Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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CHIPS (2017)

Cause idiot cops can still be funny in 2017, right?

Jon Baker (Dax Shepard) and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Michael Peña) have just joined the California Highway Patrol in Los Angeles, but for very different reasons. Baker is a former motorbike rider who’s trying to put his life and marriage back together, whereas Poncherello is a cocky, undercover FBI agent who’s investigating a multi-million dollar heist that may or may not actually be an inside job. The two are somewhat of opposites, with Baker being the far more touchy-feely of the two and even though they don’t seem to necessarily understand one another just yet, they know one thing is certain: They absolutely have to nab the bad guys. But in order to do that, they’re going to have to do some straight-up detective-work, that may or may not also include a whole lot of faith and trust between the two being exchanged. Baker’s ready for that, but Ponch, when he isn’t having all sorts of hot sex with the ladies, isn’t.

Hey, at least there’s always Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television.

Hollywood’s got the bright idea that what the world needs right now are more and more of R-rated reboots of old-school TV shows. Whether the actual shows themselves were good, bad, or even memorable in the slightest, it doesn’t matter – if they’ve got some form of nostalgia attached to them, Hollywood’s going to take it over and bring it back to the mainstream, but with naughtier, louder, and much more current jokes. And Hollywood can’t be blamed for this either, because with the success of 21 Jump Street, both commercially and critically, it’s no shock that Baywatch and eventually, CHIPS were next on the list.

Did either of them need to be? Probably not. Especially CHIPS, though, and it’s fairly obvious in the first ten minutes that this is going to be a misguided affair. Writer/director/star Dax Shepard, for some odd reason, may seem to have a love and passion for the original show growing up, because taking on triple-duty just doesn’t work for him. What should have been a joyous moment in his life and career, honestly may have been a little too much to deal with, as the direction itself, while loud, bright and big, equals up to nothing. His script is even worse with jokes just not connecting at all, or bordering on mean and offensive, and his performance, while somewhat charming, also feels like it’s him just doing the usual act we’ve seen from him, time and time again. And it’s a shame, too, because Shepard’s an actually likable guy who seems genuinely talented.

Why he wanted to make this movie so bad, is beyond me and it shows.

Sheeeeeeeit, indeed.

Sure, there’s a few jokes every so often that connect, but not really as they’re just the bottom of the barrel. There’s too much gay-panic jokes that are trying to poke fun at the idea of gay-panic itself, but still seem to make fun of the idea of two men being close and intimate; women are clearly hated here with barely any female character being a nice person; the central-conflict and supposed villains never make any sense, nor do they ever seem existent; and oh yeah, everyone else feels wasted and somewhat bored. It’s nice to see a great and underappreciated talent like Michael Peña get a lead role in a major motion-picture for once, but even he’s saddled with a boring character who’s main purpose to serve to the plot is that he forges no connections with anyone around him, sleeps around, is a bit of a jerk, and oh yeah, doesn’t like touching dudes.

It’s hack comedy for someone who isn’t a hack and it makes it all the more disappointing to watch this go down. Cause even at 100 minutes, the movie feels at least three-hours longer than that, with a plot that never comes together, character’s that feel false, and most importantly, comedy that’s just not funny. The only person here to blame is Dax Shepard, since this seems to be his baby, and it’s sad.

Let’s hope that he wakes up and does learn a little bit from this.

Consensus: Frequently unfunny and mean-spirited, CHIPS features an A-list cast and crew and saddles them with hack-jokes, a weak-story, and no reason for existing, except to hopefully make some nostalgia-money. And hell, it couldn’t even do that correctly.

2 / 10

Oh, what an odd couple!

Photos Courtesy of: Warner Bros. Pictures


Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Boys vs. Girls. Didn’t this stuff stay in the playground?

It was 1972 and Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) was on top of the tennis world. She was #1, breaking all sorts of records, and oh yeah, had a phone conversation with Tricky Dick. Pretty awesome, right? Well, apparently not that awesome as she was only receiving an eighth of what a man made in professional tennis, leading her, as well as many other pro-tennis females to boycott the league and start their own. Meanwhile, hustler has-been Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) was looking for his next and best score, when all of a sudden, it came to him: Why not face-off against a female tennis-player and prove, once and for all, that women are the inferior species? Surely Bobby didn’t actually think this, but he knew that the media would create a swirl-storm, hyping up whoever he played, creating quite the anticipation around the match itself. This happens, of course, with Billie Jean, but it comes at a price for both of them. For Bobby, his marriage begins to fall-apart, whereas for Billie, hers does too, however, with much different circumstances as she’s absolutely afraid of being ousted as “gay”, even though she’s clearly in love with her hair-dresser (Andrea Riseborough).

“So, uh that ten-grand?”

Battle of the Sexes clearly deals with a lot of the issues we’re having in our current day-to-day society, but it doesn’t try to fall back on them too much. After all, creating a modern-day parallel isn’t all that difficult, what with a female candidate and a male candidate vying for the presidency and coming very close to a split-decision (depending on who you ask), and blatant sexism being thrown everywhere you looked. It’s something that makes America, America, and it doesn’t matter if it happens in 1972, or 2016, or 2046, it’s something that’s a problem and needs to be changed.

But then again, there’s no issue with what Battle of the Sexes brings to the table, as it’s much more about these two individuals in general, the people around them, the so-called “conflict”, and oh yeah, that sport called tennis. Co-directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton are smart in not allowing this material to ever get too preachy, corny, or even melodramatic – along with Simon Beaufroy’s script, they allow for each and every character to have a certain bit of heart and humanity to go beyond their sometimes silly personas.

Case in point, Bobby Riggs.

While he is no doubt a caricature and clearly not meant to be take so entirely seriously, Carell and the movie give him some pathos and show us a softer, rather sad tide to his whole appearance. While he may have no doubt been a hustler, a cheat, a gambler, he was still a nice enough and charming enough guy to make you smile and entertain the hell out of you, even if that came at the expense of all those around him. Carell fits the Riggs-role so well that it’s hard to see anyone else in it, whether he’s cheeking it up for the press, or trying to score a few extra-dollars off of his friends and family, when the cameras aren’t around.

But then again, he does get the short-end of the stick when it comes to Billie Jean King who, as played by Emma Stone, is perfect. Like with Riggs, Battle of the Sexes gives us more to Billie Jean than just a bad-ass, rather tomboy-ish leader of the women’s movement; she was surely troubled, scared, a little lonely, and incredibly vulnerable. We see a softer-side to her that goes well in adjacent with her tough-as-nails skills on the tennis-court and it allows for Stone to give this character more and more depth, as we go along and learn more about her. The movie is clearly hers and she’s more than deserving of it.

Billie Jean is definitely not my lover. But she’s got a mean back-swing. So look out, sexist pigs.

And as for everybody else, the same goes.

Battle of the Sexes isn’t a movie where the immoral people are classified as “villains” – more or less, they’re just seen as pricks, or d-bags. Bill Pullman’s Jack Kramer is a perfect example, especially of someone who can be seen as “a baddie”, but isn’t really; he’s just a businessman who has a certain way of getting his dick-ish point across. Same goes for all of those around Billie Jean, like her husband, as played by Austin Stowell, who seems more like a manager, than a passionate, loving-companion. But still, he’s not seen as a bad guy who, when finding out about his wife’s trysts with Riseborough’s Marilyn, doesn’t scream, hoot, holler, yell, or break things – he’s just sad, as anyone would be. Riseborough is also quite great in this role that gives her the chance to show a softer side to Billie Jean that makes us actually feel the conflict and the love, sometimes, both at the same time.

But really, everyone here is great. They’re given something to work with and guess what? They all make their presences known. It’s the kind of mainstream, Hollywood biopic that gets made literally all the time, but doesn’t actually have this much thought or reason to go with it.

It’s rare and I’m glad it’s around.

Consensus: As much of a sports movie, as much as it’s about two sports-icons who made the best of their professional and personal lives, Battle of the Sexes is smart, fun, and entertaining, while also boasting great performances all across its ensemble.

8 / 10

Together. As one. That’s the way it oughta be!

Photos Courtesy of: IndieWire

The Loved Ones (2012)

Always keep an eye on the quiet ones.

Brent (Xavier Samuel) is an emotional wreck who is dealing with a recent loss. And just when you thought his life couldn’t get shittier, it does when he turns down an invitation to a school dance from fruity-hottie Lola (Robin McLeavy). It seems that what Lola wants, Lola gets; no matter the cost and she’s not going to stop now.

I’ve been avoiding any type of torture porn film in recent time, and after seeing that this film was finally coming after 2 years in hell, I didn’t think that my mind was going to change. Thankfully, it did and I can only wish that this type of horror movie becomes the new “type” that everybody goes out to see on a weekly basis.

Writer/director Sean Byrne starts this film off as if it was your typical high school, teen film. Plenty of talks about sex, booze, and prom night, plenty of kids making out, and plenty of that teenage angst that we always see kids going through. This bothered me because it wasn’t all that interesting and they really tried focusing on Brent’s emotional issues he’s having here about his dad being dead in a car crash, that he drove. It’s not wrong to try and give your character’s some depth here and there but the film really felt like it was forcing all of this dramatic shit down our throats, and it got to a point of where I just wanted some crazy, psycho shit to go down like I knew I was going to get.

However, things all of a sudden change around once Brent gets kidnapped by Lola and her daddy, and this is when the film really begins to pick itself up. It goes from one of those syrupy, teen movies to all of a sudden being one of these crazy, runaway, South of the road horror movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it blew my mind away and kept my adrenaline up. Of course we all know that this guy gets tortured and treated like total shit by these two nut-balls, but what sets it apart from anything else is the fact Byrne isn’t trying to just feed us a bunch of squirmy moments, just for Pete’s sake. It actually fits into the story and kept on hitting me harder, harder, harder, and harder each and every time this guy got treated worse. He doesn’t show all of the torture, but whenever he does, it’s almost as brutal as the shit he is suggesting half-of-the-time as well.

I also thought Byrne’s writing was something that more horror writers from Hollywood should pay more attention to, and use it for themselves actually. The film starts off very predictable and obvious, but once the torture angle kicks in, I had no idea what was going to happen next. I seemingly thought anything was possible, which it was, and that this was a film that wouldn’t stop to shock me and keep me glued to the screen. That’s what kept me involved with this flick, was that I couldn’t tell what was going to happen next and that I was given a character that I actually care about. Even though all of that character development for Brent seemed cheap and obvious, I still knew this guy was a good person and definitely didn’t deserve all of the torture he was getting so I definitely rooted for him the whole way through. Also, a nice couple of spots of dark humor here and there just to even things out.

The only thing really stopped me from absolutely loving this film, was the random subplot they had here about a bumbling kid, trying to get it in with some hot, Gothic chick. There were definitely some funny parts for this story but it didn’t do much for the film or it’s story, and seemed like it was more or less just used to switch to whenever the film didn’t feel like focusing on all of the torture. It barely even tied up with the rest of the story, so it really could have just been left out and focused more on how shitty Brent was getting treated. That’s just an idea though, folks.

Xavier Samuel is pretty good as Brent and makes it easy for us to care about him, and just seems like your average, everyday, angsty kid wearing a Metallica shirt. For reasons I don’t want to spoil, he doesn’t talk that much but he expresses everything he’s going through with his face and it feels and looks real, and sometimes make you feel the pain that he’s feeling. Actually, it definitely did that for me and numerous times I just kept on clinching my stomach.

John Brumpton plays Lola’s freak-o dad that just not seem right in the head, and goes throughout the whole movie with a boner for his daughter. However, he doesn’t seem over-the-top at all and just seems like another, run-of-the-mill, kind of nut you would usually see on the side of the road begging for money, and the type of dude you do not want baby-sitting your kids late at night. As the film continues to go on and the torture starts to get worse, Robin McLeavy‘s performance as Lola gets all of the more insane and she definitely makes you feel like this chick, and probably will do anything and everything to hurt this dude to the brink of total mutilation. Maybe that was a bit graphic, but Lola is such a freakin’ scary character and plays up that whole “quiet, weird girl” aspect of her, up to the tippity-top and it’s perfect.

Consensus: The Loved Ones mixes ideas and formulas from torture porno’s, teen movies, dark comedies, and horror flicks, to give us a satisfying revenge movie that may start off perfectly, but by the end gets more and more tense as the film’s story starts to become more unpredictable. Take not Hollywood: Australian cinema is where it’s at.