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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Michael Douglas

Fatal Attraction (1987)

Stay married and happy, men. You never know what’s out there.

Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a successful business man who has a nice job, lovely wife (Anne Archer), cute kid, and quaint little house in the suburbs. However, that all starts to change once he gets involved with Alex (Glenn Close), another successful business woman who falls head over heels for the guy. And for awhile, he thinks the same. Until he doesn’t and that’s when it all gets a little crazy.

Fatal Attraction calls for the kind of crazy and wacky treatment that director Adrian Lyne so deservedly gives it. It’s clear he’s having a lot of fun, knows that this material can sometimes be so ridiculous, but also does approach it with a certain bit of seriousness, as well, not forgetting that at the heart of this story, real issues and problems are being addressed. For one, it’s not a horror movie – or at least, not in the expected sense.

Yup. Totally normal.

Yup. Totally normal.

While Lyne loves playing around with those certain conventions, as if we were watching a horror movie, instead, what we’re watching a real life horror flick, with real life people, making real, incredibly terrible choices. It’s the kind of movie that studios prefer to stay away from, but Lyne does a solid job of reminding us that, at some points, this material can be pretty crazy, but when you get right down to it, isn’t much of a laughing-matter, either. Sure, it helps that he films each and every of the sex scenes with a foggy bit of eyes, but it also helps that he doesn’t forget what’s really going on underneath all of the hot, sweaty, steamy and naked sex.

Or, at least I assumed they’d be naked, right?

But by the same token, it’s sort of hard to really care for Michael Douglas at all here. Just to clarify some things so that we’re all on the same page: The guy is human, the guy is married, and he wants to have a little bit of playtime when his wife is away. Makes sense. But then, when his wife comes back and he’s back in the swing of things, we’re supposed to act like that never happened and even worse, we’re supposed to actually care about him and all of the stuff that he goes through when he just decides to throw this girl away like garbage? It’s hard to care what really happens to this guy, because as much as he may want to forgive and forget, it’s hard for us to do the same.

Nothing wrong with a little slam-bang action in dirty hallways.

Nothing wrong with a little slam-bang action in dirty hallways.

But maybe that’s the point? I don’t know.

Douglas is good here because he doesn’t ham the role up in the slightest, but it also makes him feel a tad bit more dull than he probably should. Anne Archer plays his wife and she’s got a few nice moments, to show not why she would love someone like him, but why he’d be making such a bad decision in the first place. It’s not a very showy role, but it’s a nice one that reminds us what she can do.

But really, it’s Glenn Close who, as you may have heard by now, absolutely steals the show as Alex Forrest, or basically, every married-man’s worst nightmare. Close is so amazing here as Forrest not only because she can play normal and switch it off into full-on crazy mode so well, but because there’s just something about her that you sympathize with from the very start, regardless of how sadistic or creepy she gets. A good portion of this credit goes to Lyne for not painting her as a total villain, but as a sad, lonely and rather kooky lady woman who had a brief spat with love and affection, couldn’t get enough of it, and then, all of a sudden, had to put up with the fact that it was going to be gone from her life, just like that.

Now, who’s the one we sympathize with more, I ask? Regardless, Close is great in this role, never letting us forget that she lingers in every scene – even those that she’s not in – and also has us questioning what her next move or motive’s going to be. After all, the movie never makes it totally clear just what she’s up to, or why she is the way she is, making her dangerous, scary and yes, so very, very compelling. In a way, she makes Fatal Attraction a better movie by just owning the screen every chance she gets, but yeah.

She does.

Consensus: Fatal Attraction runs into the usual problems that come with a wild plot like this, but due to an amazing performance from Close and a smart, relatively sensitive direction from Lyne, it works better than it should.

8 / 10

Yeah, we've all been in this situation once or twice. Or never.

Yeah, we’ve all been in this situation once or twice. Or never.

Photos Courtesy of: Old Films and Me

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Basic Instinct (1992)

Eyes advert, fellas!

Homicide detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) is known for always solving his cases to the best of his ability and because of that, he not only has a good career, but a good life in general. However, it all changes one day when he begins to investigate the mysterious of a rock star and links up with the sexy, vivacious, and possibly dangerous Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone). Believe it or not, she’s actually a crime novelist who loves to write about all sorts of deadly, violent crimes, or better yet, like the ones that continue to pop-up around the same time the death of this rock star occurs. For Nick, however, he believes that no matter how beautiful Catherine is, he won’t let her get in the way of his investigation. But that becomes a whole lot harder when Catherine starts alluding to Nick’s lover (Jeanne Triplehorn) as having more of a criminal background than she may have let on, making Nick think long and hard about whether this case is worth it, or if he just wants to retire from the force now and possibly settle down.

Love at first fight. And other stuff.

Love at first fight. And other stuff.

Oh, and Sharon Stone flashes a bunch of dudes.

There’s certain moments in film history that will forever remain infamous and the aforementioned Sharon Stone scene is one of them. Does it matter that the rest of the movie is neither as shocking, crazy, unpredictable, or infamous as that one scene in particular? Not really, but it doesn’t keep Basic Instinct, a rather mediocre, if at times bland erotic-thriller, to continue to pop-up in discussions about sex, movies, the MPAA, and mainstream, big-budget movies as a whole.

Because, like I said, Basic Instinct is a fine movie – director Paul Verhoeven doesn’t have it in him to make a boring movie, by any stretch of the imagination – but it also seems like the kind of movie that wants so hard to be cool, sexy, seductive, and rad, that it also forgets about what makes most movies like that in the first place: Some semblance of entertainment. Verhoeven loves his movies to be trashy, dirty and sweaty, which is what we get a whole lot with Basic Instinct, but that doesn’t make it nearly as fun, or as exciting as it sounds; in a way, it can actually be kind of boring. In a way, it’s clear that Verhoeven wants to make a sort of homage to the film noir’s of the 1950’s or so, but obviously, with a far more modern-update.

If that was his intention, then yeah, he got it down well; he captures the look, the feel, and most of all, the performances, except with a whole lot more boobs, butt, blood, and ice-picks. But style-points in a movie like this can only go so far – after awhile, there needs to be a story, emotion, and most of all, action. And I don’t mean “action” in the literal sense, as much as I mean in the proverbial sense – people just standing around, staring into space and thinking long and hard about what they want to do next, unfortunately, just doesn’t cut it.

You can look, but you can't touch, boys.

You can look, but you can’t touch, boys.

A lot of that happens in Basic Instinct, too.

A part of me thinks it’s just Verhoeven’s obvious European influences coming out, but a part of me also thinks that it’s just him slowly realizing that there’s not much more to the movie than a bunch of hot, steamy sex. And like I said, the hot, steamy sex is done well, it’s just that everything else surrounding isn’t and more or less, feels as if it’s all just filler so that Verhoeven himself can get another sex scene going. It’s understandable why the movie was so shocking back in 1992, but nowadays, sex in movies is overplayed, no matter how explicit and it made me wish that a good chunk of this flick was actually dedicated to an actual, compelling plot, and less to how Sharon Stone’s boobs or butt looked while mounting Michael Douglas.

Then again, the two do mount each other nicely and it’s one of the stronger aspects of the movie. That Nick has a bit of a dark side to him and is drawn to Catherine’s even darker, possibly more sadistic ways, makes the movie all the more enjoyable to watch; we know that he’s going to eventually crack under the pressure and make sweet, sexy love to her like the Dickens, but when, where, how, and at what cost, makes it all the more intriguing to sit through. Together, the two are quite good; they play-off of one another well, with Stone’s over-the-top playfulness, going hand-in-hand with Douglas’ over-the-top seriousness. In a smaller movie, with less of media-attention and a different director, the two probably would have made a very interesting drama, where instead of focusing on how many times they bang, it’s more about how many times they actually do love one another, but of course, that’s all a fantasy.

Of course, what we have is a movie that allows them to put in some good work, even if the work itself isn’t all that there. Verhoeven does eventually have some fun in the final-act, once people start getting killed-off left and right, but by then, it’s a little too late. The movie’s a little over two hours, but honestly, feels a whole lot longer than that, and because of such, it’s a bit of an uneasy watch. Just when you think and expect for the movie to fully pick up the slack and get going somewhere, Verhoeven decides to slow things down and focus in on these characters and whatever garbage lines they have to deliver. Sometimes, that’s fun, as long as it stays trashy and fun.

But being just trashy and leaving it at that, I’m sorry, is not fun.

Consensus: Well-acted and directed with plenty of style, Basic Instinct also proves that all of the sex, violence and nudity in the world, can’t make-up for a weak story and script.

6 / 10

Yeah, it's that scene.

Yeah, it’s that scene.

Photos Courtesy of: The Iron Cupcake, Indiewire

You, Me and Dupree (2006)

DupreeposterEverybody’s got that one, seemingly attractive friend who has an oddly-shaped nose and has every woman attracted to him. Yeah, screw that guy.

Carl (Matt Dillon) and Molly (Kate Hudson) are back from their honeymoon and finally feel as if it’s the time for them to start focusing on their lives and possibly even starting a family. That all goes out the window once Carl’s old pal, Randy Dupree (Owen Wilson), comes around, asking for some money and a place to live. Why? Well, because it appears that Dupree has yet to grow up and accept life for what it is. Instead of having a job where he gets money, he mostly just sits around the house; instead of having a steady girlfriend, he’ll sometimes just jerk-off and have random flings; instead of being able to be trusted and responsible, he sometimes takes a tad too much of everything he’s handed for granted. And while Carl and Molly both grow tired of Dupree’s wild and unpredictable antics, eventually, they come to realize that maybe he’s going to make their lives a bit better. After all, there’s this fun and happy spirit to him that’s almost too hard to deny.

Some of the best bums I know, are the best chefs. When they're not paying for the food, that is.

Some of the best bums I know, are the best chefs. When they’re not paying for the food, that is.

You, Me and Dupree is a very weird comedy in that it doesn’t really have a plot, or, as my pals in the biz like to call it, “a hook”. It’s a mainstream comedy with big-names attached to it, but no real premise to have people the slightest bit interested; if anything, it appears that the powers behind You, Me and Dupree just relied solely on the fact that it was able to get these people to show up in their movie in the first place. Heck, even Michael Douglas’ unfortunate name can’t help but be thrown on the poster, even if he is only in the movie for at least 20 or so minutes.

And the only reason why I bring any of this up is because it’s actually kind of hard to talk about You, Me and Dupree without feeling like I’m just writing about a movie I think I saw. Don’t worry, I’ve seen it and yeah, it was fine. It’s the kind of movie that, like I said, because there doesn’t seem to be anything actually going on other than Owen Wilson acting like a goof-ball, it’s hard to fully remember any stand-out scene that had me laughing for days, or really surprised me. Mostly, the whole movie just came, went, did its thing, and that was it.

Does that make it bad?

Maybe, but I didn’t hate myself while watching it.

If anything, I was just more confused as to how it got made. The movie’s not incredibly funny, nor is it all that dramatic, either. There’s certain ideas and themes about marriage, loyalty, and sex that come and go as they please, but you get the feeling that directors Joe and Anthony Russo don’t really have a clue what to make of them; they’re way more interested in watching Owen Wilson cause all sorts of havoc around him, while acting like the nicest guy possible. And yes, there is definitely some fun to watching this – Wilson is, believe it or not, a likable presence on-screen, so that when he is given cruddy material like this, he allows for it to appear better than it may actually be. There’s no denying that the script is pretty lame and only brings out the gultiest and easiest laughs, but somehow, it slightly works because Wilson’s good at this kind of role.

And the rest of the cast is fine, too, even if they’re far-off worse than Wilson. Kate Hudson is charming, as usual; Matt Dillon gets a few occasions to have fun and be weird, which is always a plus; Michael Douglas gets to play a dick, which is always magically delicious; and Seth Rogen, in what appears to be an early role of his, does well and leaves an impression. Their characters aren’t all as drawn-out as Wilson’s Dupree and for that, they kind of suffer. However, they all try their hardest with material that clearly isn’t up their alley, nor is it made to fully work.

Mikey Douglas as a father-in-law? Sign me up!

Mikey Douglas as a father-in-law? Sign me up!

Which once again makes me wonder: How did it get made?

Did the actors just read this script, think it was trash, but because they were somewhat interested in doing something that would give them a lot of money, just do it anyway? Did they all want to work together? Or, did they all just want to spend some time with Michael Douglas? Honestly, the later option is perhaps the most believable and it shows; You, Me and Dupree seems like the kind of mediocre-as-hell comedy that would have been the main focus of a season on Project Greenlight. It’s cheap, stupid and really easy-to-follow-along-with, which is basically what you could call any of the movies made from that show.

However, because the cast is involved, it becomes something of a bigger beast. It’s got a bigger budget and you know what? It’s actually a better movie. Does that make it perfect? Nope, but it does make it at least somewhat better to sit through than the worst comedies from its stars.

May not sound like much, but hey, at least it’s something.

Consensus: With a talented cast on-board, You, Me and Dupree just barely squeaks by as being an okay movie, even if its jokes aim as low as they can, without a single care in the world to actually try harder.

5 / 10

What can he say? He's just Dupree!

What can he say? He’s just Dupree!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Ant-Man (2015)

Never be afraid to dream a little bigger. Unless Kevin Feige says otherwise.

After being released from prison for a robbery he committed on some company he worked for many years ago, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) finally gets a shot to take back his life and make amends for the pain he’s put his ex-wife (Judy Greer) and daughter through. Problem is, Scott’s past is so shoddy, that he’s finding it harder and harder to get a job, start anew and move on from what he once was. That’s why when one of his buddies (Michael Peña) brings up the idea of pulling off a vault-heist on some old dude’s house, he’s initially hesitant, but also realizes that cat-burglarizing is what he’s best at – whether he likes to admit it or not. Little does he know that the old man’s house he’s robbing is Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a scientist who once worked for Stark Enterprises and left when he realized that one of his inventions were getting used for all the wrong reasons. But now, with Scott, Hank has found his perfect guinea pig for his pet-project: Ant-Man.

Puns intended.

Sort of like how I watch my next-door neighbor....

Sort of like how I watch my next-door neighbor….

Already going into Ant-Man, there was a feeling of disdain from yours truly. Most of that has to do with the fact that, not only does it seem like the Marvel machine is growing to be more and more of the same entertaining, but generic thing, time and time again, but that there’s hardly a chance for anyone to come in and try to shake that formula up. Case in point, Edgar Wright – someone who is able to make many movie-nerds foam at the mouth at the possibility of him both writing and directing something. And heck, put his own sense of zany style in a Marvel movie, where a bigger cast and budget would be at his free reign, you bet your bottom dollar that the hype-train just gets more and more packed.

But sadly, and predictably, I guess, things didn’t pan out so well.

For one, Wright left and the powers that be within Disney were left scrambling far and wide for the next possible replacement to pick up the slack and see if they could make water out of ice. With Peyton Reed, most people involved with Marvel and Disney felt as if they found the most suitable replacement available and honestly, I can’t hold many qualms with that decision. Even despite the fact that Reed’s previous directorial efforts include the horrendous Yes Man and Break-Up, clearly they were working against a deadline and came up with whomever they felt was more than willing and capable of handling the job.

Sure, Reed’s no Wright, but then again, who the hell is? Though Reed’s directing-style may borderline on “generic”, he still handles a few action set-pieces well enough to where we get the same sort of imagination and frivolous fun that we would come to expect with Wright. If anything, Reed’s style is so mediocre, that it helps not get in the way of what could have been a very pushy and needy movie. Sort of like a pet who wants you to pet it, so it just cozies up to you, never leaves you alone, and stares deep into your eyes until you give in and give it what it wants.

Pretty sure you can’t pet ants, but you get my drift.

So, with that all said, it’s worth mentioning that Ant-Man turns out to actually be a bit of a better movie than I expected from all the controversy surrounding it in the pre-production stage. One of the main reasons that Ant-Man works well, is because it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to get out there in this huge, Marvel universe, and tell a bunch of other stories that it doesn’t need to bother with; instead, it’s focus is solely on Scott Lang and whomever else is around him. Some may be annoyed at the fact that other Marvel superheros don’t get the time of day like they do in other flicks, but somehow, it works in this movie’s favor; it helps keep things simple, contained and most of all, entertaining, without ever trying to be more complicated than it needs to be.

With hair like that, you bet she can kick your ass.

With hair like that, you bet she can kick your ass.

Still though, that’s not to say that this movie doesn’t feel as if, considering what Marvel’s been up to in the past couple or so years, a bit of a disappointment. And this most definitely has to do with the fact that there were so many hiccups before filming even got started, because something does feel a bit “off” about Ant-Man while watching it. Maybe the fact that there were literally four writers on this thing has something to do with it, but also due to the fact that the movie itself doesn’t always set out to blow our minds.

Sometimes, there’s no problem with that; in most cases, all you need is a good time to get you through everything. But something feels odd in this movie where the humor can sometimes feel tacked-on and random, as if it were just thrown in there so Marvel could keep up with the formula that their movies hold so dear to their hearts – exposition, action scene, character development, witticism, rinse and repeat. The jokes themselves are a bit hit-or-miss, but whether or not they’re funny isn’t really the point – what is, is whether or not they feel like they deserved to be tossed in there when they are, and they sort of don’t. I’m glad at least one of the four writers made an attempt, but sometimes, it’s best to just take a back-seat and let things move for a little while.

But when things go wrong in movies such as these, it’s always best to depend on the cast to save the day, which is what they do.

Well, sort of.

Paul Rudd, as usual, is charming, funny and cool as Scott Lang, even if it feels like he’s never quite given that opportunity to shine, break out from his comfort-shell and prove exactly why he deserves to be taken seriously as this superhero. None of that has to do with Rudd himself, though, as it’s most definitely the script’s fault for not spending more time in fleshing him, or anybody else at. Because where it stands, mostly everybody here is fine at playing these characters on a superficial, surface-area level and that’s about it.

Such talented folks like Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Martin Donovan, Michael Peña, and Michael Douglas, all play their characters in such a way that makes it seem like they just came ready to play around for awhile and that’s it. Once again, not their fault, it’s just a bummer considering that with these names, you’d expect something so much better. Way better, actually.

If only Edgar Wright stayed on.

Consensus: Without trying too hard, Ant-Man is a perfectly serviceable piece of superhero blockbuster, but considering the company it keeps, it can’t help but feel like a small step down.

6.5 / 10

Until next year, bro.

Until next year, bro.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Beyond the Reach (2015)

Greed is good. Especially when you have a sniper-rifle at your disposal.

Young, brash and blissfully in love Ben (Jeremy Irvine) gets the offer of his lifetime when a older, rich and slightly off-kilter billionaire named Madec (Michael Douglas) comes stumbling on in wanting someone to go bighorn sheep hunting with. Ben is certified to do so and is told by his commanding-officer to take Madec out into the wide-open vastness that is the Mojave desert, and that’s what Ben does. However, Ben soon realizes that this Madec guy may not only be not who he originally says he is, but isn’t up to any good, either. Slowly but surely, Ben starts to grow more and more suspicious about Madec’s behavior, all until it finally reaches its point: When a simple hunt goes terribly, terribly wrong. Madec knows that his ass is on the line if anything is ever said about what’s transpired on this trip, so he feels that the best way to get rid of any problems whatsoever, is to remove the problem – in this case, it’s Ben. But Ben isn’t going to go down too easily and instead decides that it’s time to fight against Madec and show him what surviving is all about.

Even as he’s grown older, there’s a part of me that wants to believe that Michael Douglas still oozes that slimy-charm that’s he’s always been so famous for, but even as he gets older, there’s something about him now that seems more sympathetic. Sure, he’s not as cuddly as, I don’t know, say your own grand-parents, but having seen all that Douglas is able to do with that creepiness of his that has guided his career for so long, you can’t help but just accept his presence for all that it is. He may not be putting out as great of movies anymore, but hey, a movie with Michael Douglas in it, is better than a movie with no Michael Douglas in it, right?

"I've got Charlie Sheen, clear in my sight."

“I’ve got Shia LeBeouf, clear in my sight.”

Maybe. And if so, Beyond the Reach may be the perfect example.

Not only does Douglas make it all the better by doing what he does best here, but simply, he doesn’t let the terrible script get a hold of his honed-skills. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a lie, because while the script is incredibly goofy and silly, Douglas still finds himself getting lost in it a bit where you don’t really know if he’s in on the joke, or if there’s even a joke to begin with. For all we know, this movie could have literally featured hardly any comedy whatsoever, and everything just played out as is, unintentionally hilarious or not.

That said, Douglas tries and because of that effort on his part, the movie’s made a bit better to watch. As for Jeremy Irvine, while I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen so far from him, the dude’s got plenty of time to go before he’s single handedly carrying B-movie pics like this on his own shoulders. Still though, he comes ready to play in Douglas’ house, when he could have easily just been up-stagged nearly the whole time and left looking like a total, amateurish fool; instead, he goes head-to-head with Douglas and shows he’s willing to hang.

For how long that will all be, is totally up in the air. But for now, Irvine’s a solid presence on-screen.

The only problem is that he and Douglas are given absolutely nothing of substance to work with here. And sure, that may not seem like something you’d look for in a movie that literally features a character drinking brewing coffee out of his $500,000 Mercedes G-63 six-wheel truck in the middle of the Mojave desert, but it’s not nearly as fun as it should have been in order to get fully past all of the terrible, corny stuff that happens later on throughout this flick.

What happens to someone after their horse is killed........in war.

What happens to someone after their horse is killed……..in war.

For instance, the movie, early on, flirts with the idea of this being a survival thriller in the same vein of a Wolf Creek or something of a sorts, and instead, just leads to the majority of it featuring Irvine’s character constantly running, tripping and hiding from Douglas’ character’s bullets. At first, it’s slightly tense, only because you never know which one’s going to land, or even where, but eventually, it grows tiresome. It’s understandable that a movie like this may have not had a huge budget to work with like most other thrillers of its own nature, but there’s only so many times one can watch a truck run into a pile of rocks, without feeling any bit of excitement or intensity that one is normally supposed to feel.

And then, of course, the story just loses all sorts of focus that really throws in wrenches wherever they can find them. There’s some idea surrounding the fact that Douglas’ character is in some sort of do-or-die deal and it’s never made clear as to why that’s pertinent to this situation now; there’s also this other subplot concerning Irvine’s character’s girlfriend that’s ham-fisted in every way; and for some reason, there’s a cat-and-mouse game that’s less about actually being smart and tricky, but more about just trying to being out of somebody’s sight. That’s less of a game of cat-and-mouse, and more of a deadly game of tag; the one where you’re supposed to have some fun watching, but just don’t. Made all the worse is that this deadly game of tag includes Jeremy Irvine and none other than Michael Douglas, and what a weird pairing to play that game, let alone, actually hang out in the first place.

Oh, the power of movies.

Consensus: Inherently silly and preposterous to a fault, Beyond the Reach wants to be intentionally bad-it’s-so-good material, but can’t help but feel slow, boring, and a total waste of the talents of both Douglas and Irvine.

3 / 10 

These two going camping? Sure, why not.

These two going camping? Sure, why not.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Last Vegas (2013)

Think The Hangover, but with menopause.

After getting married and living each other’s lives apart from the other, four old friends (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline), all get together and reunite for a crazy weekend in Vegas, that’s most likely going to be full of non-stop drugs, women, booze, nakedness, bad decisions and moments that remind themselves of the good old days. However, while two of these old friends seem to still be on good terms and having a grand old time (Kline and Freeman), two others don’t seem to be, and most of that stems from the fact that Billy (Douglas) is marrying a gal much younger than he is (art imitating reality?), which is an act that Paddy (De Niro) doesn’t quite condone, nor does he really care for Billy in the first place because of something weird that happened between the two and another girl when they were kids. But nonetheless, all four friends are back together and have as much money as they can spare to have a good time, but they have to realize that they are in fact old guys, and they have to be careful with what they choose to do, that is, before they go too far. Nah, screw that. They just want to have a good time and party like it’s 1959 all over again!

While I would bargain that maybe say, I don’t know, 20 years ago, the pairing of acting legends such as Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline would have not only meant tons and tons of hype that would have already caused earthquakes as soon as the first whispers of it happening were heard, but would have also meant box-office gold right from the start; 20 years later, I have to say that it’s pretty easy to accept the fact that this wouldn’t be happening, or heck, even coming anywhere near to that occurring. And that’s not because these actors are terrible, untalented or were simply “overrated” back in those days; it’s more of the fact that the past 20 years haven’t been too kind to each of these guys, and the material that they choose has kind of suffered because of it.

Give it five minutes and they'll all be battling for who gets to use the pisser next.

Give it five minutes and they’ll all be battling for who gets to use the pisser next.

Granted, I’m always down to see what happens when a bunch of acting legends who never shared the same screen before, get together, do what they do best and have a great time while doing so; but for all of these guys, it seemed a little too late. Then again, I kept the open-mind and believe it or not, wonders actually occurred for me. Not only did the movie have me laughing, but the legends involved with this movie weren’t just doing shop to get that paycheck and hopefully, have enough money to get the pool cover, but in fact, they’re actually putting their hearts and souls into this material, just in order to make it work for us and have us all laughing at them.

And yes, I am saying “at”, because while these guys definitely do seem to be embracing the fact that they are old fellas now, the movie never really celebrates the fact that they’re old, and most likely just pokes jokes at the fact that they can’t quite get it up like they used to, have bad knees, aren’t able to move around with the best of them and are probably creeping more girls out, than bringing them back to their rooms at night. But that’s what being old is all about, so why not share a laugh or two about it, right?

Well, sad to say, no. Old people jokes have never been funny, which means that any Viagra joke you throw in there, just does not deserve to be laughed at or even acknowledged. Not because I’m a softy and have a kind heart when it comes to those before me, but because those jokes have practically been done to death by now, and it’s time for a change. And if not time for a change, then at least give me somebody who can take this cheesy material, and at least transcend into some form of enjoyment, by any means possible.

And yes, these four acting legends are in fact those peeps who can take this cheesy material, and make it about a hundred times better just by showing up, having fun, being themselves and proving to the world that they not only still got it, but can probably make you laugh a lot harder than most of the popular comedic-talents out there in the world today.

While his track-record has probably been better than the other three involved, Michael Douglas is still doing Michael Douglas better than anybody else in the world can, which is a good thing (I think). He didn’t really need to stretch outside of boundaries to really get inside of a character like Billy (guy marries girl almost three times his age, ringing any bells?), but he still seems to be having a good time, palling around with some guys you never see him around with as much. The scenes he has with Mary Steenburgen, who plays a local jazz singer, actually add more to the film, rather than take away from it, which is weird considering that it doesn’t concern any hard-partying, drinking, doing blow or getting down-and-dirty, it’s just fun and somewhat sweet, which is a nice side-dish this movie offers from all of the craziness going on in it.

Yeah, well I do feel like the Kevin Kline in real-life wouldn't care if a girl took her top off. Say, I don't know, maybe a red bikini-top?

Yeah, well I do feel like the Kevin Kline in real-life wouldn’t care if a girl took her top off. Say, I don’t know, maybe a red bikini-top?

Mainly when talking about that craziness, I’m referring to Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman’s performances as their two characters are probably the most vibrant and exciting characters in the whole movie, and they continuously steal the show everytime the camera just keeps it placed on them. Freeman gets a couple of choice scenes where he gets to show his comedic-ability to great effect (the Red Bull rant is something that his Oscar-winning turn in Million Dollar Baby couldn’t even touch), but believe it or not, despite not being the biggest name out of the four, the one who walks away with this all is actually Kevin Kline, mostly because he’s working with the type of fun, electrifying and charming material he’s been so deserving of his whole life, and hasn’t quite gotten it since he won his Oscar all those years ago. The story surrounding Kline’s character is done well, only to be shown as a stupid and poor-attempt at trying to get him to remember why he loves marriage so much in the first place, but whenever it’s just Kline saying or doing something goofy, the movie is a blast to watch. He and Freeman have great chemistry that makes you feel like they’ve been buddies all their lives, but its Kline who just owns the screen everytime it’s given to him, like I expected it to be. I’ve been rooting for Kev all these years, and I’m glad to finally seeing it pay-off.

Though I didn’t mention him with his fellow costars, Robert De Niro is still charming and worth watching, even when he’s mucking it up a whole lot as Paddy. However though, it’s obvious that out of the four, he’s the only who really needs these types of movies to keep reminding us that yes, he’s still talented, and yes, he’s still got what it takes to have us both laughing and crying at the same time. He did that last year with Silver Linings Playbook and i can only hope that it continues on from here on out. That also means no more pieces of junk like the Family or Killing Season either, Bobby!

Consensus: The material that these legends have to work with in Last Vegas, surely isn’t the best they’ve ever been dealt, but that doesn’t phase any of them a bit since they absolutely make every second count, have a ball with one another and as a result, give us a movie that may not be perfect, but still feels like an opportunity to see four acting legends team-up together, that wasn’t a waste of precious good time, talent or money.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Hopefully this means that they're waving "bye" to bad choices in the future. Then again, probably not.

Hopefully this means that they’re waving “bye” to bad choices in the future. Then again, probably not.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Just as surprised as Austin Powers when I watched this.

When he was 17 years old, Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) was introduced to Liberace (Michael Douglas) after one of his many, many terrific performances. At first, it seemed like Liberace took a liking to Thorson that not only started a relationship between the two, but also went so far as to almost have Scott adopted by Liberace himself. Sounds strange, yes, but it gets worse once Thorson becomes more and more jealous of Liberace, his success, and the idea that he too, may be getting older and expect the boot anytime soon.

I don’t usually do this, but considering this is “apparently” Steven Soderbergh’s last movie, and there has been a butt-load of praise for this one, I thought to myself, “Why not just a review a TV movie for once!” I mean, hey, it’s HBO, and they always put out quality films so why not give it a look-see and see if I want to make a review of it or not. Well, as you can obviously see, I decided to go along with it and I’m pretty glad to, even if it is a bit weird something like this would get the television treatment.

Supposedly, Soderbergh did all that he could to get this movie out there and in the open for Hollywood producers to take, but apparently it was “too gay” for the mass-audiences, so, why not just throw it onto television’s world-wide, where anybody could watch this as long as there’s no parental-controls. It’s sort of strange to think that Hollywood would think of this movie as being “too gay”, but yet, wouldn’t allow the audience to make up their own mind as to whether or not they should see it. I think it would have done quite well in American theaters, but if there’s a movie that I can watch at my house, at my expense, and for free, then I can’t complain too much. Especially when it’s this good.

Seeing Soderbergh go out like this (even though I highly doubt this will be his last movie), is a bit sad to see, but the guy seems happy and pleased with his body of work, and even happier with the fact that he was able to make a story about Liberace. Well, it’s actually more about Thorson than it is about Liberace, but that doesn’t matter since both figures make this story work and it’s all because of the attention to detail and who these people really are that make it work. Anybody that has ever seen Liberace anywhere, always knew that this guy was a fun, free-wheeling, and wild dude that loved to live fabulous, and always give people the show that they want. He was just that type of dude that you saw in the public, but you had to know that there was something more to him than just fun and games. There must have been a sad, somewhat-depressed person underneath it all, and that’s where Soderbergh and his cast and crew gets at.

"You remind me of a younger me. Except with hair."

“You remind me of a younger me. Except with actual hair.”

We see Liberace for all of the glitz, the glamour, and the expenses that he’s been come to be known as for ages to come, but we also get a look we never thought we’d see, and that’s the intimate, vulnerable dude that’s too afraid of being old and alone for the rest of his life. Obviously every biopic touts the same thing about their subjects, but somehow with Soderbergh’s feel and approach; it never once feels phony or played-up for the sake of dramatics. It’s there to service the story and to service our emotions, and actually make us feel more for this “old queen.”

Obviously, this movie has the definitive, “Soderberghian look” to it that makes the movie work, but you can really tell that the man cares for this story, how it gets out to the masses, and how each and every one of it’s real-life figure-heads are portrayed. Rather than making Liberace some old hack that likes to bang whatever tush he can get, we get a real glimpse at somebody who’s happy to be with the person he loves, even if that person’s 40 years younger than him. But Liberace isn’t the only one who gets all of the attention, Thorson is somebody we connect with as well, if maybe a bit more conventionally as we too can feel for the dude’s pain and paranoia when he begins to feel that maybe Liberace hasn’t been so dedicated to him as he might have thought.

However, this is the aspect of the story that I felt drove it into obvious-territory where Thorson gets tied-in with a drug-habit, Liberace gets older and wants more surgeries, and the two’s relationship begins to fall-apart. This is obviously what happened in real-life, with barely any speculation whatsoever, so I can’t really get on the movie’s case for presenting me with something that’s going by-the-book, but coming from Soderbergh; I expected a bit more than what I got. Then again, the guy shoots this story in a straight-forward manner and style, that isn’t all about the flashes of glam like it’s subject was; it’s about getting down to the simple beats and skips in our heart that not only make us love one another, but also make us human. I was surprised that Soderbergh was able to channel this type of theme/message in a story about two gay dudes falling in-and-out-of-love, but that’s what the dude was always good at: giving us surprises.

Another surprise, which really shouldn’t be, but actually still was, were the performances from Matt Damon and Michael Douglas who hand in some of their best work in awhile. And no, I’m not just saying because they kiss and hump each other a lot. Although, I will say that that does take a whole slew more of dedication and passion for your work than kissing and humping females. I mean, I wouldn’t know or anything. Okay, never mind. Back with the performances!

Yup, he's totally 23.

Totally 23 years young.

Matt Damon is very good as Scott Thorson because you see a side to Damon’s acting-prowess that we haven’t seen in quite some time: his vulnerability. This is a young kid who steps right into Liberace’s life right away, gets sucked into all of the fame, power, and energy of the life, but yet; is also still a kid that wants to do thing that most kids do when they’re 17 years old. They want to cause havoc, get drunk, get high, have sex, be reckless, and just always keep moving at a quick pace that never dies down. That’s not what Liberace was all about at his age (around 60), and it seems that’s where Thorson and him first hit their rough-patches. Even though the make-up job kind of screws the pooch on making Damon look as young as he’s supposed to be, the man still keeps this character interesting and always sympathetic.

Same can be said for Michael Douglas as Liberace, who actually takes this role and makes it his own, perfectly incorporating all of Lee’s mannerisms, trademarks, and ways he had going on about him. I thought it was going to be a bit of a struggle trying to buy someone as recognizable as Douglas, playing someone as iconic and famous as Liberace, but after awhile; the magic and the charm of the guy’s acting came over full-throttle, and I eventually bought into it all. Together, the two seem like a really understandable couple that may all be about being young and spending time together while you still can, but there’s something there between these two that’s worth staying around for and believing in, regardless as to whether or not they’re gay.

And for the record: yes, they are both as straight as two circles.

Consensus: Liberace and Thorson’s story was not one that was meant for the big, nor the small-screen, but Soderbergh, Damon, Douglas, and everybody else give Behind the Candelabra their biggest-effort in awhile, and the results come out more positive and negative. If this is Soderbergh’s last to-date, the man has gone out on a high-note that all should at least give a gander at, regardless as to whether or not you can stomach two dudes getting it on.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Come and see our new movie. It's faaaabuullouusssss!"

“Come and see our new movie. It’s faaaabuullouusssss!”

Nobody Walks (2012)

Girl hipsters that look like 14-year-old boys, never a good sign for the married-man.

Olivia Thirlby stars as Martine, a New York City artist who stays with a local family (Rosemarie DeWitt and John Krasinski) in Los Angeles while working on her art film. But her arrival in this seemingly idyllic family soon begins to unravel suppressed impulses in everyone and forces them to confront their own fears and desires.

I honestly don’t mind a good infidelity movie here and there, especially when they have a top-notch cast and promise like this. However, in order for me to like that infidelity movie, I have to buy into the infidelity that is actually occurring and even though there is definitely a lot of screwing around, a lot of wondering whether or not the other person knows about the screwing around, and a lot awkward conversations between one another because of them wondering whether or not the other person knows about the screwing around, I still did not really buy into it all. I bought into the fact that John Krasinski could be a humbled and horny husband, though. If that accounts for anything.

Right from the beginning, you can tell this is an indie-movie, through and through. You got the shaggy-looking people, staring-off into space; you have the unusual jobs for certain human-beings; you have the long scenes that are filled with no dialogue, but instead some moody music from an indie band only 3 people know about; and you also have a shit-ton of symbolism, coming through other layers of the story. So basically, any idea that this movie is going to be like Fatal Attraction; you’re wrong. It’s more or less like indie-version Fatal Attraction; had Michael Douglas and Glenn Close just boned every once and awhile and never actually spoke to each other. That probably would have solved a lot of things in that movie and definitely steered-clear of any rabbits to be hurt, but I digress.

Don't make Jim angry. You don't like Jim when Jim's angry.

Don’t make Jim angry. You won’t like Jim when Jim’s angry.

That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of the stuff you’d expect from movies where people are cheating on each other, because there definitely is, it just feels so under-cooked that by the time the movie’s over, you’re left with, “That’s it?”. I’m not going to go into the logistics of this movie, what happens, and practically spoil the whole damn movie for you but when you see how much immoral-boning actually happens here, you’re going to be surprised that there’s even a story in the first-place. You just never feel those sparks of fire, burning up inside the plot and these characters’ minds, and instead, you just feel the need inside of you to just get some sort of “oh shit” moment to really lift things up from being a bit of a bore.

Mostly where the lack of sparks come from, is the fact that we never really feel like we understand what the attraction between some of these people are. Martine obviously has this way to her that gets guys all wood’d-up in the pants and the wives’ eyes glued to their men, but we never fully understand why she does the things she does and why the guys who get involved with her, actually do. Yeah, she’s got a cool look to her that reminds me of when I was 10 and definitely dresses all hip and cool, considering she’s the New Yorker in L.A., but there’s nothing to understand. She’s hot, I guess? I never understood that and maybe that’s how most affairs begin: the idea of having a new spice of life to happen to you, without any rhyme or reason as to why that certain someone or something was picked. If that was the case, the movie could have brought that out more. More for me to understand and more just to keep me interested.

Even though it’s hardly ever boring, the film just never feels like it has a clear destination in place and even worse, no route or alternate ways to take. It’s just sort of free balling as it goes along and that’s all fine and dandy when you have a movie that wants to be all-over-the-place and unpredictable, but that IS NOT this film. You sort of see where it’s going and when, you just don’t know why and I don’t think the film did, either. You just never really get a clear-look at these characters, what keeps them going on throughout the day, and what gets them to tick. Instead, you just see them do their jobs, get horned-up on-occasion, and have all types of awkward conversations with one another. The dialogue is good but when these characters aren’t speaking, then that’s when things go South for this flick and it definitely disappointed me because I was expecting big things from this movie.

Honestly, the reason i was expecting such big things from this movie is because it features not one, not two, but THREE stars that have been really working their ways up the ladder of sorts, in terms of dramatic-acting and earning some r.e.s.p.e.c.t. This seems to be John Krasinski’s first, real and raw dramatic-role for him and the guy handles it very, very well. The Krasinski look and charm is still there, but now we have a more ruffled and worn-out type of dude that just so happens to want a little excitement in his life. I will say one thing about this guy, even though he definitely gets away with banging around for a tad bit, he definitely isn’t very bright when it comes to keeping it a secret and there were plenty of times where I just wanted to slap him and be like, “Wake up bro! The bitch knows!”. Regardless of his character’s somewhat stupidity, Krasinski is still a solid actor and it’s nice to finally see him not play Jim Halpert.

From a far, this looks like a total dude. Still, I'd bone.

From a far, this looks like a total dude. Still, I’d bone.

Another reason for Krasinski’s character’s stupidity, isn’t just by the way how he not-so subtlety hides it away, but the fact that he’s cheating on his wife, played by the ever-gorgeous Rosemarie DeWitt. I’ve really been drooling over DeWitt as of late and everything that she does and even though she is very good here, it’s not a very showy role for her. She does get a couple of key-scenes where you see her really come into her own, but it only occurs once during the beginning and twice during the end. Other than those three instances, we don’t see much more of Rosemarie. Shame, too, because she’s such a joy to watch on-screen. I was also surprised to see Dylan McDermott play such a d-bag as her ex-hubby who only shows up for one scene, but was one scene where I was very interested and though McDermott did an awesome job with such a small, meaningless role.

Olivia Thirlby has really been working her way up the food-chain ever since her days of paling around with Juno, but Thirlby has come into her own now and is actually pretty good that way. As I’ve already stated about her character, I never really understood what was so breath-taking or amazing about her that stopped every man from what they were doing at that point in time, but Thirlby still handles it all well and has us believe in her. She’s not likable but she’s not a unlikable, neither. She’s just somewhere in the middle and I think that’s a true testament to Thirlby for giving this one-dimensional character some heart and emotions, even if half of them are just moaning and groaning, if you know what I mean?

Consensus: DeWitt, Krasinski, and Thirlby all raise Nobody Walks‘ relatively-mediocre material up a notch more than expected, but it is still a bit of a disappointment how very little emotional fireworks actually went-off.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Marry me! Now!

Just marry me! Now!

Shopgirl (2005)

Leo was such a better fit for her.

‘Shopgirl’ follows Mirabelle (Claire Danes), a disenchanted salesgirl and aspiring artist who sells gloves and accessories at a department store. She has two men in her life: wealthy divorcee Ray Porter (Steve Martin) and struggling musician Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman).

I guess since Steve Martin hasn’t produced a hit in the last ten years or so, that he just ended up writing novellas to keep his mind off things. But, once again, he brings himself back to the big-screen to made us realize just why he should go back to being Inspector Clouseau — as painful as it may be to actually say.

That first paragraph right there makes it seem like I didn’t like this movie, which is wrong; because I did like this movie. However, it was only  certain aspects that seemed to make it work. The mood was pretty good right from the start where we get this somewhat ‘Lost in Translation’ feel where these characters are desperately lost and searching for love anywhere they can find it in L.A.; and it works well for that time being. I also think that some scenes worked mainly thanks to a lot of Martin’s ideas. Like one scene in particular where Mirabelle is telling all of her gal pals that Porter is so into the relationship, but he’s telling his therapist the total opposite. It’s a great way to show how two people’s words can get misinterpreted by the other and it works by showing us that not all relationships we have are going to be exactly the way we want them.

I won’t lie, I did feel a little strange when I thought about the whole idea of Steve Martin (59 at the time) and Claire Danes (26 at the time), actually shakin’ up but I also have to realize that yes, this sort of stuff does happen in real-life. It’s obvious that there are girls out there who do agree to dating and sleeping with older men with money but that doesn’t really mean I want to see it on-screen — let alone done in a way as shallow as this. The whole idea behind this relationship between these two is that she needs and wants love, whereas he wants to give her stuff without ever really having to give her anything. When I say anything, I mean anything. This guy has just maybe one big conversation with her on their first date, where he just asks her three dumb questions. After that, we barely see those two ever talk again. All they do is just mope around, mutter on about when they are going to see each other again, and wonder to themselves if they are really being loved by the other. Then, it gets worse because the film tries to get us to really feel something for this relationship and make us feel the pain that Mirabelle is feeling with this guy, but the whole time I just kept on thinking that she should just freakin’ get rid of the sugar daddy and find some young, hot dude because it’s pretty obvious that she can get whoever she wants. I mean it’s freakin’ Juliet Capulet we’re talking about here people!

The film gets categorized as a romantic comedy but it has some moments of actual comedy and that’s only thanks to Jason Schwartzman as Jeremy. This guy is pretty much the saving grace to this flick because he has perfect comedic timing, is terribly awkward in almost every single one of his scenes, and also seems like the perfect fit for Mirabelle which is why it makes me scratch my head even more that she would go for an older dickhead like Porter. Either way though, Schwartzman definitely makes this film better every time he pops up on-screen and even though it’s a bit weird that the film itself goes on this weird tangent about him touring with this band, it didn’t matter after awhile because it was so fun to watch him just act like a goof ball no matter where he was.

Claire Danes is also very good as Mirabelle and gives off this very old school vibe to her, almost even channeling a young Mary Tyler Moore. She seems like she can be a bit naïve and stupid at points, but the other times she seems like a genuinely sad character that just needs some excitement and love in her life. I’m not much of a fan of Danes since I think all of that shit she did with Billy Crudup back in the day was messed up but I can still say that she gives off a pretty good performance here.

Last but not least, the main problem with this film is actually Steve Martin himself as Ray Porter; because as much of a dick as this character can be, Martin is not very good at playing this type of character. To call Porter unsympathetic is an understatement, he’s a straight-up dick about everything with Mirabelle and definitely doesn’t deserve her one bit. That’s why Martin isn’t the right choice for Porter considering he has the channel off all of that goofiness that makes us love him in the first place. Having a somebody like Michael Douglas, Gene Hackman, or even Al Pacino would have been fine too because these guys are good at playing rich, wealthy scumbags that obviously don’t care but I guess they thought it would be easier to go with the guy that made the source material himself since he’s so close to it, right? Nope! Go back to solving crimes about Beyonce’s lost ring, Steve!

Consensus: Shopgirl definitely features some moments that are smart and work, but they are too spread apart from one another and the character’s love stories didn’t generate as much heat as the film tried to shove down our throats. However, Jason Schwartzman makes it all better in the end.

5/10=Rental!!

Traffic (2000)

Basically, everybody that you know does drugs.

Three stories are connected in one way or another by the life-style of drugs. At the forefront are a U.S. drug czar (Michael Douglas) who learns his daughter is an addict and a Mexican cop (Benicio Del Toro in an Oscar-winning role) dealing with a corrupt system. Meanwhile, a wealthy housewife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) whose husband is arrested for dealing must choose to carry on the business or sacrifice her lifestyle.

Steven Soderbergh is a guy I never really watched all that much before, but for some odd reason within the past 2 months, I’ve watched about 5 of his flicks already and there’s a lot more to come by now. Keeping the streak going now with probably one of his most underrated flicks.

The idea of telling one subject through different story-lines isn’t a new approach by any means, but the way Soderbergh does it here makes it seem fresh and exciting. Every single story in their own right has a nice look and feel to it, each marked with their own layer of tension as well as insight into the drug world. We get right into these characters stories right away and the attention that Soderbergh grabs us at is what works the most considering that his direction keeps this flick moving.

It also helped that every story had a different color shaded camera to each one so that we could tell which story was which and it added a lot to the stories. The USA stories are all full of washed-out colors that look like they have been in a rain-storm for about 3 days while the stories that take place in Mexico has a very distorted color look that gives it this very yellow and bright color that seems like it came from the “Jesus Walks” video. (Wait a minute, do I hear inspiration?? Damn Kanye!) Soderbergh also uses the hand-held camera style and it’s a lot less annoying here than I thought it was originally going to be in the first place and it adds so much to the stories by giving it this documentary feel. I know it sounds crazy that I’m typing a whole paragraph dedicated to the camera-work in a Soderbergh flick but it can go a long way if you use it correctly.

Perhaps my favorite element about this flick was that as much as it may talk about the war on drugs and how we are sometimes winning and losing it, Soderbergh kind of leaves it up to us to make our own assumptions about how we feel about drugs. I thought this was a very brave and smart thing to do considering everybody is effected by drugs differently and it’s up to us to decide what is right and what is wrong when it comes to drugs, we can’t just depend on the government to save us. The flick never gets preachy and as much as Soderbergh may be showing this flick off like an anti-drug film, it still also shows the fact that drugs are really starting to take over the world, and very quickly I might add. Soderbergh does a great job by not saying anything when he could have easily made this a 2 hour and 30 minute long sermon about how he felt about drugs. Instead, he didn’t which is definitely what won me over for this flick.

My main problem with this film is that the screenplay itself seems to really be uneven. I have to say that the stories are pretty interesting as it is but they all seemed to start-and-stop in their own time and just when one seemed like it was about to get good, the film all of a sudden pops into another one for no reason. This is usually the problem with a lot of films that have multiple story-lines going on like this but for some reason here, it just felt like this film could have balanced out its stories better. I won’t say that some were more interesting than others but they all seemed to go in different paths which was a good thing and bad thing at the same time.

My other problem with this flick was that as interesting as the stories are, I could still never get into the characters that inhibited them which is where I think Soderbergh lost me with this flick. Yes, I understand this film is supposed to be a gritty, dark, and depressing take on the world of drugs that we live in, but after awhile, I just wanted to be able to root someone on let alone feel something for one person, even if it was only for a small second. Every character seems almost in one way or another, corrupt or totally idiotic and it’s a little frustrating when one character can’t seem to see the full picture, when it’s pretty damn clear in the first place. I don’t want to try and give away too much here but there was also a lot of plot twists that started going down at the end as well, that may have been a little too far-fetched but only because the plot is the one thing we were mostly paying attention to rather than the characters themselves.

The only character and performance I could really get into with this flick was actually Benicio Del Toro as Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez. Del Toro is a guy I see from time-to-time and even though I can never really get into the performances that he gives, I still know that there is something special about him and this is the flick that shows me why. Del Toro is the real moral center of this flick and shows a true, real, and compassionate character that seems so trapped, so screwed over, and so messed-up without ever taking drugs, that you can’t help but cheer his ass on. Del Toro has many moments where he just lets loose of the emotions he has wrapped inside and the way he shows it through Javier is what definitely makes this an Oscar-worthy performance even though I’m sure I need to see the other ones from the year 2000 as well.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too, but just not as special as Del Toro. Michael Douglas has his moments as Robert Hudson Wakefield but other than that he’s basically playing the same vain asshole he plays in every film; Don Cheadle is good to watch as the under-cover cop, Montel (a role that I think he’s played about a hundred times before) and his partner, Ray, played by Luis Guzmán, brings a lot of humor as well; Catherine Zeta-Jones is actually very good as Helena Ayala, the vengeful wife that ends up taking over her husband’s duties and her performance is very believable, much to my surprise; Dennis Quaid is just here as Arnie Metzger, but it’s always cool to see him around; and the two crazy kiddies on drugs are played by Topher Grace and Erika Christensen, who are both good and they play up the whole stoned act pretty well. Considering this is a Soderbergh film I’m talking about, there is probably 100 more noticeable faces in this flick that I’m forgetting to mention, but just watch it, and then you can play the “Guess Who That Is!?” game, that I sometimes win, and sometimes lose. Damn Mommy!

Consensus: Traffic does a great job by telling its one subject through three interesting stories that are all featured with great performances, no clear-cut messages on what it’s trying to say, and a bunch tension running through the whole time but there is no real emotional impact that comes together here and instead you just sort of watch a dark flick about drugs, without any people you can care about, except for Del Toro’s character.

8/10=Matinee!!

Haywire (2012)

Who needs acting when you can just beat the crap out of everybody around?

Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.

Seeing that this is definitely Steven Soderbergh trying to eff with our heads in by giving us a non-experienced actress with a whole lot to do for one flick, I didn’t know what to really think going in. However, with his first step into the action genre, I can definitely say that he didn’t eff with us too bad here.

The one thing that Soderbergh does perfectly here is give us an action flick that feels way different from any other one that has been released within the past year or so. All of the fight sequences are filmed wonderfully with no score whatsoever, just going with the flow of the punches, kicks, and breaks while also being filmed in a very wide lense to give it this realistic feel. Yes, fighting sequences that are somewhat realistic, crazy right? Soderbergh just plays and plays with the whole conventions of what we come to know and see as an action flick and it seems like an experiment rather than an actual film, but an experiment that does a pretty good job none the less.

I also liked how Soderbergh kept everything very minimal. The film basically consists of people running, shooting, and fighting, all to the glorious sound of jazz music that made me feel as if I was in a little club in New Orleans. The plot is very simple and there isn’t a whole bunch of talking about what’s going on, or even talking in general. Soderbergh doesn’t feel the need to spell everything out to us and instead of giving us a highly confusing plot, he backs it up with a lot of ass-kicking to keep our minds avert on the screen without ever losing us, after we have just realized that this far far different from what we have seen from any other action flick.

The problem that this film runs into is that when the action isn’t going down, things start to get a little dull. When the film starts to lean towards its plot and doesn’t really give us much action to hold onto, the film starts to lose us mainly because the story just isn’t all that interesting in the first place and to be honest, we have seen the same premise done before. I understand that Soderbergh and his writers weren’t trying to rely on the plot as much as they were with the action, but it still could have been handled a lot better to fully keep our attentions when people weren’t getting their faces knocked in.

Another main problem with this flick comes with the whole casting of MMA star Gina Carano. Carano did not have any prior acting experience to this flick and for a character like Mallory Kane you have to have somebody that can look the part, which she definitely does. All of her action scenes are awesome and she definitely looks like that chick you do not want to piss off one bit let alone screw over in a huge-ass CIA exchange. However when it comes to actually talking like a bad-ass, Carano can’t do that.

I have to give Soderbergh credit for not leaving this inexperienced actor out to dry with this material, because she could have easily just gotten chewed up in every single scene but it’s just that Carano doesn’t do anything here at all. Her character feels like a big block of wood that has no emotions and gives off the same voice to every single response. Now take it for granted, the “voice” in this flick is not the same one she has in real life (it was apparently dubbed) but even if it wasn’t hers, it still sounds terrible because almost every line she drops, she sounds like she’s reading them right off the cue-card as it is. I hope that Carano is reading this now and wants to beat the shit out of me, but honestly baby, keep to your MMA career. But damn is she sexy!

The rest of the cast is very good though, which I do think was very deliberate considering Soderbergh definitely knew he couldn’t sell a film on just one chick who nobody outside of the MMA world knew. Ewan McGregor seems to having a lot of fun as the slimy and evil Kenneth; Michael Fassbender isn’t around for much as you could probably tell from the previews (and even the poster) but he still is pretty good with his devilish charm; Channing Tatum does an alright job here as Aaron; Bill Paxton is nice to watch as John Kane considering I didn’t know he did movies anymore; and Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas show up here as the usual assholes they usually play in most of their recent films and do nice jobs as well. Basically, the whole supporting cast is great but it’s just a shame that Carano kind of makes us look past that with her stiff delivery.

Consensus: Haywire is definitely not the usual action flick we are so used to seeing nowadays, with realistic fight sequences, jazz music, and a very good supporting cast, but the problem this flick hits is with its leading star that can’t get through her lines and sort of just lets the whole film down in the process.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

23 years later and money is still messed up.

Trader Jake (Shia LaBeouf) tries to mend the broken relationship between his fiancée, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), and her father, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), while avenging the fate of his mentor, Lou (Frank Langella), by getting close to Wall Street’s new megalomaniac, Bretton James (Josh Brolin).

After seeing the first Wall Street, I realized just how much things with money in today’s world hasn’t changed at all really. However, it seems the cheese factor for this type of material hasn’t either.

Director Oliver Stone has always been a favorite director of mine because he always knows how to make any story seem interesting with his great use of style but here he shows that those skills are starting to fall apart. Stone relies too much on montages, almost the same ones we saw from the first one, and quick cuts that try to bring off some sign of rapidness in the Wall Street world but overall none of it actually works.

Having this film set in the time of the 2008 financial crisis seemed like a perfect move for this story but it doesn’t really actually explore that nor does it actually try to explore the relationship between Gekko and his daughter, or any other story for that matter. Basically all the little sub-plots here and there seem totally forced and actually muddled in the end since it doesn’t really seem like Stone knows what story to focus on the most or which one will have the most effect. So what he does is just have all the stories play out at once, but to no effect whatsoever.

With the first one too, the film showed a lot of the dark and mean sides to having business on Wall Street but none of that was really even here to glue me in by how gritty and bad everything is. The one-liners also don’t have the zing they once used to because it all seems so dated as if Stone were just trying to do what he did with the first one but none of it was actually funny or even catchy, just lame and at times just totally forced.

However, my only real favorite thing about this film is the actual performances from the cast. Michael Douglas seems like a natural in his role as Gordon Gekko and plays the anti-hero here rather than the villain but still makes it all work. Douglas knows how to make bad seem cool in so many ways and it’s good to see him do what he does best here. The sad thing though is that it really just feels like him playing the same character, just a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and a lot more grumpier.

Shia LaBeouf is the real star here actually playing his soon to be son-in-law Jake, who works on Wall Street and just so happens to be in a relationship with a Wall Street legend’s daughter. I actually liked Shia in this role because I think he handles a lot of the financial talk really well and gives us that idea that he really can hold a film on his own it only matters if he’s given a good enough role. Carey Mulligan is good at displaying any emotion just by using her face as Winnie; Josh Brolin is good as this dickish rival hedge-fund manager, Bretton James; and Frank Langella is also very good in a small, but powerful role as Lewis Zabel, a man way past his time. There’s also a small performance from Susan Sarandon here as well as Jake’s mom that doesn’t even seem meaningful to the story at all but more just to have an Oscar winner on the set.

Consensus: The cast may help this get through most parts, but Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps has a crappy title (obviously), really piss-poor writing that doesn’t have any actual emotional depth or any connection to the characters, and has no real swift style that Oliver Stone has shown in many of his other films, especially the first Wall Street. A huge disappointment.

3/10=Rental!!

Wall Street (1987)

Not much has changed in the past two decades, except for maybe Charlie Sheen. He’s changed a whole damn lot.

Enterprising stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) falls under the enticing spell of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an unabashedly greedy Wall Street arbitrageur who tutors him in the unscrupulous tactics that put the corporate raider on top. But when Gekko embroils his protégé in an insider-trading scheme that may risk the jobs of kith and kin, Fox develops a conscience and decides to turn the tables.

This one was written and directed by a favorite of mine, Oliver Stone. This was around the time he was hot off  the huge Oscar winner, Platoon, and although this one isn’t as great as that one, it’s still alright.

As director, Stone knows what he’s doing but it’s all pretty simple with this film despite good camera-work that moved all-over-the-place, to give us the feeling of being busy that these stockbrokers always had. But when it comes to writing, Stone has been better.

The dialogue is alright but there are way too many lines that I felt were just too “movie-made”. All of the dialogue feels like it could have easily been quotable, but I just didn’t think people talked like these guys were with all their macho hammy bullshit sayings. I think it was more the 80’s to blame, rather than Stone himself because I guess what they thought was cool to say back in the 80’s, just seems lame and cheesy now.

The only line from this film that anybody really quotes, hell, even remembers is “Greed is good”, which is no surprise because the whole film practically is about that line and it’s the truth which is why this film still works in today’s world. There is still corporate greed running all over the world and it’s a shame that after almost 23 years later, that this shit is still happening and still around but I guess that’s what really matters about this film. We can still watch it today and have as much of an connection to it today, as anybody would have had then.

Michael Douglas is very good in this role as the evil, Gordon Gekko. Right as soon as you see this dude with the slick hair, the huge white collar, the suspenders, and the cell phone that’s the size of my head, you know he’s a total scumbag, but Douglas does a great job at making a scumbag look good. Douglas knows how to make Gekko seem like a total prick, but just a prick who wants more money, more respect, and more power to basically take over any company just to the point of where he can about be one of the richest men in the world. Gekko is the type of guy, you just hate, but there’s something about him that directs your attention towards him right away. That’s all thanks to Douglas and although I don’t usually like him as an actor, I think he does a very great job as Gekko and makes him the personification for everything that’s wrong with the economy.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too. Charlie Sheen is good with his yuppie schtick as Bud Fox (what a dumb name), but as the film goes on he gets more cocky and angry, and it’s actually kind of hard to take him as seriously as the film wanted us to. Martin Sheen doesn’t have the same problem his son does and actually has a couple of very emotional scenes. Daryl Hannah doesn’t bring anything to this film as Bud’s main squeeze, and could have been left out of the picture completely and it wouldn’t have mattered either way. Terence Stamp, John C. McGinley, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, and Sean Young are all good.

Consensus: Wall Street has a powerful performance from Douglas, and features a timeless look on the Wall Street circuit, but falls for too many 80’s cliches like the lame and cheesy sayings in the script, the annoying synthesizer, and just the feeling that nothing else here is really authentic.

7/10=Rental!!

The Game (1997)

Who cares what Michael Douglas does on a regular basis anyway?

In honor of his birthday, San Francisco banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a financial genius and a coldhearted loner, receives an unusual present from his younger brother, Conrad (Sean Penn) — a gift certificate to play a unique kind of game. In nary a nanosecond, Nicholas finds himself consumed by a dangerous set of ever-changing rules, unable to distinguish where the charade ends and reality begins.

One night I was just hanging around when I found an old VHS of this and I have to say, I’m going to have to start watching my VHS’s from now on.

Director David Fincher is a great director as much of us know. He takes a lot of material and can make it incredibly more chilling, tense, and stylized like no other. He does not disappoint one bit here and just proves why he is one of the best mystery directors of all-time.

Fincher kept me guessing at every single scene just what was going to happen next, and what is real and what isn’t? I knew it was a game, because the title tells us that right from the get-go it was just so great to feel the claustrophobia from this film and being shocked at every single turn this film took. There’s a lot of twists and turns here that may confuse you, but Fincher makes it all seem pretty easy to follow. Also, Fincher uses this very bleak look to portray a lot of the emotions an ideas that are going through Nicholas’s head at certain points, and none of it ever feels too artsy-fartsy for my taking. Basically, Fincher is great, the story is where the problem lies.

I liked this plot and how it all came out on film, mainly because of Fincher but the problem with this story is that although it’s placed in the real world, it almost could never happen. Reason being that is because there are almost way too many co-incidences in this story to actually ring true. How do you know that somebody will get into this certain taxi cab? How do you know they will get into a room with a camera, where you will be seeing them all the time? How do you know that someone will be coming to the office at that exact moment? Also, how exactly do you know that someone will fall exactly off a roof, on the right side of the building, and not be killed? All of these questions and probably more will be raised when you’re watching the film and although I was along for the whole ride, I almost never thought that any of this could actually ever happen.

The ending also was pretty lame probably because I was expecting a big twist at the end, and I never got it. But saying that, I was disappointed that at the end of the film, we don’t learn anything or nothing really has changed about the character’s involved. I don’t want to give too much about this film away but I really did feel that we deserved a way better than what we got and some actual lessons learned at the end. Maybe it was just don’t be a little rich dickhead, and you’ll be fine. Well that’s at least what I took from it.

Although I don’t really like much of Michael Douglas in many films, here I actually kind of cared. This guy is such an asshole at times and when all this starts to happen, you start to see him actually lighten up about things because he doesn’t know what to do or who to trust, so I kind of actually stood behind him. He’s good in this role because he looks angry when he’s angry, he looks confused when he’s confused, and he always knows how to solve everything the right away. I think this is one of Douglas’s better performances mainly because Fincher directed him so well. Sean Penn is here as Conrad and is pretty good for what he does. Nothing special really, just sort of there I guess.

Consensus: Sparked by an incredibly dark and tense direction from David Fincher, The Game will have you guessing at every turn but as a whole the film seems too coincidental, and although by the end you feel a bit satisfied you never quite feel like you wanted to end on the note that it did.

7.5/10=Rental!!

The American President (1995)

If only Obama was as cool as Michael Douglas.

Widowed U.S. president Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), one of the world’s most powerful men, can have anything he wants — and what he covets most is Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), a Washington lobbyist. But Shepherd’s attempts at courting her spark wild rumors and decimate his approval ratings in this romantic comedy. Rob Reiner directs, and Michael J. Fox and Martin Sheen co-star.

The reviewers who moan that this is a liberal propaganda movie have missed the point, plain and simple. This is a story of romance in the White House, a unique theme which is a new and fresh idea. The politics were a backdrop and used to keep the movie moving.

The writing here is smart and very good. Its funny without making itself too funny, so you don’t take it seriously. There are still plenty of moments where this film actually takes an idea that was big in politics during the 90s and sets it in this film, and it works so well here. The comedic timing this film has makes sure it balances out a great deal of smart comedy but also important ideals about politics that were going on at the time.

This movie effectively shows the human side of a president. There is no political pretense or agenda, this is and old fashion pure charmer that wins with clever script, great acting and likable characters. And most of this has to go the performances from its wonderful cast. Douglas is starting to grow on me a bit, even though he is basically playing the same one he always does but the charm works well here cause he still has a side that even the president you wouldn’t think had. Annette Bening is even better playing Wade with the great comedic timing but also wonderful sense of realism that leading ladies like Diane Keaton and Jodie Foster all go for, and she does that plus a lot more. Their chemistry in this film builds over time and it feels real and you could actually see these two together in office.

The problem I had with the film was that its satire that the film looked for didn’t hit the marker so well like it could have. I think the film was trying to poke fun at George Bush when he was in the office, and how politics have changed into being more controversial than real, was a little stretching its boundaries. Also, the Richard Dreyfuss character was just stupid cause he only played this bad guy that was one-note the whole time and barely ever changed at all during the movie.

Consensus: The American President doesn’t succeed with its satire and patronizing, but still is written and directed in an old fashioned way that its new and fresh, while Douglas and Bening give out a believable chemistry between the two.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)

Hopefully, none of my ex-girlfriends will come back to tell me how to live my life.

When he attends his younger brother’s wedding, playboy Connor (Matthew McConaughey) is troubled to discover that the ghosts of his many girlfriends have come to give him a piece of their mind and teach him a thing or two about true love. As the apparitions visit him, he rediscovers old feelings for the first love of his life(Jennifer Garner).

Now, my good buddies at Spill.com gave this film a Full Pricee!!!!, even some going as far as to call it one of the best of the year. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you guys that this movie, well it sucks.

This is an obvious riff off of the Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol, but where that has charm this does not. The one huge problem with this film is that it uses all of the obvious wedding, and romantic comedy cliches any film took. Like the wedding cake falls to the ground, oh haven’t seen that one before. Or, how about the cheesy slapstick that happens when a guy drives all the way through snow crashing and hitting trees about 10 times, without an amount of injury, yeah the originality is so here.

The movie does have a couple of good laughs which does save it from being the worst film I’ve ever seen so I’ll give it that. But other than that, it offers nothing new to the romantic comedy genre. The movie basically degrades woman and how each and every one is just a slut looking to do anything just to get laid, and I was appalled by how much of this actual stereotype took over the film as it went along.

The chemistry between Garner and McConaughey is down right terrible. I didn’t sense any real love between these two and if anything, just found it to be a silly excuse for a nice romantic love interest. Now respectively, there are good performances from the cast. McConaughey is funny, although I don’t think he’s the best comedic choice for this movie, but he does an OK job. Garner is OK, I just thought her character was so highly intellectual, that I couldn’t believe why she would want to be with this asshole after all. Michael Douglas shows up and gives a funny supporting performance as the man who leads McConaughey to his snarling ways, and brings the more heart and comedy to the film. I loved Emma Stone in this film, cause she is dressed up so 80s and dirty, that its even more funny when she brings out some of the cheesiest lines, but makes them funny.

Consensus: Taking a rip-off the Charles Dickens novel, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, has some comedy and good performances, but overall lacks the charm, chemistry between the two leads, and originality that all romantic comedies need.

3/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!

Wall Street (1987)

Is greed always good??

Enterprising stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) falls under the enticing spell of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an unabashedly greedy Wall Street arbitrageur. Gekko takes Fox under his wing, tutoring his charge in the unscrupulous tactics that put the corporate raider on top. But when Gekko embroils his protégé in an insider-trading scheme that may risk the jobs of kith and kin, Fox develops a conscience and decides to turn the tables.

Director Oliver Stone, as many of you may know is one of my favorite directors of all-time. I like if not love a lot of his stuff so when I heard about this film, and how Douglas won a Best Oscar, I was ready for a wonderful film. Instead I got a bore-fest.

If you are annoyed by shallow anti capitalism good-versus-evil plots, avoid this one. On its face, this film bashes illegal insider trading. But it goes further. The bashing subtly reaches legitimate brokers who make a living trading stock (a service which, like movie making, vastly enriches the very few at the expense of the many who want the service). Two lines most revealingly demonstrate this: The evil caricature Douglas smugly asks (paraphrasing) “You think this is a democracy!? No! This is capitalism!” (Ignoring that the political system (democracy) and the economic system (capitalism) are interrelated and are presumably good.)

This film is basically incredibly predictable in a story that goes from one place to another in cliche after cliche. The characters in this film are just basically total yuppie assholes. Even the main protagonist, Sheen, doesn’t even seem that liable to root for. He just seems so dumb and even a bigger deuche.

The acting is very very sub-par. I mean in all honesty I think Douglas at times really did over-play his role as this totally unlikable guy. Some scenes hes very good, and some hes just not all that there. In all honesty he did not deserve that Oscar at all. Sheen gives an OK performance here but I found it very hard throughout the film to take him seriously since I’m a huge fan of Two and a Half Men.

Consensus: The acting is OK, but the story is very very contrived, with predictable story elements, and even worse characters that your more likely to hate then cheer for.

2/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!

Falling Down (1993)

Michael Douglas can be one crazy son of a bitch!

Bill Foster (Michael Douglas) is having a very bad day: He’s been fired from his job, gets stuck in a traffic jam and is forced to walk through the sizzling L.A. streets. As the obstacles mount and his temper frays, Foster begins lashing out at society’s injustices. Joel Schumacher’s feature also stars Robert Duvall as an overzealous cop who gets wind of Foster’s near-psychotic rampage and sets out to bring him down.

Many people will confuse Falling Down with a typical “revenge” movie, similar to the popular Death Wish series and other vigilante movies. This is a huge mistake, as Falling Down has a much darker, uncomfortable feel than Charles Bronson taking out his neighborhood.

The film isn’t all just about Douglas going around killing people, as more as it is about the case to get him. I still think they could have dove more into the person of who Douglas plays instead of this white suburban guy fed up with the economy.

Some parts of this movie are genuinely funny. The script isn’t all that rich with wit and detail, but when it wants to bring out some humor it actually does quite well, which could actually categorize it as a dark comedy.

The cliches are a little out there in this film as well. You, as usual, have the cop that’s on his last day of the job and the mad man he is trying to catch. Both parts of the story don’t really quite jell together as well since Douglas’ scenes are funny and exciting, while Duvall’s scenes are boring and dull. I just wish more and more time was devoted to Douglas since he did seem like the center piece of the story.

Douglas does give one of his most unusual performances of his career in this. He’s crazy, pissed off, and most of all very tragic. This guy has thrown his whole life away, and some times when you see him its really actually sad of how pathetic and delusional he actually is, which makes him a better character than some people give him, and Douglas plays him so well.

Consensus: Falling Down is darkly funny, very well-acted by Douglas, and not your usual vigilante film, but has many cliches, and not enough screen time devoted to Douglas.

6/10=Rental!!

The War Of The Roses (1989)

I thought one of these days it would be nice to be married. Then I saw this movie.

The War of the Roses is a Black Comedy about a wealthy couple with a seemingly perfect marriage. He is a successful lawyer and his wife is building her own catering business. When their marriage begins to fall apart, material possessions become the center of an outrageous and bitter divorce battle.

The movie gets most of its laughs from the progress of this couple to the point of no return. They are both two stubborn people and neither one will back down from each others fight. And when they really want to hurt one another they know exactly what buttons to push. The credit has to go to DeVito ,who is director and an actor in this,  this film does not take any prisoners for what is over the top.

The big thing about this film is that its not light one bit , it keeps getting darker and darker and darker to the point where its just pitch black comedy. This film holds some type of message about married couples that feature two people that think that they are better than one another. The real great thing about the film is that its not all-in-all a comedy it does hold some truth. The truth is that you can start hating somebody if you know everything about that person and if you’ve lived under the same roof with them for so long, as in this case 17 years.

Douglas and Turner have great chemistry as a couple who falls deeply mad in love with oneanother then turning into deep and passionate hate for each other. Both of their facial expressions just show how they feel at that exact moment and you know when they are angry.

The only problem I had with this film was that at times I felt it was over done too much with the rampage. When I thought they couldn’t go over the bridge enough they went right over and I thought it couldn’t get any worse. Lastly, we never really see why Turner’s character starts hating Douglas’ so much and it kind of left me off at being really confused since I didn’t know what the reason was for so much hate.

The film is great at showing a portrait of how you can be so happy as a couple and that can all just change and become ugly. Not many comedies can get as dark as this and DeVito surely shows his directing skills.

8/10=Matinee!!!!