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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 Jones

Chuck (2017)

Rocky who? Oh yeah, that guy.

Chuck Wepner (Liev Schrieber), for quite some time, had the life that any person would have wanted to live. He was an accomplished boxer, kicked a lot of people’s assess, had a wonderful wife (Elizabeth Moss), good kids, loyal friends and family, respect, a cool nickname (“the Bayonne Bleeder”), and oh yeah, went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali. In fact, he was so well-known that, believe it or not, Sylvester Stallone actually used his life and career as the inspiration for Rocky – a fact that, for a very long time, Chuck would continue to let everyone know about, regardless of if they asked or not. But after awhile, Chuck began to get too big of britches and, to go along with his insane drug-habit, he couldn’t stop screwing around with all the wrong people, other women included. Eventually, he loses his job, his wife, his legacy, and oh yeah, his family. So where does he go from there?

No really, where does he go from there?

Uh oh. Chucky go some ‘asplainin’ to do!

See, Chuck was advertised heavily as “the story of the guy who inspired the story of Rocky“, as if any of that really matters. It’s like when John Carter came out and the advertisements were all saying, “the story that inspired Star Wars and Avatar“, once again, as if any of that matters. Because even though the story may have inspired another one, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the adaptation of said story, isn’t conventional, or formulaic.

After all, we didn’t get Chuck before Rocky. The other way around, in fact. So because of that, Chuck comes off a bit like a run-of-the-mill, stationary biopic that hits all of the same beats and rhythymns that Rocky hit, but also feels a little overdone. Because instead of feeling like a movie, of its time, like Rocky did, Chuck goes the extra mile to put us in the place of the 70’s, where coke was everywhere, disco was constantly playing, and people dressed-up so super fly.

Does it kind of work?

Yeah.

It’s hard to have an issue with a movie that makes the energy and glitz of the 70’s so fun and infectious; if anything, it’s nice that they were able to get it all down so perfectly, without feeling like they were trying way too hard to recreate a period of time that they obviously didn’t have the budget for. Director Philippe Falardeau, while no doubt a very serious French director, also seems to be enjoying himself here, not allowing for the material to get too dark or serious, but just to the point where it matters. But for the most part, he’s having a good time and relishing in the period-setting and the details that all went along with it.

Does that help take away from the fact that Chuck is a little conventional and, well, as a result, slight? Not really. But it makes what could have been a very boring movie, turn out a lot more fun and entertaining. It’s still a formulaic boxing movie, about an underdog who had his shot at the big time, accomplished it, and then lost it all due to awful life decisions, but it’s an entertaining one, at that. So yeah, it helps.

All about the hair.

And yeah, it also helps that the ensemble is quite good here and clearly able to keep up with the times.

Liev Schreiber is perfect casting as Wepner, because he not just looks the role, but feels it. There’s something lovable about him, but also makes you realize that he’s a bit of flawed asshole who you can’t always trust, especially not with your wallet or wife, but can always still love, when the end of the day comes around. And that’s what matters for a story like this, about a guy like this, who definitely didn’t make perfect decisions, but was a good time to be around. He had his moment in the spotlight, made it last, and did what he could to keep the party going? Granted, he forgot about his wife, kids, bank-account, and plenty other responsibilities, but hey, who am I to judge?

Either way, Schreiber’s great in the role that he was, essentially, born to play. Everyone else is good from Elizabeth Moss as his annoyed, but strong wife, to Jim Gaffigan in a pretty silly role. But everyone’s good here; even the bit role with Naomi Watts, while feeling a little self-serving, still works because, believe it or not, her and Schreiber do have good chemistry.

See, not every couple has to have their own Gigli.

Maybe that’s why they’re broken-up now. Ugh. True love doesn’t last, people. So love the one you’re with and try to make it last.

That’s the moral of Chuck, right?

Consensus: Formulaic and run-of-the-mill, Chuck is a boxing-drama that doesn’t really break any new ground, but is fun, light, and well-acted enough to get by the conventions that usually keep movies down like this.

6.5 / 10

“Guys. Who’s Sly?”

Photos Courtesy of: IFC Films

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Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

When present-day John Cusack says no to being in your movie, you know you’re in deep trouble.

Many years in the future, after they found certain ways to toy around with details that would make them billionaires, buddies Nick (Craig Robinson), Lou (Rob Corddry) and Jacob (Clark Duke) are all living the high life. Nick is a successful musician who can’t remember the original lyrics to most of the songs he’s performing; Lou is a billionaire, always drinking, always sexing, always doing some sort of drug, and always being a dick to whomever is around him; and Jacob, other than being that guy whomever Lou is a dick to, still moves awkwardly around in life. After Lou gets fatally shot in the penis area, the three all decide to take that one, final ride in their lovely little secret, the Hot Tub Time Machine. However, once they get where they’re, the three all realize that they’re in the near-future, where things a little bit more different than they are in the present time. But what’s really surprising to the gang is to see Adam Yates’ (John Cusack) son, Adam Jr. (Adam Scott), all grown up and ready to tie the knot. However, could he possibly be the one who shoots Lou in the past, or no?

"Jesse Eisenberg who?"

“Jesse Eisenberg who?”

Given its juvenile sense of humor, Hot Tub Time Machine was actually a pretty solid comedy. Not perfect, but not terrible, either; I guess given the fact that the title was so idiotic to begin with, that anything resembling something of actual quality was fine enough to be granted a pass. And even the idea of going back to the same premise and jotting around with certain little things here and there, still seems like a not-so-bad idea, so long as the creators behind the idea keep it all together and not lose themselves in a never ending stream of dick, gay, and sex jokes.

And sadly, that’s exactly what Hot Tub Time Machine 2 turns out to be – quite like mostly every other comedy sequel.

Where most of the problems with this movie come from, as they often do with most comedies, is that the jokes just aren’t funny. However, director Steve Pink or writer Josh Heald ever seemed to take the hint that their material just wasn’t hitting quite as hard as they may have intended for it, too. Rather than giving us funny, almost smart raunchy jokes about dude’s performing oral sex on one another, or someone drinking way too much and getting pretty messed-up, Pink and Heald go one step further and just continue on with showing these sorts of things, thinking that them happening is funny enough as is.

However, they’re wrong. But what makes it a tad bit worse is the fact that most of the jokes rely around that same kind “not-homophobic, but homophobic” brand of humor that works so well in Judd Apatow flicks. In the later’s films, most of the male characters act like they’re in love with one another in an all-too intimate way, all despite them clearly being straight. However, in order for these characters to make it feel as if they didn’t actually mean any heartfelt feelings with their gesture of tender love and care, they normally break out a typical, “Nah, bro. No homo.”

While these characters in Apatow movies are fine to do this, all because they actually do it all for a reason and helps improve the rapport between the actors who are supposed to be playing best friends of one another, here, it’s just wrong and slightly offensive. There’s a game show sequence in which anal sex is performed with two dudes and it’s just terrible to watch; not because I’m homophobic (which I’m definitely not), but because the movie just continues to go on and on with the joke as if it was all that hilarious to begin with.

The only time that whole overlong sequence is ever a tiny bit of funny, is whenever Christian Slater himself would show up.

And they act all surprised like they weren't gonna be back around.

And they act all surprised like they weren’t gonna be back around.

That’s right, people, you heard it first: Christian Slater actually made a movie better just by showing up.

And some of you may be pissed off at the fact that I’m spoiling a small bit of this movie for all of you sitting at home, wondering whether or not you should even bother with renting this in the first place, but that’s done so on purpose. Not only am I trying to save you, the dedicated and ever so loving reader, but also the people involved with this, because I know for an absolute fact that Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, and especially, Adam Scott, are a whole lot funnier than what it is that they’re forced to go through the motions with here. But somehow, Christian Slater made me laugh more than them?

What gives? Better yet, where the hell is John Cusack at?

See, what’s perhaps the most interesting anecdote about Hot Tub Time Machine 2 isn’t the fact that it wastes a potentially smart premise on a plethora on dumb, useless sex and gay jokes, is that John Cusack didn’t even bother showing up this time around. Maybe it made sense to him that since the movie wouldn’t be taking place in the 1980’s anymore (aka, his playhouse) and would instead be heading to the near-future where his stunt-casting may not be needed, or maybe John Cusack despised the script so much that he didn’t even want to bother trying to give this thing a go. Cause you know, I’m pretty sure that Dragon Blade needed all of the time and attention in the world.

But regardless about Cusack not showing up here, it probably wouldn’t have helped much. The jokes don’t quite land as well as they did in the first (if they do land at all), and honestly, it just seems like everybody involved was looking for a quick cash grab, all due to the fact that the first one was a mild hit. “Mild”, being the keyword.

Please don’t give ’em another.

Consensus: Without hardly any jokes that are actually funny, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 feels like a lifeless bore, only made so that important people could get rich and the occasional chuckle could occur.

2 / 10

My expressions exactly.

My expressions exactly.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Rosewater (2014)

Can’t trust that Jon Stewart. Now, that Stephen Colbert is a whole lot more reliable.

In 2009, London-based Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael García Bernal) took to the streets of Iraq to cover the 2009–10 Iranian election and, as a result, the riots that soon occurred afterwards as well. It was a simple task that was going to gain him and his pregnant wife some more money, and also opened his eyes to what the hell was really out there happening on the streets that he didn’t usually get a chance to see in most Western media-outlets. But after Bahari does a tongue-in-cheek interview with the Daily Show, the Iraq government gets a little suspicious and detains Bahari to question him about his stay on their home turf. Basically, they believe Bahari to be an American spy, and although Bahari obviously isn’t, his captors still have a job to do and need to get any confession out of him that they possibly can. This means that Bahari goes through plenty of psychological trauma, both mental and physical torture, solitary confinement, time spent with blind-folds on, and also, time spent alone, literally talking to no one except for his own-self, or even the imaginary-friends he makes up in his own head. But still, Bahari feels the need and desire to stay alive and sure as hell won’t let somebody stop him from doing so, even if he does run a little too close to risking his own life in the process.

That footage better not turn out shaky!

That footage better not turn out shaky!

It’s pretty interesting that such a well-known comedian/celebrity such as Jon Stewart would not only abandon his post on the Daily Show for nearly a whole summer, just to make a movie, but to make a movie that isn’t what we tend to expect from most actors who decide to get behind the screen for the first times in their careers. See, with most directorial debuts from actors who are already well-established, they don’t always get the big budget they want, or think they deserve, so therefore, their scope is a bit limited. Meaning, they usually like to keep things as small, simple, and as pain-free as possible, with the hopes of, if everything goes by smoothly on the first try, then their sophomore go-ahead will be what it is that they want to do, with nearly as much money as they need to make their wildest, most ambitious dreams possible.

But the strange thing with Rosewater, isn’t that Stewart seems very ambitious with the material he chooses direct, but that he’s sort of the main reason for why this story was even made possible to begin with. Many people always ask when they certain movies, “Why was this story even told to us? And better yet, why was it adapted to the big screen?” And to be honest, there usually isn’t any other answer except for, “Well, just because. duh,” but for Stewart, it’s obvious what his motivations were behind bringing this story to the big screen and why he felt it was necessary to tell it to begin with: He feels a slightly bit guilty about it all.

Sure, you could also say that he wants to focus on what’s really going on everyday on the wild streets of Iran, but that aspect of the film’s story isn’t nearly as established as Bahari’s time inside solitary confinement is, which actually brings a huge problem to this movie: It’s quite boring.

And yes, I know that this may sound like a stupid complaint for a movie that clearly doesn’t hid behind the fact that it’s about a dude who nearly spent 118 days in solitary confinement and getting constantly hammered with useless questions about whether or not he’s a special informant for the U.S., but Stewart makes the bad choice of showing us that he can spice this story up in any way possible. We get flashbacks, imaginary-friends, a small view of what’s happening outside of Bahari’s captivity, and even tiny bits of development for Bahari’s main interrogator; but hardly any of it’s actually interesting, or better yet, brings any excitement to this tale to begin with. I can definitely give Stewart credit for trying, but when your main objective is to tell a story, and to do so in the most exciting, most entertaining way possible, and you can’t appear to do that, unless it being incredibly manipulative, then I’m a bit sorry, you’ve disappointed me.

But still, Stewart makes some interesting choices here and there and allows for the movie to, at certain points at least, be funny. There’s a moment in this flick in which we get to see Bahari actually stand up for himself and turn the tables on his captors in, not only a funny manner, but an effective way, too. Bahari begins to dress up his lies as truth, and therefore, the captors can’t help but feel uncomfortable, while also slightly interested in everything Bahari tells them. This sequence, as small as it may be, is one of the key instances in which it’s clear that Stewart utilizes some of his comedic-talent to allow this material to pop-off the screen and really grab a hold of our minds, but it’s also another instance in which this movie held so much promise, yet, fell by the waist side of not really having a clear focus at all.

If anything, I also have to give a lot of credit to Gael García Bernal who, despite being Mexican, actually does a nice job as the Iranian, Maziar Bahari. Though, when you put him against fellow Iranian characters who are in fact played by Iranian actors, he does look a little bit out of place, Bernal is still a capable enough actor to have us see past this obvious problem and just remember that this is a guy we’re supposed to keep on rooting for, even if we don’t know exactly why. He’s just another guy who gets thrown into a shitty situation that so many others get thrown into as well, but the difference here is that he’s got a wife, and a baby on the way. It’s corny, but it works, if only because Bernal digs deep into who this guy is, and why at all he matters to us.

"I said, 'no blinking'!"

“I said, ‘no blinking’!”

We know why he matters to Stewart, but to us, the audience, it’s key that we at least feel some sympathy for the guy.

And although Bernal’s Bahari is the one we’re supposed to obviously be interested by the most, it’s still hard to not want to know more about his captor, either. Kim Bodnia, another non-Iranian actor playing an Iranian, does a fine a job as Bahari’s main captor (his nickname was the movie’s title, all because Bahari couldn’t identify him by anything else, other than the smell of his fresh-to-death cologne), and gives us a glimpse into the soul of a guy who may be more than what he appears to be. Sure, he has a pretty brutal job that he goes through with, day in and day out, without hardly any objections, but there’s a slight idea we get to see in which we realize that maybe he doesn’t like his savage job as much as he appears to be, and is only being a brutal d-bag, because that’s what his boss from up top tells him to be. It’s all very interesting and, had there been a better movie to work with here, I feel like Bodnia would have absolutely ran wild with this character and gave us plenty to talk about, but thus, we don’t.

Just another instance of disappointment. Interesting disappointment, but disappointment nonetheless.

Consensus: Though Jon Stewart shows plenty of promise behind the camera with Rosewater, it’s still a messy movie that doesn’t always hit the marks that it should, but gets by on a few interesting notes, if only mildly so.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

I hate being late for class, too.

I hate being late for class, too.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

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