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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Jonah Hill

Rocket Science (2007)

Think of it as the younger-son of The King’s Speech. Minus all of the royalty.

Reece Thompson plays Hal Hefner, a 15-year-old high-school student with a minor yet socially alienating (and painful) disability: He stutters uncontrollably. He soon finds a light at the end of the tunnel with his disability when a brainy female classmate (Anna Kendrick) cons him into being apart of the debate-team. Hal accepts, but finds problems when these two actually hook-up and start to question that maybe there’s something more between them, or maybe not. It’s all confusion in a high-school setting.

Oh, teenagers.

Take with it what you will, I was actually apart of the Debate Club when I was in high-school for a good year or so. Then, I switched schools, and ultimately lost my love and passion of debating. I still do it from time-to-time when people want to have arguments like, “Avatar or Hurt Locker?“, “Social Network or King’s Speech?”, or my favorite, “Artist or not the Artist?” Yep, that’s about the only type of arguments/debates I seem to have nowadays, but I don’t think even mentioning this slice of my life has anything to do with this review or this movie, because this movie is as much about being part of the Debate Club as much as this blog is about food.

Although I do make some references here and there.

Most indies that play out in the same vein like this, all try too hard. They have a certain bit of quirks that they are way too pleased with, love to show off, and never stop reminding us of. It can get quite annoying after awhile and that’s what has usually come to plague such directors like Jared Hess, Wes Anderson, and even Quentin Tarantino so much in the years. The last subject I never have a problem with, but for those first two? Eh, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. It all depends on the context of the story and what it brings to the table. That’s the problem that writer/director Jeffrey Blitz has here.

Too focused in on trying to hide that boner of his.

Too focused in on trying to hide that boner of his.

Blitz apparently took a lot of the material for this flick, from his own adolescence and it shows, because the movie rings very true to what the high school life is really all about. Granted, this isn’t really a movie that takes place in high school and shows you all of the cliques, relationships, friendships, clubs, teachers, lunch ladies, so on and so forth, but just shows the type of kids that go to it and what they think about, whether they are in class or not. Blitz nails down what it’s like to start growing-up, starting to realize that there is a world out there, larger than you even imagined, and start to question everything that you’ve believed in, prior to your next chapter in life. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, but it’s the type of idea that Blitz captures well.

However, where this movie loses itself in is trying way, way too hard to win you over with it’s crazy and wacky quirks. That’s bad because nobody likes when a person tries to show-off what they can do, how many times, and how well they can do it, but what’s even worse is that this movie was really winning me over. It’s not like I went into this movie, was totally taken aback by all of the quirky-humor and automatically made up my mind that this was going to be shit, but it was the exact opposite. I ultimately fell for it’s quirks and even realized that maybe I could get past it all with a sweet story, and an attention to character. But nope.

The film wanted to have it the other way.

Sometimes it’s clever, sometimes it’s not. But overall, it’s just bothersome to see in a movie like this, especially when you know the movie has so much more promise then what it’s actually giving us. Maybe a bit more drama would have narrowed things down for us, or maybe a teeny, tiny-bit more attention to the plot would have helped, but with a film like this that is so pleased with what it has to say or do, you kind of lose the point. And you can totally tell that this movie was trying to tell an important-fact of stuttering and how a person can get through it with time, patience, and determination, but they even sort of make that a joke by the end. It’s still sweet, but does make fun of the wrong things if you think about it. Okay, enough of this.

Back to the goods, baby.

Evil woman.

The determined eyes of a monster.

Newcomer Reece Thompson is really good as Hal Hefner, and does a magnificent job at keeping up his stutter the whole time. That may sound like a terrible thing to say about a character who has a real problem, that real people have to deal with, but it’s the truth: Keeping a consistent stutter must be a pretty hard job. That’s why it’s so great to see this kid pull it off with flying colors, but he’s not all about losing his train of thought, he’s actually more than that. Hal Hefner is a good character because he reminds all of us, a little bit ourselves. He’s young, rebellious, trying to make sense of the world, falling in-love for the first-time, and will stop at nothing to keep that feeling of love and tranquility in place.

Anna Kendrick is just about a household name by now, but people don’t remember when she was just a young, small girl, in a little indie where she got to not only show off her charm, but her comedic-timing as well. Kendrick is awesome at being able to show us how smart and perky a character like hers can be, but also how sinister underneath it all. You never know whether or not to trust this character and all of the hope that she gives to sweet, little old Hal, but you feel Kendrick’s a presence on-screen, and she keeps you watching the whole time.

Makes sense why she’s the star she is now.

Consensus: Rocket Science is maybe way too pleased with itself at times, but also benefits from smart, funny insights into growing up and high-school life.

7 / 10

Oh yeah, and he's a nerd too. Just adding insult to injury there, kid.

Oh yeah, and he’s a nerd too. Just adding insult to injury there, kid.

Photos Courtesy of: Thecia.Com.Au

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War Dogs (2016)

The American Dream, circa Generation-Y, yo.

David Packouz (Miles Teller) hasn’t made much of his life since the days of high school. When he isn’t giving rich dudes massages for $75 an hour, he’s out there, trying to sell high-end bed sheets to retirement homes. Needless to say, it’s a very unfortunate life he has, but with the return of his old pal, Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), his luck may have changed. Seeing as how they were best pals back in the day and can probably trust one another with everything, Efraim asks for David to be his partner in his selling and supplying weapons to U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan. While David isn’t quite sure of how this arms-dealing business works, he soon learns the ropes and wouldn’t you know it? Him and Efraim are raking in all sorts of dough, not to mention getting the interest of the Pentagon, who see two youngsters making it big and succesful in America. However though, little does anyone outside of David or Efraim know, that the two are up to no good and more often than not, finding themselves in some murky areas of the law that may possibly bring them down, have them arrested, or better yet, even get them killed.

I'm impressed, too.

I’m impressed, too.

For Todd Phillips, it seems like War Dogs is his the Big Short. Whereas the later was directed by Adam McKay, someone trying to break out of the mold of directing silly comedies, by exposing the U.S.’s financial history and how it caused for the rest of society to go insane, War Dogs shows Phillips trying to do the same thing, but by exposing America’s reliance on guns and arms-dealers, most importantly, this true tale. In fact, the tale is so crazy and wild, that you’d think making a movie and trying to capture that sense of wackiness would be pretty difficult, but honestly, Phillips works well with the material.

It may not be the movie that makes him out to be a voice to be reckoned with, but it’s a step in the right direction away from another Hangover movie.

Anyway, yeah, what works best about War Dogs is that it has such a crazy real-life tale, that all Phillips really has to do is play by the facts of the story and leave it at that. He, as well as the movie, works best at that because there’s a certain sense of seriousness hiding underneath every zany moment; just when you think it’s all “too good to be true”, check it out and guess what? It’s damn true.

War Dogs is also the kind of movie that has a lot of story and ground to cover, yet, handles it quite effortlessly. The movie could have easily been tied-down in trying to explain just how these two bros were able to access all of these weapons in the first place, but instead of focusing down on that so much, they make a mention of it and continue on with these guys’ adventure into becoming legitimate arms-dealers. It’s kind of a silly tale, but it’s one that’s hard not to believe in, nor get tied-up in because there really is an energy and excitement to it that hasn’t been found in any of Phillips’ movies since the first Hangover.

And in ways, War Dogs is a lot less like the Big Short, than it’s more like Blow, or as it wishes, possibly even Scarface.

It’s the kind of movie that we’ve probably seen before, has a whole lot of ambitions that it doesn’t necessarily reach, but is so entertaining and fun when it gets moving, that it’s hard to hold anything against. Phillips does something smart in that he doesn’t focus too much on the small, itty, bitty details and instead, just lets loose and allows for us to watch as these guys rise up the ranks. We know we’re supposed to hate them for what they’re doing and who they’re supplying weapons to, but honestly, it’s so difficult to do so when the ride of watching them become more and more rich, is so much fun to begin with.

And honestly, in a summer that’s been filled with quite a few duds, it’s nice to have a movie that’s having fun with itself, but also ask for the audience to join in it as well.

Miles, guns are bad. Stay away. Unless you can make a pretty penny off of them, then forget about it.

Miles, guns are bad. Stay away. Unless you can make a pretty penny off of them, then forget about it.

That said, War Dogs does run into issues with seeming like it wants to have something more to do and say about what story it’s presenting, but ultimately, drops the ball on that front. Phillips himself seems as if he’s both for and against these guys; he likes how they’ve seemingly used their smarts and cons to get all of the money that they wanted and seem like legitimate businessman while doing so, but at the same time, also doesn’t like how they went about their business-dealings. The movie does toggle with the idea of making money off of terrorists, as opposed to making it off of government agencies, but as soon as its brought up, it goes away.

It’s a bit of a shame, too, because War Dogs does work whenever it seems as if it wants to dig deeper into these characters, their lives, and their relationship with one another. It helps that Teller and Hill are perhaps the most charismatic young actors we have working today, but regardless, the two work so well together that they do feel like best pals, who are absolutely loving everything about life. Teller gets to play his role more meek and quiet this time around, whereas Hill gets to play slimy and gritty, but also showing that he may be a good friend, as well.

The issue is that with these two characters, that’s only who they end up being: Best pals.

They run through certain problems that all business-partners run through and yeah, they also have small squabbles in between, but there’s more of a heart missing to this movie that makes so many of those other crime-dramas work so well. We may not have to like their actions, or better yet, even like them as a whole, but any sort of characteristic that resembles being sympathetic, would definitely help make this journey all the more compelling. It still works as is, don’t get me wrong, but a little more attention to the stuff that counts would have helped out a whole lot.

Consensus: Fast, exciting and above all else, entertaining, War Dogs paints it true story as a typical rags-to-riches story, but with a darker edge, even if it doesn’t always connect with every mark it sets out to hit.

7.5 / 10

True bros.

True bros.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Sausage Party (2016)

I prefer my groceries non-verbal and dead, thank you very much.

Frank (Seth Rogen) is a sausage in a grocery store and just like every other product in this grocery store, they all dream of a better life, where they’re picked up by customers, taken out of their plastic wrappers, and brought onto “the promised land”. While no product has any actual idea of what lies ahead, once they are picked up and bought, their imaginations run so wild that they create a song and dance number to make themselves more attractive to the customers, or as they call them, “Gods”. For Frank, however, it’s less about being taken to this so-called “promised land”, and more or less allowed to finally have some sweet, sweaty and dirty sex with his girlfriend, a bun named Brenda Bunson (Kristen Wiig). But for some reason, as of late, Frank has been contemplating the world outside of the grocery store and because of this, he doesn’t really know if he wants to be taken to “the promised land”, leading him on this wild adventure of getting back on the store-shelves, while also ensuring that what he’s doing is right.

You know, what normal store-bought sausage franks think about on a regular basis.

The truth about sausages and buns.

The truth about sausages and buns.

The whole idea of Sausage Party is that it’s an R-rated, raunchy-as-all-hell, mean, vulgar, and nasty animated flick that’s mean to some sort of play on Toy Story, where inanimate objects walk, talk, and act, just like you or I, yet, at the same time, don’t really know much about the world around them, other than what they see in their small, contained worlds and possibly what their told. Honestly, it’s a genius idea that’s a lot more ambitious than it sounds and given the cast and crew involved, it’s a surprise that this didn’t come around sooner. Studios already have issues shelling out loads and loads of money to R-rated movies as is, let alone animated ones that are clearly not at all for kids, even if they’ll probably see the numerous ads, billboards and posters, wondering just what it’s all about and whether or not their parents can take them to see it.

Which is why Sausage Party, despite not being a great movie, is still a step in the right direction for more of these kinds of flicks to come out. Sure, they may be a better, or they may be a lot worse than Sausage Party, but still, they’re R-rated animated flicks, made by and strictly for adults. All of this garbage said, Sausage Party works when it’s trying to be a little more than what it appears to be on the surface; there’s lots of swears and cursing going on, some of which just feel like overkill, but there are also some nice little plays on this grocery-store world and puns, that make it feel like this movie had to take place with the kind of story that it has.

But then again, there’s also a slew of jokes and plays-on-words that are meant to be funny, but unfortunately, just aren’t.

Tequila's always fun no matter what form.

Tequila’s always fun no matter what form.

And really, that’s what it all comes down to when you’re working with a comedy – the jokes have to be funny and if they aren’t, then it’s a problem. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times in which I laughed during Sausage Party, but there were also plenty of times that I didn’t, and it seemed disappointing, considering that everyone involved here are funny people and can make me laugh like a hyena, when they feel is necessary. The fact that they don’t always win me over with laughter, is fine, but when your movie is literally one joke after another, and a good portion of them don’t connect, it’s hard not to notice.

That said, Sausage Party still does work, because it’s got more on its mind than just talking-food – as was the case with This is the End, Sausage Party is a movie in which Apatow friends and company, all question their existence and wonder whether or not there is more to life than just what’s being presented to them. It’s a silly allegory, mostly due to the fact that it’s talking-food asking and looking for answers to these burning questions, but it’s an allegory that’s still smart and makes sense, given this story and these characters. There’s also all of this talk of race relations, religion and, believe it or not, politics, all of which don’t really feel necessary and don’t always work, but still make this more than what you’d expect it to be.

But still, Sausage Party isn’t trying to change the world we live in, and that’s okay. It’s a silly movie, that has fun with itself to the point of where it’s enjoyable and it doesn’t ask for much attention or thought necessary. The cast, as usual, is great, with Nick Kroll probably the stand-out as the Deuche, who sounds and acts like a Jersey Shore bro, as well as Edward Norton doing a very odd Woody Allen-impersonation. Not sure if the movie needed that later one, but hey, Edward Norton voicing a bagel is pretty cool, so I’ll take it.

I may not eat it, because that’s creepy, but I’ll take it.

Consensus: While not necessarily lighting the comedic world on fire, Sausage Party still works well with its creative idea, bringing out laughs and a surprising amount of food-for-thought while it’s at it.

7 / 10

Hungry now?

Hungry now?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

Every guy’s got that one ex-girlfriend who looks like Kristen Bell and ruined their lives.

Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) isn’t doing much with his life, really. Sure, he’s got TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), as a girlfriend, but really, he just sits around the house, eating a crap-ton of cereal, getting on the piano, and slowly writing his opera to Dracula. Eventually, all of this laziness catches up to him when Sarah dumps him for rock star and pop-sensation Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Heartbroken and without any clue as to what to do with his life, Peter decides to say screw it all and go vacation in Hawaii. After all, it’s nice, relaxing and just an all around great environment to be in, even though, when he gets there, he discovers that Sarah and Aldous are at the same resort of him, as lovey-dovey as they can possibly get. Though he automatically regrets the decision he makes, a clerk at the resort (Mila Kunis) gets Peter to stay and just enjoy the time he’s got. And yes, that’s exactly what Peter does, even if it does seem to be with her an awful lot. But still, there’s a part of Peter that no matter how hard he tries, he still can’t get over Sarah.

Oh, man up, wussy.

Oh, man up, wussy. She wasn’t even that hoooooo….okay, that’s a lie. She totally was.

You’ve got to hand it to Jason Segel for laying it all out there, literally and figuratively. Forgetting Sarah Marshall was his baby from the first stroke of the pen and it only makes greater sense that he’d be the star of it, and it actually works in the movie’s favor. Segel’s got this everyman feel to him that makes him not only likable, but downright sympathetic, even when it seems like he’s making dumb decisions, time after time again. Then again, the idea here is that because he’s so heart-broken and torn-up, he makes bad decisions by accident, not knowing what else to do.

Once again, this aspect works because it’s relatable and smart, without ever trying to be too much of, either.

At its core, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is another Apatow-lite comedy where people riff on random things for the sake of it, but this time, there’s more of a story to it all, with this one being that Segel’s character needs to get over his ex. Sure, it’s not much of a story, but it’s at least something to hold together all of the sticky pieces of improv that, yes, can occasionally bring out small, brilliant gems of comedic genius, but other times, can seem as if they’re just going on far too long and not really adding much of anything. Sure, a five-minute bit about champagne is fine and all, so long as it’s funny, but does it really need to be here?

Can it be substituted for something else more pertinent to the story? Or, can it just be taken out altogether?

The only reason I bring any of this up is because Forgetting Sarah Marshall is nearly two hours and can certainly feel like it. While we’re in the dawn and age where it’s virtually impossible that any movie, let alone a big-budgeted, mainstream comedy will be under two hours, there’s still something to be said for a movie when its short, but sweet and tight enough to where you don’t feel like you’re strained by the end. And no, I am not saying I was “strained” by Forgetting Sarah Marshall‘s end, but more like I was left with a lot of laughs, a rag-tag story that tried to hold everything together, and a better understanding that as long as you find another attractive person to kiss and bang, don’t worry, you’ll get over that attractive person you used to kiss and bang.

Catfight! Catfight!

Catfight! Catfight!

Okay, maybe it’s not nearly that cynical, but you get my drift: The message is as simple as they come, but it still works because the feeling of heartbreak is, unfortunately, for so many out there, universal. Everyone’s experienced it at least once in their life, whether they like to admit it or not, and even though the film likes to poke jokes at the idea of not being able to function in society after a break-up, it’s still very much a reality. Sometimes, the world around you just doesn’t make perfect sense, but because you know you have to be happy and move on, even if you don’t feel it at all, you still have to push yourself further and further to get to that point. Segel flirts with this idea and while he doesn’t fully go for it all, he still brings it up in a way that made me think it was more than just your average studio-comedy.

Because, yes, despite the wonderfully wacky, but charming performances from the likes of Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, and of course, Paul Rudd, amongst many others, the fact that Forgetting Sarah Marshall addresses sadness, love, heartbreak, and the feeling of remorse in an honest, but funny way, made me think of it a lot differently than I used to. Segel may or may not be working through some demons with this work here, but whatever the case is, his heart shines through and it’s nice to see someone take their script as passionately as it should be taken as.

It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s a blast to watch.

Consensus: In need of a trim or two, Forgetting Sarah Marshall can definitely feel a tad overlong, but still benefits from lovely and funny performances from the whole cast, as well as a smart script that goes beyond what you expect a studio comedy to be all about, even if it totally turns into that.

7.5 / 10

Hey remember the talk show this guy had? Me neither.

Hey, remember the talk show this guy had? Me neither.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Invention of Lying (2009)

If you think about it, can’t all religious text possibly be “lies”? #Controversial

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is so down-on-his-luck that he’s practically given up now. While he has an okay job as a screenwriter and a nice apartment to live in, he lives in a world nobody is able to lie, so therefore, nobody ever does something for another person cause its the right thing to do. This means that Mark has to go out on a lot of dates where the girls he meets don’t really like him, nor do they ever expect to take anything further than just a simple date and leaving it at that. One date in particular, with Anna (Jennifer Garner), Mark seems to want more out of, but because he, according to her, is “fat and ugly”, the relationship will never work. But somehow, on one fateful day, Mark decides that he has the rare ability to, believe it or not, lie. This means that everyone around him will believe anything he says and can basically get away with whatever he oh so pleases to get away with. Clearly, this means that Mark’s going to do some easily questionable things that are for his own self-gain, but eventually, he starts to realize that it doesn’t matter if you can lie the rest of your life and get away, all that does matter is that you feel something lovely and true.

is the handsome, slack-jawed man her choice?

is the handsome, slack-jawed man her choice?

The Invention of Lying has so much promise that it’s an absolute shame watching went goes down with it. For one, this world that’s been created here, while yes, a tad odd and unconventional, is still an interesting one that you can spend a whole miniseries on, exploring every piece by piece, while also having some real great fun, with jokes and all that. And for awhile, the movie seems like it’s more than up to that opportunity; a commercial with Coca-Cola is perhaps the funniest moment of the whole movie, only to then be up-staged by a Pepsi ad moments later. There’s other bits and pieces in which Gervais explores this world a whole lot more than just having people blurt out mean, nasty and cruel things, but yeah, what eventually happens isn’t good.

And yes, this is a huge problem.

After awhile, it seems like co-directors Gervais and Matthew Robinson, truly did want to get deep down into this world, explore it more, find more jokes to make about it, and, if it got to a certain point, make some interesting contrasts to the real world we live in now, but for some reason, they get distracted. Instead of trying to make something that’s really biting, smart and almost satirical, they opt more for the conventional route, where we’re now more interested in whether or not Ricky Gervais’ character is going to get the girl at the end.

Obviously, he probably will, but to see this idea get explored more so than the other ones going on here, is pretty wasteful. Now, of course, I don’t know if this is on behalf of studio interruption, or if the guys themselves just really wanted to make a rom-com with this thing, but either way, it’s a shame to watch after awhile, because the jokes can sometimes be very funny, but sometimes, it doesn’t always hit its mark.

That said, yes, the Invention of Lying can be a pretty funny movie and yes, can deliver on some of its promises.

Or, the very ugly, but ambitious loner?

Or, the very ugly, but ambitious loner?

The whole add-on of religion was not only a nice touch, but a smart one that yes, was commenting on the idea of religion, but wasn’t doing it in an over-the-top way where some people may feel offended or pissed. However, at the same time, those who don’t follow any sort of religion by any means, won’t find themselves pissed that a well-known atheist like Ricky Gervais backed out on his original ideas. It’s just the right amount of poking fun, but also, reservation that makes a movie like this, while not perfect, seem a little more interesting and smarter.

And yeah, it also helps that the cast is pretty darn solid, too. As an ordinary, everyday man gifted with this one spectacular talent, Gervais is a lot of fun, but also, seems like he wants to do more than just be a stand-in for the story. He does give this character a heart and soul, and even though it may not totally work in the grander scheme of things, and just get in the way of the funnier moments of the movie, it still proves that Gervais himself isn’t just all about gags and making people laugh uncontrollably. Sometimes, he does like to get a little serious and dramatic and it works in most of his pieces.

Here, maybe not so much.

The reason for that is because it does feel very shoe-horned in, especially when you take into consideration that the movie is less about finding true love, as much as it’s just about the lies we are told and the lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better. Jennifer Garner is fine and, surprisingly, has some sweet chemistry with Gervais, but any moment that the movie seemed to focus on their possible budding-romance, it felt like it was being dragged down by a very heavy anchor that couldn’t be lifted. Once again, this could have been studio interference, but still, that doesn’t make it a worthy excuse. But it’s easy to forgive Gervais because even a movie like the Invention of Lying, while not perfect, still reminds us why he’s one of the smarter, brighter voices in comedy, as well as in animal rights.

You go, Rick.

Consensus: Despite not fully delivering on the promise of its premise, the Invention of Lying is still an entertaining comedy, mostly thanks to the talent working in it.

6 / 10

Or, the snarky Brit? Who knows who she'll choose!

Or, the snarky Brit? Who knows who she’ll choose!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Old Hollywood was so much more interesting.

Being the known and so-called “fixer” for Capitol Pictures during the 50’s, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) has got a lot on his plate. One concerns a disgruntled director (Ralph Fiennes), who can’t seem to get his actor to deliver the right lines. Another involves a singing cowboy known as Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), who wants to be a bigger star and may also need a date for the premiere of his new flick. Then, there’s rising star DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) who suddenly becomes pregnant before production and is in need of someone to take care of her. And then, last but not least, there’s the issue of superstar Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), someone who has gone mysteriously missing, while his latest film, Hail, Caesar!, is in the last stages of production. Reasons surrounding the why, or better yet, the who, of the capturing of Baird isn’t answered, but Mannix will not stop until he finds Whitlock and everything goes back to normal. However, there’s mounting pressure from all sides, especially when twin gossip reporters, Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton), come snooping around, wanting to know what the latest scoop is.

Nothing like a 50's-era 'stache.

Nothing like a 50’s-era ‘stache.

It’s nice to know that talented writers and directors like the Coen brothers are still trusted enough in Hollywood, to be allowed to do whatever it is that they want, with whomever they want, and however they want to. That’s why a movie like Hail, Caesar!, a polished, lovely-looking throwback and tribute to the old, post-war days of Hollywood where people were more naturally good-looking, all smoked, and seemed to be living lives of absolute luxury. And it’s no surprise that the Coens have actually gone so far as to make a movie like this, considering that most of their movies have an old-timey, screwball-appeal, but now, considering that their flick is placed in the early 50’s, they’re allowed to be as goofy and odd as they want to be, with the obvious wink-wink at the audience of what’s being made fun of.

Which is to say that, yes, Hail, Caesar! is actually a funny movie. There’s a lot of side-jocks, puns, and goofy occurrences that the Coens use here that make the movie not only entertaining, but also exciting. You don’t know what trick or trade their going to pull out of their hat next and it goes without saying, that while not all of the jokes or gags land, they are still seen as efforts from two people who clearly know and understand the form of creating a joke and allowing for it to land.

This is all mentioned to let the record state that Hail, Caesar!, the actual movie itself and not the movie-within-the-movie, is not a very good Coen brothers flick, but a fine one.

The main issue with Hail, Caesar! is that there doesn’t seem to be much of a energizing plot driving it. Sure, there’s a lot going on here, that Mannix, the protagonist, has to deal with and solve, but mostly all of the subplots come and go as they please, without their being much pushing everything forward. Rather than feeling fun, spirited and frothy, Hail, Caesar! surprisingly finds the Coens in a more subdued state, where they aren’t working as quickly as we’ve seen them before, but focusing more on the details of each subplot, as well as certain characters.

Which is fine and all, but nobody in Hail, Caesar! is really all that interesting, or as compelling of a character as the Coens may think. Mannix himself seems to be an intriguing specimen, who not only works as a collective fixer in Hollywood, but also a hardcore, dedicated family man, but really, he’s here to just service other colorful and sometimes, weird characters. Clooney’s Whitlock is clearly a take on Kirk Douglas, which doesn’t go much further than that; Johansson’s Moran is an old school dame, who definitely has a lot of sass, but not much more; and Ehrenreich’s Hobie Doyle, perhaps the standout of the flick, is perhaps the only given more to work with in general.

In fact, it’s the scenes with Hobie Doyle that work the most.

You can do it, George! Let that emotion out!

You can do it, George! Let that emotion out!

Whether he’s trying to nail a simple line in a very fluffy period-drama, or charm the pants off of his date, there’s something sweet and lovable about Hobie Doyle that not only makes you want to see more of him, but maybe wish that the movie was just about him and his rise in Hollywood. Ehrenreich is a likable enough presence to have us buy into the boyish charm of this character, while at the same time, still seeing him for a human being, even among all of the fakes and phonies that sometimes show up here. Though he’s been around the pond quite a few times, it seems like Hail, Caesar!, if anything, will be the launching pad for Alden Ehrenreich.

And everybody else is fine here, too. Actually, everybody who does show up, whether they be large roles, supporting roles, or simply, extended cameos, every member of the cast is clearly game for this material and want to add their own two cents in any way that they can. Is there perhaps too much of everyone here? Of course there is! However, it’s also sort of fun to watch the likes of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in a Coen brothers movie – something I’d never thought I’d see, but I’m glad I did and could definitely get used to.

But really, that’s all that Hail, Caesar! is: Fun and fine.

The movie’s not particularly deep, or special in that it brings some new sense of fun and charm to the Coen brothers style. If anything, it just shows that they’re capable of doing whatever movie they want. So what if it doesn’t always work or constantly excite us? Sometimes, the best movies are those that set-out to just entertain and leave it at that! Is it disappointing considering what we know from the Coens?

Most definitely, but hey, I’ll take fun and fine, over depressing and boring any day!

Consensus: Hail, Caesar! won’t stand as the best film of the Coens storied-career, but still proves that their attention to humor, fun and detail will never go away, no matter what environment they’re working in.

6.5 / 10

No, C-Tates. We salute you!

No, C-Tates. We salute you!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

True Story (2015)

Got to look out for those charming serial killers; they’re the hardest ones to loathe.

After being publicly shamed and fired for fibbing about a story he did on child-slavery in Africa, ex-New York Times journalist Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) is left jobless, depressed and desperate to find any sort of work that may possibly come his way. Eventually though, work does eventually find its way to him – however, just not in the ways he had intended. After being on the run from the feds for the alleged murder of his wife and two kids, Christian Longo (James Franco) fled to Mexico, where he went under a false identity; who also just so happen to be Mike Finkel. Though Longo didn’t get away with this, the real Mike Finkel still finds plenty of interest in this and, seeing a book-deal in the horizon somewhere, decides to jump on the opportunity right away to interview Longo, get to know him better, and eventually, figure out the truth about just what the hell happened and whether or not Longo even committed the crime to begin with. Eventually though, Mike’s obsession with Longo’s life begins to grow almost too serious, which is when Mike’s fiancee (Felicity Jones) sees that it’s time to step in and check out what this Christian Longo guy is all about, if anything at all.

What we have on our hands here, folks, is the classic case where the real, true-to-life story the movie’s discussing and adapting, is way more interesting than the movie itself ever turns out to be. That’s not to say that there aren’t bits and pieces of True Story that don’t sizzle, pop and crackle, as reading this story straight from its Wikipedia page would, but there’s something to say about a movie where it’s constantly made clear that you’ll probably want to read the actual details on what really happened, rather than taking this movie’s word for it.

Pack your bags up, Jonah! You've got more movies with Marty Scorsese to do!

Pack your bags up, Jonah! You’ve got more movies with Marty Scorsese to do!

Because hey, Hollywood lies and they can’t always be trusted.

However, in True Story‘s case, there seems to be too many creative-licenses taken at times that makes this feel like a jumbled-up mess, when it sure as hell didn’t need to be. For instance, the inclusion of Felicity Jones’ character never makes sense here and, on more than a few occasions, takes away from what could have been a thoughtful, intriguing piece about the mental cat-and-mouse games we sometimes play on those who we feel are equal enough to us to play back. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Felicity Jones and considering that she’s red hot right after her Oscar-nominated performance in the Theory of Everything, I’m especially happy to see her be able to take center-stage against the likes of Franco and Hill, but when her scenes with them are supposed to bring some heartfelt emotions, they can’t help but ring false.

And most of this can be attributed to the fact that this is director Rupert Goold’s first time behind the camera, and it damn well shows. According to what I’ve read (because people do that, you know?), Goold comes from a long history of theater and directing plays, which makes total sense; some of the best parts of this film are when it’s simply just two or more people, sitting in a room, talking to one another, and seeing what shoe drops next. Most of these scenes include both Hill and Franco talking to one another, but it works so well because not only are these two actors solid here, but their characters have genuine tension together that you don’t know whether they’re going to take out weapons and start brawling, or rip-off each other’s clothes, shut the lights off, and start making some sweet, hot and sexy love.

Either turnout seems interesting and more than likely, especially considering that these two seem so incredibly comfortable with one another, that even when they aren’t supposed to be laugh-out-loud stoners making us laugh, they’re die hard thespians that try to one-up the other, in any way that they can. In some ways, it’s less of a mind game between these two characters, and more of a mind game between these two actors, who definitely make the movie all the better by showing up, ready to work.

Goes to show you that it’s not such a problem to change things up every once and awhile and get downright serious with your work.

Franco, so smug right now.

Franco, so smug right now.

But Franco and Hill, as hard as they try, aren’t fully capable of keeping this movie above the water for long enough to where the problems within aren’t noticeable. Like I mentioned before, Goold comes from a theater background, and because of this, when he gets right down to making this story about something, rather than just about two guys talking to one another and constantly lying about what may have, or may not have happened on some fateful date in their lives, he stumbles a whole heck of a lot. There’s a point here to be made about the state of modern-day journalism, and how some people are so willing to stay successful and famous for as long as they can, that no matter what, they’ll cover whatever comes their way, but even that feels oddly-placed in a movie that doesn’t know who it wants to judge, or what it wants to say about these people.

Judging from this movie, Mike Finkel isn’t the best journalist who lied about his story to get it past the editing process and hopefully make him a huge star. That didn’t happen, and because of that, we’re supposed to feel sorry for him, even if the movie makes it seem clear that what he does after losing his job, is all the more humiliating. Then, at the same time, it still can’t help but to judge him for jumping on something as odd as Longo’s case, which is where the movie got odd. Is it against Finkel as a person? As a journalist? Or, as somebody who wanted to hold onto any sort of fame he could grasp a hold of?

Whatever the point to it all may have been, it’s hard to put a finger on. Even if Hill and Franco, yes, do seem to be trying here. And, most importantly, don’t seem all that stoned.

Okay, maybe a little.

Consensus: True Story gets most of its mileage out of the solid performances from Hill and Franco, but everything else about is messy, ill-formed and almost too over-dramatic to be considered “the truth”, even if the movie loves spouting that fact many times throughout.

6 / 10

PDA?

PDA?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

These dragons are cool and all, but they ain’t got nothing on Spyro.

Five years after the events of the first movie, in which both dragons and townspeople of Berk decided to live together in perfect peace and harmony, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now feeling a whole lot of pressure coming from his daddy-o (Gerard Butler) about stepping up and taking the throne. However, Hiccup isn’t functioned like that; he’d much rather continue to live the way he’s been living where he, his girlfriend (America Ferrara) and his lovely dragon/best friend in the whole wide world Toothless, can just roam around and have a great time. Problem is though, they realize that their freedom and happiness may be challenged when an evil man by the name of Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) starts sniffing around for dragons and finding whichever ones he can get, only to turn them evil and allow him to take over the world, once and for all. It’s a mission that both Hiccup and his father don’t want him to complete, however, they get distracted once Hiccup’s mother (Cate Blanchett) suddenly re-appears out of nowhere and brings promise of the family-unit coming together after all of this time. But will it be as perfect as they want it to be with an evil, raging maniac like Drago Bludvist hanging around and turning dragons against humans?

Though I wasn’t expecting much from it, the first How to Train Your Dragon really worked for me – it was everything that a Pixar movie (at the time, mind you) was, except a lot more beautiful in its sweeping ways. And thankfully too, the visuals haven’t changed a single bit; even if they have, they’ve only improved in the way every frame we get here, is all thought-out and feels tailor-made for something like 3D. Which yes, means a lot considering that so many movies that come out nowadays just post-convert their 3D for a higher price, which would result in more money back. Doesn’t always work (in terms of movies making their money back), but what it does do is make the movie look cheap, lazy and slapped-together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich you’d put together before heading off to work in a hurry.

Wow! Watch the PDA! This is a family-feature for Christsakes!

Wow! Watch the PDA! This is a family-feature for Christ’s sakes!

However, the visuals here are amazing and if you have the budget to do so, I recommend taking a trip to the 3D theater lobby.

But as much as it may impress with its attention to visuals, HTTYD 2 (I guess that’s what I’ll call it from now on) has a story that really reaches beyond most movie’s sequels, where it’s presumed that everything that worked in the first movie, must happen again, but this time, louder, longer and more, more, more! That’s the name of the game with sequels, but here, you can really tell that the creators not only care about these characters and their personalities, but also the pre-historic world they’re placed into, where it’s almost like a fantasy-palace, yet, by the same token, isn’t.

Still though, that doesn’t matter because what the creators do here is create an adult story, somehow produced and marketed towards kids. That being said, this is the type of kids movie that may disturb some of them because of the very traumatic and unexpected stuff that happens here, but it’s also handled very well to where the kiddies won’t be traumatized for the rest of their days, pacing back and forth in some psych-ward. Somehow, it finds just the right balance somewhere in between where its easy enough for adults to feel comfortable with their kids watching and being of witness to, but may also have them covering their kiddies eyes.

Either way, it’s a judgement call, so do what you will, older person.

Anyway, like I was saying about the story, some of it is very dramatic and emotional, but it’s never done too much to where this seems like the most dark, depressing and bleak kids movie ever made. It has many ideas/themes about growing up, respecting your elders, being the best person that you can be, and a whole bunch of environmentally-sound messages thrown at us enough times to where we get the point, but never too much to where it seems like we’re being preached at. Like mostly everything else in this movie, it’s handled well and only keeps on leading you up to the moments in which you’ll be touched and maybe even tear-up a little.

Okay, who am I kidding?!? You’ll be tearing up a whole hell of a lot, but that’s just what happens when these kinds of animated movies are done right! They can affect any person who watches them – even if one of those people just so happen to be a twenty-year-old dude, who may, or may not be in touch with his inner-most soft side.

I’m not speaking about myself, either….

Once again, anyway, this movie’s pretty darn good. The only times where it starts to lose a step or two is by the end when I feel like it gets all wrapped up in its big, climactic war-battle that it doesn’t know how to tell the difference between “serious”, or “jokey”. This may sound like a weird complaint for a kids movie, but think about it: When you have any movie that features a battle scene in which many people/persons/things are being killed/destroyed, it’s hard to not think about those things while watching it. It doesn’t matter what the movie is, because it’s always hinted at us, and I feel like by the end of this movie, there’s a problem with separating that it’s a kids movie, that features many people being killed. We never see anybody getting killed in disgusting, graphic ways, but it’s sort of hinted at and it was hard to get past when it was happening on screen.

However, that could just be another case of my weirdness setting in and screwing everything up, so avoid that if you must.

Aw! It's going down!

Aw! It’s going down!

What’s also interesting about this movie is how the whole voice cast from the first movie returns for this one and how they’re all still pretty good. Jay Baruchel voices Hiccup very well in his slightly-neurotic way that isn’t over-bearing, but also doesn’t take you away from believing that he can stand-up for himself and those that he loves when he needs to. Also, I love that he’s a protagonist in a story that’s all about talking things out and reasoning, rather than just jumping right to conclusions and start killing anyway he sees fit.

As a result, that makes the villain, Drago Bludvist, seem dumb and almost as if he didn’t think everything out as perfectly as he should have. He’s reasoning for wanting to take over the world, rid it of all humans known to man, and capture every dragon by turning them bad, seems like something any villain would want to do, but when he’s given the chance to explain himself, there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason or inspiration at all. I’m all for a baddie, being a baddie, for the sake of just being a baddie, but when a movie like this comes around and shows us that there’s more to a simple tale of humans and dragons being friends, then I expect more in return.

Because it’s very rare that you get an animated movie that knocks the socks right off of anybody that isn’t a kid. So yeah, go us older people!

Consensus: The ground that How to Train Your Dragon 2 covers may be a lot darker and heavier for kids, but nonetheless, they’ll be treated to a story that sweeps along with beautiful visuals, a lively voice-cast, and a touching heart at the center that will get anybody tearing-up. Looking at you, adults.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Sort of like how my pet looks at me. Except my "pet" isn't a dragon, it's this little d-bag.

Sort of like how my pet looks at me. Except my “pet” isn’t a dragon, it’s this little d-bag.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

22 Jump Street (2014)

The override of debt and loans may be a pain, but hey, at least you’re hanging out with C-Tates and J-Hill!

After “successfully” blending in as high school students and busting a major drug-ring, Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) are looking for their next mission, however, their commanding-officer (Ice Cube) thinks that they look too old to blend in with the young adolescents. Instead, he devises up a plan to send both of these guys to college, where they’ll be looking to infiltrate another drug-ring that may have also been the major influence in a student’s recent death. Automatically though, there are problems both Jenko and Schmidt run into as soon as they walk onto campus – some recognize that they are too old; Schmidt can’t fit in as well as he did in high school and finds himself “in” with the art crowd; Jenko finds himself buddy-buddy with a fellow footballer (Wyatt Russell); and plenty more distractions that keep both Jenko’s and Schmidt’s eyes off of what they were sent to college to do in the first place. To make matters even worse, Schmidt gets jealous that Jenko has a new best-friend that he can hang around and party with, leading to something even more serious than the idea of the mission falling apart: The dissolution of their friendship.

To be honest, even though I terribly enjoyed myself with 21 Jump Street, I for one was definitely not looking forward to a sequel of it. Not just a sequel to 21 Jump Street, but just a sequel in particular because, as we all know, sequels are the cash-cow of the movie business that Hollywood loves stuffing down our throats. It doesn’t matter if its a re-tread of the same story that was done so well before, or even if it improves upon the original in any way whatsoever – all that matters is that those in charge make money, and a whole bunch of it, too.

Ooh. Channing Tatum as a football player? Yeah, don't know if I believe it either.

Ooh. Channing Tatum as a football player? Yeah, don’t know if I believe it either.

However, every reason I just gave for not looking forward to most sequels of most kinds, is the exact reason why 22 Jump Street, the sequel to 21 Jump Street, works as well as it does: It knows what it’s set out on this Earth to do and rather than trying to hide behind it with flashy special-effects, car-chases and explosions, they attack it head on. Maybe moreso than they should have, however, a funny meta-sequel is better than a meta-sequel that isn’t funny, and it makes me happy to know that Hollywood still has some creative minds out there that can do something cool, fun, and different with the same formula, no matter how many times it’s been done before.

And yes, even though this story has only been done once on the big screen in the past decade or so, something could have easily gone awry here where it feels like it’s the same jokes said, same plot-threads covered, and absolutely no character-development whatsoever. But, like I’ve been mentioning, this sequel is very different from those others out there that do exist and show up maybe ten-to-fifteen times a year.

Because, for starters, this movie is downright funny. Everybody in the movie seems to be having a wonderful time with the material, and considering that both co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller place this story in college, rather than in high school, there’s more ground to cover. Personally, I don’t think this movie goes as deep into the state of modern-day college as well as it did with high school in the first movie, but the fact still remains that it’s a funny movie that makes the best use of its premise. Most of that credit deserves to be given to the more-than-able cast, but a good handful does deserve to go to Lord, Miller and the screenwriters (Michael Bacall and Oren Uziel) who keep this movie crackling full of humor whenever it sees fit.

Still surprised? Don’t worry, because it gets better.

Also, with this sequel, something happens that I didn’t see coming, which is that we get more rich development for our main characters that we fell so in love with before: Greg Jenko and Morton Schmidt. Obviously what was so great about the first movie is that Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, despite seeming like a terribly-placed, odd-couple of some sorts back two years ago, worked so well together, that it was easy to not only believe in them as best-friends, but fuel the movie’s emotions a bit more once you saw their friendship start to deteriorate because of certain problems stemming from one being considered “cooler” than the other. They explore that same idea here, but it’s done so in a way that isn’t hacky and at least brings us to seeing why Jenko and Schmidt are such great movie-pals in the first place.

And heck, if you told me that C-Tates and J-Hill truly were the best of friends in real life, I would not doubt you for a second, because here, it totally shows. Their chemistry never wains and you can always tell that each one knows exactly what the next one is going to say, or do, at any given moment. Watching them pal around with one another and bounce joke-after-joke off of each other’s public-personas is an absolute blast, but what makes them so great together here, especially this time around, is that you can see why it matters so much about them being friends.

Though their different in terms of physical-build and social-cliques, they both have the same kind of personalities that they even each other’s out; Jenko is more impulsive, whereas Schmidt likes to think about what move he’s going to make next, whereas Schmidt is smart about life and in touch with his feelings, Jenko likes to blanket things underneath having a good time and not worrying about the small stuff that he considers “crap”, or “meaningless”. Though they have some differences, they still definitely appreciate each other’s company, because they’re both clearly good at their job and want to have a great time while doing it. Sure, they may not always agree on whatever step the other one takes, for whatever reasons that may be, but not every person agrees with another person on everything, especially not a best-friend.

College truly is an experimental time for anybody.

College truly is an experimental time for anybody.

I know it may seem like I’m going into this deeper than I probably should, but I only do that because the movie itself clearly does its own fair share of digging into the friendship of these two just as much, if not more. Jenko and Schmidt are clearly the heart and soul of this movie, and while they may not be the only amusing, or even most interesting aspect about it all, they sure as hell are the aspect that keeps it conscience clear, its heart in the right place, and ourselves placed firmly behind these two, hoping they complete their mission, happy and together. And yes, if that sounds at all homosexual, that’s on purpose.

Trust me.

Like I said though, these two aren’t the only amusing aspect of the movie, because saying so would only be an injustice to just about everybody else who shows up here and throws in their own two cents to bring in more fun. Ice Cube is a whole lot funnier and well-rounded than he was in the first one, and without giving too much away, I’ll just say that he’s downright hilarious; Wyatt Russell (child of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell) is a fine-fit as the bro-ish frat dude that Jenko begins hanging out with more often than he should, but the two create a wonderful chemistry that it comes almost close to challenging the same one Tatum has with Hill; Jillian Bell plays a character that has it out for Schmidt the first day she meets him for looking too old and is very funny, even if she herself does look a tad too old to be pushing books and staying in dorms; and Nick Offerman, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle all return to bring in some much needed reminders of how great and truly awesome the first one was. And while this one definitely rivals that movie, it’s clearly the better of the two. However, to have comedy-sequel in the 21st Century still be just as good as the first, truly is saying something and makes me optimistic for whatever sequels they have lined-up for this.

Just watch and you’ll get the joke. Trust me.

Consensus: 22 Jump Street may not be better than the original, yet, still comes pretty closer to doing so because of its tongue-in-cheek humor that never stops being hilarious, and the heightened relationship between its two main characters, played perfectly once again by both Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Sort of like my Spring Break, except not at all.

Sort of like this past Spring Break for me, except not at all.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

The Sitter (2011)

I think I’d hire “skinny Jonah Hill”, over “fat Jonah Hill” as my baby-sitter. Just more trust-worthy for some reason.

Noah (Jonah Hill) is practically the last person you want watching your kids. He’s mean, rude, brass and doesn’t really care about those around him. He’s just selfish and makes everybody around him feel like crap. But this time, he may have met his match when he is called on to babysit three of his next-door neighbors for a whole bunch of money. Sounds easy and simple, right? Well, not exactly, especially not when you have a bunch of sneaky, manipulative kids such as these ones here.

I hate to ask it, but what the fuck, David Gordon Green?!?!

I mean, yeah, I know he isn’t reading this now so who the hell cares, but seriously, this is a travesty for someone to go from creating this, to then creating such an abomination as this!

Were they both done by the same person? Or, did one just put his name on one, and decide to have somebody else take over the job and use Green’s name anyway, because of some “pull” he may have with the studios? I honestly have no clue. And to be truly honest, I shouldn’t be caring as much as I do right now. It just ain’t worth it! It just ain’t!

I know my little tirade up there may make it seem like I’m in love with everything Gordon Green has ever done and even agree to the fact that he’s been touted as “the next Terence Malick,” but believe it or not, I’m actually far from being that type of person. Out of all of his flicks, I probably liked Pineapple Express the best and that’s coming from me in a sober state-of-mind as well. Everything else except for All the Real Girls, is pretty so-so for me, but all that aside, this is pretty terrible, even by his standards.

Devil in sheep's clothing.

Devil in sheep’s clothing.

Where Gordon Green misses the mark on this flick is that it just isn’t funny. Some bits and pieces here are raunchy fun, but other times, it just feels like they’re being lazy and trying too hard to shock us into thinking, “Oh dear, it has kids peeing, pooping and blowing up stuff, so it has to be shocking!” I didn’t give a shit whether kids were apart of the raunchy comedy or not, they weren’t making me laugh and the same goes for the “jokes” that Green felt the need to throw every damn time he felt bored, or whatever.

And to add on top of that crappy humor, the sympathy-route this movie takes just slows everything down and comes off as terribly shoehorned in. These kids apparently all needed their own dimensions so whenever the film starts running out of ideas, they just throw the kids in there and try and make us feel bad for them, in a way that almost comes out of nowhere. There’s no real message here, no real nothing, but instead it just feels like a lazy attempt at Green trying to make us feel something for anybody in this movie when the fact of the matter is: We just don’t.

Those poor kids.

Now, I can’t go on and on about this flick and say that I didn’t laugh here and there, because I did. It’s not a god-awful terrible movie that’s unwatchable, but it’s definitely something that never seems to get off the ground. The whole idea behind Hill taking all of these kids out one night in a haze of debauchery and craziness, sounds like it should be an absolute blast from start-to-finish, but it never really goes there. Instead, it just gives us a raunchy laugh or two, show us something going wrong, and maybe even allowing there to be time for these characters to break-down and shed some of their tears, as if that wasn’t contrived enough for them already. It continues at this pace throughout the whole movie, but it’s never fun, it’s never exciting, and it’s not extremely long. Which is weird considering that the movie itself only clocked-in at 81 minutes. However, they also happened to be the longest 81-minutes of my entire life.

Well, except for that one time where me and an ex of mine had to wait for her parents to leave the house for the night so we could do a little lovin’ upstairs, but that’s besides the point!

The only real saving grace to this whole flick has to be Jonah Hill, in one of his last, “truly-fat” roles. Hill, no matter what type of junk he’s given, always does a great job with the humor and that is no exception here. He plays that “lovable loser with a heart” act like no other and makes this film better with his dead-pan delivery. Other times, it seems like he over-does it a bit with the constant words of wisdom he tries to give to these kids, but that’s more or less the script’s fault than Hill’s really.

Still, how could you have a problem with that face. The guy's so cool and he just knows it!

Still, how could you have a problem with that face. The guy’s so cool and he just knows it!

Poor Jonah Hill. Oh well, at least he’s made up for his misfortunes since this.

Other than Jonah Hill, the other one who shows up in this flick a little too much is Sam Rockwell who really disappointed me here considering just how much I love him in, well, just about anything else he does. Rockwell plays the angry, strange drug-dealer that wants his $10,000 from Hill and practically goes all-over-the-place looking for it while trying to keep a hold on them as “best-friends”. This whole idea for Rockwell sounds rich and like a nice way for him to do some goofier-stuff that we haven’t quite seen from him as of late, but yet, that doesn’t happen. Instead, he’s just obnoxious, loud, and annoying to the point of where you don’t want to see him at all anymore. It’s a shame, too, because this guy has perfect comedic-timing and can make any line sound witty, but he just doesn’t here. I think that’s more of the fact that the script just blows and doesn’t do anything to help him, or anybody else in this flick.

Poor Sam Rockwell. Oh well, at least he’s continued to do everything he’s done since the beginning-of-time: Being the coolest mofo ever known to man!

Consensus: The only thing keeping the Sitter alive at all, is Jonah Hill, and even his character gets pretty annoying and unfunny, right from the very start. Much like the rest of the movie, really.

1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

R.I.P. to the sort of, kind of, maybe, good old days of looking morbidly-obese but still relying on your comedic-timing to get you by. Damn comedy!

R.I.P. to the sort of, kind of, maybe, good old days of looking morbidly-obese but still relying on your comedic-timing to get you by. Damn Hollywood and their judgmental ways!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The LEGO Movie (2014)

Remember those small, yellow things you used to “accidentally” stick up your nose as a kid? Yeah, they have lives you know.

Normal, everyday Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) lives in a world that is controlled, run-by and practically dominated by the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell). In this plastic world, everyone is to wake up, follow their day throughout a precise set of instructions and guide-lines, always smile, swallow overpriced coffee, go to work, be happy about it, get that paycheck, sing terribly-catchy, yet excruciating pop-songs like “Everything is Awesome” and go home to watch mind-numbing sitcoms like “Where Are My Pants?“. It’s so painfully dull and monotonous, but nobody cares, nor does anybody fret, because quite frankly, nobody knows any better; not even poor Emmet, who is just like everybody else. But things begin to change for Emmet once he stumbles upon an an ancient artifact known as the Piece of Resistance. He knows nothing about it, but he’s soon picked-up by the rebellious ass-kicker known as Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and is told that the fate of humanity lies in his hands, and his hands only. In better words: He IS the “chosen one”, and it’s up to him to stop Lord Business’ maniacal ways.

The plot is the same old, cookie-cutter stuff that we’ve seen done in a million other movies (*cough cough* Star Wars), but that doesn’t matter because it’s all used so that the directors can get all sorts of these LEGO-pieces together and see what sort of magic they can make-up next. Needless to say, for a kid who has played with LEGO‘s all throughout his childhood, it was an honor to see the likes of 2002-era Shaquille O’Neal, rub shoulders with none other than Batman himself. And no, I do not mean that ACTUAL Shaquille O’Neal and Bruce Wayne got next to one another, showed their faces to the camera, and rubbed shoulders; I mean that their LEGO figures did.

Basically, he's like the LEGO version of Corporate America.

Basically, he’s like the LEGO version of Corporate America.

And that’s where all of the fun lies with this movie, whether you like it or not.

Chances are though, going into this, no matter how idiotic you may think the idea of LEGO movie being, you’re going to be laughing, be having a great time and totally surprised by what this movie does; not just with its animation, which is quite stunning to look at pick-apart, wondering just how they were able to film it all, but with its script, that displays hilarious wit at a non-stop pace. Most of the jokes here, are made solely for the adults that will most likely get roped into seeing this, and there is no problem with that whatsoever, because there’s a lot of humor here that had me howling like a banshee in my seat. I mean hell, there’s even a joke about how they refer to one character as “Michelangelo, the artist”, and another as “Michelangelo, the Ninja Turtle.” Now, if that doesn’t make you at least crack a smile or two, then I have no freakin’ clue what will!

But there’s definitely plenty out there for the kiddies as well, which doesn’t mean that there’s just a whole bunch of slap-sticky, or fart jokes to make them giggle – there’s a whole bunch of action, fun and excitement that gets thrown into this, all because you can tell that both Phil Lord and Chris Miller clearly care about the audience that this movie is being made for. Sure, you could argue that a LEGO movie actually does exist, solely to sell more toys and merchandise, and I wouldn’t disagree with you. However, the movie isn’t just an-hour-and-a-half ploy trying to grab your arm, snatch your wallet and long-dart you to the nearest Toys R Us or Wal Mart; it’s actually an animated-flick that’s pretty damn hilarious, fun and always able to gain your attention, no matter how many times you may have to remind yourself that you are in fact watching LEGO‘s, up on the big screen.

It’s a strange feeling that even I had a problem getting through on occasion, but I knew one thing: I was just happy knowing they weren’t actually MY LEGO‘s. After all of the abuse and torture I put those poor things through, lord only knows that if they ever became animated and alive, they’d come after me, and with a vengeance, too! Same goes for my sister’s Barbie Dolls!

Although, that may be a different story entirely….

Anyway, moving on!

Though it is hard to go on and on without talking about the voice-cast, I do have to give all of them credit because they do some energetic, spunky work here that definitely makes you see their wild and goofy figures brought to life. Chris Pratt is growing up more and more each day into the perfect “everyday man”, even if in this instance, it just so happens to be a LEGO; Elizabeth Banks sounds as sexy and dangerous as she should as Wyldstyle, almost too sexy and dangerous for a kids movie where young boys will most likely be present in viewing; Will Arnett is hilarious as Batman, by basically just being Gob Bluth, disguised as Bruce Wayne; it’s neat to see someone like Morgan Freeman lending his voice to an animated-movie as goofy as this, but you know, the guy gives it his all and really seems to be enjoying the hell out of himself; the same being said for Morgan Freeman, can practically be said about Liam Neeson who seems like he was definitely a bit tipsy during the voice-over recordings, but hey, it made it enjoyable to listen to; and if there was one weak-link to be found in this voice-cast, it’s probably Will Ferrell, who is definitely as harsh he should be with a name like “Lord Business”, but the act gets stale after awhile and you can sort of tell that Will Ferrell himself is enjoying this a bit too much. Maybe somebody like Nic Cage would have done this guy total justice. Actually, not “somebody”, definitely Nic Cage.

Look! That's the joke I'm talking about! And there's even a ghost in the background! Sweet, right?

Look! That’s the joke I’m talking about! And there’s even a ghost in the background! Pretty sweet, right?

But being that this is an animated movie, which is more often than not, being marketed towards the whole family, there obviously has to be a message learnt here, which there is. However, that may also be where my main problem came from – the way in which it kept on hitting me over, and over head with what message it was trying to get across. Granted, Miller and Lord take a very bold-step in the last-act with a twist that I honestly can’t say I saw coming (one which I won’t spoil here), but it’s one that didn’t feel necessary. Reason being is that whatever this movie was trying to tell us about “expressing ourselves no matter how strange or different we may be from the rest of the crowd around us”, all felt like something we understood right after Wyldstyle steps in and decides to shake things up with this story. Clearly this movie wanted to be more than just your typical, fun-for-the-whole-family animated-fare, but rather than being a simple, ode-to-love flick like the Croods, it ends up going for more of a Lorax-feel, that got a bit too preachy and a bit too strained with what it was trying to say. Doesn’t mean the fun didn’t stop, but it definitely did bother me a whole lot and took me away from most of the action that was happening on screen, most of which happened and was said so fast, I couldn’t make-out half of what was going on.

But you know what? That’s the fun of it, everybody! So definitely do make sure to go out and see this! Just make sure you have at least one cup of coffee to assure yourself that you’ll be able to catch almost anything and everything that Lord and Miller are throwing at you. Because do trust me: They’ll give you everything. Even the kitchen-sink.

Consensus: Almost anything and everything that Phil Lord and Chris Miller have at their disposal, they’ll launch at you, and then some with the LEGO Movie, but it’s always fun, exciting, hilarious, appropriate for all ages, and most importantly, as quick-as-a-Jack-Rabbit. So make sure to keep up and not get too distracted by too much butter being on your popcorn!

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Even cooler! I mean, how in how many lifetimes are you going to be able to say that you not only saw "Abe Lincoln and Superman together at the same time next to one another", but also with "The Statue of Liberty right next to them"?!?! Like, super rad!!

Even cooler! I mean, how in how many lifetimes are you going to be able to say that you not only saw “Abe Lincoln and Superman together at the same time next to one another”, but also with “The Statue of Liberty right next to them”?!?! Like, super rad!!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll and a whole lot of money. Oh my!

Meet Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio): He’s a womanizer, a drug-addict, a go-getter, a hard partier, and most of all, a full-fledged billionaire, and this is his story. We follow Jordan through his early days as a licensed stock broker on Wall Street, where he learns of the ins and the outs from a seasoned-pro (Matthew McConaughey), but eventually, finds himself out of a job and inspiration for life once the stock market crashes. From there, Jordan finds another job in which he’s still working the stocks, however now, he’s found a way to rip people off, and benefit from the extra cash money he has flowing in by the weeks, and then by the days, and then it’s by the hours, and sooner or later, it’s by the minutes of each hour, of each and every single day. So basically, Belfort discovers a way on how to keep on getting richer, and best of all, how to keep on partying and living life until you can’t no more. Sooner than later, though, the FBI starts snooping around and that’s when Jordan begins to find himself backed into a corner that he may not be able to get out of, or one that he may be able to, but will have to take those nearest and dearest down in the process.

Most of you can probably tell by now, but I’ll say it anyway: This movie is a freakin’ blast. Yes, it does clock-in at 179 minutes (that’s near-three hours for those of you counting at home), and yes, it features countless acts of debauchery in which drugs are consumed, women and their body parts are fondled, Big Bens are thrown high up in the air and the “f word” is used more times than it ought to be, but if you can stick through all of this and keep the blood pumping, you’re going to find yourself having one of the best times at the movie theaters.

Was it all politically correct to call it "midget tossing" back in the late-80's/early-90's?

Was it politically correct to call it “midget tossing” back in the late-80’s/early-90’s?

Just exactly like I did, and here’s why.

It’s not easy to make a film about a bunch of stockbrokers that are knowingly ripping people off, in hopes of gaining a heftier wallet and more gifts to bring to the parties, in which we don’t actually hate them and instead, actually rather loathe them, but with all of the movies he’s made in the past (including this), Martin Scorsese has proved himself to be more than up to the task, and then some. Scorsese is approximately 71-years-of-age, but this movie does not show an old man working inside of his comfort-zone, nor one who seems like he can just get as much enjoyment from the spoils of this movie, as much as his subjects in his movie are. Nope, instead, Scorsese continues to find more and more ways in which he can try something new, or, for lack of a better term, never slow down.

When I said that this was a movie that clocked-in at nearly-three hours, most of you probably ran for the hills and never looked back; but what I didn’t say was that it was a near-three hour movie that never, not for a single second, slows down. Sure, there are some moments where we see Scorsese let go of his style and just let his ensemble do the speaking for him, but it’s all Scorsese, all of the time, and it never lost its sense of energy that made it such a blast to watch for its first five minutes of being on screen, let alone it’s 2-hours-and-59-minutes. And needless to say, some of it could have definitely been chopped-down and even taken-out, but with what Scorsese himself has here, it’s pure dynamite by how quick, fun and energetic everything is, without taking a brief moment for silence or to catch your breath.

In other words, if you can’t handle a near-three hour movie that never cools its brakes, you may want to look elsewhere, because once Marty and the rest of his gang get this bus going, they aren’t stopping and it makes you feel like Scorsese himself may never, ever quit making movies. And I would have no problem with that whatsoever, because if he shows us, so late in the game, that he can still hang with the best of them, get moving when he needs to, and also be able to keep his blood-pressure at a reasonably healthy rate, then we don’t need anybody else other than him. If he’s going to keep on branching out and trying new things, then who needs someone that could be, “The Next Martin Scorsese”. It would surely be nice to get someone else who can master the art of the multiple over-head narrations, or the constant zooming-in camera movements, but as for right now, at this moment in time, I’m fine with Marty Scorsese sticking around for however long he damn well pleases to. I just hope that he continues to make movies as exciting, entertaining and hilarious as this.

But everything that I’m saying about Marty, and how he seems to still be open to new and cool things to play around with, could be said for his cinematic muse, Leonardo DiCaprio. Anybody who has ever followed my blog and knows my history, knows that I am a huge and adoring fan of Leo, and he did not disappoint me a single second here. Heck, in fact, I’d say that he surprised the hell out of me here, showing that it is possible for somebody who’s nearing-40, and who has already shown his talents as an actor, to still shock us by letting us know that he’s capable of doing more than just yelling, emoting and being upset; in fact, just like he proved with his Oscar-worthy performance last year in Django Unchained, he can actually be quite funny and steal the scene from some of the most charming, and spirited screen-presences out there.

Women, AMMIRIGHT?

Women, AMMIRIGHT?

Not only does Leo get show his lighter-side with Belfort, in terms of making wise-cracks and just being the lovable, handsome devil that knows what to say, and when to say it, he also gets to branch-out a bit and pull-off some really impressive scenes where it’s just him, and him alone. There’s the one scene that everybody seems to be talking about in which Leo begins to feel the side effects of decade-old Quaaludes, and begins to fall limp in every part of his body; almost to the point of where he’s practically dragging himself and crawling to his car. It’s the scene that everybody seems to be talking about, and with good reason: It’s funny, it never ends (in a good way), it’s probably the quietest scene in the whole movie, it’s bizarre and the best of all, it shows us that even somebody like Leo DiCap, the same guy who has been taking serious-role-after-serious-role for a good chunk of his career, can handle something like “physical comedy”, and pull it off with perfection. There’s even a couple more scenes where he’s getting the rest of his stockbrokers all locked, cocked and loaded for whatever it is he wants them to do, whether it be getting richer or throwing down a sweet-ass party, and he absolutely owns each and every one of them, showing us, once again, that if you give him character, you give him a drive, you give him a capable director and you put a camera in front of his face, he’s going to make some magic happen and absolutely over-power everybody else around him.

That’s why, when you look at an ensemble as wide and as fun as this, you really do have to give a whole bunch of credit to somebody like Leo for never letting this movie loose, because his shoulders are the ones in which this flick solely rests its fate on. While everybody here is charming, fun, crazy and anything else but boring, he’s the guy who keeps the train on its tracks, making us realize that these were in fact, real people, who screwed over real people, just like you or me. Though Scorsese may never seem to go any further than “look at all these rich guys and all the debauchery acts they’re committing”, the movie is still a powerful indictment on the fact that these were guys who messed our economy over, and we’re the ones who had to pay for it. It sucks big time, and even though this movie has a good time getting itself away from that fact, we’re still the ones who have to suck it up and move on with our lives, while they are the ones who get to live freely and still be able to do what they want.

Sucks, I know, but it’s all in the name of a good time, right?

Anyway, needless to say, I’ll be pulling for Leo to land his Oscar this year, as I do every year, but let’s face it: He’ll be lucky enough to nab a nomination. Which blows, because he’s so electrifying here, you’ll wonder what else he’s got in-store for us and whether it will be back to his old ways of playing the same old,”troubled and tortured smart guy role”, or if he’ll continue to surprise us and show that he’s got more in his tank than what we know of? I don’t know what side he’ll most likely lean towards, but what I can is that Leo will definitely keep on being one of the best working today, and one that proves to me, as well as to everybody else, time and time again, that nobody can steal the spotlight away from him. Nobody!

Yeah, I’m a bit of a Leo DiCap fan boy. Deal with it.

"Hey, Judd? Seth? Yeah, I've moved on to bigger, and more critically-acclaimed things. Sorry, guys."

“Hey, Judd? Seth? Yeah, I’ve moved on to bigger, and more respected things. Sorry, guys.”

Like I was saying before though, Leo may own this movie, but he isn’t the only that’s actually “good” in it. Jonah Hill is a laugh-out-loud riot as the equally as demented and sick buddy of Jordan’s, Donnie, who starts to show some pretty dark shades to his character as time goes on; Matthew McConaughey appears in about two or three scenes early on in the movie and is a whole box of fun, even giving us some insight into the person that Jordan himself aspires to be, and most likely, will be once he gets his paychecks in order and balance; Rob Reiner is a welcome-presence to see back on the screen, this time, playing Jordan’s dad who handles all of the money, and doesn’t like to ask questions about where it comes from and what it’s for, but still somehow can’t get away from being just a little curious; Jean Dujardin shows up as a Swedish bank-owner that Jordan doesn’t particularly like, but does business with to keep the feds off of his ass; and speaking of those feds, Kyle Chandler plays the FBI Agent whose leading the whole sting-operation against Belfort and his trusty band of misfits, and somehow forms a nice rivalry between the two, despite only having about two scenes together where they actually do match wits.

Oh, and last but not least, Margot Robbie is as perfectly-suited for this Scorsese flick, as much as she’s easy-on-the-eyes, because while she does definitely get full-on naked at various times, she never feels like an object that’s an easy stepping-stool. She can hang with the big boys and she proves that she won’t be taken advantage of, even when it’s clearly obvious that all Jordan wants her for is a nice fuck and a gal to watch over the rest of his family, as well as his empire, just in case he just so happens to be gone for a short while. She’s what every man in the world wants: Smart, brass, good-looking, and a fire-breather in bed, but also the same type of girl that won’t put up with your shit, no matter what. In other words, each and every one of my ex’s. Damn them all!

Consensus: Running on a near-three hour time-limit may take some viewers away from spending time with the Wolf of Wall Street, and the excessive amount of drugs, sex, crime and violence that it depicts, but those who are willing to, will find themselves rewarded with not only one of the most entertaining flicks of the year, but also one of the most impressive that shows us that neither Leonardo DiCaprio, nor Martin Scorsese are down for the count and might just have a few more hits left in them.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Cheers indeed, Leo. Cheers indeed.

Cheers indeed, Leo. Cheers indeed.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

I Heart Huckabees (2004)

Just live life, don’t think too much and shut up! There, just saved you a near-two hours!

Environmental activist Albert (Jason Schwartzman) is the type of guy you just have to feel bad for. He’s the type that means well, but nothing ever seems to be working out well for him to the point of where he could just finally relax for a little bit. But nope, that is not the case, especially since he’s practically getting screwed over by a major corporation called Huckabees, mainly the head of P.R., Brad Stand (Jude Law). Brad practically promised Albert that he would save a huge part of land so that they could plant all sorts of trees and beautiful things, however, Brad doesn’t care about that and just wants his money, so he plans on just planting a huge shopping-mall instead, with Huckabees dead in the center of it all. Albert’s pissed about that, but he’s also worried about these strange run-ins he continues to have with this tall, African American man, that he automatically thinks are more than just sheer coincidences, they might just give meaning to his whole life in the past, present and the future. That’s where “Existential Detectives” Vivian and Bernard (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman) come in and try to help him figure it all out, but since Albert’s a bit of a spastic nutcase, not everything goes as smoothly as planned.

Let”s just start things off on the right foot here: The movie is a mess, but it’s an intriguing mess, much like life is. There’s the hook, now on with the rest of this review.

They aren't supposed to be doing that, right? So therefore, it just HAS to be funny!

They aren’t supposed to be doing that, right? So therefore, it just HAS to be funny!

David O. Russell may be a very talented film maker and from what we’ve seen in these past couple of years, he’s really shown himself to be something of a man who can handle anything big or large. Sure, he’s had his freak outs many, many times before, but he’s made it clear that if you give him a huge cast, with a relatively simple, yet complex story, he can work wonders. However, when the story seems to be more than just simple and way more than just complex, then it becomes painfully clear that he can’t really hold his own and has to rely on his usually well-chosen casts. Which, once again, isn’t all that bad to begin with since everybody he gets to be apart of his ensembles are all great and do magnificent in his flicks, it’s just that there needs to be more substance to these stars doing shop, and regardless of what you may think with this material, there is no substance here. Please, do not be fooled.

See, while people will probably go out there and say, “this movie speaks volumes because of the types of questions it asks us about our current-existence, the lives we live and the world we live in”, is all a bunch of bologna. The movie seems so damn pleased with itself that it’s more than just your traditional, quirky comedy; instead, it’s asking bigger questions, that have to deal with bigger issues most people don’t get to thinking about on a day-to-day basis. There’s nothing wrong with thinking outside of the box either, it just has to be done right. Almost in the way in which Charlie Kaufman writes his movies: Strange, quirky and off-kilter, yet wholly insightful, emotional and more than meets the eyes.

David O. Russell, as much as it may surprise some, is no Charlie Kaufman and doesn’t have the ability to make this movie more than just a series of pretentious, heavy-thinking discussions about our existence on this planet. Those are the types of questions that usually come popping right up when a bunch of pals are saddled-around the campfire, smoking on the peace pipe, and that’s probably exactly where they should stay, especially if O. Russell’s going to be discussing them. I feel bad for getting on his case so much, because while there are some funny bits and pieces here, they mainly all stem from the fact that what’s happening on screen to cause these small pieces of laughter, is just because they’re pure random. Plain and simple. They don’t really work well towards the story or the type of message the movie is trying to get across (which is painfully clear, or not, who knows, who cares), and just seem like a bunch of crazy ideas O. Russell had rocking around in his mind and decided to go for the gull with here. Sometimes it works and amounts to nothing, sometimes it doesn’t and it just makes you feel bad for everybody involved.

Especially the cast. This poor, poor cast.

Better yet, I should just say poor Jason Schwartzman, because while I usually find him hilarious and entertaining to watch in whatever the hell it is that he pops up in, I couldn’t help but see him as annoying here. He always seemed to bitch and complain about everything in his life, never seemed like an actual character, with dimensions or emotions and seemed like the perfect type of guy that O. Russell could use as the straight-man for all of these over-the-top and crazy performances to play off of. And in that general aspect, the man gets what he wants, however, some of them fall short.

They're all jealous, Mark. Don't listen to 'em.

They’re all jealous, Mark. Don’t listen to ’em.

Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman come close to, but keep their heads afloat playing the two Existential Detectives, who basically just serve as Albert’s self-conscious; letting him know what’s right, what’s wrong, what does it all mean and how he can move on in his life, the right way. Together, they form a fiery and fun chemistry, but their roles do begin to get a bit repetitive, as they seemed to be saying the same things, over and over again, just with different phrasing and mannerisms. Jude Law also gets the bad-end of the straw as the sleazy Brad Stand, though he definitely relishes in the moment of playing somebody that would be as mean and detestable as a man of his looks golly-good looks would be. Naomi Watts seems to really be loving her time as Tom’s girlfriend, the scantily-clad model for Huckabees, and gets most of the laughs from her side of the spectrum. Worked wonders for her role, especially once her character goes through her own existential crisis and as you could expect, some hilarity ensues.

The only time actual hilarity within this movie does ensue, is whenever Mark Wahlberg shows up to steal the spotlight as Tommy, the oddball firefighter who drives everywhere in his bike, has something against petroleum, likes to start fistfights anywhere he goes, with whomever he sees and just seems to want to get his point across, by any means imaginable. Yeah, he seems like he’d be the most grating character on display here, but Wahlberg somehow gets him by on sheer charisma and willingness to make himself seem dumb. It’s very rare where you’d get a very good-looking guy like Wahlberg, who’d actually be willing to participate in something as strange as this, playing an even stranger character than we’d ever seen him play before, and trudge all trudge all the way to the finish line with it, while making us laugh all along the way. Wahlberg’s obviously shown his love for comedy in the past couple of years, but this was when he showed the world that he was more than just a nice set of guns, a catchy-as-hell song and a wonderful way of saying hello to mothers, he could actually entertain you and steal the show from heavyweights like Hoffman, Tomlin and yes, even Isabelle Huppert! Not even going to acknowledge the shock in that statement, I’ll let you take that one for me.

Consensus: There may be some moments of actual comedy to be found in I Heart Huckabees, but most of them are scattered across a slap-shot script, full of pretentious ideas and performances from a very talented cast that don’t add up to much, even while they’d probably work wonders in a way better, less preachy movie.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Not even the sight of Shania could save the day.

Not even the sight of Shania could save the day.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

This Is the End (2013)

If the world is going to end, please let me be surrounded by at least one of these guys.

Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and a whole slew of other celebrities and friends come to a party at James Franco’s house and what’s supposed to be just a normal, get-shitty-with-it bash, all of a sudden turns into something incredibly deadly and dangerous. It’s actually the apocalypse that is occurring, but rather than going outside and running the chance of possibly getting killed, the guys decide to stay in the house in hopes that help will eventually come their way. What actually ends up happening is that the guys get absolutely sick and tired of one another and just pray that they get killed as soon as possible.

In the year 2013, when the Wolf Pack doesn’t even seem concerned with squirting out a laugh or two; Owen and Vince can’t recapture the glory days they once had; and that the only thing funny going on with Melissa McCarthy is how a critic refers to her as a “Hippo”, it’s nice to be reminded that comedy is yes, still alive and well, and best of all: still able to make a person hold their stomach while laughing. Then again, with everybody from the Judd Apatow crew, could I have expected anything less? Seriously, everybody here has, and probably will forever always be funny, but if you put them together in one movie, with one inspired-premise that makes them have to be around each other, and give them plenty of lee-way with who the director is (in this case, it’s both Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg); then you have absolute hilarity that does not disappoint for a single bit.

Hyped it up quite enough for ya?

Somehow, something tells me that the actual party would be more horrific and insane.

Somehow, something tells me that the actual party would be more horrific and insane.

Well good, because this movie is the best comedy of the year so far, and judging by what seems to be coming up in the future, probably the rest of the year. It’s well deserved too because year-after-year, we get a comedy that’s funny, makes us laugh, makes us have a good time, and reminds us why we like going to the movies, but never really does anything that’s worth remembering except for maybe a couple of chuckles here and there. Which means we rarely so often actually get a comedy that’s hilarious, is a hoot-and-a-half, and reminds us why comedies can be enjoyed so much, no matter what they’re about or who’s in them. Oh, and to make that even better; it’s an R-rated comedy at that.

It’s not a comedy that wants to appeal to a mass-audience and it’s sure as hell not a comedy that takes it’s R-rating with a grain of salt; this is a very, very hard-R, and rightfully so because when you have these dudes, playing caricaturized-versions of themselves, you need all the cursing, nudity, grotesqueness, smugness, evil, etc. you can get to really make a person laugh. In this movie’s case; it makes you laugh plenty more than you expected and that’s what I loved so much about this movie. It makes you laugh, and always has you guessing what’s going to come of next with this story, direction, humor, or just what the hell these guys are going to pull out of their sleeves next. After the first 10-15 minutes where we see Franco’s party get destroyed and there actually becomes a big-ass hole in the Earth’s crust, we are just hanging around a bunch of funny dudes that can’t take themselves as seriously as they would like to be portrayed and do whatever the hell they feel like doing next. And by “whatever the hell they feel like doing next”, I do mean, “WHATEVER THE HELL THEY FEEL LIKE DOING NEXT.”

This is an aspect of movies, never mind comedies, that we rarely see and it’s so hard to actually see a movie as blatant and obvious as this to take full-on pleasure in it. And trust me, I don’t mean “blatant” and “obvious” in the bad way either, I mean it in the way that these guys know that they’re making jokes out of themselves, and we know it too, so why not just join in the fun and have a couple of laughs while you’re at it? That’s how I felt throughout this whole movie, as each and every line that these guys dropped, whether it be improv or actual-dialogue written down on a page, just came at my stomach like a knife and had me howling for day’s on end. I’m still laughing thinking of some of the lines, and it’s almost too quotable to even remember. Everything everybody says in this movie, is either hilarious, random, or just so-stupid-it’s-funny, and it makes you wish that more and more comedies had the pride and joy to goof around with itself, almost as much as these guys are able to.

So, yeah, everything you’d expect to see and hear in a comedy coming from these dudes; you will see and hear. There’s plenty of drinking, dick-jokes, drug-induced trips, weed-smoking, violence, jerking-off, uses of the word “fuck”, pop-culture references (even to their own movies), and lines that come and leave so quickly, that you almost feel as if you have to watch it all over again just to see what you missed out on or what you think you heard correctly the first time, only to find out differently the second. It’s what to expect from these guys, and it only gets better, funnier, and more and more unpredictable, almost where it’s anybody’s game for the taking, it’s just time until somebody actually walks away with it all.

That’s why it’s so rare to get a comedy as brilliant and crazy as this that makes you laugh and hold your gut, but also one that still works even when it gets a bit sympathetic and action-y by the end. Since this is a horror-comedy flick, you have to expect there to be plenty of action, explosions, special-effects, and random bouts of violence you don’t see coming, but surprisingly, it works well with the rest of the tone as the movie seems to take itself just seriously enough that we are invested in what happens. It never gets serious to the point of where you need a tissue handy, but it does get a somewhat serious to where you can see that these guys still care about the story and the characters they’ve written, even if they are essentially themselves, just in a more Hollywood-ized version.

However, with top-notch comedy acts like these dudes, you can’t ever expect them to do anything serious or honest; you just have to let them roll and continue to make us laugh, which is exactly what each and every one of them does, in their own ways. James Franco plays up the whole “serious, artsy actor”-aspect to his public-image in the way that he’s obviously been the most successful and most respected out of the whole clan, yet, still acts like an idiot as if he was still playing that cool mofo, Daniel Desario. It’s funny to see Franco, who’s at the height of his career, still be able to make a joke or two at himself (I’m down for any Flyboys reference!), without really going too far that it seems like he’s desperate to gain back the respect from the comedy-crowd. Oh, and “the gay rumors” aren’t put to rest either, so take with that what you will.

Jonah Hill also plays up the whole fact that he got quite the big head around the parks when he got nominated for an Oscar those two years ago, and shows that he’s soften-up a mighty-bit since then. As time goes on though, Hill gets meaner and meaner, while still being able to maintain that softness to him that makes him so loveable, even when he is randomly being a dick. Seth Rogen is probably the one who doesn’t really get the most shine from the spot-light, but I think that was fine as hell for him since he was just sitting-back, relaxing, and directing the hell out of his buds, but also still having a great time while doing so. Even he gets a chance to make fun of himself as well, especially when, early on, a paparazzo says  “You play the same guy in every movie, right?” Classic, classic line.

They even get him to do the laugh. Yay!

"Stop, stop, stop! Let me fetch my make-up before you get this shot. Why? Cause I'm James Franco beitch!!!"

“Stop, stop, stop! Let me fetch my make-up before you get this shot. Why? Cause I’m James Franco beitch!!!”

Jay Baruchel plays what is essentially the Canadian outsider of the group that hasn’t really connected much with any of these guys, and has only lingered around Rogen for so long, that it’s almost became smothering. He’s funny, even though he is typically playing the straight-dude who’s thrown into a do-or-die situation with a bunch of idiots. Fun idiots, but idiots nonetheless. Danny McBride shows up and acts like the self-centered dick who’s upset with cumming everywhere like you’d expect from his latest-bouts with comedy, and shows that raw-edge we all love and know him for (except for maybe in Your Highness, which they even make another reference to as well!). And last, but sure as hell not the muthafuckin’ least is Craig Robinson as the sex-addled, black dude of the group that always yells, sweats, and says dirty things like “get your panties off baby!” Robinson is always hilarious in the shit that he does, which is why it’s such a joy to see him back in his prime, without anybody telling him exactly what to do and how to do it. He just free-balls it, and surprisingly comes up with the biggest laughs of all.

Of course, the movie is cameo-central which, as you could probably tell by the trailer, is hilarious and as unpredictable as the rest of the movie (Michael Cera’s as the coked-up, sex-fiend version of himself had me laughing long before the 20 minute mark). However, the movie doesn’t focus on that as much as you’d expect, and instead stays with these guys throughout the whole movie and shows that even though they have changed, gotten a bit more serious with their careers, and have “sold out” in ways they didn’t expect to when they first started out as young, brass, and ambitious funny-men, that they are still there for one another and will go-to-bat for anyone. Granted, there are on-screen relationships in this movie that aren’t as friendly (Franco and McBride hate each other and show it in probably the funniest scene out of the whole movie), but it’s the under-lining thoughts and feelings that count. You can tell that everybody here loves hanging out with one another and using a movie as an excuse to hang-out and pal-around, but whereas other times, it feels manipulative and cheap; this time, it feels right and deserved. Well deserved, actually. Keep comedy alive, guys. Please!

Consensus: Like with most comedies of this nature, it’s usually more sporadic than it is gut-bustingly hilarious, but with This is the End, it doesn’t matter since the comedy, as well as the rest of the movie, fires on all cylinders, takes no names, leaves none in return, and has you laughing until you seriously don’t know what’s next for these guys to make fun of. Then they make fun of it, and have you laughing even more since they pulled it off, and did it with flying colors.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

No comedy, nor movie, is complete without the signature Craig Robinson yell. Comedy gold.

No comedy, nor movie, is complete without the signature Craig Robinson yell. Comedy gold.

Django Unchained (2012)

DjangoUnchainedPosterNo way the dirty South could have been this dirty. Could it have been?

Jamie Foxx stars as the titular character named Django, who is an escaped slave who teams up with bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Let’s just get it all out in the open and out of the way for everybody to see and understand before I jump any further into this review: this was my most anticipated flick of the year. Obviously, I’m not much different from others out there in the movie-world, and it’s probably no shock to any of you out there who know that Quentin Tarantino is one, if not my favorite writers/directors working today. This has been a passion-project of his since day 1 and it only seems right that after knocking-out homers left-and-right over the past 20 years, that he finally get to do, what he does best: showing us a little piece of his sick, but original mind.

Everything you see in this flick is exactly what you would expect from a Tarantino flick: crazy characters, wacky dialogue, oodles of violence, ironic use of pop-music, homages to classic flicks that only he and about 5 others actually “get”, and a huge deal of suspense, that almost seems to come out of nowhere. These are the staples of Tarantino’s flicks and as much as they have came-out to be nothing short of expected by now, that still is in no way, shape or form an insult or negative about Tarantino and this movie, because it’s still freakin’ awesome and probably the most original flick I’ve seen all year.

The topic of racism is what really stands in the front of the line with this movie and even though the flick basically takes place during 1858, in the South where slavery runs high and mighty amongst rich, white men, the topic is never used to be thoughtful, or even used as a metaphor for the world we are in now. It’s basically used as another tool for Tarantino to show loads and loads of gruesome/graphic violence and actually give it meaning, rather than throw it at the screen and hoping that it will make sense in the grander scheme of things. Nope, Tarantino’s not all about that and anybody who complained about Inglorious Basterds not being the action-packed, gore-ride they were expecting from QT, then he will definitely shut you up with this one because every piece of violence here, is bloody, gory, and ever so stylized, as we can always expect from Tarantino. Sometimes it’s almost too vicious to watch but hey, that’s not a bad thing considering this is coming from a movie who’s director had 15-minutes of a movie dedicated to a chick hacking-up people, all-over-the-place, with a samurai sword, of all weapons to choose.

So, a white man and black man walk down the streets of a Southern town, around 1858....

So, a white man and black man walk down the streets of a Southern town, around 1858….

The violence in this movie definitely stands-out among the rest of what Tarantino uses here, but the script is even better and is classic-Tarantino, at it’s finest. As usual, we get a lot of the witty, catchy-banter between characters that seems almost too energetic to be true, but Tarantino really works himself hard as a writer, especially with this movie, because he actually goes somewhere we never really expected him to in the first-place: comedy. Yeah, it may seem like a bit of a head scratcher that I would talk about how much comedy Tarantino uses and how it surprised the hell out of me because with the flicks that he’s done over the years, it would seem like he’s been doing comedy forever. To be honest, Tarantino has always had a knack for incorporating a great-deal of humor into his scripts, but not as obvious and not as important as it is used here. There are so many scenes here that just had me laughing, not just because Tarantino is doing something that only I, as a movie-geek, actually get, but more or less because he is actually trying to make me laugh and it worked so, so very well.

However, as much as he may put the emphasis on comedy this time-around, Tarantino still never forgets to switch things up and make it more dark and serious, and the tonal-changes are swift, unnoticeable, and always deserved. You know once Tarantino gets into his “serious mode”, then all of the violence and, in a way, more comedy actually comes about since this is the type of material that Tarantino strives for and always seems to have a blast with. Certain scenes would really catch me off-guard because here I would be expecting it to be a scene where a couple of people are sittin’ around, shootin’ the shit, and basically being a bunch of goof balls, but then would all of a sudden change into this very dark and tense scene, where all hell is about to break-loose and anybody you actually care about in this movie, could be gone as quick as you can say the word, “dead”. Seriously, just that snap of a finger, and all of a sudden a scene does a total 180 where we don’t even know what to expect. That sure unpredictability is exactly what I come to expect from Tarantino and it’s put to good-use here, so many damn times that I was literally sweating with tension at-times. The idea of not knowing where a film is going to land next, is always my favorite-aspect of a movie and here, it’s only better because it’s Tarantino and this guy always seems to have a blast with just fucking around with the audience, their minds, and their moods. That damn Tarantino! He’s always so snarky.

This scene would have been so much more epic if more than 3 people got what the hell Tarantino was referencing. Not including me, btw.

This scene would have been so much more epic if more than 3 people got what the hell Tarantino was referencing. Not including me, by the way.

Even if Tarantino seems to be having a ball with this movie, he’s not having the most fun. Actually, that utter sense of joy and pleasure goes right to the ensemble cast, who are all amazing, well-picked, and having the time of their lives just doing what they do best: act their asses off. When I first heard about Jamie Foxx’s casting as Django, I thought it was a tad unoriginal, and just another-way for Foxx to go around, acting all cool and jive, while wearing a cowboy hat. You know, in an ironic-way. I wasn’t really-looking forward to seeing him play this role, but you know what? Foxx kicks-ass in it and it’s a huge wonder as to why I ever doubted the dude in the first-place. Foxx isn’t as front-and-center with this story as you may think, but whenever he does get the time to shine and do his own thing, he owns it, and doesn’t even have to say anything. Sometimes the emotions on his face tell it all and as easy it is to make us feel something for a slave that wants to be free and get his wife back, it’s even easier to make us feel something for a character that we know can fight his own battles and not ask for sympathy. Django, in terms of the actual-character, is the perfect, Spaghetti Western cowboy, because he’s soft-spoken, cool, but always has something witty to say on his mind. And Foxx owns that role to a T.

In the past 3 years, ever since Basterds hit the theaters and made Christoph Waltz a bona-fide star, it seems like Hollywood has never been able to capitalize on the guy’s real talents as a serious and dramatic actor. However, Tarantino knows how to use the guy best and shows that with every-line of dialogue that comes out of this man’s mouth. Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz, the nicer-version of Hans Landa, but still is just as sadistic and smart. What makes Schultz such a great character is that the guy is always one-step ahead of everybody else around him. He always knows to act in every situation, he always knows the right things to say, he always knows how to keep his cool, when shit starts to get heavy, but the most-important factor of his character out of all, is that he always knows how to kill anybody that stands in his way. He’s a violent bastard that seems like the type of guy you want to be bounty hunters with, but as time goes on and he starts to have heavier obstacles thrown in his way, Schultz starts to fold under pressure and show how sometimes, Django is better-suited for certain situations. It’s a great dynamic the two characters have, and it’s heightened even more, mainly because of the pitch-perfect chemistry between the two that always seems to feature the best lines in the whole movie.

The nicest way to ask a black man if he cared to have a smoke back in those days.

The nicest way to ask a black man if he cared to have a smoke back in those days.

I was mainly looking forward to this movie for many, many reasons, but I think the most, out of all, surprisingly, was the fact that this was Leonardo DiCaprio’s first, main-role as a villain in lord only knows how long, here as Calvin Candie. I’ve always been a huge fan of Leo and all that he’s been able to do in the past decade or so, but even I will admit, his act seemed to get a little stiff by the 10th time he played a confused, and troubled victim of something bad being played against him. It was the same-old routine in almost every movie he seemed to sign-up for and even though the guy did awesome with that routine, it started to become glaringly old, and a role as a campy, over-the-top slave owner, in a QT film, sounded like the perfect-way to spice things up in the dude’s career. And damn, was I ever so happy that I was right about that sweet, soothing sound.

DiCaprio is, well, how should I put it? Perfect in a role like this. Calvin Candie is cunning, funny, campy, and very, very sly in his way of handling himself through every situation he’s put into but you can always tell that there’s something darker lying beneath the surface and the way DiCaprio handles all of that, is probably the best-acting he’s done in awhile. DiCaprio doesn’t just explode with anger, rage, and energy whenever the camera’s on him. No, he just lets it sit there, watching him, letting us know his character, all that he is, all that he does, and all that he can be, if he has to turn the other-cheek and be an evil asshole like we all expect him to be. Eventually, Candie does turn into that evil asshole we expected to see from him right-away, but DiCaprio is so good and so masterful at portraying it, that you really cannot take your eyes off of him. No matter how hard anybody else around him actually tries, DiCaprio is the one that steals the spotlight in every scene he has, and it’s just perfect to watch, especially coming from a guy who’s been wanting a role like this for Leo, for the longest-time. When he loses his shit, he loses it in the most-hardcore way of all and demands your attention, rather than simply asking for it, in the kind-way, Candie likes to fool people with. I really don’t think I can hit the head on the nail as much as I have already, but I’m just going to leave my whole two, orgasm paragraphs on Leo by saying this: that motherfucker deserves the Oscar this year. I’m done, I’ve said it, and yet, I still feel like I haven’t said enough! Aaaaahhhh! Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect. End. Of. Story.

"Listen, bitch!! I'm Samuel L. Jackson, and I'm just loud! Get used to it!"

“Listen, bitch!! I’m Samuel L. Jackson, and I’m just loud! Get used to it!”

Now that that is over with, let me move onto everybody else that deserves a bit of a shine from the spotlight as well. Samuel L. Jackson seems to be another-one in this cast that’s having a ball as the head house slave Stephen, a total Uncle Tom from head-to-toe in terms of appearance, and mental-state also. From the first-shot of the guy, Samuel L. is almost unrecognizable as Stephen, but as time goes on, you get it in your head that it is Samuel L., doing his funny-as-hell, loud yelling and screaming that we always expect from the guy and it’s just so great to watch, especially since it seems like Samuel L. in his comfort-zone. I don’t know if the guy ever left to begin-with, but watching him just have a blast with a role and take over the screen like he does, is always a joy to watch in my book.

Kerry Washington was a bit of a disappointment to watch as Django’s baby girl, Broomhilda Von Shaft (trust me, see the movie and you’ll understand), not just because she isn’t featured in the movie a lot, but mainly because she doesn’t have as much of a screen-presence as everybody else in this flick seems to have. And that’s especially weird to have coming out of my fingertips, considering this is a QT movie and the guy always has kick-ass, female characters to show off. Don’t get me wrong, Washington is still good with her role but doesn’t really get much to do other than cry, yell, and looked terrified the whole-time. There’s so many more faces and stars in this cast that are worth mentioning and bringing to your attention but seriously, just go see the movie for yourself and realize that Tarantino is not only perfect when it comes to writing and directing, but also casting. The guy’s just got it all and all of these rumors of a possible, early-retirement has me scared shitless. Oh well, let’s just hope he keeps on churning out movies until he can’t no mo.

Consensus: Some trimming of the fat needed to be done here and there with Django Unchained, but for a movie that is 2 hours and 40 minutes and is never, for a second, ever boring or uninteresting, I have to say that’s pretty damn a-okay with me, especially if it’s a Tarantino movie, where fun, violence, comedy, cheekiness, homages, and pop-culture references all come together, in one beautiful, original blender of ideas.

9.5/10=Full Price!!

Apparently, people DO care if Don Johnson ever works another day in his life again.

Apparently, people DO care if Don Johnson ever works another day in his life again.

Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy it and enjoy the presents you may or may not get from Santa!

The Watch (2012)

These aliens probably came right down to Earth looking for Judd Apatow, and found these guys. I actually feel bad for the aliens on this situation.

The film revolves around four everyday suburban friends (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade) who team up to form a neighborhood watch group so they can escape their dull family lives one night a week. But when they accidentally discover that their town has become overrun with aliens posing as ordinary suburbanites, they have no choice but to save their neighborhood — and the world — from total extermination.

The alien-invasion premise isn’t anything new or original by any means, but when you have a cast like this and a bunch of writers that know they can knock it out of the park when it comes to comedy, you should be expecting something a whole lot better than your ordinary, average fare. Sadly, it’s the exact opposite.

I have no clue who this cat Akiva Schaffer is but what I can tell, just by watching this flick is that it seems like he was really depending on the efforts of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jared Stern’s script to make this flick work more than it should have, which in a way, it kind of does. This is, once again, your piece of R-rated comedy that has a lot of cussing, a lot of dirty stuff being thrown around, and just a whole bunch of moments that can be considered “raunchy”, even though the film never fully explores that territory. For the most part, this film can be pretty funny and you can that there is a lot of Judd Apatow-influences going on here with the whole “conversational humor” aspect of this flick, but the problem is that it doesn’t really work all that well, except with some exceptions.

The one comedy, that is sort of like this one, that I remember seeing was Horrible Bosses, which was a very funny movie but also tried a bit too hard to fall-back on that whole “conversational humor” aspect, that Apatow has pretty much nailed now. It didn’t really work there because it tried too hard to make that there only source of comedy, but here, that seems like that’s all they can do with a couple of extra dick and sex jokes added to the mix as well. The film tries so hard to be funny by having these guys say ridiculous and vulgar things, but the problem is, that they just aren’t as funny as you feel like they could be if they were in a different movie and maybe had different people delivering the lines. A couple of times I did catch myself laughing, and laughing pretty loud I may add, but this material never seemed to go anywhere beyond that. This is also one of those disappointing cases where the funniest lines are in either the trailers or TV spots, that we’ve all seen about 10,000 times.

Another aspect of this film that I noticed was how it seemed like it could have had a lot more fun with its premise than it really had. There were a couple of times where the film seemed like it was going to go down that road of pure insanity, which would have easily bumped this up a hell of a lot more, but instead, it just sort of lulled its way onto the next scene without anything really exciting going on. The one character in this flick, played by Vaughn, just wants to hang out with the guys, shoot the shit, talk about girls, get shit-faced, and have a good time. If the film honestly followed that character’s intentions, it would have been so much more entertaining and funny. However, it just stayed somewhat boring and it only got worse once that lame-o third-act came around.

If there is anything that really saves this film from being total crapola, it’s the impressive cast here that seems to make everything they say funny, except I still feel like they should have been a lot funnier. Ben Stiller is, once again, playing up that nervous, jittery shtick that seems to work in some spots but in others, just seems annoying and unneeded when you have a plot that could just get really freakin’ crazy at any second. Vince Vaughn is around here playing up his fast-talking, crazy shtick that always seems to work but it also feels like it was forced in a way and was used in a lot better in flicks when he was trying to pick up gals or be the coolest mothertrucker at the party. Maybe, dare I say it, he’s getting too old for it now! Nooooo!

Jonah Hill, God bless him, is probably the saving grace to this cast and to the whole movie as he shows that he still has the near-perfect comedic timing that can work with any character he plays, no matter how bizarre or weird they may be. It’s crazy to say this, but I think Hill may be the next best thing when it comes to comedy, because not only can he show how hilarious he can get no matter who he works with, but he also shows a lot of versatility when he has to approach these dramatic, softer roles as well. Guy keeps getting better and better, and it only seems to go up-Hill for him in the future. See what I did there? Seeing Richard Ayoade being on the top-billing for the promotion, I was expecting him to possibly steal the show and give a little taste of his weird, British sense of comedy. It works here, but only when the film allows him to and it’s a real shame because I actually did think that this was going to be the break-through performance this guy needed to fully break into the Hollywood mainstream like he deserves to. Oh well, maybe next year.

Consensus: Even though there are some bright and funny moments here and there in The Watch, they are also very few and far between one another and for some reason, don’t really work because the script feels like they need to be funny with unoriginal dick, sex, and fart jokes that are as old as Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn are getting. Trust me, that’s old, too.

4/10=Crapola!!

21 Jump Street (2012)

High school sucks.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as young and clueless police officers who go undercover at a high school to investigate a drug ring, effectively giving them the opportunity to relive their student lives all over again.

The idea of remaking an old TV show as a movie doesn’t seem too promising. However, all of those problems were gone as soon as I saw the hilarious Red-Band trailer for this one and then I got to see the actual film itself and it was so much better than I expected.

The whole structure of this flick is pretty simple: put two bros in uncomfortable situations, have them run into a problem, and then have a nice, but action-packed resolution. However, that structure doesn’t go down so easily here considering it doesn’t go for the cheap laughs and isn’t afraid to poke a little fun at itself in the meantime. This is one of the funnier flicks that I have seen in recent time because it has raunch that is deserved, jokes that hit the mark just about every time, and a bit of satire about how high school really is in today’s world which definitely hit a lot closer to home for me and seemed so true. Everything is so much different today from what it used to be and instead of the philosophical, softer kids being the ones you shoved in lockers, they are now all of a sudden the cool kids that find their ways as being hailed at the end of the year as “the one most likely to succeed and be uber cool”. It’s something I see in school today and even though I’m not really trying to complain about it, I just still find it funny that a film that takes place in high school is able to hit the mark so perfectly.

What’s really strange about this flick is that it’s actually from the directing duo of Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, aka the guys behind the animated hit ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’. It’s definitely a strange pick-up for these guys to go from kiddie flick about obesity to an R-rated comedy but they somehow are able to make transition work with their strange ideas to keep this flick moving. The film isn’t unpredictable by any means but there is so much here that seems so funny and original, that you wonder exactly why none of this hasn’t been done before and just why it’s so easy for these two dudes to do it and comedy director veterans still can’t hit the right marks. One funny example from this flick is the drug-montage scene they have here. Every flick that has to do with drugs in one way or another all have a weird montage, but this film takes that one step further and makes it so much more funnier than it had any right to be and that’s just one scene. There are so many more like them that made me laugh like crazy.

However (yes, there is always a however), as fresh as this flick may be, it does start to falter by the end as it dives more towards action and loses a bit of its comedic edge. I didn’t mind this as much considering the action is surprisingly very good but everything ends so predictably that it’s a shame considering this flick really had me thinking I was about to see a new and original twist on this type of formula, only I never got that. It also seemed a little strange that Hill’s character starts to get more and more attracted to Brie Larson’s high school character even though she’s a little too young for him. Then again, it could happen so don’t mind me.

The main reason why I was looking forward to this flick in the first place was because of the strange pairing of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, and they both deliver in their own little ways. Hill is once again hilarious here (in a slightly less fatter way) and makes it seem like comedy can come to him so easily no matter what the script demands. Then again, a lot of it does start to seem like it’s just improv, which is definitely a lot better for Hill considering he owns that. I was also incredibly happy to see my main man Channing, finally get a role that suited him with his action and comedic skills. Tatum was hilarious in the strange flick, ‘The Dilemma’, and it was great to see him show his comedic skills once again, this time playing up his meat-head look for laughs. Both of these guys play-off of each other perfectly every time they are on-screen together and it was such a blast to see these guys having a blast that I wanted more of them on-screen. So glad these guys were able to nail these roles considering Hollywood has been really finding it hard where to put them lately.

The supporting cast is also great and all play up their own comedic skills to add more to the flick. Ice Cube is funny as the predictable, angry black chief that always seems to be yelling and dropping the F-bomb every time the film focuses on him but he plays that up perfectly and hopefully this will get him back in doing better comedies than ‘Are We There Yet?’; Dave Franco has a funny performance here as the wise-ass high school kid, Eric, and reminded me so much of James Franco that it was too funny to be true; and Rob Riggle has his hilarious moments as the creepy gym teacher that always seems to be effing around with these kids. There’s also a totally memorable cameo at the end of the flick that’s perfect but I don’t want to give anything away because it is definitely something has to be seen to be believed.

Consensus: 21 Jump Street isn’t really doing anything to re-invent the buddy-action comedy wheel, but the chemistry between Hill and Tatum, the rapid fire humor, and the fresh and brutally realistic look at the present-day high school make this a comedy that actually will make you laugh consistently.

8/10=Matinee!!

Megamind (2010)

A big-blue testicle vs. Brad Pitt.

A big-brained and blue super-villain named Megamind (Will Ferrell) finally beats his big-time rival, Metro Man (Brad Pitt). He soon then faces an existential crisis of sorts after he finds out that having no superhero at all to stop him from evil-wrong doings, is actually pretty boring. So, he creates a new enemy (Jonah Hill) who seeks to destroy the world, forcing Megamind to play the hero role for once in his life.

After checking out ‘Despicable Me’ for the first time earlier this year, basically everybody started comparing that to this film, making me want to see it even more. So now that I’ve seen it, all yo guys can shut yo mouths!

What really works with this film is that it touches just about every single plot-line, cliche, and convention that comes with a superhero comic-book story. You got everything from the smart villain, to the goofy-looking costumes, and whole lot more other elements that are not left untouched and that’s where the real fun of this film comes from. The film sort of pokes fun at everything we know of these superhero stories and twist them around in their own cool and original ways to be their own story.

The film is funny, but not in the way that you would expect from an animated-flick rated PG, it’s actually pretty adult-like. The humor is pretty witty with a lot of in-jokes, pop cultural references, but even enough jokes for kids that they will understand and laugh at but not as much as the parents. I actually found myself laughing quite a bit with this flick because the whole idea was cool right from the beginning, but how the film itself just tops on that with constant references, originality, and adult-like humor is what really made it work.

There is also a lot to look at here because the flick is beautiful and gets even better when the action is there too. The colors are very bright and vibrant but how colors will come and go in the middle of one action sequence is pretty cool. The music here is also pretty fun with a lot of old-school classics from AC/DC, ELO, Guns N Roses, Michael Jackson, and whole lot more to give this film the extra kick of fun it has.

My problem with this film is that the story is sort of what we always see in any superhero film, but when the film itself starts to dive right into those conventions it’s a little bit more disappointing. This film practically makes fun of these conventions so much that when it starts to hit into them by the end, it kind of left me bummed. The laughs also started to come less and less which had me bummed even more.

Will Ferrell is a lot of fun as Megamind because his character is not just evil, but he’s also very sensitive and likable which this film really worked well on with that character; Tina Fey is smart, funny, feisty, and a little sexy as Roxanne Ritchi, aka Lois Lane; David Cross is also very funny as Minion, Megamind’s second-man/thing-in-command; and Brad Pitt is awesome as Metro Man, who is the perfect combination of Elvis, Jesus, and Superman all rolled up into one hunk.

Jonah Hill is also pretty fun as Tighten but the problem with this character is that he is almost exactly like Syndrome from ‘The Incredibles’. Think about it for a second: both used to be good guys, they were both twisted into being villains by the good guys, and they both go insane-o in the end. You don’t realize this right from the get-go but once you start to think about it because it’s all the same disappointing as the ending itself.

Consensus: It may lose some steam by the end but Megamind is still a whole lot of fun due to its humor that pokes fun at all of the conventions of the superhero genre, it’s voices that are obviously having a ball, and the constant energy that this film keeps throughout the whole flick.

7/10=Rental!!

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!!

Moneyball (2011)

At least we now know where Fantasy Leagues came from.

This is about the true story Billy Beane, a former jock turned general manager who uses unconventional methods to bring the best players to the Oakland A’s, a major league baseball team struggling against financial hardship.

I watch baseball from time to time and being from Philadelphia, I have been apart of a couple of heart-breaks before, but I’m sure as hell glad we weren’t this bad. But I do wish Charlie Manual looked like Brad.

Director Bennett Miller takes the average and cliched sports movies, and turns it into something that actually does something not many have been able to do: makes whatever sport their talking about, entertaining to watch for those who don’t know anything about it.

Miller has many moments of inspired direction with just focusing on how the team is built up with lots and lots of talking, with barely any of the actual game of baseball being played. I mean you of course get the usual sports montages and inspirational moments, but the film is more about the numbers and how to run a successful baseball team with such a slight budget. You also get the feeling that Billy Beane and his team actually changed the way we look at players and baseball, but they don’t try to hit you over the head with that point too much which I was very glad for.

The talking in this film is what also kept me entertained because I never actually knew just how Beane’s way of team-building changed the way we look at sports nowadays. Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin both wrote this script and you can tell that they had a lot of fun with this because there are some great moments of hilarity but also plenty of insight and human emotion into these character’s lives that we actually do start to care for. Sorkin brings that constant hammering of words back-and-forth in the script and works here the most, especially when the film is just flying numbers that we have no idea about, right at us.

My problem with this film is that as much as the emotional aspect for this film may have worked, at the same time it kind of took away from the film too. The film shows Billy Beane and how he deals with all of this failure with his baseball team as well as his failure to live up to his expectations as an actual baseball player. This part of the story worked but the film didn’t focus on just that, they also brought in his daughter that really is in the film for about 3 scenes but the film tries so hard to make it seem like she has such an impact on the story that it really seems forced. They try to make Billy’s family “issues” (if there are any) more important than the actual team itself and even that song his daughter writes for him seems something that no 12-year old ever would write. I’m talking about you too Justin Beiber!

The film also tends to run on too long which sometimes isn’t as much of a problem if the film keeps you going, but the pace itself keeps stopping and going to the point of when I didn’t know when it was going to end, nor did I have a feeling they were going to choose a good ending. It’s about a 2 hour and 12 minute movie, which for some is way too long and especially too long for the people around me as everybody I looked at seemed to be moving around a lot after about the 2 hour mark.

I came to see this film for one reason and one main reason only and that was Brad Pitt, who plays A’s manager, Billy Beane. This is a great performance from Pitt as usual because he really gets to challenge the depth of his acting skills with this character. It’s so easy to sympathize with this guy because he seems like such a nice and cool dude who’s caught in a total rutt and wants nothing more to actually win some games and keep this franchise alive. Just by looking at his face, I already felt the emotions that he was feeling and that’s what Pitt does best here. He also gets to show a lot of that great charm that he always has in any film and whether he’s just talking to player, spouting out numbers, or walking around always so cool like he always does, Pitt just shows that he can hit every chord with the audience that needs to be hit with one character.

Jonah Hill is also great in this very tied-down role as Peter Brand, our numbers man. Hill (who was fat still) brings a lot of funny moments to the film and actually makes you believe him as this total number-nerd that builds this great friendship with Beane. Hill and Pitt are probably the most unlikely buddies in any film, but they make it work every chance they get and their scenes just really had me involved almost every time. It’s cool that two totally different actors like Hill and Pitt can actually come together for one film and make it seem believable, rather than just something that Hollywood executives needed for money. Philip Seymour Hoffman gets the top-billing for this film as well but he’s rarely in this but plays the best to his advantage as Art Howe, Beane’s biggest problem when it comes to staff.

Consensus: Moneyball doesn’t fully hit it out of the park (cliche, I know) but does however give us a great look at a system in baseball that changed the game forever, as well as being well-acted, funny, and still touching somewhere in between all the numbers.

8/10=Matinee!!