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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: John C. Reilly

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

If it’s not on Google Maps, chances are, you should stay away from it.

It’s 1973, the Vietnam War is close to an end, and Bill Randa (John Goodman) a senior official in a super secret government organization known as Monarch, finally sees his opportunity to capitalize on achieving one of his biggest missions yet: Going to the mysterious Skull Island and figuring out what sort of threat is out there. After much arm-twisting, the government finally gives Randa the tools and resources he needs to get there, which means that he gets the army, the weapons, as well as the experts to help guide him along on this possibly dangerous island. One person Randa seeks out and pays to help him is world-renowned traveler James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who doesn’t know what’s there on Skull Island, either, but doesn’t like the sounds of it, which is why he demands for his pay to be doubled. Meanwhile, on the mission, is anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who can’t wait to see what’s out there, and Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a member of the Army who isn’t too happy about what happened with the war and isn’t ready to let that go. Not even a gigantic, monstrous and incredibly violent ape known as Kong.

Kong best look out.

Kong: Skull Island is so entertaining, so quick, so visually impressive, and so fun that, even with all of its flaws, I’m willing and absolutely able to just let bygones be bygones and praise the film as it is. Because even though the script is silly, underwritten, and not at all up to the task of aiding and abetting this talented ensemble, the direction from Jordan Vogt-Roberts is so thrilling, it’s hard to care so much. After all, do you really go to a King Kong movie for the well-written, three-dimensional, and emotionally complex characters? Or, do you go to a King Kong movie for the vividly gigantic monsters beating the absolute hell out of one another and terrorizing any human that tries to stand in their ways?

Honestly, it’s not bad to have a little bit of both, but fine, Kong: Skull Island wants to stick with the later, so whatever.

Either way, Kong: Skull Island is still a very fun movie and a lot of that is credited to Vogt-Roberts because he takes what could have been a very soulless, almost boring job of rebooting the tale of Kong and instead, adds some life, flair (literally), and energy into it. One of the most notable and interesting aspects Vogt-Roberts adds here is that Kong: Skull Island is, on one hand, a monster movie, in which people run away and try to kill a monster, but on the other hand, it’s also a Vietnam War movie, in which some cold cut rock classics from the early-70’s blasts out from the speakers, everyone’s a little scared and paranoid, and yeah, the temperature is hot, sweaty and downright miserable. In a way, Vogt-Roberts wants to make the Apocalypse Now of monster movies and while he doesn’t quite reach those heights, he still shows us all something new and original can be done with the monster movie.

And because of this, there’s an energy to Skull Island that’s hard to resist and shove-off. Even though it’s absolutely clear from the get-go that the script is going to be shoddy, silly and downright stupid, there’s just something about the look and feel of this all that’s easy to ride along with and enjoy. Even those who want to see Kong in all of his finest form, will be pleased to know that he’s seen a whole bunch throughout and doing all the sorts of things that you’d expect him to do in a movie involving him; there’s smashing, crunching, chewing, roaring, pounding, beating, breaking, punching, kicking, throwing, eating, and oh yeah, crying. Kind of.

But not from these fools.

Regardless, those who complained about 2014 Godzilla not having enough of said title character, then sit down, shut up and feast your eyes on the creature that you’ve all been so desperately wanting to see.

That said though, like I’ve said before, the script is just, uhm, how should I say this? Lame. But it’s not terrible in that it’s hard to listen to, ruins the movie, and sucks all of the fun out of it; it’s more that it feels like a leftover script from the 90’s, right around the time Jurassic Park came out and all of a sudden, everyone wanted to make a big-budget, effects-heavy monster movie. Meaning, there’s a lot of cheesy one-liners; a lot of characters who have basically one personality-trait to them and it basically defines them; a lot of contrivances; a lot of scenes that need more explaining; and oh yeah, a lot of random bits of silliness that seem to literally come from out of nowhere.

And it’s weird, too, because the cast here is so well-done and impressive, that it’s a bit of a shame. No one’s bad here, honestly, but because the net has been cast so far and wide, no one true performance really gets to shine above the rest. The only ones I can truly think of doing this are probably John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson, but that’s just because they get maybe two or three more sentences than the rest of the cast to explain themselves and allow us to get to know them a tad bit better. Others like Hiddleston, Larson, Goodman, Whigham, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, and an oddly miscast Thomas Mann, all fall by the waist side and it’s a sign that the movie may have cast a smaller net, or have been longer.

Still though, for a movie that clocks in just under two hours, it makes for a good time. Just don’t try and think too hard, like me.

Basically, don’t be me.

Consensus: Even with an awfully wacky script, Kong: Skull Island gets by solely on the pure energy and fun from its direction, as well as an interesting take on the monster movie genre itself.

7 / 10

Oh wait. Never mind. He can’t be stopped.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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Dolores Claiborne (1995)

Damn. Life kinda sucks.

In a small New England town, where everyone knows each other, their family history, and business, Dolores Claiborne (Kathy Bates) works as a housekeeper for the rich but sometimes heartless Vera Donovan (Judy Parfitt). Vera’s a crabby woman who says and does what she wants, which is something that Dolores puts up on a day-to-day basis and has been for at least two decades now. However, when Vera turns up dead, the cops all look right towards Dolores and want to know just what her motive was. Meanwhile, her estranged daughter, Selena (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a well-respected New York City journalist, decides to visit her old town and mother and investigate the matter for herself. As Selena continues to dig deeper and deeper into this case, as well as into her own mother’s past, she realizes that there’s a lot more involved with her family-history than she, or the cops, know. Something that may explain why she is the way she is all of these many years later.

It seems like a lot of people have problems with movies if they’re “too depressing”. Sometimes, it seems like a movie has to be right amount of dark, stark and serious, but also the right amount of light, heart and humor, to make it seem more like a balancing-act. While in some cases, sure, this may be true, but for a movie like Dolores Claiborne, there doesn’t need to be much light, heart, humor, or even fun – all it needs to be is a dark, stark, serious and yes, damn depressing flick.

"Don't look at me with those wild eyes, Daffy!"

“Don’t look at me with those wild eyes, Daffy!”

And in that way, sure, it works.

Director Taylor Hackford seems to get enough right then wrong here, considering that he’s adapting some very rough and disturbing material from Stephen King. While it’s hard to dive into this movie without saying many of the spoilers that do eventually come to light, just know this: You probably won’t be expecting it and that’s because Hackford seems to do a good job of hiding the mystery from us. Sure, the movie may tell us some stuff too early on to really have us gripped, but there’s still an aura of mystery surrounding the movie, even in the more simpler moments.

That said, there’s something odd about Dolores Claiborne, and it seems to come through the actual material itself. In a way, the story is an absolute horror-story, except, without ghosts, goblins, or ghouls, there’s real life, dirty, despicable and disgusting human beings. In a way, the later is far more scarier than the former, which is why a story like this can be and is, chilling. But Dolores Claiborne is odd in that it doesn’t know whether or not it wants to be an all-out horror flick, a dark Southern Gothic, an over-the-top thriller, or a small, subtle drama about families and the secrets we all keep.

All by themselves, they make for some very interesting movies. However, together, they just don’t quite mesh.

Hackford’s good with the mystery here, but he isn’t the most subtle director in all the world, which can sometimes lead to his far more darker and messed-up scenes, somewhat coming off as silly. There’s a very loud score that screeches every time something bad or dramatic happens, and it almost seems like a parody after awhile; it gets worse by the end of the flick when character revelations are coming to us and half of the time, we’re hearing the bombastic score and nothing else. While a story like this probably isn’t asking to be as downplayed as I make it sound, there is something to be said for a movie that doesn’t know when to chill it on the theatrics and just trust the story, and the actors to speak for themselves.

After all, there are a lot of heavy-hitters here and for the most part, they all do fine. But before I jump into one performance in particular, I just want to talk about accents in movies: They’re hard to pull-off. I get this. You get this. They get this. We all get this. However, there’s an issue with your movie when there’s supposed to be one sort of signature accent that each and every character should have and, well, for some reason, they don’t. Everyone’s speaking differently, despite being from the exact same place, everyone seems to be trying hard, and yeah, everyone seems to be forgetting about them halfway through.

It happens in a lot of movies, but it’s never hit me as hard as it did with Dolores Claiborne, the one movie where not a single person has the same accent going for them. Due to every character here basically being from this New England town, there’s a lot of hard “a’s” and “r’s”, and while two people in particular seem to get it down perfectly, others like John C. Reilly, David Strathairn, and especially Jennifer Jason Leigh, not just struggle with it, but never seem to let us forget about that neither; Reilly sometimes sounds British, Strathairn, while chilling, sounds like a cartoon, and Leigh, seems like she doesn’t know whether she wants to fully commit to the accent, or not. Instead, it all just sounds like everyone’s getting started with the accents and aren’t quite ready to film them just yet, but Hackford himself didn’t care and just started filming anyway.

Symbolism?

Symbolism?

Regardless, they just don’t work.

End. Of. Story.

Okay, maybe not the actual end because if there is one person who not just gets the accent right, but just about everything else, it’s Kathy Bates. It’s probably no surprise at all that Bates can do great work with a role as a hard-ass, rough-nosed woman who doesn’t take any crap from anyone around her, but there’s more to her than just a tough shell – we soon start to realize that under the hard-exterior, lies a sad, tortured and vulnerable who just wants to be loved, or better yet, even held. It’s the kind of role that, in a much better movie, would garner a lot of Oscar-buzz, but unfortunately, because the rest of the movie is so wild and crazy, it unfortunately takes away from Bates’ powerhouse-of-a-role more.

Oh well. Kathy’s still bad-ass no matter which way you put it.

Consensus: With a dark, brooding atmosphere and great performance from Bates, Dolores Claiborne works, but is also hampered by the rest of the ensemble, as well as Hackford’s tendencies to go a little overboard when it isn’t necessary to do so.

6.5 / 10

Nice green-screen. What? Was New England nowhere to be found?

Nice green-screen. What? Was New England nowhere to be found?

Photos Courtesy of: Cinesnatch

Sing (2016)

Furries love them some Katy Perry.

Ever since he was just a little koala, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) has always wanted to provide arts and entertainment to the world around him. However, because of his size, he was never quite given the opportunity to work on the stage, in front of the crowd – instead, he was always given the position to work behind the scenes for his dad’s theater company. Many years later and with his father long passed away, Buster’s theater isn’t just losing money, but it’s damn near broke. So, in order to not just raise money for the theater, but awareness too, Buster decides to hold a local talent signing competition, where the best and loudest will all come together and battle each other, song after song, for a grand prize of Buster’s choosing. Eventually, the competition gets down to five beings: Mike (Seth MacFarlane) a wise-cracking mouse, Meena (Tori Kelly), a timid elephant who has a way better voice than she’s letting on, Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a pig who, for practically all of her life has had to stay-at-home and raise her 25 piglets and is just now getting the opportunity to do something she wants to do for a change, Johnny (Taron Egerton), a gorilla who’s family wants him to drop this whole singing thing and join them in the life of crime, and Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a punk-rock porcupine who’s current break-up with her boyfriend leads her to thinking about her independence a whole lot.

Uh oh. Miss Piggy gonna sue somebody!

Uh oh. Miss Piggy gonna sue somebody!

Sing is so ridiculously and utterly adorable that it takes a lot to bash it. And sure, while I won’t do that, I won’t also say that it’s a great movie – it’s the kind of animated flick that gets by solely on its pure cuteness, appeals strongly to the kiddies, and yes, uses a lot of pop-tunes that will get everyone going home and checking out Spotify instantly. In a way, it’s like every other animated flick ever made, but it’s also just really cute.

Sometimes, isn’t that all you need to be?

For Sing, it seems like that’s the case. Writer/director Garth Jennings seems to know just how to get to a kid’s heart, by infusing loud, catchy songs with lovely, cute-looking, walking, talking and singing animals. Sure, can this sort of stuff appeal to older folks out there? Most definitely, but for the kids, who Jennings really seems to be aiming for, it works even more so; they’ll get up during the movie, sing, dance and laugh at just about every bit of comedy, whether physical or not.

And is there anything wrong with that? Honestly, no. That’s why for what it’s worth, Sing does get the job done. It will most definitely make every kid happy, pleased, but at the same time, it also won’t keep the parents away from feeling as if they’ve been cheated out of their time, and/or money.

At the same time, though, should there have been more of an effort on Jennings part to try and make Sing more than just your standard, yet fun, kiddie-fare?

Sort of, yes, and sort of, no. Yes, because as Pixar has proven already many of times, the best ways to get everyone involved is to also give a little something for the older folks to grab a hold onto as well. There’s no denying that most adults will be happy and pleased with the youngsters being happy, or regardless of that, all of the music and colorful characters, but there’s still a certain idea that for the near two-hours the movie spends, the end result is just fine.

And no, because well, Jennings is probably doing exactly what he set-out to do in the first place with Sing and it’s not his problem that his flick doesn’t meet every person’s standards.

Like, mine.

Seth MacFarlane as a caricature? You don't say?

Seth MacFarlane as a caricature? You don’t say?

Anyway, Sing for awhile is fun and enjoyable, yet at the same time, not exactly groundbreaking or life-changing, like many other animated flicks I’ve seen in quite some time have been. That said, the final 30 minutes, you know, when the actual competition gets underway, are pretty exciting and show a certain amount of energy and zaniness that’s probably best shown in Jennings’ last two flicks, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and incredibly underrated Son of Ranbow. All of the pieces of the lovely, little puzzle eventually come together and you get the sense that Jennings is happy to see it all come out the way it is, even if he may have taken a little too long to get there.

It does help, however, that the voice-cast is also quite great and more than capable of keeping our attentions. But while everyone’s great, the real stand-out, of course, is Tori Kelly as Meena, the self-conscious elephant who can belt it out like nobody’s business. It definitely helps that, out of all the actors who do their own singing here, Kelly is perhaps the most professional-sounding, but that her character gets the message across in a strong manner.

What Sing says about kids, having a talent, and life in general, is that it doesn’t matter what you may or may not think is holding you back from doing what you want to do – as long as you’re doing it, then who cares? Life will continue to go on and get probably better for you, all because you’re doing what you want to do. A message like this is a nice reminder that even if animation doesn’t always knock it out of the park like Pixar, it can still bring heartfelt, warm and rather important messages to the youngsters watching in the lobby.

Alongside all of the singing and dancing they’ll be doing.

Consensus: Admittedly, while Sing is for the kids, there’s still some warm, colorful and good fun to be had, along with all of the crazy catchy pop-tunes that the movie never seems to run out of.

6.5 / 10

Don't be shocked. Sing.

Don’t be shocked. Sing.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Lobster (2016)

Crustacean, or everlasting love? Trust me, not as easy as you’d think.

After being dumped by his wife, David (Colin Farrell) has to find a mate in 45 days, or else he’ll be turned into an animal of his choosing. And to help him find the best possible mate, he gets taken to a fancy resort of sorts where he meets and hangs around with fellow other single people, all looking for that special someone before they too, turn into animals and roam their Earth as they so please. While there’s a few people David sets his sights on, eventually, he turns to the neurotic, but awfully fun woman (Rachel Weisz) who doesn’t really have a name, and no other discernible features, other than that she’s near-sighted, just as he is. The two eventually fall for one another and start to sense something real and passionate between one another, but there’s a bit of a problem. See, because they exist in this world where they have to prove their love to the rest of the world, they constantly have to battle with the conglomerates around them, that can either range from evil, controlling hotel managers, to evil, controlling rebellion leaders.

Take your pick, ladies.

Take your pick, ladies.

Though I saw it nearly three weeks ago, I can’t seem to get the Lobster out of my head. It’s the same feeling I had with co-writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos’ last movie (Dogtooth), but for different reasons. With that movie, I couldn’t get out of my head the fact that I was so disturbed and surprised by it, that even a thought of its twists and turns, just absolutely shook me to my core. The more and more that I begin to think about that movie, the more I’m quite confused about whether I liked it (which I think I did), or I loved it for its brash boldness (which I think it was).

With the Lobster, I have the same thoughts running through my head, where I don’t know if I love the movie (which I come very close to doing), or if I just think it’s a tad better and more focused than Dogtooth (I don’t know).

If anything though, it should be noted that the Lobster is unlike any other movie you’ll see this year, for better, as well as possibly for worse, depending on who you are. The Lobster is a very odd hybrid of a movie that’s a combination of sci-fi, comedy, drama, romance, action, and murder, all of which come into play throughout the movie in some very effective doses and it’s hard not to get interested by each and every step that Lanthimos takes with it. On the surface, the Lobster likes to poke jokes at this world, the people in it and how it would never, ever happen, but at the same time, Lanthimos himself takes it quite seriously to where we actually get a feeling for the world we’re thrown into and constantly learn more and more things about it as it goes along.

There’s an small bit of detail concerning why there are so many animals walking around in shots in the movie and once it’s revealed to us why this is the case (in an incredibly subtle way, mind you), it not only takes on a whole new life as something tragic, but downright tearful. Lanthimos makes to show his characters for being the absolute worst that they can be when it comes to obtaining love and/or using it as a way to live another day as a human, but at his very core, he’s still a human being that also wants to appreciate these people for what they are, and the fact that they all have hearts, feelings and emotions, just like you or I. Even the whole angle of how everyone seems to fall in love with one another through superficial ways is, yes, played-up for laughs, but sooner than later, starts to get far more serious and telling, as people actually start to react to love in different, sometimes horrifying ways.

Of course, Lanthimos plays mostly all of this dark material up for laughs and you know what? I laughed.

I hated myself for it, but there’s something just so darkly sinister about all of this material, that it’s almost a joke how far and willing Lanthimos is to let this material get as pitch black as it can be, while still maintaining some sort of humor in the process. Sure, everything and everyone here is so screwed-up and disturbing, but hey, sometimes that can be a little fun; Lanthimos, like I said before, takes this material seriously, but also enjoys trying to poke holes in it, as if he was so in love with his creation, that he also wanted to destroy it so he didn’t seem like too much of a pretentious crap.

Basically how anyone eats on a first date.

Basically how anyone eats on a first date.

And I got to give it to Lanthimos for assembling a solid cast here, all of whom probably read this script and had no idea what the hell to expect, but we’re still so interested that they probably thought, “Hey, it’s an experience, right?” Colin Farrell is hilarious to look at as David, the chubby, pathetic protagonist we come to know, love and sympathize with, even when it seems like he enjoys doing terrible things; John C. Reilly shows up as a very sad man with a lisp who has barely any chance of finding his true love, but because he’s John C. Reilly, it’s hard not to hope and wish for the best; Ben Whishaw plays an overly aggressive man with a limp who will do anything to find true love and I do mean anything; Olivia Colman plays the seemingly fake hotel manager who orders so many people to fall in love, that you wonder if she actually is herself; Léa Seydoux plays a leader of the rebellious group who stays in the woods called “the Loners” and is as steely and as mysterious as they come; and yes, there’s Rachel Weisz, stealing the show as Short Sighted Woman (and no, I’m not making that up).

Weisz is great in just about anything, but here, she really delivers. For one, she’s playing a character that we’re never too sure about, but makes it appear as if she does have some semblance of humanity, that once her and David do start to connect and come together, in awfully hilarious ways, it is, believe it or not, quite romantic. The two do have chemistry and even though they’re placed in some obviously awkward situations, they both make it work and have us believe that true love in this world does exist, even if it all seems to make everyone go mad and do terribly evil things to one another.

But hey, maybe that’s how Lanthimos pictures love as: It makes people go insane and act out in ways that they’d never have done so before.

Still though, despite all of my clear love and adoration for this flick, there’s a part of me that wants to be angry at Lanthimos for not allowing for the Lobster to go any further than it could have.

In the last-act, the movie becomes very plot-heavy and starts to feel as if it’s really building up to something big, but then, well, sort of ends. Lanthimos does this quite a couple of times throughout, where it feels like he’s going somewhere with a certain idea, or plot-thread, but then, all of a sudden, backs away from it; I don’t know if he’s doing that on purpose to toy with us, or if he just gets bored easily, but its noticeable and can get a tad annoying. However, the way the movie end, while interesting, definitely leaves a lot up in the air and really, I don’t know if it needed to be. The movie was never really about a mystery – it was more about whether or not true love could exist in this world where it seems all so calculated and made-up from the very beginning.

Whether or not Lanthimos knew or thought that, is totally up in the air.

Consensus: For what it’s worth, the Lobster is unlike anything you’ll see all year, with a heartbreaking and hilarious script that doesn’t always deliver like it should, but in the off-chance that it does, it’s extremely effective.

8.5 / 10

It's like True Dective season 2, except holy cow, so much better.

It’s like True Detective season 2, except holy cow, so much better.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Thin Red Line (1998)

The war is a jungle. In this case, literally.

It’s slap dab in the middle of WWII, or 1942 to be exact, and needless to say, a lot of lives are being lost. Bus most importantly, a lot of soldier’s lives are being lost, which is why a huge platoon is ordered to take the island of Guadalcanal. While this is no walk in the park, it’s made all the more difficult by the fact that the soldiers are literally forced to walk up the mountain, where they’ll most likely be meant by the opposing side, as well as a hail-fire of bullets. Among the many soldiers involved with this battle is Private Witt (Jim Caviezel), a U.S. Army absconder who has gone “native”, as they say, living peacefully with the locals of a small South Pacific island. While Witt is clearly enjoying his time in the sun, it’s all cut short when he’s discovered by his commanding officer, Sgt. Welsh (Sean Penn), and forced back on the battlefield. However, there’s more at-play during this battle than just Witt, or Welsh. There’s Lt. Col. Tall (Nick Nolte), who is having a real hard time making up his mind what the best cause or plan for warfare is, even in the heat of the moment; there’s Capt. Staros (Elias Koteas), a fellow soldier in a position of power, who also seems to be having an issue of what to do with it; and there’s Pvt. Bell (Ben Chaplin), a soldier who’s reeling from a recent heartbreak in his life.

Jesus?

Jesus?

By now, most people know that Terrence Malick is the kind of director you can expect to give you the most ambitious, sprawling, and at times, confusing pieces of epic cinema this side of Kubrick or Kurosawa, but it wasn’t always like that. With his first two feature films (Badlands, Days of Heaven), Malick not only showed his keen eye for an attention to beautiful detail, but also for small, character-driven stories that barely even screech past 100 minutes and instead, keep things tiny, tight and mostly focused. But after spending 20 years away from making movies and doing whatever the heck it is that he was up to, it was clear that something within Malick changed.

And honestly, we’re all the better for it, because, yes, the Thin Red Line is not only Malick’s best film, but perhaps one of the best war films of all time.

Having seen the film at least three times now, I can easily say that it’s up there with the likes of Saving Private Ryan, or Apocalypse Now, when it comes to curating the list of “the greatest war movies ever made”, however, it’s a very different one. In a way, Saving Private Ryan is a far more conventional, Hollywood-ized war movie (although it’s still great), whereas Apocalypse Now is a far more disturbing, terrifying and twisted one (and yes, it’s still great). But what separates the Thin Red Line from these other two flicks is that it’s far more meditative, but at the same time, in its own way, brutal as all hell.

By putting us right along with the numerous soldiers on men on the battlefield, Malick doesn’t let us forget that, for one second, these soldiers aren’t in the nearest thing to hell. They don’t have the slightest clue who is shooting at them, from which direction, where they’re supposed to go, what they’re supposed to do, or even what they’re next line of action is once they actually do get up to the top of the mountain – all that they do know what to do is to shoot, kill and try their absolute hardest to survive. This idea of frustrating, but horrifying confusion that these soldiers must have been going through is effective, especially since Malick keeps his eyes and attention set solely on the American soldiers, what they see, what they feel, and what they’re thinking about at that given time.

Oh, and not to mention, that these soldiers are literally engaged in action for a whole hour-and-a-half, which, when you take into consideration the three-hour run-time, evens out to being pretty action-packed.

However, the movie, nor is Malick all about that idea. No matter what happens in the movie, no matter who gets killed, or for what reasons, Malick never forgets to portray this war as an absolute slaughterhouse of not just lives, but psyches as well. Killing as many people as some of these soldiers do, can do quite a number on you; while that of course can start to happen when the fighting is over, it’s still something that can happen while on the battlefield as well. That’s why it’s not only shocking, but downright upsetting to see some soldiers here lose their minds, not have a single clue of where they’re at, or what they’re actually doing. There’s quite a few soldiers here and there that show up to prove this fact, but regardless, Malick drives home the idea that war is hell.

But even despite all of the violence and sheer ugliness of what’s being portrayed, Malick still finds ways to create some of the most beautiful, eye-catching images ever seen on the big screen. A part of me wishes that I was old enough at the time to see this when it was first in theaters; not just because it would have been great to join that short list of people who actually saw it in theaters when it was originally out, but because John Toll’s cinematography is so amazing, that it absolutely deserved to be seen on the biggest screen imaginable. Even though people are getting killed left and right, bullets are flying, and there’s no exact idea of who is where, Malick and Toll always find the time to capture the loveliness of the scenery this battle is taking place in.

The grass is always greener, well, whenever you don't see grass anymore.

The grass is always greener, well, whenever you don’t see grass anymore.

Of course, with Malick and Emmanuel Lubezki’s relationship becoming something of fact over the past years, the visuals have only gotten better, but it’s hard to deny that the Thin Red Line is easily his best-looking film to date.

But what makes the Thin Red Line perhaps Malick’s best movie, is the fact that it introduced everybody to the fact that he surely did not care at all about star-power, when it came to making his movies. Sure, he clearly doesn’t mind having the likes of Woody Harrelson, John Cusack, George Clooney, or John C. Reilly want to be apart of his movies, but at the same time, he still doesn’t feel like he’s at all inclined to feature them heavily, just because of their name recognition, or whatever other silly ideas Hollywood has about commercial appeal. Though, of course there’s a lot of infamy surrounding Malick’s casting-process and just exactly who he does leave in his movies (Adrien Brody is barely here, despite being lead on to believe he was the main star, and other stars like Mickey Rourke, Bill Pullman, and Martin Sheen were cut-out of the final product).

Honestly, it takes a lot of guts to cut-out someone like George Clooney, and feature a relative unknown at the time, Jim Caviezel, but guts is exactly what Malick has always had in his career and it’s great to see someone in his position to not give a flyin’ hoot about who is a bigger star than somebody else. Of course, it also helps that those that Malick focuses his final-edit on the most, all give great performances, given that a lot of the times they’re thrown in the mix because Malick forgot about them, or just felt like their time was necessary.

Caviezel is a suitable protagonist, who not only shows the inspirational faith within someone like Witt, but the sheer horror when he realizes the evilness to war; Elias Koteas’ character has many scenes where you don’t know what he’s thinking about doing next, but it’s hard to look away; Ben Chaplin’s character is easy to feel sympathetic for, even if he can be a bit hard to differentiate from Caviezel’s Witt; Nick Nolte, well, let’s just say that he’s the stand-out among the cast, showing just how a person in his position of power, can use to his advantage, for better, as well as for worse. Even then, however, when he’s faced with the reality of the harsh realities of war, he still believes that it’s something necessary to life, and even something to be celebrated. And even though he’s quickly told this is not the truth about life, he still smiles his way onto the next war.

And that’s just the way war works. You get past one, and guess what? Sooner or later, you’re onto the next.

Consensus: Beautiful, endearing, thoughtful, well-acted, and above all else, sad, the Thin Red Line is less of a tribute soldiers, and more of a key look inside the sorts of hell they have to go through, and the sort of effect it has on them, while not being nearly as preachy as I make it sound.

9.5 / 10

Let's play a game! Guess which one out of three has a significantly less amount of time in the movie......

Let’s play a game! Guess which one out of three has a significantly less amount of time in the movie……

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Life After Beth (2014)

Every guy likes a little biting here and there.

After the death of his beloved girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza), Zach (Dane DeHaan) is left something of a mess. But it’s fine because he can at least sit around and confide in Beth’s parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon), which he does to the point of where he’s on a first-name basis with them and even tokes up a bit. This makes Zach more than happy, however, something strange happens the next day: Beth’s parents don’t answer any of his calls or door-knocks. They’re ignoring him to the point of where it’s like the past 24 hours had never existed. But that strangeness doesn’t even begin to measure up to the next bit of shock that hits Zach: Beth’s alive. And though it’s weird that she’s alive, this means that Zach can finally spend all of the time in the world with Beth, as if she had never gone away before in the first place. Forget the fact that she’s super-excited about everything, or that her breath smells like garbage, or even that she gets a little too rough when her and Zach are getting intimate, Beth is back, baby! Better than ever, though, she is not and Zach is about to find out possibly what’s going on. Not just with Beth though, but many other countless deceased person’s who all somehow come back to life at approximately the same time.

Holding hands in a pool. Gosh, it must be love.

Holding hands in a pool. Gosh, it must be love.

So, without getting smacked in the comments section, I’ll just say this: If you don’t know where I’m heading with this premise, you might be a little dense. I’m not calling you dumb or totally idiotic to the point of no return, but come on, it’s quite obvious where this story’s headed. And sadly, that’s probably the biggest problem with Life After Beth – while it’s obvious what the main twist/”reasoning” behind Beth’s re-arrival into the story actually is, the movie hardly does anything entertaining or funny with it.

Actually, that’s a bit of a fib because for all that he tries here, writer/director Jeff Baena does add a few neat tricks to the formula of what this story turns out to be, what with the inclusion of jazz music and attic-sex and all. However, it’s simply not enough to fully keep the movie hilarious, or even slightly interesting. Which, for a movie that runs right underneath the 90-minute time-limit, can be a bit of a problem; though it shouldn’t at all feel like a long slog, the fact that its story doesn’t really go anywhere you don’t already expect it to, or at least do so in a refreshing, fun kind of way, the movie feels at least an hour longer. If that.

Though this is mostly because Baena’s fault as a writer and director who doesn’t seem to really know how to make a one-joke premise constantly thrive with energy, the cast still tries with all that they can. Aubrey Plaza has been a joy to watch in practically everything she’s appeared in since people actually realized her talents in Funny People and how she plays the exciting, constantly moving-around Beth is no different. Her dead-pan style may not be used quite as often, but there’s still a joyful feeling to watching Plaza just let loose with material that shouldn’t suit her, but certainly does when you see her actually act it out. It’s no wonder why her and Baena are dating in real-life.

That bastard.

Anyway, I digress, because the rest of the cast is actually fine, too. Dane DeHaan may be running all over the place, Shia LaBeouf-ing his rear-end off, but it still works for him because the guy’s quite charming, even when all he’s really doing is just whining and moping around that things in life are a little weird for the time being. Molly Shannon and John C. Reilly are wonderfully odd as Beth’s parents who seem like alright people, but are a little strange in their own ways and how the movie plays into that is one of the smarter decisions Baena’s able to go through with. Especially with Reilly who, like with most of his roles, shows that he can be a cool, chilled-out fella, but is also a dad, and a responsible one at that. Though there’s not much more depth to his character than that, it’s still a worthy-try on Reilly’s part and it made me wish that there’d been more focus on him, rather than what the hell begins to happen with this plot.

Okay, mom and dad! You're cool, so stop!

Okay, mom and dad! You’re cool, so stop!

Because had there actually been more detail given to all of the characters here, not just Reilly’s, then there’d be a way better movie. The jokes would hit harder; the characters would feel more “sympathetic”, than “cartoonish” as they often do; and what ends up happening to the plot would actually be compelling and have some sort of emotion. Beth and Zach seem like the sort of cute, happily-in-love high school couple that we often see in movies such as these, but their relationship doesn’t get any deeper or more-involved than that; they’re in love because Zach is sad that she’s initially dead and that’s it. We never see it, understand it, or better yet, just don’t even seem to care.

But there is a part of me that wonders whether or not this would work a whole lot better as a short. Sure, all of the nitty gritty details of what happens in the later-half of this movie would definitely have to be taken out, but as a short, Life After Beth probably works best. All Baena would have to do is give us some amount of character-development, throw in the conflict, then the twist, and eventually, the final resolution that they have here in this film. Because everything else, as sometimes entertaining as it can sometimes be, doesn’t really add up to much other than being a cool idea, or one that’s fit for a better movie.

However, this is just a suggestion from a stay-at-home blogger. Take with that what you will, Jeff Baena.

Consensus: Occasionally entertaining in spots, Life After Beth seems like it wants to do something different with the subgenre it tackles, but eventually, just gives way to filler that doesn’t go anywhere, or do anything for its audience. Except, well, bore them.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Okay. Do you finally get what I was alluding to before?!?

Okay. Do you finally get what I was alluding to before?!?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Yeah, those “other” Marvel heroes are just a bunch of pricks anyway.

After he sees his own, cancer-riddled mother die in front of his own very eyes, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is mysteriously captured by a spaceship. 26 years later, an older Quill, now sporting the name “Star-Lord” and dancing around to vintage pop-tunes on his Walkman, discovers a strange crystal ball that is apparently very dangerous and serious, considering it triggers off a group of evil people to come after him. So much so, that when he eventually gets into town and sell the thing for whatever money he can get, he ends up getting in a brawl with a woman by the name of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), as well as a giant tree named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and a talking raccoon they call Rocket (Bradley Cooper). The stunt eventually lands the foursome in prison, where they meet all sorts of trouble and unlikely pals, especially in the form of Drax (Dave Bautista); but what they end up finding out is that the artifact they were all fighting over, is being sought out after by a very powerful, very evil Kree radical named Ronan (Lee Pace) and his noble band of trustees. Together, the five decide to put away their differences for the time being and do all that they can to save the galaxy, one David Bowie track at a time.

Going into this flick, I wasn’t expecting much. Honestly, that moreso has to do with the fact that every Marvel movie since the Avengers, has either been ranging from “mediocre”, to “hey, it’s fine and it’s fun, so what’s the harm, yo?”, and also the fact that it seems like, especially after this whole Ant-Man debacle, that Marvel is becoming more of a lackey-boy for the ultra, super, duper, powerful kingpins that are Disney and their ways of making people do what they want, when they want, and how they want.

“Don’t offend the kiddies!”, Disney may say. Or, something that seems to be more common, “Please do make sure that it ties-in with the AGENTS of S.H.I.E.L.D.! And by ‘please’, we really mean, ‘do it, or else we’re going to fire your ass and find somebody else who is willing to take orders and be happy with it!'”. And though some of this may seem overly-dramatized by yours truly, there’s something in me that feels like Marvel is just starting to become more and more like what others want them to be, rather than what they want to be, which, at first with Iron Man, seemed to be: A kick-ass, fun-as-hell, hilarious and exciting superhero movie that you could take the whole family too; as well as grand-mom and grand-pop if you got stuck with them over the holidays.

That's the thingy they need to find. That's all you need to know.

That’s the thingy they need to find. That’s all you need to know.

But that’s where James Gunn comes in and absolutely gives a big, old, flying “FUCKA YOU!” to Disney and Friends, and shows them that if it’s his movie, it’s going to be his rules and his ways of having fun. Which, for the most part, means we get a whole bunch of strange, slightly off-kilter gags and pop-culture references including Kevin Bacon; metaphors that aren’t metaphors; Jackson Pollack; the art of dancing; and, best of all, calling a raccoon, everything else that isn’t a raccoon. If that sounds very strange to you, then yes, you are at least somewhat sane. And if that sounds especially strange to you being that it’s all packed into a Marvel movie, then yes, you are even more sane and, would you like a cookie?

What I’m trying to get across here is that Gunn’s humor is a weird one and although some of it’s a bit tamer now so that the PG-13 can sit and stay with the movie, it’s still hilarious and nearly perfect for this world that he’s created. That this other “realm” (for lack of a better word without saying “galaxy”), is a wide, never ending and seemingly bizarre matter of space that seems to have a bucket of surprises waiting at every corner, shows Gunn is able to not only build on his characters and the action-sequences, but also this world that he’s created. Which, yes, for a Marvel movie, is very strange, yet, totally works.

Most of that has to do with the fact that each and every character we get here is likable, fun, vibrant and exciting in their own measly, little ways, but most of that also has to do with the fact that Gunn is the kind of writer and director that has a sense of humor that can work for practically anyone. Okay, maybe if you check out his first two movies (Slither and Super, which I definitely recommend), don’t necessarily back me up on that statement, but taking away all of those and just leaving this here movie as his one and only true example, then I’d have to say it’s a pretty impressive one.

Gunn’s funny, he knows he’s funny and he’s going to let us know about it every step of the way. However, whereas most of the other Marvel movies wink their eyebrows so much so that it seems like they’re going to have to be surgically put back into place by the end of its two-hour run-time, GOTG (short for the title, if you’re nitwit) is a different beast: It’s a funny movie, yet, doesn’t try to make you laugh in a charming way. It’s just weird and since it soaks up the sun and basks in its own weirdness, it’s hilarious to watch and listen to, as well as have an awfully fun time with.

Because, yeah, guess what??!?! Guardians of the Galaxy is a damn fun movie!

See, because while I’ve been going on and on so aimlessly about this movie’s humor and how effective it actually is, there’s an element to this movie that works, and can probably be shared among the rest of the Marvel crowd: It’s a fine action movie, if you want to look at it like that. There are hand-to-hand fights; spaceships flying throughout the sky and shooting each other; sword-duels; girls beating the crap out of each other; girls beating the crap out of the opposite-sex; raccoons shooting big-ass guns; walking, talking trees causing havoc; and etc. The only thing that’s missing was the only known wrestler in this movie giving somebody a Batista Bomb, but that’s for another movie, I guess.

And since I just mentioned a certain character in this movie, I think it’s best to now use that as a segue into my next part of the review which, unsurprisingly, also happens to be about the best element to making this movie work as well as it does: The characters and the actors that portray them. Because Gunn’s movie/script is a rather odd one, not only does he need a cast that has a comedic-bone anywhere located in their body – he needs a cast is absolutely able and willing to go that extra mile into trusting that his every move, is not only a benefit to them, but a benefit to how this whole movie plays out. “Well obviously, Dan. You no-sense-piece-of-shit”, you might retort back to me, but I have a reasoning for saying this.

Take the idea of a-list stars such as Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel doing voice-work here – not only are they big names that people flock out to the movie theaters to see – but you’d expect them to do more than what they’re given. In the case of Cooper, he voices Rocket as Brooklyn gangster, where it’s sometimes too hard to even recognize he’s doing the voice-work in the first place; as in the case of Diesel, all the dude has to do is say “I Am Groot” over and over again, and, occasionally, yell, scream and holler with that low-pitched bass we know he can do so well. Sounds crazy enough? Well, yeah, but that’s sort of the point. Also not to mention that Cooper and Diesel, with what they have to do, do it so amazingly well that I wonder just how the heck Gunn thought of them two in the first place. And even if he didn’t, then kudos to the casting-department on this decision!

Oh, and that he's the villain, too!

Oh, and that he’s the villain, too!

But an even bigger kudos should be given to them for giving Chris Pratt the star-making role the dude deserves, this time, as one Peter Quill. Or, as some of you may, or may not know him as, “Star-Lord” (and yes, that’s it’s own, whole joke, too). Pratt’s been a lovable presence on the screen for quite some time; rather it be the large one, or the small one, the dude’s shown us time and time again, he has the chops to not only give us a cool-as-hell character, that has a winning-personality. Here, Pratt’s able to utilize the warm, lovely charm he oozes so well on Parks and Rec., but is also able to use some leading-man prowess we have yet to see him do, yet still shows he’s capable of actually having it in the first place.

But he’s not a pansy of a character. He’s a bad-ass dude that knows how to get himself out of situations, even while he doesn’t always think them perfectly through. Same goes for Zoe Saldana as Gamora; not only does she get to be an ass-kicking lady with a mouth on her, she doesn’t let that be her only trait and has a personality that goes almost hand-in-hand with Quills’. And though people were initially rioting over the casting-decision of having Dave Bautista play Drax, needless to say, the dude’s great in it as he shows everybody he can definitely act, be funny and best of all, remind everybody why he was in the profession that he initially chose in the first place.

Altogether though, this movie mostly works because these characters, in their own, little, unique worlds, wouldn’t ever seem like they do fine together. That’s sort of the point, however, Gunn allows them to work off of one another and it’s probably the most fun-part of this whole movie. Sure, you can give me as many mind-numingly loud and outrageous scenes of stuff exploding, while other stuff is exploding elsewhere, and I’ll crack a grin or two. But if you can give me characters that I want to get know better, spend more time with, and just never leave the presence of, then you can count me in, take my money, sleep in my bed, bang my wife, whatever. As long as you can give me that, then I’m all fine and dandy.

And to have that spliced together with the best Marvel movie since the Avengers is, well, exactly all I could ever ask for and ever want.

More Batista Bombs next time, though. Please.

Consensus: Hilarious, exciting, and well-written, Guardians of the Galaxy is a downright good time that features some top-tier performances from a cast you’d be surprised works so incredibly well in the first place, yet, in the world of James Gunn, anything seems possible.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

The best line-up in a "line-up" scene since the Usual Suspects, and it's not even in the actual movie!

The best line-up in a “line-up scene” since the Usual Suspects, and it’s not even in the actual movie!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Aviator (2004)

Good thing those milk bottles didn’t go to waste.

This is the story of aviation pioneer Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio), the type of man that Hollywood adored, yet, had no clue what to do with. Then again though, he didn’t know what to do with himself half of the time, so it evens-out. Anyway, we follow Hughes’ life from when he sets out to make his first movie, Hell’s Angels, to where he spends ungodly amounts of money, and pisses off all sorts of people like his lawyers, his distributors, his agents, his lawyers, and even the major corporations that are trying to do business with him, however, he chooses to say “nay” to. Hughes has a vision that only he thinks he can achieve, not just solely through money or power (although that certainly does help), but through his determined heart and soul, that sometimes falls victim to his many bouts and problems with OCD, of which he gained at an early age through his mommy. But even through all of these problems though, Hughes still had a little bit of time to get down and dirty with the ladies, especially and most famously with none other than Ms. Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) herself.

Present-day Hollywood’s fascination with Howard Hughes seems like it may never end, and it makes sense as to why. Not only was Howard Hughes the type of creative genius that didn’t settle for something else that went against his original, near-perfect vision, but was also able to charm anybody over that he met, get rich, solving any problem that may have come into his way by throwing money at it and at the end of the day, still having enough time in his hectic schedule to go home to some of Hollywood’s spiciest, sexiest starlets of the day. Yep, that Howard Hughes surely was a man among men, and it makes perfect sense why fellow creative geniuses’ like Christopher Nolan, Warren Beatty, and yes, even Martin Scorsese would want to make a movie about him, his life, his struggles, his genius and what he gave the rest of the world.

Apparently Hughes also shacked-up with that chick from No Doubt, before they got big. Or hell, before they were even born.

Apparently Hughes also shacked-up with that chick from No Doubt, before they got big. Or hell, before they were even born.

Of course though, only one of those three was able to actually achieve their dream and get their project on him made. That person was Martin Scorsese, and what a great choice it was (although the other two wouldn’t have been so bad neither).

What Scorsese does expertly here, that he’s practically done with each and every one of his flicks, is that he’s able to take a long-winding, over-blown story, with an even longer run-time, and finds a way to have it go by in a total jiffy. There’s no room for error, or even breathing with Scorsese’s directing, no matter what it is that he’s doing and this movie is no different. He covers every aspect of Hughes’ life with just enough attention, detail and honest reality that we get a full, clear picture of what he’s trying to tell us, without ever being confused, despite the movie usually finding itself moving a mile-a-minute at times. However though, when you do have a movie that nears three-hours, you need to be quick, jumpy and to-the-point, but never so much, to the point of where you lose a viewer as to what the hell is exactly going on, to whom, at what time and why this all matters.

And with a movie about Howard Hughes’ life, that makes a lick of a difference since there seems to be so much that went on with this guy’s day-to-day life, it’s a surprise that Scorsese himself didn’t make it a four-hour-epic, 15-minute intermission included (then again though, I wouldn’t throw that out as if it wasn’t already a “possibility” inside the head of Scorsese’s). For instance, we stumble upon Hughes’ life right away and we get an idea of what he is doing and why: He’s making his Hell’s Angels epic, he’s trying to figure out a way on how to get it looking and sounding perfectly, he’s trying to create some of the biggest, and best airplanes the world has ever seen, and through it all, mostly, he’s trying to find that one sweet, everlasting soul that can fill up the damage and pain that’s been brewing deep down inside of him for a long, long time. In a way then, you could almost say that this is three different movies, taking place with the same subject: A movie about showbiz, a character-study, a romance flick, and an underdog-tale.

But see, the problem is that Scorsese doesn’t really nail all of these aspects that make this whole movie one, cohesive piece of nonfiction. The stuff about showbiz is interesting because it was very cool to see how Hughes, the creative visionary that he was, didn’t let high-heads in major corporations get in the way of achieving what he wanted for his movies, as well as how he just continued to throw his money away on certain smaller things that had to do with production like editing, sound mixing, color and, heck, even making sure that there were clouds in the sky when he was filming the airplane sequences for his movie (which, need I remind you, he did all himself). And even for the romance part of this story, Scorsese still nails most of it, although I’d wager that’s more because of the gals he gets to star as Hughes’ various lovers are usually better than the material given to them, but more on that later.

As for the other two parts of this story (the character-study and underdog-tale), I don’t know if Scorsese really hits, or hits well for that matter. We do sympathize with Hughes when we see him battling with his OCD, his paranoia and how it makes him totally lose his shit in public, in front of the people that matter the most no less. It’s sad to see this happen to this guy, since we know that when he has a clear-head on his shoulders, he’s the smartest, most charming guy in the room, and it does make you sympathize with him a bit. However, late in the movie, once we get an idea of who the baddies are in this story that want to go against Hughes, his vision and tarnish his name in the papers, it d starts to feel like we get more away from the inner-demons that Hughes himself battled on a daily-basis, and more towards how he fought against the big-wigs in corporations and came out looking like a superhero. That’s all fine and all, especially since it’s all true, but it doesn’t really do much to make us feel like we know this guy, nor do we feel like much is actually at-stake. It is more or less that we’re just watching a guy battle against a bunch of people that could bad mouth him even worse than what’s already been said about him, or that he could add more and more millions of dollars into his bank-account.

Either way, it seems like Howard Hughes, despite his inability to twist doorknobs, will probably be better off in his life, regardless of how this settlement ends.

That said, Hughes is somebody, even through the thickest and the thin, we stand behind, which is all thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio’s amazing performance, giving everybody our first glimpse at the type of stardom he was about to fully achieve. Nowadays, it seems like Leo’s on fire with each and every role he takes, but around the time of this movie, he was basically just another case of a “promising, pretty-boy face that may actually have acting-skills”. Sure, Catch Me If You Can showed us that there was more to him than just being the king of the world, but this was the movie where he really got his time to shine and showed everybody that he could make somebody like Howard Hughes seem like a real poor fellow, despite having all of the money, fame and skill in the world, that one human could possibly desire. But like I said, even while he may not be the nicest man in the world, he still is one we care for and get behind, even when the odds seem more than stacked-up against him.

"Whose balls were bigger?" was usually where most conversations tended to lean towards.

“Whose balls were bigger” was usually where most of their conversations tended to lean towards.

Cate Blanchett shows up to play Katharine Hepburn, one of Hughes’ most notable flings back in the golden days and does a pretty spot-on impersonation, but also shows us that there’s more underneath the whole facade of her being like “one of the boys”. She can be preppy, she can be spirited and she can sure as hell kick some other dude’s behind in a game of golf, but there’s a reason why she is the way she is, why it is that she falls so hard for Howard when she does, and why it is that she falls out of love with him, only to take up her time with the gruff, teddy-bear we all know as Spencer Tracy. We all know Blanchett’s an amazing actress and can seemingly do no wrong, but to show us that she could get us past the fact that she’s playing one of the world’s most famous, iconic actresses of all-time, was really something else. And hell, she won an Oscar for it, too, so good for her!

However, Blanchett and DiCaprio are just the two here out of this whole cast that seem to get plenty of screen-time and attention from Scorsese, but they aren’t the only good ones here. John C. Reilly is good as Noah Dietrich, the Chief Executive Officer of Hughes’ estate and is just kind and mellowed-out enough to make us believe that he does actually give two hoots about Hughes, but also cares more about his wallet than anything else; Kate Beckinsale plays another famous dame that Hughes hooked-up with, in the form of Ava Gardner, and is fine, although it’s fairly obvious that she’s nothing more than pair of nice teeth, eyes and, well, you get it; and Alan Alda and Adam Baldwin both play two of the main heavies in this movie that try to their legalities around and at Hughes, and do fine showing us that they want money, they love money and they need it, especially if its Hughes’ money it is that they’re taking. Don’t know how Alda got nominated for an Oscar for this, considering that he mostly just yells at and argues with DiCaprio, but hey, I guess it was about time that he got “some” recognition, you know? Oh, and Willem Dafoe is in this for one scene, and then he’s mysteriously absent from the rest of the movie. However, as weird as it is, I guess one scene with Willem Dafoe, is better than no scene with Willem Dafoe, am I right?

Consensus: Scorsese clearly has an undying love and adoration for Howard Hughes, the man he was, the man he set-out to be, and all of the achievements of his grand-staking life, but while the Aviator shows that, it can’t help but feel a bit jumbled in the process, especially since Hughes’ life as it was, seemed to be so hectic at one point in time.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Locked in, lonely, naked, bearded and pissing into jars is usually how most people in Hollywood end-up, so don't sweat it, Howie!

Locked-away, lonely, naked, bearded and pissing into jars is usually how most people in Hollywood end-up, so don’t sweat it, Howie!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

Waiting nine years for a sequel to Anchorman?!?! Kind of a big deal!!

After he and his fellow wife/news anchor Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) run into a rough patch that causes a separation between the two, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is left with nothing to gain, nor anything to lose. He’s practically hanging himself, just as an ambitious businessman (Dylan Baker) comes to him with a proposal: Get the old gang back together, and help him start up a 24/7 news-station. At first, the idea seems quite preposterous, but seeing as how Ron is out of a job and needs to gain some confidence back into his ego and his wonderful ‘stache, he decides to get out there, and ramble up Champ (David Koechner), Brian (Paul Rudd) and of course, sweet Brick (Steve Carell). Together, the four decide that they’re going to take the news world by storm, however, they have just one, big problemo: They’re on at 2-5 a.m. Yeah, not exactly the ideal position for these seasoned-pros, but they get on with it and realize that telling the news is exactly what they loved doing in the first place, even if not everything they discuss is in fact “news”.

As you all most likely saw and scratched your heads about, I did and still do to this day, love the hell out of Anchorman. It’s dumb, random, nonsensical and completely, utterly idiotic in terms of where it goes, why and how its plot is structured. However, that’s why I love it and laugh my ass off at it each and every time I catch it. Doesn’t matter where or when, all that matters is that when I see it, I laugh my heinie off and have as great of a time during that moment, then I did when I first witnessed it all of those years ago.

Yerp, it's the 80's alright.

Yerp, it’s the 80’s alright.

However though, as much as I looked forward to the idea of a sequel to my beloved comedy-classic, something didn’t sit too well with me after all of this time. First of all, it’s literally been nine years since the first flick came out, which means that this is a sequel happening nine years later. I’m sure that the original will stand the test of time and the memory of it will continue to transcend from decade-to-decade (I sound crazy, I know), but that just feels odd that it would take THAT long for a big-budget, mainstream sequel to come out, especially since everybody involved with the first movie, are even bigger stars than they were before (with the exception of Koechner, sorry Champ). So why the long wait, guys? Better yet, was it even worth it?

The answer to that last question is sort of, and the answer to the first is “I don’t know”. Why? Because I’m not in the business of Hollywood so I don’t know why it took so long to get this sequel off the grounds, but that’s another discussion for another day, another topic and quite frankly, a whole ‘nother blog out there.

Like I was saying though, most sequels to successful comedies fail at many things, the main one being that it tries to do exactly what the first one did, with all the same jokes, gags and insider pieces of info that got the fans so on-board in the first place, but that’s surprisingly not what happens here. Yeah, there are a couple of times when Ron utters his famous line “stay classy”, or familiar faces from the first one show up to let us know that they’re still getting a pay-cut from all this, but it’s never like “Hey, Whore Island? Ammiright!?!?” Instead, the whole movie just focuses on letting these guy do what they did best in the first movie, as well as subsequent offerings they’ve completed since then: Just be funny, have a ball and give us something to laugh at.

In that case, the movie’s pretty damn funny. Random stuff happens, is said and even alluded to, and you don’t know why it’s happening or where it even came from, but you expected that already, so you learn to just roll with the punches and see what else these guys can bring out of their funny-repertoire. Not all the punches hit the funny-bone as well as they did in the first, and there definitely are more than a few ad-libbed parts that don’t really go anywhere and felt like they could have been cut and thrown right into the blooper reel section of the DVD release, but taken on as a whole, it was a funny comedy that made me laugh.

Then again though, I’m running into constant problems with this because the first movie is my baby and, as much as it pains me to say, this movie just doesn’t meet those qualities. More than a couple of times, I found myself holding my gut as I was yucking it up, but never to the point of the first movie, nor did it feel like anything that happened here was ever going to be as quotable as, I don’t know, say “I’m in a glass case of emotions”, or even, “Cannonball!”. Nope, instead we get a bunch of ramblings that lead on to some pretty funny, wacky and wild stuff that we expect from everybody involved, yet, never feels like it’s hitting that sheer level of “odd-genius” that the first movie hit. Maybe I’m being unreasonable and maybe I’m being a bit harsh on this movie, but the first one will always have a close place to my heart and if something is going to connect itself to that story, and try and reinvigorate the same magic as that charmer did, then I’m going to be looking a bit harder and closer than ever before. Doesn’t mean I didn’t like the flick, it just doesn’t hold up to the standards of the first one.

But, once again, let’s not split hairs here, people: If you want a good time at the movies, to bust-out laughing and be surprised along the way, then see this flick. It’s nothing special like the first movie but for what it’s worth, it’s a fun time at the movies, guaranteed by yours truly.

And thanks to the returning-cast, the movie’s funnier and more entertaining than ever. Chalk most of that up to, as I stated in my review for the first one, to none other than Mr. Ron Burgundy himself, Will Ferrell. We all know that Will Ferrell is hilarious and will practically throw himself out there on a silver-platter if that means getting at least something of a chuckle, but man, he goes for it here and it pays off big time. There’s one scene that’s been spoiled in the trailers, but is actually quite hilarious when you see it all play out and it’s when he’s at the dinner-table of his “black” girlfriend’s family home. It’s racist for sure, but it will certainly get a hell of a lot of laughs, especially since Ferrell just goes for it and never looks back. He’s the type of comedic-actor all aspiring entertainers should want to be, and he proves that to us time, and time again.

Okay, okay! The only reason I'm giving up his is because it literally occurs in the first two minutes. I kid you not! Check me out on that!

Okay, okay! The only reason I’m giving up his is because it literally occurs in the first two minutes. Just be happy I didn’t include another famous, more talented black rapper who shows up in this movie…..

But when I start talking about the rest of the newsteam, I start to get a little upset. The reason being that although Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and even David Koechner all get their moments to shine and bathe in the spot-light of fun and happiness, some actually feel misused. Koechner’s there, is funny and does his thing, so I hate to say that he doesn’t count, but he truly doesn’t. The two who I’m really talking about here are Carell and Rudd; with the former getting a hell of a lot more attention than he did in the first movie, and especially a lot more over the latter, which is strange considering that they both seem pretty worthy of more than enough screen-time, but nope, apparently Adam McKay saw differently. The thing with more of this focus on Brick, and his love-angle he has with Kristen Wiig’s character, is that the novelty of him saying really ridiculous and out-of-left-field things is lost. Much more now, we just hear him say, or do something completely and utterly crazy, just because it was such a winner in the first movie, so why not up the ante a bit, eh? It didn’t feel right to me and it was an easier pill to swallow because Carell, like Ferrell, goes for the whole slice with this, but it gets over-played at times and seems like the only card the movie can handle.

Also, I feel like I’m of the opinion that any time away from Brian Fantana, is time wasted. Am I right, people? Come on!

And while I’m sure all of you probably no who shows up here, to say the least, each and every familiar face that you see in this movie, is a face worth noting. Can’t get into specifics one bit, but they’re all fun, all exciting to see and a bit shocking, considering there are some pretty serious faces that, oddly enough, actually agreed to show up in the sequel to Anchorman. Maybe it’s cult following isn’t just a bunch of single and lonely dudes? Maybe others out there have noticed the charm of Ron Burgundy and the rest of the news-team and decided they wanted a piece of the pie, too? Or maybe, just maybe, they’re doing Will Ferrell and co. a favor. Yeah, you know what? I think that’s it. Oh well.

Consensus: May not fully bring back the strange, idiotic charm of the first movie, but Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is still a laugh-out-loud comedy from a bunch of people who clearly know what they are doing here, and don’t shy away from breaking their backs for a laugh or two. It just seems desperate after awhile, that’s all.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Still jumping. But this time, pulled-out backs are huge consequences.

Still jumping. But this time, pulled-out backs are huge consequences.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Gangs of New York (2002)

Even without guns and cars, I’d still be pretty freakin’ scared to go toe-to-toe with a gangster from the 1800’s. Especially, if they were in-character the whole time.

Taking place in New York City around the 19th Century, the son of a gang leader named Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) comes back to his hometown in order to avenge his father’s death. He plans to do this by killing the leader of the Natives, a simple and kind fellow named Bill Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis). By the way, the “simple and kind” statement, was bullshit. The guys fuckin’ crazy.

Apparently, this was a “dream project” for director Martin Scorsese for about 5 or 6 years that took longer than he expected to actually get made. Like all dream projects we have in our minds, we joggle them around forever, and actually crash-down to reality and realize, “oh shit, this is going to take longer than I ever wanted to”. Yeah, even directors feel that way and yes, even Marty Scorsese apparently too. It was reported to cost over 100 million dollhairs, took months and months to build actual sets of the film, needed to go through tons of editing, and was released in December of 2002, a year later than it originally had planned. Usually when this kind of crap happens, this usually shows trouble with the overall film quality, regardless of who the actual director is. Thankfully, Marty is unlike any other and that’s all that matters.

What I liked most about this flick is how Marty tackles the same exact style of gangsters, crooks, and bastards in the 1880’s, the same way he would with the ones of the 1900’s. There’s a very fast-paced essence and feel to the whole film that keeps you on-edge as to what’s going to happen next, what characters are going to be finito by the end, and when this final-battle between the two opposing sides is actually going to occur. Now, does it look and feel like an actual Scorsese flick? Not really, but that’s what’s so interesting about the guy. He’s able to change-up certain trademarks he has about himself and give a new story, a whole different type of look and feel you wouldn’t quite expect from him. It does get pretty damn violent at times, so there’s the obvious trademark for ya, but regardless of how many trademarks are shown in here, it’s still pretty damn entertaining to watch even if you have seen it over 5 times and can calculate everything now, like yours truly.

"Hurry up, Cameron. Let's get you out of here before Marty changes his mind."

“Hurry up, Cameron. Let’s get you out of here before Marty changes his mind.”

However, as many times as I have sat-down and watched this 2-and-a-half-hour-movie and been entertained by it, I still can’t deny that there lies a whole butt-load of problems brewing beneath the surface. First of all, one of the biggest hints that this film was going to have trouble with itself was the fact that it has three writers working on it (Jay Cocks, Steve Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan). Usually, that spells out trouble and that’s exactly what we get here as this film tackles a bit more than it can get away with. In fact, it actually seems like these writers were all given different subjects to write about, understand, and bring back to Marty so they could make one, big, and long epic about life in NYC in the 1800’s. That idea, in case you were confused by what I was saying, does not work here as it’s too many ideas, with too little of a pay-off.

The whole idea is about gangs that hide out and cause havoc in New York, which makes a compelling and entertaining watch on it’s own, but then, once you add all of those other ingredients in, it get’s a bit over-stuffed to the point of where you have no freakin’ clue what this movie is trying to talk about or even convey. Is is about a young dude getting revenge on the guy who murdered his dad? Yes, well, sort of. Is it about a possible “romance” between this young dude and untrustworthy gal? Yes, well, sort of. Is it about the history of New York in the 1800’s? Yes, well, sort of. Is it about the war and how everybody had to take part in it? Yes, well, sort of. Or, is this flick all about how politics usually came into play with the gangs and how they all acted around one another? Once again, yes, well, sort of. As you can tell, this film touches on too many subjects, adds in too many subplots, and juggles too many ideas, which shouldn’t have been such a huge problem, given the time-limit offered to the script, but somehow it just does not work altogether and seems jumbled around like the best bits of an musician’s career. However, these “best bits”, aren’t really the best. They’re slightly mediocre to say the least.

Probably the most compelling story of all should have been the whole revenge tale with this young dude going after the man that killed his father when he was a child and he vowed at nothing to stop him from succeeding at that. However, that whole story seems a bit half-baked considering we barely get to see the young dude with his father as a kid; barely get to see how all of this has an effect on him as an slightly older dude and constantly being in that man’s presence; and barely get any tension except for the last 20 minutes where everything really comes into play. And heck, even that final stand-off doesn’t really count, for reasons I can’t state.

Speaking of the ending, some people freakin’ despise it and count it as one of the worst of all-time (and once you see it, you’ll know why), but I actually thought it was a pretty clever way to allow it to tie into history and give it more of an importance in terms of how we view New York City now, and how it really was. Yeah, it wasn’t the best way that a genius like Scorsese could come-up with and yeah, it may have dropped the ball on some fun and excitement, but it still was pretty neat to see how everything was going to be tied around in a nice little bow at the end. It comes off as a nice reminder that NYC has history and is a beautiful place to live, which was an idea that some people may have brushed-off to the sides during the lean days of ’02.

Despite all of this bad talk, I still had a lot more fun with this flick because of the performances from an impressive ensemble that Marty always has a knack for casting well. Leonardo DiCaprio proves he is able to take on a stronger, more dramatic role as a young kid going through a bit of a crisis and makes Amsterdam a believable, and compelling character to watch. It’s also better since the guy is easy to get behind and can practically kick anybody’s ass, but doesn’t get too in-over-his-head like most characters of this same-exact convention usually do. The kid may not always have a huge ounce of charm to his look and personality, but it’s Leo, and the guy is always great to watch on-screen and you can’t help but root for Amsterdam as things start to go from better-to-worse, sooner than later. Then, there’s Cameron Diaz, who I am not a very big fan of but is serviceable in a role that could have easily gone to any other actress and still been as good or entertaining. That’s not really a good thing or bad thing, it’s just that her character doesn’t offer much to really intrigue you and Diaz doesn’t help us with that much, either.

I'm afraid to ask him if he needs that lit.

I’m afraid to ask him if he needs that lit.

But despite these two, the one who really steals the show is none other than the man, the myth, the effin’ crazy man who stayed in-character the whole time during the making of this flick: Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill Cutting, or as my dad likes him to be referred to as, Bill the Butcher. Cutting is a very fun character to watch and the fact that he’s played by Daniel Day just makes him all the more compelling to keep your eye on as every chance he gets, he proves to you why this guy can never be trusted and why so many damn people in the city fear him for the things he can do. Cutting is a bit caricaturish, but Daniel Day makes sure it doesn’t get too over-the-top and strangely, keeps the guy human and believable in his own, sadistic way. There’s the one memorable scene that really touched me where he’s talking to Amsterdam about the only man that was worth remembering that he killed (Amsterdam’s father) and it gives us a wonderful look-see into a man that does some pretty terrible and evil things, but still feels something for the people he kills, even if they are his biggest enemies. Daniel Day is electrifying in this role and makes it all the more fun to watch, but sadly, he is probably the only interesting character of the bunch, and he’s the freakin’ bad-guy you’re supposed to despise!

Consensus: Gangs of New York struggles with way too many ideas, themes, and a bunch of plot-points that never come fully-realized, but has a very entertaining feel and vibe to it, that places you in this setting of New York City during the 1800’s, and features compelling performances from everybody involved, including the magnetic Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill Cutting/the Butcher.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

The only way they knew how to party in NYC during the 19th Century: LIGHT SHIT ON FIRE!!

The only way they knew how to party in NYC during the 19th Century: LIGHT SHIT ON FIRE!!

Wreck-it Ralph (2012)

Where the hell is my Super Nintendo?!?

Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) is a video game character who has been overshadowed by Fix-It Felix, Jr. (voice of Jack McBrayer), the good-guy star of their game who always gets to save the day. Fed up of being the bad guy all the time, Ralph takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a journey across the arcade through multiple generations of video games to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero.

It’s a known-commodity that today’s kids, are mainly dependent on video-games and use it more than anything else. Back in the 90’s, however, kids were more dependent on toys and playing with them, until technology began to take over and sooner or later, the toys were left to just sit there, by themselves, with no one to play with them. I’m basically talking about the same toys I have come to know and love from the Toy Story franchise, in case you couldn’t tell, and I think the comparison between that movie and those ones are pretty understood because in a way, it shows the world of inanimate objects, and what they do when no one else was looking.

However, it’s almost a crime to compare this one to those movies because this movie, is sure as hell nowhere near the same league as those classics, but still does great job with itself to make me forget about the comparisons. The obvious love and passion these film-makers have for video-games, show as there are tons and tons of cameos from little video-game characters that we all know and love, and it’s just really cool to see. If you never, ever thought that Bowser and M. Bison would ever be at two places at once, well, then think again because you’re going to see them next to each other, along with a slew of other famous characters that I caught-on to right away, and plenty others where I definitely missed-out on. Either way, if you love video-games, know all about them, and can tell when Q*Bert went out-of-order, then you’re going to have a freakin’ field-day with the first 45 minutes of this movie.

And hell, even if you can’t tell me or aren’t that much of a video-game lover, then you’re still going to have a great time because that’s what the story is all about and that’s exactly what they deliver on. The first 45 minutes is pretty cool because we get to see Ralph go and try to interact in these other worlds/games, because it feels as if we are on adventure with this guy that will never, ever seem to end and one that I didn’t mind riding with for 2 hours if I needed to. However, the film’s settings do come to a complete halt when the rest of the film ends up spending most of the majority at a girly car-racing game called “Sugar Rush”, a game that reminded me a lot of a mixture of Mario Kart, had it been jacked-up on sweets and all that is right with the world.

Even though this was a bit of a bummer, seeing as that Ralph would just be spending all of his time at this one, designated area, the film still does a great job with itself and offering us a great look at characters that didn’t seem like they stood a chance to be liked in the first-place. I laughed a good couple of times, and definitely felt myself as if I was playing a video-game the whole time, but there is an emotional-level to this film that does it’s job in the end and makes you feel more for these characters, rather than just looking at them as a bunch of video-game characters. Next time you’re playing “Zombies”, think about the things you’re killing in the first-place. Maybe they have souls as well. Oh, who am I kidding!?! They’re freaky, so kill them to get points!

However, the bummer of this film is that it sort of does follow the same, exact pattern we have come to know and associate with animated movies like these and even though it’s not as unbearable this time around, it sure as hell comes to be a bit of a disappointment considering how hard this film went on without ever seeming like it was going to fall for straight-up conventions. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting Ralph to drop all conventions and just go into a crazy, psycho-killer mode and have all kids from all over the world scream for their lives in terror, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting it to really get as schmaltzy and obvious as it does here. Of course, there’s a fight between two characters that sets a riff between the two, they come back together in the end, and eventually come to terms with what they were made to do in the first-place, but come on, give me something at least a tad bit fresh people. That’s all I ask for, really.

Despite this drop into conventions, Wreck-it Ralph always stays endearing and a little touching, and that’s mainly because of the special, bubbly voices they got to supply for these roles. John C. Reilly is a perfect-fit for Ralph as he nails the villainous-angst we come to know and understand about this character right from the get-go, and also shows us that the guy can still bring all of that warm fuzziness he brings to every role, even if it is just his voice he’s using. Reilly, no matter what the guy does, always has this certain level of warmth to him that just makes you want to hang-out with him if you’re a dude, and hug the hell out of him if you’re a woman, or gay dude. Either way, you’re going to want to be around him and that’s what makes Ralph so damn likable right from the first-shot.

Even though Sarah Silverman is very annoying with her constantly ear-aching voice, her character, Vanellope von Schweetz, isn’t as bad this time-around, mainly because that’s the whole idea behind her. Schweetz annoys the hell out of Ralph, which in-turn, annoys the hell out of us and makes us want her to go away just as much as he wants her to, even though this doesn’t last forever and she starts to grow on you, just like she grows on Ralph. It’s a nice, little friendship they have going on here and it’s definitely one I want to see continue on throughout the years. Even though, it will never be anywhere near as close to the loving friendship between Woody and Buzz. Sorry, guys, you just don’t quite have what it takes yet.

The other voice-member I was most impressed with was Jack McBrayer as Fix-It Felix, Jr., the squeaky-clean hero of Ralph’s video-game. Felix is such an out-dated goof here in this story, that it’s really funny to see him get played around with in a flick that’s all about how the new games, are definitely crazier and more violent than the old games. That, in and of itself provides a whole ‘nother context to this story, but that’s an idea that doesn’t really need to be focused-on as much because it would have been so damn easy. And let’s not forget to mention, Jane Lynch is here as the tough-ass leader of the game Hero’s Duty, Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun, and once again shows why she still has that perfect comedic-timing no matter what it is that the gal does. Just like the video-game characters most of these people are voicing, there are plenty more famous names that pop-up here and there, but the most fun out of it all is just to wait and see how many you catch, how many you don’t, and how many made you second-guess yourself. Trust me, I did that and it’s sort of like Cloud Atlas in that aspect, except without all of the make-up and costumes.

Consensus: With a promising start, Wreck-it Ralph sort of does disappoint by how quickly it falls into a conventional, Disney plot we have all seen done time and time again, but thankfully, isn’t as bad to witness and stick around for because of lovable characters, beautiful animation, an entertaining story, and an emotional center that feels real, rather than ever feeling cheap. Definitely look forward to seeing more sequels and more games pop-up.

8/10=Matinee!!

Terri (2011)

If only more schools had assistant principals like John C. Reilly working there, then school wouldn’t be such hell.

Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is a mountain of a young man. He’s about 15 and he wears his pajamas everywhere, including to school. When the school’s assistant principal (John C. Reilly) takes an interest in Terri’s life, he finally discovers that he has someone to talk to.

This premise sounds like one of those “adult and weird, outsider teen connect” movies that always end up saying the same thing while showing nothing different or new. However, director Azazel Jacobs seems like he’s above that formula and gave me one of the bigger surprises that I’ve seen recently.

Where this film works in, is it’s script that isn’t anything ground-breaking, but it still hits moments that are very true. The film shows that teens are awkward as hell when it comes to anything: sex, beer, talking to adults, doing chores, etc. This is the truth and being a teenager myself (young adult I prefer), I know that life can sometimes be a bit painful to sit with sometimes depending on the type of situation I get myself caught into. Life is pretty much this way for all teenagers and I think that this flick did a great job of showing that in ways that I haven’t really ever seen done in a high-school movie, let alone, a piece of indie work.

The film puts Terri in many awkward places and that’s where plenty of the comedy comes from, but it’s not all about giving that uncomfortable vibe of humor that people like Sacha Baron Cohen partake in so much, it actually has plenty of genuinely funny moments that may take you back to some of your own high-school experiences no matter how bad or good they may be. There are also other moments though, where this flick starts to show its heart, as weird as it may be, and that’s where the film started to win me over. All of these characters are likable and Jacobs spends enough time with them to give us a feel like we know them well enough and care about them as well. It’s also great that he doesn’t go down the same road of giving Terri some dramatic and emotional break-through to all of his classmates, the kid is still a bit of a weirdo but he is also a very sweet character deep down inside and that’s all that matter. Actually, that’s what this whole film is: sweet. And even though at first it may seem like just another weird and quirky indie movie, it will actually surprise you by how much it may or may not get to you. Give it a chance people! You won’t be disappointed!

As a whole though, some moments of this flick can get a little too weird for me and took me out of it as well. There’s a couple of the scenes in the beginning that seemed like it was just trying to be weird and quirky, just for the sake of being so which is never really a good sign for any indie flick. Also, by the end of the flick, we get this very long scene where Terri has two people over and even though it may be a bit a bizarre and humorous, it doesn’t seem very realistic. I don’t want to give anything away by saying what happens in this scene but some people get drunk a little too fast, and start acting like assholes, a little too fast as well. I mean I’m no expert on drinking, or even getting drunk, but I know that a couple of sips doesn’t get you completely zonked and doing idiotic stuff. Then again, I ain’t no light-weight!

I don’t know where they found this kid, but Jacob Wysocki is pretty damn good here as Terri. This is his first role and it’s a great role because the film basically is resting on his shoulders the whole time, but not once does Wysocki show signs of being a ill-prepared rookie. Instead, he struts his stuff like a professional and adds so much more dimension to this character than I could have ever imagined. Terri is a weird kid but he’s not terribly strange to the point of where we can’t bear to watch this sad sap anymore, instead he seems to be one of those pretty sullen kids that still knows enough about the world to make you realize that he is a good kid deep down inside. Terri may have problems, both at home and in school, but he also has a great big heart to him that Wysocki wears on his sleeve the whole during his performance here. Due to his physical nature (and I’m not even being a dick either), I don’t know how many more roles Wysocki will be offered in the future but I hope whatever it may be, that he chooses them right and gets to show us more of his acting skills.

However, as good as this kid may be, he’s definitely not the best performance from this whole flick. John C. Reilly is amazing here as Mr. Fitzgerald and probably gives a performance that should have at least been nominated for an Oscar. Just about every scene this guy has is perfect because he has a great blend of humor, drama, and insight with just about every scene that gives you this great warmth to his character every time he’s on screen. He’s a total goof ball because he tries his hardest to discipline these kids, but just can’t because he’s too much of a nice guy so instead, tries to help them all. The film also doesn’t try to show him off as this all-around perfect dude who’s right about everything, instead we see him as an actual human-being filled with more flaws and problems than any other regular teenager. He’s an understanding dude and all of the scenes between him and Terri don’t feel like the usual “parent vs. student” talk these movies usually go down, but instead come off as two friends who are just simply having chats about life and all of the issues they seem to both be having with it. They are both great together in every scene they have, but it’s mainly Reilly who owns these scenes by making me laugh but also realize that maybe not all of the staff at my school are as big of dicks as I may think they be.

Consensus: Terri may not be throughly consistent, but it’s a very sweet, kind-hearted, and believable little piece of indie work that shows what it’s like to be an awkward teen and also have to put up with the other problems that usually come from just being yourself. It may not start off so great at first, but it soon starts to grow on you much ado to John C. Reilly and Jacob Wysocki.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

The Dictator (2012)

“Scripts suck!” Or at least that’s what Sacha used to think.

The story centers on General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen), the deposed Repubic of Wadiya dictator who makes his first trip to the United States. Here he finds love in a very strange place and even stranger person (Anna Faris).

I guess a scripted Cohen film was pretty much inevitable, as his star has gone up in recent years and no matter how hard he tries to hide it all with a beard or funny accents, people were bound to recognize him. Still, it’s mostly the same thing this time around except for the fact that everybody knows what he’s going to say next.

Regardless of what the trailers, posters, or shocking appearances by Cohen himself may have you thinkinh, this is nowhere near as funny as Borat or even Bruno for that matter (I know I’m in the minority with the latter), but it’s not all that bad either. I was definitely a little shaky about this flick at first, but after awhile, I realized all of the comedy sticks to the usual raunchy, offensive, and mean type of humor that we always get with Cohen flicks and it still works even though all of the jokes aren’t improvised. Still, the film had me laughing a lot more than I expected just because it’s able to get lean and mean without ever saying sorry and that’s what you gotta do. Do I think they maybe pushed it to the edge a couple of times here? Of course, but then again, when doesn’t Cohen do that?  No race, gender, social class, or political figure is left unscathed and that’s pretty much all in a day’s good work when it comes to what Cohen does.

However, as funny as most of the jokes may be, the film does hit the occasional dry-spot where it feels like it’s time to build up character some more. The whole love story between Aladeen and Anna Faris is pretty lame but then again, I guess you have to have to have this sort of thing in a comedy, just to give it something. They also had this same element in Cohen’s other flicks; however, they were played with more of a joking, sarcastic way rather than being so straight-up and serious. It also disappointed me that Farris wasn’t anything special or funny even as she’s some type of Vegan-type chick that Aladeen falls in love with.  This role could have definitely been played by any other actress.

Also, as much as I may say that this flick is mean and lean, sometimes it’s just too safe. There was a huge opportunity for Cohen to dive into some real, splitting political satire here but he more or less, just plays it safe with an abundance of extra raunchy jokes to show that he really has a knack for grossing people the hell out. Worked, but also seemed like Cohen was getting a tad soft on us.

Regardless of how soft his comedy may have gotten here this time around, Sacha Baron Cohen still delivers the goods when it comes to his brand of shock comedy. Cohen is  known for playing these strange, politically incorrect characters; and the despotic dictator, General Aladeen, is no different. This guy is an ass, doesn’t know what’s right in the world, and shows no signs of ever changing his ways; but hey, it’s all good as long as Cohen is able to make us laugh, and make us laugh is what he does. Can’t really say anything else that hasn’t already been said about him and his character here is definitely no different than any other he has ever played, but Cohen is still the selling-point of this flick and with good reason.

Consensus: At a swift 82 minutes (including credits), The Dictator doesn’t over-stay its welcome and shows that Cohen is still able to make his raunchy, mean, and offensive brand of comedy work despite pulling out of some very key comedy moments that would have really taken this to be more of a satire, and not just another ordinary, Hollywood comedy.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (2012)

Being on Adult Swim does not mean that making a film is the next step. Just stay on TV.

Two guys (Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim) get a billion dollars to make a movie, only to watch their dream run off course. In order to make the money back, they then attempt to revitalize a failing shopping mall.

I will say that on occasion, I have found myself watching the 15-minute, Adult Swim TV series that this flick is made from. However, as funny as that show may be at times, I can’t help but think that maybe they should have just stayed doing what it was that they were doing rather than just really stretching it all out.

Where my problem with this film lied was in its overall pacing. Even though there is an occasional spark of humor found, the film starts off terribly slow and doesn’t really build-up anything all that interesting or compelling about it other than that these dudes are trying to re-build a mall so they can pay off debts. I definitely would have not minded this as much if it was consistently funny but it just felt like Tim and Eric didn’t really have any idea where to take this film other than just try and tie all of these funny sketches they had in their heads with some story that was just about every bit as lame. In fact, even this film just feels like one whole sketch being stretched out a little too far even if it is only about an hour and a half time-limit.

This film first gained a whole bunch of controversy at Sundance because the gross-out stuff they have going on in this flick was apparently a little too much for the crowd, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I mean you got a while scene of diarrhea, a scene of Eric jizzing, and a whole simulated sex scene where Tim and this chick are basically rolling around with one another, giving each other some fun dildo action in the you know where spots. These guys definitely know how to push the boundaries which is always something I like but here it didn’t really do much other than gross me out just a bit.

Where my compliments of this film lie is actually that some parts of this flick really had me laughing, despite the other parts where I felt like they just ran every skit/joke they had into the ground and stomped on their face while they were done. Yeah, I know it sounds brutal but after awhile you may start to think that too. The film isn’t hilarious but there are a couple of times where it seems like Tim & Eric are obviously having a lot of fun with all of the money they’ve been given to make this flick so they choose this as an opportunity to poke fun at some major Hollywood happenings as well as just poke fun at certain type of plot conventions. The bright moments here in this flick had me remembering exactly why the show is so cult followed today but there just wasn’t enough of it to fully have me hitting up the Netflix account looking all over for their show.

Tim and Eric are both good here as themselves but since they are on-screen the whole time, it doesn’t much matter because this is all about who these two dudes actually know well enough to get them to show up in their movie. Will Ferrell plays the mall’s original member and his one early scene with Tim and Eric really shows all three of their great chemistry together; Zach Galifianakis plays a hippie friend of these dudes named Jim Joe Kelly and it’s great to see him being sort of funny again; and it was also pretty funny to see John C. Reilly play Taquito, the janitor of the mall, and basically looks like he always does in every flick but has this strange, Mexican-like accent going on that doesn’t really work but then again, maybe that’s just the point that Tim and Eric are at least trying to get through.

Consensus: When it comes to pushing the boundaries of how far a flick can go with its gross-out humor, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie definitely succeed, but when it comes to making a full-length feature flick and actually making it seem funny without stretching their sketch comedy skills a little too far, they don’t do so well. Still, fans of the show will definitely love this a lot more than myself.

3/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!

Carnage (2011)

Always remember kids, don’t get in fights at school, or the parents will probably duke it out too.

Two sets of parents (Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz, and Kate Winslet) all meet together when both of their sons get into a playground skirmish. What starts out as a nice, civilized meeting soon turns into complete havoc as tensions between two couples begin to rise up.

The fact that Roman Polanski is directing a stage play that is also a comedy, seems a little strange for a director who is most known for bringing us some of the tension-filled thrillers of the past 20 years. However, this film is just further proof that Polanski can do no wrong, except for when he gets stuck with little kiddies, but that’s a whole different story.

What I liked about this flick was the fact that it was very fast-paced and the screenplay feels rich and authentic, almost like how real people would talk if they were put into this type of situation as well. The tone is humorous but in a very dark way so even when you can tell things are going to go from bad to worse between these two couples, the laughs somehow sneak their own little sly way into making you chuckle when you least expect it.

Even though this is no suspense thriller by any means, I still do believe that Polanski brought some tense moments into this film. I didn’t know what either person was going to say next and as these funny twists and turns keep coming out, the more ridiculous and also kind of tense it gets as well. My favorite element to this film was how everything was played in real-time and I also liked how Polanski didn’t feel the need to leave the room and instead we are just left in this one room for the whole time, which to some may have been a little boring, but for me was well-used.

My problem with it being in one room is that when one of the couples try to leave, they somehow find themselves brought back in whether it being to get the last word in, or get a cup of coffee, or because the plot needed more conflict. This is done a lot better on the stage because you can feel as if the characters have absolutely nowhere to go, but where have a camera that can and will go anywhere with these characters, it feels a bit contrived and forced. About the 3rd time they walk back into the room, I couldn’t help but think that these people just wanted a large-scale brawl.

Another problem I had with this flick was the fact that there was all of this satire and points about “The God of Carnage” and I just couldn’t buy into it. When they all start to talk about each others relationships with each other and how women do this, and men do that didn’t feel insightful or farcical at all, instead it just felt like the film was trying to be more than just 4 people in a room, bickering over some little skirmish. Maybe it’s just because the stage play went down the same path, that the film did it too, but for some reason, I just could net get into it.

The one thing that Polanski does perfectly here is that he keeps the camera on these four leads as each of their relationships start to unravel. Kate Winslet is amazing as Nancy because she starts out as this nice, easy-going trophy-wife that soon starts to change as she gets the booze in her, and then she turns into some foul-mouthed trucker. Winslet has always done transformations like these with her characters, but she is just so good here as her emotions change from one side to another. Jodie Foster has always been that one actress that always feels up-tight and very reserved, but as Penelope, she lets it all out. Foster is very good in this role because she plays against type and just lets loose on the anger and frustration that this character has throughout the whole film, and as she starts to get a little bit drunker, she starts to get more foul-mouthed as well.

After being terribly disappointed by his performance in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’, I was very glad to see John C. Reilly kick some ass again in his performance as Michael. He’s funny, charming, and likable but you know there is some rage to him that’s hidden deep-down inside and I think this is something that Reilly shows very well. Glad to see that this guy can still be lovable. Christoph Waltz had a few duds this year with ‘The Green Hornet’ and ‘The Three Musketeers‘ but he’s back in his full-swing as the complete a-hole that finds anyway to cause conflict. Waltz was probably the one who made me laugh the most out of this whole cast and I think it shows that Waltz really can play villains that you can still like, just by being charming and funny. He one an Oscar for it already, and he can definitely keep on doing that for a long long time.

Consensus: Carnage does feel somewhat contrived and forced with certain elements, but thanks to a very slick direction from Roman Polanski and Foster, Reilly, Waltz, and Winslet bringing out the best with their performances, you can definitely laugh even if it does make you wish you saw the stage play.

7/10=Rental!!

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

Kevin is the new Damien.

Tilda Swinton plays Eva, a mother who puts her ambitions and career aside when she gives birth to Kevin. The relationship between mother and son is difficult from the very first years. But when Kevin is fifteen, he does something truly evil and unforgivable and Eva must grapple with her own feelings of grief and responsibility. Did she ever love her son? And how much of what Kevin did was her fault?

All mothers are expected to love their sons no matter who or what they are. Whether they are sociopaths, killers, murders, satanists, the son of Sam, etc. it doesn’t matter because the mommy should always be there for her son, but how far is too far?

Director Lynne Ramsay hasn’t had a film in over nine years and she shows no signs of rust at all with this flick because right from the beginning shot of Eva covered in tomato sauce, I was hooked for the whole next hour and 52 minutes. Ramsay approaches this film with a non-linear narrative that bounces between Eva’s current life living all by herself after something horrible happened to her, then goes back in time to the time when Eva first met her husband leading up to them having their son Kevin. This at first, seemed a little confusing but after awhile it started to grow on me and I guess it did on Ramsay too considering I could tell exactly what time period we were actually in.

There have been so many movies that all talk about the “evil child” (‘Orphan’, ‘The Omen’, ‘The Bad Seed’) but somehow Ramsay makes it all different with her use of style that just had me creeped out the whole time. There are these dark and light colors in this film that will pop-up and seem absolutely terrifying because it’s almost as if she makes it all jump out at the audience. There are also plenty of other sequences that this film had that freaked me out with many of Ramsay’s stylized scenes seeming as if we were going inside the mind of Eva’s head and seeing practically everything that she sees.

And let me just tell you, the things that she sees this little bastard Kevin do, is down-right disturbing. This kid tortures the hell out of her from deliberate things like not saying her name, crapping his pants, making fun of her when she talks, shutting down any time she tries to be sensitive, putting her husband against her, and so many more outrageous and truly shocking things. It’s terrible to sit back and just watch somebody get completely torn up by their own son because the mom always comes back for more love, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of anything that happened here at all. It’s painful to just watch everything happen, but I just did not want to stop watching and I didn’t even know what Eva could have done in any of these situations.

Ramsay makes the right decision in making this seem more like a dramatic horror flick that is set in reality and shows us something that could happen to any of us, without us ever being able to do anything about it. The shit Kevin does, says, and even contemplates, is something that will stick in my mind for awhile now but most of all is the fact that there are kids like there out this and it’s hard to ever ignore them and get them out of your mind. There are some discussions about the idea of nurture vs. nature and who is to blame for a kids evil-doings but in reality, these ideas sort of left my mind as soon as I started thinking about all of the “Kevins” that I may possibly know and just how truly scary they could be to the ones who love them the most.

My problems lies within the later parts of Eva’s life where I feel like we are watching here just try to get on with her life, which seemed realistic, however, there were times where I couldn’t quite believe it all. I don’t know want to give away the very very very bad thing that happens to Eva but she decides to keep on seeing Kevin, even though she has nothing to do with him anymore and doesn’t need him in her life at all. I understand the whole fact that a mother should always love her child, but there is to a certain extent to where I would drop that little shit-head off at the loony bin and run away as far away as I can. The fact that she still is there for moral support bothered me and kind of made me feel like there is only so much that one person could go through, but then again, maybe I’m just a vicious bastard who shouldn’t have kids.

Another problem I had with this film was the performance and character that John C. Reilly plays. Reilly plays Eva’s husband, Franklin, and the guy is never around. He does some job that we never find out exactly what it is and whenever he is around, he just hangs out with Kevin because as soon as he comes home, Kevin is all of a sudden all cute and cuddly. The reason I didn’t like Franklin all that much is because when Eva starts to tell him about the problems she is having with Kevin, he doesn’t really even do anything about it instead of just saying that he’s a kid. When the second child is born, Kevin practically throws water in the babies face, and Franklin just pulls him over and takes him somewhere, without any discipline whatsoever.

It’s also pretty obvious that Eva is very depressed, disturbed, and just filled with all of these negative feelings because of Kevin but Franklin never seems to address them or ask what’s wrong. Instead, he just humps her one night and gets her pregnant once again, as if that was going to solve any of the problems she was having before. Hey, the first kid is sociopath, let’s try to see if we can get another and really eff things up. Reilly really does try in this role but Franklin is barely ever in it and whenever he is, he just bothered me as a total dumb-ass of a dude and a husband. It’s a shame because it almost feels like this role could have been played by any actor, and it would not have made any type of difference.

A performance and character that isn’t as bad as Franklin is Tilda Swinton who plays Eva. Swinton is one of those actresses who is always strong in everything she does but sometimes never gets fully up there as a great actress. As Eva, Swinton portrays a lot of emotions because she goes through so many unthinkable things that are not just with Kev, but everybody else around her when the bad event occurs. You can tell this chick is really suffering and trying her hardest to be a good mommy and not ruin things with her son, but she just never can fully win over Kev and it’s really hard to watch mainly because Swinton plays Eva, as if she was a real chick. It’s really hard to empathize with her but her character is strong and goes through a lot of shit throughout the whole film, something that Swinton makes believable.

Ezra Miller is also a real “treat” here as Kevin because this kid is just downright evil. Miller is dark and disturbing as Kevin because everything he does, he never has any good intent for it and just by watching this kid with that little evil and creepy grin he has on his face the whole time, is just something that will stay in my mind for awhile. Miller is able to take what would ordinarily be a very cliched performance as “the evil kid” but his latter scenes with Swinton, where he proves to be nothing other than equal to her, are played out with a perfect tone and way of using his grimness but also smarty-smarts to his favor as well. Kevin is definitely not a name you want to name your next kid, boy or girl.

Consensus: Director Lynne Ramsay combines elements of horror and drama to show a disturbing tale, with perfect performances from Miller and Swinton, and also making it impossible for anybody to turn their eyes away from.

8.5/10=Full Price!!

Cyrus (2010)

Who doesn’t love their mommy?

John C. Reilly plays a divorced man who thinks he’s found just the right woman (Marisa Tomei) to help him recover and move on. Unfortunately, the woman’s son, played by Jonah Hill, has no interest in allowing another man into their lives — a stance he proceeds to demonstrate in a variety of obnoxious ways.

I had no interest in this film when it first came out since its done by Jay and Mark Duplass, aka the guys who started this whole “mumble core” movement, so therefore I had no real interest. Then of course HBO had to come on by and I couldn’t help myself.

The Duplass Brothers do a pretty good job with this film because they know how to balance out humor, heart, and romance together all well. There are funny moments in this film but there more about being all cringe-inducing and awkward, which didn’t bother me because it made it all feel realistic. I mean when a kid says “don’t fuck my mom” at the first din-din, that’s just a little weird, especially if you keep calling your mom by her fist name.

The problem I had with this film was that I did feel like I was going to throw-up by how much the Duplass Brothers’ moved their camera around all over the place. It constantly zooms in and out, and even gets out-of-focus at times too and feels like it’s trying too hard to be realistic and just be a straight-up indie film with it’s hand-held camera. I felt like I was watching Tony Scott going indie for a second, until I realized that this film is about a guy and his girl’s son having a feud, not a train–on-the-run or any high concept like that.

Another problem I had with this film was that I felt like a little bit of it meanders right in the middle for no reason and kind of loses focus with its weird pace. The film is constantly building and building until Cyrus is gone for about 15 minutes, and they we focus on this relationship and it just feels a tad off. I don’t know what it was but the middle part of this film just seemed oddly misplaced and could have done better.

I don’t know if this film really had a script by any chance, because it more or less just feels like The Duplass Brothers just got the whole cast together, told them where the film was going to go, and they just let everybody do their own thang, which I think worked. There are a lot of moments in this film that just had me laughing by how goofy and weird this plot could get and honestly I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was some crazy incest angle in it here either. The film isn’t afraid to express its weirdness, which is something you don’t see in many films nowadays, especially with big-names like this one. It’s weird but not too weird for anybody just to watch and enjoy.

John C. Reilly is great as the perfectly named, John, because he plays this sweet, tormented, and overall likable dude so well that he doesn’t seem like he’s doing the same ridiculous act over again, it’s more or less just him being the nicest guy you could ever see in a film. Jonah Hill is the freakin’ man as Cyrus, because he’s playing a lot more of a subtle role than we’re usually used to him playing but I have to say that it was great to see him play silent and weird, and still be very funny. Both are great together because they create this little feud that starts off small with a pair of John’s shoes getting taken but then spills out into them just about beating each other. Just the scenes of them two staring at each other and practically try to win over the same woman’s heart, definitely had me laughing and entertained by these two.

As for the ladies here, Marisa Tomei is very good as Molly. Tomei has been in the game for awhile and it never feels like she’s doing the same role all the time and she plays Molly with that certain type of broken, but accessible beauty character very well to the point of where you believe that her character could really feel this much for her son and her boy-toy. Catherine Keener isn’t really doing much as John’s ex-wife, Jamie but she’s fine with what she’s given. I kind of thought how weird it was that John and Jamie were still good pals even though she left him or something and I don’t know I feel like once you’re done, it’s done. No best friends thing.

Consensus: Cyrus suffers from some annoying indie problems, but it features a simple story with heart, awkward humor, and performances from the whole cast that feel genuine and perfectly picked for each of their characters.

7/10=Rental!!

The Extra Man (2010)

Gives me hope of one day being a gigolo myself.

It seems like this BoomTron shindig is becoming a Friday thanggg now. Well, anywhoo, go on out and check out the review of this little indie-flick. As always, leave some love, say hey, or just read it and let me know what ya think in the comments section.

Check out the link here:

http://www.boomtron.com/2011/09/the-extra-man-review/

Thanks ya’ll! Happy Friday! Try to check out the new cool action thriller Drive, with my man-crush in it. And also don’t forget about an unneeded Straw Dogs remake, and Sara Jessica Parker doing some raaaaaaange.

The Perfect Storm (2000)

Isn’t fearing for your life the one thing that fishing is not all about?

Veteran fisherman Billy Tyne (George Clooney) has had a run of disappointing catches and is determined to change his luck by going beyond the normal reach of New England fishing boats to the remote Flemish Cap. But in doing so, he risks everything. Once at sea, he hears about a huge storm building up, but is convinced he can beat it back to Gloucester with an enormous catch.

Just looking at that poster on the right makes me just get the willy’s because the sea is always something that has interested me because it’s so huge and just feels so spread-out that if you get lost there, you’ll never be found.

This film gave me those little chills here and there during the film but it was more about the spectacle of this film. The special effects here are very good and a lot of detail to the film such as; how the waves look, what the hurricane looks like, and everything else that has to do with the hurricane. All of it looks good and will definitely keep you loving the eye-candy.

However, I think that’s all this film really wanted to be anyway. The story is pretty generic but isn’t told in any fresh or effective way to actually have us care what happens to these characters. I felt myself not really caring that these crew members get past the hurricane, and rather that just Marky Mark get out of there. In case you don’t know, I love that guy. He’s so cool.

Director Wolfgang Petersen is good with what he does, but he doesn’t really do much to help this film. Every once and awhile we would get a little fishing montage of how happy these guys are that their all catching fish but there’s not much else to them except for maybe one character. All the rest are just cliches, and if their not cliches, then their just characters that don’t really have many other dimensions to them because we never see them actually talking. They just do their work on the ship and then their done. Oh and then there’s huge hurricane that supposed to make me care for them.

Though the drama doesn’t work, I still have to say that I was on the edge of my seat here with plenty of suspense and just an overall fun feeling that this film gave me. I didn’t quite care much for the actual characters themselves, I actually cared about just who would die, where, when, and why. The film doesn’t really give into too many cliches when its starting to come down home-stretch and that at least kept me watching more and more.

The whole cast here is star-studded but kind of lame. George Clooney is the least “George Clooney” I’ve ever see him be here as Captain Billy Tyne; Mark Wahlberg was of course my favorite as Bobby; John C. Reilly had the most heart in this film as Dale; and Diane Lane is sexy but not very good in this role as Christine. The rest of the cast has the likes of William Fichtner, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, John Hawkes, and Allen Payne. All of these members do their best but other than that, they aren’t really given much to work with here.

Consensus: The Perfect Storm is nowhere near perfect but has plenty of very good special effects, and tense moments, but doesn’t really have much drama when it comes to it’s story and instead of being a compelling story, it just tells the story and the characters just as they are.

6/10=Rental!!

Cedar Rapids (2011)

Makes insurance companies actually look fun.

Terrified of leaving his tiny town for the first time, sheltered insurance salesman Tim (Ed Helms) nervously sets out for the bright lights of bustling Cedar Rapids, where he attends a chaotic insurance convention and learns how to survive in the real world.

This was one of those comedies that came out back in February (aka shit movie month) and actually got good reviews, but for some reason I never got around to seeing. Thank the lord I saw it just as the Summer (aka crazy movie time) began.

This premise is petty much your average fish-out-of-water kind of deal here but the way the script expands on that is what really makes this a delight to watch. Cedar Rapids, IA isn’t exactly the party land you would come to expect but watching all these grown-ass guys run around in just about nothing and having a great time in only a matter of four acts, really made me enjoy myself and remind me of a smaller and more adult version of The Hangover. This is kind of like the comedy I could see my mom and dad watching, which isn’t such a bad thing.

The screenplay is what really works here so well coming from first-time writer Phil Johnston. The one amazing thing here that Johnston does with this script is how he has all this R-rated raunch that’s down-right hilarious, but then he equally touches it up with a touch of sweetness to it.

In a lot of comedies where they try to get sweet with their material, it doesn’t work and feels forced, but here I actually cared about all of these characters and what was going on and kind of left me with a good feeling when it was over. Still, even though it is sweet, I still laughed my ass of with plenty of the things that happen here.

My only problem with this film is that I didn’t really get many surprises here with this film because it’s all pretty generic and all the laughs you would expect from this type of material come out. I could also see a lot of chicks not really liking this film that much either since it really is all about guys and how we all grow up and everything, but still be boys. So I could kind of see a couple of chicks watching this and not really liking it that much honestly.

Ed Helms is a pretty good pick if you’re looking for someone to play that innocent, and naive insurance salesman, since almost all of his roles that he takes nowadays are about the same, but it’s not a bad thing because he’s so good at those roles. The role as Tim Lippe is a pretty tough role for Helms and while it’s not necessarily a star-making performance, I really enjoyed him. Mainly because it’s hard to be the dough-eyed nerd and not be too annoying or innocent but he brings the heart when you need it the most and he wasn’t too dorky the rest of the time.

Most of the laughs this film has comes from none other than the always amazing John C. Reilly as Dean Ziegler. Reilly’s seemingly insane and crass remarks were expertly written and most of all, expertly executed by Reilly himself. If you look close enough, you could almost see a little of Bill Murray in this role but I have to say I didn’t mind since almost every time he opened up his mouth, I laughed my ass off. When he first comes on the screen you know it’s going to be a party, and when he isn’t on and you can totally feel all of the energy from this film, not there. This was jackass John C. Reilly at its finest.

The real heart of this film here is Anne Heche as Joan Ostrowski-Fox, Tim’s squeeze, well kind of. The guys are all running around playing these goofy characters but she actually has to ground of this with some sort of humanity and she pulls it off real well. Stephen Root is also good as Tim’s boss; Sigourney Weaver is just so sexy but also great as Tim’s former teacher and now eff buddy; Isiah Whitlock Jr. is good as Ronald Wilkes and has one scene that is just worth the price of admission alone; and it’s always nice to see Kurtwood Smith in a role that isn’t a Red Forman rip-off. Overall great cast and great characters to care about.

Consensus: Though it is generic as well as less and less surprising as it goes on, Cedar Rapids brings out a lot of raunchy laughs, mainly from it’s cast but also from it’s well-written script that has that R-rated comedy appeal as well as an endearing sweetness to it as well.

8/10=Matinee!!