Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Lauren Frandsen

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

Next time, when you’re making a film geared towards kids, go for a smaller, more comprehensible title.

On the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould), nothing seems to be going right for him. The most popular kid in his school seems to be planning on having his birthday party, the same day as he’s having his; his dad (Steve Carell) is out of a job and currently staying at-home to watch the young baby, who also won’t stop crying; his mom (Jennifer Garner) has a new book that’s about to hit the shelves and possibly break records; his older brother (Dylan Minnette) has prom and his driver’s test the next day, so of course, he’s being a jerk; and his older sister (Kerris Dorsey) is currently getting ready to take the stage for her school’s rendition of Peter Pan. Everybody’s getting on Alexander’s case and it seems like his days are just getting more and more bad as they go on. It’s getting so bad that, before he goes to bed, Alexander makes a wish that all of this bad luck for him would just go away. Well, the next day, guess what happens? It does! But somehow, it’s spawned-off to the rest of the family and it just continuously gets worse for all involved, in the worst possible ways imaginable.

So many first world problems just awaiting somewhere in the distance.

So many first world problems just awaiting somewhere in the distance.

It’s difficult to make a family movie, that’s literally made for the whole family. Meaning, that while you don’t necessarily have to be catering towards the kiddies of the clan with fart, poop, and pee jokes, you also don’t have to make your humor so subversive for the grown-ups of the group, to where it’s almost inappropriate for anybody to watch, let alone, for family movie night. But also, in making sure that you’re both funny enough to appeal to all parties of the illustrious fam-squad, you also run the risk of actually being a mess of a movie that hardly anybody would be able to see or enjoy.

Somehow though, Alexander and… (I’m not going to list the whole thing, sorry), runs through that slippery-slope and lands somewhere in the middle. That’s to say that it doesn’t necessarily offend anybody, as much as it just offers little, short splices of adult-humor, amongst all of the crazy, wacky hijinx the non-stop barrage of slap-stick offers. This would usually bother the hell out of me, but considering the time-limit (just under 80 minutes), the family-feel nature of it, and the willing cast, I found myself more entertained and pleased than I would have wanted. Doesn’t mean the movies perfect, or without any types of flaws because it’s serviceable and nothing more, but that doesn’t also mean I should get on the movie’s case much either.

It’s simply not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings, so therefore, I’ll try not to do the same; even though, yes, I’ll probably fail.

Though it’s mostly filled with the same old “whatevers” you’d see in these kinds of family-friendly films, the one interesting element of this movie to note, was that Miguel Arteta directed this and, judging by his past-work, you would never know it. Arteta, if you’re a hip, fly and cool movie-watcher, is known for directing such comedy-based indies like the Good Girl, Youth in Revolt, and Cedar Rapids, and while I’d never call any of them masterpieces in their own rights, they’re still different than what I’d expect from him here. They’re all funny movies, but they’re also a tad darker and heavier on the drama than this movie here. Not to mention they’re also all rated-R, but that’s beside the point.

What I’m trying to say, is simply this: Miguel Arteta doesn’t make movies like this and that’s why it surprised me to discover he was the one behind this movie. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s interesting to see, because Arteta handles the material well; it’s quick, fast, and punchy enough to where the visual, slapstick-gags do their thing and while they may not always hit the mark, there’s not much time spent to think about or dell on them, so you just sort of just take them as they are. Slap-stick, when done right, can be downright hilarious and make me squeal like a 10-year-old girl, but if it’s done wrong, or better yet, too much, then it can sometimes be grating.

#Lolz

#Lolz

Here, the slap-stick continues to get piled on so much, in so many extreme ways because it’s ridiculous as is written – that’s the point. So, because sometimes the slips, slides, prat-falls, and embarrassing moments are so random, they’re actually kind of funny; they don’t need any rhyme or reason, and that’s where some of the fun lies. Of course, the movie tries to barrow itself down and hit some sort of message by the end, but by that point, I didn’t care how sappy it was. The first two-halves of it had entertained me enough to where the movie could have literally ended with them curing world hunger, and so long as they had at least a gag or two dedicated to Steve Carell making funny faces, then I’d have been totally cool with it.

Gosh, now that I think about it, why didn’t they do that? So many missed opportunities here, people!

And speaking of Carell, the dude is so earnest here, that even though the character he’s playing is a bit of a dork, there’s something so incredibly sweet and charming, that it hardly ever matters; Jennifer Garner isn’t my favorite actress, but she’s so down to do whatever the movie throws at her (sometimes, literally), I couldn’t help but respect her just a tad more than usual; Ed Oxenbould is in the typical “smart kid”-role, but the movie doesn’t constantly focus on him, so I was okay with that; and the rest of the cast, with what they’re given to do, all put in some funny moments that may have otherwise been forgettable, stupid and the exactly what this seems to be: A paycheck gig.

Albeit, a fun one where everybody involved seemed to actually be pleased to do.

Consensus: Typical family-fare, but Alexander the… is still charming, fast-paced, and funny enough to where it’s fun for the whole family, as well as for 21-year-old anti-social d-bags. You know, like yours truly.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"Oh my gosh! Minimum-wage jobs!"

“Oh my gosh! Minimum-wage jobs!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Advertisements

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

Talking to a silent dude who wears a poncho is definitely one way for sure.

During the year of 1882 in Arizona, a loser sheep farmer by the name of Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane) practically loses it all; his pride, his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried), his courage, and even his own self-respect. Basically, Albert has no reason to live and even though he doesn’t want to off himself, he still knows that life in the West is dumb, which is why he decides to move away to San Francisco in hopes of changing his life for good. However, things turn around for Albert when a new lady comes into town named Anna (Charlize Theron). Not only is she smokin’ hot, but she seems to take a bit of an interest in him and makes him a deal: She’ll help him gain enough of his courage back so that he can win his ex back and eventually live happily live ever after. Albert thinks this is a great idea, except for the problem that he isn’t able to shoot a gun – which is practically a big “no no” in a place like the West, where just about everything and anything could kill you, at any time. To make matters worse, Anna also has a bit of a secret past that includes known-killer Clinch (Liam Neeson) and he’s not happy about her not being with him, and off with some wimp like Albert.

Though I’ve never been a huge fan of Family Guy, that sure as heck didn’t stop me from enjoying Ted. Sure, Seth MacFarlane loves his sophomoric jokes and and gags, but that’s sort of the point to his humor and for the most part, it’s done him quite well. And since Ted was such a success, it’s no surprise to see that he would eventually take all of that studio-money and make something that he clearly wants to do, from his heart and with himself thrown right into the middle.

Oh, I get it. He's a sheepish guy, in the middle of a flock of sheep! Clever! I think..

Oh, I get it. He’s a sheepish guy, in the middle of a flock of sheep! Clever! I think..

I’m coming very close to calling this something of a “passion project”, which it may very well have been, but from the results of it, too much passion may have went on way too long and for too much.

That’s not to say it doesn’t seem like there isn’t much effort on MacFarlane’s part, because there totally is, however, it does seem like that a little of his humor can only go on for so long, until it all becomes repetitive and over-used. Maybe, just maybe I could have gone a whole two-hours without hearing jokes made about someone’s fancy-looking mustache – better yet, maybe, just maybe I could have gone the whole movie without a handful of jokes revolving around sheep’s penises. But with Seth MacFarlane that’s what you have to expect, which makes me wonder why it just did not work here at all.

Okay, that’s a lie, there are times when this movie can be pretty funny, but it’s not because of MacFarlane himself. Mostly, the laughs come from the fact that the ensemble he’s put together is clearly working their assess off to make any sort of joke hit. Because, even if they do fall flat, at least there’s still something to be interested by; like, for instance, why wouldn’t you make a joke or two about Liam Neeson’s terrible Southern-accent? Better yet, why wouldn’t you ever crack a joke about the fact that all of the townspeople look like your usual, ragged-type to be seen in these types of Southerns, yet, everybody else in the movie looks like they just walked off the set of a Loreal commercial?

For some reason, we never get those kinds of jokes, and instead, we are “treated” to ones about smiling in old-timey photographs, 19th century racism, hookers, virgins, pooping, and bar-brawls. Maybe that sounds like a good time to you, because it totally does to me, but somehow, Seth MacFarlane found a way to suck all of the air out of it and give us a piece that’s pretty boring, even when it is trying to be funny. Which, believe it or not, is about 75% of the time; the rest of the 25% is dedicated to action, drama, romance and awkward situations without barely a lick of comedy. And do trust me, I don’t have much of a problem with a comedy trying to be a tad serious and throw some heart into the story for good measure, just to even things out, but it was never interesting here, nor did it really do much for the characters themselves. It just seemed thrown onto us and almost like Seth MacFarlane needed a new editor-in-charge. Much like the feeling I can sometimes get with Judd Apatow’s pieces.

Which brings me to the man himself: Seth MacFarlane. Of course we all know, recognize, and, for some, love MacFarlane from his various voice-roles and maybe even his culturally-divided Academy Awards hosting-job, but here’s the first time in which we really get to see all of Seth, in his full-on, human-made form. None of that animated, voice-over crap; it’s just him, his face, and his ability to actually act and emote for the camera.

And, as much as it pains me to say, it makes total sense why he’s stayed behind the camera for so long in the first place.

I get why he's here, but Sarah Silverman? Come on, honey! You must have had something better to do!

I get why he’s here, but Sarah Silverman? Come on, honey! You must have had something better to do!

That’s not to say that MacFarlane is really bad with the material really, it’s just that it’s obvious his face wasn’t really made for film. He’s sort of a bland screen-presence on screen that tells his own jokes, yells, hollers, acts goofy, puts on an “OMG” face numerous time, and occasionally have to act where he has to put on his “serious face” and whatnot. Sometimes, it works, and some other times, it doesn’t really do much of all. It just seems like him, hogging up the screen and taking away from some of the better, way more-talented members of the cast. Not to get on MacFarlane’s case or anything, but I don’t really see the guy taking over the acting world anytime soon. For now, I’d say to just stay behind the camera, keep on doing the voice-work and every once and awhile, show your face to let everyone know that you’re alive and you are in fact still working.

Anyway though, the rest of the cast fairs a lot better, if only because, like I mentioned before, they are a lot more skilled with material in general and they can usually make the most out of anything as silly as this. Charlize Theron gets the best acting out of MacFarlane because it seems like they share a natural-chemistry that makes it more than just being about her hot, rockin’ bod, even while she’s on the prime of reaching 40; Neil Patrick Harris gets the most laughs out of the whole cast as the mustached-man that Albert’s ex is now dating and shows us why if you give NPH something worthwhile to do, he’ll run with it and never look back; and Liam Neeson has a goofy accent but doesn’t get much funny stuff to do (even though we know he’s clearly capable of doing comedy). Also to mention, there are a few cameos here and there that are rather hit-or-miss. There’s one actually that’s quite spell-blindingly clever, yet, is totally ruined just by the sheer awkwardness of it all. Want to say what it is, but you may just have to wait and see.

Then again, maybe you don’t have to. Because honestly, you’re not missing much to begin with anyway.

Consensus: It isn’t that Seth MacFarlane isn’t trying with A Million Ways to Die in the West, it’s more that he’s just trying too much and doesn’t really know what’s considered “well-done crude humor”, against, “annoying, repetitive crude humor”. You know, if there is such a thing.

3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Okay, that 'stache is a bit ridiculous, but it totally beats the 10-years-late faux hawk MacFarlane's got going on.

Okay, that ‘stache is a bit ridiculous, but it totally beats the 10-years-too-late faux hawk MacFarlane’s got going on.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

Ride Along (2014)

More reasons as to why we shouldn’t trust our current police-force.

Ben (Kevin Hart) is a fast-talking, very eccentric and slightly goofy that longs for the day he gets his chance to be in the Police Academy. He thinks he is able to do so, all because of the constant video-games he plays on his XBOX, and also because his girlfriend’s brother, James (Ice Cube), also happens to be a cop, and a pretty bad-ass one at that. So if there’s any problems Ben may have, he can always count on his girl’s big bro. Then again though, no he can’t, considering that this said brother doesn’t particularly like Ben, nor even think he’s “man enough” to be the man who takes his baby sister’s hand in marriage. That’s when James gets the bright idea that he’s going to take Ben out on what the task-force calls a “ride along”l which means that the two are going to spend a whole day together where they try and solve crimes, maintain peace and basically, get done all the jobs a normal policeman would normally do. However, there is this case that’s been eating at James for quite some time and it’s starting to all make some sense to him now with Ben around, the only problem is that he may be a bit too in over his head.

Take last year’s the Heat, get rid of the two female leads, as well as their skin-color, and you have Ride Along.

Anybody else find it strange that a member of the NWA is now playing a loyal, by-the-numbers cop?

Anybody else find it strange that a member of the NWA is now playing a loyal, by-the-numbers cop?

And there you have it. That’s all there is to know about this movie and that’s all that you need to know, in order to judge whether or not you should see this flick. Personally, I like a good, old-fashioned, buddy-cop flick when it’s done right, and I thought that with the inclusion of both Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, that things would be a lot better.

However, they aren’t, they’re just mildly acceptable, which is fine, especially considering that we’re in the month of January and, as we all know, the movies released during this uneventful month usually suck terribly. While I definitely would like to say that this movie is “absolute garbage”, I can’t help but think that there were a few times that I actually laughed, and more often than not, had a nice, measly chuckle to go along with the fun as well. For me, that’s all I want in a comedy and if that’s good enough for me, then hell, I think it ought to be good enough for you.

But like I was saying before, this movie definitely isn’t great nor should it be recommended for those who are looking for something that’s going to re-invent the wheel, or even throw them a few surprises they weren’t expecting to see from something that looked as conventional as this. There are a whole bunch of twists concerning certain characters that are easy to pick out right from one of the movie’s earlier-shots; and hell, even the biggest surprise this movie may have had to offer (a cameo from a certain, well-known “someone”) is practically spoiled to us when we the person’s name pops-up in the opening-credits.

And aside from those issues, the plot doesn’t really make much of a difference, because even at an hour-and-40-minutes, the thing still does seem a bit long and lag very, VERY heavily in the middle. It actually lagged so much, that I caught myself dozing-off a few times and barely woke-up from my slumber, despite a crowd of 50-somethings laughing their assess off like hyena’s around me. Almost rarely ever happens to me, hence why I’ve took the time out of this review to make a very big note of it. May not happen to you out there, but it definitely happened to me and it reminds me why coffee comes in so much handy before these types of movies. That, or the fact that the movie itself that I am watching has to be even remotely entertaining.

I wonder why there's so much focus on these guys in the first--half of the movie............

I wonder why there’s so much focus on these guys throughout the movie…………

What’s strange though is that even though I did doze-off during this movie, which would usually kill any other one from getting even the slightest recommendation, this flick had just enough charm and energy about it to where I didn’t mind that it put me to sleep for, oh, I don’t know, say seven or eight minutes. Which means that most of the praise for this movie has to go to both Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, who seem to perfectly placed together as the type of buddy-cop duo we usually see. Cube is very stern, serious and dismissive most of the time; whereas Hart is wild, crazy, energetic, always able to have fun and even take some chances. Together, they make for a very entertaining dynamic, in which you can actually see Cube try his damn near-hardest not to crack a smile whenever Hart is around and doing his thing. And while Cube himself may not be acting his ass off or really lighting the screen-up with his charisma, he’s still fine keeping it as straight-laced as he can be, without ever seeming like a total square that doesn’t know how to have fun.

But as for Hart, the guy’s very fun to watch; although, I do have to admit that some of his screeching and hollering did get to the point of where it was over-bearing. In fact, he reminded me a lot of Chris Tucker in that way, but a lot smaller. And his size, as you could expect, does get a lot of jokes thrown at it from all ends, but Hart’s down with it enough to suck it up and let himself be on the butt-end of a joke. Actually, that’s how he practically is throughout this whole movie, constantly throwing himself everywhere and anywhere, desperately trying to get even the slightest hint of a chuckle out of the audience. Though some may see this as “annoying”, or “over-the-top”, it worked for me and showed me that when in doubt, just trust Kevin Hart to make some goofy, whiny noise to make you laugh. It may not always work and have you soiling your pants, but in the off-chance that it does work, you’ll laugh, you’ll hoot, you’ll holler and most of all, you’ll appreciate that there is a comedian like Kevin Hart out there who is more than willing to sacrifice life and limb for a laugh. Or, even a chuckle. He’ll take what he can get, run with it and leave us enjoying ourselves. True comedian, right there.

Consensus: Shouldn’t be your first, nor your second pick at the movies this weekend, but if worse comes to worse and you end up finding yourself sitting in the same theater that’s showing Ride Along, don’t be alarmed because it’s funny for what it is, without doing much else out-of-this-world. Aka, a typical January movie.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

He is from Philly, so the fact that he wouldn't be able to handle a gun correctly was just a totally unbelievable plot-point. At least for me it was.

Make a note that he knows how to hold that gun through “playing video-games”. Yup, definitely not a movie for the kids.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net