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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Justin Chatwin

CHIPS (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheeeeeeeit, indeed.

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

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

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

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

2 / 10

Oh, what an odd couple!

Photos Courtesy of: Warner Bros. Pictures

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War of the Worlds (2005)

“Stop using your technology now!”, he types on his laptop.

Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise), an ordinary, blue-collar man doesn’t have the greatest life a man like he should have. His ex-wife (Miranda Otto) doesn’t really trust him and is currently pregnant with her new husband; his kids (Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin), he doesn’t really see, so therefore, they don’t really connect with him all that much and usually end conversations with angry shouting; and his house itself, is dirty, unorganized, and a mish-mash of stuff he has no use for anymore. His life can be so miserable at times, that if an alien attack were to randomly occur, he’d probably be better off. Well, wouldn’t you know it? That’s exactly what happens! The aliens do invade Earth and although their motivations aren’t known just yet, they’ve taken extra precautions and have deactivated every piece of technology on the planet, leaving each and every human to be scrambling all over, without any idea of what to do. This leaves Ray, along with his kids, to run around like chickens with their heads cut-off, too, but he’s inspired enough to try and find shelter, as soon as possible. Problem is, he’s still facing problems with his family and it might just linger in to the mission of getting to safety.

Tom Cruise running.

Tom Cruise is scared.

So rarely do we get to see Steven Spielberg lash-out any form of anger that may be within him. However, for the first hour of War of the Worlds, we get to see Spielberg at his angriest and, above all else, most playful. People are zipped to ashes; cars are flipped; buildings are destroyed; and everybody’s running around like chickens with their heads cut-off. On the other side of the camera, though, is Spielberg who, it’s not hard to imagine, may have had a huge, cheek-to-cheek grin while filming all of this.

Not only does he have the dough to play with whatever he wants to play with, but he’s doing so in a style that feels as if it’s also giving a big old “F**k you” to every other director out there who specializes in these kinds of summer, blow-everything-up blockbusters (basically, Roland Emmerich). While the carnage and destruction is fun and exciting to watch, Spielberg also doesn’t forget to show the impact of this, where he understands that people are, yes, dying right in front of our eyes. At the same time, though, he still can’t get past the sense of wonder of just how great everything looks, sounds and feels; while the alien spaceship special-effects feel a little weak, all of the terror that they do cause, doesn’t and helps make it capable of getting past those problems.

And honestly, the main reason why I’m focusing solely so much on the first hour or so of this, is because after it’s over, everything slows down, and we now have to focus on these characters a bit more, the movie gets pretty lame.

It’s almost as if Spielberg signed onto this in the first place, because all he wanted to do was chuck things around and see stuff blow up, but then, remembered that there had to be some form of a human story here, with actual, human-like characters, and instantly got disinterested in what he was doing. This makes the rest of the film, not only feel like a bore, but feel like Spielberg himself is just going through the motions, already too tired and strained from all of the effort he put into the first hour of this movie. Because with Spielberg, you can’t forget that when worse comes to worse, he’s always got to focus on that family-drama.

Which, in some cases, isn’t all that bad. Though it’s a plot-trope he tosses in more than he should, he does get these occasional bursts of smart energy where it seems pertinent to helping flesh the story out a bit more, and therefore, have the movie impact its audience a whole lot harder.

In the case of War of the Worlds and Tom Cruise’s on-screen family, it feels as lazy as Spielberg’s done before.

Tom Cruise is still scared.

Tom Cruise is still scared.

For one, there’s nothing really interesting to this family that makes it easy for us to want to get behind them the whole way through and see if they end up surviving the whole disaster by the end. Cruise’s Ray character is so average, that it doesn’t really matter, because all he’s really doing, once you think about it, is just running around and ducking under and behind certain surfaces; Dakota Fanning’s daughter character yells and screams the whole time and it used as an obvious crutch for Ray to have to make tough decisions; and Justin Chatwin’s son character is such a pain-in-the-ass and annoying, that when it came around for the time to, possibly, leave the movie for good, I could care less. In fact, I wanted him to get the boot earlier!

Because these characters are so poorly-written as is, watching them as they try to survive this disastrous situation, really does not prove to be a fun time. There’s nothing to be compelled by, nor is there any real interesting bits of character-drama to be found; everybody’s just sort of feuding with one another because, well, they’re family and that’s what family’s seem to do. However, due to the fact that Tom Cruise is in the role of the patriarch and it’s his family we’re talking about, then of course you know how it’s all going to go.

I won’t say much more, but I think you get my meaning if you’ve ever seen a movie with Tom Cruise in the past decade.

Hell, even longer!

Then, as the plot progresses, Tim Robbins shows up in the movie as a weird, violent and overly dramatic dude who camps out in the middle of the woods, strapped-to-his-boots with guns and whatnot. Because Robbins’ character is all about having guns protect himself from whatever dangers may be out there, the movie paints him in such a crude-light, that it’s downright distracting. Robbins doesn’t help matters either, as he genuinely seems to be just over-acting as much as he can. And shame on Spielberg for not telling him when to tone it down, take it easy, or call for lunch.

Basically, he stopped giving a hoot and it’s not the kind of Steven Spielberg that I don’t think anybody wants to see.

Consensus: Despite a very strong first-half, War of the Worlds soon runs out of ideas, looses track of itself, and rely too heavily on familiar family-drama that’s shoe-horned in to just have us root and cheer on Tom Cruise, once again.

6 / 10

Tom Cruise is always scared!

Tom Cruise is always scared!

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

The Chumscrubber (2005)

Living in the ‘burbs is like torture. But then what’s living in the city like? Automatic death?

Troubled teenager Dean Stiffle (Jamie Bell) lives in what is your typical, slice-of-life, suburban town: Everybody’s happy, always smiling, on some sort of medication, and don’t have anything to worry about whatsoever, except for maybe being perceived as “less fashionable” from their neighbors. That said, underneath this whole facade, there’s a darkness lurking in the background; a darkness that shows its ugly head when Dean’s best-friend kills himself. The reason why, or just who the hell this kid was is totally irrelevant, the fact of the matter is that it happened, and now people know that there is something to worry about out there in the world, but to these kids, the only thing that matters is getting their fix of drugs and money. That’s why when Dean is bullied into getting his best-friend’s drug-stash for a group of bullies, he isn’t surprised since everybody’s so dull and boring as it is, however, ugliness starts to show up when the Mayor’s soon-to-be-step-son gets kidnapped by these bullies, leaving Dean with no choice but to have to go through and get the stash. But not everything is what it seems to be in upper-class suburbia.

Whenever there’s a movie that has to do with the suburbs, you always know what to expect: Angst and anger. Basically, those two words can go hand-in-hand, but with this movie, it somehow seems to be two different things that, like the movie itself, don’t really come together all that well in the end, yet, work well when they’re just doing their own thing. It’s sort of weird to explain, so be careful of this review because it may dive into some huge “rants”, and if that’s the case, I apologize ahead of time. However, I think you know what you’re getting yourself into when you type in “dtmmr.com” on your web browser, so why warn? Let’s just get on with it!

Let the kid's duke it out! I mean, they ARE the future after all!

Come on, let the kid’s duke it out! I mean, they ARE the future after all!

As I was alluding to not too long ago (5 seconds ago, actually), the movie has two points it’s trying to make about suburbia: 1.) being apart of it sucks, and 2.) the parents don’t listen to their kids, and vice-versa. Both points have been made many, many times in other, and sometimes, better movies before, but here, I was slightly intrigued by where it went with its material. It shows you not only how the world can feel like it’s closing in on you sometimes when you’re at your lowest-peak, but how nobody fully seems to “get” just where the hell you’re coming from. I know this is all coming off like some bad speech written for Emo Night, but it’s the truth. When things are so awful and shitty, sometimes, they just get worse, and it seems like nobody cares about that fact, or wants to do anything about it.

That’s why the movie sort of struck a chord with me. Not only was this kid’s story of being the outcast, to being the same person pretty interesting that I’m surprised the movie went with, but because it gave us a glimpse at all the characters here. Not just Dean, but his family, and other’s families as well. Some are more fucked-up than others; while others are just as normal and easy-going as they are perceived as. The movie obviously knows who it’s making fun of, and who it’s in favor of, and it works well if you get the type of satirical humor it constantly throws at you.

However, like I said before, the movie doesn’t come together so well at the end because you still realize that there’s a plot here that needs to be told in an effective, compelling way that makes you give a hoot about what could possibly happen to these characters; and you just don’t get that. Instead, you get a half-assed attempt at a thriller with kids, that makes you feel like you’re watching a Larry Clark movie, minus all of the adolescents taking part in drinking, sex, drugs, and all sorts of other countless acts of debauchery. And in case you couldn’t tell, that’s a bad thing since those are what usually keep those types of movies going. As for this one, I felt like they needed a little something more to spice up this material and get it to be more than just a thought-piece on being young and living in the suburbs, but sadly, it just stayed that way.

Like I said though, had great discussion-points it brought up more than a handful of times, but yet, couldn’t go any further with them because it had an actual-plot that brought it all down.

Hmm? Smells like rabbit stew?

Hmm? Smells like rabbit stew?

If anything, what kept this movie alive, especially by the very end, was the amazing ensemble this movie had on-display. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that’s why I was so intrigued by this movie in the first place! Jamie Bell leads the film as Derrick, and gives us a nice glimpse at an outcast who isn’t an outcast because he’s weird, it’s just because he isn’t narrow-minded like everybody else and he knows it, hence why everybody calls him meanie-weanie names like “loser”, “freak”, and “fag”. You know, the typical teenager defense-mechanisms. While Derrick was an interesting enough character to have a whole movie revolve around just him, his mind, and his inner-most intimate thoughts, the movie gives him this crappy-plot that never goes anywhere with itself, nor with him. Bell does what he can with his Yank accent, but in the end, he just feels like a wasted piece of talent that could have done so much more, had the movie decided to get real up close and personal with its lead character.

Even the adults could have gotten more attention and I would have been happy, although, I do have to say that they’re mainly aided by a bunch of great actors doing what they do best: Work shop. Allison Janney plays Derrick’s mom who feels like she wants so much more with her life than just constantly cooking, cleaning, and caring for the house, and you see that come out more than a couple of times, all to great-effect because it’s Allison Janney we’re talking about here; William Finchter plays Derrick’s pretentious, deuchy therapist dad that constantly thinks that pills are the only way to get past your problems, and does well, especially since he didn’t creep me out once here; Ralph Fiennes plays the Mayor of the town who seems to be a little “out-there” in terms of his thought-process and it’s pretty interesting to watch at times, even though the movie uses him too much as a crutch for getting its point across; Glenn Close plays the mother of the boy who committed suicide, and does it so well because it’s almost as if she’s a Stepford Wife, just trying to let everybody know she’s all fine and perfect on the outside, but on in the inside, she’s absolutely dying a slow and painful death; and I’m always down for a nice shot of Carrie-Anne Moss in a bikini. I mean, hell, why not?!?! There’s plenty more in this cast where that came from, but I think you get the point: They aren’t the problem, it’s the script that they’re working with.

Consensus: Material like this has been developed before, and while The Chumscrubber attempts to make some of those messages and points stick in our minds, it only gets bogged-down by an all-too-conventional plot-line that brings nothing new to the table in terms of originality, but doesn’t really mesh well with what the movie as a whole is trying to say.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Mom or Dad? Can I just choose "Neither"?"

“Mom or Dad? Can I just choose “Neither”?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net