or not that originality works out for itself, or bites its own ass in the end, is a whole other matter to decide on. But Hurwitz and Trevorrow clearly try to make this work as much as they can; Trevorrow constantly keeps the plot moving and Hurwitz, while mostly getting stuck with idiotic lines for precocious 11-year-olds only seen and/or conceived in movies, does try and juggle some things that you’d never expect one to do, yet, sort of respect.

But yeah, like I said, the movie’s just sort of all-over-the-place.

For some reason, however, it still kept me watching. Every opportunity it had to bother me and piss me off to the highest of the heavens, it still brought me back in with trying to figure itself out and go somewhere I did not at all expect it to. It’s the kind of movie that takes some many odd chances on telling its story, seeing just where the hell it can go, stepping back, and eventually, just throwing everything at the wall, that it’s much more interesting to watch than, well, actually entertaining. But hey, if having your mind stimulated while watching big-budgeted movies is entertaining to you, then hell yeah, you’re going to probably the enjoy the hell out of the Book of Henry.

But then again, probably not. I myself am still not sure. And I just reviewed it.

I think.

Consensus: By taking so many risks that so few little movies of its magnitude and well, budget, actually do nowadays, the Book of Henry deserves some kudos for going out on a limb and trying something new, even if it just never coheres together well. Like, at all. So yeah, it’s a mess.

5.5 / 10

And a middle-class, waitress mom who spends her leisurely time playing, guess this, video-games! Naomi Watts, ladies and gentlemen!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire


Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013)

Never has dementia been so hilarious.

After years and years of being stuck in a rut with a marriage he didn’t much care for, Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) is finally let loose after his wife dies. But just as Irving’s about to go out on the prowl and begin the hunt for all sorts of female tail, his grandson (Jackson Nicoll) gets thrown onto him after his daughter gets shipped off to jail. Irving obviously doesn’t want this, all because it ruins his plans of bagging some sweet honeys, so he makes the date to drive his grandson all the way to meet up with his daddy. However, the main problem is that not only is the daddy a total deadbeat, but he’s also far as hell which means it’s just a road trip for Irving and his grandson, resulting in some seriously wacky hi-jinx that, at first, start off mean, but eventually, as the two begin to bond more and more, begins to get more in touch with the heart as if they were like your average grand-pop-grandson duo.

Except that it’s all fake, filmed in front of real people, who have no idea what the hell is going on.

With the whole Jackass franchise, we’ve all come to expect the same types of stunts and pranks being performed, by the same types of numskulls that never seem to tire of them. Plenty of testicles get hit; public places defecated in; cars broken; rectums bleeding; and a whole lotta of brain cells being lost. However, as mind-numbing as that may be to not only perform in, but to actually watch, they’re always enjoyable to watch, especially since you know that they’re doing this all for you, and also for the pot of Benjamins that’s at the end of the rainbow, but you get my drift. The Jackass franchise may never get old, even if the people who apart of it do, which is why I wasn’t too opposed to a Bad Grandpa movie, but then again, I wasn’t totally rooting for it to come back either.

Those things still exist and function?

Those things still exist and function?

Most of these hidden-camera movies work wonders (Borat), and sometimes, they don’t (Bruno). The problem with most of them is that it’s sometimes too hard to believe that any of the people that are getting tooled around with aren’t at least somewhat in on the joke. Because honestly, you have to think about it: In the year 2013, where we’ve had Sacha Baron Cohen doing his act more than a few times and all sorts of impersonators up on YouTube, that you’d think at least one person, or maybe even a few more, would catch onto the joke and spoil the whole act for everyone. However, the rest of society ceases to amaze me as not only did it seem like nobody had a single clue that this was all Johnny Knoxville underneath the prosthetic make-up, testicles and wigs, but that everything he did in front of them, was an ACTUAL REALISTIC ACTION FROM A REAL-LIFE HUMAN-BEING.

People amaze me, they really do, which is why this movie is probably one of the funnier hidden-camera movies (if you want to call it that) of some time. But there’s more to it than just a few pranks the movie plays on people to hilarious effect, it’s the whole idea surrounding it. In Borat, we had this one character going all around the country, showing the inner-most racist feelings of society, and broadcasting it for the whole world to see. Yes, there were a whole bunch of pranks behind it that benefited off of how over-the-top some of these people’s reactions were, but there was still a political agenda behind it all that really drove the thing home. As for Bruno, the political agenda was there in how this one obvious, openly homosexual character would go around from person-to-person, wearing all sorts of tight clothing, and practically waving his penis in front of their face, all to get a reaction out of them that was the least bit negative so that they could show it off as “being homophobic”. I don’t know how that sounds to you, but if a dude comes up to me and starts touching me and invading my private-space, I feel like any negative reaction out of my system would be reasonable, if not totally supported. However, as obvious as that movie was with what it was trying to get across, there were still pranks in it that fed off the reactions of the people they were messing with the most.

But that’s where this movie is separated from those two, because while there are plenty of times the movie does go towards a certain demographic that they want to poke fun at and get reactions out of, the movie still never feels like it’s wholly against them in a type of way that’s mean-spirited. Because, need I remind you, this is a Jackass movie and those guys aren’t really known for digging any deeper than ground-level surface, which is perfect for a movie as funny and as crazy as this. Most of the gags hit, and while some don’t, they’re still mildly enjoyable because there’s just such a nice feel surrounding it. When you pull a prank on a person, it’s always fun to see their reactions and best of all, to get their reactions when the joke itself is finally revealed to them, which is exactly what you’ll get during the end credits. So definitely do stick around for them, as they are more than likely going to give you a couple of giggles and chuckles as well.

Easiest trick in the book.

Illegally stuffing goods down your pants: Just another sign you’re in Jackass world, kid.

While most of the humor does come from the outrageous pranks this grandpa and grandson pull on people, the charm of it all mainly comes from Johnny Knoxville and Jackson Nicoll who, together, give us one of the best screen-pairings I’ve seen for a comedy in awhile. And while I do recognize that there have been many others in the past not too long ago, the fact that this is between such a youngster and old guy, and they are both acting in some relatively real material, I have to give them more of the benefit of the doubt because there’s just such a naturalism between them both that works like gangbusters for the movie, as well as for the reactions from the peeps they interact with throughout the whole movie.

They both seem to be on the same page when it comes to what to say to a person on the spot, how to say it and when the right time is to start acting like total nut-balls, which shows just how much fun they have working together. Knoxville is on fire the whole time, just throwing out wise-cracks left-and-right, and never letting you forget that while this guy definitely does specialize in getting running over by bulls, he still has the comedic-talent to carry a movie on his own weight. But Knoxville certainly isn’t alone in this matter with Nicoll stealing the show by not only being the cutest kid in the world to ever call some girl a “hooker”, but that he’s also willing to do anything, regardless of how risky or dirty it may be. I want to know who his parents are so I can shake their hand and let them know that they’re some cool mofos for letting their little Jackson partake in a Jackass movie with none other than Mr. Knoxville himself. Wish my parents were that rad.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t go any deeper than just “messing with people in public places is fun”, Bad Grandpa is still a laugh-out-loud good time with plenty of hilarious pranks made better by the fact that Knoxville and Nicoll are dedicated to these characters the whole damn time, no matter what stands in their way of breaking character.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Reminds me of what my grandpa used to do to me. Now, look at me!!!

Reminds me of what my grandpa used to do to me. Now, look at me!!!

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