Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Melonie Diaz

The Belko Experiment (2017)

Take a sick day next time.

An ordinary day at the office becomes a horrific quest for survival when 80 employees at the Belko Corp. in Bogotá, Colombia, learn that they are pawns in a deadly game. It all happens when, out of nowhere, a weird, sinister voice comes over the PA system, letting them all know that they are trapped inside their building and that two workers must be killed within 30 minutes. Two die and the employees think that’s all there is to it. Little do they know that plenty more will have to be killed in order for the voice to stop doing what it’s doing and let the workers go. And for some workers (John Gallagher Jr.), this is fine, because they have a conscience and don’t want people to die. But for others (Tony Goldwyn, John C. McGinley), they know that the only way to come out of this thing alive is to make the weakest suffer and die off first. Ask questions later. After awhile, it just becomes a free-for-all where no one knows who’s going to live, die, or hell, even what the end game is here.

That look you make when you’re absolutely tired of all the damn memo’s.

The Belko Experiment seems to be going for some sort of message about the current day workforce, or hell, even the government in and of itself. After all, the movie is set in Colombia, where an American corporation is held, dealing with certain issues that never become made clear to us. Is the movie trying to say that foreign relations with the States is so bad, that everyone associated with them is eventually going to become killers? Or, is it trying to say that the workforce, in and of itself, is already so vicious in the first place, that eventually, everyone in it is just going to start killing one another to be the best, literally and metaphorically speaking?

I honestly don’t know. But probably not.

See, the Belko Experiment isn’t a very smart movie that wants to get itself all bogged down in certain stuff like politics, or hell, even ideas. It just wants to kill, give us a lot of gore, and make certain office-items into weapons. A part of that can be fun to watch, but here’s the issue with the Belko Experiment: It’s just not all that fun to begin with.

In a way, it’s actually pretty depressing and dare I say it, disturbing. But honestly not in the way that it intends; writer James Gunn seems to be clearly going for some sort of darkly comedic-edge, where heads are splattered and limbs are exposed, but for some reason, there’s still a smirk on everybody’s faces by the end of the killing. However, that doesn’t quite translate here at all. The Belko Experiment is a drop dead serious movie, which could still allow for the premise to fully work, but it never seems as convinced of its own darkness, that it allows itself to go there.

It’s always just moving along, steadily and surely, but is it easy to care? Not really.

What a courageous guy. Too bad that he’ll probably have to kill her later.

And yeah, that’s what it ultimately comes down to with the Belko Experiment – it’s hard to ever really care. Sure, watching seemingly normal, everyday people go to work and be threatened with meaningless, senseless death is upsetting to begin with, but the movie’s character-development is, well, lacking. For the first ten minutes or so, we get to know a little bit about the main players of the story, but mostly, they all just come down to types, so that when things do start to go awry and characters begin to make rash, downright questionable decisions, none of it really connects, or translates.

Take a movie like It Comes at Night that, in a way, is a horror movie, but not really. That one deals with the day-to-day horror of real life human beings, being shoved the brink of madness and having to act out in heinous ways that they’ll soon regret, but did for the greater good of themselves and the ones that they love. While the Belko Experiment never tries to reach for the same heights that that movie did, it still seems to touch on the same issues of normal people, having to act out in disgusting ways, to save their asses. The difference is that It Comes at Night made us understand and believe these decisions, where the Belko Experiment seems to just, well, give us conventional types, expect us to buy them, and watch as they hack one another off.

When in reality, who cares?

Consensus: The Belko Experiment flirts with being darkly fun, but also gets a little too wrapped-up in being too sinister and mean-spirited to be as exciting as it wants to be.

5 / 10

Conservatives, or just deranged dicks? You be the judge.

Photos Courtesy of: VarietyIndieWire


The Cobbler (2015)

Soles and souls. Get it?

Small-time cobbler Max Simkin (Adam Sandler) lives a simple life to where he goes about everyday the same. He goes to work; fixes shoes; has coffee; talks to a neighbor of his (Steve Buscemi); and continues the same pattern, the next day and so on and so forth. It’s not great, but Max is a very relaxed dude, so he doesn’t fret about it too much. That’s why, when suddenly, he puts on his father’s old pea-coat and jumps in somebody else’s shoes and realizes that he can look, sound and be somebody that’s not him, but the shoe’s owner, then he can’t help but give this newfound trick a whirl and have some fun with it. However, what starts out as a little bit of fun to get him out of his somewhat boring, uneventful life, Max then finds himself way in over his head when he gets involved with some shady gangsters, and even shadier real estate agents who might be looking to destroy his old neighborhood. This then leads Max to spring into action and use his talents for the greater good of not just those around him, but society as a whole.

It’s understandable why a lot of people despise Adam Sandler and what he’s become. At one point, he was the brightest, best thing to hit the comedy world, but slowly but surely, he began to take on vanity projects that literally just became humorless paid-vacations for him and his buddies, that people, for some reason or another, would still throw shackles of money at, just so that they could see what variation Sandler and co. would make on the fart joke next. However, with last year’s Blended box-office receipts not being exactly what he maybe originally had hoped for, Sandler seems to be, ever so slightly, heading back to his old ways, taking up smaller-projects that not only challenge his audience to see him in a new light, but also challenge him as an actor.

You've been caught, Crawley!

You’ve been caught, Crawley!

And I, for one, am all down for this. Punch Drunk Love is not just one of the better rom-coms of the past decade or so, but also shows that Sandler isn’t just a good actor, but one that can really take over a film, while also showing us darker, more frightening sides to his persona that may have not been there before. Of course, in the years since, Sandler’s hands at drama haven’t always paid-off, but more often than not, he finds his own ways back to the genre, reminding us all that Sandler, first and foremost, is an actor. Even if Men, Women, and Children wasn’t everybody’s favorite, but you can’t discredit Sandler for that, as he was fine in it.

So, with all that being said, I think it’s obvious to know that I was definitely looking forward to the Cobbler. Not because it featured a premise that didn’t seem something out of Sandler’s wheelhouse, but because it was directed and co-written by none other than Thomas McCarthy himself; the kind of film maker that doesn’t just take a paid-gig for the hell of it. He takes time with his movies, which is why a huge part of me had high hopes for this movie and seeing where it took Adam Sandler, the actor, next.

Sadly, it all blew back in my face.

See, the Cobbler may seem like it has promise on the surface – it’s a whimsical take on the old saying that your mom, dad, grand-parent, teacher, inspirational-figure has said to you in the past, “Walk in another person’s shoes and then judge them.” Well, the premise here is that saying, but told literally. Adam Sandler gets in people’s shoes, turns into them, and goes around all of New York City causing all sorts of shenanigans. Sometimes, this leads to him just walking around with a shit-eating grin on his face and dining and dashing out of fancy restaurants, but for awhile, it’s entertaining.

Then, things get real weird, real quick. There’s a possible murder that may or may not happen in the middle of this movie and as soon as it occurs, the tone totally changes from being light and lovely, to dark, disturbing, and even mean. Without saying too much, the murder that occurs is bloody and in-your-face, which then hints at there being a more dangerous story to be told underneath all of this goofiness, but soon, the movie abandons that. Instead, it keeps itself going with the humor and wacky hijinx, that have all but lost their favor; in fact, they feel like a cop-out to get past the fact that we literally just witnessed some character’s murder on the screen. Now, all of a sudden, we’re supposed to laugh it off as just a simple whatever?!?

Uhm, sorry. Last time I checked, when a character suddenly gets killed in a movie, it should be treated as drama, and not just as a passing-joke amongst pals.

So, after this, the movie then decides it needs to have baddies for Max to defeat and by this point, the comedy is so far gone that it’s not at all funny, even if it tried to be. The one-joke premise of this character walking in other people’s shoes and turning into them, turns stale and gets old by about the third time he tries to steal somebody’s bundles of money. But then, the movie gets darker when we’re introduced to violent street gangs and Ellen Barkin’s character; who are both connected in a convoluted manner that I didn’t even bother to think about the second it was introduced to me. All I knew is that both sides owed each other money somehow and we’re both looking to do bad things, to seemingly innocent people.

Better than Cheese? Maybe.

Better than Cheese? Maybe.

But, like I said before, by this time, the movie had already lost me. Which makes me wonder: Just what the hell was Thomas McCarthy doing being stuck with this junk? Better yet, why did he write this to begin with? It would make sense if he was just enlisted to be the director solely for money purposes (although I generally think this was considered “an indie”), but the fact that he actually co-wrote with this with somebody else, already shows that he had some hope in these uneven, uninteresting material to begin with. Whatever the reasons behind McCarthy’s decision to take this movie and make it his own, is totally left up in the air, but all I have to say is that I’m really looking forward to Spotlight later this year.

Which brings me to the next aspect of this movie worth discussing, and that’s Adam Sandler himself. It’d be hard to hate on Sandler here, because he’s literally doing what it seems like the director’s calling on for him to do: Act bored. That’s the way his character is written and I guess that’s exactly how Sandler plays it. Not to mention, it’s a tad hard to really judge Sandler’s performance here, considering that the majority of this movie features his character playing other character, which means that Sandler’s presence gets thrown to the sidelines in favor of some recognizable character actors.

Oh, and Method Man.

Yes, Method Man is in fact a key supporting player in the Cobbler, which actually works against and for the movie. It works for the movie because Method Man’s actually a solid actor, but least when you expect him to be here. Sure, he’s good at playing an a-hole gangster that constantly seems like he’s about to beat the crap out of someone if he doesn’t get his way, but when his character’s soul gets taken over by Max, it’s actually where most of the humor of this movie comes from. Method Man has to play a sweet, more nerdier-version of his character, which is both interesting and odd, but still worth watching because he does well with it.

Then, on the other hand, the movie doesn’t know whether they want to make this character a good guy, or a bad one. He’s a dick that beats his wife, robs people, and threatens lonely, little cobbler’s like Max, but at the same time, there’s still not enough backing-information to make it okay for us to see him get treated the way he does in the later-half of this movie. And even though there’s many more supporting players in this movie (among them are the likes of Dan Stevens, Melonie Diaz, and even Dustin Hoffman), when Method Man ends up becoming your most memorable one, you’ve got something of a problem.

But you’ve got a bigger one when Method Man actually becomes the best part of your said movie.

Consensus: Promising in its premise, the Cobbler wants to be light, funny, and whimsical, yet, goes through so many tonal-transformations, that it makes it very hard to get involved with what happens, let alone actually laugh.

2.5 / 10 

Laugh it off, Sandler. You rich prick, you.

Laugh it off, Sandler. You rich mofo, you.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Be Kind Rewind (2008)

What’s a VHS?

In a downbeat area of New Jersey, there lies what seems to be one of the last ever mom-and-pop-run video-shops that actually still sells VHS tapes. The place is called “Be Kind Rewind” and it’s run by the old and a bit out-of-touch Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover). However, in order to see what’s wrong with his video-store and how he can fix all of its problems, he decides to take a bit of a vay-cay and do some thinking on his own. This leaves his most trusted, dedicated employee, Mike (Mos Def), the responsibility of watching over the whole shop and making sure nothing bad at all happens. Somehow though, it totally does, because once the buffoon of the neighborhood, Jerry (Jack Black), gets electrocuted and comes into the shop, he wipes all of the tapes clean with nothing but static on them. Scared to have his boss find this out and be ultimately disappointed in him, Mike decides to pick up a camera, get Jerry and start filming their own versions of these movies. It’s called “Sweded”, and somehow, the town catches on and, in a way, like these versions a lot more than the actual movies themselves. This gets the store all sorts of attention – both wanted and unwanted.

So yeah, while that premise may sound strange and all, just let me tell you that this is a film written and directed by Michel Gondry; somebody who is definitely one for not always being the most “normal” film-maker out there. However, that’s the reason why this movie actually works – Gondry has a vision that may alienate some, but to others, there’s a certain joy in seeing what he sees through those artistic eyes of his. And while I couldn’t necessarily call something like this “artistic”, there’s still something joyous about it that makes it all worth watching.

"So you want me to get rid of all the Woody Allen pictures?"

“So you want me to get rid of all the Woody Allen pictures we have in store?”

Gondry’s weird-isms aside and all.

Although, I do have to say that for the first half-hour of this movie, nothing seemed to be happening at all. I get that there was supposed to be some sort of reason behind why these tapes were all erased and therefore, drive these guys to actually have to make these Swedes, but it seemed way too slow and messy. Almost as if Gondry himself was searching everywhere he could for anything that resembled a plot and didn’t know where to start, or end; he was just searching and searching, while annoying us at the same time.

But eventually, once the plot gets going and the Swede-ing starts happening, then the movie gets to be a bunch of fun. Which is mostly due to the fact that I think Gondry shows exactly what it’s like to have the creative adrenaline run through your body; the same kind of adrenaline that makes you want to get up from what you are doing and just have the world see what it is that you see, or are able to create. A part of me likes to think that Gondry uses this angle, only to express his own knack for creating low-budget remakes of popular films, but another part of me likes to think that whatever the case may be, it doesn’t matter. He’s clearly happy making these small, really cheesy remakes, and as a result, I was too.

And basically, that’s the whole gist of this movie. For a good portion of it, at least, the movie is all about what it’s like to have the need to make a movie right from where you are, with whatever you’ve got. It doesn’t matter if you have a budget, a whole lot of talent, or even all of the right equipment to get going from the ground-up. All you need is some inspiration and that drive to make you keep on shooting whatever it is that you want to shoot. If it’s a video of you just ranting about whatever it is that’s on your mind in that point in time – then go for it! If it’s a video of some Charlie kid biting somebody – then sure, totally go for it!

Whatever the idea in your head may be, it doesn’t matter. All that does matter is that you’re able to get up off your rump and film something! That’s what movies are all about in the first place, and while this movie may not be the most perfect piece of cinema to exemplify that fact, it’s still a noble effort from someone who clearly knows a thing or two about what it is that he’s talking about/filming.

How I imagine he acts every time he steps out of the shower.

How I imagine he looks every time he steps out of the shower.

As for the rest of the movie, it’s all pretty fine, especially in the casting-department. Though Jack Black’s shtick is the same here, as it’s been in, I don’t know, say, every single one of his damn movies, it’s still pretty entertaining and makes sense once this Jerry character gets a little bit too big for his britches and acts like he’s some big-time star of some sort. Sure, he has plenty of haters, but Black’s shtick, when used well, is entertaining and fun to watch. Same goes for Mos Def who, despite being on a short list of rappers-turned-actors, is one of the better ones because he’s able to go from role-to-role, without ever seeming like he’s trying too hard for one thing or another. He’s just being an actor, although there still has yet to be that one role that distinguishes him from the rest of the group.

Still though, I hold out hope. Not just for Def, but for the future of movies as a whole. Because even though certain people don’t believe the movie-business will be the same twenty-thirty years from now, there’s still hope out there that people will feel the need to want to express themselves in a fun, creative manner. Especially with a camera in their hand; something in front of them; and a chock full of ideas inside their noggins.

I still hold out hope, people. And you should too.

Consensus: While inherently messy, Be Kind Rewind still gets itself together in time for it to be a fun, creative, and rather passionate-look at what it takes for a person to create something, whether it be a film, a book, a song, or any piece of work that expresses themselves for being who they are.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Now they're all working at FYE. Damn, DVD's.

Now they’re all working at FYE. Damn, DVD’s.

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Just when you thought cops were becoming everybody’s heroes once again….

Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something odd in the air. He can’t quite put his finger on what it is really, but he thinks it’s a sign that he needs to stop from hustling and bustling ways, get clean, and start anew. This means being a better husband to his long-time gal-pal (Melonie Diaz), being the son his mother (Octavia Spencer) wants him to be, and best of all: always being there for his daughter when she needs him the most. Throughout this whole day, Oscar sees what his life was and what it could be if he puts his mind to it, but honestly, he isn’t too worried because it’s New Year’s Eve baby, and he wants to just have a good time. So good a time, that he eventually ends up getting shot and killed by two BART police officers in cold blood. Yup, so much for changes, right?

Now, for any of you peeps out there who may already be pissed that I just spoiled the hell out of this whole movie, cool your jets because not only does the last part of that synopsis happen in the first five minutes of the movie, but it’s also a true story, that you may or may not have heard about. I for one, never heard of this story, but apparently it caused plenty of havoc around the Bay Area and had the two cops involved, disbarred and put in jail (of course only to have one of them actually be released several months later), but that’s the real beauty of what this story is really all about: What happened that tragic night and figuring out the people/person behind it all. Of course we don’t know how much of this story is just pure speculation or what is actually what went down from dusk til dawn, but at the end of the day; Oscar Grant was a man who was wrongfully killed and will hopefully spark more and more debate about what’s wrong and what’s right, when it comes to what the police can and cannot use as protection.

My daddy never gave me any piggy-backs.

My daddy never gave me any piggy-backs.

Yep, it’s going to be one of those reviews. Get ready, baby.

Already, people are touting this as “this year’s Beasts of the Southern Wild“, mostly in the sense that this too is a small movie that’s already making plenty of waves around the festival circuit. However, I don’t think it’s comparison really holds up as this is a movie that concerns something very real, honest, and frank with what it’s portraying, that it’s an honest wonder how this movie hasn’t already been made yet. Granted, the actual murder occurred four years ago, but in Hollywood time, all you need is a couple of months and weeks to get a script, director, cast, budget, and shooting-times locked and loaded for a movie to be made. Thankfully though, this wasn’t made or even really produced by Hollywood. It’s all indie, all the time and thank heavens for that because it makes you feel closer and closer to this story than you’d ever expect.

Oscar’s day isn’t a really eventful one, and that’s what makes this movie pretty damn unique. We pop right into his life without any real flashbacks (except for one key scene) or knowings of who this character is, and what everybody else he sees or meets means to him. We are just plopped right into the dude’s life and basically expected to follow in line with what he, and everybody else around him says, which is easy to do since he is so easy to like, even if he isn’t perfect. I have no real clue as to what type of person Oscar Grant was in real life, but from what this movie makes him out to be is that not only was he hustler, drug-dealer, and gang-banger, but he was also a pretty dedicated father that was there for his wife and kid. Sure, the dude messed up plenty-upon-plenty of times, but he still was there for them when they needed it the most.

However, all that I’m saying is mostly pure speculation as we don’t actually see what Oscar used to be like before this fateful day. But then again, we don’t need to because the movie seems to have already mapped-out enough info and details about this dude, his life, what he does, how he does it, and who he is as a person, which makes us care more and more for him as the story goes on. Drug dealers are bad news, no matter who the person may be, but Oscar makes you think that at the end of the day, he will do the right thing and that’s all that matters when you have a story as humane and honest as this one.

Bad news is, we know how the story ends and whether or not he does the right thing means jack shit, because the man died, and for what?

Which brings me to the idea of this movie: Why did Oscar have to die? As soon as the cops show up at the end of the story, we see Oscar and his buddies criticized for the sole reason that they are black and do believe me, it does not stop there. It gets worse and worse and worse, because it seems that these cops not only have authority problems that probably spur from the fact that their mommies and daddies didn’t love them enough when they were children. but they can’t handle a little disagreement between officers and “alleged” prisoners. However, it doesn’t matter what the reason may have been since it only makes wonder “why”, but also, “for what?”

Like the old saying goes, "Momma always know what's up". Or something along those lines.

Like the old saying goes, “Momma always know what’s up”. Or something along those lines.

Oscar Grant was a very troubled guy, but he was still a human that didn’t deserve to get his life taken away so quickly. Then again, nobody does and it’s just a shame that somebody who seemed to really be turning his life around or get involved with making right, had to suffer the consequences for something as stupid and idiotic as a slight scuffle on the subway. I’m not going to give away any further details, unless you don’t already know the story, but the final 30 minutes of this movie are probably some of the most tense I’ve had to go through the whole year so far. Hell, the movie’s like that the whole run-time because you know that no matter what Oscar does, no matter how much promises he makes to the people around him and no matter how long Oscar tries to keep up this get-up of being straight and cool that sadly, the man is going to be nothing more than just another man, wrongfully shot and killed for the sake of a bunch of misunderstandings. That whole feeling rests right in your stomach and has you feeling more and more emotion for Oscar and the story, as soon as the actual shooting actually shows up on-screen. And trust me, once it hits, it’s going to hit you bad, bad, bad. Just as it did to me and apparently, to everybody else in the theater surrounding me.

Don’t get taken away by this story though because as rich as the actual, real-life material may be, the discussion doesn’t quite smack your train-of-thought like it should. For instance, without giving too much away and being as vague as possible, the movie ends on a note that shows Oscar and what’s left of his family as they mourn his death, and it shows a tribute to a man that could have been you or me, but wasn’t. That’s all fine and dandy because Oscar’s story is one that’s meant to be heard loud and clear, but should also spark up some more discussion, which I don’t think this movie had the balls to do just yet. It does point fingers at the cops for being terribly over-zealous with the use of their weapons, but it doesn’t go much further than that. It shows the problem, what happened, how, and why, and leaves it that.

Not much more after that except for a couple of very upsetting scenes that tug on the heart-strings as much as you’ve heard (or may have not, I don’t know). And just like I said, that’s not a bad thing if you’re giving a movie to a real person’s story that’s meant for the big-screen, but there’s so much material and promise here to really capitalize on getting people talking, thinking, arguing, discussing, and getting on the backs of either sides. If the movie made that next step, we would have had a masterpiece on our hands, but it didn’t reach that pinnacle. Instead, it was a nice feature flick about a man who’s life was not just a tragic one, but a real one that anybody on this Earth could have lived as well, it’s just sad it had to end the way it did.

Very, very sad indeed.

Once again though, who Oscar Grant really was is really all up in the air because the movie only uses speculation and what I hope was actual testimony from friends and family alike. Well that, and also Michael B. Jordan’s amazing portrayal of him that is sure as hell going to get him some real deserved Oscar buzz. Jordan is great as Grant because he shows the guy in many ways, all of which seem realistic enough to be taken in as actual fact, even if we don’t know if it’s fact or fiction or just a person reading a script and going with whatever emotion comes first. Whatever it may have been for Jordan, it sure as hell worked since this performance is nothing short of perfection, in the way that he’s able to make us feel something, anything, for this guy regardless of what he does throughout the day.

As I stated before, Grant wasn’t a perfect person, but he was a person nonetheless and showed promise for being an understandable and trustworthy husband, father, as well as a friend. Jordan never loses sight of making this real-life person, anything else but realistic and for that, I really do want to see this guy get a nomination of some sorts come February next year. I know, I know, I know! It’s early as heck for that type of talk, but with the buzz this movie’s been getting: I can actually see it happening. Fingers crossed, people!

"Don't worry, boo, I sort of got your back."

“Don’t worry, boo, I sort of got your back.”

Melonie Diaz is also great as his girlfriend of many, many years as she knows who Oscar is and doesn’t always stand for his shit, but at least still knows that he’s a good enough man that she’ll stick with him at the end of the day. She’s a very realistic woman, and one that every man sure as hell hopes to be with at the end of the day. Octavia Spencer plays Oscar’s mommy and shows the same type of emotions that Diaz shows in the way that she knows who Oscar truly is, but still loves him no matter what. The scenes these two have together are not only raw, but very emotional in that you can see how these two would still stick by one another, no matter how far off-track the other one went. But above all, I’m just happy that the lady has gotten a role that’s worthy of her Oscar-winning role two years ago. Never thought it’d come around, but thankfully, it did in the form of this movie and this role.

Lastly, we have Kevin Durand and Chad Michael Murray as the two cops involved with Oscar’s death and this is where the slope gets a tad bit slippery. Both are good with their short run-time they have on-screen, but in order for the movie to make them feel substantial enough to pay clear enough attention to and continue to think about even until this day, they needed more time and more material to work with. I get it: The movie is more concerned with Oscar’s side of the story, as it’s obviously clear he was the one who was wronged, but what about the cops themselves? Did they do anything wrong or were they just doing their job? Or hell, if you think about it, could you blame them for accidentally killing Oscar? The questions that I just made up were ones that the movie could have definitely went with and totally hit the nail on it’s head, but it didn’t go that far. And I’m all for rooting for the one who was the victim, but there could have been further development and discussion on the other side. Then again, there may have not been all that much to deal with, so I might just be making shit up that’s non-existent.

All I will say is that if you hated Chad Michael Murray before, you’re going to hate him even more now. Damn you, Lucas Scott!

Consensus: Many people will feel plenty of countless emotions during and/or after watching Fruitvale Station, most of which are deserved, but something still tells me that there is an argument to be made here that still hasn’t been brought to the lime light for all to see, prey on, and devour. Maybe that will come around once people actually see it, but until then: I wait and I wait.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

4 black guys. 1 white cop. Wonder what's going to happen next....

4 black guys. 2 white cops. Wonder what’s going to happen next….

Nothing Like the Holidays (2008)

Even Puerto Ricans know how to celebrate Christmas, who would of thought?

John Leguizmo and Alfred Molina head up an all-star cast in this multicultural ensemble comedy that follows a trio of Puerto Rican siblings — a Marine, an actress and a businessman — on their way home to Chicago for a Christmastime family reunion. Directed by Alfredo De Villa, the holiday tale also features performances by Debra Messing, Luis Guzman, Jay Hernandez, Freddy Rodriguez, Vanessa Ferlito and Melonie Diaz.

So thinking since it’s the holiday season, it’s time for me to spread a little bit of Christmas cheer, for all to , well, see. This film came out in 2008, and has been widely forgotten about, which blows considering, it is a great feel-good movie for the whole family, come Christmas time.

This film does a great job at keeping you watching. It has a great appeal, of a big family that reunites all together for the big Christmas day & dinner. I enjoyed watching all the moments that lead up to the eventful dinner, mainly because a lot of the things were funny, but at the same time, some of them were just plain dramatic, and in a way felt real. Hell, this family may even remind you of your own at times.

Although there is some well scripted comedy it is not enough to make up for the constant parading of unresolved problems which pile up like dead bodies by the side of the road. And although there is some resolve you still can’t get those dead carcasses out of your mind. This may be more realistic of the way many families live, at Christmas but I would rather focus on the positive than dwell in the negative at least one month out of the year.

Despite the film being also quite predictable, as most dysfunctional family movies are, the characters keep you glued on. Alfred Molina as Eddy, the dad, and Elizabeth Pena as Anna, the mom do a great job with their roles as parents with marital problems that they have kept hidden for the most part. Luis Guzman always finds a way to bring great comedy to any film. Freddy Rodriguez is good here, providing a very likable character. John Leguizamo, and Debra Messing, actually have a good chemistry together, and although their a couple that doesn’t seem like they would work on screen, they actually do a good job at being a couple with baby problems.

Consensus: Not the best Christmas movies out there, mainly because it focuses too negatively on some subjects, but the likable characters, and strong performances, make you feel good while watching this little holiday treat.