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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: June Diane Raphael

The Disaster Artist (2017)

Good story, Mark!

Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is just another young kid looking to become an actor. His dreams seem as if they’re finally going to be fulfilled too, when he meets the strange, mysterious, and downright weird Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). While the two are no doubt opposites, they hit it off because of their willingness to chase the American Dream of Hollywood, fame and fortune. It also helps that Wiseau has a place he calls home in L.A., so they move there and start trying to do what they can to break in the biz. For Greg, because he’s so young, fresh and good-looking, he gets small bits and roles in stuff, whereas Tommy doesn’t. He’s too weird and crazy to really work for most casting-agents and it’s why he decides to just say screw it all and make a movie himself. This then creates the Room, one of the most beloved and strange cult flicks that’s so bad, so ridiculous, and so out-of-this-world, guess what? It’s actually good. However, behind-the-scenes, nobody knew what the hell was going on, where Tommy was getting all of this money, why he was acting like such a freak, where he came from, and oh yeah, how the hell old he was, too. Basically, it all just revolved around Tommy being Tommy.

“I did naaaht.”

The Disaster Artist is one of those breezy, light-as-a-feather biopics that doesn’t get as deep as it should, but still works. Why? All about the source-material, baby! If you’ve ever seen the Room, know who Greg Sestero or Tommy Wiseau are, then yes, this will most likely all work for you. The movie, as directed by James Franco and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, is meant to please those undying and adoring fans of the cult-classic, while also attempting to bring possible interested-parties to just who the hell these people are, what the movie they’re making is, and/or better yet, why so many people love it.

In fact, the Disaster Artist itself doesn’t set out to answer all of the questions it raises and in a way, it’s better than most biopics because of that. It doesn’t feel the need to harp on something, or try to jam it all in – it gives us the characters, their backstories, their plot, their conflicts, and basically just runs with it all. Sure, the real lives of Sestero and Wiseau may be way more intriguing and odd than what we get here, but the movie doesn’t feel as if it has to be over two-hours to really get its job done.

Just a little over an-hour-and-a-half, honestly, is fine enough.

And it’s why, as a director and actor, James Franco does a pretty great job here. Despite him having made nearly six or seven movies in the past few years, none of them have really been all that good; they’re slow, meandering, pretentious and, despite the star-quality attached, a waste of some prime talent who are clearly just doing favors for a seemingly good guy. Here though, it seems like Franco’s at least somewhat poised to avenge himself as both an actor and director, because he doesn’t harp too much on the material – he gives us the funny stuff, the drama, and the characters that matter.

Bros love throwing that pig-skin.

And oh yeah, he also does a pretty great Wiseau which, all things considering, is pretty hard to pull-off, especially for someone as good-looking, tall, and recognizable as Franco. But Franco gets the cadences down perfectly, from the randomly slurred-speech, to the odd laughing and giggling in-between clever-phrases, that make this guy a delight to watch. He also doesn’t forget to show us the true dark and odd nature behind this guy, like where all of his money comes from, why he’s such a control-freak, and the idea that he may be a bit of a sexist asshole who, like most frat-boys, just wants to see boobs and be able to touch them. Once again, the movie doesn’t go nearly as deep as it probably should have into Wiseau, but Franco scratches enough of the surface to where it’s all fine and dandy.

After all, the movie’s so damn entertaining, you’ll soon forget about all of that stuff and it’s kind of the point.

The Disaster Artist makes it clear very early-on that no matter how awful the end-result turned out to be, the Room was absolutely what Wiseau and those involved wanted it to be: A stepping-stone to some sort of infamy. It’s what Sestero and Wiseau themselves have absolutely wanted and while what they really did, in certain situations portrayed throughout the movie, can be held-up to scrutiny, there’s no denying the fact that the movie they made, together, or apart, turned out to be something quite legendary. And the movie of its inception and ultimate creation, while not nearly as legendary, is still entertaining enough to remind us of the fun and the appeal.

If that’s even the right word.

Consensus: With a fun, light, and breezy direction, the Disaster Artist proves to be an entertaining and somewhat insightful look into the life of Tommy Wiseau, and a solid reminder that Franco’s got the goods to pull double-duty as actor and director, in an effective manner.

7 / 10

Gotta get the right shot for whatever the hell they’re doing.

Photos Courtesy of: A24

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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

Unfinished Business (2015)

Poverty sucks, but hey, at least you’ve got plenty of weed.

After refusing to take a pay-cut from his boss (Sienna Miller), salesman Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) decides that it’s his time to finally cut himself loose and break off on his own. Problem is, Dan doesn’t have much of a team. Though he gets two misfits in the form of the aging, semi-retired Tim (Tom Wilkinson) and the silly, but very naive Mike Pancake (Dave Franco), Dan still can’t seem to catch much of a break. Not to mention, there’s a lot of problems going on at home where his kids are the subject of bullying and, in a way to avoid any further mishaps, Dan’s trying to save up more and more money so that he can send his kids away to a nice, safe and bully-free private school. Once again, though, it’s all a matter of money with Dan, so that’s why when he and his gang get a chance to fly out to Berlin to possibly sell their product, swarf, to the highest bidder, he takes it. He’s not sure if it’s all going to work out, but what he does know is that he is not going to back down from any obstacle thrown in his way – even if Berlin offers up more of them than he ever expected.

In a little less than a week, season two of True Detective will set upon us and while many are looking forward to seeing the new sets of characters, story-lines, and setting, the one element I am mostly anticipating is seeing what Vince Vaughn can do in one of the lead roles. Because, see, even though some may not know this, Vaughn actually got his start in dramatic flicks, where he played some very serious and odd individuals, rather than just being the swift, quick-talking, smart-ass that every R-rated mainstream comedy seems to cast for the hopes of any possible laughter whatsoever.

What.....

What…..

He was Norman Bates for gosh sakes!

But even though I have yet to see a single lick of True Detective, something makes me feel as if Vaughn will blow us away. In nearly a decade since Into the Wild, we’ll see Vince Vaughn challenge himself and go deeper and darker with a role that he was once able to pull off; sure, the movies that he was participating in may not have been stellar, but there’s no denying that Vaughn came ready to play, ready to challenge himself, and ready to see if he could make movies better. You could make the argument that Vaughn’s been doing that for the past couple of years, but if you look at the movies he’s been doing it, it becomes clear that they’re way too often reliant on him, that if you were to eliminate him from the respective movie altogether, they would be absolute piles of dog excrement. They would be unfunny, stupid and lacking any sort of energy.

Sort of like what Unfinished Business is with Vaughn in it.

The main problem with this flick here is that it feels so generic and conventional, that eventually, once we get to any parts of it that may be at least somewhat riveting or fun to watch, it feels even worse. It’s one thing to have a movie that’s so utterly and completely crappy, that nothing in it could be looked at as mildly interesting, at best; then again, it’s a whole other thing completely when you have a movie that’s garbage, but still seems to hold some promise deep down from within. Because the promise is wasted on something that’s junk, it makes it seem like a waste, as if any other movie could have swooped-in, taken the idea and ran wild with it.

Problem is, Unfinished Business has so very few of these moments. There’s plenty of scenes that take place in German gay club that all prominently feature male genitalia in all of their bulgiest form, and there’s a hotel room that soon turns into a hotel expo idea that’s pretty nifty and entertaining to watch, even if it is the only thing in the whole movie. Other than these two elements, everything else about this movie feels like a bore. Most jokes miss completely, whereas others plop right down on the ground, moving around frantically for any sort of air, and then die right in front of your own ears and eyes before you could even recognize that a joke was even made.

....is up.....

….is up…..

See, Unfinished Business is the type of comedy that’s not at all funny, but the same time, still tries to be more than what it is. There are many, and I do repeat, many, scenes dedicated to Vaughn skyping with his wife and kids, discussing all sorts of melodramatic family stuff that would probably be suited best in an after-school special that’s about bullying and acceptance. However, here it all feels so oddly-placed that it seems like an after thought altogether; while director Ken Scott may have wanted there to be more heart and humanity added to the proceedings as a way to balance out all of the dicks and balls, it just feels messy and uneven.

And this isn’t to say that the cast should be held fully accountable for this, because most of them do seem to be trying. It made me very upset to see such a talented and lovely actor like Tom Wilkinson take this paycheck gig and just run through the motions as the “aging horn-dog” of the group, but eventually, I realized that he’s got plenty more movies coming up to where I need not worry about all of that. Then, there’s Dave Franco as Mike Pancake (yup, his actual name), a character who seems to be bordering on the line of “mentally challenged”, but the movie never makes its mind up as to what he actually is, nor does it know whether it wants to laugh with him, or at him. Either way, it’s incredibly uncomfortable to sit and listen to, and while I credit Dave Franco for at least trying to stand out a bit and take on something new, it still doesn’t go anywhere.

And then, there’s Vince Vaughn.

Obviously I’ve talked about him enough times here to where it’s become fully clear that I have it out for this dude, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I like Vince Vaughn; normally, he’s funny in everything he shows up in. The movies themselves could be nearly unwatchable, except for the moments that he showed up and did “his thing”. That I have no problem with, except for the fact that it’s a role that seems to be so overdone now, it’s stale; no longer does anybody want to watch as a Vince Vaughn character faces off against all sorts of adversity standing in his way, only to then have him make some smart-ass remarks about a fellow person, love and care for his family, and all of a sudden, have everything turn out alright for him. By now, it’s like the guy’s gotten so comfortable, that he’s become dull – a term that I never thought I’d use in the same sentence when speaking of Vaughn.

But hey, at least True Detective is coming soon. Be prepared, people.

Consensus: An uneven mess, Unfinished Business has no clue what it wants to be, what it’s about, who it’s for, and especially, how it’s trying to be funny, chalking this up to being another formulaic vehicle for Vince Vaughn.

2 / 10

...with these pictures?!?

…with these pictures?!?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Girl Most Likely (2013)

Best way to get your man back? Fake-kill yourself. Just you wait, he’ll be back in no time.

Imogene (Kristen Wiig) seemed to have had it all: the boyfriend, the writing job, the fancy apartment in NYC, the much-needed separation from her gambling-addicted mother (Annette Bening). However, it all goes down the drain once she loses one aspect, and then it becomes a domino effect from there on in, which makes her fake a suicide-attempt, in hopes that it will bring her boyf back to her. It doesn’t. But since she pulled a risky stunt like this, she can’t be trusted on her own so is now forced to live with her said gambling-addicted mother, her new boyfriend, a supposed CIA agent by the name of George (Matt Dillon), her geeky brother (Christopher Fitzgerald), and some tool that’s been renting out her room for quite some time (Darren Criss). It’s all bad for Imogene at first, but she soon realizes that maybe her old life wasn’t as great as she may have seen it as being. That, or she just didn’t amount to shit. Something like that, I think.

Alright, let me just put it as simply and obviously as I can: This movie is a total mess. It’s a total mess that I wish I avoided, but I just couldn’t turn down a screening invite to because of the big name’s attached and an odd crush I’ve had on Wiig for quite some time now. It seemed like it was supposed to be good from the outside-looking-in, but it just is not because the whole movie can’t rise beyond it’s one-note premise. Even when it tries to, it does it so miserably, that it has nowhere else to go but downhill from there. Problem is, it’s already down at the bottom of the hill. So seriously, where the hell can a film go if it’s already at the deepest, darkest hell of the hill?

Clothing: Way. Too. Colorful.

Clothing: Way. Too. Colorful.

I have no clue. That’s what I’m still struggling to figure out, but I don’t care too much about this movie or the explanation to figure out what.

I know I sound like a miserable git that can’t have fun, even if the movie is terrible but no, no, no! This movie is really bad and actually surprised me because it started off fine. It had a good premise, a good start-up to where we are thrown into this girl Imogene’s life, and are left to figure out what she’s going to do with the rest of it. It’s a perfect set-up for a pretty good dramedy, if there was one to be found here, but there isn’t. Instead, it’s just a whole slew of repetitive-jokes that get old from about the first 5 seconds that they’re introduced. However, the movie doesn’t care and will more than love to bang them against your head, until they’ve been implanted in your brain when you leave, just so you have something worth remembering. Maybe the creators didn’t have that much effort in their systems while making this movie, but I’m just in a sinister mood. So leave me be, dammit!

Let me take the time to tell you some of the running-gags that these characters have, and will never, ever let you forget about. Imogene’s the only lucky one here who comes out surprisingly unscathed, except for maybe the joke that she’s too old for the people she hangs out around. She wears a Friends t-shirt for about 10 minutes, she dresses like a grand-mom at risque night-clubs, when it’s made abundantly clear that she’s probably around her mid-to-late 30’s, and constantly reminds everybody that she’s in a totally, different day and age than all of them combined. That’s her joke, I guess if I had to reach out for one. Wiig milks it for all that she can and comes up pretty successful at times, but feels like she’s trying way too hard to be all awkward and odd, but for no reason.

Moving on, we have her gambling-addicted mother that cannot stop mentioning winning some sort of poker/blackjack game, even when her own daughter’s in the hospital because of an apparent suicide-attempt. Also, she likes to make sandwiches. A lot of sandwiches to be exact. Don’t know why this is meant to be shown as a joke, as if she’s a goof-ball or something, but it does not work, no matter how hard to Bening is trying to make it so. And she really does try. Poor gal. Matt Dillion has his joke where he’s a mysterious, shady CIA-agent that’s also involved with the samurai code that has him talking about some odd morals and rules that he must live by. Oh, and before I forget: He likes to eat the sandwiches that Bening’s character makes for him. That’s right, he eats sandwiches. What a bunch of jokesters these people are!

Now I know why I didn't like him. Bastard.

Now I know why I didn’t like him! Bastard.

Then, we have the brother who’s your typical, anti-social nerd. He practically lives in his room, one filled to the core with crabs, lobsters, and all sorts of other creatures, I’m sure, and doesn’t talk to girls at all. Hell, he barely even leaves his room and when he actually does, it’s only to work at the shop he owns which, you guessed it, sells crabs! Fitzgerald is more than up to the task of trying his hardest to make this character work or even be funny for that matter, and actually had me chuckling at least once or twice, but the script treats him as a total dweeb, one that will never, ever get laid, no matter how many crabs he ditches. Poor guy.

Darren Criss doesn’t really have a joke to his persona, mainly because a rock has better comedic-timing than him. I don’t know who this dude is, but Darren Criss is not a name I want to see anywhere near another comedy I see in the near-future, because he is not funny and doesn’t even seem to try at all to be so. He’s just there to look pretty, be a forced, romantic-interest for Wiig’s character, and sing Backstreet Boys songs because that’s apparently what all heterosexual dudes do, especially when they’re trying to bang somebody like Kristen Wiig. Maybe that’s what I need to do in order to win her over? Just maybe I will.

Consensus: Girl Most Likely has some promise of a generic, but entertaining flick that has a nice heart intact, but is neither and tries to fulfill both sides of the equation, and still falls apart while trying to do so, much to the dismay of the talented cast (except for Criss) on deck.

1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"So, you guys ever heard of Scott Joplin? You know, cause I'm soooo old."

“So, you guys ever heard of Scott Joplin? You know, cause I’m so old.”