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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Jason Bateman

Office Christmas Party (2016)

Egg nog brings out the best in everyone.

Josh (Jason Bateman) is currently going through a little bit in his life and with it being the holidays and all, what he really wants to do is just sit back, relax, drink, hang out with some friends, and get in the holiday spirit of warmth and giving. However, with news that the corporation that he works for, Zenotech, may be on the brink of destruction, Josh now finds it impossible to get in any sort of cheer or happiness – if anything, he’s scared-to-death. And come to think of it, so is the branch manager, Clay (T.J. Miller). So, in some way, they concoct a plan where they not only hold the annual office Christmas party, but they do so in a way that may just save the company, once and for all. The only issue standing in their way is, other than the party getting too wacky and wild, is Clay’s sister (Jennifer Aniston), who also happens to be the CEO of Zenotech and will not put up with any unnecessary and insane shenanigans, regardless of whether or not it’s the holiday season.

Ugh, yeah.

Ugh, yeah.

Studio holiday comedies seem to come out just about every year and because of that, we, the audience, mostly has to accept them for what they are. And Office Christmas Party is the perfect example of that: Just about every funny person on the planet is featured here and yet, why does the movie feel so mediocre? A part of me feels that it has more to do with the fact that the studio behind it knew that they could rank-in some dough with a raunchy comedy, while also didn’t feel the need to really add much else to it than a bunch of familiar names, crazy gags, and Christmas tunes to get the licenses to.

Everything else, as they say, will pretty much figure itself out, right?

Well, that’s sort of what happens with Office Christmas Party, but it sort of doesn’t. It’s the kind of movie that made me laugh every once and awhile, but honestly, considering this cast involved, should have had me losing my pants about halfway through. The gags feel tired and lame; the over-the-top humor that seems to come seemingly out of nowhere, also feels forced; and yeah, I hate to say it, but the party is also kind of lame. Will Speck and Josh Gordon directed this and while it’s clear that they and the cast may have been having some good old fun, it doesn’t quite translate to the rest of the movie; a good portion of the run-time is spent focusing on all of these different subplots and how they develop over the night, sometimes providing laughs and other times, just not.

A movie like last year’s Sisters, showed that having your movie revolved around one single party can be pretty great – what needs to work, however, is the party itself. It needs to be fun, it needs to be raucous, it needs to be crazy, it needs to constantly build-and-build, and yeah, it actually needs to be hilarious to watch. Sure, it also needs to help keep the story moving, but honestly, it doesn’t need to take up about half of the movie, like it does here with Office Christmas Party, because after awhile, it just gets frustrating; every moment you think you’re going to finally get some time to mellow-out and enjoy the craziness of the actual party itself, nope, the movie jumps away and back to whatever plot it feels like going on and on about and it just ruins its momentum.

Like I said, though, the movie isn’t terrible.

Keep on smiling, girl. You're fine after this.

Keep on smiling, girl. You’re fine after this.

Mostly, all of its shortcomings are forgiven for the fact that they have one of the better ensembles in a comedy that I’ve seen in quite some time. Now, what they all do and how they perform here is an entirely different story altogether, but the fact that the movie was able to wrangle up not just the likes of comedic heavyweights Bateman, Miller, Olivia Munn, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, and Randall Park, along with some random, but welcome ones like Courtney B. Vance, Sam Richardson, and Abbey Lee, is really surprising. And yes, mostly all of them give it their shot and do what they can, but really, they’re all doing the same things we’ve seen them all do before, with barely any new spring to be found in their step, or original-spin taken.

The only one who really seems to be enjoying themselves the most, is also the one who may be changing things up ever so slightly with their act here, and that’s Jennifer Aniston. As Carol, the CEO of Zenotech (a name you will continue to be more and more annoyed by as the movie goes on), Aniston gets to really play it mean, brassy and nasty, like she never has before. Sure, you could make the argument that she did all of that up in Horrible Bosses, but honestly, that was played more up for the zany laughs – here, she’s playing someone meaner, darker and a lot less weird. She’s as serious as serious can be and in between all of that, she brings some humor out of this character and made me want to see more of her.

Because if the party’s not all that great, why not just hang with the people?

Consensus: Even with the great cast on-board, Office Christmas Party still feels like a disappointment, what with the jokes not really connecting and being way too plot-heavy to really make it an altogether enjoyable occasion.

6 / 10

Call those agents immediately!

Call those agents immediately!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Film School Rejects

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The Kingdom (2007)

Let’s just stay home and let people settle themselves out, okay?

Charged with the most important assignment of his career, federal agent Ron Fleury (Jamie Foxx) has one week to assemble a team, infiltrate and destroy a terrorist cell based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It’s not what he had in mind when he decided to join back up with the force, but it’s the task that was handed down to him, so he wrangles up Special Agent Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner), a forensic examiner, FBI analyst Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman), an intelligence analyst, and Special Agent Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), who all have their own set of skills that will help allow for this mission to go down a lot smoother. And if that wasn’t enough, well, then the four also have the company and good graces of Colonel Faris al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), the commander of the Saudi State Police Force, a man who is providing security for them. However, what seems like good intentions at first, all start to go away once the agents realize that they aren’t allowed to do their jobs and complete their mission because of some strange rules that the Saudi government is passing down to them. Will they obey them? Or, like most Americans, will they just do whatever they want?

Jamie's packin'.

Jamie’s packin’.

The Kingdom shows Peter Berg more of where he’s at now in his career. He tackles these real life moments in our nation’s history and does all that he can with them, never really making a point about what it is that he’s depicting, just more of showing the world a little story that we may, or may not, already have known about. Although Berg starts the movie off by showing the relationship between the U.S. and the Saudis, post-WWI, Berg still settles himself down, opting for a more traditional approach to a story that, quite frankly, could have not only just used more eyes and ears, but more voices.

In a way, it seems like the Kingdom is the perfect movie for Berg to get on his soap-box and speak out against the U.S.’s insistence of a relationship with the Saudis, but he still seems torn; at one point, he’s all about making a point, but then, at other points, he just wants to see stuff blow-up and people get shot dead in the streets. Somehow, somewhere, it doesn’t all come together perfectly and it seems like a case of Berg himself getting lost in translation and not knowing where to speak out, and where to let the violence start happening.

The action’s good though, so that’s got to account for something, right?

And yeah, it definitely does. There’s no denying that Berg knows how to craft a tense and effective action-sequence, but there’s maybe only or two throughout the whole film, which means that a large portion of the flick is dedicated to watching a bunch of characters talk to one another about stuff we may not have a clue about, or better yet, not even care for. The Kingdom may not try to settle all of the issues between the Saudis and the U.S., but what it does set out to do, is tell us a story about something that happened in the real world and why it deserves to be told.

So is Chris.

So is Chris.

Why, for some reason, that emotional impact isn’t felt while watching the movie is, for lack of a better term, weird. Berg knows how to craft action-sequences and in the many scenes where there are people talking, there’s still some underlining sense of dread and tension, but it never quite materializes into being anything all that exciting. Berg is, simply put, telling this story and leaving it at that.

In a way, that’s perfectly fine.

But in another way, it’s not. It lets the very talented cast and crew down, as well as the people it’s supposed to be depicting. Of course, the events and situations are all loosely based on other events that occurred in Saudi Arabia and had to do with American forces intervening, but the idea of patriotism and paying a tribute to these men and women who serve our country, only to make other countries nearly as good and safe as ours, still feels relevant. Berg wants to celebrate these people and there’s no problem with that – except for when he doesn’t quite give them all that much of a spectacular movie that really gets us, the movie-going audience, going.

Consensus: Despite a few solid pieces of action and timely themes, the Kingdom doesn’t know how to package them all up in a neat, somewhat cohesive manner that’s both effective, or interesting, making it feel like a missed-opportunity to really speak out against issues that deserve to be spoken out against.

6 / 10

And you know what? Even Jen is.

And you know what? Even Jen is.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

Every guy’s got that one ex-girlfriend who looks like Kristen Bell and ruined their lives.

Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) isn’t doing much with his life, really. Sure, he’s got TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), as a girlfriend, but really, he just sits around the house, eating a crap-ton of cereal, getting on the piano, and slowly writing his opera to Dracula. Eventually, all of this laziness catches up to him when Sarah dumps him for rock star and pop-sensation Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Heartbroken and without any clue as to what to do with his life, Peter decides to say screw it all and go vacation in Hawaii. After all, it’s nice, relaxing and just an all around great environment to be in, even though, when he gets there, he discovers that Sarah and Aldous are at the same resort of him, as lovey-dovey as they can possibly get. Though he automatically regrets the decision he makes, a clerk at the resort (Mila Kunis) gets Peter to stay and just enjoy the time he’s got. And yes, that’s exactly what Peter does, even if it does seem to be with her an awful lot. But still, there’s a part of Peter that no matter how hard he tries, he still can’t get over Sarah.

Oh, man up, wussy.

Oh, man up, wussy. She wasn’t even that hoooooo….okay, that’s a lie. She totally was.

You’ve got to hand it to Jason Segel for laying it all out there, literally and figuratively. Forgetting Sarah Marshall was his baby from the first stroke of the pen and it only makes greater sense that he’d be the star of it, and it actually works in the movie’s favor. Segel’s got this everyman feel to him that makes him not only likable, but downright sympathetic, even when it seems like he’s making dumb decisions, time after time again. Then again, the idea here is that because he’s so heart-broken and torn-up, he makes bad decisions by accident, not knowing what else to do.

Once again, this aspect works because it’s relatable and smart, without ever trying to be too much of, either.

At its core, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is another Apatow-lite comedy where people riff on random things for the sake of it, but this time, there’s more of a story to it all, with this one being that Segel’s character needs to get over his ex. Sure, it’s not much of a story, but it’s at least something to hold together all of the sticky pieces of improv that, yes, can occasionally bring out small, brilliant gems of comedic genius, but other times, can seem as if they’re just going on far too long and not really adding much of anything. Sure, a five-minute bit about champagne is fine and all, so long as it’s funny, but does it really need to be here?

Can it be substituted for something else more pertinent to the story? Or, can it just be taken out altogether?

The only reason I bring any of this up is because Forgetting Sarah Marshall is nearly two hours and can certainly feel like it. While we’re in the dawn and age where it’s virtually impossible that any movie, let alone a big-budgeted, mainstream comedy will be under two hours, there’s still something to be said for a movie when its short, but sweet and tight enough to where you don’t feel like you’re strained by the end. And no, I am not saying I was “strained” by Forgetting Sarah Marshall‘s end, but more like I was left with a lot of laughs, a rag-tag story that tried to hold everything together, and a better understanding that as long as you find another attractive person to kiss and bang, don’t worry, you’ll get over that attractive person you used to kiss and bang.

Catfight! Catfight!

Catfight! Catfight!

Okay, maybe it’s not nearly that cynical, but you get my drift: The message is as simple as they come, but it still works because the feeling of heartbreak is, unfortunately, for so many out there, universal. Everyone’s experienced it at least once in their life, whether they like to admit it or not, and even though the film likes to poke jokes at the idea of not being able to function in society after a break-up, it’s still very much a reality. Sometimes, the world around you just doesn’t make perfect sense, but because you know you have to be happy and move on, even if you don’t feel it at all, you still have to push yourself further and further to get to that point. Segel flirts with this idea and while he doesn’t fully go for it all, he still brings it up in a way that made me think it was more than just your average studio-comedy.

Because, yes, despite the wonderfully wacky, but charming performances from the likes of Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, and of course, Paul Rudd, amongst many others, the fact that Forgetting Sarah Marshall addresses sadness, love, heartbreak, and the feeling of remorse in an honest, but funny way, made me think of it a lot differently than I used to. Segel may or may not be working through some demons with this work here, but whatever the case is, his heart shines through and it’s nice to see someone take their script as passionately as it should be taken as.

It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s a blast to watch.

Consensus: In need of a trim or two, Forgetting Sarah Marshall can definitely feel a tad overlong, but still benefits from lovely and funny performances from the whole cast, as well as a smart script that goes beyond what you expect a studio comedy to be all about, even if it totally turns into that.

7.5 / 10

Hey remember the talk show this guy had? Me neither.

Hey, remember the talk show this guy had? Me neither.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Family Fang (2016)

Life’s a joke anyway. So yeah, make some stuff up while you’re at it.

Ever since they were just little kids, Buster and Annie Fang (Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman) have always felt like they were a part of some big joke in life and never really their own person. Most of this was due to the fact that their parents were well-known con artists that would sometimes stage crazy, nearly dangerous scenes in real life, and more often than not, it was Buster and Annie who were usually huge parts of making sure that the elaborate scams went into play. Now, many years later, Buster and Annie are having a bit of trouble adjusting to their adult-lives, with their own careers; Buster is a writer who had one good book, one bad one, and can’t seem to make up his mind about what he wants to do with this next one, whereas with Annie, she’s a mediocre actress who, for the first time ever, just did a nude scene. And even though Annie and Buster have changed an awful lot, believe it or not, their parents are still the same as they used to be, thinking of new and exciting ways to screw with the people around them. However, when they both go missing, Buster and Annie don’t quite know what to make of it. Do they take it as serious and actually face the fact that they may be lost out there in the world? Or, do they take it as another one of their long-running gags that they’re using as a way to be “artistic”?

Yes, mom and dad, kids really do grow up fast.

Yes, mom and dad, kids really do grow up fast.

What’s interesting about the Family Fang is that even though you’d automatically assume that this is, yet again, another drab, depressing and pretentious piece of Sundance-filmmaking, surprisingly enough, it doesn’t turn out that way. This is probably due to the fact that behind the camera, is none other than Jason Bateman himself. Rather than drowning in the sorrow and misery that can sometimes seems all that’s inside of these characters, Bateman does decide to go for a lighter, sometimes funnier-route, where we’re laughing more at the fact of how weird this family-dynamic is, rather than laughing along with it.

Trust me, there’s a big distinction.

There’s a solid blend between the comedy and drama here that, while I thought worked in Bateman’s directorial debut, Bad Words, still works here, but on a much smaller and subdued scale. Bateman isn’t demanding our emotions, nor is he trying to ask for us to love him, the movie, or these characters – he’s just giving us a story that may be a bit odd, but still resonates because, at the end of the day, it’s really about family, love and finding your true self. Sure, it’s most definitely corny, but Bateman finds a way to get to these themes and messages without overplaying his hand too much to where it feels like cues a movie like this takes.

And then yeah, his performance as Buster is pretty solid, too. For once, it seems like Bateman himself has found that perfect balance between the both sides of his persona. While we’ve seen him try to be dark, dramatic and serious before, more often than not, it feels as if he may just be making a statement about it, or the movies themselves haven’t been that good to really keep up with what he was doing (the Gift is the very, very rare exception). Here, as Buster, Bateman finds just the right sweet spot to where we see this character as a very serious person, but by the same token, still someone who can make a wisecrack every so often, just as Jason Bateman characters tend to do.

Uh oh. Is Jason Bateman trying to "out-act" Nicole Kidman? Look out!

Uh oh. Is Jason Bateman trying to “out-act” Nicole Kidman? Look out!

But as good as Bateman is in the role, it was really nice to see Nicole Kidman get a good role to work with as Annie. While Kidman has been one of the best actresses working today, lately, it seems as if she hasn’t been given a role worthy of her immense talents; there’s been some brief, bright and shining moments of that old light that used to shine all of the time, no matter what project she took up, but unfortunately, not as many around to where I’ve gotten excited about seeing her name pop-up for something. However, as Annie, Kidman gets a chance to show off her more funnier-skills as an actress, as well as remind people that she can, yes, act dramatically.

She and Bateman do that both very well, which is why their dynamic as a brother and sister, works quite well.

If anything, too, it’s actually damn relatable. Given that the story itself may be a bit on the weird side, the fact that Bateman is able to make it appear like the Fangs are just like any other family out there in the world, is a true testament to the kind of director he could be, with more and more time behind the camera. We get a sense of who these characters are, what they’re all about, and while it may come-off as a bit unbelievable, the movie still makes an effort to allow us to see them for all that they are.

It sounds really tedious, I know, but certain attention to characters and their relationships to one another is, unfortunately, often times, too rare to find around these days. Bateman does that right and then some, allowing for his talented cast to work with the material as much as they are able and willing to. Even though he has maybe only 15 minutes in the whole film, Christopher Walken leaves a lasting impression as the Fang father, who may or may not be a total dick for what he made his kids do when they were younger. But because it’s Christopher Walken, you start to think of him less as a “good guy”, or “bad guy”, but more of just “a guy”, and that’s the true greatness of the Family Fang.

Wow. Did I really like it that much? Guess so.

Consensus: The Family Fang benefits from the fact that Jason Bateman is a capable enough director to balance out heart, humor and character detail, to where everything and everyone gets their time to shine in subtle, but effective ways.

8 / 10

Yeah. Hated it when my parents made me do this, too.

Yeah. Hated it when my parents made me do this, too.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Invention of Lying (2009)

If you think about it, can’t all religious text possibly be “lies”? #Controversial

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is so down-on-his-luck that he’s practically given up now. While he has an okay job as a screenwriter and a nice apartment to live in, he lives in a world nobody is able to lie, so therefore, nobody ever does something for another person cause its the right thing to do. This means that Mark has to go out on a lot of dates where the girls he meets don’t really like him, nor do they ever expect to take anything further than just a simple date and leaving it at that. One date in particular, with Anna (Jennifer Garner), Mark seems to want more out of, but because he, according to her, is “fat and ugly”, the relationship will never work. But somehow, on one fateful day, Mark decides that he has the rare ability to, believe it or not, lie. This means that everyone around him will believe anything he says and can basically get away with whatever he oh so pleases to get away with. Clearly, this means that Mark’s going to do some easily questionable things that are for his own self-gain, but eventually, he starts to realize that it doesn’t matter if you can lie the rest of your life and get away, all that does matter is that you feel something lovely and true.

is the handsome, slack-jawed man her choice?

is the handsome, slack-jawed man her choice?

The Invention of Lying has so much promise that it’s an absolute shame watching went goes down with it. For one, this world that’s been created here, while yes, a tad odd and unconventional, is still an interesting one that you can spend a whole miniseries on, exploring every piece by piece, while also having some real great fun, with jokes and all that. And for awhile, the movie seems like it’s more than up to that opportunity; a commercial with Coca-Cola is perhaps the funniest moment of the whole movie, only to then be up-staged by a Pepsi ad moments later. There’s other bits and pieces in which Gervais explores this world a whole lot more than just having people blurt out mean, nasty and cruel things, but yeah, what eventually happens isn’t good.

And yes, this is a huge problem.

After awhile, it seems like co-directors Gervais and Matthew Robinson, truly did want to get deep down into this world, explore it more, find more jokes to make about it, and, if it got to a certain point, make some interesting contrasts to the real world we live in now, but for some reason, they get distracted. Instead of trying to make something that’s really biting, smart and almost satirical, they opt more for the conventional route, where we’re now more interested in whether or not Ricky Gervais’ character is going to get the girl at the end.

Obviously, he probably will, but to see this idea get explored more so than the other ones going on here, is pretty wasteful. Now, of course, I don’t know if this is on behalf of studio interruption, or if the guys themselves just really wanted to make a rom-com with this thing, but either way, it’s a shame to watch after awhile, because the jokes can sometimes be very funny, but sometimes, it doesn’t always hit its mark.

That said, yes, the Invention of Lying can be a pretty funny movie and yes, can deliver on some of its promises.

Or, the very ugly, but ambitious loner?

Or, the very ugly, but ambitious loner?

The whole add-on of religion was not only a nice touch, but a smart one that yes, was commenting on the idea of religion, but wasn’t doing it in an over-the-top way where some people may feel offended or pissed. However, at the same time, those who don’t follow any sort of religion by any means, won’t find themselves pissed that a well-known atheist like Ricky Gervais backed out on his original ideas. It’s just the right amount of poking fun, but also, reservation that makes a movie like this, while not perfect, seem a little more interesting and smarter.

And yeah, it also helps that the cast is pretty darn solid, too. As an ordinary, everyday man gifted with this one spectacular talent, Gervais is a lot of fun, but also, seems like he wants to do more than just be a stand-in for the story. He does give this character a heart and soul, and even though it may not totally work in the grander scheme of things, and just get in the way of the funnier moments of the movie, it still proves that Gervais himself isn’t just all about gags and making people laugh uncontrollably. Sometimes, he does like to get a little serious and dramatic and it works in most of his pieces.

Here, maybe not so much.

The reason for that is because it does feel very shoe-horned in, especially when you take into consideration that the movie is less about finding true love, as much as it’s just about the lies we are told and the lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better. Jennifer Garner is fine and, surprisingly, has some sweet chemistry with Gervais, but any moment that the movie seemed to focus on their possible budding-romance, it felt like it was being dragged down by a very heavy anchor that couldn’t be lifted. Once again, this could have been studio interference, but still, that doesn’t make it a worthy excuse. But it’s easy to forgive Gervais because even a movie like the Invention of Lying, while not perfect, still reminds us why he’s one of the smarter, brighter voices in comedy, as well as in animal rights.

You go, Rick.

Consensus: Despite not fully delivering on the promise of its premise, the Invention of Lying is still an entertaining comedy, mostly thanks to the talent working in it.

6 / 10

Or, the snarky Brit? Who knows who she'll choose!

Or, the snarky Brit? Who knows who she’ll choose!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Zootopia (2016)

It’s like the actual United States of America. But with animals!

From when she was just a little bunny, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) was always told that she wasn’t going to amount to much. Because of that adversity in her life, Judy trained for years and years to become a cop in the wonderfully huge and grand melting-pot that is Zootopia, a place where all kinds of creatures can live together in perfect peace and harmony. Eventually, Judy’s dream comes true and she finds herself living in Zootopia, with a solid job as a cop. However, she soon finds out that her job won’t amount to much other than just putting tickets on people’s cars. Though she’s disappointed by this, Judy still remains restless and ready to take on any obstacle she meets out there in the real world, which leads her to Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a sly and cunning fox, who she has a fear of, just based solely on the fact that fox and rabbits aren’t supposed to get along. Using Nick, Judy discovers a missing otter’s case, which leads her to uncovering a greater conspiracy that involves the police chief, the mayor, and plenty other people in power.

Don't call her "cute". Even if, yes, she totally is.

Don’t call her “cute”. Even if, yes, she totally is.

Last summer, when Inside Out came out, a lot of people were going on and on about how it was, essentially, a “kids movie for adults”. And they weren’t wrong. Sure, the animation, the colorful and wild-looking characters were clearly to attract the kids and get them interested in the first place, but really, the plot, the message and the mechanics of it all weren’t really for kids. After all, no kid would have been able to understand “the id”, “the psychosis”, or anything of that psychological nature, nor would they ever be able to understand just what the characters were searching for, or trying to accomplish. In some ways, that’s why I loved the movie, however, I also realize that perhaps the movie was maybe just a tad too smart for its own good, or even for its own audience.

That said, Zootopia is the kind of animated movie made to grab kids’ attention, but really meant to connect with the older-ones who get stuck bringing their kids in the first place.

And that’s a good thing. For one, Zootopia is a solid animated movie that, yes, looks as great and as detailed as ever. Every character, from the sloths, to the lions, to the cheetahs, the foxes, to polar bears, to the bunnies, to whichever you want to call them, all look lovely and pleasantly cartoonish. However, my main adoration for this movie comes in the way it approaches its universe. It’s the kind of movie that has a smart and relatively interesting idea, but rather than using it to rely on a lame plot or kiddie-jokes, instead, it goes balls to the walls with what it can do.

The story is a cross between a police procedural and coming-of-age-tale, but instead, with a rabbit and a fox in the interracial buddy-cop roles. And while for any lesser-movie, they’d just have that idea and leave it there, Zootopia decides to run wild with it and allow for the movie to build both of these characters up, give them personalities, and allow for them to go on throughout this whole world. After all, certain parts of this world that the movie has created for itself is so inventive and creative, that after awhile, it becomes clear that the movie’s dealing with a lot, but not really losing control of itself.

It has a message. It has a message. And most importantly, it has a story.

Granted, the story can sometimes go on and on and for the sake of telling the movie’s central message (racism and treating others for what they look like, and not who they are, is bad), but it still kept me interested. The movie brings up other points about gentrification, xenophobia, and social-classes that do hit, but it isn’t always actually about them; if anything, it’s just using them as a way to make their story feel and sound more important than it may already be perceived as. Of course, one could go on for days with think-pieces out the wahzoo about what Zootopia is trying to say, but none of it really matters, because guess what? The movie’s just a fun piece of animation.

I imagine this is the same smirk Jason Bateman holds on his face each and every day.

I imagine this is the same smirk Jason Bateman holds on his face each and every day.

Sure, it’s definitely made with the adults in mind, but it’s also a good movie for kids in that there’s a lot of the typical humor you’d expect for them to laugh at and love. However, there’s also smarter, more witty jokes aimed at the adults that have to deal with the social and racial constructs of this world, references to movies like the Godfather and Chinatown (among others), and the fact that each and everyone of these animals are supposed to be portraying an aspect of the real world. It’s all so goofy, but so much fun that you don’t care how far they go with these ideas.

You’ll just be happy that someone’s thinking this creatively for once.

And this is all the more surprising considering that there’s at least three directors (Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Rich Moore) and two writers (Jared Bush and Phil Johnston) working together. Normally, this spells out an uneasy, messy and uneven bit of trouble, but surprisingly, everybody came together here to create some neat and funny ideas, without ever seeming like they’re just throwing stuff in for the sake of it. And yes, the voice cast is also pretty solid, too. Ginnifer Goodwin is bright and sunny; Jason Bateman is as cool as a cucumber; Idris Elba is brass and brawny; and yeah, there’s others. Just know that Zootopia is a fine piece of animation that, if you haven’t already, just check it out.

It has something to say, but more importantly, has something to do with itself, rather than just waste your time because it’s already gotten your money.

Consensus: With smart ideas and messages about the real world we live in, yet, using animated animals to take humans places, Zootopia is not only cute, but awfully inventive and interesting, even when it seems to be preaching an awful lot.

8 / 10 

Oh, sloths. So silly.

Oh, sloths. So silly. Yet, a little creepy-looking.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Gift (2015)

High school is life.

Married couple, Simon and Robyn Callum (Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall), have been encountering some problems as of late with their marriage, so they decide to move back to where Simon grew up. One day, during shopping, a person by the name of Gordon Mosley (Joel Edgerton) comes up to Simon, to see if he remembers him from high school. Long story short, Simon kind of does, but kind of doesn’t, either. Plenty of time has passed, but to be a nice guy, Simon decides to invite “Gordo” over a fine dinner one night. It isn’t until long that both Robyn and Simon start to see that there’s something odd and off-putting about Gordo; he constantly leaves them gifts and comes over unexpectedly, asking for Simon, but stays longer than he probably should. Eventually, Simon gets tired of this and lets Gordo have it, which is when they think everything’s over with. However, Robyn’s fish are killed, her dog goes missing, and randomly, she starts having panic-attacks, which leads Simon to think that it’s all Gordo causing this and nobody else. But the main question remains: Why would Gordo go all this way to push himself into some dude from high school’s life, some twenty-odd years later?

A-hole.

A-hole.

Despite there being plenty more out there to see, I tend to believe sometimes that I’ve seen plenty of movies. Some were better than others, of course, but that’s not the point of my rambling – the point is that I think, after all the movies I’ve seen, I’ve come to know a lot about what to expect with certain movies. Therefore, when a story starts to lean down a certain direction, my brain automatically turns to the most conventional solution because, well, I’ve seen it all before. In all honesty, I wish I didn’t always think like this with movies, because it actually sucks a lot of the fun out, but so be it. I’m a miserable sack and I blame it all on movies.

But I digress.

The same directions that I’ve just alluded to, are the same ones I saw appear on countless occasions during the Gift. However, what’s different from this movie, as opposed to so many other ones out there that I’ve had the displeasure of seeing, is that it goes down a different way that I didn’t least expect it to. For instance, when Gordo starts showing up unexpectedly, inserting himself into this little couple’s life together, and making it known that he wants to be their friends, my brain was already saying, “Oh great. Here we go. He’s going to creep this family out so much that, eventually, they’re going to have to let him know straight-up, that their relationship is over. Then, Gordo’s going to get all crazy, start harassing the family, creeping them out plenty more, until, there’s a final battle between both sides that’s bloody and senseless.”And heck, once the dog ended up missing and the fish were killed, my mind had already turned off and let me knew that, yup, the Gift was going to be nothing different from any of the other “creepy neighbor thrillers” out there.

Once again, though, I was pleasantly surprised to see that, time and time again, writer/director Joel Edgerton turned down a different street and instead, opted for more fresh ways to tell this pretty familiar story. Take, for example, the characters Edgerton has created here – nobody here, even though the movie may sometimes lean a certain way, is considered to be a “good guy” or a
“bad” one. Mostly, everyone is just a person who may have better morals/social skills/earnings/personal issues/etc. than others and that’s all there is to them. This not only helps the movie feel like it’s more than just a thriller, but a character-study, as well heighten the tension in the air because, quite frankly, we start to care for these characters.

We care for them, not just because the movie wants us to, because after a bit of time, we get to know each and everyone of them. But it’s never over-done; we get certain, little inklings about a person’s life to where we’re able to conjure up exact ideas of how these people may be. And even though, it’s never fully clear who these people are. Maybe that was the cynical point Edgerton was trying to get across, but either way, it’s still an interesting thought to have in a movie that, honestly, could have been all about this couple getting terrorized and the creepy guy, continuing to be creepy.

Edgerton is a smarter talent than that and it goes without saying that, this being his debut and all, I’m quite impressed.

Not because Edgerton finds himself more off-screen, than in front of it, despite this being his movie and all, but because he seems to understand what it takes for a movie to be both smart, but also fun-in-a-silly-kind of way. This is especially evident in the final act when it becomes clear that this is less of a story about a creepy people being creepy, and more about how bullies continue to be bullies, no matter how old or experienced they get. Though the movie itself is smart and complex, the message it sends across, isn’t; however, it’s handled in a way that makes it seem like Edgerton was actually trying to say something here, as simple as it may have been.

Sweetheart.

Sweetheart.

But still, the characters here are strong enough that it doesn’t matter if Edgerton trips up on making sense of this movie. As Simon and Robyn, Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall are, respectively, very good here and help create their own characters well enough to where we see them as separate human beings, and not just a couple. To me, this was probably the most important aspect to making these characters work; while it’s easy to say that they’re in love, hence the fact they’re married, it’s what they do when the other’s not around that makes them into their own person and allows us to see them for all that they are.

For instance, whenever Simon’s not around, Robyn casually goes on a job around her neighborhood, re-organize the house, work on her computer, and do whatever else she feels like doing when she’s home all alone. Though these may seem unimportant when watching them, after awhile, the film uses this as a way to develop her character and make it known that, you know, she’s just a simple, sweet and easy-going gal; she may have had past problems with drugs, as we get more than enough hints at throughout, but overall, she’s a lovely gal. In fact, she’s probably so lovely, that it becomes almost baffling as to why she decides to stick with someone like Simon who, being played by Jason Bateman should already tell you, is a bit of a dick.

In fact, he’s a huge dick.

While this may seem like the same kind of role we’ve seen Bateman do a million times before, there’s something darker and meaner about this character that makes it feel slightly “different”. Instead of all is snarky comments being played for laughs, they’re now played for serious breaks of silence, where he makes a room a whole lot more tense for just saying what he feels and thinks. Bateman’s great here and it shows that, when given a solid script, the dude really can deliver. Same goes for Hall who, by now, we understand to be a pretty great actress. She not only handles the American-accent well, but also allows us to see that there may be a bit of a darker side to this character too, even if it doesn’t always show.

But perhaps, the best character of the bunch is, no surprise, the one being portrayed by the same dude who created this movie to begin with.

Though it’s made clear to us early on that Edgerton’s Gordo may be a bit of a weirdo who is best left in his own, little world of weirdness, rather than jumping in other people’s, there’s still something about him that makes him a character worth watching. While he may be socially awkward and odd at his worst, he is, in no way, a person who seems capable of murder, or any of the heinous acts he’s accused of throughout the flick. And once it becomes clear that he’s not really a bad person, we start to feel bad for him a whole lot more and wish that, not only would someone give him a hug, but also take him out, buy him a beer, and develop a long-standing relationship with him.

Still though, the dude’s still a mystery to us by the end and it’s what makes the Gift perhaps more thought-provoking than most thrillers of this nature that I’ve seen in quite some time.

Consensus: Working as both a character-study, as well as a psychological thriller, the Gift is a smart, complex and tense tale echoing in a new writing/directing talent in the form of Joel Edgerton.

8 / 10

Strange guy.

Strange guy.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Starsky & Hutch (2004)

Probably the tamest movie I’ve ever seen that says “coke” about 15 times. And I’m not referring to the soda, although if it were the late 1800’s, I would be referring to both I guess, right?

Detective David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is all about following the rules, getting the job, and having the law come out on-top, at any means necessary; Detective Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) is far different in the way that he’s so cool, calm, relaxed, and mellowed-out, that he doesn’t really care if he gets the job done or not, he just wants to look cool and smokin’. They’re polar-opposites, but they get strung together somehow and have to solve a drug-ring of coke on the streets, lead by millionaire Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn). Together, they have their fair-share of problems, but together, through the insistence on getting along and the help of their ears and eyes of the street, Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), they finally realize that the law always prevails. Or something of that nature.

It’s strange to think that a man who has been known for his fair share of R-rated, raunch-fests, Todd Phillips, would ever stoop so low as to go for a PG-13. But somehow, with this, he did and his struggle with actually trying to keep to that rating without over-stepping it at all. As I said up-top, there’s plenty uses of the word “coke” and nothing but; girls make-out with other girls; the F-bomb is dropped once (and randomly); partial-nudity is seen (sort of); and the word “shit” gets dropped about 5 or 6 times. It’s just strange because we know that when Phillips turns on the dirty-jets, he has a fun time and lets loose like no other, but what we mostly know is that when he does get down and dirty: he’s a lot funnier as well.

Whatta fun time!

Whatta fun time!

And trust me, it’s not that this flick isn’t funny, because it sure as hell does have it’s moments of comedic-inspiration that are more than likely going to win you over; it’s just that the tone itself is a bit uneven. What I mean by that is that the flick tries to go for a satire of an episode of the original Starsky & Hutch, and at other times, seems like it’s trying to be a straight-forward comedy that makes up it’s own jokes, is in it’s own little universe, and doesn’t even know about the other show. Hell, it even plays out like a failed-pilot of the original, except with more knowing-humor and a switch-up of the lead characters.

Since the movie never seems like it knows what it wants to be, or how for that matter, some comedy hits and some of it misses. More of it hits than actually misses, but knowing what Stiller, Wilson, Vaughn, Ferrell, and even Phillips are capable of, it comes as a bit of a disappointment. The jokes they use get a bit stale after awhile, especially the part where Starsky is high on cocaine and gets into a dance-battle, even though he doesn’t know he’s high, and become the same old, “70’s-fashion-was-so-corny”-type of humor. Nothing as witty or as smart as Zoolander or even Old School here, just a bunch of repetitive jokes made towards the decade it’s apparently supposed to take place in, even if it feels like we’re just watching a bunch of current-Hollywood stars play dress-up and act like their in the 70’s. I don’t know if being a tad bit anachronistic was the movie’s point or not, but if it was; it probably would have been a lot smarter and funnier in that case.

But in all honesty, I can’t discredit this movie too much cause the cast seems to be having fun and is mostly the reasons why we find ourselves laughing at times, despite it seeming a bit desperate at times. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are seemingly playing Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. They both seem to be enjoying themselves, not having to stretch their acting-muscles all that much, and getting a chance to dress in some fine, sexy 70’s digs. Together, they’re a bunch of fun and keep this movie cracking, but after awhile, you start to think how much of this movie was made because they really wanted to make a Starsky & Hutch movie, or how much of it was made as an excuse for the two to pal-around with one another? One has to wonder, and sometimes, it feels like the latter-aspect. It’s fun to watch them, but it feels like their having a bit more fun than we are and that poses a problem, especially when they’re trying to steal the laughs out of you.

Come on! Gimme more!

Come on! Gimme more!

On paper, having Vince Vaughn do his spastic, fast-speech act and Jason Bateman do his dead-pan act, team together, and play the smart, but slightly off-kilter baddies in a movie would seem like comedic-brilliance, but it never musters up any of the courage to really keep them funny or relevant all that much. Vaughn seems like he’s bored being serious and conning, whereas Bateman actually seems like he’s bored, and isn’t just using that to his and his character’s advantage. He actually seems like he’s bored and wants to get his check, so he could get the hell home and get ready to film another season of Arrested Development. Also, any movie that has thew chance to showcase Juliette Lewis and her comedic-talents as the dumb, trashy-chick in the movie, but squander that potential, has seemingly all but lost points from yours truly. The girl is not only a foxy mama, but she’s pretty damn funny, especially when she’s given the chance to be.

Others in this cast that show up do what they can like Snoop Dogg, who actually has some of the funnier-moments in the whole flick of funny people; Carmen Electra and Amy Smart show up to only make-out and provide some sex-appeal for a movie that didn’t need any, and when it finally got it’s chance to showcase it, made it seem more misogynistic than titillating; and actual cameos from the original guys, David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, who made it funny just being there, but once I got to thinking about it, made it almost seem like the film was making fun of them and how hell-bent-out-of-shape they seem to have gotten. Poor guys. Oh well, they probably got a nice, healthy paycheck from this. Just like Bateman. Although, needless to say, he probably made that paycheck last.

Consensus: Bits and pieces of Starsky & Hutch seem inspired enough to transpire plenty of inspired moments of comedy, but not too many as the flick struggles to make up it’s mind of what type of comedy it wants to be, or even make us laugh at all.

6 / 10

"1, 2, 3 and to tha 4, Huggy Bear is at tha doe."

“One, two, three and to tha foe, Huggy Bear is at tha doe.”

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

State of Play (2009)

Bloggers can’t pull off stunts like this. Not even me. And I’m Dan the Man, dammit!

Washington D.C. reporter, Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) is the type of guy you want telling the news. He gets his facts straight, no bias-stance whatsoever, and he always seems to find an impressive hook on how to make it worth reading or caring about. The latest story that comes his way, puts him in a bit of a rough position because not only is one of his close friends involved with it, Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), but because it’s surprisingly a life-or-death situation that escalated to that level quite quickly. With young, hot-and-ready reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), he’ll figure out who exactly was Collin’s mistress, whether her death was a suicide or a murder, why somebody would want her dead, and whether or not it’s even worth risking their life for. Then again though, he works at a newspaper, and I think any story, is a story worth telling, so he’ll go with what he can get.

"Be careful, Rachel. We all know what he does with phones when he's upset."

Be careful, Rachel. We all know what he does with phones when he’s upset.

Surely a movie about a newspaper industry seems already dated, way before conception and release, but that’s where this flick works so well. It is a modern-day thriller, where computers, the internet, smart phones, and texting reigns supreme; however, director Kevin MacDonald also frames this movie in a way that makes you feel like you’re watching one of those old-school, classy, and cool thrillers from the 70’s, where conspiracies ran high, and it was all up to the dedicated reporter to get the truth out. Nowadays, it seems like you go anywhere for any bits of news information, everybody knows about it and has reasoning/sources, but that makes it so sweet to get a flick that reminds us that the old methods of information-sharing still exists, even if it isn’t used quite as often as it once was. Then again, maybe being the fact that I’m a Journalism Major makes me more sympathetic to the issue.

Actually, that’s most likely the reason, but so be it!

Anyway, the film. What works well here is that even though it does seem to be very dense in every piece of detail, every clue, and every hint it throws at us, it never feels confusing. Practically, we are strung along on a trip of finding out anything we can about what’s going on, and are left in the dark about other stuff as well. We think we get the full picture more than a couple of times, and then, we are thrown right for a loop when a slight piece of info comes out and proves us wrong. It messes with our minds and has us curious by how it’s all going to pan-out; but it never feels manipulative.

Where most thrillers would make have conceit becomes over-used and overstay its welcome, MacDonald uses it more to his advantage, in a way to almost coax us into believing all that we hear and see as fact, and nothing but it. With most thrillers like these, we can’t always expect to take in all that’s thrown at us as pure fact, but we do have to believe in it, and I never felt like I was seeing a movie that went maybe a bit too over-zealous with its twists. Mainly, I always felt like MacDonald always knew what he was doing, what he wanted to show us, what he didn’t want to show us, what he wanted us to think at certain moments, and how he wanted us to feel when certain conclusions were made. Many times you’ll be surprised with where one twist will take you, but such is the skill of a thriller, when it’s a thriller done right. And to add on the fact that it’s a movie about the dedication and hardships that reporters take when it comes to getting their stories right, while also making sure to get them out there first; it’s almost like adding a cherry on top. Especially for me.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for these types of movies. Twisty-thrillers and movies about journalists!

But while the movie does work in keeping us on an unpredictable, turny path, it does show some weaknesses as well, ones that became more apparent to me once I got to thinking of them. First of all, I think that having the friendship-clash between Collins and McAffrey works as its own thing, so therefore, to throw in Collins’ wife to the mix, as to set-up some sort of love-triangle, feels manipulative and unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, Robin Wright is solid as Collins’ wife, as she plays around with the feeling of being betrayed by her own husband, but also curious enough to get him right back. She’s the perfect form of snidely, evil, and sexy that I’ve ever seen from her, but her character doesn’t need to be used in this light, or even at all. She definitely brings on more guilt to the Collins character, but other than that: Not much else.

While I’m on the subject of the cast, let me just say that all-around, this is a very solid ensemble that feels as if they were hand-picked, for good reasons: 1.) they can all act, and 2.) they actually get a chance to show the mainstream world what they can do when they aren’t slumming themselves down for Hollywood. Russell Crowe seems like he’s a bit too brutish and tough to be taken seriously as this meek and soft, but determined reporter, but somehow, the guy pulls it off very believably. There’s an essence to his character where you know you can trust him to do the right thing, but you don’t quite know if he’s going to get coaxed into doing it, or not. Actually, that’s a pretty interesting point about his personality that movie brings up, but never really develops further, is the fact that not only does he have a job to do, which indicates responsibility, but he has a friend that he obviously cares for and wants to protect. So, basically: What does he do? Turn on his friend, and give the world the spicy story, no details left aside, or, does he stay true to his friend, and give the public a story that has him come out unscathed? The movie sheds this light a couple of times, but by the end, totally loses all sense of it and just stops worrying about it after awhile. Could have really done wonders for itself, but sadly, just does not.

Batman getting rough with Kal-El's daddy? Is this a sign of things to come?!?!

Batman getting rough with Kal-El’s daddy? Is this a sign of things to come?!?!

Boo.

Playing Congressman Stephen Collins is Ben Affleck, and I have to say, the guy does quite a swell job here. No, he’s not perfect and he isn’t as enthralling as you’d expect a conflicted-figure like his to be, but he does what the roles asks upon him to do: Show enough feeling to where you could be viewed upon as “sympathetic”, but not too weak to where you don’t seem like you couldn’t be a bit of a rat-bastard as well. With that idea, Affleck does wonders and shows the rest of the world that he can still act (even though by ’09, people already knew that).

Rachel McAdams is also a fiery-sword as the young and brass blogger that hops aboard this story, and seems to be really enjoying herself, whether it’s when she has her time on her own, or if she’s around fellow co-stars and gets a chance to strut her stuff. Either way, she holds her own and doesn’t come off as annoying, or way-too-in-over-her-head or anything along those lines. She’s just Rachel McAdams, and that’s perfect as is.

The rest of the stacked-cast is pretty awesome too, with some getting more notice than the others: I wish there was more of Helen Mirren, but then again, I feel like that could be a criticism for any movie, so I’ll leave it be with that; pre-Newsroom Jeff Daniels shows that he has the acting chops to, one minute, be playing a sophisticated charmer, and then the next minute, be as corrupt and evil as the same politicians he talks out against; Viola Davis gets a short, but sweet cameo as a morgue-employee; and Jason Bateman shows up all coked-up, high-living, and fun as one of Collins’ known-associates, and almost steals the movie all by himself. Almost.

Consensus: Sure, State of Play is nothing more than a classic-piece of deception, cheating, lying, and suspense, all placed around the idea of a newspaper, but for that reason, it’s still entertaining and compelling to watch.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

In this situation, I think Helen Mirren is the one to be feared the most.

In this situation, I think Helen Mirren is the one to be feared the most.

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

After awhile, you just have to start working for yourself and out of your basement.

After succesfully getting rid of their bosses in a meaningful fashion a couple years ago, Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day), and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) seem to be back on the right track; not only is their latest creation the Showbuddy hitting stores soon and gaining plenty of traction, but they’ve also found out that wealthy businessmen, Burt and Rex Hanson (Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine), want to go into business with them. So yeah, everything seems great for these guys, that is, until the Hanson’s decide to pull out of their deal and rob the three for all that they have. This gets them thinking once again – time to call up Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx) and see what can be done. Together, they all concoct a plan where they’ll kidnap Rex, hold him for ransom, to ensure that Burt pays them back all the money they had. It seems perfect and everything, especially once they actually go through with the kidnapping of Rex, but the guys soon realize that not only is Rex a little crazy, but he’s totally in on the plan to rob his old man for all he’s worth. It’s surely a twist the guys weren’t expecting, but one they’re ready to roll with and hope that everything goes according to plan with. Until it sort of doesn’t.

The first Horrible Bosses, while not the laugh-out-loud comedy classic many around the time of its release assured me it was, was still a very funny movie and allowed for three capable comedians like Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis to just make everything up as they went along. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but most of the times, it was fun to watch. Their camaraderie together, as well as the crazy plot, definitely made the original a bit more than just your average, relatively funny comedy; it had a neat story to work with and it rolled with it for as long as it could.

Business meeting while golfing? Yup, total dick move.

Business meeting while golfing? Total dick move.

Now that we have the sequel, it seems like the original’s freshness isn’t just lost, but a bit boring.

See, it’s hard to do a sequel that has practically the same exact plot as the first movie, without there being any sort of wink, nod, tongue-in-cheek reference made to the audience. Not just to ensure them that yes, the movie itself is pretty smart and knows it’s a cash-cow, but that the audience can expect wittier humor that wasn’t just thrown in there to make sure there’s a sequel to do. The problem with this sequel isn’t that it never lets us know what we’re seeing, is almost the same thing, done again in slightly different ways, but that it relies too much on these three leads and nothing else.

I don’t think I’m standing alone when I say that Bateman, Sudiekis and Day are some of the funniest people working in Hollywood today. Not only do they seem to make an impression in just about everything they show up in, whether together or on their own terms, but they seem to be in this brand of comedy that isn’t necessarily smart, but isn’t dumb either. They’re sort of middlebrow comedy folks and I think that’s why, whenever I see them in something, I can’t help but laugh along with whatever they’re doing. They have that sort of effect on me and, from what it seems, on most others too, considering that they still get plenty of roles.

And although I liked how fun they made their off-the-wall improv from the first movie seem humorous, if incredibly random at times, the movie still didn’t always fall back on it in a way to make up for the lack of fun with its plot. Here, with Horrible Bosses 2, you can sort of tell that there’s not too much of an exciting, fun plot here, so therefore, the movie just keeps on relying harder and harder on its three leads as the movie goes on. Which is, once again, fine and all, mostly because these guys are funny with nearly everything they do, but after awhile, it makes you wonder whether or not there was even a script for this to begin with, or just several pieces of blank paper that just read, “Guys improv about walkie-talkies and Charlie yells. A LOT.”

Once again, the guys are still funny with this much trust in them, but it begins to get a bit tiresome after awhile to just see them take what would could be literally a two-minute heist scene, pan out to be nearly 15 minutes, all because the guys decided to get on each other’s asses about gloves, or something.

Now even more reasons to talk about Tarantino!

Now even more reasons to talk about Tarantino!

But most of where the laughs come from, not just in this movie, but comedies in general, is in seeing certain big, respectable names sort of go out there, try something new, edgy and absolutely shock the hell out of the audience that may already have them envisioned in another light. With the first movie, we got to see Jennifer Aniston as a dirty, sex-crazed woman, and here, we get to see Chris Pine play against type as a guy who is, well a rich dick-head, but one that actually seems like he’s a little crazy. I’ve always been a fan of Pine and felt like it’s getting closer and closer to where he’s able to finally branch-out of the Captain Kirk light that seems to be shadowing over most of the career decisions he currently makes, and here, as Rex, I think he gets a chance to show that he has a fun side. It’s refreshing, funny, and sometimes, interesting, especially when we see him get along well with the rest of the guys.

Problem is though, Christoph Waltz plays his daddy and is hardly ever around to join in on any of the fun. It’s actually quite surprising really, because we know Waltz is more than capable at being funny with dialogue that isn’t from crazy Quentin, which makes me wonder if he just wasn’t around to film any scenes that the creators may have initially planned for him to create, or that the role itself was just so tiny to begin with, that it didn’t bother Waltz much. Either way, I wish we got to see more of him and, honestly, less of Aniston, because while she still got a few laughs, her act gets a bit tired and stale, as if the movie still needed her so sex could happen in some way, shape, or form.

But Jamie Foxx is still awesome as Motherfucker Jones. So yeah, he’s fine.

Consensus: Mostly because of its over-reliance on its talented cast, Horrible Bosses 2 gets by, but isn’t nearly as funny, or as inspired as the original movie which, in and of itself, wasn’t really all that amazing to begin with.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Yup. Still the best part.

Yup. Still the best part.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

This Is Where I Leave You (2014)

I’m Catholic, but if Jason Bateman and Adam Driver want me to sit Shiva with them, then yeah, I’m totally Jewish.

After the patriarch of the family passes away, the Altman siblings all decide to honor his final wish and sit Shiva for the next week. Although none of them really want to, they decide to anyway, not to just honor their dad’s wishes, but to ensure that their mother (Jane Fonda) doesn’t have a total hissy-fit. The problem is though, none of the siblings really get along. The eldest, Paul (Corey Stoll), is always so very serious and is having a problem impregnating his needy wife (Kathryn Hahn); Wendy (Tina Fey) is sort of having the same problem of her own with her kids and husband, although she’s finding some peace with her ex-boyfriend (Timothy Olyphant) who happens to still be living in town; Judd (Jason Bateman) is in the midst of divorcing his cheating wife (Abigail Spencer), but finds some solace when he reconnects with a long lost of his own, Penny (Rose Byrne); and lastly, the youngest, Phillip (Adam Driver) is a bit of a wild child that not only brings his much-older girlfriend with him (Connie Britton), but finds it hard to ever really think about why he misses so much of his dad to begin with. Then again, none of them really do, which is how most of their fights pop-up in the first place.

Though I have never read the original-text from which this movie is an adaptation of, I assume that it’s a great piece of work because of how much critics seem to be trashing this movie. Sure, there are some good reviews to be found here and there, but overall, This Is Where I Leave You seems to be a real disappointment. And while I can’t say that I particularly agree, or disagree with the general consensus of this film, I can at least attest to the fact that I’m one of those reviewers who didn’t hate it that much.

There's a Manic Pixie Dream Girl out there for all of us.

There’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl out there for all of us.

Is this, as most note in their reviews, something of a “letdown”? Of course! You’d think that with this premise and this cast heavily-stacked cast involved that not only would we have something of a classic on our hands, but a near-Oscar contender. Maybe that’s going a tad far, but seriously, just look at that IMDB page and try to tell me you’re not at least somewhat impressed with how many great talents decided to work on this. It’s almost as if director Shawn Levy himself had a piece of evidence that was detrimental to each and everyone of these star’s personal and professional lives, that he was able to bribe all of them into not just working with him on this movie, but actually putting in some fine work.

That said, the movie is not a very good one. You can clearly tell that Levy (the same guy who has directed all of the Night at the Museums‘) doesn’t really have much of a background in directing actual moving, compelling scenes of drama and instead, more or less opts for melodrama that sometimes wants to be about “adult things”, happening with “adult people”, but in the end, just turns out to be not all that important/heavy at all. That it wants to be both a comedy with various poop and sex gags, as well as a heavy-handed drama dealing with infidelity, fertility, family, depression, and other such themes, makes it feel confused and messy.

However though, there is something to be said for when you can get an ensemble this good, to really try their hardest with material that, quite frankly, doesn’t really deserve them. Once again, never read the book so all I can assume is that it was pretty great, but whatever they did with this script here is disappointing.

But that’s why we have movie stars – they’re able to not only make us happy, pleased and be entertained, but also there to remind us each and everyday why they still deserve to work, and why exactly it is that we should continue to see them in whatever they decide to do. And this is exactly why I can’t get too mad at this movie, or what Levy does as a director. Sure, it’s a hack job from someone I didn’t expect to otherwise create, but when he allows for his cast to just do what they do best and interact with one another, the movie hits some highs and makes most of the trip worth taking.

For instance, Jason Bateman is doing what he always does: Dead-pan the crap out every line he has to deliver. It’s definitely an act of his that we’ve seen for a very long time and honestly, it never seems to get old. Not there as Michael Bluth, and definitely not here as Judd Altman; which is definitely effective because he’s the sibling who gets the most attention. He’s a sad sack, but he’s the funny one of the group that also happens to be the voice-of-reason, despite him being severely depressed. Though the romance between he and Rose Byrne’s character does feel a bit tacked-on, the two at least try to create some sort of honesty that doesn’t really show much throughout the rest of the film.

Jane Fonduh!!! Holla!

Jane Fonduh!!! Holla!

But what I’ve said about Bateman, his character Judd, and what he does with him, is pretty much the same thing that could be said about the rest of the cast: They’re all putting in good work, although it’s not much different from what we’ve seen them do before. Tina Fey is funny as the jokey and wiser older sister, although it does seem like her dramatic-acting needs a bit of work; Adam Driver is his usual goofy, eccentric-self and steals mostly all of the scenes he’s in; Corey Stoll is the serious one of the family and does fine with that; Kathryn Hahn plays his wife and seems like she wants to be another one of Hahn’s crazy characters, but just ends up being a repressed wifey-poo; and Jane Fonda plays the matriarch of the Altman family, does what she needs to do, is funny, inappropriate and a bit smug, but she’s a pro and handles this material so well, as one could expect her to do.

And honestly, the rest of the supporting cast is fine, too. Some recognizable faces show up and remind you that they can still put in great work and make something of an impact, regardless of how small their screen-time is (Abigail Spencer makes her conventional-character of the cheating-wife seem somewhat sympathetic). Should this have been a better movie? Oh, totally! It not only should have been an Oscar-contender and definitely something people will keep on turning back to every couple of months or so. But given what it is, most likely, it’ll just be the kind of movie you find while searching through your cable. Not saying that’s a bad thing, really, but it’s definitely not supposed to make you fully pleased either.

Consensus: Given the cast involved, This Is Where I Leave You should have definitely hit harder, but everybody’s so fine that it’s at least worth watching, if only for a single-viewing and leaving it at that.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Usually how me and my siblings start off nights together. How they end is a totally different story.

Usually how me and my siblings start off nights together. How they end is a totally different story.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Bad Words (2014)

Still have yet to see any of these spelling bees give the word, “Icup”. You’ll get it.

Spelling bees are usually meant for those kids who study all night and day, learn every word in the dictionary, its meaning, its usage in a sentence, its tense and even its place-of-origin. These kids duke it out in a civilized, calm manner, with hopes in that they’ll get the chance to shine in the spotlight for a bit, get a check and even get a chance to meet some pretty famous people. And hell, they should – they’re kids, they studied long, hard and diligently, so why the ‘eff not? Well, hate to break it to these little kiddies, but 40-year-old Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) thinks differently. Through some loophole he miraculously discovers, Guy is able to forge himself into The Golden Quill Spelling Bee competition where he’s up against fifth and sixth graders, and even allowing his whole story to be told to the mainstream media, in the form of a reporter (Kathryn Hahn). As one could suspect, everybody is downright appalled that somebody this rude, crude and downright evil would actually commit such a reprehensible act, but then again, Guy Trilby is a reprehensible guy, so what do you expect?

Jason Bateman, man. We all know you’re funny and everything, but gosh. How are you still able to surprise us?

Fuck ACME, right?!?!?!

Fuck ACME, right?!?!?!

Well, it’s quite simple: He’s a genuinely-talented guy that knows how to make any piece of comedy work. Even if it does mean that he works in junk like Identity Thief. Yeah, let’s just move on from that one, shall we?

Anyway, what I am trying to say here is that we all know Jason Bateman for being a lovable, heart-of-gold, dead-panning smart-ass. It’s an act he’s been perfecting for quite some time and personally, I don’t feel as if it is ever getting old. However, it’s surprising just how many times Bateman hasn’t really gone out on a limb and gotten really wacky and nutty with himself. Sure, there was the Change-Up, where he had to play some-odd version of Ryan Reynolds, but it seems to be that only myself and a few others actually saw it, or better yet, even liked it.

But also, that’s why it is so cool to see him behind the director’s chair with this one, because not only does he get to show us a new skill he may have never utilized before, but he also gets to show us that the dude can still be a likable guy, even if he is playing an absolute and total dick. And an absolute, total dick is exactly what Guy Trilby is; however, he’s an entertaining and relatively lovable one at that. Most of why Trilby gets by as a character, is because Bateman is so likable to begin with, that it doesn’t matter if he’s using racist-comments towards everyone around him, or the fact that he’s antagonizing sixth graders just trying to get ahead of a 40-year-old, grown-man in a spelling bee competition. What does matter is if we get to see that there’s anything more to the guy than just that.

And with both Bateman’s acting and directing, we get to see Guy Trilby for all of his faults, his positives and just what makes him downright human. Honestly, he’s not a great guy, but there are brief snippets where we get to see that he can be a kind guy, even if that does entailing him taking a ten-year-old boy out to steal lobsters, get drunk, eat fast-food and see a pair of boobs. I didn’t say he was perfect, dammit! All I said that he tries to do what is right for both him, and this little boy named Chaitanya Chopra, played wonderfully by Rohan Chand. Together, the two have a nice bit of chemistry that works well and really gives the movie that extra amount of depth the material needed to be than just a “Spellbound meets Bad Santa“-flick.

I guess you can credit most of that to Bateman’s directing, his acting, or the script from Andrew Dodge that isn’t perfect, but still gets most of the beats right. It’s funny when it needs to be funny, but in a mean-spirited kind of way that makes you think you shouldn’t be laughing, yet, still can’t help yourself but to do otherwise. Especially once you see Guy terrorizing and getting inside the heads of all these poor, desperate kids. Sure, it’s terrible to watch, but in a good way that only a dark, R-rated comedy can do and that’s why it’s definitely worth seeing, especially if you’re in the mood for a good couple of hearty laughs.

Why no "Amy Winehouse hairdo" joke wasn't made is totally beyond me.

Why no “Amy Winehouse hairdo” joke wasn’t made is totally beyond me.

Or, if you just want to hear Michael Bluth make derogatory-comments about Arabs, fat people and girls, among others. Never thought I’d be using that in the same sentence, but like I said before: Jason Bateman can still surprise me, even if it is quite late in his career. True comedian right there, people.

By the end, the movie does begin to get a tad repetitive and obvious, as several plot-twists come to the forefront in a heavy, not-so-subtle way. It’s nice to see people like Philip Baker Hall, Ben Falcone and Allison Janney show up in stuff no matter what the occasion may be, but here, the material doesn’t suit them all that well to begin with, or give them much to do. More so Hall than anybody else, as it seems like Bateman really wanted to draw some drama out of just having him around, however, takes the movie down a whole notch along with him. The only one who can bring it back up, other than him and Chand of course, is Kathryn Hahn who, once again, shows us that she can balance-out humor and heart, without making the constant switches and twitches seem all that jarring. Still see a bright future ahead of this gal, even if she is pushing 40 and late in her career. Then again though, could say the same about Bateman and look where he’s going. Oh, Hollywood and all of your talented, over-40 people!

Consensus: May get too dramatic by the end, but with an assured-direction and lead performance from the always-hilarious Jason Bateman, Bad Words works by balancing out its side-splitting, crude humor, with plenty of heartwarming moments to make you think differently about the material you’re watching, as predictable as it may be.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Whatta douche.

Whatta douche.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Juno (2007)

Just as long as you’re a quirky hipster-teenager, not a single person will be mad at you for being preggo!

Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) isn’t your traditional, normal high school teen in the way that she holds herself. She knows a lot about people, life and society to the point of where people cast her a bit as an “outside”, however though, that doesn’t bother her because she’s just happy being herself, in her own, wide world of quirkiness and faux-clever pop culture references. But now her world is about to be shaken-up a bit now that she’s been impregnated by her best-buddy, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). He clearly has no idea what the hell to do when he hears this news, and neither does she, but she decides not to take “the easy way out”. Thus bringing her to the idea of having the baby, but then giving it right to hopeful parents Vanessa and Mark (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman), who have been wanting a baby for quite some time, and have even gone as far as to place ads in the papers. It seems like the right thing for Juno to do, however, she still can’t help herself from causing a bit of ruckus in the meanwhile.

Many people have spoken-out against this movie for being what is clearly a “mainstream attempt” at trying to do a quirky, hipster movie, that you’d most likely see in a small, run-down movie theater with at least five or six other people, and then hear about years later, with it gaining a cult-following and loyal fan-base and such. Reason being, the script by Diablo Cody is filled to the core with numerous amounts of slang, phrases that seem like they’d only come from “hip” people’s mouths and more inside-joke pop culture references than you or I could ever shake a stick at. Hell, it even opens up with a rotoscoped credit-sequence, done to the tunage of Barry Louis Polisar.

Look at that thing! So rad, man!

Look at that thing! So rad, man!

If that doesn’t scream, “Hey, look at me! I’m hip! I’m cool! I’m “with it”!”, then I don’t know what does.

Usually whenever a movie has me thinking this in the first couple minutes, it’s usually all downhill from there. But that wasn’t the case here. Surprisingly, Cody’s writing began to work more and more, even when more of an onslaught of absolutely random references came into play. However, that also made it so much more entertaining to watch as I could not only find myself laughing, but feel like I’m in the presence of real teenagers who sure, talk a bit funnier and more colorful than you or I, but act and behave as if they were us. Early pregnancy aside, I could still see myself talking, hanging out and getting to know some chick just like Juno, and being picked to pieces for either saying something really dumb, or being intimidated by her presence. But I could say the same thing about meeting Juno, about everybody else here.

The fact is, although its a rather showy script, it’s always believable and never loses that sense that we are placed into a world that exists in the 21st century, with characters who have grown-up on Nickelodeon, Slurpee’s and the almighty “Hamburger Phones”. Yes, they do exist and yes, they are awesome.

But once all of the playful wit of this movie leaves, then comes in the huge heart it has and it really takes you by surprise. One second you could be laughing at how Juno tries to match wits with some older dude about how Iggy Pop is such a bad-ass, to then be soaking your eyes out crying because of some beautiful speech her dad gave to her about finding that one and only special someone and why that does inf act matter. The movie definitely plays with that balance more than a few times than it ought to, but Cody and Reitman seem like they have a perfect idea of when the right time to play a moment up for laughs is, and when it’s the time to start letting the tears flow. More often than not, the former got the best of me, but the latter came in with a surprising thunder and really touched. Especially during the last ten or so minutes when the whole story, all of the characters and subplots, come together and get tied-up in a nice, neat little bow-tie.

How perfect that is to see actually happen in a movie for once.

Of course though, the one’s who really make this movie work so well, just as much as both Reitman and Cody do, is the ensemble cast, mainly Ellen Page in the lead as “anti-hero” of sorts, Juno MacGuff. Page got a lot of praise for this role, and some could say it made her a bon-a-fide “star”, and while I’m not up for a discussion on whether or not that’s fully, entirely true (it isn’t), I will say that Page deserved all of the chatter being made about her because she fits this role like a glove. She’s quick, funny, and always up to say something you don’t expect her to, but she’s never a big meanie. Sure, she can be a bit of a sassy-pup to those who deserve it, but to everybody else around her, you know, the one’s that actually matter and care for her, she’s always kinder to and definitely doesn’t take of them for granted. She’s unpredictable for sure, but she’s never a “bad person” per se, which is what I think makes her so damn likable and watchable in the first place. That, and the fact that she’s edgy, without being overly so. Good for Page though, as I think that she’s a solid actress who is sadly still trying hard to live this iconic-role down. One day, I think, she will. But until then, we have this to adore and appreciate.

Please be my parents! Please!!

Please be my parents! Please!!

Michael Cera also does a nice job as Paulie Bleeker, despite still being in that “George Michael“-frame. However though, he was good at showing what a guy like him would do if he was suddenly thrown into the same situation that he is obviously incapable of handling. Also, the relationship that he and Juno have is a very well-done one which would have made for its own interesting rom-com. Even the friendship Juno has with her bestie, played by Olivia Thirlby, is well-done because she’s just as sassy, if not more than Juno’s snarky-ass, which also makes their time together all the more enjoyable to watch.

But this isn’t just a movie for, and starring all teenagers throughout the world! Believe it or not, there are some performances from adults here, and for the most part, they’re pretty outstanding. As I’ve mentioned before about his one scene, J.K. Simmons is great as Juno’s daddy that isn’t the typical toughened war-vet, hard-ass daddy you usually see in these types of movies. He definitely loves his daughter and accepts her for everything that she is, despite her making one dumb decision and getting pregnant as a result. Still though, he stands by her and wants what’s best, without getting in the way too much. Same for Allison Janney’s step-mom character who isn’t the evil, cackling step-mom that holds everything against her step-daughter for not being biologically related to her. In fact, one could say that she’s more concerned and protecting of Juno, and doesn’t want people bad-mouthing her all because she’s a teenager, who just so happens to be pregnant. Even the two performances from Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner are great too, and, believe it or not, would have definitely worked in their own, little movie. However here, they’re both believable as a married-couple that may not be perfect together, but definitely seem to want the same things in life and within each other, even if their vision does get a bit blurred at times.

Mainly though, everybody works perfectly together and makes this something more special than just an-hour-and-a-half rom-com with pregnancy involved somehow. I would have definitely liked to seen more of this cast do what they do best, but hey, I’ll take what I can get when I have a cast that is this good, and given this much meaty-material to work with. If only more ensemble-pieces handled its cast as well as Reitman does. If only.

Consensus: Most will definitely know if Juno is right for them or not, judged solely by the first ten minutes. But if you just so happen to be one of those people that take the bait and enjoy the show, you’ll find yourself not just happy you stuck-through, but ending it all with a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your stomach, like coming-of-age, rom-comers should do.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

That's to all ya haters out there. You know who you are, too!

That’s to all ya haters out there. You know who you are, too!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Disconnect (2013)

Social-networking sites may be bad, but at least they give suburban, middle-to-upper-class families something to chat about.

There are multiple storylines here, all concerning the usage of modern-day technology in some way or form. One story is about a father (Jason Bateman) coping with his son’s recent suicide-attempt, that may or may not have been spurred on through “cyber bullying”; an ex-cop (Frank Grillo) has some problems of his own trying to make sure that his son (Colin Ford) stays on the right track when it comes to school and his social-life, and away from those damn iPads; a married-couple (Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard) are going through a rough patch in their lives when they realize that they have been the subjects of a security-fraud and know set their eyes on where the criminal may possibly be located at; and a young, 18-year-old stud (Max Theriot) who uses his body for web chats he makes money off of, gains the attention of an aspiring journalist (Andrew Riseborough) just looking for her big break into the world of media, and finds it with him, only to find out that sooner or later, eventually, emotions can screw up anything. Especially a good story.

“Oh no, NOT THE COMPUTER!!”

"What you want more? A cracked skull, or a cracked iPad-screen?"

“What you want more? A cracked skull, or a cracked iPad-screen?”

Those were my sarcastic feelings when I first heard of this movie, which, at first, seemed like a really bad, really obvious, made-for-TV, Lifetime movie that would get all sorts of parents in a fluster, angry and ready to take any sort of electronics away from their kids in hopes that they don’t turn out like these people do. In that regard, I shooed this movie off as if it was just a waste of my time, and heck, a waste of anybody’s time for that matter. And then, I saw the cast and automatically, my mind switched up a bit into some curiosity as I felt like, “Hey, if it’s good enough for talented peeps like Jason Bateman and Frank Grillo, it sure as hell has got to be good for me, right?!?!”

Well, the answer is yes. And as you may have predicted, it is also no. Here’s why:

The first-half or so of this movie is pretty painful to get through. Not only does every story not seem the least bit of interesting, but they’re told to us in such a way that makes us feel like all it’s going to be is teaching us a lesson about how we should long more for connection to humans around, face-to-face, rather than for connection to humans around us, computer-screen-to-computer-screen. Personally, I agree with the message here that this movie is so obviously throwing at me, however, I’d be wrong to say that I haven’t found myself on the other-end of a conversation/connection with another person that hasn’t solely been through the computer. Not saying that I was using any sites like this, or that, but a simple message or two through the good ole’ Facebook messenger, and/or text-message, is all fine and dandy, just as long as I don’t over-do it like some people I know definitely do.

That said, the movie does start off as very preachy and seems like it may just continue to be so, up until the ending when we see all of our characters learn their lesson, be on with their lives and hopefully continue to live in a way that isn’t so dependent on technology. But surprisingly, the stories start to work and sooner than later, the message actually makes a lick of a difference. It isn’t that everybody in this movie is like, “Oh, the internet’s bad. Stay away or die!!”. They’re more just like, “When it comes right down to getting to know another person, maybe the internet isn’t the best way to go about things, you know?” And that’s why the movie, despite it’s previously-known message, takes on a new meaning once it turns a new leaf and actually had me compelled to see what happened to these characters, at any given moment. Although I wouldn’t have predicted most of these stories to spiral as out of control as they did, I still didn’t fully throw them out of the realm of possibility, since there’s plenty of weird crap that you can see on the internet nowadays, and also, plenty of weird crap that occurs in daily-life that has to do with some stuff people see on the internet, or want others to see. Hell, I bet if you typed in “dude sets himself on fire”, on YouTube, you’d get thousands of videos where people just want the fame, attention and chance to be noticed by anybody out there.

It’s sort of sad, really, but it’s nothing new we don’t already know. Or at least, I hope not anyway.

But like I was saying with the stories, they all start off pretty boring as they try to find their feet in place of this story; but once their groove is found, most of them due tend to get a lot better, if mainly because the performances from everyone are so good and determined. We rarely see Jason Bateman go as full-fledged into the dramatic-territory as we see him do here and thankfully, it was a nice change of pace for the guy. I don’t think he made one single wise-crack at all throughout this whole movie, but you know what? It didn’t bother me, nor seem like he was trying too hard not to crack a smile. Same goes for the criminally underused Hope Davis who plays his wife, and shows us why if you need a sad lady around, she’s the perfect pick.

"Hey Jamie, what's all of this stuff about two girls and a cup?"

“Hey Jamie, what’s all of this stuff about two girls and a cup?”

Frank Grillo also has one of the more interesting stories of the whole movie, if solely because he, his character, is so damn compelling to watch in the first place. Grillo’s character is a tough, rugged, angry and unpredictable man that isn’t necessarily bipolar, but definitely has a short fuse when it comes to getting things his way. On the outside, he seems like a total dick that nobody would ever want to be around, let alone even his own son, but once we get to find out more about him, who he is now, who he was back in the day and his past, then we start to see that there’s more damage done to this guy, than he actually inflicts on the others around him. Sure, he may be a little mean when it comes to the whole “tough love” aspect of raising his family, but in reality, all he wants to teach his kid a lesson so that he doesn’t grow up to be a poor schlub that sits around all day and wastes his life, staring at a computer-screen. Speaking of his kid, Colin Ford is pretty good at giving us a little punk-ass deuche cake that, through some interesting and slightly tense internet-chats we see him have, we realize that he’s just as damaged as the kid’s he picks on, if not worse. Hence why he’s such a bully in the first place.

After these two stories, the rest all seem like they were given less attention and complexity, but they still work, if only for, once again, the performances from the actors working in them. Andrea Riseborough, despite working with an American-accent, does a surprisingly nice job as the hotshot, up-and-coming reporter that just wants the big story to make her a household name, once and for all. The “relationship” that she sparks up with Max Theriot’s character is a well-written at first and heck, could have been its own movie, given the right time and effort, but once it begins to reach its first two or three twists, then it gets a bit overblown and ends on a cheap note. Same goes for the story of Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard’s couple, but they didn’t really have much to work with in the first place and it wasn’t until the last second where things got surprisingly, somewhat intriguing. Still, it’s easily the most boring, and poorly-written story of the four and to make matters worse, these two just don’t share much of a chemistry at all. Even if they are supposed to be upset and stand-offish with one another, they still need to have some amount of connection between the two. But nope. Instead, they seem more like the types of people that accidentally got a baby and decided that they had to get married, only to spend the rest of their days together wondering just where it all went. Yeah, I’m really reaching here, but it’s what I got to do to sell something like this.

Consensus: While not everything may work well in the message that Disconnect is trying so obviously to get across, the performances from everyone involved still make up for most of the mistakes.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Wanna see Tony, the tiger? And no, not the one up to my top-left."

“Wanna see Tony, the tiger? And no, not the one up to my top-left.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Switch (2010)

Would it REALLY be that hard for J-An to get preggo?

Besties Kassie and Wally (Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman) can pretty much do whatever they want with, or around each other, and it wouldn’t matter a single lick. They’re just that comfortable with the other, that it doesn’t matter. However, the only thing they can’t do is have a child together, even when Kassie says that she desperately needs to have one, even if it is just through artificial-insemination. Some people, like Wally, think this is weird, but so be it! It’s the 21st-Century and a woman should be allowed to do with her body and life, what a woman wants to do with her body and life. Throughout her search for the biggest, best and most promising sperm-donor, she finds Roland (Patrick Wilson), who Wally is ultimately jealous of. So basically, through one night in a drunken-stooper, Wally accidentally spills Roland’s jizz-sample everywhere, and decides that he can’t just leave the whole bottle empty, so he decides to do it himself. Not realizing what he did, Kassie gets pregnant with what she thinks is Roland’s baby. Fast-forward seven years later and Kassie’s son is all grown-up  now, showing all sorts of signs that his daddy is not in fact Roland, but Wally. However, neither of them know this, JUST YET.

Despite what some of you may see or believe, but I feel like I’m a pretty easy guy to please. No, seriously. You can give me the most trite, conventional, clichéd and utterly hackneyed script in the world, and I may, just may be able to find something that I like about it, and therefore, roll with it for as long as I can possibly stomach. So many bad movies I’ve seen in the past couple of years have all been saved by this feeling I usually get when watching something, and it’s helped me stay fully-together as a two-bit movie critic, and full-fledged movie-lover.

The ole' switcheroo. I remember those days.

The ole’ switcheroo. I remember those days.

Which means if you give me a movie that I can’t ever seem to enjoy, no matter what it’s trying to do, then you know you have a shitty flick on your hands. Bar none.

And I get that “whatever Dan the Man says, is the total truth, no doubt about it” isn’t really true, but there is something to be said for a movie that I go out of my way to view (Netflix), and I don’t enjoy a single moment of. Okay, scratch that, maybe a couple moments, but they were all because of three people and three people only. And no, I am not talking about either Jason Bateman or Jennifer Aniston. In fact, while I’m talking about them, let me just give you the skinny on why this movie bored me to hell: Them.

Yes, I know. Despite me being a fan of both of these stars, and the utter-idea of them two starring together in a rom-com would give me the willies, the movie solely lives and dies by them. Maybe that’s more to blame of their poor character-development, their lack of chemistry, or their phoned-in performances, but something was just not mixing well here. Aniston makes all of her female characters breathe with a lively, expressive soul, but her Kassie can’t help but feel like a bit of an idiotic dummy in the way that she doesn’t realize that her seven-year-old son is exactly like her best buddy, and not like the supposed “father”. Also, the fact that she decides to get so serious with the “father” so sudden after his recent, and tragic divorce, also makes you wonder where the heart of this film really lies. You can tell that it wants to be about a woman taking charge, but in the end, it’s really all about the guy finding himself and realizing that it’s time for his ass to do a little growing up; which would have been fine, had it not all been so poorly-written and uninteresting.

That’s a real shame, too, because Jason Bateman, despite seeming like he’s trying really hard, can’t make this character of Wally work. Bateman’s doing his whole snarky-act to show us how negative and cynical his character is with the world around him, and while this is supposed to charm us and make us feel like we’re seeing a real character being written here, it still can’t help but feel annoying, like as if the card has already been dealt a bit too many times. He’s just miserable to be miserable, and that’s the type of person you don’t want to even be around with, let alone, watch a whole movie dedicated to that said person. Like I said, Bateman does seem like he’s trying, but the movie doesn’t help him out in any way, shape or form. Instead, he’s just told to do the same act he’s been doing since he saved that damn Bluth family, and it showed shocking signs of getting real old, real quick.

Who cares what he's saying, he's so damn charming!!

Who cares what he’s saying, he’s so damn charming!!

But who I really feel bad for the most is the kid who plays the young Sebastian, Bryce Robinson. The kid is young, so I won’t really rain on his parade too much, but the writing for him makes him annoying coy, as if every moment he does or says something, we have to automatically follow it up with a response like, “Awww!”. Like Wally, his real father in the movie, he gets really annoying, really quick and all of the little neuroses that he has, that he apparently inherited from his real daddy, just continue to show more signs of implausibility, proving that kids who act like they know it all in movies, make you want to shut that kid up, or all kids up for that matter, too.

The only ones that end up saving this movie, even in their smallest moments, are Julliette Lewis, Patrick Wilson and last, but sure as hell not the least, Jeff Goldblum. Lewis is playing the typical, gal-pal that everyone of the rom-com heroines need to shake things up a bit, and she does the sure best that she can; Wilson is charming-as-hell and gives us one of the better-written characters as he’s less of a deuche that just wants to get rid of his sperm and bang whomever he want, and more of that he’s just a guy who is going through a bit of a rough-patch, means well and is doing all that he can to make things right; and Jeff Goldblum is, well, Jeff Goldblum in all perfection. That’s all you need to know about that.

Consensus: Conventional, obvious, implausible and just plain shallow, The Switch doesn’t do anything with the potential its premise holds, and instead, just plays it all up for goofy laughs, and cloying sentimental moments that tug so hard at your heartstrings, that you may have to call a doctor as soon as you’re done watching it.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"You think all humans are a waste of precious air and space, too? Hmm...?"

“You think all humans are a waste of precious air and space, too? Hmm…?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Extract (2009)

If you have Mila Kunis working with you, work isn’t really THAT bad.

Joel (Jason Bateman) is one step away from selling his flavor extract factory and retiring to easy street when all of a sudden, a freak workplace accident sets in motion a series of disasters that puts his business and personal life in jeopardy. Problems like wondering if he should stick with his stay-at-home wife (Kristen Wiig), or run off and have an affair with a fellow co-worker (Mila Kunis). Thankfully, Joel has the ability to blow-off some steam, courtesy of the good vibes and weed his buddy (Ben Affleck) presents him.

It was over a decade since the biting, work-place satire helmed by Mike Judge, Office Space, came out so it only seems right that everybody would have high expectations for this work-place satire helmed by, well, you guessed it, Mike Judge. Problem is, those high expectations are what exactly killed this movie.

Nope, sadly no staplers stolen in this one.

George Michael would not be proud.

George Michael would not be proud.

Actually, the word “killed” may not be the right one to use for this flick because it’s not necessarily anything that’s terrible or could even be considered bad, it’s just “generally okay”, which may or may not infuriate fans of Judge, depending on what you have come to expect with the dude. Judge has been able to prove time and time again, that he still has that great comedic-timing that works no matter what story he’s doing or whatever character’s are involved with it. We get plenty of gross-out gags, random acts of people being dumb, and the occasional weed joke here and there. It’s humor that Judge does so well with and what’s always great about his writing, is how everything is very subtle. There are plenty of times where I chuckled here and even had a belly laugh, which is actually a lot better than nothing, especially with some of the shitty, mainstream comedies we get almost every month. Now it’s obviously not as funny as Office Space, but then again: what is?!!? You’ll never get that movie again so you can’t really hold that against this film too much, even if it is a bit obvious that Judge is trying to harken-back to those days. Just a bit.

Anybody expecting any type of satire whatsoever, will probably be more disappointed than ever since there is barely to little of any of that. Instead, we get a pretty lame story about some dude’s life falling apart, one randomly shitty situation after the next. This could have been a whole lot funnier but it almost seems like Judge focused on it’s story way too much, which wouldn’t have bothered me as much if the story was at least somewhat interesting and if the laughs kept ‘a rollin’. Problem is, the story tries too hard and so does Judge with his jokes, to where it almost seemed like he was really struggling to get his one-liners and jokes to stick, like he would expect people to be quoting them for years and years and years. Doesn’t work and not a single moment/line in this movie even comes close.

Another factor as to why this comedy doesn’t seem to hit as well here is that a lot of these comedic scenes go on way too long. Judge has always had a knack for letting long, drawn-out scenes play to his advantage to where he could really get something ridiculous happening but here, he just seemed like he needed an editor of sorts. One scene, in particular, was when Bateman and Affleck decide to go and get smoked-up at this one dude’s place, which seems to go on and on and on with the same joke. Would have been fine if it was the least bit of humorous, but none of it was, and only there to play-up to this one big gag at the end of it, and it wasn’t even worth remembering, so when it does happen, it goes right over our heads as if it never occurred or we didn’t get the joke. Seemed like a total waste of 5 minutes for this flick, and could have been time put into random situations that actually made me laugh, or anything else in this movie for that matter.

But as disappointing as this flick may be with it’s comedy, you still can’t go wrong with the cast that Judge has assembled. Jason Bateman is fine as our main character, Joel, and he perfectly plays up that straight-man role that allows there to be a lot of opportunities for him to let loose on some of his more subtle comedic chops that we get to see plenty of, just not in films that deserve his skills. Bateman’s fine, then again, he’s always been fine, even if he does continue to channel Michael Bluth, time and time again. The act doesn’t get old, even if every movie he’s been in hasn’t been able to take advantage of it just quite yet. However, the fact of the matter still remains is that the guy has been better and probably has had a lot better characters to play, too because let’s face it: did anybody care about this guy and his love and affection for flavoring extract? I know I sure as hell didn’t, and I think everybody else shared the same sympathies as me. Quirky jobs and passions can only go so far for movies.

Gosh, I guess marriage is THAT much like work.

Gosh, I guess marriage is THAT much “like work”.

But the real stand-out from this cast is none other than Ben Affleck himself, playing Joel’s good stoner buddy, Dean. Affleck has always been the most enjoyable to watch on-screen, mainly because he loves poking fun at himself and is usually game for that type of comedy. So to be given the chance to play a total stoner that is always on another level, mentally and physiologically, and is allowed to do whatever he wants with this funny-ass side-kick, it means comedic-gold for the dude and he just runs with it, in just about every scene he’s in. Shame that that’s all he is in this flick because the guy totally steals the show and makes for a pretty great friend that would be more than willing to help you out with any problems you had. Just let him put a pill in your mouth and see what type of cooky-shit happens next.

As for everybody else, they’re all pretty fine too, but just nothing all that spectacular. Mila Kunis plays the con-gal, Cindy, and even though she may be very easy on the eyes, she’s just not all that funny here; Kristen Wiig plays Joel’s wife, and she has some funny bits but she’s been funnier too; J.K. Simmons has some great lines as Joel’s co-worker that can’t seem to get anybody’s names right; and David Koechner shows up and plays, what is essentially, the neighbor-from-hell. Good cast, but they have all been funnier in plenty of other stuff before, and especially, after this.

Consensus: It features some fine performances and funny moments that work well with the subject-material, but anybody expecting anything close to an Office Space 2 or anything like that at all, will be disappointed by Extract and just by how unfunny it can be due to some lackluster decisions from Judge, both the risky and lazy ones.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Gene Simmons cameos were funny, like back in 1985!!

Gene Simmons cameos were funny, like back in 1985!!

Identity Thief (2013)

The only person who can get away with having a fake I.D. is J-Kwon. May be his only claim to fame in the past decade, but still, at least he can get me fake beer.

This is the story of a regular guy (Jason Bateman) who is forced to completely extreme measures to clear his name. With everything to lose after his identity is stolen, he’ll find out how crazed you can get trying to settle a bad credit score. When he does find-out, it just so happens to be one heck of a gal (Melissa McCarthy) that may be more, than his regular-self can handle.

Alright, alright, alright. I know this is a movie, I know this is a comedy, I know this is Hollywood, and most of all, I know this is the world where you can throw belief and understanding right out the door, but I can only go so far with a movie like this. The problem I had with this movie wasn’t that it wasn’t funny (more on that later), nor was it that it squandered the talents of everybody involved (more ESPECIALLY on that later), but it was that this flick did not make a lick of sense and seemed like it had no idea what it was talking about. And what it is that they are talking about here is exactly what the title is named after: identity thief, or the act of it.

Here, let me explain: in the movie, the main character gets his identity stolen by a lady that they end-up finding out, way later than they should have. What I mean by that is that in today’s day and age with credit card companies being up almost everybody’s ass when it comes to a payment about anything, the red lights should have been flashing way sooner when one of those lucky companies realized that there was some strange-ass products being bought, by this male, in a whole bunch of different states. That would have been the first wake-up call for everybody involved, but then it gets worse when the guy who is actually getting his identity stolen, goes up to the police and they say that he has to go out of his way, drive all of the way to get her, and bring back in the current state that they are in, so they can cuff her and ring her in on all of the charges. The cops tell this to the guy, even though they know what she looks like, has a phone number, and even have a home address. Maybe there is some type of law out there where the cops are apparently not allowed to arrest somebody over something like this unless local police get involved but still: I’m supposed to believe that the cops would just let this freakin’ guy drive half-across the country, just to pick-up a possibly dangerous criminal, and hopefully bring that person back, all in one piece? Ehh, ehh. I don’t think so, movie!

RUN! JUST RUN FROM THIS!

RUN! JUST RUN FROM THIS!

Right from there, I knew something was wrong with this movie but you know what? I was willing to drop all of my dis-beliefs in reality and the judicial system just for a bunch of thrills, spills, laughs, and fun, and I barely even got that. The movie seems like it would be an awesome opportunity for Bateman and McCarthy to just go to town on one another and improv their assess off, but the movie doesn’t really allow it all of that much and even worse, just isn’t funny. The jokes they throw at us are as bottom-of-the-toilet as you could come, and it’s also sort of one of those cases where every funny-moment, is in the trailer, whereas all of the dirty stuff got left out and left for us all to view and witness here. Not a good thing, especially when you have a bunch of gross stuff that happens, because you don’t have much else to offer.

That’s not to say all of the movie isn’t funny, because there are some humorous moments, there just aren’t enough to keep you fully satisfied. So, when the movie decides that it’s not trying to make your shart your pants by the laughter squirming in your bowels, it decides to force a bunch of drama down there as well, and to relatively equal effect. By that, I mean that it barely works because it just comes off way, way too uneven. It gets so bad at one-point, that there’s a character in this movie that actually breaks-down in one, long 5-minute sequence that not only seems totally out-of-place, but from a totally different movie as well. It doesn’t work, and that’s also mainly because the characters are so damn weak, that you just don’t really care all that much to begin with.

The most prime example of that has to be Melissa McCarthy’s character who starts off as a total slob-and-a-half that you don’t really like, is a bit of a sad character, but is also just bad in what she’s doing. Things start off bad for her once you realize that she’s taking somebody’s identity, making it her own, and basically costing that person thousands-upon-thousands of dollars, but it just gets worse as she’s caught and barely shows any signs of saying sorry. She just seems like she wants to get away from it all and hopefully continue to go down that path where nobody knows, and she doesn’t care. Yeah, this is the total babe that I would love to spend an-hour-and-a-half with, especially when she’s played by somebody as likable as McCarthy, and to be honest: that’s the only thing saving her and this movie from total damnation.

McCarthy, as we all know, is hilarious and can get a laugh out of anything because she puts her body on the line, non-stop in every scene she shows-up in. She’s like the female Chris Farley, without all of the heroin and fucked-up back-stage stories. Even when the script seems to fall-apart and call on her to be funny, she does so and it was always a joy to see since you rarely see that in many comediennes nowadays (and still be successful with it, as well). Heck, it’s also a huge surprise that McCarthy nails the dramatic-aspects of her character so damn well too, but the problem is, that her character just isn’t likable enough and the back-story she’s given, just isn’t all that interesting. Does it make sense? Yeah, but does it add an extra-layer that really has us sympathize with this gal and make us realize why she would go to the lengths to steal somebody’s I.D.? Nope, it actually seems very shallow of her and definitely a “ring-ring” moment that makes you just want to say, “Well, why don’t you go out and be sociable with people instead?”.

I may be thinking too hard about this movie or this character for that matter, but I don’t think I am. When you have a movie that relies so heavily on it’s drama and it’s character’s dilemmas that they go through on a daily-basis, then I think it should be complained about and shouldn’t just be taken in as, “Oh, it’s okay. It’s funny and stupid.” You could say that about a lot of movies (especially the ones that just came out last month), but this movie is not one of those I speak of. This one tries to have it’s cake and eat it too, and just like the women I date: Gator don’t play no shit.

Oh, and his name's Sandy. It's a girl's name. Har har har

Oh, and his name’s Sandy. It’s a girl’s name. Har har har

The same thing I’m saying about McCarthy’s character, can’t really be said about Bateman’s, either though what I said about McCarthy herself, can be said about Bateman as well. Bateman has wonderful comedic-timing and actually had me laughing a good couple of times throughout this whole movie, but even he seems to be slumming it down during this one, as if it’s to show that even he knows this material is beneath him. It obviously didn’t matter all that much since he obviously seemed happy to be working with McCarthy and together, they both show the fun and excitement it must have been to work together, but as a whole, they can’t add this flick up to much. Oh well, at least Arrested Development‘s coming back and I have Netflix. Woo-hoo!

Everybody else in this cast seem to be as bored as Bateman, and some I was just sad to see. Robert Patrick always likes to play the bad-guy types no matter what it is that he does, but him and Amanda Peet were probably the two souls I felt bad for in this movie. Especially Peet, because the girl’s funny, the girl’s sexy, the girl’s got the dramatic-chops, and the girl has screen-presence, she just hasn’t had a chance to show that in the longest-time. The only real surprise in this whole cast was T.I. who I never find entertaining or interesting in any of his movie appearances, but actually had me laugh with at least two or three of his lines. Maybe it was his delivery, maybe it was the lines themselves, or maybe it was a combination of them both, but either way, I can now say that I have laughed at a comedy where the two main laughs came from T.I. Gosh, I never thought I’d say that. Never.

Consensus: If you don’t think about the premise too much and are able to have some fun with Identity Thief, you just might, but not as much as you’d think because the script isn’t all that funny, the leads aren’t that engaging, and the story just isn’t there to provide you with the fun and wacky-spills that the trailer seems to promise on so damn much.

4.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Yeah, don't be so pleased with yourself.

Yeah, don’t be so pleased with yourself. We’ll see you in Takers 2.

The Change-Up (2011)

Proof that the comedy genre is running out of ideas.

Single playboy Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and responsible husband-father Dave (Jason Bateman) are best buddies who want each other’s life — and they get the chance when they magically swap bodies after a night of drunken revelry.

The body-switching comedy has been done before, so when I saw the preview for this one I thought it was going to be a big pile of crap. However, even though the critics hate this one, I can’t really say I don’t like this either.

For the most part, the script itself knows exactly what this film is all about and doesn’t try to do anything new with this body-switch story, instead it just loads up with tons and tons of raunchy jokes, which isn’t so bad. A lot of the things said and done here are sometimes we haven’t seen or heard hit the screen before but that doesn’t mean it’s still not funny. The jokes are constant, as well as rude, mean, and just plain nasty but it kept me laughing a whole lot throughout the first 30 minutes of this film.

This is also an R-rated film, and when I mean R, I mean a heavy R. There is a huge amount of poop, ball, penis, sex, and fart gags to be had here which makes it even more disgusting once you see the situations these dudes get into which is some pretty messed up stuff. It actually gets so bad to the point of where you may actually start to gag at the things you see. Trust me, it’s some pretty bad and dirty stuff.

Some may say this is all in bad taste, while others will say it is just incredibly repulsive. I say that this is some raunchy stuff that is actually pretty funny and something that hasn’t been done before in a body-switch film and with the director of Wedding Crashers teaming up with the dudes who wrote The Hangover, I can’t believe I was actually surprised by a lot of the stuff I was seeing here. In case you couldn’t tell this is not a film you bring mommy and daddy to.

However, as the film kept on going, I started to realize that the laughs started to fall more and more until there was barely any and then we just got the usual annoying, sympathetic plot device. The film actually does have us care for these guys which is something I wasn’t even expecting but the problem here is that it just gets way too sappy by the end, almost till the point of where I just kept on rolling my eyes left-and-right at every single piece of dialogue that came out of these character’s mouths.

The film doesn’t go off formula for one second, yet it spends it’s sweet time getting there regardless of the fact that everyone knows exactly how it’s gonna end. This is the biggest problem here because it goes on for way too long. It went on so long that after the 90-minute mark not a single person was actually laughing until the film itself realized that it was actually a raunchy comedy and then decided to throw in some dirty stuff there.

The real saving grace to this film is actually the cast which shines in almost every moment they get. Jason Bateman plays the straight-laced funny guy in almost every film he does now as Dave, but here he gets to branch out now that he’s taking over Reynolds’ mouth. Bateman takes over this film bringing so many hilarious one-liners, non-stop crass remarks, and a guy that is actually kind of mean and unlikable which Bateman seems to channel incredibly well in this performance. Ryan Reynolds is a lot more subdued as Mitch, but the guy still shows that he has the hilarious comic chops to make this character work well. It’s probably been awhile since he’s actually gotten a very funny role but Reynolds is given a lot of opportunity to just fly that foul-mouth around and shows why he’s got perfect comedic timing and not just a great body with a killer smile.

The problem with the casting of these two in this role is that both actors actually kind of have the same dead-pan comedic delivery so when these two switch bodies and minds, there’s nothing really terribly new to their persona’s. I think if they casted two actors that have two totally different ways of bringing out laughs, then this would have provided a lot more hilarity seeing an actor take on a different role for once. But instead, we’re stuck with these two and that’s not to say that their not all that bad anyway.

The ladies in this film are actually pretty good too. Leslie Mann is funny as well as pretty endearing as Dave’s wife and although she’s been a lot better, I still have to say that she owns that sweet and mean side to her acting that she has. The always gorgeous Olivia Wilde does a great job of not letting her good looks get too much in the way of her comedy and actually brings out some very good laughs that I wasn’t really expecting from her character after all.

Consensus: The plot turns into some sympathetic and formulaic crap that kind knocks the comedy down more and more, but The Change-Up still has it’s fair shares of totally raunchy, dirty, and just downright wrong jokes that actually work mainly thanks to the very great performances from Reynolds and Bateman.

7/10=Rental!!

Horrible Bosses (2011)

If Jennifer Aniston wants to get it on with you, it’s not considered sexual harassment.

Disgruntled buddies Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) can’t leave their miserable jobs, so they cook up a creative strategy for eliminating each other’s micromanaging and maniacal employers (Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey) instead in this crackpot comedy. Peculiar advice from con artist Motherf**ker Jones (Jamie Foxx) gets the scheme in motion, but the pals can’t keep the wheels from flying off.

If you have ever had a job in your life, no matter how big nor small, there are just times when your boss pisses you off so much to the fact where you actually want to kill that person in order to make your work-place a happier palace for you. This film lives out that fantasy, but not exactly how I would have liked it too.

The thing with this film that works, and at the same time doesn’t work is it’s script. There are a lot of good jokes here and a lot of funny things that happen here. The script is at times because you rarely ever see murder, followed by a punch-line but I have to say where this film goes made me laugh.

The plot is solid and has plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested. Also, just listening to these guys ramble on about whatever the hell there is to ramble about, made me laugh I must say even if it didn’t pee my pants.

However, the problem with this film is that when I saw the trailer and laughed at the jokes there, I realized that this was just another case of what was funny in the trailer, was the only really funny things here. Now, I can’t take away most of this film’s credit for most of the funniest jokes here being the ones from the trailer because there are an equal amount of other funny jokes here to keep you laughing as well, I just felt that they could have stopped relying less on lazy punch-lines, and more on the goofiness of the plot.

With any Judd Apatow film you have seen in the last decade, you notice that the comedy is all based on improv, conversations, and buddy chemistry. This one tries to do that too, but with less hilarity. The plot could have been funnier, and the idea of murder and comedy could have made me die in my seat, but this film just has too much of these guys going back and forth about whatever pops up in their minds. I mean if this film actually mastered the type of the almost effortless buddy-chemistry that Judd Apatow has so well, this could have really made a hurting to my stomach, but somehow it just doesn’t work as well as I expected it too. Don’t have any idea who’s problem that is, but could have been funnier.

I have to say that this is one of the better picked ensemble casts that I have seen this year, thus far. The three buddies are played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day who all have their own great deals of comedic timing that work in their own way here, and got me through the moments where it was just these guys playing off of each other. Bateman is likable; Sudeikis does that macho, toolish guy thing that always seems to work; and Day does that “speak with a high-pitched voice and very quickly” act, and surprisingly made me laugh a lot here.

The three bosses are played extremely well by each cast member and each deserve a great amount of praise for all being asshole-like in their own way. Kevin Spacey isn’t very funny as Bateman’s boss, but he is such an incredible dick and sort of plays a better Lex Luthor here, than he actually did while playing Lex Luthor is Superman Returns. If I ever had this dude as a boss, I would quit my job as soon as possible. Jennifer Aniston goes against type as Day’s boss and is just hilarious as she is this dirty, and sex-crazed monster that made me hot as well as laugh my ass off at her whole raunchy act. Surprised that it worked so well here, and hopefully she takes some more roles like this and no more of those shitty rom-coms. Colin Farrell is very funny as Sudeikis’ coke-addicted boss who is almost not noticeable at first, but you soon start to realize that this is Farrell playing his “bad-boy” image to his advantage here. I wish they showed more of his character in the film as much as they did with the other too, but Farrell still seems like he’s having fun.

The funniest of the whole film has to be Jamie Foxx as Motherf**ker Jones and even though he is only in the film for about 10 minutes, seems to be having the most fun out of the whole cast with his role. His comedic timing is on fire in a way that I haven’t seen from him since his days in Booty Call, and made me keep on laughing about his line with “Snow Falling on Cedars”. It sounds strange, but I kept going back to it when the film was over.

Consensus: The script’s laughs relies too much on weak punch-lines, conversational comedy, and a script that could have focused more on the solid premise, but much thanks to the great cast full of big-names and some funny laughs, Horrible Bosses is funnier than a lot of recent buddy-films that have come out. Also, totally relatable because who hasn’t ever had a horrible boss that they haven’t ever had wanting to kill?

7/10=Rental!!

Paul (2011)

I hope that if aliens do exist, that there more like this dude.

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg star as two science-fiction freaks who, while on a quest to discover what lies at the heart of Nevada’s infamous Area 51, cross paths with an alien (voice of Seth Rogen) on the run from earthly authorities.

Looking at a cast like this, a premise like this, and a director like this, you would be expecting the funniest thing in years. However, it’s just pretty funny.

The screenplay that was written by Frost and Pegg has some good moments of humor that aren’t what I was expecting from these two, but that isn’t such a bad thing. The comedy is more broad for an American comedy, rather than the smart wit and cleverness of some of the British comedies that these two have been a part of.

My problem with this film was that it wasn’t funny enough, and I think the main reason why that is, is because of the non-stop sci-fi references. Maybe for me, since I’m not a huge science fiction dude, I didn’t get a lot of the references that they were using here, but at the same time they put way too many jokes to a certain crowd and almost abandon everybody else who isn’t familiar with these references. They seem to also be satirizing geek culture with this film, and although it can be cute at some times, it just doesn’t seem all that fun if you don’t get what their saying. Also, the film isn’t as daring with it’s jokes like I was expecting, because there are times where this does get a little bit predictable, and I just wish I had more times where I laughed my ass off, instead of a chuckle here and there.

Director Greg Mottola is a good director for this work because he does a great job of blending comedy, action, and a tad bit of sweetness to the story that actually works and doesn’t come off as fake at all. This isn’t like Superbad where all three worked so well, but for the most part he does a good job of keeping us watching and being entertained.

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as you could already tell, do well together. They have that great buddy chemistry going on well and has us believe them as these two sci-fi geeks. What really stands out in Paul is, well, Paul. Seth Rogen is fantastic here as Paul, because he’s not really doing anything different, he’s just playing Seth Rogen, and Seth Rogen always has me laughing. I didn’t look at Paul and see a piece of CGI like I often do, but as a real character. From a technology standpoint, the mo-cap is obviously not as groundbreaking or impressive as Avatar, but Rogen made the character convincing without any of that fancy expensive shit.

There are also others in this impressive cast that do amazing especially Kristen Wiig, who plays Ruth, the little Christian. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to see a hardcore Christian have their faith destroyed and Wiig makes it all the more funny. Jason Bateman is alright as Agent Zoil, even though he’s not really doing anything funny. Sigourney Weaver is bad-ass as The Big Guy, Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio work perfectly as the two cops that can never do anything right, and Blythe Danner does a good job as well.

Consensus: People may not understand many of the many science fiction references that inhabit this film, but they still will get a chuckle out of this sweet, and funny screenplay, with a great cast. However, you do feel that it could have been better given the talent involved.

7/10=Rental!!