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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 Sudeikis

Colossal (2017)

Sometimes, you don’t need to go home. Or anywhere.

After losing her job, as well as her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) in New York City, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) decides that it’s time to head on back to where she grew up in upstate New York, where she can hopefully find some time to get her life back in order and figure everything out. While there, she meets back up with an old friend from school, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who instantly remembers her and is so happy to have her back into his life. Gloria doesn’t know what she did to make him so happy, but for some reason, she’s willing to go along with whatever Oscar throws at her, like always drinking and even working at his local bar. For awhile, Gloria seems to be so very happy, but then, this weird thing begins happening: Somewhere out in Tokyo, a huge monster is destroying everything and everyone in its path. And the news in the U.S. is constantly covering this, with people either in total shock and horror, or just absolutely happy that it’s not them. Gloria doesn’t know what to think, except until she finds out that it may be her causing all of this death and destruction, somehow.

“Agent? Yeah, more stuff like this.”

When I first heard of Colossal, I remember it being pitched as a mixture between Lost in Translation and Godzilla. Interesting for sure, but could it work? Honestly, I wasn’t sure, but it was a bold, brave enough idea to take on and considering the current-day, big budget monster movies we seem to get, it would definitely offer a nice breath-of-fresh-air.

Which is exactly what Colossal is, although of course, it runs into its problem.

Most of the problems with the movie come from the fact that the idea, while interesting and definitely neat, also leaves a lot of questions when all is said and done. It all comes down to certain questions about sci-fi, how things would work, and what would happen, if say something such as this happened. It’s the kind of general questions that plague sci-fi and it’s honestly what bugged me for quite some time during Colossal; it wasn’t that I couldn’t give in to the idea and just run with it, it’s that it seemed to make itself more complicated as it went along, but without ever answering the questions it presented.

Still, for a movie about a bunch of hipsters and monsters, it still sort of works. Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo knows that he’s playing around with genres and tones here, but doesn’t ever make it seem too flashy; he knows he’s got something interesting on his plate, so rather than taking away from it, he gives us more to watch and be curious about. Sure, it’s interesting just how all of these monster shenanigans go down and play out, but Vigalondo’s also smart enough to know that having compelling characters make the monsters all the more compelling, too.

And with these characters, Colossal seems to be more interested in them, rather than the monsters, which is, once again, another smart move.

“Wanna PBR?”

Like, for instance, Gloria does, initially seem like a bit of a pain, but as time goes on, we begin to see that there’s more to her and her troubled-past. It also helps that Hathaway is pretty great in the role, allowing for us to Gloria as a bit self-destructive, yet also, at the same time, a smart and relatively independent gal who is capable of making her own decisions, as dim-witted as they can often times be. It’s a low-key and not all that showy role for Hathaway, but it’s the right kind of role for her and it shows why she can be so charming.

Sudeikis is also quite good in the role of Oscar, who seems like a very charming and sweet guy, but slowly begins to unravel into these sad, lonely and angry individual. His actions later on in the movie are questionable and make you wonder if it’s necessarily the right direction for him to go in, but there’s no denying that Sudeikis is actually quite surprising in the role. We grow to love him, but at the same time, pity him. He and Hathaway have a nice bit of chemistry, too, to where you can tell that they probably enjoyed working with one another, as it shows in their smaller, much more intimate moments.

You know, without all of the cool and kick-ass monster fighting, which, for a small, low-budget indie, is pretty good.

Makes you wonder why Hollywood tends to get it so wrong, sometimes.

Consensus: With an interesting idea to work with and a very good cast, Colossal is smart, even if it doesn’t answer all of the questions it lays down by the end.

7.5 / 10

There’s Anne, guys. Always charming and lovely, but for some reason, ya’ll hate her. Get over it!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Masterminds (2016)

What’s wrong with a little money in your pocket?

David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) is stuck in an unfortunately very boring and plain life. While he doesn’t necessarily know this, he still knows that his life could get a whole lot better if he just took more chances, rather than just lying around and waiting for life to happen. That’s why when his co-worker who he more than just admires on a professional basis, Kelly (Kristen Wiig), brings up the idea of possibly changing it all, he’s all in. The plan, concocted by Kelly’s pal, Steve (Owen Wilson), is to get David to steal $17 million, and hand it over to the gang. Of course, because David and everyone else involved are a little more than just silly and almost complete idiots, the plan doesn’t go so perfectly. This leads David to have to travel halfway across the world, to make sure that the cops don’t get him, even though they’re looking for him anywhere that they can find him. And just to make sure that David doesn’t do any talking, Steve’s hired a hit man (Jason Sudeikis), who he believes to get the job done in a professional, easy manner.

Why so happy? Cause I'm not!

Why so happy? Cause I’m not!

For some odd reason, Masterminds was supposed to come out nearly two years ago, but just didn’t. Normally, these sorts of things have to do with the fact that the studios got cold feet, didn’t trust the product, or there just wasn’t any big-named talent involved, but not with Masterminds. Despite a huge cast of comedic heavyweights and an interesting, if also, true premise, Masterminds sat on the shelves because Relativity Media, the distributors, were facing financial issues.

So why then, are we waiting nearly two more years for this movie? Is it because the money just wasn’t there to promote it? Or is it because the final product itself was so lame that everyone involved was just too scared to even show the world what it looked like?

Unfortunately, it’s neither. If anything, Masterminds is a mixed-bag in that it seemed like it was a messy movie to begin with, but because there was so much time dedicated and taken to fixing it in any way that they could have, it just comes off a lot more mixed. Writer/director Jared Hess is no hack and surely isn’t a work-for-hire director by any means, but honestly, it seems as if he just stood back and let alone of the movie film itself, with the cast making up the lines and situations as they went on, sometimes creating magic and other times, just seeming like they’ve got nothing to work with, so they’re just throwing whatever they can find, at the wall.

Does it all stick? Not really.

And that’s honestly, one of the biggest problems with Masterminds – it just has way too much going on that doesn’t work, or better yet, even connect. It’s a comedy that’s actually filled to the brim with humor and non-stop weirdness, yet, for some odd reason, that humor, nor weirdness ever seems to really work. There’s a few moments here and there where the movie actually offers something funny and, if anything, inspired (it’s hard not to laugh at Galifianakis mispronouncing Spanish), but they all come very few and far between/

Normally, I wouldn’t even mind this in a comedy, but because there’s so many good and funny people here, it makes me wonder what was really going on. Galifianakis is good at these sort of silly, almost idiotic roles and David Ghantt is not all that different from what we’ve seen before, however, it’s a gag that gets old a little too quick, once we realize that the whole movie is just making non-stop jokes on his behalf. It tries to give him some shading with his love for Kristen Wiig’s character, but at the same time, still likes to watch him fall down, hit his head, or do something so irresistibly stupid.

"Hey, man! It's me! Remember? That guy who's actually really funny, except for in this, for some reason?"

“Hey, man! It’s me! Remember? That guy who’s actually really funny, except for in this, for some reason?”

Once again, there’s not a problem with that in most movies, but it just has to be funny. Which in Masterminds, it never really is.

People fall, get shot, get hurt, and say all sorts of silly things, but does it ever really connect in a humorous way? Not necessarily. Surprisingly, it’s Leslie Jones who actually seems ready to play and willing to work with this material, even if, yeah, her role as an FBI Agent seems, at the very least, probably 90% made up on the spot. Same goes for the likes of Jason Sudeikis and Kate McKinnon, who all show up and, essentially, improv like the Dickens. They may have had a script and a direction, but it never really shows because whatever they make up, they just roll with.

Normally, when you have funny people, ad-libbing doesn’t always hurt. But here, when it seems like the worst bits and pieces of improv were chosen, it just does hurt; we watch as these funny people act in scenes with one another, try their hardest to do something crazier than what they did before, but in the end, just settle for being crazy, but without any humor. It’s like watching Tim & Eric, but not knowing how they construct their episodes or their humor – while that’s perhaps more jarring than watching Masterminds, it still deserves to be said that one’s act of weirdness, works a whole lot more than the others.

And if you don’t believe me, just stay for the credits. They show every cut-scene available to the movie, in hopes that people who didn’t laugh all that much, get another opportunity to do so by watching famous people goof-around with one another, forget their lines, and make more and more stuff up as they roll on along.

As I stated before: Still have no clue what happened with Masterminds, but I’m seeming to get a better idea.

Consensus: Even with the onslaught talent available, Masterminds still feels way too insane and made-up as it went along, to fully function as a well-thought out, actually funny comedy.

4.5 / 10

Yeah. My feelings exactly.

Yeah. My feelings exactly.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Mother’s Day (2016)

It’s the universal day where you honor the woman who has literally done everything for you.

Mother’s Day is by far one of the more unappreciated holidays and around this time of the year, a few select women, as well as men, are going to experience all of the highs and lows that come with being a parent, or better yet, a mother. Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is a divorcee who, when she’s not trying to raise her kids, now has to worry about her ex (Timothy Olyphant)’s new wife, who happens to be many, many years younger than he, or she is. Jesse (Kate Hudson) has a lovely kid and husband (Aasif Mandvi), although she hides them from her parents in fear of being judged and poked at, causing more issues and strife between them. Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is basically taking over the mom role of his two daughters, now that his wife died in the war. Zack (Jack Whitehall) and Kristin (Britt Robertson) both have a baby, despite not being married and Zack’s issues with that. And a TV host (Julia Roberts), who sells mood-necklaces to women, also has a bit of a secret that may or may not ruin her career.

Jen can't stop laughing at the hair.

Jen can’t stop laughing at the hair.

What the hell did I just watch? Seriously. Something is very clearly wrong with Mother’s Day in that it’s a comedy that’s not funny, a drama that’s not emotional, a feel-good family flick that’s neither pleasant, nor for the whole family, and a star-studded affair, in which nobody is able to do anything worthy of their time or talents.

In other words, Mother’s Day is a complete waste of time.

And that’s a bit of a shame, too, because for all the crap that director Garry Marshall gets for movies like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, there’s still something pleasant enough about them to where it’s fine that there’s a huge list of acclaimed names doing work way beyond their respect. Call them as bad as you want, I don’t leave those movies mad, annoyed, or confused as to what I just saw; they’re silly, but okay rom-coms that don’t change the movie world, but do what they need to do, and that’s entertain people.

This is why a movie like Mother’s Day is such a bad watch. It’s the kind of movie that wants to be fun for everyone involved, but is so lazy, so poorly put-together, and so boring, that you’ll wonder why Marshall or any of the cast-members even bothered. Did they not read the script? Or did they just see Marshall’s name, see the paycheck, and automatically assume that it’d just be a paycheck gig and they’d leave it at that?

I’m going to assume the latter, honestly.

And yes, a “paycheck gig” is exactly what Mother’s Day for the whole cast, but for some reason, it feels like this is by far the worst, most pathetic one they could find. Which isn’t to say that the cast doesn’t try here, because they do. Aniston, Hudson, and Sudeikis can’t help but be as entertaining and charming as possible, even if they’re working with some of the worst lines uttered I’ve heard in the longest time, but mostly everybody else falls apart with the straining dialogue.

Julia Roberts plays someone along the lines of Anna Wintour, cause she not only acts like her, but looks like her with that terrible wig, and it’s just a terrible performance. Roberts isn’t self-aware enough to pull off that kind of “ultra bitch” role perfectly, and she’s not all that funny enough to make some of her lines actually click with the audience. Basically, it just seems like her and Marshall have worked together so much now that they’re pals and will do everything together from now on, so why wouldn’t she show up here?

And yes, before you even ask, yes, Hector Elizondo does show up here and yes, he’s the brightest spot of the whole movie.

Now, neither can Kate!

Now, neither can Kate!

That said, something is just clearly up with this movie that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. The editing feels as if it was done by an actual blind person, where scenes start and end at the drop of a hat, and random people are focused on in shots that are supposed to be on the main characters. Though I’ve never worked in Hollywood, I bet you donuts to dollars that if they gave me the chance to edit this, I would have done a way better job than what ends up coming out here.

But then again, who knows how much of the editing played a role in the final product. After all, the script is so bad, with hardly any plots that are the least bit interesting, that there’s really nothing to hold it together. There’s a story of a comedian that’s terrible because the comedian himself is god awful and the movie acts as if he’s the next best thing since Steve Martin; there’s a story with Kate Hudson’s racist parents that are just so over-the-top and redneck-y that it makes me wonder how Hudson’s character even got out of the trailer park she apparently came from; and then, if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s a story in which Jennifer Aniston’s character can’t stop yelling and freaking out in public over her husband’s new wife. Yes, these plots may all sound relatable to real life, but honestly, watching them play out here makes it seem like the furthest thing.

Oh and it’s not even funny. Did I mention that already, though?

Consensus: Garry Marshall strikes again with a star-studded affair with Mother’s Day, but this time, the results are even worse than expected with a terrible script and pace that goes nowhere in its two-hour run-time.

2 / 10

And hell, look at it! Julia's laughing at it, too! It's so terrible!

And hell, look at it! Julia’s laughing at it, too! It’s so awful!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Aceshowbiz

Sleeping with Other People (2015)

Men and women can be friends. But attractive men and women can’t be.

Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) haven’t seen each other for over 12 years, but they mean a whole lot to one another. Meaning, that, well, they both took each other’s virginity’s and never really talked about it ever since. However, many of these years later, they get back into contact with one another somehow and remember just how great of friends they truly were. They talk to one another about basically anything, have the greatest of times together, and yet, they still don’t see the reason in getting together in a strictly sexual, almost romantic way. For one, they know each of their own personal lives happen to be a bit of a mess. He’s currently playing the field, but getting a tad bit more involved with his strict boss (Amanda Peet), whereas she is having all sorts of hot, sordid sex with a married man (Adam Scott). Both know that they’d probably be great for one another, but when you’re having this much fun together and there’s nothing serious going on, then why ruin it all? After all, romance is so overrated after all, right?

Sometimes, all you need is a platonic friend who will lay with you in bed without ever making any moves.

Sometimes, all you need is a platonic friend who will lay with you in bed without ever making any moves.

It’s hard to do a really good rom-com in today’s day and age in which even though it follows through on the same old conventions and tropes of that never ending genre, there’s still enough interesting material brought to the table that it almost doesn’t even matter. The ways certain movies do get past the rom-com genre and do something neat, can obviously vary, but where the actual enjoyment of the said movies is that it not only feels funny and romantic, but also feels at least somewhat genuine. You can have all the meet-cutes, awkward exchanges, falling-in-love montages, and random conflicts to tear them apart that you want – as long as your romance feels somewhat believable, then you’re fine.

And that’s exactly what is the case with Sleeping with Other People.

While it isn’t necessarily the kind of rom-com that sets out to light the world on fire and make a comment on the actual rom-com set-up itself, it still does something good in that it allows for us to see the two people falling in love, further beyond their archetypal writing. While you may read that both characters are “sex-addicted” and have “commitment phobia”, writer/director Leslye Headland sees them more as troubled and beaten-down human beings who, yes, clearly make stupid decisions in their lives, but are still capable of giving love, as well as feeling it, too. At the same time, the whole idea of “friends with benefits” is another rom-com trope that’s been nearly done to death by now, but Headland shows that, in some cases, this most definitely can happen – whereas in other cases, it can’t.

Most of all though, Headland gives these characters personalities and likable traits that make them more than just types. Alison Brie’s Lainey, for instance, feels especially raw and hurt, even though she has plenty of sex and seems to go out with many good-looking people. What Headland shows us about Lainey is that it doesn’t really matter that she’s doing all of this stuff, as much as it matters that she doesn’t feel anything about them, or simply put, needs them in her life. She doesn’t know why she feels the way she does, or does the things that she does – all that she knows is that she can’t help herself and it’s a bit sad to watch.

Of course, Brie livens her character up a lot and shows that there’s more fun and charm to her sad-sack of a character, but it’s this extra attention to character detail that makes the movie a whole lot more compelling.

Same goes for Jason Sudeikis’ Jake, who very much feels like a typical character Sudeikis would play, but slowly but surely, starts to unravel and show more shades to his character. While he may seem like the typical womanizer who goes from woman to woman, with absolute reckless abandon, the movie shows that maybe there’s more to him than just all of that sly stuff, and maybe he does want something more meaningful and love-like in his life. He may not realize it, but we certainly do and it’s what keeps him interesting practically all throughout.

Or, a platonic friend who will go to random parties with you.

Or, a platonic friend who will go to random parties with you.

It also goes without saying that both Sudeikis and Brie have great chemistry together and it feels like they’re not just best friends, but the perfect kind of couple. We see them go through all of the motions of being friends, then going to becoming best friends, and then, predictably, getting to that awkward spot in their relationship where they don’t know whether or not they really want to give each other a try, or just take the safe route and stay as friends. For anyone who has ever encountered this sort of situation, it goes without saying that Sleeping with Other People feels almost too honest and real, but it still works.

But if there is anything to say about Sleeping with Other People is that I feel like it’s more “entertaining”, and less actually “funny”.

Of course, this may not sound like me saying much of anything at all, but as the movie progressed, I found myself more interested in what it was trying to do and where it was trying to go, rather than actually laughing hysterically at the jokes it had to say or do. Most of that seems to be due to the fact that the movie relies a tad too much on Sudeikis’ own brand of humor, and not on the actual jokes that are written themselves, but it’s still not a terribly bad thing. I just feel that if you’re movie is as reliant on having humor as Sleeping with Other People is, it would be smart to actually have some of that humor land and make a mark, rather than just being, at best, chuckle-worthy and leaving it at that.

Then again, I’m just nit-picking.

Consensus: Anchored by two strong, incredibly charming leads, Sleeping with Other People may not shake the rom-com world up, but it still shows the world what you can do with a familiar premise, and add a little heart and humanity.

7 / 10

Or, most importantly, teach you a thing or two about your own body that you never knew.

Or, most importantly, teach you a thing or two about your own body that you never knew.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Tumbledown (2016)

TumbledownposterFolk singers have the saddest lives.

After her husband dies, Hannah Miles (Rebecca Hall) goes into her own bit of hiding. While she isn’t necessarily depressed and doesn’t know what to do with her life, at the same time, it doesn’t seem like she’s making much movement on it, either. Aside from the every so often hook-up she has with the local hunter (Joe Manganiello), she doesn’t seem to be getting any serious about another relationship and, for the most part, doesn’t really seem to care that her husband was, when he was alive, a cult-followed folk singer who so many people loved, yet, didn’t fully get to appreciate because he died so tragically at a young age. However, one person in particular that wants to find out more about this singer’s life is part-time writer Andrew McCabe (Jason Sudeikis). Though Hannah is initially against the idea of bringing a stranger into her home and into her late husband’s studies to chronicle his, as well as her, life, she starts to give in and realize that she’s happy with Andrew around. Not to mention that he brings out a certain sparkle within her that hasn’t been around since, well, when her late husband was actually alive, well and writing songs all about her.

Why have dinner when you can just maul one another?

Why have dinner when you can just maul one another?

Tumbledown has all of the promise of a soft, sweet and tender romantic-dramedy, but sadly, it falls prey to its own conventions one too many times. For one, the movie itself doesn’t seem to want to take itself too seriously at first, which is fine, but it’s not very good at being funny, either. There’s a lot of annoying rom-com cliches and conventions that show up here that not only feel very beneath the cast and crew working here, but the material itself.

The idea of one moving on with their life after the loss of a very near, dear and loved one, is a universal theme. Not only is this shown in movies like I’ll See You In My Dreams, where the older women are shown to be living out the rest of their years, wondering where to go or what to do, but it’s very rarely shown for the younger women out there who are, believe it or not, widows. Death knows no boundaries, so it’s an honest wonder to me why we don’t have more of these kinds of movies about young widows trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, where do they go from their certain situation, and most of all, whom do they choose.

Throw in the folk music angle and guess what? You’ve got a pretty interesting movie that goes above and beyond any melodramatic romantic story we’re so used to seeing and hating with Nicholas Sparks.

However, that’s the exact issue with Tumbledown: It turns exactly into that kind of movie.

Most of this is especially evident with the characters. Even though the cast here is understandably strong, it’s a bit of a shame to see some of them playing such types that, after awhile, it makes you wonder why they even bothered to begin with. Rebecca Hall gets the meatiest role as Hannah Miles, where shows both sadness, as well as loveliness to a character who seems like she’s at a bit of a stand-still with her life. Though she wants to live each and everyday in absolute tears, she doesn’t and it’s interesting to see how she still copes with the loss of her husband, even if she also knows that there’s more to life for her out there – it’s just a matter of whether or not she wants to actually go out there and see it for herself.

Mmmm! Ms. Hall just ain't got time for that Sudeikis charm!

Mmmm! Ms. Hall just ain’t got time for that Sudeikis charm!

So yeah, Hall’s character isn’t really the issue as much as it’s Jason Sudeikis’ Andrew McCabe who is, basically, Jason Sudeikis, but this time, playing a college professor and writer. Sudeikis is a good actor and, in the past few months, I’ve come to respect for at least trying to do something more interesting with his career than just sticking himself in every broad comedy he can find, but for some reason, he doesn’t feel right for this role. The character is a little too smarmy for what appears to be a really laid-back, almost reserved kind of guy. He and Hall have good chemistry, but the way that they’re relationship gets put together, or how they come to a certain common ground, doesn’t always feel believable and it’s a shame, because they’re both solid actors. Sudeikis just doesn’t seem like he’s the perfect fit for whatever kind of character Andrew McCabe is.

Other actors show up here like Joe Manganiello, Dianna Agron, the always welcome Blythe Danner, Richard Masur, and Griffin Dunne, but they’re kind of just here on the side to allow for Sudeikis and Hall to do their thing and develop their never-believable relationship. It’s good to see these actors here, but when they aren’t really around to do anything but play window-dressing to a poor plot and script, it almost feels like a disservice. Especially for Danner who, in the past few years at least, has shown that there’s more to her than just playing the sassy, sometimes way-too-smart mom that knows what’s going on with every relationship around her, but will sometimes keep her mouth shut.

I love Danner with all my heart, but I want to see different roles for her, especially since we all know she’s got the chops.

Same goes for the rest of the cast, because something like Tumbledown, while showing off a indie-sensibility, plays out like any mainstream rom-com. People fall in love, people fall, people get hurt, people get into fights, and believe it or not, people cry, but they always seem to brush it off with a laugh or two. This happens with life, but not nearly as much Tumbledown portrays it as and it can’t help but feel like a disappointment.

Consensus: Given the subject material and ensemble cast, Tumbledown can’t help but feel like a bummer when you see it all get wasted on a rote rom-com plot.

4 / 10

Will they? Or won't they? Oh, I just don't know!

Will they? Or won’t they? Oh, I just don’t know!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Race (2016)

Those Nazis didn’t even know how to enjoy the Olympics!

Jesse Owens (Stephan James) was just a young man living on the dirty streets of Ohio. He had a kid, he had a girlfriend, and he had a very poor family, but what made him rise above all of that was the fact that he not only was a very fast-runner, but had all sorts of ambitions and ideas for what he wanted to do with his life. That’s why when he got accepted on a full-time athletic scholarship to Ohio State, he couldn’t pass it up and had to grab the opportunity right away. Problem was, considering that this was the mid-30’s, people didn’t take too kindly to African American people, regardless of how fast they could run, or how high they could jump. Getting past all of these issues, however, was Jesse’s track and field coach Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), who wants Jesse’s absolute and undivided attention to the team, so that they can win all sorts of championships and, if lucky, head on off to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. And everybody knows what was going on with Germany at that time, and it’s another problem that gets thrown in the way of Jesse, as well as the whole U.S. Olympics team.

Black and white can get along people!

Black and white can get along, guys!

There’s already something interesting, and relatively cinematic about Jesse Owens’ own story that it doesn’t need much else more to be said around it. However, Stephen Hopkins, for some reason, didn’t seem to realize this. Instead of keeping the story singularly placed on Owens, his triumph over racism, adversity, and personal anguish, to, at the end, stick it to Hitler in the best way he could, Hopkins goes everywhere else.

Not only does we get Jesse’s story, but we also get a story about his track coach; not only do we get a story about his track coach, but we also get one about Jesse and his wife and girlfriend; not only do we get one about his wife and girlfriend, but we also get one about the Nazis and how they were using the Olympics as a way to let the world know of their brutal regime; not only do we get one about the Nazis and their regime, but we also get to see how the Olympic committee decided on not boycotting the Olympics that year; not only do we get the idea of boycotting or not, but we also get one about German camerawoman Leni Riefenstahl, and how she used her skills as a director to, in ways, undermine Hitler and his messages; and not only do we get this story-line, but we also get one about how a fellow hurdler, German Carl “Luz” Long, saw Jesse for what he was (a great athlete), and decided to let all of that race stuff go to the side.

Did I get everything?

Honestly, I’m not sure, and that’s a huge part of the problem. Race already has a solid story at the center, what with Jesse and all, as conventional as it may be when it comes to race biopics, so when it seems to linger elsewhere and take on all of these different angles, it seems to be too much and a bit disrespectful to Owens. It’s almost as if Hopkins and his team of writers thought that having a Jesse Owens biopic wouldn’t be enough to get people going, so they just decided to take up all of these other different subplots, in a way to cram everything in and distract people from the fact that they don’t really have any actual faith in Owens’ own story.

And for the most part, everything concerning the 1936 Olympics is interesting. It’s nice to see just how everybody acted in that country, at that time, but also, to see just how some people reacted to Nazi Germany, their ways, and their controversial rules, way before anybody actually knew what was going on. At the same time, the movie handles some of these bits and pieces in a hammy way; an almost useless scene concerning Sudeikis’ character looking for shoes late in the night is handled in such a hammy way, that I still have no clue what it was trying to get across. Even the subplot concerning Luz and his random friendship with Owens is so corny, that it feels tacked-on, even if it did happen in real life.

"Thank you for all your service. Now please, walk through the designated bathrooms."

“Thank you for all your service. Now please, walk through the designated bathrooms.”

If anything, the movie really livens up when Jeremy Irons and his character is around. As Avery Brundage, the International Olympic Committee who works as something of a concierge for the U.S., trying to figure out a deal with the Nazis, Irons isn’t just exciting, but fun to watch. He tells the Nazis some stuff that I don’t think the real life Brundage ever had the right idea to say, but it’s interesting just to see how he gets his point across and how, when it came to planning these Olympics, the certain demands both sides had. Obviously, as real life would have it, Brundage becomes more of an unlikable, but for awhile, he seems like the heart and soul of, what was supposed to be, after all, Jesse Owens story.

But that’s neither here nor there.

There is one interesting idea the movie brings up concerning Owens and it’s whether or not he should have actually competed in the Olympics or not. Considering that he was already facing so much unabashed racism and hatred in his own country, it was actually a huge question as to why he would bother representing said country, in an Olympics game to show whom is better than the other? Not to mention, Germany itself was treating people in their own country with the same kind of racism, except with more tragic consequences obviously. So why would Jesse even bother?

The movie brings this idea up and touches on it a couple of times, but really, it’s not enough to get through everything else. At two-hours-and-ten-minutes, yes, Race is jam-packed with the idea that there will never be another Jesse Owens biopic made for quite some time, even though it’s incredibly likely that there probably will be. As well as their should be – Owens himself had made it quite clear that he wasn’t afraid of saying what was on his mind when it came to racism, his thoughts on it, as well as the U.S., but really, none of that’s ever shown here. Instead, Jesse Owens is used as our conduit to explore this much bigger, more interesting world where people are bad and evil, but that’s about it.

I guess as long as you’re fast and can jump really high, people will like you.

Consensus: While there is the occasional interesting thread weaved throughout, Race deals with way too much, in such a messy way, that it feels like a disservice to Owens, as well as everything he stood and fought for.

5 / 10

Fly like an eagle, Jesse. Away from all the Nazis.

Fly like an eagle, Jesse. Away from all the Nazis.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

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

We’re the Millers (2013)

Maybe I’m not really “the Man” I say I am. Maybe I’m just a 19-year-old blogger, who watches a shit-ton of movies and can write snappy-sayings. Just maybe.

After being robbed of his weed-stash, small-time drug-dealer David Clark (Jason Sudekis) is left owing a bit of money and hash to his main-supplier, who just so happens to come in the form of a very rich, very snobby millionaire named Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms). Even though David thinks he’s through and going to get off’d, Brad offers him a way “out” of sorts: Find a way to smuggle a “smidge” of weed from Mexico to the U.S. without getting caught. Sounds easy enough, however, David looks and acts like a drug-dealer so he knows that he can’t get by in his normal skin. Therefore, he gets whoever he can around him to create a fake, happy-go-lucky family that, from the outside, look all loving and dorky enough to get past any suspicious law-enforcers. Problem is, David can’t find “classy” enough people to help him get away with it all, therefore, he gets whatever he can find in the form of down-on-her-luck stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston) as his fake wife; a runaway teenager (Emma Roberts),as his daughter; and a socially-awkward nerd who lives in his building and is practically left alone for all hours of the day (Will Poulter) as his son. It’s the perfect plan, well, sort of.

Some may disagree with me, and if so, that’s cool, but I will say that the one aspect working for this movie is it’s premise. Granted, nothing really new or cool, but it does offer plenty of room for comedy and serviceable moments of human-interaction, both of which did not seem at all evident in the first 30 minutes of this thing at all. In fact, none of the charm, humor, or fun that occurs in the last hour or so, even remotely shows up in it’s first-and-a-half act. Instead, every line of comedy, every joke, and every pop-culture reference that this movie drops out of it’s behind, hits the ground; and not with a whimper, but with a bang. Also, mind you, it was an R-rated comedy that made it seem like it could just get by on throwing the F-word around, in order to make a line of dialogue even close to be considered “funny”. Wasn’t working, I was pissed, and to be honest, I wondered if this was going to be the worst comedy of the summer (second to that crap-fest the Internship).

"I work with this piece of sex and go home at night to an even better piece. Trust me, you don't have to tell me "I'm lucky". I already know!"

“I work with this piece of sex and go home at night to an even better piece. Trust me, you don’t have to tell me “I’m lucky”. I already know!”

However, something changed within me, as well as with this movie. First of all, once the plot got going in it’s quick, contrived way, suddenly, the movie found it’s footing and the charm was working. Not just on the crowd around me, but myself most importantly. I found myself laughing, grinning, chuckling, and even gut-busting a couple of times, and that’s when I found myself in my comfort-zone. Of course it still continued to be raunchy and low-brow with it’s moments of mistaken incest, spider-bitten testicles, and couples “swinging together”, but it did so in a way that still made me laugh, without really making me feel like it was trying too hard.

During some parts, the movie does seem to try hard, a little too hard I may say, but it had me laughing a lot more than I expected and with a comedy such as this, when it’s obvious that most of the jokes are going to come completely from below-the-belt, I’m more than happy to embrace it. I still acknowledged it’s flaws, but I also recognized that it made me giggle, and didn’t make me feel like the only person either. Maybe that’s why comedies are so enjoyable to see at the movies in the first place. Not only do you laugh, but others join in on the fun and laughter as well. It’s what makes the movies, THE MOVIES, and it was nice to get at least a little bit of a solid-reminder that modern-day comedies can still be considered “funny”, especially with a larger-crowd.

Then again though, I can’t get too swamped-up in the people around me because, as you know: I am a film critic, and it is my responsibility/duty to make sure that I see and focus on all aspects of a movie, both good and bad. Thankfully, the bad doesn’t out-weigh the good, but it does show many times, mainly in it’s sympathetic-route it so obviously takes, yet feels a bit twisted in it’s own morals. The whole premise behind this flick makes it sound mean, dirty, disgusting, and naughty, which it is for a long while, but once the flick begins to show it’s softer-side and get all heartfelt on our asses, it doesn’t work. Cause don’t let me forget to remind you, this is a movie about a drug-dealer who gets a stripper, a homeless girl, and some nerd-a-tron to pose as his “family”, just so that he can make a pay-day with the drug kingpin he owes money to. Doesn’t sound so sweet and innocent now, does it? Exactly my feelings, hence why it’s so odd when the flick starts to make us feel like there are lessons to be learned, and they come at a cost.

The cost being: Less laughs, more sympathy. Not terrible to watch, but it does drag the movie down a big-step.

"Folks, I just wanted to say good-bye and enjoy the rest of your trip?"

“Folks? I just wanted to say good-bye and enjoy the rest of your trip.”

With this type of movie though, you have to have a cast that’s willing and able to do all sorts of the raunchy, baddie-bad shenanigans that ensue, and I think everybody is more than able to participate: They actually show themselves having a grand time and loving the hell out of it. I have to say, even though I think he’s pretty funny on SNL, Jason Sudeikis has not done much for me with his movie-choices. Some of them are inspired, showing more of a human behind the hilarity (Going the Distance), whereas others are just lazy and used as an obvious ploy to make us see him as the funny, everyday man (Hall Pass). Thankfully here, he shows that he can be funny in a way that’s not asking him to stretch much of his acting-skills, but also doesn’t need him to when the material’s as simple as they come: Look charming, be witty, and have fun. That’s all there is to this material, and Sudeikis owns it, giving his own pieces of dry-sarcasm whenever possibly needed.

Some may also be a bit worried about whether or not the simple-gal nature of Jennifer Aniston’s image will get in the way of the stripper character she’s playing here, but have no fear, because the chicky holds her own and is very funny. Honestly, she doesn’t look the part of a trashy-stripper, in fact, her body’s too natural for that type of decked-out, busty-look that most associate with strippers, but when it comes to holding her own with the raunch and the lowbrow, she does a spectacular job. She’s got that charm about her that always works, no matter if you want to admit it or not. As for the kiddie-bops, Emma Roberts and Will Poulter are also very good and funny, especially Poulter, who shows us all of his geeky character’s antics, doesn’t let up a bit, but also gets beneath him as well and shows a bit of a softer-side that we expected to see, but not to actually believe in. The movie gives him his moment to shine and rather than it being stupid, trite, and predictable, it’s surprisingly cute and heartfelt, aka, the only instance where the movie’s seriousness worked. As for all of the other moments: Just should have stayed smug.

Consensus: Don’t expect We’re the Millers to win you over right away, it takes time and a force of will, but once it’s charm starts moving, and the cast begins to get more involved with the material, then you’ll have a fun time, laughing-while-holding-your-belly and all.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

So natural, yet so smokin'. The End.

Just as speechless as you.

Drinking Buddies (2013)

Hipsters and beer: Let the sexual-fluids begin to fly!

Luke and Kate (Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde) work at a brewery in Chicago and could probably be confused as a loving, long-term couple. They bicker, they flirt, they play around, they constantly hang out, they get drunk together, and they’re always talking, so why the hell aren’t they together? Well, for starters, Luke is with a modest school-teacher Jill (Anna Kendrick), and Kate is tied-down to the quasi-intellectual, older Chris (Ron Livingston). Eventually, these four all hang-out and spend the weekend at Chris’s mountain house, but that’s when things begin to get a little weird for these four, and they eventually all come to terms with who they want to be with, why, and just who they are as people. Well, that, and a whole bunch of drinking as well. Can’t forget about that fact.

Many will probably dub this as the “coming out” of sorts for writer/director Joe Swanberg who, in case you don’t know, has been the name to run by when it comes to looking for “Mumblecore” films. The style irks some, but recently, it’s been getting a lot of notice and it seems like Swanberg has finally picked-up all of the momentum and speed he needed to finally get his beloved genre out there for the rest of the world to see. Whether or not they’ll take it and accept it for all that it is, is totally left to be decided, but if it’s is this movie that’s going to bring that somewhat annoying genre to the center-fold of the rest of the movie world; then I can see a brighter-future ahead. For the genre at least.

Playing with one another's food? Yup, totally in love!

Playing with one another’s food? It’s gotta be love!

What works so well with this flick is that everything about it, from the conversations, to the style, to the plot-transitioning, all feels real and natural, as if we’re watching real-life happen right in front of our very eyes. Granted, these characters are probably a lot better-looking than us normal-beings, but it’s easy to take them in as real people, who obviously have real feelings and emotions, despite them trying to hide it with all of their might. Most of what happens in this movie, actually, is very small and subtle, but the reactions and the feelings are real, and never make you feel like you’re watching a movie, where a bunch of really talented-people are acting their assess off, just so they can seem “indie enough” to be respected. For most movies, that is obviously the case, but everything here feels so normal and well-played, that you don’t feel it.

Despite it being a very naturalistic movie, it’s also a very thoughtful one that isn’t preachy or as obvious with it’s message as one may think. Swanberg touches on several points about our human-psyche like love, attraction, infidelity, and what cost they have attached to them but never anything too emotional or heavy-handed. It all plays itself out in a way where it makes you feel like you have just as much to learn as these characters in this movie, and that can sometimes be a blessing or a curse. However, with these characters and this script, it’s definitely more of the former than the latter. You’ll be happy to be hanging-around with these characters, feel a bit of an attachment to them, and also hope that everything churns out well for them, whether or not they fully deserve it.

And to be honest, there’s never any real “unlikable” character here to be found. The character of Chris should, on-paper, seem like a total and complete deuche-cake that thinks way too much, about nonsensical, meaningless things, but he actually comes off as just a dude that wants a little bit of love in his life, hasn’t quite found it yet, and is just waiting for that time to come, despite him being a little bit too old in the game to be slumming-around. He’s the only one that comes close to be considered “a bad guy”, which means that everyone else is lovable and easy-to-like, even if they do have some flaws. Actually, major flaws, but what would a human be if they didn’t have a little bit of flaws here and there, eh?

Probably the loveliest part of this whole flick is watching Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde on-screen together. Not only do they share a pitch-perfect chemistry that makes you believe these two as besties on and off the screen, but they also continue to have you guessing throughout the whole movie. Since there’s so much sexual-tension and under-lining love between the two, you can just feel like anything could happen between these two, at any given moment, for any reason. And hell, since they’re always around each other getting a little crunked-up, the odds get even more and more stacked-up as each and every new brew is consumed. These two together, whether it’s mostly improvised or scripted, is a work of beauty to behold and it’s made even better because both are great performers respectively.

The drink of death.

The hospitable drink of death.

Everybody knows Jake Johnson can act his ass off. Whether it’s being serious or comedic, Johnson’s always the go-to guy to make you laugh one second, and then cry the next. He just has that skill and it’s shown to full-effect here. However, when it comes to trumping Olivia Wilde’s screen-presence, Mr. Johnson can’t help but retreat and let her do her thing, which was great because it’s probably Wilde’s best performance ever. Not saying that she won’t get any more of these down the line, but for right now, the girl’s shown us something that not only impressed me with not only how unsympathetic she can be with some of the actions and decisions she decides to take, but with how sad and vulnerable she can be as well. We rarely ever see that side to her act, and it’s one that I wish to see more from her in the future because she’s so good at playing up the dramatic-side, but also still be able to charm us with her light touches as well. Wilde allows Kate to have a presence that isn’t all about being the life of the party or constantly-funny, but just a real person that lives in the moments and tries not to get too tied-down by dumb crap like break-ups or heartbreak, as hard as they may be to avoid.

Let’s hope this means better roles for Wilde, even if they don’t concern her getting naked. Although, I wouldn’t mind that that much either. I’m a man, dammit! I have needs!

Anna Kendrick is also here and very good as Luke’s gal-pal, Jill, who’s actually a bit more confused and depressed than anybody else in this flick. Kendrick is good at being all cute and cuddly when she wants, but also shows an under-lining sadness to her character that works and makes us feel like she’s more rounded-out, than just being known as “the girlfriend.” Same goes for Ron Livingston as Chris who, as I alluded to before, should be a dick, but somehow isn’t. He’s sympathetic, wholesome, and easy to care for, even if he does pull some odd actions here and there. Everybody here is good and all work off of each other perfectly. I can only hope that this means brighter, and better things for all of these stars in the future, even if some of them are already established ones as it is.

Consensus: Drinking Buddies sure as hell won’t last in your mind long after it’s over, but Swanberg’s writing and directing-style, and perfectly-cast group of workers, don’t really seem to be all concerned with that, and more concerned with showing us the realistic, if heartbreaking aspects of friendship and love, no matter how hard you try to stray away from it all.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Practically sleeping together...

Practically sleeping together…

Epic (2013)

I always knew those insects I squished had a home to go back to.

A young, rebellious teen, M.K. (Amanda Seyfried), thinks she has it all and doesn’t need to be bossed-around by anybody anymore. Well, her whole reality gets shrunk down to size, and I mean that in the most literal way possible. After getting some sort of spell thrown upon her, she is shrunk down to the size of a leaf, and finds herself embedded in this whole new world filled with mystical, magic creatures that have lives of their own. These “things” she aligns herself with are called Leafmen, and are currently in the middle of a war between what is good and what is bad, against the evil and despicable Boggans (Christoph Waltz).

Don’t know how I found myself in the theater watching this, but one thing lead to another, and I eventually found myself plopped-down in a seat, surrounded by a bunch of families, with screaming kids, and pissed-off mommies and daddies (mostly daddies). Then, of course, there was me, the 19-year-old who just sat there, hanging out, doing my movie-reviewing thing (sitting there with either my arms folded, or, pulling off the “thinking man” look), and surprisingly had a good time. Was I surprised? Ehh, not totally, but considering where animation has been going these days, I felt like it was a nice breath of fresh air to remind me that you don’t need to do something new, cool, or original to work. And hell, you sure as hell don’t have to be riding the coat-tails of Pixar with every damn move neither, but what you really have to do is just have a good time with yourself and others will eventually join in on the fun as well. Eventually.

Movie's message: dads are soooo lame.

Something tells me that these two are going to have those same faces for the rest of their lives together.

I will say that, for the most part, the movie did take awhile of getting used to. There were parts of this story that seemed way, way too FernGully-ish, and certain parts that seemed like they were trying way, way too hard to be funny. For instance, the dad is always fumbling over his papers and books because of these “creatures” he’s looking for, the dog’s name is Ozzy, and he also happens to be three-legged, and there’s a bunch of talking-slugs that like to say witty, adult-like things. It all seemed like it was trying a bit too hard for me and I felt like if this was how the rest of the flick was going to be, I was going to have to leave early and find out what the hell else there is to do with the rest of my Saturday afternoon (i.e. get drunk).

Well, thankfully, things turned for the good and rather than finding myself just sitting there in pure misery, while every kid under the age of 7 laughed their asses off; the tides began to change and I found myself in the place of the 7-year olds, laughing my ass off. Okay, maybe I wasn’t laughing, and maybe it was more of a grin here and there, but once the story started moving and the girl get cut-down to size, then things began to get better and better.

Somehow, some way, the movie was hitting it’s funny-bone, the action got better and more entertaining, and everything continued to get more and more greener as time went by. It was going so well and I can’t say I regret seeing this movie, even if some daddies had to shelter their kids away from the young adult, laughing his rear-end off in the third row. Yeah, that was a bit of a down-side, but I still enjoyed myself with the movie and realized that animation can still work in today’s world, even if you aren’t breaking any new-ground. I mean, I wasn’t crying like I USED to do with Pixar movies, and I sure as hell wasn’t holding my stomach like I USED to do with Pixar movies, but I was sure as hell having a nice time, and nobody could bring me down from that cloud I oh so pleasantly floated on for awhile.

And then, things got a bit weird.

I don’t want to give too much away here in terms of what the ending is all about, because it’s pretty obvious and conventional for the most part, but in terms of what type of message this movie is trying to give off: I still am left scratching my head. You can see that this girl is young, prepped-up to be the princess of her house, and deserving of everything that she wants, so why the hell does she all of a sudden begin a sort of “relationship” with a guy that’s the size of her finger-nail? Sounds strange, I know, but it left me with a weird feeling that kids are going to be leaving this flick, thinking that you can find love anywhere, even if it is with tiny men, that battle-off insects in their spare-time. Okay, maybe kids won’t be going that far, but why end the movie like that? Just have her say her good-byes, say that she’ll be back, and that her and her dad will be careful not to squash them anytime soon. Why not do that and avoid being creepy? Pixar wouldn’t have done that….

But probably the strangest aspect of this whole movie is the voice-cast. Everybody here who has something to say, is a big-name in the media for one thing or another, but to assemble them altogether in a movie where they literally don’t have to stand next to each other to get good performances, still strikes me as a bit odd. For instance, one second you’ll have Christoph Waltz doing his thing as the baddie; then, the next second, you’ll have Pitbull voicing a frog that’s supposed to be the kingpin of the slums. I never though I’d see this guy and that guy in the same movie together, but hey, that’s the crazy thing about animation. You can get away with just about putting anybody you want, regardless of if they fit together or not, because it will still work. It’s not their faces you’re saying, it’s the voices you’re hearing.

Snail's be chillin', yo.

Snail’s be chillin’, yo.

That said, everybody is pretty damn serviceable in each of their own, respective roles. Amanda Seyfried fits the innocence and angst of what it’s like to be a young gal in your teens (not that I would know); Jason Sudeikis does some weird, nasally-voice as her father, but is still good at being goofy, but also endearing as well; Colin Farrell is pretty damn bad-ass as the leader of the little dudes that fight the good fight; Beyonce doesn’t have much to do as Queen Tara, and feels like the weakest-link out of everybody else here; Steven Tyler is playing up his whole, “pot-smoking” image as the slug that has all the answers and keeps records of everything that goes down in this forest; and last, but sure as hell not least, Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd are perfect fits as the two snails that continue to pop jokes, no matter what the occasion may be. They’re characters are only here to serve one purpose, and that’s to be the comic-relief for the kiddie’s to laugh at, but they actually had me giggling quite a lot. I don’t know if that’s because I actually like both comedians in general, or for what they did here. I think it’s more of the former, but at least I appreciated them nonetheless.

Consensus: The world of animation will continue to do what it’s been doing for all these years, but at least Epic still hits us with the reminder that you don’t have to change the name of the game or do something new with your story, as long as you have fun, are entertaining, and goofy for the whole family to enjoy.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

The look of a man that little girls will come to adore for awhile, only to realize that average-sized dudes usually don't look as stunning, and as groomed-up as this. This is what they usually turn out to be.

The look of a man that little girls will come to adore for awhile, only to realize that average-sized dudes usually don’t look as stunning, and as groomed-up as this. This is what they usually turn out to be.

Movie 43 (2013)

Not all celebrities are prudes. Only the ones with Oscars are.

The central story is about how a deranged writer (Dennis Quaid) forces a studio executive (Greg Kinnear) to make his movie. But before any moves actually take place on it, we get to see what the actual-product is as the writer reads it out to us and the executive. Basically, it’s just one dude’s shitty idea, all for us to see and cringe at. Yay!

Sketch-comedies never seem to work, that is, unless you just so happen to be drunk, horny, wild, and ready for a good-time. However, I don’t think it will matter if you’re any of those things: you may never, ever enjoy this movie. Okay, maybe if you’re 12-years-old, and love to hear the word “balls” in almost every sentence  then yes, you might just have a freakin’ ball with this thing. But if you are above that age-limit in anyway, shape, or form, this is going to be one cringe-inducing trip for you. Whether you like it or not. I’m going to guess your most likely to side with the latter.

Any movie can tell a ball, poop, or fart joke like it’s nobody’s business, but it’s all how you do it and literally; this film just cannot do it in the right way where you laugh, chuckle, or even get that they just made the joke. Almost every single skit in this movie has at least one use of the word “ball” or “shit” and it gets annoying, probably around the time the first skit kicks-in and you realize that you’re going to be tormented to the core of your stomach, with non-stop raunch jokes that do nothing. Apparently, everybody who ever worked on this movie, all thought that the idea of somebody having a certain bodily-fluid sprayed all-over-their-face was downright, hilarious and it’s a huge-shocker that it never dawned on any of these people that maybe, just maybe, the type of material that they are working with, just isn’t funny enough to suit a 6-to-7-minute sketch, let alone a whole movie full of ’em.

"Today's lesson is, "How to NOT choose shitty movies like this".

“Today’s lesson is, “How to NOT choose shitty movies like this”.

And also, the idea of having a movie so chock-full of sketches where big-named stars just demean themselves to the lowest, common denominator, almost seems so old-school, it’s not even worth it paying the money to go out and seeing. I mean, you can probably go onto Funny or Die, College Humor, Cracked, or even YouTube for that matter, find big-celebrities, doing some crazy shite for laughs, and actually having there be; ACTUAL LAUGHS. Here, in this movie where it’s just one, long presentation of a bunch, you get probably one-or-two laughs and that is literally all because the jokes that they use in the film that are actually funny, were already used 100-times before in all of the trailers/commercials we have either seen or heard, 100 times before. Going out to see this movie is already a crime, but actually going out to pay for it, is like a freakin’ cardinal sin. Especially when you know that more-quality humor is laying right there for you, at your fingertips.

Even if the delivery is god-awful, at least some of the placement is okay. For instance, some skits actually seem to have some promise like the one where Robin (Justin Long) actually stands up for himself and gets involved with a Superhero speed-dating event, where other, actual superheroes show-up to mingle and hopefully, get laid. This idea seems like it’s planned to be a butt-load of fun, especially if that idea came from Joss Whedon, but sadly, it comes from the makers of this shit-pile and before you could say the word, “kryptonite”, the sketch has already lost itself in saying the word “bush” or “shit”, one way too many times. I mean, when you got Wonder Woman and Batman talking to each other about how they fucked and it never amounted to anything but Batman running-away and never calling again, you would expect non-stop hilarity, right? But nope, instead it’s all about having Robin still be played-out as the softer, gayer-one of the two and if you didn’t think that joke was over-played by now, trust me, just wait for the rest of the movie.

However, without the promise of an interesting-idea, most skits just fall from grace, right from the very start. The skit where Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott both find and capture a leprechaun (played by Gerard Butler, in CGI-form), in hopes to get some gold, starts off pretty bad. Apparently the director, Brett Ratner (in case you haven’t been surprised yet), thought that the idea of having a leprechaun spew-out a bunch of dirty words was funny enough to last a whole sketch, especially one where it seemed like it’s main actors would actually sparkle in. Sadly, they just don’t do anything for the sketch, or the movie itself and the way it all ends is so dark and savage-like, that it really left me with a bad-taste in my mouth, which is very shocking since the rest of the film just couldn’t. I want to spoil the ending of that sketch for you so you understand what I’m blabbering all about, but sadly, I am a critic and I have morals, people. But still, don’t see this movie because I won’t spoil it for you.

"No, I'M in this movie?!?!"

“No, I’M in this movie?!?!”

The idea of having all of these different stars being packed into one movie where all they do is completely raunchy and dirty shit (sometimes literally), may make them seem cool and on-the-edge, but in reality: it’s just a poor-decision. I guess it’s really strange to see heavyweights like Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman in a skit about a dude with balls on his neck, or a skit with Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts playing parents of a home-schooled kid that give him the full, high-school experience with sex, drugs, abuse and all, but it’s even stranger to see peeps like them actually stoop themselves so low as to actually make this material work. I don’t know if they knew this right from the initial script-read, but this is terrible-material they are working with here so instead of giving it their all and actually going to town with whatever energy or sense of purpose they can muster-up to make this work, they seem almost as if they forcing it out, almost like a kidney stone (and yes, it is THAT painful to watch). Nobody here really out-shines the other and probably the only person that really made me laugh and surprised the hell out of me from this whole cast was Will Sasso, who shows-up, does his thing, reminds us that he is still alive, and actually made me laugh. I was terribly and utterly surprised, but he was the real spectacle to see for me. Everybody else can suck my nut because I hated this shit, and I hated watching them try to act in it!

Consensus: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT let the star-studded cast fool you, Movie 43 is one hell of a bombshell that begins on a lame-note and ends on an even-worse one that makes you feel like you’ve just been hit over-the-head with somebody’s foreign parts, and not in the fun, or pleasureful way, either. It’s the type of way that disturbs you and scars you for life. That is, until you see an equally as bad movie and that’s, going to be very hard to come by for some time I think.

1 / 10 = Crapola!!

Poor Gerard Butler. This is probably his worst movie to-date.

Poor Gerard Butler. This is probably his worst movie to-date.

The Campaign (2012)

If only Ron Burgundy really did run for office. Do I hear the basis for a sequel…?

When long-term congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) commits a major public gaffe before an upcoming election, a pair of ultra-wealthy CEOs plot to put up a rival candidate and gain influence over their North Carolina district. Their man: naïve Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), director of the local Tourism Center.

If you are going to release an election comedy, the time right before the election would be a perfect time, really. Everybody is basically sick and tired of seeing what these candidates all have to say about themselves, their goals as president, what they think about the other candidates, how much of a wonderful family and dog they have, how they are going to lower taxes, blah, blah, and blah. So you know it’s time for a political satire, especially one with two of the goofiest and funniest comedic actors working right now, right?

You would expect a comedy about politics, being released very slightly before election-time, to have at least some sort of sides to choose or just plain and simple satire on politics themselves, but somehow, you get nothing here from that. Looking at director Jay Roach‘s track record (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, Dinner for Schmucks), I knew that I wasn’t going to get anything that was necessarily considered biting, when it comes to satire department, but I wasn’t expecting something as safe and sometimes, soft like this. What bothered me the most about this flick is that there is so much room for political satire to the point of where you could almost make it up on your own, but for some odd reason, these guys never seem to go for it. To me, this seems like a huge, wasted opportunity that definitely could have given us a smarter look at the politics we see on TV today, but I guess they’re all fine with just settling for being funny.

Actually, this missed-opportunity probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much if it wasn’t for the fact that this film definitely isn’t as funny as I was expecting it to be. There’s a lot of those dim-witted, goof-ball jokes that we are used to getting with Ferrell and his movies, but it just seems repetitive here, almost to the point of where Ferrell and co. felt like they ran out of material to joke around about, so they just tried to say the same jokes, over-and-over again but it a new fashion. This starts to get very tiring and actually, very boring, almost to the point of where I was actually looking at my “watch” (code name for phone, but don’t tell anyone) more than anything else on the screen. Which is a total shame because I usually have a ball with these guys, as I did with Dinner for Schmucks, a very underrated comedy, in my opinion.

But for when it did make me laugh, it sure as hell did make me laugh and that’s all I can give it credit for. Some scenes stood-out to me in particular, but the best was probably in the first 15 minutes where Huggins goes around his family-table and allows them to all share secrets that they have hid underneath the table for very, very long, and some of the stuff that just comes out of these people’s mouths are hilarious and dirty. It was a sure sign that I was in for something funny and everything else from the punching-baby sequence, to the vengeful political-ad videos, to the drunk driving incident, all had me laughing enough to say that I had a pretty enjoyable time, even if I feel like there could have been so much more to this material.

The real reason this whole film works is mainly because of the two comedic all-stars in the leads that always seem to give every role they have, their all and these ones are no different. Will Ferrell is basically playing-up the same buffoon he plays in every movie, but this time with a mix of his George W. Bush impression and some of Bill Clinton in there as well. It’s a nice little mix that Ferrell makes work by just being, well, Will Ferrell, and that’s all I really ask for when it comes to him and his comedies. Then, you have Zach Galifianakis as the heterosexual Marty Huggins, that just seems so sweet and nice, but can never catch a break because of Brady is always one-step ahead of his ass. Literally sometimes, too. Zach is always a funny guy and even though he hasn’t had many times to prove so outside of his roles as Alan, he proves that here and gives this Marty Huggins a lot of jeer-full goofiness to him, but not enough to the point of where it’s annoying and campy. Whenever these guys were on-screen together, I laughed my ass off and I sort of wish that they did a better movie to head-line together because this one sure doesn’t live up to what people would most expect from these two comedic fellas.

It was also nice to see Jason Sudeikis play a supporting, goofy role as the straight-man behind Cam Brady, Mitch. Sudeikis is funny, as always, but this time he allows all of the jokes play-out from Ferrell’s side of the equation and it’s nice to see what this cat can do when it comes to comedy, considering I haven’t been all that impressed by this dude as of late. Though, the highlight of the cast is probably Dylan McDermott as the evil campaign advisory, Tim Wattley. McDermott is good with this role because he plays everything with such a stern, serious look on his face that adds so many more laughs to this film, whenever it seemed like Zach and Will weren’t necessarily helping out the situation. What was even better was how they even compared him to Dermot Mulroney during this film, which I thought was funny because I actually thought he would have been a good fit for this kind of role.

Consensus: Though it’s satire never fully takes a bite, The Campaign still features a fun cast and a funny bunch of moments that are worth to see, if only for the two leads themselves.

6/10=Rental!!

Going the Distance (2010)

A poor man’s Judd Apatow comedy, but still a good one.

New couple Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Garrett (Justin Long) don’t want their summer fling to end, but Erin must move across the country to finish school. As the bicoastal lovers try to keep their relationship going, they experience the tricky challenges of living long-distance.

This is one of those feel good films that is pretty self-explanatory: you know the general plot before you go in so there are no surprises as to what the film is about or how it will end. However, it’s not such a bad trip in between the beginning and the end.

The reason this film works is because is it’s very well-written. The comedy surprisingly works great for this type of material because at the center of this little romantic storyline going on, the raunchy material holds it out with a great balance. I found myself with a lot of belly laughs here and surprisingly a lot of insight as well.

I have never been in a long-distance relationship but from what it seems like, it’s hard and this film shows how hard it is in every way. From the non-stop texting, to the temptation, late night calls, dates on Skype, and finding any way possible to pleasure the other person are all what happens in a long-distance relationship and this film shows it in a sort of 21st century way. There was some honest truth to a lot of what was being said in this film too where these two have problems actually coping with the fact that they may not always be together and like each other the whole time which made me feel like I was listening to actual conversations and not just another crappy rom-com.

However, the problem with this film I felt was the fact that it kind of gets really dry right in the middle where very little laughs actually happen, and we are forced to focus on the fact that these two are having “problems”. It still had some insight but for this brief moment of about 30 minutes, it was what we always see in every rom-com which kind of disappointed me in a way. There were also many times where this film would bring something up but never expand on it such as temptation for both sides and I thought they ere going to start talking about it, but never really went with it fully and seem kind of strange.

Drew Barrymore is lovely and a really smart leading lady because she makes a character that you really like, and you wanna see her and her relationship succeed. She also drinks, smokes, curses, and bangs a lot during this film and I have to say that it showed me an edgier side of her that I liked and a side she pulled 0ff very well. Justin Long a good fit here because he’s kind of a goofball at times, but still has that underlining scent of sincerity to him that makes him very likable. It has been said about plenty of actual real-life couples don’t actually click well together on-screen, but whatever these two got going on in real-life translates well into their work together. Christina Applegate plays the protective older sister, Corrine, and is a comedic pro who can do stuck-up without seeming stuck-up. Let’s not also forget Jim Gaffigan as her hubby who always makes me laugh. Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day play Long’s buddies, Box and Dan, who are the two neighbor/buddy characters that are straight out of a sitcom, but a funny sitcom and I found myself laughing my ass off at them the most.

Consensus: Going the Distance gets a little dry in the middle, but is still very funny with a lot of cuteness as well as a hint of insight, however the raunchy comedy and the amazing cast had me laughing the most and is what makes this better than your average romantic comedy.

7.5/10=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!!

Hall Pass (2011)

Wonder if my wife will let me have one of these.

Owen Wilson stars as a married man whose spouse (Jenna Fischer) grants him the right — for just one week — to pursue as many extramarital affairs as he can. His best buddy (Jason Sudeikis) receives an identical “hall pass” from his wife (Christina Applegate), and off the guys go. The hubbies soon discover, however, that picking up girls isn’t as easy as they recall, while their better halves embark on their own erotic adventures.

The Farrelly Brothers have a lot of films under their belts, but the problem is they haven’t really had a good one in awhile. With this, I think they kind of break that slump.

I wouldn’t say it’s a return-to-form for these guys, but they do have some laughs here that actually work. There are the usual raunchy jokes that I have come to expect from these two, and the zany psychical humor as well, but I was very surprised that there are about two poop jokes here, and I actually laughed at them. I laughed a lot more than I expected during this film, but those poop jokes, somehow got me, and I must say bravo to The Farrely’s on that one.

Though the film is funny I just wish it had what I was expecting, due to the genius idea of the plot. It’s a great idea for a film, but the plot just seems a bit too stale and episodic at points, and I was disappointed because I knew where this film could have definitely gone to be as funny. There’s also an underlying sweetness to it, but I couldn’t really buy that all too well. I wanted to see some sexy time, more guy talks, and just more humor. The plot starts to get a little cheesy by the last act, and we see where it starts to go, and I must say I was highly disappointed.

Owen Wilson is good for this role as Rick because he uses that toolish guy shtick he always has, to his advantage. I like Wilson in a lot of stuff that he does, and it was good to see him head-lining a comedy that was actually funny. Jason Sudeikis of SNL fame is pretty funny here as Fred, and although I don’t think he was the perfect fit for this role. But still, since this is his first starring role in a comedy, I have a feeling he’ll find a good role. Richard Jenkins also pops up in a hilarious side role as the pimp daddy, Coakley. Jenkins is good in almost everything he does, and this right here is no different.

However, the main problem I had with this film was probably the wives here played by Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate. Seeing that this is indeed a Farrelly Brothers film, the women in this film may be two-dimensional characters, but here it’s a huge distraction from the humor in this film. Whenever they would just shoot over to this story-line, all the humor that the main premise had going for it, just gets lost because these chicks really are such a drag and kind of stupid. If you don’t want your hubbies being horny all the time, give them some love, don’t let them get it from somebody else! Probably because I’m a dude is the reason why I’m saying this but the idea is cool, I just wish these chicks weren’t so stupid about it. Also, Joy Behar is in here?!? Surprisingly she’s not that annoying.

Consensus: The laughs aren’t non-stop like you would expect from an idea like this, and the sub-plot is terribly boring, but the cast does a good job with this script, and the jokes did somehow have me laughing, which makes Hall Pass a nice return for The Farrelly Brothers.

5.5/10=Rental!!