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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Martin Starr

Lemon (2017)

So, wait. What does the fruit have to do with it all?

Isaac (Brett Gellman) is an actor just trying to make it big. However, he finds out that each and every role isn’t quite for him. The only thing in life he has to rely on is his girlfriend Ramona (Judy Greer), who also happens to be blind. But then, she walks out on him, sending his life into a free fall. Now, he does his best to direct a staging of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” while also trying to stay close with his family and also maybe even attempt a new love in his life.

In the world of comedy, there’s this general idea that there are no rules. The only rule there is, like at all, is that your comedy has to be funny. If not, you’ve failed already. Meaning, you can be offensive, you can be mean, you can be off-putting, hell, you can even be in the most poor taste imaginable – as long as you’re funny, then all is fine and right with the world.

Another weird supporting performance from Michael Cera in the year 2017.

But after watching something like Lemon, I sort of feel like there needs to be a few more rules added on to that very small list.

Lemon is so clearly straining itself to be weird, odd, and random that it’s not just obvious, it’s downright annoying. It’s the kind of movie that, like last year’s the Greasy Strangler, is so wrapped-up in its strange little world, that it’s actually interesting to see where it navigates through and where it goes; except in this case, Lemon isn’t all that interesting. It wants to be and definitely thinks it is, but it isn’t.

If anything, it’s just another case of an odd indie-comedy that’ way too bizarre for its own good and never really makes sense of itself in the meantime. It’s like Tim and Eric-level comedy, but instead of actually being so twisted, it doesn’t matter if any of it makes any sense, it’s just so weird and twisted, that who really cares. I almost want to say the word “dull”, but it’s too strange for that.

It’s just boring, really.

Thinking of something completely and utterly random.

There’s at least ten minutes or so of this hour-and-20-minute-movie that has, at the very least, some laughable comedy, but it’s not really due to the script, or what jokes are being set-up. It’s mostly due to the fact that there are the likes of Martin Starr, David Paymer, Fred Melamed, Shiri Appleby, and Rhea Pearlman, all singing a nutty song about Motzaballs. Without any of them, the scene just wouldn’t have worked, but because they’re all such respected talents in their own rights, getting stuck working with silly material like this, it’s actually chuckle-worthy.

Oh, and that’s another thing about Lemon – its cast is quite stacked. Clearly everyone is here either as favors to Gellman, or just because they had a chance to let loose for a bit, but even some of them feel a bit wasted. Judy Greer plays a blind woman who is basically just used as a one-joke punchline the whole time; Nia Long plays a possible love-interest here who, despite seeming she like she’s in on the joke, doesn’t really have much else to bring here; Michael Cera plays a self-serious actor and isn’t funny; Gillian Jacobs has like two or three scenes with Cera and yeah, isn’t given much to do; and yeah, I’m sure there’s more.

Basically, everyone here feels like their wasted. Even Gellman himself who, no matter what he seems to show up in, is awfully fun to watch. Here, because he’s playing such an odd character, doesn’t actually get the chance to really be the usual compelling we see from him and know him especially for, whenever he decides to rear his bearded-face into something. He channels something different that we haven’t seen from him before, but in a way, it’s hard to not wish for him to go back to the old ways.

Consensus: Odd and crazy, yet, with nothing really funny, Lemon tries very hard to make people laugh and squirm, and stretches itself way too thin it trying to do so.

3 / 10

Yeah, don’t ask. I couldn’t even tell ya.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Alright. No more reboots!

After being recruited by the one and only Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and kicking all sorts of ass in the so-called “Civil War”, 15-year-old Peter Parker (Tom Holland), when he isn’t in school, cutting class, or crushing hard on his fellow classmate (Laura Harrier), he’s throwing on his red and blue jumpsuit, shootin’ webs, and yes, stoppin’ crime. The only issue is that he was given specific instructions not to act out in this manner, or else, he wouldn’t be allowed in the Avengers, something Peter has wanted since day one. But Peter thinks that he can keep a low-profile, until real bad stuff starts happening, like when a low-level arms-dealer (Michael Keaton), begins selling highly illegal and dangerous weapons to all sorts of criminals on the streets. Sure, he was supposed to stay cool and calm, but after awhile, Peter just can’t stand by and let this happen, which means that it’s time for him to get involved and kick some butt. The only issue is that he’s got so much pressure, both at home and at school, that he doesn’t quite know how to juggle everything with his personal life and still, at the end of the day, save the world.

Just your friendly dorky neighborhood Peter Parker, everyone!

Such is a daily dilemma for all superheros, I presume.

So yeah, first things first: Spider-Man: Homecoming is, get this, not necessarily an origin story. Believe it or not, what we got to see of Spidey in Civil War was basically all we needed to know about him; he’s fun, goofy, quick-witted, and oh yeah, brash. That’s basically. Co-writer/director Jon Watts, as well as the five other writers here (Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers) are all smart enough to know that by now, we’ve seen and understood all that there is to know and understood about Peter Parker, his upbringing, where he came from, and all of the backstory that usually plagues another origin-story such as this.

Instead of showing us his first steps, or better yet, the first time he learned how to swing a web, we actually get character-development for Peter, as well as all of those that surround him. Sure, there’s plot about growing up, this baddie lurking somewhere in the distance, and of course, all of the tie-ins to previous Marvel stuff, but really, the movie is all about the characters, how they work with one another, and how exactly they work in this universe. It’s the small things that make these mega-budget, loud, and bombastic summer blockbusters so worth while and it’s why Marvel’s got a solid formula to keep on working with.

Which means that, yes, Homecoming is a swing and a hit. It’s not a home-run, but it’s definitely a solid piece of Marvel entertainment that feels like it’s not just giving us a nice peak inside this already large universe, but also allowing us to get used to these characters for future installments to come. For someone such as myself, who grew up on and adored the Sam Raimi Spider-Man flicks, it’s a little difficult to fully take in this new band of trustees, but after this first showing, they could grow on me. They’re easy-to-like, charming and yes, different enough from the original to where it doesn’t feel like we have to sit down, compare and contrast the two products the whole time.

Wait. Batman? Birdman? Some dude called “Vulture”? What’s going on?!?

Instead, it’s just nice to sit down and appreciate a popcorn superhero flick for being, well, exactly what it sets out to be: Fun.

End of story.

And if we are going to compare, then yes, it’s safe to say that Tom Holland more than fits into the role of Peter Parker because he’s not playing a total and complete dweeb. Sure, Maguire’s take is still heartfelt enough, but really, Holland’s Parker is portrayed more as of a bit of a smart-ass, who also happens to be incredibly smart. Holland’s fun to watch as Parker, but it also helps that he feels and looks like an actual kid; Maguire and Andrew Garfield were both nearly 30-years-old, playing a high-school-aged Parker, seeming like they were just doing dress up for October the 31st. With Holland in the role, he seems like an actual high-school kid, stuck in this sort of situation and because of that, it helps to relate to the kid a bit more.

And really, with our superhero flicks, isn’t that all we want? Someone we can root for, sympathize with, and even identify with? Probably not, but hey, it works for me.

Consensus: Fun, quick, and pretty smart for a superhero flick, Homecoming proves that Spider-Man doesn’t need another damn origin-story, but does need/get/deserve a solid bit of players to look forward to seeing in the near-future.

7.5 / 10

Brought to you by Jansport.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

He gets angry. He goes green. He doesn’t like it. Yeah, we get it.

Scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) has a bit of a problem. After being exposed to a gamma radiation that contaminated his body and cells, he’s now been unable to control his emotions and therefore, has been lashing out as the Hulk. Desperate to find a cure and get away from the controversial spotlight that constantly surrounds him, Banner decides to go across the world, looking anywhere that he can find any sign of hope. Of course, going off the grid as he does also means having to be cut-off from his one true love Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), who wants nothing more than for him to just be safe. Her father, CIA Gen. Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), however, wants Banner to turn himself into the authorities so that they can cure him and make sure that he doesn’t go around smashing things anymore. But because Banner doesn’t seem all that interested in listening or taking orders, Ross decides to enlist the help of a supremely powerful enemy known as The Abomination (Tim Roth), who is nearly as dangerous, if not more as the Hulk.

How Edward Norton prepares for a role. Any role.

How Edward Norton prepares for a role. Any role.

Except in his case, he’s the baddie!

It’s been said and shown that giving the Hulk his own movie doesn’t quite work out as perfectly as some would prefer. Ang Lee’s Hulk was an odd, slow and downright boring character-study that was way too deep for its own good and the Incredible Hulk itself, while fun, still feels like it’s not really allowing for this interesting character, other than, as expected, setting up several other Marvel movies to come up after. If anything, as evidenced by the first two Avengers movies, Hulk is perhaps best used as a supporting character, who comes around every so often, destroying things, smashing them and reminding people that he can an absolute crowd-pleaser, while also the most dangerous thing around.

But regardless of all this, the Incredible Hulk does do the character some justice, in that it gives him plenty of things to smash and be angry at. At the same time, however, it also can’t help but feel like a small disappointment compared to all of the other standalone Marvel movies, where we get a rich mix of story, humor, heart, and excessive tie-ins. In a way, actually, the Incredible Hulk‘s actually very interesting to watch all of these years later as, at the time, it was the second movie produced by Marvel in this planned-universe (after Iron Man, obviously). So, with that said, it’s neat to see how little the film actually relies on featuring tie-ins from other superheros, or barely even hinting of their existence at all; after all, when this movie was being made, the idea of an Avengers movie was just a pipe-dream that Marvel had planned, it all came down to whether or not people were going to stick around for four more years to actually see it. Thankfully, they did, but as a small microcosm of what Marvel once was, the Incredible Hulk serves as a nice little escape from some of the overstuffed and overcrowded superhero movies we’ve got going on nowadays.

And I’m not just talking about Marvel’s movies, either.

But regardless of its importance in the long-run of Marvel movies, what the Incredible Hulk does best is that it serves its story justice by offering up as much as action as humanly possible. Louis Leterrier isn’t the best director out there, but he’s a competent enough director that when you tell him to shoot an action-sequence, well, he does just that. And to mention, he makes them pretty damn exciting and fun, even if they are just chock-full of CGI and green-screens. Still, that’s the name of the game with these superhero movies and if that’s what I’m going to start complaining about, well then, I’ve got bigger problems on my hand.

And even when the action isn’t going on, the movie still works fine enough. The drama may not be as heavy as it was in Ang Lee’s movie, which is both a positive, as well as negative; positive because it doesn’t drag the story down from being an actual fun piece of big-budgeted action, negative because it doesn’t always feel like it’s the strongest it can be, given the cast and talent involved. Getting Edward Norton involved with the movie in the first place was smart, as it showed that someone as talented and as smart as him was willing to take a chance with this role and, well, guess what? He does a good job with it.

Take away that grizzled 'stache and Liv Tyler's a spitting-image of William Hurt!

Take away that grizzled ‘stache and Liv Tyler’s a spitting-image of William Hurt!

Granted, the material is not nearly as strong as we’re used to seeing Norton work with, but he does what he can, with what he’s given. While Ruffalo is a perfect fit as the Hulk now, it still makes me wonder what would have happened if Norton didn’t piss-off too many people behind-the-scenes and he was around, collecting the big paychecks. Sadly, it’s all speculation, because obviously, Norton didn’t last long.

But hey, he left a pretty good impression.

After all, some of the scenes he has with Tim Roth, William Hurt and especially, Liv Tyler, as oddly-written as they may be, he brings a certain amount of genuineness to it that makes us feel closer to this story, as well as this character. We don’t get to know his heart and soul like we did in Ang Lee’s, but that’s actually fine; you get the sense that perhaps they were setting-up more development of this character for future movies, but instead, had to opt for the easy way out in just letting it all hang. While I don’t particularly agree with the fact that we can’t give Hulk his own movie, one of these days, I’d like to see them do him justice one day, where we get all of the smashing and whatnot, but some heart and humanity behind it as well.

Maybe with Ruffalo? Who knows!

Consensus: As an early Marvel movie, the Incredible Hulk does fine in giving enough action to help measure out some of the messier parts of the movie, like the melodrama.

7 / 10

It's like David vs. Goliath, although, they're both pretty well-matched.

It’s like David vs. Goliath, although, they’re both pretty well-matched.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

The Invention of Lying (2009)

If you think about it, can’t all religious text possibly be “lies”? #Controversial

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is so down-on-his-luck that he’s practically given up now. While he has an okay job as a screenwriter and a nice apartment to live in, he lives in a world nobody is able to lie, so therefore, nobody ever does something for another person cause its the right thing to do. This means that Mark has to go out on a lot of dates where the girls he meets don’t really like him, nor do they ever expect to take anything further than just a simple date and leaving it at that. One date in particular, with Anna (Jennifer Garner), Mark seems to want more out of, but because he, according to her, is “fat and ugly”, the relationship will never work. But somehow, on one fateful day, Mark decides that he has the rare ability to, believe it or not, lie. This means that everyone around him will believe anything he says and can basically get away with whatever he oh so pleases to get away with. Clearly, this means that Mark’s going to do some easily questionable things that are for his own self-gain, but eventually, he starts to realize that it doesn’t matter if you can lie the rest of your life and get away, all that does matter is that you feel something lovely and true.

is the handsome, slack-jawed man her choice?

is the handsome, slack-jawed man her choice?

The Invention of Lying has so much promise that it’s an absolute shame watching went goes down with it. For one, this world that’s been created here, while yes, a tad odd and unconventional, is still an interesting one that you can spend a whole miniseries on, exploring every piece by piece, while also having some real great fun, with jokes and all that. And for awhile, the movie seems like it’s more than up to that opportunity; a commercial with Coca-Cola is perhaps the funniest moment of the whole movie, only to then be up-staged by a Pepsi ad moments later. There’s other bits and pieces in which Gervais explores this world a whole lot more than just having people blurt out mean, nasty and cruel things, but yeah, what eventually happens isn’t good.

And yes, this is a huge problem.

After awhile, it seems like co-directors Gervais and Matthew Robinson, truly did want to get deep down into this world, explore it more, find more jokes to make about it, and, if it got to a certain point, make some interesting contrasts to the real world we live in now, but for some reason, they get distracted. Instead of trying to make something that’s really biting, smart and almost satirical, they opt more for the conventional route, where we’re now more interested in whether or not Ricky Gervais’ character is going to get the girl at the end.

Obviously, he probably will, but to see this idea get explored more so than the other ones going on here, is pretty wasteful. Now, of course, I don’t know if this is on behalf of studio interruption, or if the guys themselves just really wanted to make a rom-com with this thing, but either way, it’s a shame to watch after awhile, because the jokes can sometimes be very funny, but sometimes, it doesn’t always hit its mark.

That said, yes, the Invention of Lying can be a pretty funny movie and yes, can deliver on some of its promises.

Or, the very ugly, but ambitious loner?

Or, the very ugly, but ambitious loner?

The whole add-on of religion was not only a nice touch, but a smart one that yes, was commenting on the idea of religion, but wasn’t doing it in an over-the-top way where some people may feel offended or pissed. However, at the same time, those who don’t follow any sort of religion by any means, won’t find themselves pissed that a well-known atheist like Ricky Gervais backed out on his original ideas. It’s just the right amount of poking fun, but also, reservation that makes a movie like this, while not perfect, seem a little more interesting and smarter.

And yeah, it also helps that the cast is pretty darn solid, too. As an ordinary, everyday man gifted with this one spectacular talent, Gervais is a lot of fun, but also, seems like he wants to do more than just be a stand-in for the story. He does give this character a heart and soul, and even though it may not totally work in the grander scheme of things, and just get in the way of the funnier moments of the movie, it still proves that Gervais himself isn’t just all about gags and making people laugh uncontrollably. Sometimes, he does like to get a little serious and dramatic and it works in most of his pieces.

Here, maybe not so much.

The reason for that is because it does feel very shoe-horned in, especially when you take into consideration that the movie is less about finding true love, as much as it’s just about the lies we are told and the lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better. Jennifer Garner is fine and, surprisingly, has some sweet chemistry with Gervais, but any moment that the movie seemed to focus on their possible budding-romance, it felt like it was being dragged down by a very heavy anchor that couldn’t be lifted. Once again, this could have been studio interference, but still, that doesn’t make it a worthy excuse. But it’s easy to forgive Gervais because even a movie like the Invention of Lying, while not perfect, still reminds us why he’s one of the smarter, brighter voices in comedy, as well as in animal rights.

You go, Rick.

Consensus: Despite not fully delivering on the promise of its premise, the Invention of Lying is still an entertaining comedy, mostly thanks to the talent working in it.

6 / 10

Or, the snarky Brit? Who knows who she'll choose!

Or, the snarky Brit? Who knows who she’ll choose!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

I’ll See You In My Dreams (2015)

There is such a thing as “being too alone”.

Even though her husband’s been dead for nearly 20 years, Carol Petersen (Blythe Danner) hasn’t ever really tried to find a replacement of any sorts. Though she has her dog, Carol’s been quite happy to be by herself and not have to worry about another person in her life that may, or may not, stick around any longer. One day, however, Carol’s dog tragically passes-away, which leaves her all alone, once again. This time, however, Carol feels as though it’s time to make a change and actually start hanging around people. There’s the pool-boy (Martin Starr), who comes around not to just check-up on the pool, but to also hang with Carol because he can’t get past the fact that she was, at one point in her life, this awesome songstress. And then, there’s Bill (Sam Elliott), a fellow older-person who is instantly attracted to Carol and wants everything to do with her. Though he comes on a bit strong, Carol believes that he’s the one that she can spend the rest of her life with. But Carol’s personal issues come into play and it isn’t before long that she soon realizes that maybe she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, even though she’s already lived plenty of it so far.

Martin Starr?

Martin Starr?

I’ll See You In My Dreams is the kind of teeny, tiny indie that I love to see. It’s one that I assume is going to be a good watch because of how many people say it is, but when I actually get down to watching it, I’m totally surprised. What seems like a movie made for older-people to laugh, cry and relate to, actually works for anybody who decides to view it; loss is a universal feeling that anyone can feel, no matter who or what may be lost. That’s why it was all the more shocking when I realized that I’ll See You In My Dreams doesn’t seem to fall for any of the annoying conventions and cliches that we normally expect these kinds of movies to fall in.

For instance, Martin Starr’s character seems like he’s written just so that he can play the younger-apple-of-the-much-older-protagonist’s eye, which, in a way, he sort of is, but co-writer/director Brett Haley and writer Marc Basch are a lot smarter than that. Instead, they make this character seem a little more aimless and sad than you’d expect, therefore, it makes sense as to why he would want to hang around someone who is almost four decades older than him. Maybe he wants to have something of a romantic relationship with her, maybe he doesn’t, but either way, it’s interesting to see how each and every one of their scenes play out, especially since they don’t always go to, or end up places you’d expect them to originally.

And that’s the magic of life; things don’t always go down quite the way you want, or expect them to. Curve-balls can get thrown into your way and it’s up to how you, yourself can get past them and move on to make yourself better.

Which is why it’s really interesting to see how the character of Carol handles loneliness in a way that most movies don’t like to portray: Which is, “hey, I’m doing just fine.” Most movies in this same vein would show Carol as being a miserable, lifeless and angry old lady who wants a man in her life, but at the same time, can’t seem to get along with one well enough to where she could fulfill that need. Instead, here, Carol’s shown as being a very mild, well-manner and easy-going gal that’s been on her own for quite some time and seems perfectly fine with that. Does that mean she doesn’t want something of a companion in her life? No, she definitely wouldn’t mind one, but at the same time, she isn’t necessarily seeking one to make her life feel more fulfilling and happy.

Although her gal-pals (played perfectly by June Squibb, Rhea Pearlman, and Mary Kay Place) all get on her case for not trying to get a man, she shoos them off and does what she wants. However, when she does start to get a person in her life, romantically, in the form of Bill, the movie doesn’t seem like it’s back-tracking and trying to make itself into more of a conventional rom-com. That Bill himself was the one who actually approached Carol and asked her out in the first place, already shows that the movie isn’t trying to make Carol into some sort of love-sick fool, for some odd reason.

Or Sam Elliott?

Or Sam Elliott?

It should be noted that Sam Elliott does a wonderful job as Bill, because he seems like a genuinely charming, nice guy. However, there is a certain odd flavor to the way his character acts on certain dates with Carol that makes you wonder if he’s already too smitten with Carol, or is just using her as a life achievement of his own personal pleasure. Clearly, he’s a nice guy and doe seem to have feelings for Carol, but how genuine they may be, is constantly up in the air and it’s what keeps their scenes together exciting, as well as compelling to watch and listen to, even in the smallest detail.

And while I’m at it, it should be definitely noted that Blythe Danner, finally getting her own chance to shine in a movie of her own, is perfect here.

Danner is perfect for this role as Carol, because she says so much, without saying anything at all. Because Carol herself doesn’t always say what she wants, or in ways, just refuses to do so, already speaks volumes to Danner’s skill as an actress; we don’t always know what Carol is thinking or feeling at any given time, but we know that there’s definitely something going on in her mind that we want to hear about and see. That’s why Danner, who is always lovely to see in anything, works this character in so many wonderful ways, that we’re able to see all sorts of layers to her than just what’s presented. Sure, you can most definitely chalk a lot of that up to writing, but Danner is most definitely the main reason why Carol’s more interesting to watch, even when it seems like she’s doing nothing at all.

Heck! She’s a lot more interesting than some of the girls my same age that I know!

Consensus: With a rare, but wonderful lead performance from Blythe Danner, I’ll See You In My Dreams is a small, but sweet tale that sees the typical conventions a story like this could fall for, and avoids them at every step.

8.5 / 10 

Oh, Blythe. You play 'em, girl!

Oh, Blythe. You play ’em, girl!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Veronica Mars (2014)

High school is always such a drag without murder-conspiracies swelling around.

It’s been nine years since teenage detective/professional snooper Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) was last seen in her hometown of Neptune, California, and that’s how she would like to keep it. She’s got a nice lawyer-job coming her way in New York City, a boyfriend that she wants to get serious with and sees all of her hard work and time finally paying-off. That is, until she checks out the news and one day and spots an old-flame of hers (Jason Dohring) is embroiled in some sort of murder-scandal. Veronica doesn’t know what to believe, so she decides to take matters into her own hands and see what really happened, who was apart of it and even see if she wants to continue her ambitious-life in NYC, or just stay in Neptune for as long as she possibly can. Because, come to think of it, her high-school reunion is coming up. And even though she sure as hell doesn’t want to be spotted at one of those petty social-events, she might just decide to take one for the team and see if she can get ahead of her case; you know, the one that she’s decided to go out on a limb for herself. Nobody else. Just her. Veronica Mars, baby.

In case any of you lovely humanoids were wondering, the answer is “no, I never watched the original, Veronica Mars television show in its entirety”. I’ve seen a few episodes here and there, and with those few episodes, not only did I realize that it wasn’t exactly my cup-of-tea at the age of 12/13, but that those times would probably be the last I ever heard of the show in general. It wasn’t until a few years later that I decided to actually do some research of my own, then I realized: People love the hell out of this show.

"Token black friend", and "token nerd friend", all in one place. So lovely!

“Token black friend”, and “token nerd friend”, all in one place. So lovely!

I don’t know what the case was for me – maybe I wasn’t fully established as an “entertainment-junkie” by that time, or maybe it was just that something about the show really did bug me. Either way, I was surprised to see that so many people adored this show. Maybe one of these days I’ll get to watching it all in its entirety, then again, maybe not.

Regardless though, the fact of the matter remains that this is in fact a sequel-of-sorts of what happened after the show ended its original run and if you’re like me who was worried right from the get-go, here’s some friendly advice: Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the show already. The movie starts things off quite perfectly in giving us the events, happenings, ideas and themes from the show, in a neat, little “Previously On”-like method. It works because, for somebody like me who had barely any clue just who these people were or why any of them even mattered, it kept me glued-in and absolutely did the homework for me, allowing the movie to work its magic as it went along.

In fact, if there is any criticism I may have against this movie, it’s that some of it was a little too “insider-y” for me at times. That’s more of a negative towards me as a viewer for not catching up on the show beforehand, but I think for some people, it will be a bit jarring, especially if they haven’t seen the show beforehand, or understand some of these characters’ significance to the overall plot and setting. Basically, every once and awhile, a certain character will show-up who clearly is meant to be there for the die-hard fans to go nutso over, which is fine. The only problem is that, like I said before, the rest of us will find it a bit jarring and left in the dark. The good news is that that doesn’t always keep on happening throughout the whole movie, because once you eventually get used to the surroundings built here, you’ll find it to be a pretty fun time. As did I.

What works well with a movie like this is its central character, Veronica Mars. And what that really boils down to is the fact that she is so perfectly-played by Kristen Bell, it’s hard for me to imagine anybody else ever playing her before, let alone filling her shoes for a reboot or something. Bell is always lovely, funny, spirited and energetic, and always seem to make the most out of whatever crapola she accidentally shows her face up in. But, all of those bad movies she took her time to do, all cancel-out with Veronica Mars, because it’s the role she was born to play, the one that put her on the map and made us see her for an up-and-coming talent, and it’s so damn easy to see why.

As Veronica Mars, Bell gives us the impression that she’s always one step ahead of everyone around her. Whether it be in a physical or mental way, either way, Veronica Mars always has a trick up her sleeve and does a pretty fine job at making those around her feel like small, meaningless imbeciles. Which, granted, is fine because most of the people surrounding here are in fact, small, meaningless imbeciles. But Mars, being Mars, just calls it like she sees it, which not only makes her character sympathetic throughout the whole movie, but also makes believe her as somebody that can get done, what needs to be done, in order to do good for those around her; even if that does mean she’s doing the right thing for people she doesn’t particularly care for.

Everything I’m saying about Veronica Mars is probably no surprise whatsoever to fans of the show, but for me, a newcomer to this sort of thing, I found myself happy with this character, with Bell and totally understanding as to why her character, as well as her show, was so loved and beheld in the first place.

Slim pickins. Right, gals?

Slim pickins. Right, gals?

Damn you, CW! Damn you!

Though this is clearly Mars’s show that she gets to flaunt and run away with practically the whole time, the rest of the cast is pretty good, too, with a few cameo surprises thrown in there for good mix of fun treats. Jason Dohring is alright as Mars’ old boy-toy that she decides to help out after all of these years, and while I do see why so many ladies would fawn over him and his rockin’ bod, I can also see why the guy hasn’t quite been known or seen since he’s done Veronica Mars. He’s not necessarily a stiff, but most of the funny lines people are given here, feel genuine and make us laugh. Him, on the other hand, just makes you feel like he hasn’t acted in quite awhile and still has some rust left in the tank. That’s why when certain faces like Ken Marino, Krysten Ritter, Gaby Hoffmann, Ryan Hansen and plenty more from that, show up, do their thang and be funny, then it works like gangbusters and makes us laugh along with the ride.

You can tell that everybody is happy to be back with the gang and hoping that they are able to do this again in the near-future, even though it doesn’t seem too promising. Still though, one reunion, is better than none. Especially when your amongst a fine group of characters like these.

Yup, consider me sold on the whole phenomenon surrounding Veronica Mars. Adding it to my queue now as we speak!

Consensus: Going in and already being acquainted with the original source material may help you connect the dots when watching Veronica Mars, but is definitely not a “must”, as it still works on its own terms as fun, witty and energetic comedy, disguised as a detective tale.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Phones are like toates better at doing that sort of thing! Like, hello! This ain't 2005, or whatever, anymore!

Phones are like toates better at doing that sort of thing! Like, hello! This ain’t 2005, or whatever, anymore!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

This Is the End (2013)

If the world is going to end, please let me be surrounded by at least one of these guys.

Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and a whole slew of other celebrities and friends come to a party at James Franco’s house and what’s supposed to be just a normal, get-shitty-with-it bash, all of a sudden turns into something incredibly deadly and dangerous. It’s actually the apocalypse that is occurring, but rather than going outside and running the chance of possibly getting killed, the guys decide to stay in the house in hopes that help will eventually come their way. What actually ends up happening is that the guys get absolutely sick and tired of one another and just pray that they get killed as soon as possible.

In the year 2013, when the Wolf Pack doesn’t even seem concerned with squirting out a laugh or two; Owen and Vince can’t recapture the glory days they once had; and that the only thing funny going on with Melissa McCarthy is how a critic refers to her as a “Hippo”, it’s nice to be reminded that comedy is yes, still alive and well, and best of all: still able to make a person hold their stomach while laughing. Then again, with everybody from the Judd Apatow crew, could I have expected anything less? Seriously, everybody here has, and probably will forever always be funny, but if you put them together in one movie, with one inspired-premise that makes them have to be around each other, and give them plenty of lee-way with who the director is (in this case, it’s both Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg); then you have absolute hilarity that does not disappoint for a single bit.

Hyped it up quite enough for ya?

Somehow, something tells me that the actual party would be more horrific and insane.

Somehow, something tells me that the actual party would be more horrific and insane.

Well good, because this movie is the best comedy of the year so far, and judging by what seems to be coming up in the future, probably the rest of the year. It’s well deserved too because year-after-year, we get a comedy that’s funny, makes us laugh, makes us have a good time, and reminds us why we like going to the movies, but never really does anything that’s worth remembering except for maybe a couple of chuckles here and there. Which means we rarely so often actually get a comedy that’s hilarious, is a hoot-and-a-half, and reminds us why comedies can be enjoyed so much, no matter what they’re about or who’s in them. Oh, and to make that even better; it’s an R-rated comedy at that.

It’s not a comedy that wants to appeal to a mass-audience and it’s sure as hell not a comedy that takes it’s R-rating with a grain of salt; this is a very, very hard-R, and rightfully so because when you have these dudes, playing caricaturized-versions of themselves, you need all the cursing, nudity, grotesqueness, smugness, evil, etc. you can get to really make a person laugh. In this movie’s case; it makes you laugh plenty more than you expected and that’s what I loved so much about this movie. It makes you laugh, and always has you guessing what’s going to come of next with this story, direction, humor, or just what the hell these guys are going to pull out of their sleeves next. After the first 10-15 minutes where we see Franco’s party get destroyed and there actually becomes a big-ass hole in the Earth’s crust, we are just hanging around a bunch of funny dudes that can’t take themselves as seriously as they would like to be portrayed and do whatever the hell they feel like doing next. And by “whatever the hell they feel like doing next”, I do mean, “WHATEVER THE HELL THEY FEEL LIKE DOING NEXT.”

This is an aspect of movies, never mind comedies, that we rarely see and it’s so hard to actually see a movie as blatant and obvious as this to take full-on pleasure in it. And trust me, I don’t mean “blatant” and “obvious” in the bad way either, I mean it in the way that these guys know that they’re making jokes out of themselves, and we know it too, so why not just join in the fun and have a couple of laughs while you’re at it? That’s how I felt throughout this whole movie, as each and every line that these guys dropped, whether it be improv or actual-dialogue written down on a page, just came at my stomach like a knife and had me howling for day’s on end. I’m still laughing thinking of some of the lines, and it’s almost too quotable to even remember. Everything everybody says in this movie, is either hilarious, random, or just so-stupid-it’s-funny, and it makes you wish that more and more comedies had the pride and joy to goof around with itself, almost as much as these guys are able to.

So, yeah, everything you’d expect to see and hear in a comedy coming from these dudes; you will see and hear. There’s plenty of drinking, dick-jokes, drug-induced trips, weed-smoking, violence, jerking-off, uses of the word “fuck”, pop-culture references (even to their own movies), and lines that come and leave so quickly, that you almost feel as if you have to watch it all over again just to see what you missed out on or what you think you heard correctly the first time, only to find out differently the second. It’s what to expect from these guys, and it only gets better, funnier, and more and more unpredictable, almost where it’s anybody’s game for the taking, it’s just time until somebody actually walks away with it all.

That’s why it’s so rare to get a comedy as brilliant and crazy as this that makes you laugh and hold your gut, but also one that still works even when it gets a bit sympathetic and action-y by the end. Since this is a horror-comedy flick, you have to expect there to be plenty of action, explosions, special-effects, and random bouts of violence you don’t see coming, but surprisingly, it works well with the rest of the tone as the movie seems to take itself just seriously enough that we are invested in what happens. It never gets serious to the point of where you need a tissue handy, but it does get a somewhat serious to where you can see that these guys still care about the story and the characters they’ve written, even if they are essentially themselves, just in a more Hollywood-ized version.

However, with top-notch comedy acts like these dudes, you can’t ever expect them to do anything serious or honest; you just have to let them roll and continue to make us laugh, which is exactly what each and every one of them does, in their own ways. James Franco plays up the whole “serious, artsy actor”-aspect to his public-image in the way that he’s obviously been the most successful and most respected out of the whole clan, yet, still acts like an idiot as if he was still playing that cool mofo, Daniel Desario. It’s funny to see Franco, who’s at the height of his career, still be able to make a joke or two at himself (I’m down for any Flyboys reference!), without really going too far that it seems like he’s desperate to gain back the respect from the comedy-crowd. Oh, and “the gay rumors” aren’t put to rest either, so take with that what you will.

Jonah Hill also plays up the whole fact that he got quite the big head around the parks when he got nominated for an Oscar those two years ago, and shows that he’s soften-up a mighty-bit since then. As time goes on though, Hill gets meaner and meaner, while still being able to maintain that softness to him that makes him so loveable, even when he is randomly being a dick. Seth Rogen is probably the one who doesn’t really get the most shine from the spot-light, but I think that was fine as hell for him since he was just sitting-back, relaxing, and directing the hell out of his buds, but also still having a great time while doing so. Even he gets a chance to make fun of himself as well, especially when, early on, a paparazzo says  “You play the same guy in every movie, right?” Classic, classic line.

They even get him to do the laugh. Yay!

"Stop, stop, stop! Let me fetch my make-up before you get this shot. Why? Cause I'm James Franco beitch!!!"

“Stop, stop, stop! Let me fetch my make-up before you get this shot. Why? Cause I’m James Franco beitch!!!”

Jay Baruchel plays what is essentially the Canadian outsider of the group that hasn’t really connected much with any of these guys, and has only lingered around Rogen for so long, that it’s almost became smothering. He’s funny, even though he is typically playing the straight-dude who’s thrown into a do-or-die situation with a bunch of idiots. Fun idiots, but idiots nonetheless. Danny McBride shows up and acts like the self-centered dick who’s upset with cumming everywhere like you’d expect from his latest-bouts with comedy, and shows that raw-edge we all love and know him for (except for maybe in Your Highness, which they even make another reference to as well!). And last, but sure as hell not the muthafuckin’ least is Craig Robinson as the sex-addled, black dude of the group that always yells, sweats, and says dirty things like “get your panties off baby!” Robinson is always hilarious in the shit that he does, which is why it’s such a joy to see him back in his prime, without anybody telling him exactly what to do and how to do it. He just free-balls it, and surprisingly comes up with the biggest laughs of all.

Of course, the movie is cameo-central which, as you could probably tell by the trailer, is hilarious and as unpredictable as the rest of the movie (Michael Cera’s as the coked-up, sex-fiend version of himself had me laughing long before the 20 minute mark). However, the movie doesn’t focus on that as much as you’d expect, and instead stays with these guys throughout the whole movie and shows that even though they have changed, gotten a bit more serious with their careers, and have “sold out” in ways they didn’t expect to when they first started out as young, brass, and ambitious funny-men, that they are still there for one another and will go-to-bat for anyone. Granted, there are on-screen relationships in this movie that aren’t as friendly (Franco and McBride hate each other and show it in probably the funniest scene out of the whole movie), but it’s the under-lining thoughts and feelings that count. You can tell that everybody here loves hanging out with one another and using a movie as an excuse to hang-out and pal-around, but whereas other times, it feels manipulative and cheap; this time, it feels right and deserved. Well deserved, actually. Keep comedy alive, guys. Please!

Consensus: Like with most comedies of this nature, it’s usually more sporadic than it is gut-bustingly hilarious, but with This is the End, it doesn’t matter since the comedy, as well as the rest of the movie, fires on all cylinders, takes no names, leaves none in return, and has you laughing until you seriously don’t know what’s next for these guys to make fun of. Then they make fun of it, and have you laughing even more since they pulled it off, and did it with flying colors.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

No comedy, nor movie, is complete without the signature Craig Robinson yell. Comedy gold.

No comedy, nor movie, is complete without the signature Craig Robinson yell. Comedy gold.

Adventureland (2009)

Is working at a fair that terrible?

Unable to afford the European vacation he’d dreamed of, recent college grad James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) reluctantly takes a gig at a local amusement park, only to learn that the dead-end job is, in fact, excellent preparation for the real world.

This is the semi-biographical story from the director of Superbad, Greg Mottola, and I must say that this guy had some pretty bangin’ ass times back in his young days. Better than mine at least.

Some people may think of Superbad, and automatically anticipate raunchy jokes, crazy situations, and illegal things happening left and right, however, don’t be fooled because this is a lot more of a more subtle and sweet film than that. The comedy here is all about the timing of our youth and how so many times we find ourselves in the craziest of situations, and for the most part I laughed and had a good time.

The problem with this film is that there is way too much of that softness here. I liked the whole romantic comedy element to this film, but there were times where this film could have really hit the nail like Superbad, or plenty other teen comedies, but instead just wants to be sweet and do nothing really fun. I wish it captured more of the crazy parts of the summer as a teenager, rather than the more confusing and angsty times, although those are there too.

Many of the jokes were centered at the 80’s which I thought was kind of annoying, but I must say it did support a pretty awesome soundtrack. There’s a lot of those 80’s staples bands here like The Cure, The Replacements, Falco, but no other has more impact than Lou Reed who songs that are placed here, made me realize just how amazing he truly is. Every time I hear Pale Blue Eyes, I will always remember this film, and with good reason, because it’s an awesome song.

This is also a great ensemble that is used very well. Jesse Eisenberg caught his big break here as James Brennan. He is such a weiner here, but his awkward and geeky shtick really worked out for his character because it’s so easy to like him. Kristen Stewart was the big draw here, mainly for all those “Twiheads” out there. But she actually does a very good job at playing the very confused, but smart Em, who I don’t know why, starts to take a liking to James. Martin Starr is a guy everybody may know from Geeks and Freaks but he totally steals the show and livens the film up when it starts to drag. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig were downright hilarious as Bobby and Paulette, and just about every scene they have in the trailer, is the only time’s their in the actual film. But they are still hilarious so it’s all cool. Also, I liked Ryan Reynolds here as Mike, the dude who fixes the rides at the amusement park, and I don’t think amusement park fixers look like that. However, he’s still good.

Consensus: Adventureland has a nicer and sweeter tone than most teen comedies, and some fun in the script, but it doesn’t have as much as fun as I think it could have, and ultimately just feels forgettable, except for the memory of the awesome Lou Reed song.

7/10=Rental!!

Knocked Up (2007)

Why it’s better to be safe then sorry. Always wear a condom.

A one-night stand results in an unexpected pregnancy for entertainment reporter Alison (Katherine Heigl), who vows to be a good mom and keep her career on track by trying to make things work with the slacker (Seth Rogen) who knocked her up. It’s anything but smooth sailing as the odd couple gets acquainted, but Alison finds there’s more to her baby’s daddy than she originally thought.

Judd Apatow is most known for making raunchy as hell scripts, with even dirtier stories that eventually take place. However, when he takes a slight serious look, its somewhat refreshing.

There is still a lot of Apatow’s signature comedic screenplay. There is a lot of raunch in this film, as you would expect, but the whole film isn’t just about the raunch, and the hilarity, there is some seriousness. Most of the film walks a fine line between romantic comedy and relationship drama, and all of it balances out well. We never get too much of everything, and the sentimental moments hit real well.

The film is however around 2 hours and 13 minutes, which leaves plenty of time for drag time. I think the film could have been cut down to maybe under an hour, cause some scenes didn’t feel like they had any meaning and were put in just to be raunchy. Most people will be put off by the last act probably, cause there is a lot of “here come’s the baby” stuff, but some material does drag, while as others do not.

Probably the best thing about this film that wins everybody over, is the characters themselves. Seth Rogen is once again great here, playing that awkwardly funny dude, that you just want to chill with, and make constant movie references with. However, you see a transformation in his character by the end of the film, and it all seems realistic. Katherine Heigl also probably compared to the crap she’s done in the past couple of years, gives off her best performance here, and the chemistry these two create just feels real. They start off as not knowing anything about each other, and probably not liking each other, then they try to get to know each other, but you still can see that there are moments and touches of awkwardness between the two. There are plenty of other other great comedic characters in this film like Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Jason Segel, and plenty of more, that are just comedic gold, and add a lot of flavor to the film, even when it’s in its dramatic stages.

Consensus: Knocked Up may drag on, especially during its last act, but still gives a refreshing, if not raunchy, and hilarious look at child-bearing, and parenthood. But it all feels real, with realistic performances, and screenplay.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Adventureland (2009)

Working at a amusement park isn’t so bad after all.

Unable to afford the European vacation he’d dreamed of, recent college grad James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) reluctantly takes a gig at a local amusement park, only to learn that the dead-end job is, in fact, excellent preparation for the real world. He soon falls in love with a a wild child named Em (Kristen Stewart).

Adventureland is from writer and director Greg Mottola, who also directed the super hit Superbad, and as you can see there are many similarities. Jesse Eisenberg played a very awkward kid looking for reason, and a lot of topics on drugs and drinking. Though this one seems to score a lot more with me.

The film is a lot more mature than Superbad and that it provides better insight of a coming-of-age teen. The very first half of this film is actually really funny and interesting. I was interested in these characters in where they went and what happened to them, provided with a arsenal of laughs. Though as it started to go on it started to really whine down the humor and its character insight and focus more on the relationship between Eisenberg and Stewart.

The problem I had with this film is not so much of the movie as it is the trailers. The trailers had it out to look as if it was a summer crazy teen movie, but however it’s not. It was advertised as a hilarious slapstick and that’s kind of expecting from this movie, but I didn’t. I was expecting to have my gut full of laughter like Superbad, but didn’t which is what kind of ruined this film for me in the end.

Lastly, I didn’t understand how Stewart’s character fell for Eisenberg’s. He is really awkward and really geeky while she is pretty wild and full of fun, and I just don’t see how they can fall for one another. But I guess that’s why they call it cinema.

The humor in this is not like Superbad. It doesn’t have much gross-out humor and less profanity. This features a lighter tone that is aimed towards the teens but also can work with the parents. Its wise and very realistic appeals to all and can make anybody watching this film laugh.

The ensemble cast is probably the best picked I have seen in awhile. To say Eisenberg is doing a Cera is underestimating him and his talent, and in all Eisenberg gives a wonderful and strong lead performance. I liked how all the smaller characters were very developed in this as well. Lots of the smaller characters steal the show and just add the comedic factor to this movie.

The soundtrack is one of the main reasons I enjoyed this film. There are many touching and great moments caught on camera that have great songs overplaying everything else and make me feel the emotion coming off the screen.

Consensus: A realistic screenplay, well-acted ensemble, and rocking 80’s soundtrack makes this film a very funny but touching coming-of-age movie.

8.5/10=Matinee!!