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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Ken Jeong

Ride Along 2 (2016)

Cops are so silly when they’re handling high-profile cases sometimes!

After the events that transpired two years ago, in which Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) went on a ride along with his soon-to-be-brother-in-law James Payton (Ice Cube) and basically solved a case, the two are still together, but not always getting along. Ben still annoys James, and James doesn’t have a single sense of humor to where he actually wants to give Ben a shot, even though, sooner or later, he’s going to be married to his sister (Tika Sumpter). But after much reluctance, James takes Ben to Miami to follow up on a lead that’s connected to a drug ring, and possibly, some heavy-duty drug smugglers. In Miami, Ben and James meet two important people that will help solve their case: a homicide detective (Olivia Munn) who has been looking after this case for quite some time and a computer hacker (Ken Jeong) who reveals evidence that implicates a respected businessman (Benjamin Bratt), who may also be doubling as a violent, sinister drug smuggler. Now, with these two people’s help, Ben and James will now try and solve this case, while also getting to come closer as friends and, well, family.

Are those real? Not the guns, but the cops.

Are those real? Not the guns, but the cops.

Say what you will about the first Ride Along, it wasn’t a great movie, but it at least had some laughs. Sure, most of that was definitely because it gave absolute free reign to Kevin Hart to do whatever he oh so pleased, and therefore, created some laughs, but hey, it sort of worked for me. It was the kind of January movie that didn’t do much, ask for much, nor try to be anything ground-breaking or life-changing – it just wanted to offer up some fun, some laughs, some action, and a possibly solid duo between Ice Cube and Kevin Hart.

For that, it worked.

And in every way imaginable, that’s why Ride Along 2 doesn’t come close to working.

I don’t know what happened, either. It seems like with Ride Along 2, director Tim Story’s idea was that he’s got a bigger budget to work with, he’s in Miami, and his movie’s a sequel, so that means everything has to be bigger, louder, over-done, and more action-packed than before. After all, the first movie did have a few impressive action set-pieces that took me by surprise. However, here, it just feels like the movie’s reliance on constant explosions, bullets and violent deaths get to be a bit overwhelming; after awhile, you may, or may not, begin to wonder, “Hey, where’s the comedy at?”

Well, I too wondered the same thing probably throughout the whole entire hour-and-40-minutes of Ride Along 2. You could say that there was maybe one or two chuckles to be had throughout the movie, but really, that’s pushing it. In all honesty, sitting down and watching Ride Along 2, I wondered just where any of the laughs where, especially when their seemed to be some actually funny people involved. Granted, a lot of the movie is just Kevin Hart flailing around, yelling, and asking for other people’s approval and love, but he does that in almost everyone of his other crappy movies.

Surely, that has to bring out at least one laugh, right?

Well, that doesn’t happen. Instead, a lot of the scenes with him just run on too long, or feel as if there was no script at all to be found, so instead of even trying, they just gave Hart a mic and let him do his thing. Except that it doesn’t fully work this time and mostly feels like it’s taking away from the rest of what the movie/actors, have to do and offer. After all, people like Ice Cube, Olivia Munn, Ken Jeong, and yes, even Benjamin Bratt, have all proven themselves to be charming and funny before, so why on Earth are they not given anything even remotely funny to work with? Is it because the movie cares less about them, and more about the fiery and explosive action-sequences that, yes, look nice, but happen way too often?

Or, is it just the Kevin Hart Show and everyone else can suck it?

Kevin Hart: Mall Cop

Kevin Hart: Mall Cop

Honestly, I don’t know which one it is, but what I do know is that Ride Along 2, for what it’s worth, doesn’t work. It doesn’t work as a comedy; it doesn’t work as an action movie; it doesn’t work as an action-comedy; and it sure as hell doesn’t work as a buddy-comedy. If anything, it just works at showing us further why Kevin Hart will continue to kick ass at the box-office, even if his movies suck, and his talent constantly goes wasted.

And everybody else’s talents go wasted, too. Cube doesn’t have much to do except just growl, stare and look like somebody just tooted; Olivia Munn shows up as the possible love-interest and may be an interesting character to work with, except that she’s in Ride Along 2, a movie where no one cares about character-development, especially that of a female character; Ken Jeong tones it down a smidge, but yeah, still isn’t very funny, with the exception of maybe one scene he and Hart share in the back of a car (but seriously, I’m grasping at straws here); and Benjamin Bratt plays the villain, who may or may not be a vicious human being, except that he’s in Ride Along 2, where the movie cares more about how Kevin Hart’s character uses video-games to relate to real life, actual crimes where the life or death consequences are as realistic as they can be.

But hey, who cares about realism or anything of that nature? Just have Kevin Hart yell, scream and holler some more! *snorts line of cocaine off of hooker’s rump

Consensus: Though it didn’t have much to live up to in the first place, Ride Along 2 is still a mess of a movie that wastes the talents of everyone involved, but will most definitely get a three-quel in another year, so be prepared.

1.5 / 10

Two black guys and a half-Asian chick. Somewhere, there's a punch-line.

Two black guys and a half-Asian chick. Somewhere, there’s a punch-line.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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The Duff (2015)

Dang teenagers and their technology.

High school teenager Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) is smart, quick-witted, is sure of herself, and also has a bunch of friends that love and support her. However, she soon realizes that maybe her social life isn’t all that great to begin with; sure, she has friends, but is she really as successful or as popular as them? Better yet, is she really all that pretty, either? Eventually, Bianca stumbles upon the realization that she is, sadly, a DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). This shakes Bianca to her core, so much so that she realizes it’s about time that she realizes it’s finally time for a change of pace where she can have more men look her way, more people talk about her with positive connotations, and more friends, as a result. This is when she enlists the help of her neighbor Wes (Robbie Amell) who is also using her as a way to ensure that he gets good enough grades in class so that he can pass, get those scholarships to the colleges he wants, and live his life, happily forever after. But somehow, through all of the hanging out they’re doing, Wes and Bianca soon realize that maybe what it is that they need, isn’t just to look pretty and be popular – maybe, just maybe, it’s to have someone special in your life?

Selfie, with her?

Selfie, with her?

Basically, take the premise to Not Another Teen Movie, make it serious, and wouldn’t you know it? You sort of have what the Duff is; while it is, at one point, insightful in exposing the true nature of young, impressionable, high school kids and their sometimes evil, maniacal ways of pushing people into stereotypes, regardless of whether they accept it or not. Then, on the other point, it’s also a movie that feels incredibly content with keeping things as simple and conventional as possible, without ever trying to change, or shake up the genre it seems to be playing around in.

To be honest, the Duff is a little bit of both, but it’s at least ten times better than a mega-serious Not Another Teen Movie.

What works in the Duff‘s favor is that it has a fresh voice to tell us all that we need to know about the current state of high school’s social life today, to ensure that everybody’s on the same page. While it’s only been a few years or so since I last stepped in a high school classroom, there’s still a certain feeling that even though most may stay the same about high school and all of the social politics that go into, the landscape may alter a bit to where there are more cliques than ever before. Through Bianca, we see, hear, and understand what it is that’s around her and it helps us to create a bubble around each one of these character’s lives and how they’ll affect her.

And this also helps out the fact that Bianca, the character herself, is actually pretty smart and funny. Some of that has to do with the fact that Mae Whitman (yes, her?) is charming in her own ways, but some of it also has to do with the fact that she’s actually an interesting character that feels lived-in and not just an archetype of what some writer’s would deem as “hip” or “cool”. Sure, she’s both of which, but she isn’t bragging about it, either; that’s just not her style. She’s much more subdued than that and it helps her character come off as more realistic than anything else.

Not to mention that, despite seeming like he’s way too old for high school, Robbie Amell and Whitman have something of a sexy bit of chemistry together. Though the pairing is, I must admit, odd to say the least, these two make it work somehow by showing that these two need one another. Sure, the ways we are shown this are hackneyed, corny and wildly predictable, at best, but there’s still some shed of truth to be found in these scenes.

Oh yeah, totally what high school jocks looked like in high school. Grey hair and all.

Oh yeah, totally what high school jocks looked like in high school. Grey hair and all.

Not too much, but just enough to keep me away from barfing out my lunch by all of the sappy teen romance.

Like I said, however, the Duff does feel like it gets a tad too predictable for its own tastes and while it can sometimes get away with its sarcastic smirk, it doesn’t always save the day. For instance, take the character of Bella Thorne, who plays the stereotypical bitch of the school who’s only concern is whom her boyfriend is of the week, whether or not she’s having a party later in the day, and if there are enough cameras around her following her every move. Despite Thorne trying here, it still seems like the kind of lame role that’s written for a sitcom; whereas instead of getting to see the deep shades beneath her exterior, we just see an annoying, villain of a girl. It’s quite bothersome actually and doesn’t do much to help the movie, except just ad needless conflict.

Then, of course, there’s the message of this movie, whatever it is that may be. See, a part of me wants to give the movie the benefit of the doubt and say that, in the end, the movie’s all about the triumph and the will of one woman’s journey to make herself feel better for who it is that she is, rather than what others see, there’s still another part of me that thinks the opposite. See, without saying much, Bianca changes herself up in a manner that makes her seem more appealing to those around and even though Whitman is already plenty fine to look at, the movie tries to make it seem like she needs to look and fit a certain way to get the guy, to get the friends, and ultimately, get the life they oh so crave and desire.

To me, that doesn’t sit well. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking to young high schoolers or senior citizens, it just feels oddly-placed is all, especially in a movie that seems so against selling out and being along with the crowd in the first place.

Then again, that’s high school for ya.

Consensus: The Duff‘s familiar premise and feel waters it down from being like other high school comedies released in the past few years, but still offers up enough charm and wit to make up for some of those problems.

5.5 / 10

Yup. Totally ugly and fat.......

Yup. Totally ugly and fat…….

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Monsters University (2013)

Now how much is a red cup going to cost?

Before they became pals working at Monsters Inc., Sully and Mike (John Goodman and Billy Crystal) were just your ordinary college student. They were young, ambitious, hopeful, happy, and willing to allow anything to happen, just as long as they finally had a chance to get their dream job. However, what some may be surprised about is that they weren’t friends right from the beginning and actually found more things to dislike about each other, than actually like. But through certain bits of challenges and obstacles, they will come together to realize who’s scarier, who’s wiser, and why they don’t like each other in the first place. Oh, and it’s also at a college so mind you; there may be some underage drinking involved.

Ending on the note that Monsters, Inc. did back in the day, it’s an honest surprise that they didn’t go forward with the sequel instead. We do like these characters and we would like to visit them again, but does it really have to be a prequel, especially one that takes place on a college-campus? I didn’t think so, but Pixar seems to really be scrounging the Earth for ideas, so it’s no surprise they re-hashed something that they knew would win over the older-crowd that still gives them money, day-in-and-day-out, thinking that they’re going to see the next Wall-E or Toy Story; as well as the new crowd that’s probably expecting something like Brave.

Those youngsters. What silly little creatures they truly are.

"Dammit, Mikey! Don't you dare mention the name "Boo". She doesn't even exist yet!"

“Dammit, Mikey! Don’t you dare mention the name “Boo”. She doesn’t even exist yet!”

However, I loved these guys so much in the first place that I wasn’t so depressed in seeing them when they were younger, more hopeful monsters, but at the same time, I wish the movie did more with the idea/premise. Basically, it’s just Revenge of the Nerds/Animal House, but with Pixar, so hold all of the f-bombs, the kegs, the nudity, the hardcore partying, drugs, sex, and pretty much everything else you’d come to expect and see with college, or a movie that revolves around college. That said, it’s a kids movie so I can’t complain about how mild and tame the material is, but I can complain about how unfunny the idea plays-out, which is a major bummer because Pixar has been known to take something, anything familiar to the common-brain and spin in it on it’s own head, with their own smart way. Sadly though, this wasn’t one of those “smart ways”.

The movie gets you with a couple of chuckles here and there, mostly through random references you may or may not catch, but overall, it’s a pretty dry experience. Nothing with this humor catches you off-guard like Pixar has been known to do, and is a lot more slapstick-y than it has been in recent years, mainly to get the kiddies laughing and happy. Which, once again, is dandy and fine, but what are the parents supposed to do? Just sit there in near-misery as their kiddie-bops laugh their rumps off by some monsters falling down a flight of stairs? Well, I guess so, but knowing Pixar the way that I do and sticking by them for as long as I have, I’ve come to expect more from them and know that they are about making the little tikes laugh, but also the older-peeps that brought them to the theater as well. Plenty of kids were howling like crazy at my screening, but the adults that surrounded me couldn’t really go along as it was just for them, and nobody else.

Poor parents. You deserve better. Except for when those innocent children all turn 14, then you’re dead to them!

But where Pixar really picks up the slack in is with it’s heartfelt message that is usually supposed to make the kiddies think, and touch the parents as if they were little ones as well. Actually, you could even go so far as to say that it’s Pixar’s strong-suit: if the comedy doesn’t work, get them long and hard with a message for everybody all over the globe to listen and feel something towards. However, what separates this flick from those others is that it’s message does not seem to really click with me as much as I would have expected, and I don’t know if that’s the flicks fault, or of my own.

Basically, the message is that all kids should not really set their standards too high, because if you live life long enough, you know that all of your dreams aren’t going to come true, but to also still settle for mediocrity. Personally, I believe that telling a kid that they should not believe in their hopes and dreams is bullshit because they’re kids and what else are they going to dream about, and also, I think telling them to settle for any sort of mediocrity is just plain and simply wrong. When the kids become older and begin to realize that the world isn’t going to hand them everything they want on a silver platter with a cherry on top, then I would say is the time to let your dreams go away and settle for whatever you can get. But when you’re a kid, and just about anything is possible, with your whole, bright future ahead of you, then I think you should stick to your guns, live the wild and young life you want to live, and if it doesn’t pan out the way you want it to, then big deal. Just don’t get yourself down when and if it does in fact happen.

However, that’s just me though, so maybe other parents want their kids to think the way this movie is telling them to. If that’s the case, it’s their prerogative, but mine is that kids should be themselves and be able to keep their dreams afloat, regardless of what the real world tells them is reality. Hey, I was a kid once too, and I had dreams. They sure as hell weren’t to become a movie critic of sorts, but they were dreams that I at least went for until I realized they had gotten too far for me to even grasp. That’s just the reality of the situation, but I can understand why some parents wouldn’t want their own kids having to go through with that themselves. Call it “babying”, call it what you will. It’s just life, man.

"I pledge to scare the shit out of every boy and girl in the world."

“I pledge to scare the shit out of every boy and girl in the world.”

No matter how far into mediocrity this flick went, the glue holding it all together was Sully and Mike, voiced terrifically once again by Billy Crystal and John Goodman. Together, they make a great team and even though I don’t fully believe their obviously-adult voices as ones of college freshman, I was still able to enjoy myself and be reminded of what these guys were like in the first movie (which still ranks as one of my favorites as a kid, and still holds up for me, believe it or not). They’re fun to watch together, by how different and alike they are, but also by how they come together in ways that are believable and easy to understand, especially when you know what these guys are at the beginning of the first movie. I didn’t need to see these characters on the big-screen, but it wasn’t such a bad trip down memory lane once more.

Steve Buscemi also returns as Randy, who actually has an odd twist here that makes you understand why he is the way he is in the original; Helen Mirren plays up her “ice queen”-act as Dean Hardscrabble, the one and only monster who holds the all-time record for most scares, ever; Nathan Fillion is awesome and bad-ass, even with his voice, as Johnny, the head brother of the biggest fraternity on campus; and Joel Murray does an effective job as the older, but equally as goofy member of the frat, Don, who shows some chops for comedic-timing. And trust me, there is plenty, plenty more recognizable voices, and even some faces (I’m talking about the actual characters), that you’ll hear and/or be happy to see.

Consensus: Despite not being a flick we really needed to see after the original ended so perfectly almost a decade ago, Monsters University is still a pleasant, enjoyable movie for the family, but seeing as this is Pixar and knowing what it is that they can do with their originality, it does come as a bit of a disappointment, especially for most die-hard fans, if there are such people.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Like us all, Mike Lisowski too dreams of having the greatest time of his life in college and getting that one job he oh so desires when he leaves. But this is 2013, and those dreams and hopes of a college freshman have all been dashed by now. Sorry, Mikey.

Like us, Mike Wazowski too dreams of having the greatest time of his life in college and getting that one job he oh so desires when he leaves. But this is 2013, and those dreams and hopes of a college freshman have all been dashed by now. Sorry, Mikey.

The Hangover Part III (2013)

What happens in Vegas, should always stay in Vegas. This included.

Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifiankis), and yes, even Doug (Justin Bartha) reunite for one last adventure in Vegas. However, it isn’t the type of fun-filled adventure they expected to begin with. Rather than living up the night with drugs, sex, booze, women, and Mike Tyson’s tiger, Doug gets kidnapped from a powerful drug-dealer (John Goodman), who wants one thing and one thing only in return: Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong).

The first Hangover, as we all know, was a smash-hit. It was funny, broke box-office records, and even won the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy (against (500) Days of Summer, which still, to this day, is bullshit). So, obviously, it seems like the next, big step for the franchise would be to have a sequel that not only capitalized on the first one’s charm, but enhanced it in a way as well. By the word “enhance”, I mean to just substitute certain aspects of the story out, for other parts like a brother-in-law nobody gives a shit about, for a hubby-to-be that’s Justin Bartha. Yup, I am indeed talking about the second movie that not only pissed off critics, but pissed off audiences as well. Apparently, it didn’t piss them off enough considering that the movie still kicked ass at the box-office and assured that yes: there would be a third, and final one, whether or not anybody actually wanted it.

This is what we have here ending the series, and that’s some joyous news. The movie’s not the joyous news, the fact that it’s the last one in the franchise is the joyous news.

I guess Doug was granted "hanging out with the guys" privileges. Then, killed off several seconds later...

I guess Doug was granted “hanging out with the guys” privileges. Then, killed off several seconds later…

Before I get any further into the nuts and bolts of this movie, I’m just going to put it plain and simple: the movie is just not funny. Yes, the occasional chuckle occurred here and there, but other than half-a-handful of times, nothing really made me laugh, smile, or happy that I was watching these guys go out with a bang. Instead, all I got was a movie that tried to recycle the same old jokes from the first two, and if they didn’t bother doing that; they didn’t even try to be funny. Todd Phillips and the rest of his crew obviously seem to love these characters and all that they go through more than us, so rather than letting them do what makes us love them so much in the first place (be funny), he steps in the way, puts a way-too complicated plot in place, and knocks down any chance for a hilarious moment to occur.

I get that this is the last movie in the series and that Phillips wants to end on a high-note that has us remember these characters for all that they are and what they were, but he tries way too much by just adding lame-ass drama. Lame-ass drama that, by the way, totally brings down the energy and the tone of the movie, giving us a movie that doesn’t know whether or not it wants to be a comedy with streaks of dark, or a drama, with streaks of dark comedy. It ends up being neither, and watching it be slapped back-and-forth by what it wants to be and accomplish, just is not entertaining to watch, no matter how much plot or story Phillips wants to add on. Not even his trademark cameo can make this movie worth watching. In fact, it’s the exact opposite as it seems like the dude was just trying to pull-out any stop that he could, and seemed to fail at doing so.

That’s the real problem with this movie, other than not being funny: it tries ridiculously hard and does not work a bit. There comes a point where you really feel as if this movie is going to take the high-road, hit us with a genius situation that not only makes us laugh, but understand why we love the Wolf Pack for all that they were in the first movie, but we never get that. However, what we do get is a bunch of dudes that bicker about random shit that’s better left unsaid or not acknowledged in any way, running errand-to-errand, and switching more cars than a South Street hooker. None of this is funny to watch, even if Phillips and his crew seem to set these guys up for moments of pure-hilarity, only to have the mark missed and fall right on their toes, without them knowing what the hell to do.

And shame on Todd Phillips for not knowing what to do with these three guys, because if anything, they were the only ones saving that last train-wreck from collapsing to it’s painful, memorable death. In fact, while I’m at it, shame on Todd Phillips for not being able to take advantage of the cast and crew he was able to get back to return for this (hopefully) last installment. You got Mike Epps as Black Doug, Heather Graham as the hooker-wife of Stu/mother of “Carlos”, and even newcomers like John Goodman and Melissa McCarth. All can be funny as hell when they are allowed to go bonkers, but just get held-back by a script/direction that doesn’t seem all too concerned with them. Hell, it doesn’t even seem all that concerned with the Wolf Pack, and instead, diverts most of it’s attention to Mr. Chow!

Listen here, Mr. Chow was a pretty funny-ass character in the first movie because he showed up every once and awhile, did his goofy-Chinese thang, showed his weenie, simulated ejaculating all over people, and let it be left at that. However, this whole movie seems to not only include that, but more and more of it, which is not only unneeded, but it’s stupid because the movie is more of his, rather than the dudes who started the franchise in the first place. It isn’t like Ken Jeong isn’t capable of playing this character well, it’s just that the character has been played-out beyond belief by now, even though nobody working on the film seems to realize that after the first ten times they show him up on-screen. Seriously, this movie could have been without Bradley, Ed, and Zach, and nobody would have noticed. It’s basically Chow’s show from beginning-to-end, and it’s never funny to sit around and view.

It's funny because he's just a little Asian dude acting like a sheriff!!!

It’s funny because he’s just a little Asian dude acting like a sheriff!!!

It’s a real shame too, because Bradley, Ed, and Zach still seem to have some sort of dynamic between one another that would be perfect for a movie that cared more about them, but that’s not this movie. Here, they are given the boot to the side, just so Chow can say dirty and inappropriate things in a “funny” Chinese-accent. Individually, they all seem fine, but it also feels like a lost cause since they aren’t given many chances to be funny or pal-around with one another. They’re pretty much serious the whole time and it never seem to end, even if this is the shortest out of the whole franchise (hour and 40 minutes).

Bradley seems like he’s bored with the material and knows that he’s got better shit coming his way; Ed just looks nervous and awkward the whole movie, and occasionally yells for shits and gigs (because you know, yelling for the sake of yelling is hillurious!); and Zach is just being himself, but it isn’t funny. It’s more random this time around where it seems like Philips gave him the cue to just improv his ass off, which is hit or miss if you’re familiar with his stand-up. Sometimes it hits so hard that you can’t believe you’re laughing as much as you are, and sometimes it misses so bad and noticeably, you wonder if anybody even paid attention in the editing-room.

It’s obvious that nobody did, and were more concerned with getting this movie out there for all to see, hopefully spend a shit-load of money on, and give them the possibility of another sequel down the pipe-line. But since everybody involved seems to be considering it “the last”, lets hope that they stick to their word and allow it to truly be the last. If not, I think I’m going to have to burn my Carlos T-shirt up at the next, local bonfire.

Consensus: If you were there for this franchise when it took an odd-turn for the second movie and stood by it, then the Hangover Part III might just be the perfect good-by you need to calm all of your wonders and nerves down for good, but if you didn’t care for the second one at all: don’t even bother. All of the charm that was once alive and well, is all lost for the sake that a little Asian man can pull down his pants, and ejaculate all over it. So funny, right?

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

If the killing of precious, wild animals doesn't at least make you chuckle, you, my friend, have a soul in tact.

If the killing of precious, wild animals doesn’t at least make you chuckle, then you, my friend, have a soul in tact.

Pain & Gain (2013)

Steroids will kill you. But also will guns, lies, sex, drugs, murder, and leading a whole life of crime.

Three dimwitted body-builders (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie) make a living teaching other people how to put their body’s into shape. But they’ve had enough of it and want more out of life like money, fame, and drugs. You know, the American Dream. They decide to reach for this goal by kidnapping and extorting money from a very rich and powerful man (Tony Shalhoub). It sort of works, but as time goes on and their ego’s and utter stupidity seem to get in the way of things, they lose their way to figuring out just how the hell to keep their heads up and out of jail.

Oh yeah, and it’s all based on a true story. Don’t believe me, then seriously; go check this out and come back. See what I mean? Real shit.

The fact that this is all apparently happened, was directed by Michael Bay, and considered to be a passion project of his, really has me scratching my head still, even to this very sceond where I’m typing. However, being the “esteemed” critic that I am, I knew I had to be open to seeing something that Bay actually had been wanting to do for awhile and I think I stand with everybody else when I say that it’s time we saw something new from this guy. At least, I think so anyway. I hope I’m not alone.

I wonder if they need help with their luggage.

It’s Miami, in the 90’s. So chill, fashion police.

I knew something was “up” with this movie once it began. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t interesting or that I wasn’t wondering what this was all going to be about, it was that something didn’t feel right. The movie begins with Marky Mark doing sit-ups on a ceiling  then sees a bunch of cop cars, yells out “fuck”, and begins to run away, all to a narration that’s supposed to be funny, but isn’t. That’s how the whole movie actually plays out, in fact. Most moments are supposed to be done for laughs in the way that we point and chuckle at these bumbling fools trying to pull off robbery, but it doesn’t work. Instead, it seems like the movie is trying too hard to be funny, and failing at it so miserably so. It gets better, but very slightly.

The problem with this movie isn’t that it isn’t really funny, because once the first hour comes and goes, it begins to find it’s funny-footing, but it’s just “off” in ways that’s hard to explain. This a true story, about people that did bad stuff, tried to get away with it, and came close to doing so as well, so why the hell should all of this shit be played-up for laughs? I get that Bay wanted to have a bit of a tongue-in-cheek approach with this story and get all goofy on us, but he’s not the type of director that can make the transitions from drama to comedy seamless. You notice when the movie is trying too hard to be funny and too hard to be serious, and it just ends up coming out like a weird mixture of eggs and chocolate. Never tried that combo before, but something tells me it doesn’t mix well.

That’s not to say that this movie isn’t entertaining to watch, because it is, it just doesn’t feel like anybody can make up their right minds as to what type of film they want to make. The screenwriters wanted a dramedy; Bay wanted a buddy comedy, with a bunch of grit; the actors wanted a loosey-goosey comedy; and Marky Mark just wants to show the ladies that he’s still got the looks. Everybody is playing at their own pace, with their own rules, and their own ways of getting shit done. It honestly isn’t as bad as I may make that sound; it really isn’t. It’s actually interesting to see, considering you never know where it’s going to go next, in terms of story and tone. And even though not all of it fits right in the way you’d expect, it’s still fun for that aspect alone.

Other than problems with tone and pace, Bay still seems to be having fun here and I was glad. When this movie wants to be wild and crazy; it’s a blast of fun. You never know where it’s going to go, where it’s going to end up, and what these crazy mofos are going to try next. Well, that is unless you don’t already know the story beforehand. If you do, then you’re sort of left out a bit of all of the fun, but not fully. If you like watching a movie, not having a darndest clue what the people involved are going to show you next; then this may be the trip for you. It has the humor; it has the action; it has the performances; and it has the fun-feel to it, but you still can never seem to get past the fact that almost everybody involved with this movie was on some sort of coke or something. More strange, than it is crazy, but still interesting to watch. I’m not sure if I’m selling this movie well at all, but don’t be worried because it is a good movie; just a very odd one at that.

But if you really want to see something insane: then, just watch these performances. Seriously, every cast member seems like they are either high off of their asses, or having the time of their lives. Sometimes, even both at the same time. Marky Mark is as fun and electric as he has ever been as Daniel Lugo, “the mastermind” (use that term very loosely) behind the whole wheeling and dealing operation. Wahlberg’s manic energy really plays well with this character because it allows him to be a nut-job, just about the whole time. He’s a guy that likes to poke fun at himself, even when he is doing curls for the girls with 50 lb.’s in each hand. It’s hard for a guy to be sexy, charming, and self-knowingly goofy at the same time, but Wahlberg pulls it off perfectly, as usual.

Then, there’s Dwayne Johnson as his fellow-partner, Paul Doyle. If anybody seems to be having any bit of fun in this movie: it’s The Rock (whoops!). Rocky has always been one of these guys that’s been wanting to break free for the longest time and it’s just so great to see him do it now, do it loud, and best of all: do it proud. Doyle’s character is a funny one because he’s constantly on either side of the fence. He’s a holy man that’s been sober for awhile and believes in the higher-power, yet, is all caught up in these deadly-shenanigans that he can’t make up his mind as to whether or not he wants to partake in it or not. But at other times, the character totally loses his idea of sensibility and is just balls to the walls from there on. That’s where Johnson really exceeds well, and kept me laughing my ass off, even when the movie didn’t seem to be working with any funny material whatsoever. Just watching him act like an ass and make fun of himself as well, was funny enough to give me joy and laughter. Sort of like Christmas Day, but instead of presents; it’s just some roided-out freak who likes to make goofy faces. Goofy faces that worked, so I guess I can’t talk too much shite.

Monk's rich and not putting up with anybody's shit.

Monk’s rich and not putting up with anybody’s shit.

Even though he isn’t advertised all that much as partaking in the crimes, Anthony Mackie is also here for the wild ride and is good for what he has to do to keep up with these two. Not only can he flex-up when need be, but he can also joke around about his look and style as well, which is always needed. However, it’s abundantly clear that he does not have as much material to work with, like Dwayne and Marky Mark do. That still doesn’t mean that he isn’t funny or entertaining to watch; because he is. It’s just that the guy’s jokes are more obvious and more about him being black than anything else. Hopefully, Captain America 2 will start getting him some finer-roles like he deserves.

Other actors that show up in this seem to be having fun, even if they are as nutso as you can get. Tony Shalhoub plays the mean and cruel rich guy that these body-builders decide to target and is good because he always stays funny, without ever drawing out the sympathy card. We don’t like his character and we don’t really care for him, which was sort of the point. That’s why it’s so fun to see Shalhoub just take a role like this, and revel in the unsympathetic-nature of it. Ed Harris also shows up as the detective that helps him out and is good, but it’s Ed Harris. What else is there left to say? But trust me, there’s plenty more where that came from and they are all just as wacky as the leads. And I also have to give credit to Michael Bay for giving Rebel Wilson a chance to be funny again, even if she lost all of my respect after last Sunday. Lord, I still feel the pain from that.

Consensus: Most of Pain & Gain is meant to be seen, just for the sake of bragging-rights and pure experience. But with that said, it is still fun for what you see with it’s random bits of comedy, drama, crime, and action, all rolled into one piece of wild popcorn fare. Also, it’s a Michael Bay film with no robots. So just be happy dammit!

7 / 10 = Rental!!

ROCK BOTTOM!!! ROCK BOTTOM!!

ROCK BOTTOM!!! ROCK BOTTOM!!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Everything that Battle: Los Angeles should have been.

The third installment in Michael Bay’s trilogy travels back to 1969’s historic moon landing, when Neil Armstrong and his Apollo 11 cohorts touch down in the Sea of Tranquility … and discover what appears to be a downed Transformers craft. Flash forward to the present, and the Decepticons are ready to exact revenge on Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots. Shia LaBeouf returns as Sam Witwicky, the Autobots’ human ally.

To get myself ready for this one I went through the whole series. The first one was pretty good; the second one was unbearable; and this one was the best of the whole series. And although that’s not saying much, I still had fun.

The world of Michael Bay consists of explosions, sparks, fire, giant robots, sexy chicks, destruction, and the craziest things that you thought could never happen in real-life. Bay does a great job here as director because he actually keeps the story pretty easy to understand, and a very simple story at that. This is a lot darker than the past films and although the comedy wasn’t as funny I still chuckled, and there was a nice balance between the story and the actual silly stuff.

The action here comes and goes within the first hour, but once that hour is gone, the rest of the film is just insane. You have robots beating up robots, guns blasting, cars flipping, buildings collapsing, and for once I could actually tell just what the hell was going on. There are also some really good action sequences that will keep your eyes glued to the screen and just make you scream “baddassery” at the screen right when the scene is over. The action never stops, and you watch all this chaos and destruction happen but at the same time, you won’t feel annoyed with no plot development or the fact that just about everything you see is special effects. Basically the payoff is bangin’, and I promise you, you won’t leave this film feeling like you didn’t get any action.

Although, the main problem with this film is that it is 2 hours and 34 minutes long and after awhile that starts to take a toll on you. I don’t mind when films are that time-limit as long as their entertaining me, but even though I was entertained with this one, I felt like they needed to wrap it up pretty soon because there was a time that I felt like this film could have ended at any time.

However, when it did end, it was so completley abrupt. I think that they probably budgeted this film so high to the point of where they had almost no money left they just decided to end it, in order to avoid conflicts for money. And of course, in the end, there’s the obligatory U.S flag waving proudly in the wind. You love your country Mr. Bay, we get it already. No need to shove it down our throats along with outworn speeches of freedom. He is so damn patriotic sometimes, I think he almost forgets that he’s talking about a movie about robots that turn into cars, and beat the shit out of each other.

Shia LaBeouf does what he always does well; just make exaggerated faces, scream like a girl at times, and put on that angry face that we can laugh at but you know what, that shtick never gets old. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley replaces Megan Fox and is surprisingly quite charming and sexy; Josh Duhamel seems like he’s trying so hard to be Timothy Olyphant; Patrick Dempsey hamms it up pretty well as Dylan; Tyrese Gibson is whatever as Epps; and John Turturro is less annoying in this one than he was in the second one, which is very good. The rest of the cast features a lot of random names such as John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Alan Tudyk, and the most random of all, Frances McDormand. I don’t think I could have ever imagined Frances McDormand talking to a robot in my life, but somehow, Bay has a way of getting Oscar winners into his shit.

Consensus: Since this is a Michael Bay film, many will hate it for being chaotic and insane, but this time I could tell what was going on and even though the first hour may be a little lame, it picks up and becomes the epic, and most action-packed final installment we could ever ask for from these robots.

7.5/10=Rental!!

The Hangover: Part II (2011)

They effed up again, but really bad this time. Bad bad.

In this sequel to The Hangover, the buddies from the earlier film’s bachelor party reunite for a wedding trip to Thailand where one of them, Stu Price (Ed Helms), is planning to tie the knot. Stu is determined that his own pre-wedding party should be a restrained and dignified affair, but between the habits of his friends and the multiple distractions of Bangkok, fate has other plans in store for him.

Look at that premise, and tell me if there is anything different there from the first one. Take a second….one more…OK. Nothing has changed at all for that premise other than the fact that they are not in Las Vegas, they are all randomly in Bangkok, which is not even a fun place to be it seems.

Before I start, I just want to say that I did find myself chuckling at moments. I laughed at the little gags in between breaks, and the beginning actually had me laughing many times throughout, but then the film really started to drag.

The writing here is terribly lazy and doesn’t add much of the joy or creativity that was within the first. Director and co-writer Todd Phillips doesn’t do much different here other then practically remake the first one which I can’t really blame him for trying to capitalize on that success, but at the same time, at least give me something remotely funny. There’s too many times where this film just goes “Oh my gosh! Remember this happened in the first!?! Let’s do it again, but this time have the characters say: “I can’t believe this is happening again”!”.

Added to this film is a more grittier and darker tone which I was not expecting, and didn’t really do much for this film. The film tries to create more and more crazier situations as it goes along which the first film did, but there’s no real fun while they get from one place to another. I guess I just wasn’t surprised when all these major plot points popped up because everything is terribly predictable, but there are long stretches of little or no comedy here, and it really was annoying because I remember that I was already pissing my pants within the first 10 minutes of the first one.

The Wolf Pack here though is the real treat to watch and actually save this film from eternal damnation. Bradley Cooper is always good as the kind of slimy, but always cool Phil. Ed Helms is an absolute riot here as Stu once again, and does almost everything in his will to keep the laughs coming. Zach Galifianakis is very very strange this time around as Alan and without him, the laughs really don’t start coming until he’s up on-screen. The guys still play off of each other so well, and even when the script is lacking in actual “fun”, these guys do all they can to bring more of it to their scenes together. Ken Jeong as Chow is in it more and kind of gets over-done big-time. Paul Giamatti is randomly here as well, and does nothing remotely funny in a role that could have been used by a C-list actor and it wouldn’t have made that much of a difference. I wish they put more of Justin Bartha in here though and actually let him be involved with The Wolf Pack because he’s as funny as any of these guys, and also Mason Lee is just terribly forgettable as the future brother-in-law. Still wish Mel Gibson and Liam Neeson got those cameos!

Consensus: There is a more darker, meaner, and grittier tone than the first, but there are still not as many surprises nor as many of actual humor here at all. The Hangover: Part II is just a remake of the first with a few chuckles, but nothing else really new to bring to the table.

5/10=Rental!!