Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Brad’s Status (2017)

Life sucks. Then you get old. Then die. Yep. That’s about it.

Brad Sloan (Ben Stiller) has a pretty nice life. A great wife (Jenna Fischer), who’s incredibly supportive of him, a cushy job, a quaint suburban house, a few friends, and a son, Troy (Austin Abrams), who’s something of a musical-prodigy and all ready to head off to college. But Brad still has an issue with his life and where he’s been heading in the past many years; for instance, his former-pals from college are all rich, successful, and living far more luxurious lifestyles than he is, which gets him thinking. Like a lot. And it sort of begins to ruin the trip that he has with his son, where they’re off visiting colleges like Harvard and Yale, all for the hopes that Troy will join the likes of the many greats who have come and gone there before him. Brad, on the other hand, can’t stop thinking about his life and what the hell he’s going to do next. Basically, he’s just going through a mid-life crisis – he just doesn’t really seem to know it yet.

See, Brad? Life’s not so bad! You’ve got Pam in your life!

Writer/director Mike White knows what he’s talking about here and because of that, Brad comes off a lot more sympathetic than he probably should have been. While no doubt everything that Brad is yelling, ranting, raving, complaining, and getting all upset about is nothing more than just white first-world problems, it still feels relevant and interesting. We may not agree with everything that he’s pissed-off about – not having enough money, wanting to see other people, wishing that he was working for a different place – but we can sort of see where he’s coming from and it helps make Brad more interesting and relatable, as opposed to just another rambling, bumbling, and angry white guy who truly has nothing to worry about.

Like at all.

And that’s why Brad’s Status both works and also doesn’t. It works because it features some smart and snappy writing about real life issues that everyone faces at least once or twice in their existences. But it’s also bad because that’s literally all Brad’s Status is about; just when we’re introduced to a new character, or possibly even, a new conflict, we know it’s only a matter of time until something irritates Brad and he has to let his mind loose. It’s a convention we see coming, again and again, and it makes Brad annoying, but the writing seem cheap and sitcom-y.

Uh oh. Time for an angry rant.

Which, coming from Mike White, is a bit of a disappointment. He ought to know better and not really fall back onto this sort of stuff that seems like a lame fall-back. And it isn’t like because Brad can sometimes be an asshole, means that he’s not watchable – some of the most compelling characters are the ones you love to hate – it’s just that he’s a bit of a bore. His issues are relevant and, at some point, understandable, but there comes a point when one has to shut up and move on, and Brad’s Status, much like Brad himself, doesn’t seem to.

The one real aspect keeping Brad’s Status moving is Ben Stiller who, once again, seems to really playing to his strengths, albeit, in a much more dramatic-manner.

But it’s a solid turn from Stiller who seems to get off on playing these overachieving, annoying perfectionists, but actually injects some real heart and humanity into him. We see a lot of that play out in the relationship he has with his son here, who is already an interesting character in the first place. Normally, with these kinds of movies where the dad’s a bit of a bummer, the kids generally seem to hate them and loathe their even existence, but Abrams’ Troy. In a way, Troy loves his dad more than even Brad knows or even notices, and it’s why Brad’s Status remains a much smarter movie than you’d expect – there’s an actual feeling of love and emotion somewhere to be found beneath all of the ranting.

Much like real life rants.

Consensus: With an exceptional lead performance from Stiller, Brad’s Status works as an interesting, if also troubling character-study of a relatable, but also annoying person that we may all grow to become one day.

6 / 10

“Dad? What are you hissing about?”

Photos Courtesy of: Amazon Studios


Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

It’s like Halloween, but in the summer time, where your constantly sweating your ass off underneath a 10 lb costume.

Last time when we left Hellboy (Ron Perlman), he was sucking face with his fellow “freak”, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), and it’s nice to see that 4 years later, not much has changed. They argue, they love, they kiss, they battle, they bitter, and they continue to go through the steps that most couples do, except that they’re “different” in the sense that one can do all sorts of bad-assery, while the other one can light herself on fire and cause explosions for miles. However, they put their relationship to the side this time once an ancient prince named Nuada (Luke Goss) tries to destroy the human-population with his Golden Army, aka, a bunch of mechanical robots that are a lot bigger than Hellboy, or anything else for that matter.

As you probably saw yesterday, Hellboy was a flick that I hadn’t seen in awhile and wanted to re-watch, especially for this whole “Guillermo del Toro thing” I’ve been doing. Needless to say, I liked it again and even though I noticed some itsy, bitsy problems I may have not noticed when I was 10 and first saw it, it still held-up very well and showed me what del Toro could do if he got a big enough budget, and enough creative-control to do whatever the hell he wanted to do. In the hands of del Toro, I trust nobody else, which may make sense that after Pan’s Labyrinth got nominated for a slew of Oscars and such, it seemed only right that not only would the dude be able to get another Hellboy movie, but one that would be all his, and nobody else’s.

If they ever break up, she's going to be single forever. That shit is TORN UP.

If they ever break up, she’s going to be single forever. That shit is TORN UP.

That selfish mentality where he gets whatever he wants, when he wants, and how he wants it, is the same type of mentality that kills most directors and gives them a terrible rep that you don’t even want to bother being around, but not del Toro. No, no, no. He’s more of a stand-up guy than that and yes, even though I don’t know him personally (still hasn’t returned any of my phone calls), it still seems like the guy knows what’s best for his movie, and what makes them best for everybody else to see. Because let’s face it: The man’s making a superhero movie that most likely, many, many people are going to see. So if you want to throw in a bunch of dark-trademarks that has the art-house crowd soon over your style, then go for it, just know that it’s not going to appeal to a wider-audience.

However, like with the first one, del Toro hits that perfect mark where it’s not only the type of flick that could go to please even the die-hardest fan of del Toro, but any regular movie-goer who just wants to go to the movies and have a good time. All of the beautiful creature-creations are here on full-display which, thankfully, are more practical-effects, than just cheap and lazy CGI, even though there is some used here to even the odds out. That’s why every shot in this movie, no matter what the hell may be going on with the story, there’s always something cool or inventive to see, and it shows you that del Toro never got bored while filming. So, therefore, you never really get bored of this movie either.

There’s plenty of action, ass-kicking, witty quips, guns being shot off, and explosions, but there’s also an under-lying beauty to it all that just works because it’s del Toro, and you can tell that he not only cares for these characters and the way they look, but the actual movie as well. Wish I could say the same about the story, which goes off the deep-end, fairly quickly, but I don’t know if that aspect of the movie was where del Toro’s aspirations lied the most. Obviously he needed a story to back all of his crazy, cartoon shit up, but whether or not it’s worth paying attention to doesn’t seem to matter. All that does seem to matter is that you love the eye-candy he throws in front of your eyes, and have a good time while doing so. Sometimes that’s easier said then done, but not in this case.

Like I said, and like you’ve probably seen these past couple of days: Del Toro is that director who can do anything he wants, and it will most likely be an inspired-decision on his part. Very, very talented man, I must say so myself.

Along with del Toro’s artistry, another aspect of this sequel that carries over well from the first one is Ron Perlman as Hellboy, who honestly seems to be on his game here. In the first movie, he was still great and showed that he was having a hell of a time with a role he rarely ever saw back in those days, but time was kind to Perlman between ’04-’08, and it shows because he’s now got more of a naturalistic look and feel to this character, that makes it seem like he’s not even acting at times. The witty one-liners come off as if Perlman himself was just ad-libbing his ass off, and knowing how Perlman acts; I wouldn’t be all that surprised.

The subplot that Hellboy and Liz have between each other is awkward at times and takes away from the some of the originality in the look of del Toro’s movie, but Blair and Perlman work well together enough that you could believe these two as actually being together, and going through the same problems, had they been around in real-life. But only with the make-up. Without it, something tells me that they wouldn’t last longer than a simple bang and a handy, just as long as Ron wore a paper-bag. Hate to speak like that, but hey, it’s the truth, Ruth.

Hollywood's tax dollars at work.

Hollywood’s tax dollars at work.

And just like with Perlman, Blair is still very good as Liz because she’s less doped-up now and more of a gal with problems. It’s a clichéd role, but it’s one that she handles well because she’s so used to being subtle in the various indies she does. Doug Jones fully takes over the role of Abe Sapien (rather than just acting as him while David Hyde Pierce voiced) and does a perfect job because he has that slender look to him that works so well with Abe, as well as that sly wit that may even catch you off-guard at spots. As usual, Jeffrey Tambor is here as Tom Manning, the government employee who’s constantly covering for these “freaks” and over-does it a bit, but something tells me that’s what the script wanted just so it could be more humorous, and light than most of the superhero flicks that were coming out around that time.

Hell, that’s why we need another one of these movies because I can’t handle the freakin’, self-loathing superhero anymore. I just can’t! Bring back Hellboy!!! Please?

Consensus: Even though the first was a bit better because of the element of surprise and tighter-plot, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is still a whole bunch of fun because of del Toro’s style that, no matter what’s happening on-screen, always finds a way to throw in his eye for beauty and color in there somewhere, and his knack for allowing for a film to be fun, goofy, silly, and a bit heartfelt as well. Just like he did with the first one.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!


Okay, maybe del Toro’s creations aren’t always so original when you’re practically just making a knock-off of Boy George.