Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Draft Day (2014)

You thought on-the-field was tough? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, ya pansy soccer fan!

Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) has it pretty rough for a man of his age and stature. He’s the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, a team that hasn’t been all that successful in quite some time; his girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) may possibly be pregnant; and to add insult to injury, the most important day in all of sports history, next to the Super Bowl of course, is coming up: Draft day. Oh yes, the NFL draft. Where dreams are both shattered and made, sometimes, even occurring at the same time. For Sonny though, his main problem isn’t just dealing with his boss (Frank Langella), the head coach (Denis Leary), or even the main-prospect he’s looking into (Chadwick Boseman), the main problem he’s having is getting the deal he wants, while also making sure that everyone around him is happy with his dealings at the end of the day. Not just him, or his co-workers, but the franchise as a whole. Which, if you know a thing or two about any sport whatsoever, is a lot easier said, then actually done.

I’d probably say that the biggest worry somebody will have when going into this movie is whether or not they know enough about the NFL, the draft, how it all works, and why it all matters. To put it simple, it’s like this: College ball-players get a chance to be drafted onto any NFL team that is actually in the draft, which also leaves these teams’ managers, scouters, whatever, to start making all sorts of deals and promises that they can’t clearly keep. But basically, what you have is a bunch of guys who bicker at one another, doing whatever they can to make sure the team they represent gets the best player, or, even more important, the better deal.

Aww! Look at K-Cost and J-Garn just being all adorable and whatnot over there. Those names have caught-on by now, right?

Aww! Look at K-Cost and J-Garn just being all adorable and whatnot over there. Those names have caught-on by now, right?

So, if you know all of that going into the movie, you have nothing at all to worry about. All you have to do now is just sit back and watch, because for the next two-hours, you’ll be treated to a bunch of grown-ups arguing, wheeling, dealing, yelling and do whatever the hell they can to make sure that they aren’t getting screwed-over in any way. The idea for the premise to revolve around that may seem pretty boring, which is why director Ivan Reitman throws in so many different strands of plot, but somehow, it actually works.

I’m not a huge football-fanatic, but I had my time where Sunday was dedicated to sitting in front of the TV, with chips, soda and my dad by my side. And that was before you all got spoiled with your RedZone, so don’t even give me any lip! Anyway, one of the events that got me more jazzed-up than the Superbowl, was actually the NFL Draft. Reason being is that for so damn long, about a year ahead in advance, there are so many predictions about how it is all exactly going to go down, in what particular fashion, that I couldn’t help but want to just wait and see what went down, and see if all of the predictions were absolutely right, or just a bunch of sports-writers getting too wild and crazy for their pay-grade.

That same feeling I had way back when, translated into my feelings with this movie, as I really did have no clue where this story was going to go, in terms of who Sonny was going to sign, who he was going to lose, if he was going to be fired, and whether or not everybody involved with the organizations would get what it is that they initially wanted. Not only did that keep me watching and interested, but it made everything else that was happening to Sonny, easier to get past, as poorly-written as most of it was. See, this is the type of movie where having Sonny deal with the problems that usually run rampant in a manager’s head come draft-time, isn’t enough. Instead, we need to have all these sorts of different subplots where Sonny is mean to interns; may possibly be a daddy; doesn’t pay his child-support; isn’t pleasing his mommy as much as he should; and so on and so forth.

While all of that may create more stuff to be happening during this movie, barely any of it feels worth our time. More often than not, it just feels like filler for a movie that could have easily been a lean, mean, hour-and-a-half indie in the same vein as Margin Call or Glengarry Glen Ross. Actually, there are times when this movie does feel very “Mamet-y” in the way the dialogue moves most of the plot, and how so many grown-up men love just being dirty and not always being honest when in circling-around a deal. Those moments of this movie not only rang true for me, but genuinely had me entertained. Sometimes, the conversations these guys have are funny; they’re sometimes insightful; and hell, even sometimes, they’re a bit emotional. But they always add something more to this story, which is where I feel like mostly everything else here doesn’t.

I have a better time believing Skeletor as a Browns fan, than an actual guy who wants "peace".

I have a better time believing Skeletor as a Browns fan, than an actual guy who wants “peace”.

Most of what does work here can definitely be attributed to the fact that Reitman allows for these scenes of just straight-up dialogue, flow and roll as they please. However though, most of that definitely has to be attributed to the well-stacked ensemble Reitman was somehow able to assemble here, particularly Kevin Costner. I’m glad to see K-Cost back in the mainstream, however, 3 Days to Kill was not that type of movie I wanted him doing. It was fine and all (and the same could be said for him), however, that movie had more problems than it needed to have. Here though, Costner is actually given some good material worthy of his talents where he gets plenty to do. He gets a chance to be mean and a bit vindictive; funny when he’s using that comedic-timing of his that is almost nonexistent, but he somehow is always able to get by with; a bit romantic when he has some painlessly-cheesy scenes with Jennifer Garner; and even has a couple of moments as Sonny where he drops the facade of the hardcore, take-no-prisoners businessman, and just lets us see a heart and soul to this guy. The movie could have easily gone in a different direction with this character and had him come-off as flat as a football field itself (hayyoh!), but it doesn’t. It keeps its focus on him, who he is as a person, the type of person he wants to be, and how he gets by in the world.

Like I said though, K-Cost is just the beginning of the familiar-faces in this movie. There’s plenty more where he came from and they are all pretty damn fine. The previously mentioned Garner is alright as Sonny’s co-worker/lover/possible-baby-momma, who has to be a bit cute, a bit feisty, and a bit ballsy to make us believe that she could easily hang around a guy’s sport like football, all of which, Garner does a nice job with. She’s not annoying, let’s just put it that way.

Others include Denis Leary as the Cleveland Browns football coach that barely ever sees eye-to-eye with Sonny, yet, does have plenty of ground to stand on and make us see why; Ellen Burstyn is charming and lovely as Sonny’s mommy, who is clearly still grieving over the death of her husband, Sonny’s dad that he can’t seem to get out of the shadow of; Chadwick Boseman shows us why he is on the verge of near super-stardom right now with his role as a possible NFL-prospect Sonny looks into an awful lot; and Frank Langella, as you could imagine, plays the owner of the Cleveland Browns like the rich and powerful d-bag you’d expect him to play. There’s plenty more where that came from, but you may just have to wait around and see just who exactly does show their bright and smiling faces.

Consensus: May tack-on a bit more than it needs to, but when it comes to the actual process of drafting possible, football-prospects, Draft Day is entertaining, funny and heartwarming, which is thanks to both a charming script and cast, most notably Kevin Costner carrying the whole ship on his back.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Sort of like me at parties where I don't like anybody there. Actually, just parties.

Sort of like me at parties where I don’t like anybody there. Actually, just parties in general.

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Get Him to the Greek (2010)

If I was able to chill with Russel Brand, I know it would probably be better than this movie.

Ambitious young record company intern Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) will let nothing get in the way of his planned rise to the top in the music business — not even the unruly rock star (Russell Brand) he must escort to Los Angeles for the start of his anniversary concert. Doing whatever it takes to get the rocker from Point A to Point B, Aaron encounters all manners of mishaps.

So for anybody who saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall may remember Russell Brand as Aldous Snow totally stealing the show. Well this one is a spin-off with the same guy here, the only problem is that I wish it was as funny as that one.

The script had me chuckling here and there, because the jokes have some good wit and work with the situations that this film places them in. However, the only problem that the jokes are way too raunchy, and not the good raunchy either. A lot of this film’s humor is just random, immature potty jokes that don’t work. I don’t mind a good raunchy joke here and there, but once it starts to become the only thing the film seems like it’s shooting for, it just starts to become an annoyance and do nothing for me. I laughed every once and awhile, but not enough as I was expecting.

The main problem with this film is that by the end the film starts to get a little bit more sweet than I expected as well. There is this little romantic sub-plot that really brings down this film. I get that they were trying to bring more heart to this film rather than a penis, which is where half of the film’s jokes were coming from, but the tone just seems to be uneven by the end. The things that happen in this film are a little bit too unbelievable to actually take into account of some reality, because the way these people act in just seems put on, and made for the next dumb scenario to happen.

I had a great time with these performances which actually helped me through some of the more annoying scenes. As always, steals the show by doing his usual charming, raunchy character as Aldous Snow, and it all feels genuine. Every time this guys on screen, you don’t see him as that crazy guy that did a weird hosting job of the MTV Video Music Awards a couple of years back, you see him as this nutty, drug-addicted rocker and it works. I’m glad to see that Russell BrandJonah Hill is at least still getting big roles that he deserves because this man is just funny in almost anything he does. It’s not just because he’s fat like many people think, it’s because that comedic timing Hill has is perfect. My favorite element of this film had to be Sean “P. Diddy” Combs playing the record producer, Sergio. He does to this film what Tom Cruise did in Tropic Thunder, and that’s basically just play himself, and curse all the time, thus providing many belly laughs. I found myself laughing at his parts the most out of the film, and I’m glad that Diddy at least doesn’t have that much of a huge ego, to take roles like this. There is also some nice little supporting jobs from the likes such as Rose Byrne, Colm Meaney, Elizabeth Moss, and randomly Lars Ulrich.

Consensus: There are some laughs here, much ado to the amazing cast here, but there is too much random raunch that seems put there to make crazy situations, seem even crazier, and the sweetness by the end doesn’t seem real.


Notorious (2009)

After seeing this movie I have just realized something, Biggie was a ladies man!

Based on the story of Christopher Wallace, better known as Notorious B.I.G. (played by Jamal Woolard), this insightful biopic chronicles the gangsta rapper’s troubled life as a drug dealer, his artistic success and his unresolved murder at age 24. The film also delves into his close friendship with Sean Combs (Derek Luke) and the famous feud with hip-hop rival Tupac Shakur (Anthony Mackie). Angela Bassett portrays Biggie’s mother.

The film is your obvious generic rise-and-fall story that you would expect. Starts out from a rough background, makes it big, then tragically falls. That is the same formula used for all these biopics, and although that is used here again, it isn’t as bad as you would expect.

It was a great experience with this film cause I have like that 90’s gangster rap, but more importantly, Biggie. So to see his story played out was a huge treat for me, and the one thing I liked is how you get to see the reason and inspiration of why somebody would want to be apart of this life style. The direction from George Tillman Jr. has to be praised because everything right from the location the the outfits everything is shot in detail, and so I felt like I was with Biggie as this was happening in the 90’s.

I didn’t feel very attached to Biggie Smalls so I didn’t cry when he died. The movie didn’t give me any insight into Biggie’s character. The film doesn’t quite get past his big huge character and just shows us what we see in footage and archives, never anything else. There were moments in this film that felt a bit too dramatized and were put in for dramatic effect. A lot of the stuff with Lil’ Kim didn’t seem very realistic and just more outrageous to make the film like that. The time limit also made this film seem like a long trip that could have been cut-down with all its talking and into more of exciting concert footage.

The best thing here is unknown actor Jamal Woolard. This film basically lets Woolard be Biggie anyway he wants to be Biggie, and he really does shine as him. He captures the essence and character of Biggie 0n and off the mic, which I found even better when he was singing. The supporting cast with Mackie, Luke, and Bassett all have their scenes where they show off their talents, but I feel like Mackie didn’t have much time to show more of his talents off cause I know he can.

Consensus: With its obvious generic rise-and-fall formula, Notorious steps away from the obvious biopic cliches, and gives us great performances and a slick directing job Tillman Jr.