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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Maya Rudolph

Chuck & Buck (2000)

Names that sound-alike? Sign of true love.

When they were kids, Chuck (Chris Weitz) and Buck (Mike White) were actually pretty good friends. But now, all of these years later, they barely even know one another, or better yet, even talk. It’s like they’re two strangers, living in a world, where they both have memories of hanging out in their adolescence, but don’t really talk about it. Or, at least Chuck doesn’t, because after Buck reaches out to him, the two strike back up something of a friendship that calls back to their childhood. But for some reason, Chuck feels awkward and nervous about it; he knows that Buck is a weird fella, and though he accepts him for it, there’s still something keeping him away from fully delving into their history together. After all, he’s engaged now, so what’s wrong with catching up on his former-life, before his new one begins? Well, he’s about to get a huge dose of memories when it turns out that Buck is holding his own autobiographical play locally in town and, well, it has a lot to do with their past friendship.

Something Chuck doesn’t really want to embrace.

Go for it, Buck. He’s not so bad.

Chuck & Buck is an odd movie for quite some time. In fact, it’s so odd, awkward, and just weird, that it’s almost irritating; it feels like writer Mike White just wanted to be cooky for no good reason and director Miguel Arterta didn’t know how to tone all of that down. The two work well together, obviously, but for the first half or so of Chuck & Buck, it feels as if they’re trying a little too hard to weird, to be funny, and basically, to try and be like so many other indie flicks out there.

But then, just about halfway through, it all of a sudden changes. See, Chuck & Buck does have something resembling a heart, but it doesn’t sow itself straight away. In some ways, White’s a smarter writer than he lets on, showing an interesting amount of tact in making us believe that Chuck & Buck is going to be just another silly, off-the-wall indie-comedy about two friends catching up, with one being a weirdo, and the other, well, not being one. But eventually, the tide turns and we start to realize that there isn’t just more to these two characters, their lives, and where they are headed, but their actual relationship.

See, without saying too much, there’s some dirty, dark and odd secrets that Chuck & Buck keeps to itself and it’s worth waiting around for. Once again, White’s writing may take a little while to get used to – he doesn’t really write jokes, as much as he just sets things up to work later on, somewhere along the film – but once he gets into his groove, there’s no one better. He makes the material funny, while still retaining that odd sensibility, but also showing us more into these character’s lives and making us see just who they are, therefore, heightening the comedy, as well as the drama, that eventually takes center stage by the last-act.

Cheer up, Mike. HBO will eventually give you your own show (until they unfortunately cancel it like the evil souls that they are!)

Basically, it’s just smart writing. A bit annoying, but sometimes, you have to bother people, in order to surprise them.

And yes, it deserves to be said that White, while not just a solid writer, is also a pretty good actor here, too. Granted, it is his script he’s working with, so it’s not like he’s exactly stretching himself very far, but as Buck, he shows a hurt, rather tragic soul. Sure, the goofy act, at first, can be a bit bothersome, but it starts to show its shades and angles that not only make us understand why he is the way he is, but also grow a bit closer to him, as a result. There’s something sad just about the way White looks, but he writes Buck in such a way, that it makes us sympathize with him, even if, yeah, he is a bit of an odd duckling.

Chris Weitz, who is also a pretty solid writer/director in his own right, is also quite good here, making Chuck feel more like a human being, rather than just a boring, lame and straight-edged square. Like with Buck, his character feels one-dimensional and boring, at first, but over time, we see that there’s more to him and how Weitz acts in these small, subtle moments with White, truly are surprising and well-done. Beth Colt plays his fiancee and while it seems like she hasn’t done anything since, it deserves to be said that she’s very good here in a role that, yet again, seems too simple and boring from the beginning, but eventually shows itself over time. And the late, wonderful Lupe Ontiveros plays Beverly, the theater owner who has one of the oddest, but surprisingly most touching friendships with Buck that, like before, seems boring, but grows over time.

Notice a bit of a trend here?

Consensus: While initially seeming like every other annoying indie-dramedy ever made, Chuck & Buck begins to show its true colors and turn out to be a smart, funny, and surprisingly moving flick about love, friendship, and how we move on with our lives.

8.5 / 10

Did anyone cut a hole at the bottom of the popcorn?

Photos Courtesy of: CinemaQueer

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Maggie’s Plan (2016)

Who needs a plan when you can just sleep around?

At this point in her life, Maggie (Greta Gerwig) feels as if it’s about time to start having a baby. While she doesn’t have a man in her life that she can settle down with and actually have the baby with, she still knows that she can have a baby, if solely through a sperm donor. The man she chooses is a former classmate of hers, who now sells pickles (Travis Fimmell). While he totally agrees to it and gives her the sample, for some reason, Maggie gets a little side-tracked. She meets a fellow teacher, John (Ethan Hawke), who takes a liking to her and they start to hang out a whole lot. Even though he’s married to the intimidating, but incredibly pretentious Georgette (Julianne Moore), there’s still something bright and youthful about Maggie that John can’t seem to keep himself away from, but how much is he willing to screw up his whole family for her? Better yet, how much is Maggie willing and able to screw things up with her situation, to then start a life with John and become something she never saw herself as being?

"So yeah, what are your thoughts on spiritual wellness?"

“So yeah, what are your thoughts on spiritual wellness?”

It’s hard not to look at Maggie’s Plan as some sort of sequel to Frances Ha, in which Greta Gerwig’s titular character has now grown up a tad bit, got her own place, found a steady job, and is now thinking about the next stage in her life. Sure, you could definitely say that it’s a bit of a stretch, or not one at all, depending on how you look at it, but it’s hard not to compare the two, especially with what writer/director Rebecca Miller goes for here (that serio-screwball/tragicomedy kind of movie), and how it compares a lot to Noah Baumbach’s style. That said, are both movies the same?

Nope, not really.

In all honesty, it doesn’t matter because Maggie’s Plan is a good movie that, excluding Gerwig and her lovely presence, still works; it’s about much more than Maggie and her “plan”. In a way, it’s about how that plan constantly changes and takes on different forms over time, to where people’s lives are changed and she has no clue how it happened, or what to do about it. It’s odd that Miller is taking on something as silly and light as this can be, especially considering how dark, dramatic and bare her past movies could get, but it’s still nice to see her trying out different things, even if they don’t always work.

See, with Maggie’s Plan, Miller is going for two things here and she doesn’t hit the nail perfectly on the head. There’s plenty of funny moments that are, at the very least, chuckle worthy, but never to extreme laughter, and the dramatic moments, as rare as they come around, often feel like they’re supposed to be more important than they actually appear to be in the movie. There’s two sides to Maggie’s Plan, and they’re both interesting, but Miller can never make up her clear mind of which side she’s willing to take and run wild with; you can make both movies simultaneously, but there has to be a better switch than what Miller sometimes does here.

That said, there’s more good than bad within Maggie’s Plan; there’s a darker undercurrent of a story that’s briefly hinted at, and had Miller gone further down the road, the movie would have been far more sad and emotional. It’s probably a good thing that she didn’t go down that road because the movie does an awful lot of skewering and making fun of these kinds of New York intellectuals that, so often in movies, are loved and beheld as some sort of “God sends”. Sure, these people are fine and they do exist, but Miller herself knows that it’s also fun poke jokes at their expense to, while also not forgetting about their humanity, either.

Old school yuppie, meet new school yuppie. Try to keep up with the awkwardness and hip slang.

Old school yuppie, meet new school yuppie. Try to keep up with the awkwardness and hip slang.

And yeah, it also helps that the cast is pretty great, too.

Gerwig has played this kind of character before many, many times before and it’s still fine here; there’s a sense that she’s growing older and becoming more mature with each role, so it’ll be interesting where she takes it next. However, the movie isn’t always about her, as it’s much more about those around her, like Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore’s characters. As John, Hawke does his best to be charming and likable, even if the character he plays is sometimes so infuriating and nauseating, you want him to be gone and told to “pipe down”. But because it’s Hawke, all of the annoying things he goes on and on about for no reason or another, there’s something endearing to it all.

Moore, on the other hand, is playing a Danish writer and while the role may seem really silly and over-the-top, Moore gets to the heart and soul of this character and makes us see her as a person. This is also a testament to Miller’s writing, showing that this kind of woman does exist, but she’s not such a terrible person in the first place, even if she’s made out to be that way. It also helps that Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph show up as a married-couple, who also happen to be Maggie’s best pals and they always tell it like it is. They’re funny and smart, even if they show up for a little bit, every so often. Each time is as good as the last, but come on, where’s the movie about them?

I wouldn’t mind that one bit. Although, Maggie’s Plan is just fine, too.

Consensus: Despite its never ending battle with tone, Maggie’s Plan works because of its charming and likable cast, and affection for their characters, even if they aren’t always making the best, brightest decisions.

7 / 10

Oh, Greta. What a heart-breaker you are.

Oh, Greta. What a twee heartbreaker you are.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Sisters (2015)

Family homes were always the best ones to trash.

Kate and Maura Ellis (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) are sisters who clearly love one another and get along swimmingly, even if their own, respective lives have taken a bit of different turns. For Kate, being the crazy and wild party girl that she is, had herself a kid, hasn’t been able to secure a sustaining job, and seems to be going from couch-to-couch. Whereas for Maura, who was always the over-achiever of the two, always used her kind skills for the greater good of society, even if it did cost her her own marriage. However, all of these years later, they come back together and reunite in their family home, now that it’s being put on the market by their parents who just want to sit down, relax, and retire in place. Seeing as how this house is their one last chance for any sense of fun or memorable excitement, Kate and Maura decide that it’s time to throw a huge bash, where friends from the past and present, all come together for an unforgettable night of booze, sex, and drugs. Thing is, all the great times begin to catch up to Maura and Kate, and they eventually have to come to terms with growing up and realize that they do have responsibilities in life.

The sisters that live together...

The sisters that live together…

Sisters is the kind of comedy we’ve seen before, where two women get back together after all of these years apart, and relive their glory days. Sometimes, the consequences are drastic, embarrassing, and funny, but for the most part, they always end up learning a lesson by the end that not only makes them better people as a whole, but may make the audience-members, too. This has all been done to death by now and has become something of a total convention.

However, what Sisters has that none of those other flicks has, is the wonderful pairing of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler who, honestly, haven’t been funnier.

One of the main reasons for that is because, believe it or not, Sisters is rated-R, which means that there’s more time for raunchiness, more time for cursing, and just more time for general debauchery. This all adds up to a movie made by adults, made for adults, and clearly isn’t screwing around with what it’s willing to do, where it’s willing to go, or hard it’s going to try and make you laugh. For that reason and that reason alone, Sisters is the kind of comedy that should be appreciated and held up on a high-standard when compared to most other R-rated comedies that don’t tend to go that extra mile.

Instead, most of the time (like, I don’t know, say Judd Apatow movies), they tend to just rely on crazy improvisation that seems to go nowhere and end exactly there. However, in Sisters, there’s gags that get introduced right away, continue to pop-up and, yet, believe it, actually reach a certain climax in a way that’s not only effective, not only hilarious, but actually smart. Whereas a weaker comedy would have just introduced the simple gag as a small throw-away line, Sisters continues to knock at it for what’s it worth; occasionally, this means that a gag that doesn’t land well the first time, continues to get forced down our throats again and again, but for the most part, it still doesn’t matter.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Sisters is funny.

In fact, it’s a very funny movie that, considering it’s about a party that never seems to end, is actually quite fun and exciting, just as a party of this magnitude would and should be. Granted, the near two-hour run-time of the movie (which is already too long) is filled about half-way with this party, but that isn’t a complaint: The party starts off slow and lame, but after awhile, starts to pick up and eventually, it’s an amazingly great time that, quite frankly, you won’t want to miss out on or be anywhere else for. Of course, the party does consist of funny, attractive people being both funny, as well as attractive, but still, what’s so wrong with that?

..are also the ones that shop together...

..are also the ones that shop together…

As long as it’s fun, who cares!

And speaking of funny and attractive people, Fey and Poehler are definitely at the top of the list for this movie and show that they’re deserving of any movie they ever want to make together. What’s interesting here about each one of their performances is that they’re both kind of playing a bit against-type; Fey, usually more reserved, professional and serious, takes over the role usually taken by Poehler, where she’s vibrant, rude, and brassy, whereas Poehler, with shades of Leslie Knope, seems to be taking Fey’s role. Either way you put it, both are clearly having a great time, whether they’re together or on their own – which is something that transcends well onto the rest of the movie. Of course, Fey and Poehler aren’t the only ones who have fun times here as the likes of John Leguizamo, Ike Barinholtz, Bobby Moynihan, Samantha Bee, Maya Rudolph, and most of all, John Cena, all join in on the fun, bring something to the table, and seem to go home incredibly pleased and happy with themselves.

However, where Sisters runs into a problem with itself is the fact that it is, yes, very long and definitely shouldn’t be. By the end, it becomes clear that once revelations are made and people start to get emotions and whatnot, the movie is clearly coming up on its final reel. Problem is, the movie continues to go on and on and on, until it’s almost as if the movie’s trying to imitate Return of the King, but without being satirical – it just has a crap-ton of endings, none of which are really any better than the others.

Then, it ends and everything gets a bit better. Even though there’s an annoying blooper-reel that doesn’t do much else except show that everybody involved, clearly enjoyed working with one another, the movie still ends on a sold enough that, when it’s all said and done, it’s fine. The movie could have ended way sooner than it did, but hey, at least it made us all laugh.

Which, for any comedy made in the 21st Century, is a-okay with me.

Consensus: Despite being lengthy, Sisters is still an uproarious R-rated comedy featuring smart people, doing and making jokes for audience members who deserve to pay closer attention to certain stuff that goes on.

8 / 10

..as well as party hard together.

..as well as party hard together.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

A Very Murray Christmas (2015)

Murray1Hangin’ out with Bill Murray is the only Christmas gift a person needs.

Due to solely to the fact that his agent permits it, Bill Murray is forced to hold a Christmas show that’s supposed to broadcast live for the whole world to see. While none of this should be a problem for such a seasoned-pro like Murray, he’s incredibly uneasy about it because, well, nobody’s going to actually be there to participate. There’s a huge snowstorm going on in New York City that has closed all roads or forms of transportation, leaving Murray to handle the show all by himself. Then, as the night progresses, Murray soon realizes that maybe there’s more to Christmas than just being a miserable, annoying and sad Grinch; sometimes, it’s about making those around you feel better and happier about the time of the season. That’s why, despite being stuck inside of the Carlyle Hotel, Murray makes the best out of it, hanging around, drinking, singing, and meeting all sorts of people that he would have never expected to meet, had this been any other normal night. But because this is Christmas, anything is possible.

Phoenix + Paul Shaffer? Why not!

Phoenix and Paul Shaffer? Why not!

At under just an hour, A Very Murray Christmas is the kind of variety show that I love to see, yet, so rarely get. While most movies starring Bill Murray have been touted as being “more time to hang-out with Bill Murray”, A Very Murray Christmas is exactly that; we’re literally thrown into this one night of his life, forced to hang around him, and watch as he interacts with everyone he encounters during this one, fateful night. For those who despise Murray, obviously, this will not be their cup-of-tea. However, for those on the exact opposite side of the fence, it’s exactly the party you want.

It’s also the kind you don’t want to ever end, which is why the 56-minute run-time, feels almost too short.

Granted, Netflix and director Sofia Coppola have all been touting A Very Murray Christmas as nothing more than just a Christmas special and leaving it at that, but still, more time spent with Bill Murray being, well, Bill Murray, is time well-spent. So, why not spend as much of it as we can?

That’s why, despite it being odd that I’m reviewing something seen as “a special”, and not exactly “a movie”, I can sit right here and type away, saying that A Very Murray Christmas is not just a great Christmas special, but a great time altogether. It’s as if Coppola herself remembered how much of a great time it was to work with Murray on Lost in Translation, that to not just get a chance to hang with him again, but also allow for other people to see what she loves about him, she conned Netflix into giving her as much freedom and money as they possibly could to help her make this special and do whatever the hell she wanted to do with it.

Wanna throw Phoenix in there as musicians-disguised-as-chefs? Sure, why not! Hell, how about Dexter Poindexter as a bartender who sings and dances? Or, better yet, why not just have Jenny Lewis be here as a waitress who can do everything that Bill Murray can do? And heck, while we’re at it, why not just have a sort-of dream-sequence featuring George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, and tons of half-naked women who can’t wait to maul Bill Murray?

For the most part, as you can probably tell by now, A Very Murray Christmas was made to just have fun, throw stuff at the wall, and see just what sticks. And mostly, everything that Coppola throws at the wall, sticks; there’s a bit early-on concerning Michael Cera as a manager who wants Bill Murray that seems to come out of nowhere (even given the rest of the special), and is only around to poke jokes at the Monuments Men (which is, yeah, fine), and doesn’t really matter. All we want to see is where this special will go next, who is going to sing what song, and just what the hell Bill Murray is going to be up to.

I'll join in!

Rich people having fun makes me sad.

And well, because this is his special, first and foremost, it makes total sense that Bill Murray’s the best part of it all.

While I’m not sure how much of this special was scripted, it sure as hell just seems like Murray, being Murray, decided to throw it out the window and just do whatever he oh so pleased. There’s something absolutely joyous in watching this because, well, he brings out the best in those around him; the previously mentioned Phoenix have a nice duet with Murray that amounts to Murray just egging everyone on and teasing them. Phoenix is loving, Murray’s loving it, Coppola’s obviously loving it, and hell, for that matter, we’re loving it, too!

Everybody else who shows up in A Very Murray Christmas all seem like they signed-up just to have fun and hang around with a dear old pal of theirs, which makes the special feel all the more pleasant. Everyone who shows up either gets a chance or two to make their presences known, and add a little flavor to the whole special. Most of it’s funny and hardly ever disappoints, even if, occasionally, it does just feel like a bunch of attractive, insanely talented people getting together and doing whatever they want.

But you know what? It’s the holidays and I will never have a problem with that!

Just next time, please, invite me. I promise I’m a fun guy.

Consensus: A Very Murray Christmas may be short with hardly even hitting an hour, but is still filled with all sorts of joy, humor and unpredictable excitement that it’s more than worth the time you take out of your day to check it out. And if you don’t want to do it for me, then fine – just do it for Bill. He’ll be happy.

9 / 10

Seriously. Don't ask. Just watch and enjoy the holiday season.

Seriously. Don’t ask. Just watch and enjoy the holiday season.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Inherent Vice (2014)

Note to self: Don’t do insane-amounts of drugs while trying to solve crimes.

It’s 1970, and hippie private investigator Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) plans on living it up in every which way he can. That means an awful-lot of hangin’ out, smokin’ pot, and just enjoying his care-free life. That all changes though when an ex-love of his named Shasta (Katherine Waterson), comes around and informs him that her boyfriend, real estate mogul Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), was kidnapped and hasn’t been heard of since. Some say he’s dead, but Shasta doesn’t believe this and wants Doc to drop whatever it is he’s up to (which is seemingly nothing), and find out what has happened to him. Doc agrees, but as soon as he gets started on the case, many other cases start falling into his lap. For instance, an ex-junkie (Jena Malone) is worried that her rocker-boyfriend (Owen Wilson) isn’t in fact dead, as previously reported, and has been kidnapped. Then, a local gangster (Michael K. Williams) asks Doc to delve deep into a possible union between real estate agencies and the Aryan Brotherhood. And there’s many more where that came from, and no matter how far Doc may get into solving these mysteries, Det. Christian “Bigfoot” Bjornsen (Josh Brolin) is always there to stop him, get involved, and see that the cases are done in an efficient, legal way.

"Is your refrigerator running...?"

“Is your refrigerator running…?”

If you haven’t been able to tell by now, there’s a lot going on in Inherent Vice, and not all of it makes sense. At first, it definitely seems so, but once starts off as a simple, ordinary mystery about a disappearance, soon spirals into being about so much more. Some of it’s good, some of it isn’t. But because this is a Paul Thomas Anderson (one of my favorites currently working today) movie, it’s mostly all worth watching.

Mostly.

But, like I said before, because this is a PT Anderson flick, there’s a certain mood surrounding Inherent Vice that makes it seem like the kind of movie he hasn’t ever tried his talented-hands at before. Though some may get a glimpse at this and automatically assume that PT is going straight back to his Boogie Nights days, those same people will probably be utterly disappointed when they find out that this is not at all the case. Sure, the movie may sometimes sound and look like that hip and happenin’ film, but for the most part, Anderson’s tone is a lot different here than usual, and it brings a large amount of sadness and, dare I say it, depression to what could have been considered some very groovy times.

And it’s not that Anderson hasn’t made a sad movie before, it’s just that he hasn’t quite made one in this vein; while it’s a colorful and bright movie, there’s a grainy undercurrent felt in it that makes some of the funniest, wildest moments, seem like they’re coming from somewhere of a nightmare. An enjoyable nightmare, but a nightmare nonetheless. To be honest, too, I think Anderson prefers it this way.

To say that Inherent Vice is “confusing”, would be as conventional as I could get as a writer – not only has it been said many of times from many other writers, but it wouldn’t really do much justice at all to a film that I feel like is confusing, but can still be enjoyed despite this. See, whereas the Master was a confusing, sometimes out-of-this-world film about Scientology, it was also a character-study that functioned as such. Here, with Inherent Vice, we have a confusing, sometimes out-of-this-world film about a few mysterious cases, yet, it’s also a hilarious look at this strange, underground world in California. This is a world where not only does everybody do some sort of drugs, but that they also have plenty of secrets, which, if you wanted to dig deep enough, could actually find out are all connected in their own sick, twisted ways.

However, simply put, this is just me diving deep into what this movie may, or may not mean, and as a result, making myself sound like a pretentious-ass. Because, in reality, the real enjoyment behind Inherent Vice is that it goes from one bizarre-o situation, to another, and it’s hardly ever dull. Random? Sure, but boring? That word doesn’t exist in PT Anderson’s dictionary and it makes this movie one of the funnier pieces of comedy I saw all year. That’s not to say that it’s all meant to be hilarious, but sometimes, just watching a crazy situation, with zany characters involved, get even crazier, just adds so much joy and happiness that it’s hard to hate on.

Old school vs. new school. I got my money on the dude with the Navy-buzz.

Old school vs. new school. I got my money on the dude with the Navy-buzz.

Even if it doesn’t all add up to making total, complete and perfect sense, it’s still enjoyable and that’s where I think most of Inherent Vice works.

To go on about all this and not at least mention the cast would be an absolute crime, because everybody who shows up here, no matter for how long or little, all leave a lasting-impression that deserve to be mentioned, and remembered. Leading the wild race here as Doc Sportello is Joaquin Phoenix, and once again, he proves that he will never play the same role twice, nor ever lose that interest-factor surrounding him whenever he shows up in something. Phoenix fits right in as the “come on, man”-type of hippie that Sportello is and it makes it easy to root him on during this case, even if you never are too sure what’s going to happen to him next. He’s not necessarily a blank slate, as much as he’s just a simple, uncomplicated protagonist that makes it easy for us to identify with him, even while he makes some brash, weird decisions throughout the adventure we share with him.

While Phoenix may be our main point-of-reference here, he’s not the only one worth speaking of. Owen Wilson finally gets a lovely role for himself to dig deep into as Coy, the missing rocker-boyfriend, and mixes in well with the rest of the hippies surrounding him; Jena Malone is sympathetic his sad girlfriend who just wants him home, so she can live happily ever after with him and their kid; Katherine Weston plays Sportello’s ex-flame that has this fiery, yet understated mystery about her and the way she carries herself in certain scenes that she started to cast as much of a spell on me, as she had on Sportello here; Benicio del Toro is fun as Sprotello’s zany lawyer who always has the best ways to get him out of jail; Reese Witherspoon is smart and sassy as Penny (Reese Witherspoon), Sportello’s attorney girlfriend who may be just using him so that she can give the FBI what they want; Maya Rudolph has a nice-bit as one of Sportello’s nurse-secretaries and seems like she’s winking at the audience just about every second she gets; and Martin Short, with maybe nearly five minutes of screen-time, is way more hilarious than probably the whole entire season of Mulaney has been.

None, however, I repeat, NONE, measure up to the types of greatness that Josh Brolin brings to this movie as Bigfoot Bjornsen, Sportello’s mortal enemy/confidante.

See, what’s so lovely about Brolin here is the way in how Bigfoot is written: He’s rough, tough, gruff and a mean son-of-a-bitch who clearly doesn’t care for the likes of Sportello, or the fellow pot-smoking, lazy hippies that he associates himself with. Therefore, he and Sportello have a bit of a rivalry, where one may get a certain piece of info and get ahead of the other, in whatever case they’re covering. It’s fun to watch these constantly try and one-up one another, but most of this is because Brolin is so dynamite in this role, that he nearly steals the whole movie from everybody else. Every scene Brolin’s in, whether he’s deep-throating a chocolate-covered frozen banana, ordering more pancakes in a foreign language, or getting ordered by his wife to have sex with her, he’s an absolute blast to watch. You can never take your eyes off of him, and he’s happy with this; for once, in what in seems like a long time, Brolin looks as if he’s having a good time with the material he’s working with. But the difference here is that he commands your attention every time he shows up, making you think about whether or not this character is actually a good guy, or simply put, just a guy, with a hard job, who just wants to solve his cases.

A nice little Johnny and June reunion.

A nice little Johnny and June reunion.

It’s as simple as that, but Brolin makes it so much more.

But, I’ve just realized that most of what I’m writing about here, may only add to more of the confusion within Inherent Vice and for that, I apologize. It surely is not my intentions, as I clearly want each and every person to see this, even if they aren’t expecting to love it, or even understand it quite nearly as well as they may have been able to do with Anderson’s flicks in the past. And honestly, I don’t even know if Anderson totally wants people to make perfect sense of this movie and how all of the small, meandering threads of its plot-line tie-in together, but he doesn’t ever lose his confidence in trying his damn-near hardest. Even if it doesn’t always work, it’s admirable that he would try in the first place and I think that’s what matters most here.

Sure, making damn sure that your plot, the twists it has, and the characters who weave in and out of it, all make perfect sense as to why they even exist first and foremost definitely matters, but when you have a movie that constantly goes from one scene, to the next, without ever missing a beat of being interesting, then all is forgiven. Maybe you could say I’m giving Anderson too much credit here, and I would probably say “you’re right”, but for some reason, I can’t help but praise this guy anymore than he already has been. Especially here, because it seems like plenty has been said about this movie, without ever getting to the core: It’s entertaining.

While not “entertaining” in the sense that it is constantly exciting with numerous amounts of gunshots, explosions, and car-chases (although some do happen here); more so, it’s in the case that we’re given a simple plot, with some simple characters, and to see it spiral out into absolutely bonkers area’s is what makes it such a blast to watch. One can definitely take this as a serious piece of pulp crime-fiction that’s supposed to make perfect sense, every time that it offers a new plot-thread, but another one can definitely takes this as a serious piece of film-making that, if you want to, you just take for what it is, see what happens next, and just enjoy the ride. I know that it’s hard for me to recommend a movie based solely on that, and not lose some sort of credibility, but I don’t care right now. I feel about as safe and comfortable as I can with recommending this movie for anybody, so long so as they just let it start, go on, and end, exactly as it is. The deep and heavy-thinking can come later, but while it’s on the screen, just let it go and see how you feel.

If you still hate it, then so be it. At least I tried.

Consensus: Maybe not the most comprehensive piece of his career, Paul Thomas Anderson still works his rear-end off to make Inherent Vice one of the crazier experiences at the movies this holiday season, but also allows for it to constantly stay compelling, funny, and most of all, entertaining. Even if all the numbers don’t add up.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Sort of like the Last Supper. Except presumably with more hash.

Sort of like the actual Last Supper. Except presumably with more hash.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Science isn’t cool, but you make lots of money. So there is that.

Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a 13-year-old engineering prodigy who gets by solely on making money fighting in illegal, robot-fighting leagues. Though this is obviously a total waste of his talents, he doesn’t care because he’s a kid. Meaning, he’s lazy, stubborn, and does whatever the hell he wants; that’s even if those around him, including his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) knows it so and tries to urge him to change his ways before it’s too late. Eventually though, the older-bro knocks some sense into him and wouldn’t you know it, Hiro creates a robot that’s able to build itself into anything you tell it to. Hiro plans to unveil this master project at a local science-fair which, if he wins, gives him free admission into the university that his older brother went to and excelled at. However, that all changes when an evil, nefarious baddie blows up the fair, solely to just take Hiro’s invention and use it for his own good. But during the process of the explosion, Tadashi also perishes, leaving Hiro with plenty of grief in his life and no inspiration to carry him any further with his project.

Where's this at whenever I'm drunk?!?

Where’s this at whenever I’m drunk?!?

That’s all until he meets his Tadashi’s creation that he left behind: A large, rather tubby inflatable robot by the name Baymax (Scott Adsit), who’s sole purpose is to heal those around him. And trust me, though he may not seem like much, Baymax deserves his own paragraph because he single-handedly makes this movie worth watching. That’s not to say there’s nothing else to see with this movie, but whenever Baymax is around, taking everything every character says literally, and just being an all around lovable tub of balloon, Big Hero 6 really hits the marks it sets out to knock on in the first half-hour.

But, when he isn’t around, the movie slightly falters. Then again, though, it doesn’t totally take away from the movie because, once again, Disney has created itself a wonderful little piece of animation that is, in every sense of the word, beautiful. It’s light, colorful, and most of all, fun to look at. Though the movie is set in the fictional, futuristic-city of San Fransokyo, it feels and looks like it could have taken place on the actual streets of San Fransisco, but in the China Town part that is. While saying a Disney animated flick is pretty, isn’t necessarily anything new or groundbreaking, it still deserves to be said because so many animated pieces out there don’t have nearly as big of an imaginative mind as this movie does with its vision, and it’s absolute pleasure to watch.

That said, however, the rest of the movie isn’t nearly as up-to-par. Most of this has to do with the fact that, yes, us, the audience, have been so spoiled by such Disney classics as Up, Toy Story 3, Wreck-it Ralph, and even last year’s Monsters University, that whenever something doesn’t quite hit the emotional-mark that those set out to hit and succeeded at actually nailing, it feels like a bit of a disappointment. Not to say that Big Hero 6 is the lesser of these animated movies, but it’s quite obvious that it does have to grasp at some straws to really create lumps in our throats, whereas with those movies, it seemed somewhat effortless; almost as if they knew the legions of audience members would be entering them, for the sole sake of crying their eyes out.

Once again though, it all comes down to this simple question: Is Big Hero 6 enjoyable?

Well, yes it is. So long so as you’re not expecting it to break any new ground with the animated-form. It’s just bright, chirpy, fun, and heartfelt enough to win over any audience-member who goes in, already expecting to hate it because it’s either, a) not like the old days of animation where people actually drew their cartoons, or b) because it’s made for kids. And while I definitely agree with that later sentiment, not all of Big Hero 6 is meant to just appeal to kids and everybody else be damned; it’s meant to be watched and entertained by all, which is exactly what it works as.

Can’t say nothing more, and I can’t say nothing less.

So, I’ll just continue on talking about Baymax and how great of a character he is, because honestly, there’s something special here about this character that I wasn’t expecting. For instance, just look at how simple his design is – he’s nothing more than a bug chunk of white, with two black circles connected by a black line, and yet, he’s the most emotive character of the whole piece. In fact, his design is so simplistic, it’s practically a downright crime because of how much time and effort these other animation creators put into their characters, in hopes of giving them a chance to jump off the screen, be seen as iconic, and loved for years and years to come.

Like Mega-man, except huge and a lot more cuddly.

Like Mega-man, except huge and a lot more cuddly.

However, with the creators of Big Hero 6, they set out to make Baymax as simple as humanly possible, and it totally works. Not just for the character, but for the movie itself, although I definitely want to sent out much respect to Scott Adsit who channels Baymax’s kindly sweet voice so well, that when he does start to feel some sort of emotion, you can tell by the certain pitch in his voice. In fact, if there was ever a moment I came close to crying, it was during a few scenes with Baymax and his way of showing love and admiration for those around him.

If only there were more robots like him. And I’m not just talking about in movies, I’m talking about in real life, folks.

As for the rest of the voice cast, everybody’s fine and pretty much all do what they are told to do: Add some life to these already animated characters. Ryan Potter is chock full of spunk as the angst-fueled Hiro; Daniel Henney seems like a sweet guy as Tadashi, although I was a bit skeptical of him speaking in some broken form of English, whereas his little bro, Hiro, was speaking it perfectly as like you or I; and of course, T.J. Miller is here as Fred, a stoner who just hangs around the science geeks all day, everyday, and is practically the comedic-relief of the movie.

That is, whenever Baymax isn’t around to steal the show from him. Because nobody does such a thing.

Consensus: In terms of what we’ve seen recently from the world of animation, Big Hero 6 doesn’t break any new ground, but it doesn’t need to either, considering it’s fun, light, sweet, and overall, worthy of letting the whole family see.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

This is all I need. Seriously.

This is all I need. Seriously.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Grown Ups 2 (2013)

When Rob Schneider doesn’t show up, you know you’re in trouble.

This is going to be quite a difficult task because, all joking aside, there is no plot here. Basically, it’s just four middle-aged men (Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade) spending a day together where they fart, burp, sneeze, get peed on by a deer, start fights with fraternities, go skinny-dipping in lakes, ogle over hot, young and busty women, love their kids, wife, family and at the end of the day, try to have a good time by throwing an “80’s-themed party” where they try to relive their glory days when times were simpler and a lot less shitty when they didn’t have responsibilities to deal with.

And yes, I was reaching to try and come up with something there that made sense, but let’s face it: A plot does not matter for this movie. All that matters is that these guys get to make fun of other people around them, act like fools, commit acts as if they were young, wild and free, all over again, and fart A LOT. That’s pretty much all there is to this movie and though you can definitely say that I deserve any sort of pain I may have garnered from watching this movie, even though I clearly knew it was a train-wreck from the very beginning, I just couldn’t help myself.

We get it, YOU'RE SO DAMN PLEASED WITH YOURSELVES!!

“Poop jokes! AHAHAHA!!”

I’m a two-bit movie critic, yes, but I’m also a movie lover, and I have to watch EACH AND EVERY SINGLE MOVIE that I can possibly see, dammit!

So, in this case, curiosity did in fact kill the cat and I decided to actually give this a watch. No, I did not expect greatness and no, I did not expect to even laugh a single bit, and well, that’s pretty much what I got. None of this ever funny, and it just seems like everybody involved is either slumming it all the way down to hell with what they think is mildly amusing, all for the sake of a nice, healthy paycheck, so that they can continue to go on and make more shitty flicks that nobody in the world with the least amount of self-respect would want to go see. Or, if they did somehow get roped into seeing it, that they would at least not enjoy themselves while watching it.

There are jokes that miss, there are jokes that fall flat, and then, there are jokes that hit the ground, dig a hole into the Earth’s core, cause an eruption of destruction, havoc and mayhem, which only pleases those who have a sheer fondness for deer’s urine. Seriously, this movie is not funny. I chuckled maybe once or twice, and you know why and by whom? Fuckin’ Taylor fuckin’ Lautner! That’s right! That freakin’ stud from the Twilight movies, is the only funny thing in this whole movie that not only has Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, Taran Killam, and Shaquille O’Neal, but even has Stone Cold Steve Austin for lord’s sakes! I mean, WHAT THE HELL?!?!? How does a travesty like this even occur!?!?!

And you bet your sweet rumps that I mentioned all of those famous, well-known names for a reason, because here are all people that have shown us, many, MANY other times in the history of this world, that they are capable of making us laugh and entertain the hell out of us. So therefore, you’d think that a movie that has all of their talents involved with one movie would clearly be the laugh-out-loud riotous-fest of the year, let alone the decade, right!?!? Well, no!!!!! Apparently, nobody here seems to have a clear idea of what constitutes being considered “funny”, “humorous”, or even “smart” for that matter. It’s all dumb, it’s all painful to watch, and it’s all so damn freakin’ sad because everybody here is talented and can do great, amazing things for this world, but none of them ever made me laugh or have a good time.

Except for FUCKIN’ TAYLOR FUCKIN’ LAUTNER.

Seriously though, everyone, I do apologize for cursing up a storm. You don’t normally see this side from me and you sure as hell don’t see me so enraged over a movie like I am with this, but there’s all a reason that I will continue to hammer over the head to death with: Everybody here knows better (with the exception of director Dennis Dugan cause, quite frankly, that guy doesn’t know shit about anything good). I always love to consider myself a huge Adam Sandler fan because I’ve always felt like the guy has a keen-sense of humor that is a bit on the dumb side, and definitely isn’t for everybody, but he’s made me laugh and that’s fine for me. He’s even shown us all some interesting sides to his acting-abilities by taking up some very interesting roles that seem to always work, as well as earn him respect from people who have always considered him an imbecile. So why the guy decides to keep on destroying his credibility as a comedian, is totally beyond me. All I do know is that he needs to quit making these types of fucking movies, and he needs it do it right fucking now. It seems like the year of 2014 definitely has him stepping in that right direction, but there’s always another one of these piles of excrement just peaking around the corner.

Same goes for the rest of this cast, mainly the three other numskulls that help him out with this movie. Chris Rock is by far, without a doubt in my mind, one of the funniest comedians who has ever lived and will continue to be so, regardless of how many of these shitty movies he decides to be apart of; Kevin James makes everything he shows up in, just a bit better by doing his normal, Chris Farley-shtick, and he’ll always garner a “pass” from me, due solely to the fact that King of Queens was one of my favorite shows growing-up; and, no matter what the haters may say, David Spade makes me laugh. I’ve seen a few of his stand-up specials and he’s always made me laugh-out-loud quite a few times, as well as the work he puts into the nonstop sitcoms he shows up in as well. So yeah, from what we know and see, these guys are able to be funny and just have us enjoy the hell out of their presences, but why they all continue to do junk like this makes me ponder my fan-dom and respect for these guys all of the damn time.

Not even anybody from what is considered one of the funniest shows on television can make a laugh happen.

Not even those from what is considered one of the funniest shows on television can make a laugh happen.

It’s a damn shame too, really, because these are the types of guys that comedy should be looking-up to and saying, “This is how you do it”. Nowadays though, it’s just the same old routine we seem to be getting from these folks, mainly Sandler: Get a bunch of money from Happy Madison; get the same cast, crew and buddies to work; cobble-up a plot that doesn’t even have to be cohesive in any way, shape or form; write-out a script that concerns a lot of bathroom humor, sex jokes, homophobia, and messages about how family matters; film in some back-lot that makes every movie look like it was filmed on the sun; make sure that the movies feature cameos from anybody that’s even the slightest bit considered a “celebrity”; and most importantly, DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE PRODUCT-PLACEMENTS. Wouldn’t want to lose any money over that, now would we?

But yeah, you can tell that I pretty much hated this movie, but this one hits even closer to home because it shows you just how easy it is for somebody to get junk made, solely because they’re famous, and have money, power and all the string-pulling one person could possibly get. The first Grown Ups already made showed that statement to be true, but this one, on the second go-around, we already know what to expect and yes, it is a whole lot worse this time around.

However though, this one does have FUCKIN’ TAYLOR FUCKIN’ LAUTNER around, and I guess you could that there’s at least a “slight improvement” to be found there? Then again, maybe not. Both movies fucking blow and please do whatever you possibly can to stay the fuck away from them. Mainly this hour-and-a-half-long show-reel of human feces.

Consensus: Without thinking about this too hard, or even trying to dig in deeper as to what the real problem with Grown Ups 2 is, it doesn’t matter. The movie’s not funny, hard-to-watch and an example of exactly how low Sandler and all of his buddies will go to make some more money, and continue to make more piles of dung that are exactly, if not worse, than this.

1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Thank you, Taylor. You've done something right for a change.

Thank you, Taylor. You’ve done something right for a change.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Way, Way Back (2013)

Just swim the angst away.

Duncan (Liam James) is at the peak of his teenage angst. He’s 14, living with his divorced mom (Toni Collette) and stuck being with her boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) for the next summer of his life. Duncan hates it at first because his mom and her boy act like teenagers again with the neighbors (Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, and Rob Corddry), but soon finds refuge in a too-cool-for-school water-park owner, Owen (Sam Rockwell). Together, they forge a relationship that makes Duncan realize that there’s more to his life than he thinks, and that there’s also the possibility of getting mingled-up with a gal-pal (AnnaSophia Robb).

Summer time is the perfect time for anybody, adult or child, to break out, do what they want, and in a way, find themselves and figure out who they truly are. Take yours truly for instance: back in the wee-bit, summer days of ’09, I was bored, I was tired, I was watching a shit-load of movies, and one thing came to my mind, “Why don’t I just write about them?” People would always tell me how funny I was when I would talk about them, and considering I didn’t have a video camera for my computer or anything, I thought, “Why the fuck not?!?” I got started on it and the rest is, as they say, history. That was all in the summer because I was bored, didn’t have much to do, and realized that I could practically do anything with my free time, even if it meant spending an extraneous amount of time in front of screens. That’s why films like these really do touch a soft-spot in the middle of my heart, because not only do I know how it feels to want to know what you can do with your life, during a time when everybody is down the beach or by the pool, getting their tans on, but I also know how it feels to discover what you want to do, at such a young age.

That’s right. Dan the Man wasn’t quite “the Man” when this all first started out, but now I’ve become one. What a youngster I once was.

Never had two, adult-men fight over me. Maybe I just haven't lived yet.

Never had two, adult-men fight over me. Maybe I just haven’t lived yet.

Anyway, what works with this flick is that everything about it feels to fit so well. The comedy is hilarious, right from the get-go; the drama is around for us to see and pay attention to, even when the movie’s being goofy; the message comes and goes as it pleases; and best of all, the feeling of summer and all of it’s positives and negatives are in the air. You can just feel it, that’s if you pay attention enough to really notice it. That’s what I liked so much about this movie, is that even though it’s a movie that touches on some real, hard-earned realities about life and how you just don’t have control over it sometimes, it still gets you happy and grinning from cheek-to-cheek because it’s summer, people are happy, people are having a good time, and people are acting like nothing else matters other than those two elements. That’s all there is to it.

But still, it’s all fun and games, and then people have to get serious, which is where this flick still continues to work and surprised me with. Honestly, going into this I thought it was going to try a bit too hard to be all goofy and nutty to get a rise out of me, which it did at times, but when it finally did get serious and start sprouting out life lessons for us all to hear, see, and connect with; the flick worked even more wonders. It’s one of those rare flicks where you can be laughing one second, tearing up the other, or hell, even both at the same time. It’s a rich screenplay that knows it’s not going to change your life or make you re-think any of your decisions for the rest of the summer, but it will make you feel a bit happier and hopeful with life, as it should. Heck, as all movies should.

That’s a true testament to the creative-skills of both Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, two guys that I didn’t think had it in them to be the least bit serious and be able to pull it off. But thankfully, I was proven wrong. Dead-wrong in fact. So rarely does that happen, and so rarely do I like to admit that it happened. Damn them.

If there’s any other reason as to why this flick works as well it does, it’s because of the amazing cast these two were able to assemble, which still makes me wonder how and when, because everybody in this flick is practically a star in their own right, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if there wasn’t at least two or three jousting battles for more camera-time. New-comer Liam James, does a fine job at giving Duncan the right amount of sympathy, teen-angst, and awkwardness that is credible for this type of character to work, and doesn’t get out-shined by the other members of the cast around him, no matter how good they are. Don’t get me wrong, he never lights up the screen or takes the camera away from any of them, but he doesn’t get shown-up either, and I think that’s the sign that we can expect to see bigger and better things from this kid. Fingers crossed, people. Toni Collette plays his mom and is good in the role because as dumb as she may be sometimes with the way she chooses Trent’s side, over her own boy’s, you still feel like she’s a nice woman that knows where her morals are and at the end of the day, won’t stop until her and her son are together, happy again.

Most people probably want to know how Steve Carell does as a bit of an a-hole, here as Trent, and does a pretty good job, because Trent isn’t the type of guy you hate and love to hate, you actually feel sort of sad for the hate you bestow onto him, as well as the character himself. Trent doesn’t seem like the type of dude that I would meet, and automatically assume that he was the biggest dick head in the world, but I would not give him another call to chill if I was around his area. Basically, he’s not a guy that you can’t fathom to be around, he’s just a guy that’s a bit too stand-offish with the way that he acts towards the ones that mean the most to him and thinks what he’s doing is right, but actually isn’t. Carell’s great in this role, as expected, but it also shows that he can do more with his despicable-traits, rather than just be a “loving asshole”. Sometimes, hell, he can just be an asshole. Plain and simple.

Bored at a dinner table filled with Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Amanda Peet, and Rob Coddry? What's wrong with that damn kid!?!?

Bored at a dinner table filled with Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Amanda Peet, and Rob Corddry? What’s wrong with that damn kid!?!?

Perhaps though, the one who really steals the spot-light from everybody in this movie is none other than Sam Rockwell himself, playing Owen, the water park owner. Rockwell is THAT actor who shows up in something, gets your attention on him right away, and makes you wonder why he isn’t a bigger-star in Hollywood. It isn’t that the guy’s got a bad-rap or chooses shitty-roles, it’s just that he never seems to be in something that’s big enough to really get his name out their for the masses. All of that talk aside, Rockwell is perfect here as Owen because he always has something witty, sarcastic, or hilarious to say, and rarely ever does or says anything serious, to anyone. However, when he does drop down the goof-ball act and gets the serious-shield up-and-running, Rockwell is even better with it and makes you feel like Owen’s not only the type of guy you want to be around, from dusk til dawn, but you want to secretly be as well. Rockwell is just oozes charm, and it gives every one of his characters a hint of “coolness” to them. Seriously, somebody in Hollywood make this guy a bona-fide star already! Jesus!

Maya Rudolph plays the object of Owen’s affection and is good using her wit and charm to win us over, just as much as she wins over Owen, but is okay in the role. It doesn’t ask for much, even though Rudolph could definitely give it. AnnaSophia Robb plays the object of Duncan’s affection and is also pretty good because you first see her is this chick apart of the popular, ditsy girls-clique, and then eventually shows more layers of herself and how she isn’t like them, and just wants to be herself and understood as well. Her and Duncan go quite well together and I wouldn’t have been surprised if that made it last past the summer. Better than any of the chicks I’ve dated, that’s for sure. And lastly, major props have to go out to Allison Janey as the constantly drunk and inappropriate neighbor that always has something funny, mean, or hurtful to say, yet, you can’t help but laugh at how clueless she is to what she’s actually saying. It’s Janey at her finest, and the gal never disappoints.

Consensus: The Way, Way Back isn’t the flick that’s going to change your life forever, but it will make you happy, sad, hopeful, and entertained by all of the excellence it has on-display from the acting, to the writing, and so on and so forth.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

These two surprisingly GET what it means to be a teen.

These two surprisingly GET what it means to be a teen.

Idiocracy (2006)

Believe it or not, this is the direction our world is headed. Just check out the trending topics on Twitter.

To test its top-secret Human Hibernation Project, the Pentagon picks the most average Americans it can find — an Army private (Luke Wilson) and a prostitute (Maya Rudolph) — and sends them to the year 2505 after a series of freak events. But when they arrive, they find a civilization so dumbed-down that they’re the smartest people around.

Sounds like Mike Judge doing a live-action adaptation of ‘Futurama’, but this time, with so many more stupid people. Maybe almost too stupid if I think about it. Hell I’m thinking about it and I’m turning stupid.

The one thing I like about Mike Judge is that his writing and comedic style comes from just being very simple. He doesn’t really try to do anything new or inventive with his comedy other than just give us something to laugh at, even if he and a couple of his other buds may only think it’s funny after about the 20th time they bring up the joke. This premise is definitely one of his first “high premise” comedies and it’s also one of his more ambitious flicks as of late too.

Where this film works is in its satire that takes over the whole film and how he shows the world as a completley and utterly stupid place to be in. He shows how the world will be watching TV shows like “Ow! My Balls!” and buying a drink with electrolytes in it, even though none of them even know what the hell electrolytes even are. It’s funny to see how much fun Judge pokes at this dystopian future that may seem very funny to make fun of now, but it’s also kind of sad because we can see that this is the direction our world is heading in. I don’t want to go out there and state that the world is going to be filled completley with idiots but we’re getting dumber and dumber as the years go by and it’s kind of surprising how Judge brings this point up better than anyone else ever could have. Yes, I’m talking about you Woody Allen.

The comedy for this film isn’t just all about satire though, it’s also just about being plainly stupid which can make and break a film. Whenever a comedy just wants to be stupid and silly, it totally works, but in the case with a flick like this, it can also get terribly annoying to the point of where it almost seems over-done. Yes, there are plenty of times where the stupidity of these characters and this future had me laughing but at the same time, I feel like Judge really hammered down the whole “stupidity” thing a little too far considering it’s almost every joke he makes in this film. Hey, I guess with a TV show like ‘Beavis & Butthead’, Judge is known world-wide for constantly repeating jokes until they’re dead in the water, but here, it became a little too much.

Another problem with this flick was that as much as the premise was really cool and held my interest, I couldn’t help but think it would have been used a lot better with a bigger budget and longer run-time. The film does get to do what it wants without ever really trying to shoot for the stars but the effects are really crappy and the story seems to start to run out of any creative steam by the last 20 minutes. I guess I can’t really blame Judge for the budget that he was given but I just wish that he did more with this flick and I wish it didn’t look like it was made on a DELL computer.

As for the cast, they are all pretty much pleasant enough to make this dumb film work and seem more realistic than it had any right to be. Luke Wilson is once again the most charming and likable dude to ever grace the screen with his performance as Joe Bowers; Maya Rudolph is fine as the prostitute/”artist”, Rita; Dax Shepard is border-line mentally-challenged with his performance here as Frito, and even though he’s very good at playing dumb, it’s no surprise that this is probably the best thing that this dick has ever done in his whole career; and Terry Crews is the man as President Camacho, aka the President that would kick Obama’s ass any day. Once again, nothing special from this cast but still pretty good considering what they were given with the loose script.

Consensus: Idiocracy may be a little too dumb and stupid for its own good, or bad, but where the film succeeds is in Judge’s satirical writing that makes this film funny, biting, and a little bit more realistic than it should be even though this is coming from the same dude who invented The Great Cornholio.

6/10=Rental!!

Friends with Kids (2012)

Good-looking people should just stop boning each other if they don’t want kids.

The film centers a group of close friends at a moment in time when children arrive and everything changes. The last two singles in the group (Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt) observe the toll that having kids has taken on their friends’ relationship and wonder if there is a better way. They decide to have a child together and then date other people.

After last year’s sleeper hit ‘Bridesmaids’ came out it seems like every person in the world has been searching for that next big comedy that will not only do well with critics but also the box-office, because we all know how hard that can be…. Of course this idea went right into Jennifer Westfeldt’s head as she got her real-life boy toy, Jon Hamm, to give a call up to not one, not two, but three of his fellow ‘Bridesmaids’ stars and what we have here is anything but that. I mean that in a good and bad way.

Where this film works is in the way that it explores exactly what it’s trying to show and say. I’m not over thirty and I definitely don’t have any kids (that I know of) so this film seemed like it wasn’t going to really connect with me but through this script and all of the funny and sometimes sad situations these couples had to go through, gave me a better understanding of what being a parent in your 30’s is like. You see the couple that loves each other dearly but still bickers over the smallest stuff, you see the couple that were once red-hot every time they were with each other but now can’t stand the sight of either one, and then you have that one “bff” couple that doesn’t let things between them get serious at all and still are able to be cool with each other through everything. This film seemed very true in a lot of things it showed and it’s insight is not only humorous, but can also get somewhat dark especially by the end when a ski trip between all of these pals go sour as one person brings up the other person’s dumb thinking skills when it comes to being a parent. Hey, we aren’t all perfect!

The film has a lot of funny people in this flick but it’s not hilarious like you would expect. There were plenty of moments where I laughed and definitely had a chuckle but those moments were spread far apart from one another and I think it was more of the fact that it’s the cast that had me laughing rather than the script itself, which will probably disappoint everyone who goes out to see this expecting people to take craps in the sink. Then again though, not every comedy needs that.

The film for the first hour or so, feels fresh, somewhat original, and insightful. However, things start to get pretty familiar after this first hour and that’s where this flick started to lose me. It goes down this road of where the two bff’s start to realize that they really do love each other and I don’t think I’m really spoiling anything by saying that either considering it’s pretty obvious just by seeing the trailer.

Being conventional wasn’t just its biggest problem though, it also didn’t help that Westfeldt isn’t very good as a director. There were scenes that I wish went on longer because of how funny they could be and how much energy they had stored in them with all of this talent on the screen together but for some reason, those scenes felt like they were cut short. It may sound like I’m being a tad too nit-picky but I just couldn’t help thinking that if they put this film in the hands of somebody who knows how to film comedians improving without ever cutting away and just letting them rant on and on, then this film would have had some brighter moments, but ended up only having less than I expected.

As for this ensemble, everybody here is good even though I feel like the script didn’t allow them to be funnier and just wanted them to be somewhat funny but more honest. Jennifer Westfeldt has a likability to her that works for her character, Julie, but I couldn’t help thinking that there could have been more spirit in her act; Adam Scott is very good in this lead role as Jason and should definitely get more considering he’s not only funny every chance he gets, but he also can handle being dramatic without stretching his skills too far; Megan Fox is good as Jason’s first very serious girlfriend, and even though it’s nothing too spectacular, it’s still good to see her at ease but then again, I couldn’t help thinking that her role could have been expanded a bit more; and the real stand-out for this flick probably has to be Chris O’Dowd who is hilarious here as the always happy but honest husband, Alex, and worked particularly well as the voice of reason because he was funny but also seemed very genuine with everything else he had to say.

Consensus: Friends with Kids has some good insight, some funny moments, and a good ensemble that works well with this material, but it ends up falling into conventions that not only take away from the first hour but also make Westfeldt’s sloppiness as a director show up a lot more.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Bridesmaids (2011)

Not necessarily “the female Hangover”, but still funny altogether.

Named as her best friend’s maid of honor, down-on-her-luck Annie’s (Kristen Wiig) competition with a fellow bridesmaid, the wealthy and beautiful Helen (Rose Byrne), threatens to destroy the wedding. Meanwhile, a local cop takes a liking to Annie.

When this first came out, I didn’t want to see it at all probably because it looked like a straight-up chick flick, that I would probably get dragged to seeing with my lady. Although it took me over a month to check it out, I’m glad I actually did.

First things first, this film is funny. Not hilarious, not un-funny, just funny. I went in expecting some chuckles here and there, but I laughed a lot with this film because it’s dirty and witty which is very hard to find in any comedy today. Comedy, is usually a dude’s world, but it was cool to see some good humor come from the mouth of a lady, and be equally as funny as some other guy comedies that I’ve seen recently. I’m talking about you Hangover Part II.

My main problem with this film is that it is very uneven. The story structure here made this film just seem like a bunch of funny sketches, instead of a whole film and without those story elements in place, the story in my opinion just started to drag and drag. I mean the film is over 2 hours long and although I liked how they showed a lot of these characters for their imperfections and also tried to get a deep story out of this material, I just found myself checking my watch almost every 5 minutes waiting for this thing to actually wrap-up.

Kristen Wiig is always good in her little bit roles in films like Adventureland and Knocked Up, as well as her stint on SNL, but her leading role as Annie here wasn’t anything special which kind of disappointed me since I always laugh at her in anything she does. At any given moment, Wiig can be really really funny but at the end of the film I didn’t feel like she was one singular character, but more a series of sketch-roles. Despite that, Wiig is still funny but for this role she needed to be more of an actress to make us emotionally sympathize with her rather than just doing a bunch of wacky comedy.

The rest of the cast here is very good at everything they do. Maya Rudolph is putting on some big pounds, but is still good as the bride; Rose Byrne is perfect as the perfect and beautiful, other best-friend, Helen; Melissa McCarthy had me laughing my ass off just about every time she was on screen as Megan; and even though they don’t have too much to do Wendi McClendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper are good too. Jon Hamm is a total deucher in this film, but funny still as Wiig’s “eff-buddy”, and Chris O’Dowd is a delight to watch on-screen as Wiig’s other lover, Rhodes.

Consensus: Although it doesn’t work as a good structure for its story, Bridesmaids still has some very good performances from a very funny cast, that gives this material more laughing power, even when it does start to seem over-long.

8/10=Matinee!!

Grown Ups (2010)

I sure hope these guys don’t hang out like this in real life.

Comedy superstars Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade and Kevin James team up for a story of five childhood pals who reunite after 30 years to mourn the loss of their old basketball coach. Gathering at a July 4th celebration where their families meet for the first time, the friends find themselves acting a bit inappropriate for their age.

Looking at the trailers, I was already skeptical going into this. And none of my expectations were wrong.

This film has just some of the laziest screenplays ever written. The film looks like its centered towards the whole family, but there was plenty of sex, fart, poop, piss, death, and boob jokes, that didn’t even seem like they were supposed to be funny. There is also too much slapstick to like also. I felt like a lot of times the film didn’t have a good joke, so they just relied on somebody getting knocked in the face, or falling into poo, for a good joke. When it isn’t at all. Then at the end they have this huge emotional break-through, when the whole time their cracking jokes and making fun of others around them.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t laugh, or chuckle a little bit, but most of that was because of the cast, that no matter what, tries their hardest to bring the screenplay in full force. Adam Sandler is playing his safe card in this one, not getting too annoying, but also not being too serious. He’s just fine. Kevin James is playing the usual dude, that is always made fun of because he’s, well, fat. Chris Rock needs to go back to his old days of being the crazy-ass black man, because him being serious, isn’t helping anybody out, especially his career. David Spade is not a ladies man, and although I have always supported him, here he doesn’t do anything for me. And well Rob Schneider, is just the dude, who’s there, and gets made fun of. Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph, are actually pretty funny here as the wives, but once again are weighed down as well. And could really any of these guys, score these major babes. I rest my case.

The one thing that made me wonder to myself is: just what the hell is going on with these comedy icons that I loved so dearly? They try their hardest, but the script just weighs their asses down so low, they can’t get back up. I’m hoping that these actors find something good sooner or later, cause now it’s just getting depressing, watching them fall worse by each film. Oh well I have faith and I know that these guys can do it.

Consensus: Grown Ups at its best is just a mindless family comedy, kind of, that has some funny moments mostly because of its cast, but the jokes, and lame script just weigh everything down to a point of where you don’t know if your supposed to laugh.

4/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!

Away We Go (2009)

It seems like all directors are taking the Indie road. Yes, Sam Mendes is next to follow.

Buoyed by the news that they are expecting their first baby, Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) embark on a journey to locate the perfect place on the planet to raise their child. But their quest inevitably yields many unexpected surprises.

Director Sam Mendes has always been known to make films about family dynamics (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road), but instead of depressing the crap out of us, like those other 2, he brings out a happier, lighter tone.

The screenplay here isn’t written by Mendes, instead is written by real-life couple, Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida. This was a very good idea, cause we can see how real people, in love talk to one another about passion for each other, parenthood, and most of all, life itself. Its also very well-written when it comes to the heart-warming comedy. There are set of quirks that feel genuine, and it makes you think that life isn’t always so god damn serious, there are actually the funny moments that happen. When I mean funny, I sure as hell do mean funny, I was on the floor laughing half of the time, but its not offensive, it’s more of a sweet type of humor.

I had a big problem with this movie, and I think many others that I knew did too. The movie was speaking more towards ages 30 and over, who are expecting children, and to be a good parent, and that didn’t really connect to me. I mean I’m 17 years old, and I have millions of children all over the world (PIMP), so this didn’t really stick out to me quite as well. Also, I had a problem with the film being a little bit too “indie”. The obvious acoustic folk songs, added with the scruffy people looking into space, made me feel like I’ve seen this movie before, but it seems like this is how most directors get their material to work.

The acting in this film, is what really stands out. I was expecting John Krasinski to just be Jim from The Office the whole time, you know “Jim”. However, he does create a likable, goofy character that we enjoy watching on screen. Maya Rudolph is even better here, showing that she just isn’t another SNL alumni trying to make it big, she actually can show a lot of emotion. They look and feel like a married couple (even though their not), and it adds a lot more to the charming appeal that the film is going for. The quirk is obvious when you see the witty side of supporting cast members who are all funny such as Catherine O’Hara, Allison Janney, Jeff Daniels, and the best, Maggie Gyllenhaal. She’s funny even though crazy, and weird, creating the most unlikable kind of people, rich hippies, thought I’d never say that in my life.

Consensus: Away We Go may kind of get stuck trying to relate to one certain group, with obvious quirks, but is an overall charming, likable experience, that shows the true hard-ships of parenting, as well as the humor, with good performances.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!