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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Kevin Kline

Dean (2017)

Go home. Then leave.

Dean (Demetri Martin) is an NY illustrator who needs a little bit of inspiration in his life. So what better way to find it then when your mom dies and your dad is basically depressed? Well, that’s what happens to Dean when, suddenly, his mom dies and he has to leave his sheltered, lovely little life in NY, and head back home to the sunny and hot L.A. While there, Dean reconnects with old friends and family; friends still seem like they’re not doing much with his life, whereas his family, like his father (Kevin Kline), seem stuck, too. And you know what? So is Dean! That’s why, when he meets the sexy and mysterious Nicky (Gillian Jacobs), he immediately hits it off with her and starts to see something of a future with her. Meanwhile, his dad is finding a possible soul-mate in his real-estate agent (Mary Steenburgen), who may also be the right recipe to help get him out of his funk. Are both going to get better and start to realize that there’s more to life than just sulking around and being freakin’ miserable all of the time?

Ugh. Quite whining!

Dean is a lot of different styles and trademarks that other writer/directors have pulled-off before and much better, too. It’s a little bit of Wes Anderson, a smidge of Woody Allen, and oh yeah, a whole lot of Zach Braff. It’s an odd concoction, which sort of works, but also seems like writer/director/star Demetri Martin liked what he saw a bit too much and just decided to pick and choose what he wanted to work with?

I don’t know. Actually, what I do know is that it sort of works, but also doesn’t feel all that terribly original. Sort of like Martin himself who, despite having such a cult-following for his alternative and whimsical brand of stand-up, just never quite connected with me. He felt too twee and a little too of-himself to quite work for me, but hey, that’s me and stuff like that doesn’t matter.

I just want to let the world know that I am not a Demetri Martin fan. Now that it’s out in the open, I hope that we can both move on and get along cordially.

But it’s odd because it seems like you really have to be an absolute adoring fan of Martin’s to really like Dean, or what he’s doing in it. He’s literally the star of this thing, through and through, playing a rather unlikable and whiny character that feels real and honest, but by the same token, can tend to get a bit annoying. While Dean himself may not be all that interesting, to me, seeing just where this character went along for his journey of self-discovery and the people he hung around, was more than enough to keep me interested. Martin is fine in the lead role, but once again, your tolerance of him may vary on how you feel exactly for this character.

“Ew! What a lame-o hipster!”

The real saving-grace of Dean is, thankfully, the supporting-cast who all seem like they did this sort of as a labor-of-love, what with all of the big, talented names attached. Gillian Jacobs, while her character seems absolutely like a type, gets by in showing a nice deal of chemistry with Martin; Rory Scovel plays Eric, Dean’s best buddy who is a bit weird, but also endearing enough to work; Kevin Kline is fine as Dean’s dad, but honestly, feels like he was thrown in there because he had some free-time and wanted to be a nice guy to Martin; and yeah, the same goes for Steenburgen.

In fact, the much better movie here in Dean, actually, isn’t about Dean at all.

It’s about his dad trying to get a firmer grasp on the rest of his life, move on, find love again, and figure out where to go from here. But the subplot’s never as fully developed as it ought to be; we go through very long stretches of the movie without even a glimpse of what Kline’s character is up to, but instead, are stuck watching Martin’s Dean. It’s a shame, too, because Steenburgen and Kline do seem to have genuine chemistry here and their scenes together, while definitely minor and rushed, do have a bit of sweetness attached to them that the rest of the movie, honestly, is missing.

But still, it all depends on how you feel for Demetri Martin.

Consensus: As far as indies go, Dean‘s pretty conventional and safe, but the ensemble is fine enough to help you pass the time along and enjoy what’s in front of you.

6 / 10

Go away, Demetri. Let Kevvy-poo take over.

Photos Courtesy of: CBS Films

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Cause we needed an updated version of a buffalo and human falling in love.

Belle (Emma Watson) is a bright, young, and beautiful girl who loves to read, doesn’t have herself a man, and doesn’t really know if she wants to have a family just yet. Due to this, everyone around her treats her like she’s a silly little girl, who doesn’t know much about the real world, except for what she reads in books. Her father (Kevin Kline), however, knows, understands, and loves her no matter what, which is why when he turns out to be captured and held hostage by the Beast in the big castle (Dan Stevens), she saves his life by sacrificing her own. And at first, for Belle, it’s a pretty terrible time – the Beast is mean, grumpy, and not all that fun to be around, and it seems like Belle will probably live the rest of her days miserable and depressed. Sure, there’s the talking objects around her that constantly console her and let her know that it’s all going to be okay, but for some reason, Belle just can’t get past the fact that she’s being held prisoner. Until, of course, her and the Beast begin to actually get to know one another, and then everything changes. For her, for him, and for everyone else surrounding them.

Oh, Belle. So innocent. So sweet. So feminist.

Did we really need a live-action Beauty and the Beast, considering that the original animated flick is downright perfect? Probably not, but hey, it’s Hollywood, so why not get one, eh? And honestly, the live-action update isn’t a soulless, boring and total manipulative cash cow that you’d expect – there’s some fun, some light, and some enjoyment to be had. But for the most part, it feels like the kind of movie that tries so much, for no real reason.

For instance, take the run-time. At just a little over two hours, this live-action update doesn’t just feel overlong, but rather unnecessarily plodding at times. There’s added-on songs, scenes, and even story-bits that, okay, do show some effort, but they really don’t go anywhere; the original movie was barely even 90 minutes and it was perfect for that reason alone. Adding on another 30 minutes doesn’t do much but just add more time for people to get bored and start realize that there’s more problems underneath it all.

Which isn’t to say that this live-action can’t be fun, because it definitely can.

It’s just that for a movie like this, if you’re looking for problems, you’ll find them. There’s a whole gay subtext involving Lefou, as played by Josh Gad, and Gaston, as played by Luke Evans, that just feels shoe-horned in and way too silly for its own good. Sure, I’m fine with gay characters in Disney movies and would definitely love more of them, but in this instance, it just feels forced – it’s almost as if those behind the screen were just deliberately trying to mess with the studio-heads and took the easy way out in doing so. Gad’s fine in the role and can be funny, but Evans, while hunky, charming and can belt them out like no tomorrow, also doesn’t feel right for this role because he’s, well, not necessarily as jacked or as huge as he’s supposed to be.

And that goes for a lot of the other cast-members, too. Everyone playing the objects in the castle are fine, with Ewan McGregor stealing the show as the most Scottish French candlestick ever, but others, like Watson and Stevens, for some reason, just don’t fit. Watson herself seems bland, and Stevens, depending on how much of the movie was him and not just CGI, tries what he can, but overall, it’s a thankless role left to voice-over. Also, their voices do leave a lot to be desired – why we’re not using voice-dubs anymore is totally beyond me and it proves to be a problem for this movie because, a good portion of the people here can’t really sing as much as they should. These songs, while definitely memorable, still need that huge, loud operatic voice that the original had, and with Watson, Stevens, Gad and others, it’s just not there.

Gay or not gay, it don’t matter.

The only heart and soul found here is from Kevin Kline’s Maurice, who gets to be sad and emotional, while also have some fun, too. It’s the true sign that above it all, Kline will always come out on top, because he’s not just a pro who can do it all, but proves why he’s always better than the material that he’s working with.

In other words, they should have just given the movie to him.

And trust me, I know that I’m doing a lot of hating on this flick, but it’s not totally the case. It’s still enjoyable, Bill Condon is a good director who knows how to make material like this click and pop, and the production-design, above everything, is a downright orgy of glitz and glam. It’s just that there are issues, none of which were found in the amazing, still watchable, still great, and always so lovely original.

So yeah Disney, stop trying so hard.

Consensus: Undeniably light, charming and often times, fun, Beauty and the Beast also suffers from being unnecessary and a little too long.

6 / 10

Tale as old as time? Between a buffalo and a human being?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The Ice Storm (1997)

Cheer up, suburbia. Have some sex.

1973 is winding down and you know what? Maybe it’s time for a little break. It’s Thanksgiving break and those living in the suburbs of Connecticut, when they’re not dealing with the cold temperatures and snow on the ground, are also dealing with one another. Ben (Kevin Kline) is a frustrated father who doesn’t like his job, but also doesn’t know how to seek love or happiness from his wife Elena (Joan Allen). So rather than trying to actually solve it by talking to her like the old days, he’s currently seeking fulfillment from his neighbor Janey (Sigourney Weaver). Meanwhile, his teenage daughter, Wendy (Christina Ricci), has some issues going on of her own, too. She’s currently playing weird sexual games with Janey’s son Mikey (Elijah Wood), making him act out in the usual ways that young, adolescent kids do. And there’s the older brother, Paul (Tobey Maguire), who has a huge crush on some girl in his class (Katie Holmes), but doesn’t know how to go about it, nor does he quite know how to even talk to girls, but is going to try anyway.

When in doubt, trust daddy to carry you home.

When in doubt, trust daddy to carry you home.

Though it doesn’t get a whole lot of credit for this, the Ice Storm was actually one of the first “suburbia sucks” movies to start the boom that sprung in the late-90’s-to-early-aughts. Of course, a lot of the movies to follow were bland, unoriginal, and just downright depressing, but the Ice Storm, even without it being the starter-package, still sails above the rest. See, it does something with its message and its sadness, and it actually builds off of them; so many of the other movies that were soon to follow, seemed to just focus in on this aspect of suburbia and not go anywhere else.

It was just one emotion, the whole way through.

And sure, you could also kind of say the same about the Ice Storm, but it’s a much more deliberate mood-piece. It’s a slow-burner for sure, but it’s also a movie that takes its time for certain reasons, like building up characters and each of their relationships to one another; the fact that the movie has about five-to-ten core characters, really gives off that feeling of repression and suffocation, but in a way, draws us closer to these character. Ang Lee may be known for paying extra attention to the ways his movies look, but here, he shows that there’s a certain attention paid to characters that just can’t be matched.

What Lee shows is that, beyond all of the sadness, repression and claustrophobia, is that there can be some bittersweet moments of pure love and joy. At times, when it’s not trying to get us down in the dumps, the Ice Storm can actually be a funny movie, poking fun at both growing old and growing up, in a time and place where it seems like the experiences and feelings are almost identical. That’s not to say that the movie’s a dramedy in any sense of the term, but the movie isn’t just one long funeral – there’s bits and pieces of sheer happiness and joy, but because they are indeed so scattered, they truly do make those said moments all the more lovely and emotional.

And then, yes, there’s the ensemble who are all, as expected, pretty great.

Kevin Kline is so perfect as Ben, the upset and constantly nervous father who clearly wants the best for him and his family, but just also doesn’t know what to do anymore. With Kline, there’s always this feeling that he’s the cool and hip dad who never gets the respect he deserves and watching him here, you totally feel that – he’s just waiting to be noticed, recognized and if anything, appreciated. If he has to go out and find that for himself, then so be it.

Joan Allen plays his wife, Elena, and has a far more subtler role than him, but is still very effective in it. There’s this lingering sense of anger underneath everything that she does and it’s exciting just waiting around to see when she’s going to crack and lose her cool, once and for all. Sigourney Weaver’s Janey may also seem like a total villain at first, but the movie does humanize her in certain ways that’s not just surprising, but refreshing; here’s a woman, having sex with a married man, and while she doesn’t feel regret for it, she’s also not very happy about it, either.

Like everyone else, she’s just trying her absolute hardest to get by.

Sorry, Tobey. Don't have to go home, but can't stay here.

Sorry, Tobey. Don’t have to go home, but can’t stay here.

As for the kids, they all fair-off pretty fine, too, especially since most of them were the premiere young actors at the time. Christina Ricci is great as the sassy, overtly sexual Wendy; Elijah Wood is very fun to watch as the fellow teenage boy she constantly teases and plays around with; Tobey Maguire plays the older college student who isn’t sure just how to go about picking up girls and because of that, his awkwardness shines through in every scene; and Katie Holmes and David Krumholtz, in only just two scenes, really do come close to stealing the show, highlighting a great deal of adolescent sincerity that they were able to match in the following years to come, but not with the same amount of rawness.

But the real takeaway from the Ice Storm and these characters is that, yes, they’re performed and written well, but they’re also never judged. Because these characters are so sad and in such huge funks, they don’t always make the best, or brightest decisions – in most cases, they’re doing just whatever they feel will make them happy at that one exact moment in time. It would have been easy for a movie, let alone, its director to shine a light on them and frown, but instead, Ang Lee embraces them for all of their faults and realizes that they too, just like your or I, have issues and they’re just trying to wade through them all. They aren’t perfect, hell, they’re not even nice, but they’re real people and those are the kind that are very hard to find movies nowadays, or in general.

Consensus: With extra attention paid to its troubled characters, the Ice Storm is a sad, dramatic, but rather moving mood-piece about suburbia and all of those imperfect beings who inhabit it.

9.5 / 10

Cheer up! Your celebrities!

Cheer up! Your celebrities!

Photos Courtesy of: Moon in the Gutter, Awards Circuit

Ricki and the Flash (2015)

Cover bands are what capture the heart and soul of families.

Ricki Randazzo (Meryl Streep) is the lead singer/writer in her tacky cover band hailing from Tarzana. While it’s not a huge, big-time paying-gig by any means necessary, it’s one that makes Ricki happy enough to where she feels like she’s doing something with her life, living the dream, and at the same time, still having fun, as well. But one day, Ricki gets the call that her estranged daughter (Mamie Gummer) is going a bit coo-coo. Because her husband left her for another gal, she’s been left a hot mess, which is why Ricki gets the call to sort of save the day and talk her back down to reality. However, while all of this is occurring, she’s also getting back in-synch with the rest of her family that includes her stuck-up ex-husband (Kevin Kline), her one son Joshua (Sebastian Stan) who is actually set out to get married, and another son named Adam (Nick Westrate), who just so happens to be gay, something that cool, hip, and with-it Ricki, surprisingly isn’t all that about. While on this trip, Ricki realizes the family she left behind to make something of her music career, but also focus on those who mean a lot to her as well.

Like real life mother, like actual, real life daughter.

Like real life mother, like actual, real life daughter.

But still, no matter how heavy or serious things get, Ricki always finds a way to rock out with her side-braid out.

There’s something about the Ricki and the Flash that I want to hate, but for some reason, I just can’t bring myself to actually do said hating. Everything about it screams “wacky, quirky, but overly earnest family dramedy”, and the fact that it’s written by Diablo Cody is more than enough reason to make me shudder even more. Granted, I really enjoyed Juno and Young Adult, but a lot of her other material can tend to feel as if she’s just going through the motions of introducing cloying, almost annoying characters, giving us something small to relate to them with, and at the end, even despite all the dead-pan and one-liners, everybody still loves one another and wants to give each other hugs.

Yuck.

And a lot of Ricki and the Flash is like that, however, it’s the kind of big, gooey, warm hugs that may turn you off at first, but once you realize that the hug is fine and well-intentioned, then you decide to give in. And guess what? When you give in, all of a sudden, the hug becomes one of the coziest, most lovely feelings in the world that you almost never want to let go.

Ricki and the Flash is said hug and it’s why I’m shocked as to why so many people seem to be against it. For one, it seems like a lot of people have an issue with it being conventional and cliche, but really, there’s something more to this movie than that. Cody and director Jonathan Demme know and understand that a story like this is more than enough reason to despise white people till the end of time, but they also realize that there can be some actual heart and humanity within these white characters and their first world problems. Even though everybody may be upset and ticked-off that their not getting enough hugs and kisses before they go to bed, there’s still a feeling that said hugs and kisses mean a lot to them and for that reason, it’s hard to hate on them for that.

After all, what Cody does best with these characters is give us a reason to genuinely care about them and their said happiness.

At the beginning, Ricki seems like the type of washed-out, hip, older-women that may think she’s along with the times, but in actuality, really isn’t. Early on in the movie after we hear her rockin’ out to “American Girl” (which is pretty ironic, considering that this is a Jonathan Demme movie), she takes a few awkward jabs at Obama, then leads right into Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, saying something along the lines of, “we’re told that we have to play something new for the younger folks out there”, and seeming as if she, along with the rest of the band, don’t want to play it and are absolutely bored out of their minds that they have to, in some form, conform to this teener-bopper pop that they call “art”. Though this may be quite early on and seem like a small detail, this means a lot in showing us just who this character is; the time’s are flyin’ by here, and while Ricki may not be willing or able to accept that, she’s still trying her hardest to get with it.

Oh, Rick. Still aching after Jessie's girl!

Oh, Rick. Still aching after Jessie’s girl!

Every other character has this same sort of small detail that makes them stand-out among the millions of other similar characters (in Diablo Cody films no less).

Kline’s ex-husband character may seem like a boring square who loves his money, his mansion, and his perfectly-knotted ties, but really, also likes to have a good time and is just trying to keep everything civil and sweet for this small, but meaningful family engagement; Mamie Gummer’s Julie may be depressed and despise her mom for walking out on her some time ago, but also still really loves her and knows that all of this heartbreak and pain is just temporary and it will, eventually, get better; Stan’s Joshua may be the typical “son who doesn’t want his mother to know he’s getting married”-character, but eventually, shows his true colors in that he does want her to know and come, he just doesn’t want to feel that sadness when she doesn’t show up because of, well, a gig or something; Westrate’s Adam may also hate his mom because of the abandonment he felt and her opposition to his liberal views, but really, seems to only be made at her because she hasn’t been there to sit down and chat with him about who he is and why; Audra McDonald’s Maureen (Kline’s character’s new wife), may initially come-off like an intimidating hell of a woman, but also, after a bit of backstory, we realize that she was, always and forever, there for children who weren’t hers to begin with and will continue to be there, no matter what; and Rick Springfield, believe it or not, is actually the true MVP of this film as Ricki’s main co-band-leader who has been with her through the thick and thin, genuinely loves and cares for her, and if anything, just wants her to wake up, smell the coffee, and realize that he’s the one she needs in her life at this point in time.

Sure, most of you may be wondering why I’ve put so much thought and attention to describing the characters of Ricki and the Flash, but I feel like that’s the only way you can go about making sense of why this movie works so well. Cody and Demme both set up each and every character as predictable as can be, but eventually, once the wheel start to turn and you see where it’s going, we realize that they’re doing more and flipping the script every so often. It may not be the big shocks that get you, but it’s the small ones that, surprisingly, work the most effective and stick with you long after the final note has been ripped.

Consensus: Despite the obvious and predictable story-line, there’s a lot about Ricki and the Flash that may initially seem like convention, but due to the heart and love Cody and Demme have for these characters, it gets turned on its side and becomes both affecting, as well as sweet.

8 / 10

Meryl Streep's probably going to win a thousand Oscars for this and she's like, "Long hair, don't care".

Meryl Streep’s probably going to win a thousand Oscars for this and she’s like, “Long hair, don’t care”.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Conspirator (2011)

Where have I heard this story before? Well, nowhere actually, but see what I’m trying to get across in a not-so subtle way?

Mid-April 1865, stage actor John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) assassinates President Abraham Lincoln during a production of Our American Cousin. We all know this, who the hell doesn’t, but what most people don’t know is the story surrounding the other conspirators in this assassination, one of which was a woman wrongfully accused all because her son was one of those conspirators. That gal’s name was Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), her son was Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), and she ran a boarding house in Washington that Booth, along with the other conspirators in this assassination frequently stayed in, and where the plan was most likely hatched. Whether or not Surratt really did conspire to kill the President isn’t quite known yet, but Union war hero and attorney Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) is assigned the task to defend her to the best of his ability, by any means necessary. At first, Aiken doesn’t think it matters because she’s guilty in his eyes, but after awhile, he starts to see that there is more brewing beneath the surface here with this case, and he will not stop until justice is so rightfully served.

In case you don’t know by now, Robert Redford is a pretty political guy, and he takes his liberal-stance very seriously. So seriously, that most of his flicks seem to come off more as history lessons, rather than actual movies, with real, interesting, and compelling narratives driving them along. That said, the guy’s got plenty of power in Hollywood to do whatever he wants, when he wants, with whomever he wants, and how he wants to, which makes total sense why a real life story like this would get such a star-studded cast, with such a preachy message, that it’s no wonder why it got past almost every producer out there in the world.

It’s Robert Redford, are you going to deny his movie?

Did a woman who's being wrongfully convicted for a crime she didn't necessarily commit really need to be dressed in all-black throughout the whole movie?

Did a woman who was being wrongfully convicted for a crime she didn’t necessarily commit really need to be dressed in all-black throughout the whole movie?

That’s why, as intriguing as this story is, you know exactly where he’s getting at with every part of this movie. For instance, Redford is obviously making a lot of points about the similarity between this case and the ones of post-9/11 hysteria that was more about finding anybody who was even close to being guilty, and make sure they pay the price so that the rest of the country can begin to feel like a safe and peaceful place like it was meant to be. Honestly, it’s a nice analogy that Redford uses, the only problem is that we get it every step of the way. So instead of being a movie that’s filled with a compelling story, characters, and emotions, it just feels like a history lesson where we’re being talked down to, as if we don’t know all about the problems our world of politics is facing today.

And it should come as no surprise that this was Redford’s first movie since doing Lions for Lambs, which was more of a thesis, than an actual movie, so I at least have to give the guy credit for cobbling up something of a story together and making something out of it. While I don’t want to get into discussing that movie anymore than I already need to, I will say that this movie does show Redford improving more as a film-maker who has a point behind his movies, even if they are extremely heavy-handed and as blatant as you can get. While that does seem weird to say about a guy who has a Best Director Oscar to his name, as well as plenty of other great movies he’s written and directed under his belt, it seems like something that needs to be said considering how damn preachy the guy gets, both in real life and with his movies.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that it’s better than Lions for Lambs.

There, happy? I rest my case!

The only way that this movie survives throughout it’s near-two-hour-running-time is because its cast is so stacked to the brim, that you can’t help but want to watch and see what they’re able to pull out of this. James McAvoy was a great choice as Frederick Aiken, the type of guy you feel like would make it big as a lawyer-type in today’s society, but just didn’t have much leeway to get past all of the head-honchos back in those days. McAvoy is good at handling the determined, passionate character that Redford doesn’t bother to cut any deeper with, but I still think that’s better than nothing consider he can get-by in scenes against heavy-hitters like Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson, and most of all, Robin Wright.

"Attica!!! Oh, shit. Wrong history class."

“Attica!!! Oh, crap. Wrong history class.”

However, it should be said that it couldn’t have been too hard for McAvoy to get by in his scenes with Wright because she doesn’t do much talking really. Instead, her performance is strictly consisting of cold stares, a lot of frowning, and just looking like she’s about to lose it at any given second – which isn’t such a bad thing because the gal handles it very well. I’ve always liked Wright in all that she’s done and I feel like she gets a great chance to give it all she’s got, even in a way that didn’t need to be over-the-top or totally blown out-of-proportion. This is a especially surprising given the fact that this character could have easily gone that way, and to even worse results being that this is a Redford flick, and he usually seems to sympathize quite heavily with wrongfully convicted.

And since I’m on the subject of the cast, I have to say that the rest of this ensemble do pretty good jobs with their roles as well, even if some do feel a bit off here and there. Those two in particular are Justin Long and Evan Rachel Wood who both feel as if they’re a bit too modern for this type of material, and don’t really fit in well. Maybe for Wood’s character, that’s probably done on purpose, but for Long, whenever it is that he shows up with his fake mustache that looked like it was ripped right off the face of Burt Reynolds, it feels like a total curse on him, whoever is around him the scene, and the movie itself. Not saying that he ruins the movie just by the pure simple fact of his presence being noted, but just because it feels like a piece of stunt-casting that back-fired on Redford, as well as Long himself; a very underrated actor that has yet to be given the full-on pleasure of taking a complex role and making it his own. Maybe one of these days. Just maybe.

Just hopefully not in a Robert Redford flick, is all.

Consensus: The true story that the Conspirator is telling is a very interesting, compelling tale that may stand the test of time, but as for the preachy, history lesson disguised as a full-length feature-flick? Not so much.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Okay, what I want you to do in this next scene is point to the camera and say that, "You are innocent, until proven guilty.""

“Okay, what I want you to do in this next scene is point to the camera and say that, “You are innocent, until proven guilty.'”

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

Dave (1993)

Luckily Barack doesn’t have too many impersonators out there. OR SO WE KNOW OF!!!

Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline) is a simple, small-town man that wears big-rimmed glasses, rides his bike to and fro work, and also run a temp service that isn’t quite as big on making a whole lot of money, as much as it is just all about getting people jobs and having them make money. Oh yeah, and he also has an uncanny resemblance to the 44th president of the United States, William Harrison Mitchell. That eventually comes to work out for him in the future when he’s called upon to be an impersonator for the President in public appearances, just to avoid any problems whatsoever. However, it just so happens that on that same night, the President happens to suffer a stroke while banging his secretary, which leaves all of his right-hand-men stumbling without any idea of what to do. Allow the country to run wild with the sudden-death of their president? And by doing so, do they leak any dirty secrets about what he did during his time as presidency, minus the whole “cheating-on-his-wife” thing? Well, the simple answer is “no”. Instead, they all decide to let Kovic take over the position as acting-President, but only until the actual President himself wakes up and is ready to get back to doing his job. But what if he doesn’t seem to wake up? Even worse, what if the President’s wife (Sigourney Weaver) finds out that this man placed in her husband’s position, actually isn’t her husband?

Yes, there’s so much drama going on here that only a politician during the 90’s would know all about. Ammiright?!?!?

Honestly, would anybody have a problem with him being President?

Honestly, would anybody have a problem with him being President?

Anyway, so yeah, this movie always gets talked-about when you discuss the subgenre of “political comedies” and it’s easy to see why. Not only is the first of its kind during the Clinton-administration, but it’s one of the very rare political-satires that doesn’t really destroy any sort of political-agenda that was being thrown around during that time. Instead, it sticks to whatever “people get jobs and we all stay happy forever and ever” idea it has about politics. Sure, the fact of the matter is that that would never, ever happen in real life, but sure, when you’re watching a movie, let alone a comedy, you don’t really need reality to come in and hit you in the face. All you need is some nice, pure escapism in the finest form and that’s exactly what Dave is, with some snappy jokes thrown in for good measure.

That’s not to say that the movie is at all “dated”, it’s just that some of the humor probably doesn’t hit me nearly as hard, or as effectively as it probably did for those back in the early-90’s. It’s not that I don’t know a thing or two about politics, it’s just that most of this film seems to be playing it so damn safe most of the time, that it’s really hard to find much of anything to really laugh at in the first place. Sure, there are plenty of quips made here that may, or may not catch you off-guard, but they are hardly surprising, nor are they really slap-happy hilarious.

However, where I think most of the film focuses its strengths on is just the overall pleasant, carefree pace that Ivan Reitman sets, which carries the movie through some very sketchy-waters. For instance, there’s the sequence in which the President and the First Lady head-off to a homeless shelter in which they just stand there, say hi to people they wouldn’t bear to be around, had their not been cameras around, and basically just muck it up for the press surrounding them with all of the cameras flashing and recording their every step. We always see this in politics, and it could have easily been seen as a snotty thing for a the President and his wife to do here, however, Reitman handles it with care and always makes it seem like this Dave guy does genuinely mean well, even if he doesn’t know a lick or two about actual politics itself. Especially not how to run a country.

I mean, sheesh! We should have all been happy with Bush Jr. just by looking at this guy! You know?

Too far? Okay, anyway, back to the movie itself.

What you could also attribute most of Dave’s charm to is the performance from the always lovable Kevin Kline, doing another one of his sweet, happy-guy acts. My only complaint about Dave, and well, practically every other character with the meager exception of one in particular, is that we never really get an impression for who these people were before this movie. Yeah, we get the idea that Dave was always a nice, peaceful soul that tried to make those around him happier in life, just by solely giving them what they want, but why is he like that? Better yet, why is it that he’s alone in his life, despite being what some clearly see as “the nicest guy on the face of the planet”. Nobody says that about him in the movie, or even to his face, but it’s pretty much implied with just how much Dave is able to make everyone around him smile, cheerful and just overall, feel better about themselves and their lives.

Or, even him?

Or, even him?

Sort of like how I was, until I started drinking. Then, it was all downhill from there.

Anyway, like I was saying about Dave, I wish I got to know more about him. I guess that was the point of not getting to know who he really is as a person, considering he has to practically impersonate another the whole movie, but just more detail would have gone a long way for him, Regardless though, Kline works well with Dave, giving us a guy we can all stand behind and love, even if he is just being the type of guy who doesn’t ask for much in the first place, and doesn’t want much in return. He’s just that type of cool guy, and that’s mostly how I’d like to imagine Kline is in real life.

Same goes for Sigourney Weaver in terms of her character, although her character doesn’t clearly go so far as “wife who hasn’t the dong in awhile”. Hey, it’s not like Weaver can’t play that role-up to perfection, but I think we’d be able to give her just a bit more to work with. If only a bit, that is. We also get treated some amusing, side roles from the likes of Kevin Dunn, Ving Rhames, Charles Grodin, Laura Linney, Ben Kingsley as that one character I said has some of his past told to us, in a way that isn’t at all manipulative, and a despicable-as-hell, but-clearly-loving-it Frank Langella as what we pretty much expect him to play, “the baddie”. Once again, you can tell that they definitely elevate the material to being a bit more than what it is, which is all we really needed in the first place.

Consensus: Though Dave doesn’t really bite with its satire as much it should, that still doesn’t take it away from being a mildly funny, tame and rather pleasant comedy that’s big on likable characters, rather than laughs. Either way, something here is bound to be liked.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Or, hell, maybe even her?!?!? Too soon? Yeah, you're right.

Or, hell, maybe even her?!?!? Too soon? Yeah, you’re right.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Last Vegas (2013)

Think The Hangover, but with menopause.

After getting married and living each other’s lives apart from the other, four old friends (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline), all get together and reunite for a crazy weekend in Vegas, that’s most likely going to be full of non-stop drugs, women, booze, nakedness, bad decisions and moments that remind themselves of the good old days. However, while two of these old friends seem to still be on good terms and having a grand old time (Kline and Freeman), two others don’t seem to be, and most of that stems from the fact that Billy (Douglas) is marrying a gal much younger than he is (art imitating reality?), which is an act that Paddy (De Niro) doesn’t quite condone, nor does he really care for Billy in the first place because of something weird that happened between the two and another girl when they were kids. But nonetheless, all four friends are back together and have as much money as they can spare to have a good time, but they have to realize that they are in fact old guys, and they have to be careful with what they choose to do, that is, before they go too far. Nah, screw that. They just want to have a good time and party like it’s 1959 all over again!

While I would bargain that maybe say, I don’t know, 20 years ago, the pairing of acting legends such as Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline would have not only meant tons and tons of hype that would have already caused earthquakes as soon as the first whispers of it happening were heard, but would have also meant box-office gold right from the start; 20 years later, I have to say that it’s pretty easy to accept the fact that this wouldn’t be happening, or heck, even coming anywhere near to that occurring. And that’s not because these actors are terrible, untalented or were simply “overrated” back in those days; it’s more of the fact that the past 20 years haven’t been too kind to each of these guys, and the material that they choose has kind of suffered because of it.

Give it five minutes and they'll all be battling for who gets to use the pisser next.

Give it five minutes and they’ll all be battling for who gets to use the pisser next.

Granted, I’m always down to see what happens when a bunch of acting legends who never shared the same screen before, get together, do what they do best and have a great time while doing so; but for all of these guys, it seemed a little too late. Then again, I kept the open-mind and believe it or not, wonders actually occurred for me. Not only did the movie have me laughing, but the legends involved with this movie weren’t just doing shop to get that paycheck and hopefully, have enough money to get the pool cover, but in fact, they’re actually putting their hearts and souls into this material, just in order to make it work for us and have us all laughing at them.

And yes, I am saying “at”, because while these guys definitely do seem to be embracing the fact that they are old fellas now, the movie never really celebrates the fact that they’re old, and most likely just pokes jokes at the fact that they can’t quite get it up like they used to, have bad knees, aren’t able to move around with the best of them and are probably creeping more girls out, than bringing them back to their rooms at night. But that’s what being old is all about, so why not share a laugh or two about it, right?

Well, sad to say, no. Old people jokes have never been funny, which means that any Viagra joke you throw in there, just does not deserve to be laughed at or even acknowledged. Not because I’m a softy and have a kind heart when it comes to those before me, but because those jokes have practically been done to death by now, and it’s time for a change. And if not time for a change, then at least give me somebody who can take this cheesy material, and at least transcend into some form of enjoyment, by any means possible.

And yes, these four acting legends are in fact those peeps who can take this cheesy material, and make it about a hundred times better just by showing up, having fun, being themselves and proving to the world that they not only still got it, but can probably make you laugh a lot harder than most of the popular comedic-talents out there in the world today.

While his track-record has probably been better than the other three involved, Michael Douglas is still doing Michael Douglas better than anybody else in the world can, which is a good thing (I think). He didn’t really need to stretch outside of boundaries to really get inside of a character like Billy (guy marries girl almost three times his age, ringing any bells?), but he still seems to be having a good time, palling around with some guys you never see him around with as much. The scenes he has with Mary Steenburgen, who plays a local jazz singer, actually add more to the film, rather than take away from it, which is weird considering that it doesn’t concern any hard-partying, drinking, doing blow or getting down-and-dirty, it’s just fun and somewhat sweet, which is a nice side-dish this movie offers from all of the craziness going on in it.

Yeah, well I do feel like the Kevin Kline in real-life wouldn't care if a girl took her top off. Say, I don't know, maybe a red bikini-top?

Yeah, well I do feel like the Kevin Kline in real-life wouldn’t care if a girl took her top off. Say, I don’t know, maybe a red bikini-top?

Mainly when talking about that craziness, I’m referring to Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman’s performances as their two characters are probably the most vibrant and exciting characters in the whole movie, and they continuously steal the show everytime the camera just keeps it placed on them. Freeman gets a couple of choice scenes where he gets to show his comedic-ability to great effect (the Red Bull rant is something that his Oscar-winning turn in Million Dollar Baby couldn’t even touch), but believe it or not, despite not being the biggest name out of the four, the one who walks away with this all is actually Kevin Kline, mostly because he’s working with the type of fun, electrifying and charming material he’s been so deserving of his whole life, and hasn’t quite gotten it since he won his Oscar all those years ago. The story surrounding Kline’s character is done well, only to be shown as a stupid and poor-attempt at trying to get him to remember why he loves marriage so much in the first place, but whenever it’s just Kline saying or doing something goofy, the movie is a blast to watch. He and Freeman have great chemistry that makes you feel like they’ve been buddies all their lives, but its Kline who just owns the screen everytime it’s given to him, like I expected it to be. I’ve been rooting for Kev all these years, and I’m glad to finally seeing it pay-off.

Though I didn’t mention him with his fellow costars, Robert De Niro is still charming and worth watching, even when he’s mucking it up a whole lot as Paddy. However though, it’s obvious that out of the four, he’s the only who really needs these types of movies to keep reminding us that yes, he’s still talented, and yes, he’s still got what it takes to have us both laughing and crying at the same time. He did that last year with Silver Linings Playbook and i can only hope that it continues on from here on out. That also means no more pieces of junk like the Family or Killing Season either, Bobby!

Consensus: The material that these legends have to work with in Last Vegas, surely isn’t the best they’ve ever been dealt, but that doesn’t phase any of them a bit since they absolutely make every second count, have a ball with one another and as a result, give us a movie that may not be perfect, but still feels like an opportunity to see four acting legends team-up together, that wasn’t a waste of precious good time, talent or money.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Hopefully this means that they're waving "bye" to bad choices in the future. Then again, probably not.

Hopefully this means that they’re waving “bye” to bad choices in the future. Then again, probably not.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Squid and the Whale (2005)

Two people who have English degrees don’t seem to make the best couples.

Set in Brooklyn in 1986, this film captures with extraordinary immediacy the inner workings of the Berkmans. Bernard (Jeff Daniels), a once successful novelist and Joan (Laura Linney), have given up on their marriage, leaving their two sons Walt (Jesse Eisenberg), 16, and Frank (Owen Kline), 12, to grapple with what has become of the family.

When I think of films that have to do with divorce, I think of the classics like ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ or ‘War of the Roses’, to name a few. However, never in my right mind would I thought that a film by the same dude who brought me ‘Greenberg’ would be added to that list as well.

Writer/director Noah Baumbach is a guy who’s films I can never really get into but with his script here, he shows some real talent that deserves to be heard. His script is filled with a bunch of humor, sarcasm, and witty puns that actually take your mind off the fact that this flick is essentially about a family falling apart right in front of our eyes. It’s strange to be laughing at something like this but the way Baumbach is able to make every single situation in this flick, come out almost funnier than the last is what truly is what makes him such an inspired writer in the first place.

The script also has a bit of a sweet side to it, which at first, is a little too hard to see since everybody is mean and nasty, but by the end of the flick you can really start to see it come out. The film has characters that aren’t very likable but by the end, they start to understand their short-comings for what they are and that’s where the film made a difference for me. I actually started to care what was happening between the members of this family just through how they show their pain and anguish over this divorce and it works because you somehow get attached to these characters. None of these moments are ever shown in an obvious or melodramatic way either, which is always one step above the normal Hollywood comedies we get almost every weekend.

The one fall-back that I did have with this flick was that Baumbach seemed like he just felt the need to be a little strange and weird with this flick and it doesn’t work. The whole idea that the one kid, Walt, is playing ‘Hey You’ by Pink Floyd an calling it his own without his parents or many other people not knowing that it’s actually by them seemed a little far-fetched for me since it is a pretty big song, and I don’t know, Pink Floyd is a pretty big band. Then again, I guess these sophisticated types just stayed at home and listened to opera all day.

Another example about the weirdness of this script is the whole sub-plot about Frank and his angst. First of all, he’s drinking beer just about every night and he constantly jizzes in his hand and wipes it all over random stuff in school. OK, I get it, the kid is having a hard time but does he really need to wipe his semen everywhere in order to show how upset and confused he is. This seemed like something for a whole different movie and this was just a little too weird and strange to actually ring true at all.

Where the film excels perfectly act though, is the performances given by all four of these performers. Jeff Daniels is great as the snobby, know-it-all, Bernard. The guy thinks he’s right even when he’s terribly wrong and it’s just funny to watch him go about his day and say things that obviously make him seem like a total pompous asshole. Daniels is great in this role and easily can make us laugh but he’s also still likable in a way and he’s a pretty cool guy, even though he can be kind of a dick. Laura Linney is also pretty good as Joan. It’s a really hard character for her to play, considering she has to make an extremely unlikable character, likable in some way but she pulls it off and makes her character seem like a real person rather than just another one of those confused woman that want sympathy all the time.

Jesse Eisenberg is great in this role as Walt, playing the usual fast-talking nerd he plays in every flick but he still seems like a young kid, as he actually was when this film was filming. Much of the film actually revolves around him and just to watch him take his father’s advice all the time and practically hate his mom as well, seemed very realistic and made Walt an easily relate-able character since I would have probably acted the same way as well. Owen Kline, son of Kevin Kline, is also very good as Frank and it’s a real wonder as to why this kid hasn’t done much more with his acting since he gives a very realistic performance as a young kid, even if his story does get a little too wild. The one scene-stealer in this whole film though is William Baldwin as the total goon, Ivan, a guy who made me laugh just about every time just by calling everybody around him “my brother”. Alec probably could have pulled it off better though.

Consensus: Even though some moments don’t really ring true, The Squid and the Whale still features great writing that mixes drama and comedy perfectly, with realistic performances from everybody involved that add so much more to these almost unlikable characters.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

The Extra Man (2010)

Gives me hope of one day being a gigolo myself.

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

Check out the link here:

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

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

No Strings Attached (2011)

Once again, another romantic comedy about people boning without feelings.

Emotionally unencumbered and sexually satisfied, friends with benefits Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) have an open relationship that suits them just fine. That is, until those pesky little things called feelings enter the picture.

So it seems like romantic comedies have started to lose the spice they once had, so Hollywood has decided to bring it back with romantic comedies about casual sex. Love & Other Drugs hit last year, and was OK, now this, and then apparently there is some summer film with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis coming out called Friends With Benefits. Hollywood can’t get enough sex.

I don’t mind chick flicks sometimes, as long as they keep me entertained, and at least give me something to look at. This right here is not one of those chick flicks, mainly because the script is terrible. Right from the get-go, you know how this is all going to turn out and everything but that didn’t bother me as much as the fact that the screenwriters thought by looking up Urban Dictionary sex slang terms, they could bring a lot of humor. They try so hard to be funny, that at times I actually forget what was supposed to be funny and then I got that awkward feeling I rarely ever get while watching films, comedies especially.

There is also problem here because too many times does the film not know where to actually go with its tone. There are times where this film steps into some pretty raunchy stuff, like a “tunnel buddy”, but then will be try to be really cute with it’s little love story, and this just struck me as a little strange since I didn’t know what to think of this comedy as.

The cast is at least alright here. Natalie Portman does a fine job as Emma because she can be cute, sweet, but also very funny, and sort of mean altogether. Portman is a joy to watch and although this is crap compared to Black Swan, she still at least brings that general likability to her character. Ashton Kutcher is OK as Adam, and although I was expecting him to be worse, I still didn’t fully believe his performance here. However, the script really did let him down as it did with almost everyone else in the cast. There are some nice little bits here and there from the likes of Ludacris, Lake Bell, Greta Gerwig, Mindy Kaling, and Olivia Thirlby. The real problem with this cast is Kevin Kline as Adam’s dad, Alvin, who is just so cheesy sometimes, and such a dick that I had no idea what his reason to be in this film was in the first place. Also, a lumber-jack looking Cary Elwes shows up as Emma’s boss, and probably has about 3 lines the whole film, which was pretty unneeded the whole time.

Consensus: The cast tries their best with whatever they can do, but the script brings No Strings Attached down way too many notches, with it’s bad jokes, and very mushy romance that isn’t very appealing. Rent Love & Other Drugs instead.

2.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!

Life as a House (2001)

Sappy, but still works.

Faced with a sobering diagnosis of terminal cancer, George (Kevin Kline) decides to construct a beautiful new house on his land overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while at the same time trying to connect with his estranged son (Hayden Christensen).

As soon as I saw the trailer, I was expecting the conventional, predictable, Lifetime movie wanna be, tearjerker. In ways, I got that, but that’s not really a bad thing.

The screenplay is alright, however, I couldn’t help myself but to be annoyed at times. The blending of comedy, and drama, worked a little well, but there would be times when I didn’t know if the movie was trying to be funny, or just being sarcastic in a way. But this film is you obvious tearjerker. It does blatant sad things just to get a rise out of you, which I didn’t like, and thought was actually pretty cheap, considering, I think if they just stuck with their original script, and got rid of all the sappy crap, then this film probably wouldn’t have annoyed me as much.

However, some of the dramatic stuff does work, and you do get connected to the characters. But it’s not because you want to, it’s just because that’s how the film has written them out to be. There are some scenes that dramatically work, and others, that well, don’t necessarily hit the mark.

There was one thing that made me like this movie, more than I expected, and it was the great performances from the cast. Kevin Kline gives a great performance, maybe one of the best of his career, cause he handles this guy, George, with such ease and such grace, that he’s both charming, and serious, which makes him a joy to watch, and likable. Hayden Christensen may get a lot of ish, for not being a very good actor, but in this one, he hits every single note so well. Hayden plays to perfection the disaffected brat desperately seeking attention from parents who are so tied up with appearances that they can’t see the simple cry for love. The scenes between these two, where they are at each others neck’s basically work so well, and are played out in a very detailed way, and don’t seem fake at all. Kristin Scott Thomas, plays Kline’s ex-wife, and she has some very good spots as well. And then you add a horny Jena Malone to the equation, and then you get some funny things happening.

Consensus: Life as a House has some nice touches, that are highlighted by great performances, but feels too conventional, and manipulative, in showing you that you should care for these characters, and be upset by all the little bad things that happen.

5.5/10=Rental!!

The Big Chill (1983)

Having to live in this house for a week, I would probably go mad.

Never trust anyone over 30 … except this group of erstwhile buddies and former college radicals. After years apart, friends who’ve followed divergent paths reunite at the funeral of one of their own. Watch as the top-notch ensemble (William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, JoBeth Williams, Mary Kay Place, Tom Berenger and Jeff Goldblum) reconnects.

The Big Chill is just one of those big ensemble films that just rely a lot on its ensemble to the best. Some of that works, some of that doesn’t.

The one problem with this film is not so much as its fault but more of a generation barrier. The film is about people that grew up during the 60s, and have to get used to the 80s. Back then when the film was made we could connect to that, but now in the 21st century a lot has changed.

Another thing with the film is its subtlety with its characters and the story itself. There really is no story here except all these good-looking pople staying together in one house, talking, and just making random thoughts on life. Also, we never really understand the characters of who and what they are. There is one chick that goes on about how she wants to be pregnant, then the other one’s basically saying “hey have my husband make a baby”.

The writing here is however top-notched. It borders on many levels of dramatic and comedic, but strikes a fine line between both which I enjoyed mostly. I feel like the way these people talked is how real people actually do talk, its just that they are so honest with each other that they just say anything they want without any consequences, that is what kind of struck me off. The scenes and how the movie was structured were so quick and short, that we never got a chance to understand these people right away.

The film did have good stuff to it surprisingly. The eclectic soundtrack of old hits from soul and classic rock add a lot of flavor to the film, instead of just having one of those cheesy 80s dramatic score pieces. Also, though the characters weren’t quite well done, I still think the performances added on a lot more.

Almost everybody does a great job with there characters and the material with what they are given. Glenn Close of the 4 females does the best job as playing the one character in the whole film who we understand from start to finish, without any real confusion. William Hurt does the best job out of the 4 males, and proves that he can be self-destructive while still being likable in how he runs his life.

Lastly, the one last problem is that the whole film is about how life and how these characters accept it for what it is. But there is no real message for this film. I think when you have a character that has committed suicide, you should really build off of that and have an idea about life that you shouldn’t take for granted. That doesn’t quite happen here instead we just end up with these characters who just are happy with life cause they got to see each other but what about the life of their deceased friend?

Consensus: There are a lot of faults here including the generation gap, lack of subtlety from characters and plot, and no real message, but has good performances from its ensemble cast, a great soundtrack, and wonderful writing that is real and tragic.

5/10=Rental!!

The Anniversary Party (2001)

What a crazy bunch of celebrities.

Recently uncoupled couple Joe (Allan Cumming) and Sally (Jennifer Jason Leigh) celebrate their anniversary with a group of friends. When Judy (Parker Posey), Cal (Kevin Kline), Sky (Gwyneth Paltrow) and assorted spouses and friends come over, it only takes a few cocktails and a load of ecstasy before the situation careens out of control.

Most films about a group of famous people getting together in a huge party with emotion, truth, and drugs some times the films can be bad even when the main star is directing it. However, this doesn’t turn into bad.

The film isn’t painfully true about Hollywood and the stars that inhabit it, it’s actually more about the fact that these sort of parties could happen at any time of the week. I mean it basically plays out like two movies: one about the couple coming back together, and the celebrities that come to the party.

I mean there are plenty of moments that are genuinely funny, but I just didn’t find it to be overall as hilarious as I was expecting. The screenplay does hold some truth to the story but I felt like there were many times where the film was trying to be satirical, and just ended up not making any sense.

I liked the performances here and I felt like a lot of the cast were doing hilarious riffs on their own celebrity personas. Kline is very funny here and adds another dimension, but the funny one here is Jennifer Jason Leigh and Phoebe Cates. It was funny to see this two back on-screen together after almost two decades from their first time together on Fast Times at Ridgemont High. They have matured so much over the years and it was just a great look to see them back together once again.

I did feel like a lot of the scenes here were just meant for these celebrities to ham it up for the digital hand-held camera. Mostly, the last act which featured everyone having totally tripped on acid and just making dumb remarks and acts. I found nothing at all funny about this act, and most importantly was actually a bit bored cause nothing was quite happening other than all the stars acting all high.

Consensus: Though it has some genuine funny moments and good performances from its cast, the film feels a bit hammed on for the camera, and starts to fall by the last act.

6.5/10=Rental!!

In & Out (1997)

If Philadelphia was a screwball comedy.

When dim-bulb actor Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) wins an Oscar for playing a gay Marine, he outs his high school drama teacher, Howard Brackett (Kevin Kilne), in his acceptance speech. It all comes as a surprise to Howard — not to mention his long-suffering fiancée, Emily (Joan Cusack). With his wedding just days away, Howard’s under the gun to get everything (ahem) straightened out.

The film is basically a riff on Tom Hanks’ 1994 Oscar speech where he outed his own high-school teacher in front of the whole world. And for some reason I kind of wish it stayed that way.

This movie takes delight in poking fun at stereotypes of many varieties and does it all with a straight face (pardon the pun). There is no mean spirited about the film. Not every joke hits a perfect target, but when it does I laughed out loud.

That was my big problem with this film that a lot of the comedy didn’t actually feel like it hit the right mark it wanted to. The gay jokes kind of did get annoying and didn’t really change for me, and at times made the film even more excruciating to watch.

The film also takes a horrible and way too sympathetic ending that really did kill the movie for me. In my mind, the ending was just a cop-out for not having to show anymore gay things happen. Director Frank Oz has his heart in the right place but it doesn’t quite come out near the ending.

Kline gives a very funny and stellar performance here as Howard, and basically shows he can play the zaniest of characters. However, the best here really is Joan Cusack who every time is on the screen just really did make me laugh even more and more as the film went on. The screen-time for her wasn’t huge but with the time she was given she made the best of it.

Consensus: Doesn’t quite hit the mark with its humor and sympathy, but In & Out does feature funny performances from the cast, and some genuine funny moments that do hit the right spot.

5/10=Rental!!

Cry Freedom (1987)

When I think of Black people, i really do think of Denzel.

In a segregated South Africa, black nationalist Steven Biko (Denzel Washington) and white newspaper editor Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) are unlikely friends with a common goal: ending apartheid. When Biko’s beliefs land him in prison and he’s covertly murdered by South African authorities, Woods rallies to expose the injustice.

I have seen a lot of apartheid films, and in the end they all seem to have the same preachy vibe to it. Except this one is less of a message and more of a story, which really kept me going.

Cry Freedom has a lot of really powerfully disturbing scenes that really do capture the essence of this time in Africa. The constant use of imagery throughout the film, had me taken back by the true reality that lied within Africa and how it’s people were treated by this new government taking.

The one thing that’s very fresh about this film, is that the very powerful scenes that feature Biko’s funeral has Woods at it, and the film could’ve easily ended with that scene and had a little tribute to all the victims. However, the film doesn’t do that and it goes into a completely different direction, about telling the story of Woods and his family escaping Africa.

When this happened, I had the most problems with this film. I felt like the story became too much like a thriller, and really lost it’s message that it was trying to get at it with. I felt the slow pace really did make this film at times very unbearable and feel dragged at points that could have been interesting. Some scenes that were in this film didn’t feel like they we’re needed and actually could’ve been taken away so it could break down the film’s straneous 2 hour and 37 minute time-limit.

I liked the performance from Washington as he shows early on that he was destined for glory. He underplays his character with a sense of truth and despair without getting too preachy and annoying. Kline also gives a good performance taking on the latter part of the film, and actually almost doing a better more effective job than Washington, but sadly he doesn’t.

Consensus: Cry Freedom has some very powerful scenes and strong performances, but lags with it’s slow pace mixed in with a very long last 30 minutes.

8/10=Matinee!!

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

A jewel heist film, with a fish’s title.

A crooked foursome commits the heist of the century and is about to getaway … until the London police arrest one of them. Can the three on the lam (Michael Palin, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline) persuade their comrade’s lawyer (John Cleese) to reveal the stolen loot’s location?

This film is a real treat and it looks like it has fun with both the British and the American, and both blending them together. The jokes are very bold much like John Cleeses’ own Monty Python some that will stick and some that will not.

This is some of the best comedy on paper. Some movies just make you chuckle every once and awhile but this film surely did make me laugh. The two style comedies of regular American and British humor are blended together so well, and fully make this a wonderful watch. There are scenes that come together and can just seem so ironic but instead show up as hilarious in the execution of the story that is told.

This is some high quality story-telling. What this film could’ve done was have a bogus story and forget about it and just put the comedy in but instead they go the other way and create a great story mixed in with some A quality jokes. It’s not just the jokes themselves that are funny it’s timing and how each joke fits in well with each scene, and creates either an ironic or just simply funny joke.

The characters that are created are simply great. They are very inspired but also very zany and goofy and we see how each character tries to get themselves out of each situation so slickly and its cool to see their reactions. Kevin Klines steals almost every scenes he is in and creates a very vain but hilarious character. Along with Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese, and Micheal Palin who all do great and don’t get taken down by Kline’s simply amazing performance.

The only problem I had with the film was the numerous jokes made towards Palin’s character and his stuttering. I felt like the jokes made towards him were for more of a controversial laugh but I didn’t laugh because I felt it was a little too offensive and in bad taste.

Consensus: A Fish Called Wanda is hilarious, with an inspired plot and characters, that feature some great performances, that till the end will keep you laughing.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!