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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Lauren Holly

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2017)

School sucks. So just go home.

It’s February, which means that it’s cold, snowy, and absolutely miserable outside. The best option for mostly everyone is to stay indoors, keep warm, and just hope that the snow doesn’t come down too much for shoveling the next day. During this deadly cold time, a troubled young woman named Joan (Emma Roberts) for some reason, gets picked up by an older couple (Lauren Holly and James Remar), who take a liking to Joan and need her for something. Joan doesn’t really know what, but she’s happy to be out of the cold for once and appreciates all of the hospitality. Meanwhile, at an isolated prep school, there’s Rose (Lucy Boynton) who has a bit of an issue of her own, and doesn’t know how quite to deal with it, whereas her fellow student Kat (Kiernan Shipka), also is dealing with something going on with her, too. The two students are basically trapped in this school over this winter-break, without barely anyone to talk to or hang with, except for each other, which makes all of the strange happenings around the campus all the more weirder and scary. Somehow, these three stories are connected, but neither knows just yet.

Mad Men‘s over. I know. Shocking.

Oz Perkins clearly likes to take his stories slow. As he did with I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House, Perkins showed that he has a love for taking his time, keeping his camera still, and constantly building and building on atmosphere, as opposed to just throwing all caution to the wind and letting loose. In a way, there’s no problem with that – as long as you’re building on something interesting and compelling, then really, there’s no problem.

And for awhile, it seems like that’s what the Blackcoat’s Daughter (or as it used to be known as, February), is rolling with.

For the most part, Perkins helps his case out by giving us three interesting stories of three relatively different women, without fully divulging into each and everything we need to know about them. They’re dark, quiet, and a little mysterious, which makes them watchable and for us, the audience, curious of where the story may take them; Perkins doesn’t really show too many instances of horror in the first half-hour of this movie, but instead, just building small, ever so brief moments of character and mood that gradually, over time, come together and help the movie out.

And sure, it does aid these characters that the three gals playing them, Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, and Lucy Boynton, are all commanding presences. Roberts seems like she’s got something deeper and darker going on with her; Shipka just seems creepy altogether; and Boynton, while clearly getting the most to work with out of the three, seems like she could have really worked in something that was perhaps more dramatic, and less sinister. But still, all three here are good and keep us watching, even when we’re not quite sure just where everything is going.

Cause when it does get to where it needs to, Blackcoat’s Daughter doesn’t totally disappoint, but it does feel odd.

Cheer up, Scream Queen. (TV references are all that I’ve got)

In a way, a lot of crazy, bad, ugly, and scary stuff happens in the final-act, but there feels like there’s more behind it and we just never get to see it. It’s as if Perkins himself had the material in mind to help us make better sense of all the scary stuff that’s happening, but either didn’t have the time, or budget, to really develop it more. You can sort of tell this is a problem, too, with certain scenes getting really gory and graphic, but other ones, hinting at something more underneath, and we just never get to see that.

The horror itself is still effective, but when it feels like there’s something missing behind allowing it to hit even harder, it’s a bit of a problem. Most horror movies suffer with this, mostly because it seems like they just don’t have any ideas in the first place, but just scares, but it seems like Perkins himself is a step above that. Perhaps, he’s got a few too many ideas to really connect-the-dots between them and his scares, because there’s just something missing here.

One of these days I’ll figure it out. Hopefully.

Consensus: Effective in building on its atmosphere and chills, the Blackcoat’s Daughter shows Perkins is able to conjure up horror, even if he doesn’t have all the nuts and bolts down.

6 / 10

“Yeah, this vacation blows already.”

Photos Courtesy of: Gruesome Magazine

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The Chumscrubber (2005)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmm? Smells like rabbit stew?

Hmm? Smells like rabbit stew?

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

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

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

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

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

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

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Crank: High Voltage (2009)

Hearts are for wimps. Adrenaline is what the big boys play with.

Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) has had problems with his heart, but this time: it’s almost worse. This go-around, Chev still has the bad heart but also faces a Chinese mobster, who has stolen his nearly-indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered ticker that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working. This provides many, many problems for Chev, as you could expect, but problems he and his gal (Amy Smart) can’t solve on their own. If, you know what I mean?

If you walked away from the original Crank thinking that it was the dumbest ideas, and a brainless exercise only made as a gimmick because it was quick, fast, and raunchy for a reason: then this definitely won’t be your bag. However, if that first one was a brainless exercise you didn’t mind removing the insides of your head for, then grab a red bull, grab a bunch of buddies, and get ready to go! Woo-hoo! I’m amped-up already!

I don’t know what the hell writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor do in their spare time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys spend their weekends by snorting lines, picking up hookers, playing video-games, and then document all of their crazy and wild adventures of the night into a screenplay. Sounds a little far-fetched and a bit too 80’s glam star rock-starish to me, but I could see it happening because they really upped the ante with this one. For better and for worse, all depending on the type of person you are. The original worked so well as it did because it was fun, fast-paced, all-over-the-place, knowingly-stupid, and didn’t for a second take itself seriously. Granted, it wasn’t always the non-stop ride I would have expected to be in the pleasure of (you know, because the guy’s got a heart that needs to live on freakin’ adrenaline!), but still worked for my crazy mind at the time and that’s what made me happy to see these guys get all buck wild again.

Wouldn't be surprised if this was every woman's reaction to seeing Jason Statham.

Wouldn’t be surprised if this was every woman’s reaction to seeing Jason Statham.

The story starts off three months from where the last one ended and right after the first 5 minutes, the film gets right back into it’s hard-hitting, quick-moving, action-filled pace. But this time, everything and anything would, and quite possibly could, indeed happen. This film definitely isn’t afraid to be considered “offensive” and definitely doesn’t care what characters people want to see alive or dead. Anybody could be offed at any second, and you never know if the scene you get with one person where they are acting like total jack-asses, will be their last-time alive on-screen for us to have the pleasure of seeing. Or displeasure, wherever you stand on this one.  This idea made the movie fun because it truly made me wonder just where the hell this story was going, and whwre exactly the creators were going to end-up with. There is also plenty of the shootings, killings, murders, tits, ass, blood, and bullets, but the story is what kept me really alive and interested. Got to give a lot of love to Neveldine/Taylor for not just trying to cash-in on a sequel and do nothing cool with it. Can’t say the same thing about the Ghost Rider sequel, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.

One of the finer elements of the first movie was it’s humor and how everything, no matter how innate or crazy, happened for a reason and that was to mainly just entertain us some more for shits and gigs. That’s here once again, but in full-force mode. Everything that you would expect to be wacky, wild, and just totally insane to happen, does happen in the typical, over-the-top fashion and added a lot of joy to the final proceedings. However, I think Neveldine/Taylor got a little bit of a hot-head with everything, because they sort of over-do what could have been a movie that was just as funny as the first, if not more hilarious.

All of the funny happenings that made the first movie so comical, are here, but also seem to be very stretched-out and exaggerated for cheap-laughs. Like laughs you’ve already had before, but this time: is MORE EXTREME. For instance, the infamous scene from the first movie where Chev bones his girl in-front of a bunch of people in Chinatown is here, but this time, done to even bigger and badder effect. It still shows Chev boning his girl, but what makes it so much MORE EXTREME, is that it’s played-out in front of a horse-racing crowd, packed to the gills with people. Does it work? Yeah, I guess you could say it’s funny for the first 5 minutes or so, but then after awhile, the film starts to become like one of those lame-ass SNL sketches that never get the idea that they’re funny, and just continue to dig themselves deeper and deeper into a hole, almost until the point everybody wants it just burn to the ground, die, and never come back to life, including the actors apart of the skit as well.

I know I went into a long-ass description about this movie’s abilities to try their hardest to be funnier than the first, but it’s the truth. It follows all of the same formulas of most sequels, where more of everything is needed, just to up the stakes a bit more. That works when it comes to the plot, the action, and the pacing of the movie, but the humor just constantly keeps on hitting you over-the-head, and it becomes an annoyance after awhile. Maybe too much blow was the reason for that problem here. Just maybe.

"Say, Jason? Do you think you could take a picture with me so I can give it to my wife and kids so they know I've been working as of late?"

“Say, Jason? Do you think you could take a picture with me so I can give it to my wife and kids so they know I’ve been working as of late?”

No matter what “action film of the month” Jason Statham does, he always give it his biggest and best shot, and his second go-around as Chev Chelios is no different. Statham is a respectable action star in this movie, because he isn’t that afraid to put himself into some embarrassing and goofy situations, but also doesn’t shy-away from major bad-assery, as well. Chelios finds himself in more-ridiculous situations this time around, but it’s so easy to root for him that you don’t even care how many innocents he kills or how many crimes he gets away with. The guy is the freakin’ man and he kicks ass almost every single second he gets a chance to. And also, the guy gets to bone Amy Smart in front of almost every person to see! If that doesn’t show you how bad-ass he is, I don’t know what the hell will!

Speaking of our “bone gal for the hour”, Amy Smart gets to show a bit more of what she’s got as Eve, which I was real happy about because the chick can pull off some great moments, if she’s ever given the chance to. Not only does she get to show-off that she can be hot, sexy, and down to bang at any second of the day, but also gets to flex her action-muscles and actually have you feel like if she needed to, she could totally kick your ass and defend her man. That Jason Statham, is one hell of a lucky man. Even if he really isn’t Chev Chelios and getting the chance to bang Amy Smart in real-life. Then again, something tells me he totally is and it’s all just an act of his. If that’s the case, give the guy the freakin’ Oscar now!

As with any other sequel in the history of sequels, we get the original characters, but also a slew of new ones, and as the case with most sequels: some work and some just seem like filler. Bai Ling was really freakin’ cool as a prostitute named Ria, who keeps on calling Chelios, “her Kevin Costner to her Whitney Houston”. Ling has never really gotten to be this bad-ass before and it’s really surprising to see how well she can pull it off. It also helps matters too, that she’s practically half-naked throughout the whole movie so there’s definitely some fun in watching that, as well. The late, and I don’t know if he’s considered this by now, but great Corey Haim also happens to show up as some mullet, d-bag that gets involved with wild proceedings of Chev Chelios’ life, and it’s pretty cool to see the guy back in a major-role, in a major-movie release. Even if the movie is, Crank: High Voltage. Clifton Collins Jr. gets to pull off some campy villainous ish as the Elvis impersonator, El Huron. Collins Jr. does what he does best here, and that’s to totally over-play his evil role, even though I wonder if he and Michael Rooker have placed a bet against one-another to see who can bitch-out of being a villain in every movie they do, first. It’s going to be close, but something tells me Rooker may lose that one. To go along with Haim, we also get another late and great in this movie; and that just so happens to be David Carradine playing a character named Poon Dong. That’s right: one of David Carradine’s last roles ever was playing a guy named “Poon Dong”. The best thing about this wild and crazy cast of characters is that each and every person knows about the joke, and is totally in on it so to just watch them show-up, for no other reason other than to get pummeled by bullets, was a-okay with me.

Consensus: If you loved the first movie, then Crank: High Voltage will be exactly for you. It’s got naked women, guns, blood, gore, a fast-pace, Jason Statham kicking ass, and a Amy Smart sex scene. However, like most sequels, it’s a bit of an over-kill with it’s jokes that never seem to end or seem rehashed from the first one.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

This is what happens after a wild-night of partying with Neveldine/Taylor.

This is what happens after a wild-night of partying with Neveldine/Taylor. It’s even worse when they’re thinking of movie ideas.

Beautiful Girls (1996)

Being snowed in makes me all warm and fuzzy, except I wouldn’t want that feeling all year round.

Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) returns to the small town he left behind as erstwhile friends, lovers and the scary thought of settling down swirl around him. A friend’s unapproachable cousin (Uma Thurman) and the winsome teenager next door (Natalie Portman) couldn’t be more different, but they afford glimpses of two possible futures.

Those “small-town” films have always been a favorite of mine since I like to feel like I’m right there with the story, and this one did not disappoint.

The script here by Scott Rosenberg is what really has this film clickin’. Rosenberg does a great job of expressing the insecurity’s that men have, and the sexual politics between men and women. Us men, we can sometimes be horny mofo’s and not always do the brightest things, and this film shows that it’s alright because that’s how life is. There is also plenty of comedy to go along here that won’t have you laughing-out-loud, but it will at least give you this breezy feeling throughout the whole film.

Most of the problem with this film that people will actually have is that not much happens here. The whole film is basically conversational, and nothing eventful really goes down and some will be bored by this, but I actually didn’t mind it because they gave us things interesting and witty to talk about.

However, my problem with this film is that it does get schmaltzy at times which sort of took away from the whole cool feel that this film gave me. I didn’t mind the little emotional scenes they had, but I think they were unnecessary especially with that cheesy score they had pop in every once and awhile. Also, I wish there was more viewpoints from the gals here too, but I can’t lie, I still liked what I heard from both sides.

The ensemble cast is good-looking, but don’t let that actually fool you because their all so good. Timothy Hutton is good as Willie and handles the film really well bringing in that coolio charm, and actual “realistic-guy” feel to him. I don’t know if that made any sense but the point I’m trying to make is that he’s a cool dude. Matt Dillon, Noah Emmerich, and my favorite no matter what he does, Michael Rapaport, all do great jobs as the other dudes here. Martha Plimpton, Mira Sorvino, and Lauren Holly are good too. But my favorites out of this cast are from three gals actually. Rosie O’Donnell has a totally hilarious scene here where she talk’s about dudes and our sexual fantasies, and it’s all so true, but the way she puts everything just made me crack up the whole time. Uma Thurman is also awesome as the really cool chick named Andera, who really made me wish I had here as a “fake date” when I needed one the most. But the best performance from the whole cast is Natalie Portman, who at 13, took this little role, and made it so memorable. Her character, Marty, is really quirky and Portman does a great job at bringing out that quirkiness within her character, and make almost every scene she has hilarious but also very interesting. This was a star-making role for her, and with good reason because she’s awesome in this role.

Consensus: Nothing much really happens here other than a bunch of conversations, but Beautiful Girls’ script is so good, that it kind of makes up for that, with it’s themes about men and women, and performances from a great cast, especially Natalie Portman.

7/10=Rental!!

Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Perfectly titled, and that’s why I love it.

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels star as the dim-bulb title characters who get more than they bargained for when they try to return a briefcase left at the airport by socialite Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly). Unaware that the case is crammed with cash intended for the baddies who abducted Mary’s husband, the two cretins set out on a cross-country trip to find her — with the kidnappers not far behind.

This is a film I have probably seen about 15 time sin my life, and literally every time I have laughed again, and again. There are certain things like seeing a movie too much, but this is not one of them.

My favorite thing about this film is that it’s humor is down-right the best. It’s dumb and immature, but at the same time it’s kind of smart and hilarious. The plot is pretty ridiculous but that’s not why you came to see the film, the things that happen in it, are what makes it all great. The film is full of memorable one-liners that are just hilarious, and will have you laughing till the ribs are hurting.

The Farrelly Brothers have directed many films like this since then, but it hasn’t really captured the real flavor that is within this film. Yeah, There’s Something About Mary is also really funny too, and Shallow Hal is pretty sweet tasting, but their not killing you with laughter, and this does just that. My only problem with this film is that watching it so many times, certain scenes don’t seem as funny anymore as they once were, and it all does feel a bit too 90’s. But hey, the 90’s were actually pretty bangin’ so I really can’t discriminate too much.

Jim Carrey has always been one of my favorite comedic actors of all-time, cause he literally can make the most bland characters, seem hilarious and likable. He does that just so with Lloyd Christmas, and gives him some of the best scenes with his signature goofiness, as well as his random noises and faces he makes throughout the course of the film. The guy hasn’t done much great in awhile, other than I Love You Phillip Morris and a couple of others, but this is always a reminder that he was the king of goofiness. Jeff Daniels doesn’t get that much love as Carrey does, but he is equally as funny as Harry Dunne. He provides plenty of great one-liners, and a goofiness with his acting that we don’t quite see as much nowadays, but it’s easy to say he does bring out plenty of laughs. Their chemistry as good buddies feels so genuine, and plenty of scenes that rely on them just being goofy with each other, feels real and you can tell by the chemistry that they have been friends for so long. I wish one of these days I can see these guys back on screen together.

Also, don’t ever check out that shit-ass prequel, Dumb and Dumberer. That will make you lose your appetite, and possibly your love f0r this film.

Consensus: It may be too dumb for some viewers, but Dumb and Dumber features hilarious comedy that works, as well as perfect comedic performances from Carrey and Daniels.

8.5/10=Matinee!!