Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: T.J. Miller

Goon: Last of the Enforcers (2017)

Who needs a goal? Kick somebody’s ass!

A lockout has reunited old teammates and brought a crew of new players to the bench for the one, the only, and the notorious Halifax Highlanders. Sidelined after one too many hits and now married with a baby on the way, Doug “The Thug” Glatt (Seann William Scott) is forced to hang up his skates and settle into something that we call “normal life”, with him trying his hand at selling insurance. Does it quite fit him like a hockey-glove? Not at all, but it does keep him occupied and his wife (Alison Pill) happy, so why not just stick with it? But it all changes when Doug’s nemesis, the young, cocky hotshot Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), is made captain of the Highlanders and new ownership threatens to tear his team apart. Now, Doug feels as if it’s time to lace back up the skates, put the gloves back on and, yeah, take some people’s teeth out.

Get it? They’re Canadian! Listen to the way they pronounce their “O’s”!

In the world of sports movies, it’s very rare that we get one about hockey. Better yet, it’s incredibly rare that we get a good one. Or hell, it’s incredibly rare that we get a hockey-comedy that isn’t just funny, but also kind of sweet and exciting to watch for everybody, regardless of if they love hockey or not. But that’s exactly what the first Goon was: Hilarious, hard-hitting, and at the center of it all, a little heartfelt. It was, for lack of a better word, one of the better sports movies made and perhaps, close to being the best hockey-movie of all-time.

Notice how I said “close to”, people. Don’t get all riled-up as I know Slapshot! is still #1 is on everyone’s list.

But still, Goon probably didn’t need a sequel, but here it is and well, things feel a whole lot different. For one, the quality has been downgraded a whole lot. Jay Baruchel takes over directing-duties this time around and while he’s very good at shooting hockey and the sort of excitement that can be felt from watching a game, where it seems like everyone’s more interested in beating the hell out of one another, and not actually, you know, scoring goals and winning, he feels awkward with everything else. The comedy, the drama, and even the slightest bit of heart that’s anywhere to be found, just doesn’t quite work.

Does he know what’s happening?

The only thing that really does work is, other than the hockey and over-the-top, but effectively extreme brawls, is Seann William Scott who, once again, proves why he’s one of the more underrated talents in comedy. Cause while the guy is definitely funny, he also has a little something more to him than just crass-jokes about balls and Canadians (which is all this movie’s comedy revolves around); he’s actually a pretty nice guy who means well and basically loves everyone around him, even if he is an absolutely nutty and crazy fighting-machine. Scott’s delivery with everything he says here is golden and feels like he’s constantly lifting the movie above what it actually seems like it wants to be.

Cause at the end of the day, it’s still a really loud, a really crass, and really dumb sports-comedy that sort of works, but also sort of doesn’t.

It’s hard because when you compare it to the first one, you have to think that there may have been an opportunity wasted. The story isn’t really here, the comedy is really slapdash, in terms of what’s funny and what isn’t, and the supporting-characters all just feel a little one-note. It’s as if the heart and soul was somehow lost, even though it seems like everyone involved with this, wanted to make this, and felt so incredibly passionate about it, that they didn’t care if the money was there or not. They wanted to make Goon 2 and well, they got it.

I just wish it was something totally worth waiting the past five years or so for.

Consensus: While still just as silly and raunchy as the first, Last of the Enforcers also feels like a drastic step-down with weak writing and a bad case of familiarity, despite the hockey-scenes and William Scott saving the day.

5 / 10

That’s more like it, Dougie! Knock his ass out!

Photos Courtesy of: Entertainment One

Advertisements

Office Christmas Party (2016)

Egg nog brings out the best in everyone.

Josh (Jason Bateman) is currently going through a little bit in his life and with it being the holidays and all, what he really wants to do is just sit back, relax, drink, hang out with some friends, and get in the holiday spirit of warmth and giving. However, with news that the corporation that he works for, Zenotech, may be on the brink of destruction, Josh now finds it impossible to get in any sort of cheer or happiness – if anything, he’s scared-to-death. And come to think of it, so is the branch manager, Clay (T.J. Miller). So, in some way, they concoct a plan where they not only hold the annual office Christmas party, but they do so in a way that may just save the company, once and for all. The only issue standing in their way is, other than the party getting too wacky and wild, is Clay’s sister (Jennifer Aniston), who also happens to be the CEO of Zenotech and will not put up with any unnecessary and insane shenanigans, regardless of whether or not it’s the holiday season.

Ugh, yeah.

Ugh, yeah.

Studio holiday comedies seem to come out just about every year and because of that, we, the audience, mostly has to accept them for what they are. And Office Christmas Party is the perfect example of that: Just about every funny person on the planet is featured here and yet, why does the movie feel so mediocre? A part of me feels that it has more to do with the fact that the studio behind it knew that they could rank-in some dough with a raunchy comedy, while also didn’t feel the need to really add much else to it than a bunch of familiar names, crazy gags, and Christmas tunes to get the licenses to.

Everything else, as they say, will pretty much figure itself out, right?

Well, that’s sort of what happens with Office Christmas Party, but it sort of doesn’t. It’s the kind of movie that made me laugh every once and awhile, but honestly, considering this cast involved, should have had me losing my pants about halfway through. The gags feel tired and lame; the over-the-top humor that seems to come seemingly out of nowhere, also feels forced; and yeah, I hate to say it, but the party is also kind of lame. Will Speck and Josh Gordon directed this and while it’s clear that they and the cast may have been having some good old fun, it doesn’t quite translate to the rest of the movie; a good portion of the run-time is spent focusing on all of these different subplots and how they develop over the night, sometimes providing laughs and other times, just not.

A movie like last year’s Sisters, showed that having your movie revolved around one single party can be pretty great – what needs to work, however, is the party itself. It needs to be fun, it needs to be raucous, it needs to be crazy, it needs to constantly build-and-build, and yeah, it actually needs to be hilarious to watch. Sure, it also needs to help keep the story moving, but honestly, it doesn’t need to take up about half of the movie, like it does here with Office Christmas Party, because after awhile, it just gets frustrating; every moment you think you’re going to finally get some time to mellow-out and enjoy the craziness of the actual party itself, nope, the movie jumps away and back to whatever plot it feels like going on and on about and it just ruins its momentum.

Like I said, though, the movie isn’t terrible.

Keep on smiling, girl. You're fine after this.

Keep on smiling, girl. You’re fine after this.

Mostly, all of its shortcomings are forgiven for the fact that they have one of the better ensembles in a comedy that I’ve seen in quite some time. Now, what they all do and how they perform here is an entirely different story altogether, but the fact that the movie was able to wrangle up not just the likes of comedic heavyweights Bateman, Miller, Olivia Munn, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, and Randall Park, along with some random, but welcome ones like Courtney B. Vance, Sam Richardson, and Abbey Lee, is really surprising. And yes, mostly all of them give it their shot and do what they can, but really, they’re all doing the same things we’ve seen them all do before, with barely any new spring to be found in their step, or original-spin taken.

The only one who really seems to be enjoying themselves the most, is also the one who may be changing things up ever so slightly with their act here, and that’s Jennifer Aniston. As Carol, the CEO of Zenotech (a name you will continue to be more and more annoyed by as the movie goes on), Aniston gets to really play it mean, brassy and nasty, like she never has before. Sure, you could make the argument that she did all of that up in Horrible Bosses, but honestly, that was played more up for the zany laughs – here, she’s playing someone meaner, darker and a lot less weird. She’s as serious as serious can be and in between all of that, she brings some humor out of this character and made me want to see more of her.

Because if the party’s not all that great, why not just hang with the people?

Consensus: Even with the great cast on-board, Office Christmas Party still feels like a disappointment, what with the jokes not really connecting and being way too plot-heavy to really make it an altogether enjoyable occasion.

6 / 10

Call those agents immediately!

Call those agents immediately!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Film School Rejects

Deadpool (2016)

Take this in your pipe and smoke it, Batman. Or any other superhero.

After a surgery to cure his cancer botches, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is left brutally burned, chewed-up, left for dead and downright ugly. However, what the person who did all of this to Wade didn’t take into consideration was that he’d live to see another day and most importantly, his girlfriend Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin) and now not only wants to get his life back in order, but also wants revenge on the son-of-a-bitch who basically ruined his life. That’s why it’s Wade’s sole mission to track down and find Francis (Ed Skrein), the evil doctor who also has a sidekick of his own, Angel Dust (Gina Carano), someone who can kick ass, take names and chew toothpicks as if she’s Sly Stallone. But now that Wade realizes that he’ll almost never, ever come close to dying, he can now use his skills and talents for the greater good of society, or just to kill a whole bunch of bad people that want him and his girlfriend dead and not really worry about anyone, or anything else that may be in any particular danger.

The couple from hell. And all of a sudden, I really want to pay that place a visit.

The couple from hell. And all of a sudden, I really want to pay that place a visit.

Finally, after so very long, a Deadpool movie has come around and released for the whole world to see and, well, believe it or not, it’s actually pretty amazing. Though, to be honest, I didn’t know much about Deadpool to begin with, other than that he was supposed to be really funny and cool, like he sort of was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but that was about it. So yeah, I’ll admit that the fanboy train for this didn’t really connect with me, until I eventually realized what it was: The superhero movie to end all superhero movies.

What Deadpool, the character as well as the movie, sets out to do is take the overly-familiar and, dare I say it, sometimes boring superhero genre that’s all too popular and conventional by now, and not just flip it on its side, but slap its ass, spit on its face, twists its arm, flip the bird at it, and end all of this pain on a lovely little one-liner for good measure. It’s basically the kind of superhero movie that Guardians of the Galaxy was, but instead of working within the confines of being a weird, but also appropriate superhero movie for all people of all ages, Deadpool clearly doesn’t give a flyin’ hoot about any of that, or anything. All it wants to do is tell its story, while also remind you just about every single second that you are indeed watching a movie, where really good-looking, talented actors are acting, everyone is getting paid (except for you), and it’s not exactly equipped with the biggest budget, so there’s obviously going to be less stars and big-names here and instead, just the cast it was able to fit in.

And you know what? I loved almost every second of what it was doing.

Not only is Deadpool funny in an incredibly subversive, overly meta way, but it also doesn’t forget about what makes itself a good movie in the first place. Sure, poking fun at the constructions of a superhero movie, as well as a movie in general is fine and all, but if you’re not giving me a good story in the meantime, then forget about all of your jokes. However, Deadpool, once again, the character, as well as the movie, wants to have its cake, eat it, and still have room for seconds, and it surprisingly works. While Deadpool himself will take time out of the movie to turn towards the camera, address the audience and tell everybody that “this is where the backstory begins”, what he’s also doing is introducing us to a solid, well-told story that, wouldn’t you know it, you get interested and compelled by.

Though Deadpool isn’t really working with any groundbreaking material in terms of its story, it’s a more jaded-version of Frankenstein, the movie still gives it its all and allows us to not just feel something for the characters involved, but the central love story that’s supposed to allow for this movie live and breathe. While it would have been easy to have the film be all about Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin, two very good-looking people, meet cute, have sex, fall in love and leave it at that without any further questions asked, the movie takes it one step further and actually shows how screwed-up and weird they are respectively, that when they come together, it’s like peanut butter and jelly.

Of course that peanut butter and jelly was probably left out in the open far too long, with flies on top of it and mold growing on it, but hey, you can still make a sandwich with it and sometimes, the sandwich is all you need.

Be nice to T.J. Miller! He's got a new season of Silicon Valley to film!

Be nice to T.J. Miller! He’s got a new season of Silicon Valley to film!

It doesn’t matter the quality of the ingredients, but as long as you have it and you can see it as a sandwich, then yeah, it’s fine.

That’s why Deadpool, deep down inside, as we’re told, is really a “love” story. It’s not trying to make any profound statement about the human heart, but rather, just giving us a believable romance between two people who not only have great chemistry, but really do feel like they could be together in a universe as weird and twisted as this. Baccarin is given a strong female character that goes beyond being the damsel in distress, can think and take care of herself, whereas Reynolds, as Deadpool/Wade Wilson is, well, perfection.

Sure, it was the role he was born to play, but it’s so much more than that. So often, whenever we see Reynolds show up in a movie, he’s depended on as being the wise-cracking, quick-witted comic-relief, and that’s about it. We’ve seen certain shadings of just what he can do as an actor before, but never to the furthest extent to where we’ve been like, “Wow. That Ryan Reynolds can sure as hell act.” He’s been good in movies before, but with Deadpool he gets to do so much and it’s just a pleasure to see him having the greatest time of his life. He’s not just a funny guy, but a smart one who we’re able to get behind, even when he does some reprehensible things throughout.

But yeah, he’s not the only one that Deadpool is all about, as there’s plenty more characters to shake a stick at and, believe it or not, they’re all pretty fun to be around that I wish I got more of them. T.J. Miller is, as the opening credits show, “the comedic-relief” and every scene he has, isn’t just funny, but really weird and off-kilter, just as the movie asks for; Ed Skrein, despite not being all that much to write home about in the Transporter reboot, is mean and unlikable as Francis, the villain, and it’s everything he needed to be; same goes for Gina Carano’s Angel Dust who is bad-ass; Stefan Kapičić as Colossus has more personality to him than you’d expect, even though he does always go on about being a “hero”; and Brianna Hildebrand, as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, is basically just another mopey, soft-spoken millennial, but she’s fun about it and seems to have a nice rapport with Deadpool, which makes her worth caring about.

But really, it’s all about Deadpool and why shouldn’t it be? He’s finally getting his own movie and it’s a pretty great one at that, so good for him and everybody else!

Consensus: A very hard R, but with good reason, Deadpool isn’t just hilariously subversive, but also features a solid superhero origin tale that we can get behind, even when it seems more concerned with commenting on movies and actors and all of that fun meta stuff.

9 / 10

Hopefully that's news of a sequel, but probably not!

Hopefully that’s news of a sequel, but probably not.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Big Hero 6 (2014)

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

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

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

Where’s this at whenever I’m drunk?!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

This is all I need. Seriously.

This is all I need. Seriously.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

A strange part of me missed Shia LaBoots.

After the near-apocalyptic events that transpired in Chicago almost three years ago, the country has been on high alert keeping the lookout for any Transformers whatsoever. If there is a Transformer of any kind to be spotted, they are hunted down, destroyed and made as scrap metal so that the government can build better, stronger and safer ‘bots to better protect their world. But somehow, in Texas of all places, an independent architect by the name of Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) somehow stumbles upon a truck that he thinks is just a simple, fuel-driven truck, but comes to realize that it’s a Transformer – better yet, it’s Optimus Prime. The government soon finds out and they are not too happy with this, but neither is Cade with having to give up the Transformers neither, considering he trusts Optimus more than he does some humans. This leads to a bit of a battle between the government and the rest of the Autobots that Prime is able to assemble, but somehow, there’s a new type of Transformer out there and not only are they conspiring with the government to get rid of the rest of the Autobots, but they’re as deadly and lethal as ever.

Even though he said so differently a couple years ago, somehow, some way, Michael Bay decided that it was time for him to bring us back, yet again, another Transformers movie. Now, don’t get me wrong, people – like with any of Bay’s movies, I don’t have total problems with the Transformers movie. Sure, they are incredibly dumb, loud, over-the-top, stupid and insane, but you know what? They’re actually kind of fun and when I go into any movie that has Bay attached to it any way, I always know that’s what I have to expect. Not high art, or even something close to being a “masterpiece” – just fun, fun, fun.

"Brawsh!!!"

BRAWSH!!!

But there’s a difference between a movie being “fun”, and a movie being “too much”. See, with this new Transformers, it isn’t that Bay doesn’t bring on the heavy-set action, explosions, goofs, special-effects, and violence, it’s just that it’s so much, for so damn long, that it’s less of a fun ride, and more like a ride that keeps on going up and down, left and right, without barely any intermissions or time to breath whatsoever. And even if there are some of those moments to be found throughout here, they’re lame, poorly-written moments that are supposed to be dedicated to character-development, but instead, come off as half-assed as you can get with a Michael Bay.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew what to expect when I walked into a Michael Bay movie, but when you’re forced to spend nearly two-and-a-half-hours with these characters, there has to be something keeping us behind them. And casting likable personalities such as Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci and T.J. Miller doesn’t cut it; they have to be at least somewhat well-written, with some reasoning behind their motivation to do the things that they do and why exactly they’re necessary to the plot. Am I asking too much from a Michael Bay movie? Better yet, am I asking too much from a Transformers movie? Probably, but I think if you’re going to push your movie into being almost three hours, there has to be something more to it than just big explosions, action-sequences and goofy, unfunny one-liners in the middle of all this tense action spilling out.

That being said, when the movie is fun, it sort of is a blast. However, that’s only because so much action gets built-up, that it’s almost like we’re being strong-armed into at least enjoying ourselves, even in the slightest bit. And that’s not to say everything about this movie, or what Bay does is absolutely godawful; in fact, I’d say that some of this shows Bay being as creative as ever, especially once the story itself gets tossed into China. But by the end, once all of the carnage has been done and about three states have been totally and completely decimated, you sort of have to ask yourself: “Why?”

An even better question would be: “What’s the point?”

Yes, I understand that it is the summer and that, yes, these are the types of movies we’re supposed to waste $20 on seeing, just so that we can get out of the hot air for once, chill out in the air-conditioned theater-lobbies, forget about the world outside, and just enjoy ourselves for the time being. That much I understand, get and absolutely love. To me, there’s nothing more than a summer blockbuster that knows it’s audience, what it’s made for, and doesn’t try to be anything else – just quick, fun, exciting, and engaging for as long as it is up on the screening. “Nothing more, nothing less”, I always like to say, and it’s something that I’d like to think most blockbusters are made with that in mind.

"Say hi to ya mothas for me!!"

“Say hi to ya mothas for me!!”

However, when you do have a movie like this fourth Transformers flick, it comes down to whether or not you yourself are willing to spend up to nearly $20 (popcorn and soda included) just for a nearly three-hour-movie in which there are two-dimensional characters, in a plot that doesn’t really matter so long as it includes big-ass robots, fighting other big-ass robots, while everything and everyone around them gets utterly and completely destroyed? If you’re totally all for that, then hey, go for it. I won’t try to tell you otherwise because clearly, your mind is already made up and ready to throw your ass in that front-row seat.

But for the others that may want a bit “more” bang (or in this case, “less) for their buck, then this may not be the perfect ticket for you. Because yes, it is a very fun movie, at times. However, at other times, it can be incredibly excessive, long, over-the-top, and destructive that by the end, rather than wanting jump out of your seat, wanting to fist-pump the air, as well as everyone else around you, go home, take a shower, lay down in your bed, and smile with a huge smile on your face going from cheek-to-cheek, you’ll just want to get out the theater as soon as possible, get in your car, drive home 5 mph under the speed-limit, get the hottest/longest shower you’ve ever had in your life, lay down, and just go right the hell to sleep, while feeling all safe and cozy that you’re in your own little comfort-zone.

Sounds extreme, I know, but with a Michael Bay movie: Anything bad or unhealthy for you, can and just might possibly happen to you by the end of one of his long, coke-winded adventures.

Consensus: Loud, abrasive, over-long and full of non-stop destruction, Transformers: Age of Extinction is the kind of movie you expect to see, not just from this franchise, but from Michael Bay himself, which may ultimately decide whether or not you want to spend three-hours in a movie theater watching his latest piece of “art”.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

 

Yeah, totally not real. Lame.

Yeah, totally not a real dinosaur. Lame.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

These dragons are cool and all, but they ain’t got nothing on Spyro.

Five years after the events of the first movie, in which both dragons and townspeople of Berk decided to live together in perfect peace and harmony, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now feeling a whole lot of pressure coming from his daddy-o (Gerard Butler) about stepping up and taking the throne. However, Hiccup isn’t functioned like that; he’d much rather continue to live the way he’s been living where he, his girlfriend (America Ferrara) and his lovely dragon/best friend in the whole wide world Toothless, can just roam around and have a great time. Problem is though, they realize that their freedom and happiness may be challenged when an evil man by the name of Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) starts sniffing around for dragons and finding whichever ones he can get, only to turn them evil and allow him to take over the world, once and for all. It’s a mission that both Hiccup and his father don’t want him to complete, however, they get distracted once Hiccup’s mother (Cate Blanchett) suddenly re-appears out of nowhere and brings promise of the family-unit coming together after all of this time. But will it be as perfect as they want it to be with an evil, raging maniac like Drago Bludvist hanging around and turning dragons against humans?

Though I wasn’t expecting much from it, the first How to Train Your Dragon really worked for me – it was everything that a Pixar movie (at the time, mind you) was, except a lot more beautiful in its sweeping ways. And thankfully too, the visuals haven’t changed a single bit; even if they have, they’ve only improved in the way every frame we get here, is all thought-out and feels tailor-made for something like 3D. Which yes, means a lot considering that so many movies that come out nowadays just post-convert their 3D for a higher price, which would result in more money back. Doesn’t always work (in terms of movies making their money back), but what it does do is make the movie look cheap, lazy and slapped-together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich you’d put together before heading off to work in a hurry.

Wow! Watch the PDA! This is a family-feature for Christsakes!

Wow! Watch the PDA! This is a family-feature for Christ’s sakes!

However, the visuals here are amazing and if you have the budget to do so, I recommend taking a trip to the 3D theater lobby.

But as much as it may impress with its attention to visuals, HTTYD 2 (I guess that’s what I’ll call it from now on) has a story that really reaches beyond most movie’s sequels, where it’s presumed that everything that worked in the first movie, must happen again, but this time, louder, longer and more, more, more! That’s the name of the game with sequels, but here, you can really tell that the creators not only care about these characters and their personalities, but also the pre-historic world they’re placed into, where it’s almost like a fantasy-palace, yet, by the same token, isn’t.

Still though, that doesn’t matter because what the creators do here is create an adult story, somehow produced and marketed towards kids. That being said, this is the type of kids movie that may disturb some of them because of the very traumatic and unexpected stuff that happens here, but it’s also handled very well to where the kiddies won’t be traumatized for the rest of their days, pacing back and forth in some psych-ward. Somehow, it finds just the right balance somewhere in between where its easy enough for adults to feel comfortable with their kids watching and being of witness to, but may also have them covering their kiddies eyes.

Either way, it’s a judgement call, so do what you will, older person.

Anyway, like I was saying about the story, some of it is very dramatic and emotional, but it’s never done too much to where this seems like the most dark, depressing and bleak kids movie ever made. It has many ideas/themes about growing up, respecting your elders, being the best person that you can be, and a whole bunch of environmentally-sound messages thrown at us enough times to where we get the point, but never too much to where it seems like we’re being preached at. Like mostly everything else in this movie, it’s handled well and only keeps on leading you up to the moments in which you’ll be touched and maybe even tear-up a little.

Okay, who am I kidding?!? You’ll be tearing up a whole hell of a lot, but that’s just what happens when these kinds of animated movies are done right! They can affect any person who watches them – even if one of those people just so happen to be a twenty-year-old dude, who may, or may not be in touch with his inner-most soft side.

I’m not speaking about myself, either….

Once again, anyway, this movie’s pretty darn good. The only times where it starts to lose a step or two is by the end when I feel like it gets all wrapped up in its big, climactic war-battle that it doesn’t know how to tell the difference between “serious”, or “jokey”. This may sound like a weird complaint for a kids movie, but think about it: When you have any movie that features a battle scene in which many people/persons/things are being killed/destroyed, it’s hard to not think about those things while watching it. It doesn’t matter what the movie is, because it’s always hinted at us, and I feel like by the end of this movie, there’s a problem with separating that it’s a kids movie, that features many people being killed. We never see anybody getting killed in disgusting, graphic ways, but it’s sort of hinted at and it was hard to get past when it was happening on screen.

However, that could just be another case of my weirdness setting in and screwing everything up, so avoid that if you must.

Aw! It's going down!

Aw! It’s going down!

What’s also interesting about this movie is how the whole voice cast from the first movie returns for this one and how they’re all still pretty good. Jay Baruchel voices Hiccup very well in his slightly-neurotic way that isn’t over-bearing, but also doesn’t take you away from believing that he can stand-up for himself and those that he loves when he needs to. Also, I love that he’s a protagonist in a story that’s all about talking things out and reasoning, rather than just jumping right to conclusions and start killing anyway he sees fit.

As a result, that makes the villain, Drago Bludvist, seem dumb and almost as if he didn’t think everything out as perfectly as he should have. He’s reasoning for wanting to take over the world, rid it of all humans known to man, and capture every dragon by turning them bad, seems like something any villain would want to do, but when he’s given the chance to explain himself, there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason or inspiration at all. I’m all for a baddie, being a baddie, for the sake of just being a baddie, but when a movie like this comes around and shows us that there’s more to a simple tale of humans and dragons being friends, then I expect more in return.

Because it’s very rare that you get an animated movie that knocks the socks right off of anybody that isn’t a kid. So yeah, go us older people!

Consensus: The ground that How to Train Your Dragon 2 covers may be a lot darker and heavier for kids, but nonetheless, they’ll be treated to a story that sweeps along with beautiful visuals, a lively voice-cast, and a touching heart at the center that will get anybody tearing-up. Looking at you, adults.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Sort of like how my pet looks at me. Except my "pet" isn't a dragon, it's this little d-bag.

Sort of like how my pet looks at me. Except my “pet” isn’t a dragon, it’s this little d-bag.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

Extract (2009)

If you have Mila Kunis working with you, work isn’t really THAT bad.

Joel (Jason Bateman) is one step away from selling his flavor extract factory and retiring to easy street when all of a sudden, a freak workplace accident sets in motion a series of disasters that puts his business and personal life in jeopardy. Problems like wondering if he should stick with his stay-at-home wife (Kristen Wiig), or run off and have an affair with a fellow co-worker (Mila Kunis). Thankfully, Joel has the ability to blow-off some steam, courtesy of the good vibes and weed his buddy (Ben Affleck) presents him.

It was over a decade since the biting, work-place satire helmed by Mike Judge, Office Space, came out so it only seems right that everybody would have high expectations for this work-place satire helmed by, well, you guessed it, Mike Judge. Problem is, those high expectations are what exactly killed this movie.

Nope, sadly no staplers stolen in this one.

George Michael would not be proud.

George Michael would not be proud.

Actually, the word “killed” may not be the right one to use for this flick because it’s not necessarily anything that’s terrible or could even be considered bad, it’s just “generally okay”, which may or may not infuriate fans of Judge, depending on what you have come to expect with the dude. Judge has been able to prove time and time again, that he still has that great comedic-timing that works no matter what story he’s doing or whatever character’s are involved with it. We get plenty of gross-out gags, random acts of people being dumb, and the occasional weed joke here and there. It’s humor that Judge does so well with and what’s always great about his writing, is how everything is very subtle. There are plenty of times where I chuckled here and even had a belly laugh, which is actually a lot better than nothing, especially with some of the shitty, mainstream comedies we get almost every month. Now it’s obviously not as funny as Office Space, but then again: what is?!!? You’ll never get that movie again so you can’t really hold that against this film too much, even if it is a bit obvious that Judge is trying to harken-back to those days. Just a bit.

Anybody expecting any type of satire whatsoever, will probably be more disappointed than ever since there is barely to little of any of that. Instead, we get a pretty lame story about some dude’s life falling apart, one randomly shitty situation after the next. This could have been a whole lot funnier but it almost seems like Judge focused on it’s story way too much, which wouldn’t have bothered me as much if the story was at least somewhat interesting and if the laughs kept ‘a rollin’. Problem is, the story tries too hard and so does Judge with his jokes, to where it almost seemed like he was really struggling to get his one-liners and jokes to stick, like he would expect people to be quoting them for years and years and years. Doesn’t work and not a single moment/line in this movie even comes close.

Another factor as to why this comedy doesn’t seem to hit as well here is that a lot of these comedic scenes go on way too long. Judge has always had a knack for letting long, drawn-out scenes play to his advantage to where he could really get something ridiculous happening but here, he just seemed like he needed an editor of sorts. One scene, in particular, was when Bateman and Affleck decide to go and get smoked-up at this one dude’s place, which seems to go on and on and on with the same joke. Would have been fine if it was the least bit of humorous, but none of it was, and only there to play-up to this one big gag at the end of it, and it wasn’t even worth remembering, so when it does happen, it goes right over our heads as if it never occurred or we didn’t get the joke. Seemed like a total waste of 5 minutes for this flick, and could have been time put into random situations that actually made me laugh, or anything else in this movie for that matter.

But as disappointing as this flick may be with it’s comedy, you still can’t go wrong with the cast that Judge has assembled. Jason Bateman is fine as our main character, Joel, and he perfectly plays up that straight-man role that allows there to be a lot of opportunities for him to let loose on some of his more subtle comedic chops that we get to see plenty of, just not in films that deserve his skills. Bateman’s fine, then again, he’s always been fine, even if he does continue to channel Michael Bluth, time and time again. The act doesn’t get old, even if every movie he’s been in hasn’t been able to take advantage of it just quite yet. However, the fact of the matter still remains is that the guy has been better and probably has had a lot better characters to play, too because let’s face it: did anybody care about this guy and his love and affection for flavoring extract? I know I sure as hell didn’t, and I think everybody else shared the same sympathies as me. Quirky jobs and passions can only go so far for movies.

Gosh, I guess marriage is THAT much like work.

Gosh, I guess marriage is THAT much “like work”.

But the real stand-out from this cast is none other than Ben Affleck himself, playing Joel’s good stoner buddy, Dean. Affleck has always been the most enjoyable to watch on-screen, mainly because he loves poking fun at himself and is usually game for that type of comedy. So to be given the chance to play a total stoner that is always on another level, mentally and physiologically, and is allowed to do whatever he wants with this funny-ass side-kick, it means comedic-gold for the dude and he just runs with it, in just about every scene he’s in. Shame that that’s all he is in this flick because the guy totally steals the show and makes for a pretty great friend that would be more than willing to help you out with any problems you had. Just let him put a pill in your mouth and see what type of cooky-shit happens next.

As for everybody else, they’re all pretty fine too, but just nothing all that spectacular. Mila Kunis plays the con-gal, Cindy, and even though she may be very easy on the eyes, she’s just not all that funny here; Kristen Wiig plays Joel’s wife, and she has some funny bits but she’s been funnier too; J.K. Simmons has some great lines as Joel’s co-worker that can’t seem to get anybody’s names right; and David Koechner shows up and plays, what is essentially, the neighbor-from-hell. Good cast, but they have all been funnier in plenty of other stuff before, and especially, after this.

Consensus: It features some fine performances and funny moments that work well with the subject-material, but anybody expecting anything close to an Office Space 2 or anything like that at all, will be disappointed by Extract and just by how unfunny it can be due to some lackluster decisions from Judge, both the risky and lazy ones.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Gene Simmons cameos were funny, like back in 1985!!

Gene Simmons cameos were funny, like back in 1985!!

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Boning Keira Knightley would probably be on my list of things to do if the world was going to end in three weeks.

Set in a too-near future, a man searches for a meaningful connection as humanity’s last days are at hand. Can he find his greatest love at the worst possible time? As the respective journeys of Dodge (Steve Carell) and Penny (Keira Knightley) converge, the two spark to each other and their outlooks – if not the world’s – brighten.

I really do like this idea. What would you do, if you knew you only had 21 days to live? Would you have endless sex? Get drunk all of the time? Commit suicide? Party it up like no other? Tell off people you have always wanted to tell off? Rekindle with an old flame? Find love one last time? Or just sit there and go on through your day, as if nothing happened? Honestly, I don’t know what I would do except maybe watching all of my favorite movies one last time. This won’t be one of them.

This is the debut from writer/director Lorene Scafaria, and it’s a pretty good one, too considering she is the chick he wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, a movie that made me want to kill all NYC indie bands in existence. That’s why I’m afraid to go to New York, because I know that if I do step somewhere in that city and I hear an indie band, murder will happen. OK, that’s actually not the reason but you get the drift, I didn’t like that movie but I like this one and I think that’s because Scafaria starts this movie out pretty well with a lot of humor.

There’s a lot of goofy stuff that happens in the first half, where we see how all of these people react to the apocalypse differently, like a bizarre-o restaurant called “Freindsies” that starts out with a happy birthday song, and then ends in an orgy that almost comes out of nowhere. Definitely think of that next time I go to Hooters for my b-day celebration. Then there’s also another scene where we see Penny and Dodge get picked up by some random dude, only to find out that he has hired a hitman to kill him. Pretty funny stuff altogether but underneath all of the humor, there lies a very sad darkness and eventually, it comes up from out of nowhere which was good for this film, but also bad.

What I did like about this total shift in tone was that Scafaria gives this trip between Penny and Dodge, some real development so that when these two eventually do “fall in love” it’s earned and feels like something that’s meant to happen, much like the end of the world. That’s another aspect of this movie that kept me going throughout, the fact that there was two ways this movie could have ended. It was a comedy after all, so there could have been a sucker-punch ending where Scafaria decided that the world wasn’t really going to end and all of these people have to live with the dumb mistakes they have already made. But then again, going with the actual doomsday coming around is more logical and it seems like at one point that Scafaria is going to go for it and totally wipe out the whole planet of Earth. I won’t give away what ending she does end up with, but it had me glued to the screen until the credits rolled.

However, as funny as this film could have been at times, the dramatic stuff does come on a little too strong, giving the film an uneven tone. The first half, as I have already mentioned, is pretty damn funny with a whole bunch of wacky situations to how people would act when the end of their days is coming up. But once the film starts to unravel and the idea that everybody will actually die starts to set in, things start to get more and more melancholy and sad. Honestly, I get that you can’t have a film about the nearing apocalypse and have it be funny the whole way through, but this shit ends up getting depressing. Really, the last hour or so barely had any laughs whatsoever and even though before that, it wasn’t the funniest thing known to man, it still put a smile on my face and made me happy. Really, you couldn’t have done this film any differently with it’s tone than Scafaria already did, but it feels like Funny People, where it’s like two different films stuck together. Some of this stuff was touching though, so I can’t be too harsh on it.

Actually, the main reason this flick was so touching was because of the odd pairing of Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. These two actually make a good romantic couple together, even though the age difference between them is a big turn-off for most people, myself included, but I guess that’s the point of them and why they’re together. These two would have never hung-out if the world was still the same, but because of this coincidental circumstance, they end up being the only person they’d much rather spend their last few days alive with.

Carell is doing that sad-sack character again here, but still works well especially when he has to play a character that is still so sad from the fact that his wife and everything else he knows, has left him. Whereas Knightley is playing a lively and full-of-life character, but still shows that she has some sad emotions to her as well. Knightley is great in this role and shows that she actually has some comedic chops to her as well, but it’s the fact that we are able to care for her character as much as Carell’s is and that’s where I think the real beauty of this film lies. The pairing of these two may be odd, but it’s also somewhat inspired and shows that if you have an inspired premise, inspired writing, and inspired characters, then it all can work out in the end. That is…until the world blows up. Then, that’s when things don’t work out.

Consensus: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is funny, tender, well-acted by its leads, and has its heart in the right place, but also features a big tonal shift about halfway through that makes it feel like two different movies, wrapped up into one, big apocalyptic nightmare.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Our Idiot Brother (2011)

Real men wear crocs.

Ned (Paul Rudd) is a seemingly clueless idealist who must rely upon his three exasperated sisters (Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel) for shelter and support after he’s dumped by his fed-up girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) and loses custody of his beloved dog, Willie Nelson. As he wreaks havoc on his sisters’ lives, Ned’s earnestness shines through until his siblings realize that family ties take priority over wealth and position.

I’m a huge fan of Paul Rudd so when I heard that he was going to get his own vehicle, practically playing the same guy he always plays, I was uber excited. However, there could have been a better film for that vehicle.

The script here is one of the major problems because it seems like the same thing over and over again. We get Rudd moving in with his sisters and one-by-one shows how each and everyone of them are so incredibly shallow and bad, just by being himself and gets kicked out of all of their houses. But then when all the sissies are pissed at Rudd, have them all apologize and try to get his love back, with a sub-plot from a dog named Willie Nelson.

It’s also a problem when the film also has one of those deals where all the humor is in the two-minute trailer clip, and the rest is all obvious and cheesy drama. I expected some pretty funny stuff here not only with the talent involved, but because of the plot and the actual title which seems like a title from a Marx Brothers or Three Stooges flick. It’s just that too much of it here is way too serious and thin to actually laugh at.

However, the things I liked about this film weren’t completley over-shadowed by the bad. I liked Ned’s out-look on life and just how damn simple and happy everything was in his life. This guy is just really cool, nice, and sweet to everyone to the point of where he gives practically every person he meets, a chance to do good. I wish there were more people like this that I knew in the world and I wish that the script didn’t just rely on this great character for some cheap gags.

Also, the cast is pretty alright here even though they have all done things 100000 times better than this, mainly Paul Rudd. Paul Rudd plays Ned the same way he plays every character in any of his film but he’s just so damn likable that it’s almost too hard to be annoyed by his coolness. He sees good in everyone and although everybody around him are a bunch of dicks, he still stays cool and true to himself, which is what Paul Rudd has always been able to show off well.

The rest of the cast does what they can but they all are just too one-note to actually seem believable and nobody really does anything funny. Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer play Ned’s sisters and do what they can but a lot of the time they just seem like their complaining about how bad Ned makes them seem, when they should because their all terrible people. Rashida Jones, Steve Coogan, Adam Scott, and Kathryn Hahn are also here as well and do their own thangs but really aren’t that funny.

It’s also a shame that the funniest member of the cast was T.J. Miller as the organic farmer named Billy, who has about 10 lines, which all seem ad-libbed, but is so cool and funny that’s almost hard not to forget him from an almost terribly forgettable film. It’s just such a shame that this whole cast really looks amazing but do nothing here in a film that takes itself way too seriously, and I think in the hands of Judd Apatow, this could have really been something hilarious, but instead just whatever.

Consensus: Paul Rudd is charming and the film has it’s fair shares of sweet moments, but Our Idiot Brother is too thinly written, too serious, and just too much of a huge comedic let-down to actually be one of the most memorable comedies I have ever seen, but it’s just OK.

5/10=Rental!!