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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Toby Huss

Buster’s Mal Heart (2017)

Yeah, life can be weird.

There’s an eccentric mountain man named Buster (Rami Malek), who, for one reason or another, is surviving the winter by breaking into empty vacation homes in a remote community. While Buster isn’t his actual real name, he mostly acquired it by calling up local talk shows to rant and rave about the impending Inversion at the turn of the millennium. Of course, people just assume he is a total nut and leave it at that, but there’s actually more to Buster than just crazy and insane theories. Believe it or not, back in the day, or at least, so we think, he was a married-man, with a wife (Kate Lyn Sheil), a kid, and yes, in-laws that bothered the heck out of him. But he’s constantly by what happened to them, him, and the role that he may have played.

He’s a mountain man.

Buster’s Mal Heart is being described a whole lot as “a Donnie Darko-type” that means it’s just weird and supernatural enough to charm all the sci-fi loving nerds of the world, and also still realistic and humane enough to be, well, a movie for almost everyone. Although, to say the least, this movie isn’t for everyone; it’s a little weird, a little twisted, and most of all, a tad confusing. However, there’s something to be said for a movie that does seem to trust its audience in filling certain gaps that perhaps scenes or moments of obvious dialogue could.

It’s like, get this, writer/director Sarah Adina Smith knows we came to see her movie, to not just think, but also be a bit challenged.

That’s fine for me, because while it’s not an easy movie to fully immerse yourself in, Buster’s Mal Heart still does a lot of interesting and neat little tricks that make you think that the ideas are here, but maybe, just maybe, the execution may be a bit flawed. After all, it’s a morbid and rather sad movie about a dude losing his crap and why that all happens, without ever seeming to actually explain why it all went so downhill. Then, the movie does and it feels a little plain and conventional and a tad random, as if we didn’t really need an explanation in the first place.

That said, Smith takes her time with this story, developing it, and telling us what we need to know to keep us going. Seeing Buster as a squatting, fully-bearded mountain man is odd, but then seeing him as Jonah, the lonely, bored and rather odd hotel clerk, makes the movie even more odd. But it still works because we’re watching two stories be told to us, with a certain amount of deliberate pacing that helps us in the small, yet subtle and meaningful ways that work for weird movies such as this.

Marriott Inn better have a good Fire Wall.

Just like Donnie Darko, although, when compared, this movie clearly takes the cake.

Then again, was that already obvious in the first place?

Regardless, in the lead role, Rami Malek does a nice job showing us a normal, everyday dude who has some oddly weird and rather sinister thoughts and ideas brewing underneath the appearance. Watching Malek play a nut-ball can be occasionally amusing, but watching him as he loses all control, even when he’s with his family, or at his job, is actually more compelling. After all, watching a crazy person be crazy, while sometimes amusing, can often times get boring because, well, we know what they are and that’s it. However, watching a crazy person act normal, in everyday situations are way more compelling, mostly because we never fully know where they’re going to go, or when they’re going to let out the crazy cries. Malek does that well on Mr. Robot, but he does that especially well here and it makes me think that perhaps it’s time he take on more movie roles, rather than getting stuck on a crazily pretentious show that, with all hopes, will come back into our good graces when the second season premieres.

But that’s another story, another day, and hell, a whole site in general. Not this.

Consensus: While definitely odd and off-kilter, Buster’s Mal Heart still gets by on keeping itself just weird and clear enough to stay compelling, even when it veers into absolute weirdness that’s almost a little hard to explain.

6.5 / 10

We get it. You’re nuts. Let’s move on, shall we?

Photos Courtesy of: Everything is Everything, Gamechanger Films, Snowfort Pictures

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In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Silly cowboys and dames.

A mysterious drifter named Paul (Ethan Hawke) and his dog journey toward Mexico through the barren desert of the Old West. For some reason, Paul has seen a lot in his life and just wants to get away from the rest of civilization, so that he doesn’t have to deal with anymore darkness. In a way to make something of a shortcut in their trip, Paul and his dog take a stroll through a little town called Denton, or, as some people like to call, “a valley of violence”. While the town, at one time or another, was a happening hotbed for all sorts of folks, it is now run by a bunch of criminals and dimwits who like to shoot guns and cause violence because, well, why not? One such rebel is Gilly (James Ransone), the trouble-making son of the town’s difficult marshal (John Travolta), who decides to challenge Paul to a battle. He gets his wish and Paul knocks his rear-end on the ground. Gilly doesn’t take kindly to this, so he decides to get back at Paul in one of the worst ways imaginable, forcing Paul to have to react in violently indescribable ways.

It’s nice to see a writer/director like Ti West try something new and branch out a bit. While in the early stages of his career, he was seen as an exciting, new voice in horror who was ready to breathe some life into a dying genre, he has now decided that perhaps making a Western is the way to go for his talents. Why is that? Well, no one really knows, except for probably West himself (hey, it’s all in the name), which is fine, because as long as he continues to make exciting and fun movies like In a Valley of Violence, he can do whatever he wants.

Nobody gets between a man and his dog.

Nobody gets between a man and his dog.

So long as it’s good.

And that’s In a Valley of Violence is: Good. It’s not miraculous, it’s not a game-changer and it sure as hell isn’t perfect – but considering West’s age and experience, it’s a surprise to get something as audacious and well put-together as this. Rather than making a smart-lipped, quick and fast-paced Western, a la Django Unchained, West prefers to go back to the golden old days, where Westerns took time with their stories, allowing for them to play-out in a much more slower, more melodic way.

It works, but at the same time, it sort of doesn’t. It works in that it helps us see the movie in small, little details that make it more than just another shoot-em-up, slam-bang action-thriller without any reason for doing what it does. At the same time, however, the small details don’t really add up to much; it’s still a pretty conventional Western that may want to be something more than what it presents itself to be on the surface, but look closer and well, there’s not much there.

Which isn’t to say that every Western has to break new ground and state something about the human condition, like Unforgiven or Open Range, but it does have to do a little something more than just shoot and kill, if what it really wants to do is focus on the characters. And because a lot of the characters are pulpy, over-the-top cartoon-figures at times, it can’t help but feel like West, despite obvious good intentions, may get a little too wrapped-up in the weirder aspects of his story. While it’s nice and all fine to make jokes at the expense of your characters and at Westerns in general, after awhile, if they get in the way of the story itself, it can get annoying.

Listen to daddy, kid. He knows a thing or two about being a cool-as-hell gunslinger.

Listen to daddy, kid. He knows a thing or two about being a cool-as-hell gunslinger.

Thankfully, West kicks everything into high-gear by the final-act, realizing what he was originally setting out to make and giving us a fun, exciting and very violent Western.

And it’s also great to see him work with such a talented and likable cast, even if some of them are playing despicable people. As our main protagonist, Ethan Hawke does a good enough job being mysterious and cool enough, even if his recent turn in the Magnificent Seven can’t help but overshadow this a bit. Then, as the fast-talking and quick-witted sisters, Karen Gillan and Taissa Farmiga are both fun, showing that their tongues are firmly in their cheeks. And also, John Travolta gives one of his best performances in quite some time as the politely tense sheriff who may have a moral code, but also doesn’t mind blowing people up every once and awhile. It’s a shame we don’t see more of Travolta challenging himself as an actor, because he actually is a very good one when he wants to be, but here, it’s great to see him have some fun.

But really, the stand-out is James Ransone playing, once again, a cowardly, almost sheepish villain who wants to be considered rough, tough and evil, but in reality, is just a softy with daddy issues. Ransone is great at playing these kinds of characters (season 2 of the Wire) that you love to hate, but hate to love. Here, as Gilly, he gets to over-act a whole lot, but still keep himself grounded in some level where he seems like a real person, but never a real threat. It works in the movie’s favor, as well as in Ransone’s, considering that he’s always the butt-end of whatever joke that may come his way.

Consensus: Even if it is a little too slow and could have definitely been tighter, In a Valley of Violence still offers up an impressive change-of-pace for young and improving talent Ti West. Lets hope it continues on.

6.5 / 10

World's cutest movie dog? Close.

World’s cutest movie dog? Close.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Equals (2016)

So much feels.

In a futuristic dystopian/utopian society, all sickness and diseases (including cancer) have been eradicated. At the same time, however, so has human emotions, where everyone acts, sounds and interacts with one another just about the same. Because of that, nobody really knows one another and whenever they do start to feel anything resembling “emotions”, they’re made to get it fixed and forgotten about. Silas (Nicholas Hoult) is a member of this society who is now a victim of “feeling” something for a co-worker/confidante of his, Nia (Kristen Stewart). Silas doesn’t know how to channel these feelings without getting in any sort of trouble, which leads him to talk about it with fellow people who are going through the same issues as him. But little does Silas know, is that Nia is going through the same thing that he’s going through and it’s only a matter of time until the souls collide and they make something of their shared-feelings for one another. Although, when you’re stuck in a society that doesn’t take too kindly to people who think, feel, or love for themselves, it’s kind of hard to express one’s love in absolute fullness.

Who's she looking for?

Who’s she looking for?

While watching Equals, I couldn’t stop but think that it was a better adaptation of the Giver, than the actual adaptation of the Giver actually was. Of course, yes, I know that the two stories are different, but there’s a lot that they have in-common; the dystopian, futuristic society, the forbidden romance, the rules and regulations to keep people from acting out in a certain way that most humans should, a depressed tone, and yes, a powerful government that seems to strike fear in all of its citizens who dare not get out of line. One is clearly more adult than the other, but still, watching Equals, there was that constant feeling I had that I needed to either re-read the Giver, or watch the movie again, and see if my mind can be swayed.

Then again, I probably won’t do that.

All in all, Equals is fine enough because it presents us with a society that, yes, may not be all that believable, or make even much sense in the long-run, but is still compelling because of what it offers us to think about. For instance, how come in this society, one where all disease has been eradicated, is everyone made to be walking, talking robots, who don’t feel anything? Why are some of them committing suicide? Better yet, why are some of them cool with others committing suicide? How does anyone get pregnant in this society if no one is really supposed to feel anything, especially not love?

None of these questions are ever answered and I guess that’s why it’s easy to get a little frustrated, but for director Drake Doremus, what this society offers is just another chance to give us a forbidden romance that’s easy to feel something for, even if they exist in a world that doesn’t want, or accept them. In fact, Doremus’ past two flicks, Like Crazy and In Secret, have both been about Doremus’ obsession with forbidden love, or in ways, lust; while he doesn’t necessarily care about giving any sort of conclusion on these ideas of these stories, he also doesn’t stray away from portraying them in some of the drabbest ways imaginable.

But honestly, that’s why a part of Doremus works for me.

He takes his material as serious as can be, without hardly an ounce of humor to be found, but it surprisingly works in the long-run. In Equals, you get this claustrophobic feeling where, no matter how hard you try, your love will never be allowed and will always be frowned upon. Or, well, maybe. Honestly, it’s hard for me to fully make up my mind about what Doremus is trying to say here, but because his camera/attention never strays away from this one single idea of unwanted and secret love, it’s hard to turn away from.

Then again, there is the first half-hour or so that does a lot of world-setting, and yeah, it’s a bit of a bore. Mostly, this has to do with the fact that we never quite understand just how we got here and how things work out in this society. Also, there’s something mysterious about the jobs that these two characters have and while Doremus gives us some hints about what it is that they’re doing, it never really gets the full attention it should have probably gotten. Sure, call me nit-picky, call me what you will, but certain things like this bother me.

Who's he looking for?

Who’s he looking for?

Give me a futuristic society and don’t try to explain all that much about it to me?

Well, uh, no thanks.

Regardless, what works best about Equals is that its central love, between Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart, surprisingly works. Because the two characters are so repressed, the brief moments of actual personality that the two share one another, make a huge impression on the rest of the movie and their relationship as a whole. Hoult’s Silas may seem like a bore, but there’s a little something more to him, just as there is to Stewart’s Nia. Together, the two have something sweet and heartfelt, even if the world they’re trapped in, doesn’t really accept them together. It’s your traditional love story, but a little sadder.

And really blue, too. Literally.

Consensus: A bit dark and repressed, Equals may test some viewer’s patience, but also works because of the attention paid to its central romance.

6.5 / 10

Oh, never mind. Good for those kids.

Oh, never mind. Good for those kids.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

All the Way (2016)

Oh, that LBJ. What a silly goose he was!

After JFK is assassinated, Lyndon B. Johnson (Bryan Cranston) assumes the position as President of the United States. While it’s a controversial and heartbreaking decision, immediately, Johnson takes the position and makes it his own; promising more Civil Rights laws than even JFK ever promised. This leads him to talking with Martin Luther King, Jr. (Anthony Mackie) a whole lot, with some of their discussions ending with agreements, and other times, not so much. But while Johnson is out battling it with the Civil Rights activists and MLK, he’s also got to work his magic into winning the next election, which is nearly two years away. While for any President running for office again, there would be no issues, the problem for Johnson is that his Civil Rights bills are turning some people away from him, making him less and less loved among the blue-blooded Republicans. It’s all so very tense and crazy for Lyndon, but when push comes to shove, he knows that he can always fall back on his wife (Melissa Leo), who was there for him since day one and will continue to be do so, so long as he keeps his head on and doesn’t lose his temper too much.

He's white.

He’s white.

Oddly enough, All the Way isn’t going to be the last Lyndon B. Johnson biopic we get this year. The already-titled LBJ, starring Woody Harrelson as the titular President is currently being filmed and planned for a late winter release, which leads me to beg the question: Why? Why on Earth do we have not one, but two star-studded biopics about Lyndon B. Johnson? This isn’t to say that his presidency, or better yet, his character doesn’t deserve the attention, but at the same time, it’s hard to wonder why there are already two movies being made about the guy, when possibly one will do?

Then again, there is the case in 2012, where we had two Abraham Lincoln movies and those are definitely two stories that needed to be told.

Regardless, All the Way is an okay movie, but honestly, a lot of its impact is weakened by the fact that it almost tells the same exact story of Selma, but instead, puts it focus directly on the man white man of the story, the President of the United States. There’s no issue with that in terms of narrative storytelling, but after it having been hardly two years since the release of that much powerful, much smarter movie, I think it’s almost impossible not to compare the two, especially considering how ballsy and risky that movie seemed to be. In a way, All the Way is the kind of movie that would have been made and released before the 21st Century, where instead of focusing on the African Americans, their hardships, their strife, and all of the brutality they suffered, we focus on the one man who had all of the power in the world during this infamous and controversial time.

Also, it should be noted that in Selma, there was plenty of scenes dedicated to sitting there and watching as Lyndon B. Johnson himself handled conversations with Martin Luther King Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders, although at the same time, that didn’t take up the bulk of the movie. It still, however, provided a voice to Johnson who, from the viewpoint of that movie, as well as this one, was really just a guy trying to do the right thing, while also keep his ass in the White House seat. That’s smart and honest storytelling that doesn’t have an agenda, but more or less, try to tell a story, the best way it can.

That’s why All the Way is no Selma, by any means. However, I don’t think it wanted to be.

He's black.

He’s black.

Jay Roach seems like the one guy HBO calls on to deliver these made-for-HBO movies with politics somewhere, somehow involved, and he’s made a nice career out of it. For one, his movies aren’t glitzy, or glamorous, but more or less, just natural, well-told stories that need to be seen, but not necessarily on the silver screen. It’s actually quite odd to describe, but there’s that feeling while watching All the Way, where you know that it’s perfect for cable, but not so much for the big screen.

Why? I couldn’t tell ya. It’s just feeling.

But much like the play it’s adapting, All the Way is really a platform for Bryan Cranston to act his rump off and well, he’s great at it. Much like he did in Trumbo, Cranston is using a signature and odd voice to really get us into the mindset of who this person is and their kind of personality, and it works, again. While you can tell there’s some deal of over-acting that got transitioned over from the stage, Cranston still handles it well enough that we get the perfect idea for who this person is, especially during the smaller, more humane moments.

Most of these moments come from the scenes he has with his wife, played by Melissa Leo, who is both the voice of reason, as well as the dog whisperer to the sometimes wild and cranky Johnson. Leo’s great at these understated, yet emotional characters and it’s why she’s a perfect choice. Anthony Mackie also shows up as MLK, and in a much better, more focused movie, I feel like he’d be the performance to steal the show, but unfortunately, he isn’t given a whole lot to do. Now if it was Anthony Mackie in Selma, we may have had a whole different movie on our hands.

Consensus: With a good cast, All the Way is better than its route, conventional format makes it out to be, however, with Selma still clear in our minds, it’s hard not to compare the two.

6 / 10

But hey, they're pals in the end.

But hey, they’re pals in the end.

Photos Courtesy of: HBO

Enough Said (2013)

Aka, White People Problems.

Single divorced parent Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has a nice life, but it is rather lonely at times. She doesn’t have much of a personal life, but instead chooses to hang-out with her married-couple pals (Ben Falcone and Toni Collette) as they go from party-to-party on weekends. At one of these parties that Eva attends, she meets a Oliver (James Gandolfini), a rotund, but very charming and nice dude that doesn’t seem like her type, but she decides to take a gamble with just because she has the time and is able to do so. However, at the same party, she also meets and strikes up a friendship with famous poet Marianne (Catherine Keener) who, wouldn’t ya know it, just so happens to be Oliver’s ex-wife that he obviously is still very bitter towards, just about as much as she is. Though Eva finds this out pretty early-on, she doesn’t quite know what to do with this new-found knowledge, so instead, she decides to just listen to all of the bad things about Oliver coming from Marianne’s mouth, while she also tests it out on her own in the meantime. Hilarity, and sometimes heartbreak, ensues.

Obviously, as I’m sure we all know by now, most of this movie will be plagued by the recent-passing of its main star, James Gandolfini, and even as bright and sunny as this movie can be, it puts a huge shadow over it. Every time you’re watching a scene that he’s in, no matter how much he may make you laugh, smile, or do a little of both at the same, you still can’t help but get that nasty, but sad feeling out of the back of your mind that yes, he’s gone, and yes, this is one of his last performances ever put on screen. Very upsetting, however, the movie itself does not fall victim to such events that ocurred after filming. Instead, it is its own product, one that lives and breaths off of the good vibes from everybody involved, not just one person in particular, and it still works in that sense.

$20 down already!

Oh, I see: “The old, hole-at-the-bottom” trick. That Gandolfini sure was a dirty devil.

Still though, it is very, very sad. Okay, I’m done with that. On with the rest of the review/movie!

While most of you may already know this, I’ll say it again just for the sake of possible, “newer” readers: I am not a huge fan of Nicole Holofcener. Now, take with that what you will since I’ve only seen 2 of her movies (this one not included), but I just feel like all of her movies are all of the same thing, minus a couple of characters here and there. However, something struck me as odd with this movie and its premise as it seemed like Holofcener was going for more of a sitcom with the idea of a woman finding out all of her new boy’s secrets, problems, and negatives from his ex-wife, while he has no idea, but that’s only used as a stepping-stool for what Holofcener REALLY wants to touch on.

Basically, when you get past it all, this movie is about love and how it will never leave one’s life, even if they feel like it’s all but lost from their own. You can give up, try again, give up, try again, and so on and so forth, and I think that’s the beauty of life. Watching as these two, over-50-year-olds rediscover love and the simple pleasures of life really brought a grin to my face. It’s really sweet to see them figure themselves out once again, just as much as it is to watch as their relationship blossoms, but the movie is more than just a romantic-dramedy, and I think that’s where Holofcener sort of loses herself, and sort of doesn’t.

The reason why I don’t feel like she loses herself over this material is because she definitely has something to talk about, and for once, it’s not another agonizing portrayal of the white, liberal guilt I’ve been so used to seeing with her movies. Sure, the topics and themes like your kids going off to college, losing connection with you, and fully growing-up isn’t anything new to be touched on, let alone, heavy material to really get the crowd reaching for their Kleenex’s, however, Holofcener seems like she really cares about what she’s writing, and you feel that tender love and care the whole time. When the point she wants to get across is seen, it works and makes this movie more than just a simple story of two people meeting up, kissing, and falling in love.

However, Holofecener sort of does lose herself with this material when she seems to cram a bit too much into this movie for one’s own well-being. For instance, rather than just having the subplot about Eva’s one and only daughter losing connection with her as she gets ready to move off to college be the main one, Holofcener decides to throw another one in there for good measure, concerning her daughter’s best friend who spends more time at her place, than her own actual home. The subplot got old, made no sense, and just felt awkward, especially when it was resolved and brought almost nothing to this story, or its overall meaning. It just was included because it seemed like Holofcener had some time on her hand. That, and she was also going through a mid-life crisis, so why not include some teen-adult bonding, eh? I don’t know, didn’t work for me, but it probably will for many others.

Clingy moms, right? Like, gosh!!!

Clingy moms, right? Like, gosh!!!

Like I was saying before though, the presence always lurking in the back of this movie’s frame is James Gandolfini and for a good reason too, because he’s great here as Oliver. Not only is Gandolfini so lovely, charming, and funny to watch, but he’s also a bit of a softy too, so much so, that you actually believe it when his feelings get hurt over the smallest thing said or done to him. It’s hard to imagine that Tony Soprano would ever begin to ball-out and cry because some girl he just met made fun of him for not knowing how to whisper in a movie theater, but damn, he sure as hell had me believing! This may not be his last role ever on film, but either way, it’s still a sad goodbye considering what a talent he truly was, one that deserved all of the credit he got.

But I’ll be damned if this is just Gandolfini’s show, because it honestly isn’t in terms of performance and story. This story is mainly surrounding Eva and all of her problems, and while this character could have been painful to watch considering she has random bits of awkwardness that come out of nowhere at times, Julia Louis-Dreyfus still makes her believable enough to be interested by, and charming enough that she’s fun to watch, regardless of if she’s being a meanie or not. This is probably Louis-Dreyfus’ best movie-role to date, and even though that isn’t saying much, the girl still proves to us that she’s got the comedic-chops to make us hold our guts, while also still have the ability to come off as somebody that just wants love in her life, no matter if the person meets all of her heavy-set standards or not. The chemistry these two have is a beautiful thing to watch, and I dare you not to get a bit choked up when they share their first smooch! In fact, I double-dog dare ya! Just try!

Consensus: While most of your attention will be fixated on James Gandolfini and his wonderful performance, Enough Said is more than just a kind-of swan-song for its male-lead, it’s a pleasant, sweet, and gentle look at love, and how it will never leave one’s life, no matter how young, or old they are.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Hug him! You know you want to!

Hug him! You know you want to!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

42 (2013)

Thanks to Jackie, white men all around the world can now make excuses for missing their shot at the big-time.

Whenever you see a professional sports team on the television, most of the players are African Americans. Yeah, some whites here and there, but mainly African Americans, but it never, ever used to be like that. However, thankfully, one man had to knock that barrier down and that one man’s name was Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman). Without him, we wouldn’t have blacks and whites playing aside each other in such sports as basketball, football, baseball, and so on and so forth, but it was harder than expected. That’s why Brooklyn Dodgers manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) comes in to make sure that Jackie is above the people who criticize him and not stooping to their racist ways. Cause when in doubt: one must always listen to the guidance of Han Solo. Always.

Jackie Robinson’s story is an amazing and inspiring, but best of all; it’s all true. For so long now, we hear stories of these famous legends that have seemingly changed the world we live in, and yet, we always hear some stories about them whether they be a bit of a scandal or negative in anyway. That’s why it’s so nice and somewhat refreshing to get a story on a person that stayed true to himself on, and off the field. Not saying that Robinson was a saint-like person 24/7, but given what we know about him through books, interviews, and videos; the man was a wonderful that broke down color barriers for us all.

It’s such a wonderful person and story, that it’s honestly a real wonder to myself as to why it’s taken Hollywood so long to jump on this man’s story, and give him the biopic treatment. I mean, there was some B-movie in where he starred as himself, but from what I know so far: no movie has been made about Jackie’s life. That’s where writer/director Brian Helgeland comes and changes that all up. Not like Jackie changed the world of sports, but you see what I mean.

Is he a player on the Dodgers or a roadie for the Blue Man Group? Still can't tell.

Is he a player on the Dodgers or a roadie for the Blue Man Group? Still can’t tell.

What I liked most about Helgeland’s approach was that the guy focuses on Jackie, his life, and the way he plays baseball, but doesn’t allow it to get too corny to the point of where it’s almost insincere. Most sports movies that have to do with a figure in a certain sport that changed the way it was played or viewed as, usually get their image skewered in a way that makes them look as if they were the second-coming of Christ, with little to no flaws, and an incapability of saying/doing the wrong thing. However, this movie does not paint Jackie as that. From all that we know, the guy was a great person but he had problems coming to terms with the way the world treated him; he was constantly freaking out when people booed the hell out of him for being black; and he never got to share those heartfelt-experiences with his teammates, like they all did with one another. Nope, the guy was sort of a loner and seemed to be really upset by the way the world was looking at him, but he never really let it get to him fully.

That’s why I thought it was great to see this movie not just paint him as a person, but a kind and believable one at that. A lot of reviewers have been getting on this movie for not going any deeper into the psyche of Jackie Robinson and not exploring what really made him human, but I think that’s not the point of this movie. Granted, I would have liked to see some more development of Jackie, his home life with his gal-pal, and his troubled-times on the road, but those are all minor nit-picks in the grander scheme of things. The way that the movie handled Jackie’s story was a respectable one, but also a very honest one in where it shows us what this man had to go through in order to break down those barriers, and in the end: makes you see his legend even more.

So, with all of that said: is it an inspirational movie? Maybe the movie isn’t as inspirational as the true-life story is, but yeah, it still works. You feel for Jackie whenever he gets knocked-down and continues to get back up for more where you see him struggle by not being able to say a lick to anybody around him. For that alone, you really get behind the man but once he starts rackin’ up the points for his team and he really begins to turn on the skills; then it just gets better. After all of this, it becomes not only an entertaining baseball movie that has a great time with all of the hits, the runs, and the steals (in baseball terms at least), but a movie that takes it’s subject seriously and doesn’t feel the need to drop a bunch of gooey-tasting syrup down our throats. Some moments are like, but not all. And for that, I have to give Helgeland a crap-load of kudos for telling the story the way it was meant to be told, and not getting lost in the mix of conventionality. That could have easily happened, too. But thank the movie heavens that it didn’t.

Another smart-decision that Helgeland made as director was by actually casting an unrecognizable person as Jackie Robinson. And an even smarter-decision on his part, was getting a guy that actually pull the roll off perfectly. Chadwick Boseman is the name, ladies and gentleman, and it’s a name you should remember for awhile because he’s so great here, that it’s hard to imagine anybody else playing this role, without anybody in the crowd being able to get past the fact that it’s somebody we all recognize and can put our finger on immediately. Nope, not Boseman and what a find this guy truly was. Not only does he have the skills to make it seem like Jackie was a really nice guy at heart, but also have the chops to show us how much it really did take him to hold-back and not go all nutso on every a-hole around him. Just the look in his eyes would get me, and that’s the sign of a talented-actor at work. Maybe I’m selling him a bit too much here, but for me, I feel as if this guy’s going to get more and more roles as time goes on. And if not, oh well. Then he’ll just have to join the line of “promising, young black actors that never quite made it”. Right behind Rob Brown, of course.

"Go out, and get 'em Rock...erhh....I mean Jackie!!"

“Go out, and get ’em Rock…erhh….I mean Jackie!!”

Then, you go right-off the field and into the manager’s office where you find Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, in the type of role that you’d never, ever expect him to play, but he pulls off stunningly. Seriously, I thought that this was going to be one of those roles where an aging-star takes to stretch out his skills, but instead comes off like he’s trying too hard to make it seem like you don’t notice him, when we all do but that’s not this performance at all. If anything, this is probably Ford’s best role in a decade (yes, even better than this), because it finally seems like the guy is having the time of his life for once in awhile. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Ford actually take a role such as this, and just make it his own, but not without hiding himself underneath the character to where we can’t get past the fact that it’s “Indy in a bunch of make-up and a fat-suit”. Instead, we see Branch Rickey in his duck-like cackle, his huge eyebrows, and his business-like way of negotiating things. His story may seem a bit “dickish” considering his character is all about getting a black player on the team for money, but after awhile, we see more about this person that may surprise you. Not just because this person actually seems to have a heart and soul, but because it’s so surprising to see that Ford can still pull-off dramatic scenes that make you come close to crying. I didn’t shed a tear at all throughout this movie, but I came pretty damn close at one point and that’s all thanks to Ford.

The rest of the cast is pretty damn good too, even if they don’t have as much screen-time as Boseman and Ford. Lucas Black is great as Pee Wee Reese, one of the only Dodgers players that seemed to have a soul; Christopher Meloni seems like a perfect-fit as the strong, but understandable GM, Leo Durocher; John C. McGinley is awesome to see on the big-screen once again playing the Dodgers’ play-by-play commentator Red Barber, nailing every line and wit the man had to offer; and also be on the look-out for a relatively nice supporting performance from Ryan Merriman as Dixie Walker, one of the last players on the Dodgers who couldn’t get used to Jackie’s stay on the team. Name not ringing a bell, okay then, see if you recognize this. Oh, how time flies by.

Consensus: 42 isn’t the definitive-movie about Jackie Robinson’s life on, and off the field, but it’s still supported well by a perfectly-casted group of stars, a script that shows us the harsh realities of the man’s life, while also the bright spots of it as well, and also throw some inspiration at us. Not a home run by any means, but at least a ground rule double.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Christmas Card-worthy.

Christmas Card-worthy.

World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

Mrs. Doubtfire was such a good nanny but I guess as a daddy, she just sucked.

Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) is a high school poetry teacher in Seattle, Washington and is having a few problems. He also has possibly the worst son ever in Kyle (Daryl Sabara) who just hates everything, everybody (except his only friend Andrew), and only love beating off to porn all day. All of that beating off eventually gets him killed, and Lance (as all good fathers do) tries to cover it up as a suicide and writes his note for him.

It’s pretty strange to think about Bobcat Goldthwait as a writer/director but he’s actually pretty good at both. It also helps that he doesn’t feel the need to come out in-front of the camera and do his annoying voice. Thank God for that, people. Thank God, for that.

The premise right up there is pretty damn dark. Death is a pretty grim subject to talk about in the first place, but then to go forward with the story where the Dad is pretty much making all of this fame because of it on purpose, then that’s a little too dark. Is it? Surprisingly, it’s a very well-written film that definitely takes your mind off of what this film may be talking about in the first place. The film itself is definitely a dark comedy but it’s also one of the funnier ones I have seen in quite some time. Yeah, there is a couple of laughs where you can tell that this is pretty much a satire on people who somehow do total 180’s once death happens, but there’s also plenty of comedy that just works because a lot of this stuff is funny. That’s right people, suicide and death are in the same movie and are still both pretty funny.

It’s not all about being funny, though, because the film actually has a lot to say if you can believe it or not. There is a lot of insight into what it is to be a father and how hard it is for so many parents out there and to just sit there, and try their damn near hardest to get along with their kids but in the end, it never works out. I guess a lot of what goes on here (when the kid is alive) is what goes on in my life with my parents but it’s still very true and refreshing to see a movie show something that is very realistic even though a premise like this could only go so far. However, the film also talks about a bunch of other topics like death, suicide, family, and sex and they actually come together in a very strong way to where you can see the satire that Goldthwait but still never allow it to get in the way of the story itself. Nice job my man Bobcat. Freakin’ cool name.

Problem with this story is that it’s emotional side never really did anything for me. I think the story seems to get a little too dark and mean because even though a dude like Lance may be effed up with his life, I definitely don’t think he would ever go so far as to live off of the fame of his kid’s death. Then again, you never know what sort of parents actually do such a thing as this and I wouldn’t be surprised if a story like this comes up on the news soon. Also, a lot of Bobcat’s emotional stuff revolves around a bunch of indie music played to some montage that almost makes it seem like a music video. Bobcat does have a nice taste in music, but maybe it was placed in the flick a little too much except for one key track Queen and David Bowie. Come on, you all know the song.

What really had me going for this flick was the performance here from Robin Williams as Lance Clayton. Just recently, I watched ‘Good Will Hunting’ with my Theology class and it made me realize just how great of an actor Williams can be when he isn’t depending on doing the same old goofy noises and faces for a laugh or two. That shit always annoys me but he tones it down perfectly here, for a character that has a pretty shitty life. His character may do some terrible things throughout this flick, but Williams makes this guy so likable by just being a normal, everyday dude with barely any flash or zing to his performance. He’s pretty straight-forward the whole way through and it worked not only for this character, but for this movie and gave me somebody I could feel something for even though he didn’t have the best morals.

I was also very surprised by how great Daryl Sabara was as his son. This is the same little kid from ‘Spy Kids’ and I have to say that he seems like he has some potential to be a big star one of these days because the scenes he has with Williams here, are awesome and some of the best of the film. Shame he gets killed off so quickly though because I would have definitely loved to see more of him and Williams just cussing the hell out of each other. Reminded me of the verbal fights me and my fasha had. Instead those ones would usually just lead into fists being thrown.

Consensus: Since World’s Greatest Dad is so dark and messed up, there isn’t a lot of emotional connection here, but Goldthwait’s writing is very sharp, very funny, and also very true in the way certain people treat death and treat the dead when they start to remember them.

8/10=Matinee!!