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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Patti LuPone

The Comedian (2017)

Isn’t stand-up comedy supposed to be funny?

Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro) has seen better days. He was once the star of a much-loved sitcom from the 70’s, hit the stand-up circuit as one of the biggest, loudest and meanest shock-comics out there on the scene, and yeah, he had a whole bunch of love and adoration from people in his world. However, time went on and eventually, the rest of the world sort of forgot about Jackie. Nowadays, he’s forced to work for the nostalgia circuits, playing to small crowds, filled with either hapless teens, or barely-there senior citizens. Jackie realizes this and because of that reason alone, tension builds up within him, more and more. One event goes bad when Jackie beats up an audience-member filming and heckling him, leaving Jackie to have to serve out a some jail time and community service. While on community service, he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), a troubled gal who gravitates towards Jackie and his ways. But she doesn’t really know what’s underneath all of the jokes, and he doesn’t really know what’s underneath all of her beauty, either.

Ladies love those has-beens! Especially the ones without money, right?

Ladies love those has-beens! Especially the ones without money, right?

The Comedian is a perfect example for what happens when you have a good cast, and that’s about it. The plot, the jokes, the heart, the humor, the meaning – just about everything about it is odd and doesn’t quite work. But man oh man, whenever they’re given the chance to do so, the ensemble here tries with every bone, every fiber, and every material of their body to make this material work.

And because of their effort, and because they’re all good, yes, they do help the Comedian out a whole bunch. Does that mean it’s a good movie? No, it does not. But it does help make a very bad movie, slightly less worse than it could have been, with less talented and committed people involved.

And this doesn’t just go to the cast, either – behind the cameras is director Taylor Hackford, who hasn’t always had the best track record, but does have more hits than misses, and four writers, Art Linson, Jeff Ross, Richard LaGravenese, Lewis Friedman, all of whom seem to know what they’re doing in their own, respective projects. But for some reason, they just didn’t quite know what to do here; it’s as if they signed on to do a movie about comedians and late-aged ones, but ended up just telling one too many dick, fart and sex jokes.

And oh yeah, the jokes themselves are pretty lame, too.

If there’s one big no-no in movies about comedians, it’s that the comedy you’re selling us on, in the first place, has to be funny. Like, does anyone remember that subplot in Mother’s Day where the British dude wanted to be a comedian and strutted his stuff out on the stage, told really awful jokes, and everyone in the movie was laughing at him, as if he was some sort of godsend? Well, if not, don’t worry, because you didn’t miss much. But if you did see that, then you get an idea of just how the Comedian is – not really funny, even though no one seems to have told it so.

There are the occasional moments of actual humor, but it’s mostly because of Jackie’s brand of comedy – he’s the kind comedian who Stern would have had on his show every day, just going as deep and as far into the dirty talk as either of them could. If that’s your brand of humor, then yeah, a lot of De Niro’s jokes will work perfectly for you and hit the mark, but if not, well then the jokes will just continue to be more and more grating as they go on. De Niro’s character gets grosser, meaner, and far more idiotic, making us wonder whether anyone involved knew what actual humor was in the first place?

"Get it? Fart!"

“Get it? Fart!”

Or, at the very least, just how stand-up comedy worked?

And then it goes on. The movie then tries to deal with romance, drama, and almost attack the showbiz industry itself, but it just never makes sense, mostly because a good portion of it can be unbelievable. Jackie goes viral at least three times, none of them ever making sense, or seeming as if they could happen in the real world that the Comedian seems to inhabit. It’s odd because it seems like everyone involved behind the cameras are so out-of-touch, you almost wonder just how long this script was sitting around on the shelf for, never got looked at, and collected up dust.

Probably a lot and yeah, it shows.

But like I said, the cast really does help this movie out, a great bunch. De Niro does what he can in the lead role; he’s deliciously mean and cruel when he wants to be and it works, but the jokes just ruin him. De Niro’s line-delivery feels awfully too stilted to make it sound like we’re hearing an actual comedian on the stage, and not just an actor reading lines and forgetting where the punchline is. Still, when he’s off the stage, De Niro is compelling, as we get to see a sad, old man for what he is: Sad, old and kind of miserable. This character and this performance deserve a way better movie, which is why it’s hard to just accept this one for what it is, as poorly-written as it can sometimes be.

Then, there’s everybody else. Leslie Mann is charming, despite her character having some awfully weird baggage going on that’s never fully explained; Harvey Keitel plays her controlling and generally creepy father who is way too over-the-top, but has some fun scenes with De Niro; Patti LuPone shows up as De Niro’s sister-in-law to yell at him and get in his face, which is fun; Danny DeVito plays his brother who basically does the same thing; Edie Falco plays his manager and has nice chemistry with him; Charles Grodin shows up as a rival who’s barely around; Cloris Leachman shows up as this sort of aging Lucille Ball character and is fine; and yeah, there’s many, many more cameos from all sorts of real life, well-known comedians. It makes you wish there was more of them and less of the scripted jokes, because lord knows the Comedian would have been, well, funnier.

Consensus: Try as it might, the Comedian just doesn’t have enough juice to make itself funny, relevant, sad, important and interesting enough, even with the talented ensemble helping out as much as they humanly can.

4.5 / 10

"So yeah, when's Marty going to get going on this Irishman movie, so we can stop doing stuff like this?"

“So yeah, when’s Marty going to get going on this Irishman movie, so we can stop doing stuff like this?”

Photos Courtesy of: Kenwood Theatre

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Parker (2013)

Would have been more interesting if he had a ticker on his heart. Way more interesting, actually.

Parker (Jason Statham) is a professional thief, who doesn’t steal from the poor or hurt innocent people. However, all of his skills and professionalism runs into problems when he’s not only betrayed by his fellow criminals, but also has to take under a woman (Jennifer Lopez) for leverage. Since they’re both hot, you can already assume what’s going to go down between them next. Ohhh yeah.

I don’t think I’m alone in the boat when it comes to my opinions of Jason Stathom, action-vehicles. Yeah, they are all the same in the way that they are just loud, stupid, and just meant to show-off Statham’s rockin’ bod, but none the less, they are also quite fun and can be a lot better, if done the right way. Adding director Taylor Hackford (the guy’s made some great flicks in the past, but being married to Helen Mirren I think takes the cake on that career), a little bit of J’Lo love, and a bit of source material from the wonderful-mind Donald Westlake may make it seem more than just another action-vehicle for the dude. Sadly, it is exactly what I expected but a tad better than we are used to seeing and hey, in the month of January, that is not bad at all.

Most people have been bashing this movie for everything that it is, but I think most people are getting by the fact that it’s meant to be stupid, loud, and fun, without really having to worry about being different from anything else that Statham has ever done in the past, characters and movies-wise. Take for instance the character of Parker: he’s supposed to be the perfect anti-hero that does bad things, but also has a certain likeness to him that shows you he doesn’t kill innocent people, and only takes the money away from the baddies. Seems like an alright dude, even if he is stealing and committing crimes, but an alright dude none the less. However, that whole idea of having Parker play-out as an anti-hero, totally goes out the window after the first 15-minutes where he’s apparently back-stabbed, shot, and left for dead (not a spoiler, it’s all in the trailers, people!). Instead, he’s just Jason Statham, doing Jason Statham and that’s not such a terrible thing when the guy is as committed as he is in all of his action movies.

"Forgive me father, for I have...HOLY SHIT!!"

“Forgive me father, for I have…HOLY SHIT!!”

Statham is one of the last, or very few guys left in Hollywood that’s dedicated to doing lean, mean action-movies where he does all of his stunts, all of his work, and basically, anything that he’s asked to do. Here, he’s just playing himself and is charming, as always, and can handle himself when it comes to getting dirty and physical. He’s okay, and so is J’Lo who shows up as the real-estate agent who’s sad, lonely, bored, annoyed by her stereotypical, Latina mom, and even worse, pushing 40. J’Lo has never been a favorite of mine but she’s fine here and brings out some real fun and energy in a role that could have just been played so plainly and boring, just so all of the focus could be on Statham and all of the insane-o shit he does as an action-hero. I was a bit bummed to see that these two didn’t have much chemistry going on between one another, not just in the story but the performances as well, but I also think that Hackford sort of got that right from the start, decided to scrape it, and have some fun with this movie. Fun, is exactly what occurs.

The movie is definitely an action-flick that’s for the people with little to no brains, who just come for the popcorn, the soda, and the fun, but it’s a tad bit more than that. It’s actually sort of a heist film as well, where instead of seeing a bunch of brawls just happen out of nowhere, we actually get to see some crimes go down, the professional-way where everything is planned, everything is executed, and everything is pretty damn suspenseful  I’m not going to lie, I sort of did know how this was all going to end at one-point, but the thought in my mind that this movie could go anywhere with it’s characters and plot, kind of did keep me on-edge through a good-portion of this movie, even I did expect the cliches to start coming-through, as-soon-as-possible. But, then again, this is what we have come to expect from a Statham-actioner and there is a certain essence of joy and delight in that idea.

However, this flick is exactly what you would expect from a movie starring Jason Statham, and anybody going into this, expecting anything more, will most likely be pissed-off and terribly disappointed. I don’t know why you would because when you see the name “Statham”, you automatically just think loud, dumb, action-movie that only d-bags would go out and pay money to see. I didn’t pay moolah to see this movie, but does that still make me one of those d-bags? But I digress. If you go into this movie expecting anything new, improved, or original coming from the mind of Statham, you’re going to be ticked-off. As simple as that, people.Actually, I would probably say the worst-aspect of this whole movie isn’t just Statham, but it’s more or less the supporting-cast that surrounds him as they don’t really even seem like they are trying. And if they are, then shit; they just blow!

"I need a man more my age,. Especially one with the worst, fake-Southern accent I have ever heard."

“I need a man more my age. Especially one with the worst, fake-Southern accent I have ever heard.”

The main baddies are played by the usual people we see play these types of roles like Micah A. Hauptman, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, and of course, Clifton Collins Jr., who is probably playing his 500th villainous-role in his whole career. All of these guys try their best with whatever they can muster up, but it just isn’t enough since the script is so lame, and their action is so off-key. And by “off-key”, I don’t mean that they don’t hit the right notes they are supposed to hit like if they were a singer who just became deaf, but more or less that they are just actors that don’t know what type of roles they are playing, and instead of playing in a small type-of-way, they are so over-the-top and outlandish, it’s almost laughable to watch. Seriously, the first 10-minutes of this movie made me and my buddy just sit-back in our seats and laugh our pants-off by not only how ridiculous everything was, but just by how terrible these actors are. And maybe it’s not that they’re bad actors, it’s actually more that they were just not good for these roles and could have probably been played by guys who don’t give a shit about their careers. I guess Collins Jr. counts then, right? Also, Nick Nolte appears here as Parker’s sort-of mentor, who growls his way through another performance. Oh, and he also drinks in this one, too! Good to know you’re helping your image out, Nick!

Consensus: If you know what you’re getting yourself into when you walk through the doors of a movie starring Jason Statham, then you know exactly what to expect from Parker and that is loud, unpolished, and unapologetic joy and desire to have a good time, even if it is nothing new or refreshing that you haven’t already witnessed before.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

“Ehhhhghhhghhghhghhh!!!”

“Ehhhhghhhghhghhghhh!!!”

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

If I ever need someone to drive me around, I definitely would want Morgan Freeman as the dude.

A genteel but strong-willed Southern matron (Jessica Tandy) is an old-crochity lady who wants to do everything herself. That is all until one day when her son (Dan Aykroyd) hires a driver for her by the name of Hoke (Morgan Freeman). She’s displeased with this, but she soon starts to form a bond with him.

Adapted from the 1988 Pulitzer Prize winning play, ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ is a film that I have been wanting to see for a quite awhile now considering it’s the last PG film to win Best Picture. To be honest though, there were better films that year.

Director Bruce Beresford does a great job here of giving us a story that is initially slow-paced but feels real by the way it moves and by the way characters act. The film starts off by showing these two characters who talk their own way, act their own way, and basically live their own way but soon start to change after they continue conversations with one another. Beresford really down-plays a lot of the changing moments between these characters and it almost feels like something that would happen in real-life is two people of different races and backgrounds were to come together and realize something about each other.

The film also has a great deal of love and warmth in the air, which I think is a real testament to Alfred Uhry’s screenplay. Beresford and Uhry make a great team because the smooth direction almost goes hand-in-hand with this very charming but very real screenplay that not only addresses a lot of the racial problems that were going around the time-period (1948 to 1989) but doesn’t over-do it and does it more subtle than I expected. I think it’s the way that Uhry is able to combine heart, humor, and race issues into this film is the reason it won so many Oscars and why I actually enjoyed listening to these characters talk.

The problem with this film is that even though it may talk about these racial issues, it never seems like anything we haven’t heard or seen done before. We never really get any insight on how these characters feel and even though we get glimpses of them changing, there’s never any real moment where we really see these race issues tackled up-front and center. Don’t get me wrong, I liked what the film was trying to show me but there isn’t anything really new or surprising that this film has to say other than old white women should not drive.

Also, I like the film for being very relaxed and warm with it’s direction and writing but I never actually felt involved with the emotion of this story. Yes, it does have a nice little friendship between two different people that is at the heart of this film but we never actually feel any certain type of heart-wrenching moments towards either of them until about the last 20 minutes. Before these 20 minutes actually happened though, the film brings up little snippets of these two actually getting along and becoming very close but there was not enough of that for me to fully get into the emotion that this story was trying to make me feel.

What really saves this flick is the performances by everybody in this small-cast of characters. Morgan Freeman gives an incredibly likable performance as Hoke and probably the one that put him right on-the-map. Hoke is just one of those Southern bumpkins you get that is always happy about something and finds joy in making others happy but is also true to himself no matter what may come his way. Freeman plays this up perfectly and he uses a lot wit to great advantage and makes us feel so much more for his character. Dan Aykroyd is also here and gives a very quiet and subtle performance as Boolie, and even though it’s a little too hard to forget who’s playing the role, it’s still great to see him actually watch him doing something that makes you laugh considering he doesn’t do much of that nowadays.

Jessica Tandy was absolutely perfect in this film as Miss Daisy and deserved the Oscar she got that year. Tandy is playing a Jewish woman and even though she may never seem Jewish her role as this old and grumpy old woman who complains about anything and everything, still somehow made me feel a lot for her. We see little moments in this film of her being alone and being very scared to be alone but as soon as somebody is there with her, she goes right back to her old and grumpy self. These moments were very moving as we see an old woman who starts to see not only the world changing, but her life as well and the way Tandy plays it all up works perfectly for this character. Her and Freeman actually work perfectly together using moments of silence to actually convey more emotions rather than when they actually are speaking.

Consensus: Though Driving Miss Daisy doesn’t have anything new or biting to say about its subject material, the performances from Aykroyd, Freeman, and especially Tandy and the warm screenplay will make you feel something for this story even if you won’t be crying your eyes out by the end of it.

8.5/10=Matinee!!