A great, shallow comedy
Spy (2015): A desk-bound CIA analyst volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent diabolical global disaster.
Spy is the perfect summary of what the comedy genre has become today. Is it bad? No. Quite the opposite. This is a great film. It's dialogue is hilarious, it is shot wonderfully, and holds up extraordinarily well as an action film too. The homages to James Bond in this film are great. Melissa McCarthy returns to form with style in what may be her best film yet. She has an undeniable chemistry with director Paul Feig, and can work brilliantly with any actor or actress he puts on the screen with her. Feig and McCarthy have gotten better with each film, and then when you throw in a phenomenal supporting cast? Featuring Rose Byrne (again) and Jason Statham who completely steal the show? This film is easily the best comedy of 2015 thus far. By a country mile.
So why am I not higher on this film? Because this film suffers from the same problems other films of the modern comedy genre suffer from: it's merely a surface-level comedy. As my "film connoisseur" has expanded, I've come to expect more from the comedy genre. I want my comedies to humor multiple senses. Directors like Judd Apatow and Paul Feig have allowed the genre to lose its way. Their films, as a whole, are lightly edited improv. That's it! Or, in the case of Spy, an improv'd action film. In the last ten years, the idea of the visual comedy has been all but lost in Hollywood. The one exception is Edgar Wright. If you watch Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Hot Fuzz, or The World's End, you will see a director using every sense, both visually and with dialogue, to create the funniest and most memorable comedies of the last 10 years. I've only seen Hot Fuzz once, a long time ago, and yet I still remember more about that film than I do Neighbors, which I saw far more recently. My favorite joke in the film Anchorman, other than the crazy cameos which don't count, is when Jack Black kicks Baxter off a bridge. It's a visual joke! Monty Python and the Holy Grail has one of the best visual jokes ever by having someone follow our heroes around everywhere with coconuts to simulate horses. This is just as memorable as having Michael Cera be bad-sh*t crazy in This is the End. And yet.....we don't see any visual humor in so many comedies today, and Spy is no exception. Spy, while funny, is just a silly comedy. Three days later I barely remember the film. I don't remember any of the jokes. I just remember that it was pretty funny. So, I couldn't help but feel a little empty leaving this film. Please, Hollywood, bring back visuals in our comedies! It might take a bit of (dare I say it?) ingenuity and creativity, but it'll be so worth it! This lack of memorability has made me struggle to watch This is the End again after the first time I watched it. Or Neighbors. Or The Heat. Despite having some very hilarious dialogue.
But look. It's not worth focusing on just this, especially when this movie does get so much else right. Spy is a great action film, just as good as any of them. I couldn't help but feel like this film was Paul Feig living out his dream of directing a Bond film. And Jude Law couldn't help but live up his role. His character might as well have been named James Bond, and he's clearly having a blast in it. Melissa McCarthy makes her character a badass, as she turns into a freaking boss once she's out in the field. It was awesome! There were no "Ha! You're fat." jokes to be found. Everyone was terrified of McCarthy, and she made quite a few of the characters in this film look like pansies. Jason Statham was hilarious. Who knew this great action star could be this funny? Well, he does this by making fun of himself, which I love. I love actors that recognize what their persona in films is, embraces this persona, and then proceeds to have fun with said persona. Statham does exactly this. Bobby Cannavale is great, and Miranda Hart is hilarious. But then there's Rose Byrne. Freaking Rose Byrne. I've been singing this woman's praises for years, and she once again steals the show as the antagonist. There are very few actors out there who have as diverse an acting portfolio as Rose Byrne does. And every time I see her, she steals the show. She did in Get Him to the Greek. She did in Insidious. She did in Bridesmaids. She did in Neighbors. She even did it in freaking Knowing! Yes, she was the only good thing about that film I know. Once again, she steals the show, creating a hilarious character that actually has a lot of intrigue surrounding her at first and then becomes even funnier as you start to get to know her. Her exchanges with Melissa McCarthy were easily the best part of the film.
So, what else is there to say about this film? Again, it's great, but it's still lacking memorability. I do not see myself watching this film again in the near future, despite its hilarious dialogue. And good action! Props to Feig for shooting an excellent action film. He doesn't do anything special, but the plot here is filled with twists and turns that you don't see coming. Time was clearly spent on creating an excellent script to go along with the improv moments. But it's still shallow. Oh well.
The Critique: a perfect summary of the comedy genre today. Witty dialogue and good action on the surface, but nothing more to it than that.
The Recommendation: if you wanted to see this film you probably already have. Those who are comedy purists, however, will have to wait until 2016 before getting a decent comedy again. Please don't suck Edgar Wright.....
The Verdict: 8/10 Great.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.
Hello Wes Anderson. How are you? That's fantastic. Hey man, can I tell you something? You're freaking awesome. Look, I should preface this review by saying if you hate Wes Anderson this movie will not change your mind. I mean, just look at that picture at the bottom. Everything about this movie is meticulous and symmetrical. How do you get around the Invisible Wall rule of filmmaking? By filming your entire movie from shots directly in front of all the characters? Yes, that's how. And I love you for it, Wes Anderson. If you haven't figured it out yet, I love Wes Anderson, and if you have no idea who he is, this is the perfect place to start.
Screw acting. Let's talk about the freaking set design. This movie should be an easy win for best production design, because every single item in this film is placed in very specific positions from start to finish. The attention to detail in this film is insane, and something that a secretly (and not clinically) OCD person such as myself adores when I see it in a movie. But every single shot was coordinated and planned by Wes Anderson and company. You could even go as far as to make a legitimate argument that set was created before the story and the story conformed to the individual shots. While this was obviously not the case, I'd be just as happy watching this film again with no sound whatsoever and just marveling at it as anything else. And the colors! The colors were vibrant and absolutely everywhere. There were even some visual jokes, with some blatantly obvious models popping up from time to time.
That's the other thing: this movie is freaking funny. Many of the jokes, however, are very subtle. You really have to be paying attention to spot the humor in GBH. This is not a Horrible Bosses comedy where you can turn off the brain and still have a good time. No. You have to engage with this movie to enjoy it, but when you do....you're gonna have a hell of a time. So. Acting. Here in lies my single biggest complaint about the film. One is that there really isn't a lead in this film. Well, I'm not complaining about this, as you had no problem keeping track of who is who, but my biggest problem is the hugely wasted supporting cast short of co-leads Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori. There are soooooo many A-list stars in this film, but not a single one of them is given a chance to develop their character. Some of their roles are so limited they'd be classified as basically a cameo appearance. This film is 99 minutes long, but with the cast they bring in, combined with how interesting the story is, they could've just as easily made the film 199 minutes (that's right) and I would've been happy. Obviously I exaggerate, but this film is criminally short, especially when you realize that someone like (just one of the about 17 examples) Edward Norton has about 3 scenes. And he is close to the most featured supporting actor in the entire film.
That said, this is a great film. I loved it from start to finish, but I wanted more. That's arguably the best complaint you can have about a film, but it's still a complaint nonetheless. And while the supporting cast is massively underused, this gave Fiennes a chance to really shine as the closest thing this movie has to a lead. Go see it. You'll thank me later.
The Critique: Wes Anderson at his finest. Phenomenal set design, great visuals, and an interesting story.
The Recommendation: A must-watch for any Wes Anderson fan or anyone not sure if they like him or not. You will be converted afterwards.
The Verdict: 9/10 Awesome
Birdman: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014): A washed up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of a Broadway play.
Wow. Hm. So....Birdman. This movie is FREAKING awesome. You know what's crazy? On paper, this movie should suck. It should suck a lot. A movie about a theatrical play involving a guy who was once a superhero known as the Birdman? A ridiculous premise. But Birdman works better than most anything else I've seen all year. Why? Well, it starts with the director/writer, Alejandro G. Inarritu. The way this story is executed is indescribable. However, what really makes Birdman as great as it is, is its cinematography. This is easily some of the best cinematography I have EVER seen from a movie. Period. And, when you throw on top of it some of the best acting I've seen all year, and you make it a comedy that is basically being a parody of itself, and you have a crazy 119 minute adventure known as Birdman.
So, there aren't a whole lot of things this movie does wrong. Um....the movie is not perfect, though it is close, as a few of the shots fall into the realm of gimmick-ey, The story was also very out there, and I had trouble following it at some points. Sometimes it was impossible to tell what was real and what wasn't. I know that was the point of the movie, but still...there were a few times where the movie got too out there even for me. However the movie did quickly recover from all of these moments and continue with its crazy and unpredictable pace.
And then there's the cinematography. Emmanuel Lubezki. Emmanuel. Lubezki. This man is one of the all-time greats in terms of cinematography. His work with Alfonso Cuaron and Terrance Malick is virtually unparalleled. Following up his great work in Gravity, which included one of the best opening scenes I have ever seen, Lubezki took that idea and multiplied it by....the entire freaking movie. The entire movie is shot as if it is one long take. This premise is an indescribable risk, but it works....perfectly. Remember that whole thing I talked about in Unbroken and The Imitation Game and Theory of Everything where the crew played things very safely from a technical standpoint and it was really annoying? Ya. I can't even begin to imagine how bad this film would've been had they not shot it the way that they did. This movie will easily win Best Cinematography this year, as it is the best I know I have seen in a looooong time.
And it doesn't stop there. We must also compliment the actors involved in this film. Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, and Emma Stone all put in some of the best performances I've seen from a film this year. The believability, improvisation, and simultaneous ridiculousness of these performances also led this to being a damn near perfect film. At the end of the day, Birdman is worth every second of your time. It is definitely one of the most unique viewing experiences I've seen in a loooooong time. Is it worth Best Picture? Over Boyhood? I don't know. I have to let this movie simmer before I decide that. But we'll see! In the meantime, find a theater and go see this marvel of cinema. You'll thank me later.
The Critique: Millions of ideas all thrown against the wall simultaneously and yet....virtually everything sticks. Combine that with the some of the best cinematography I have seen in a loooong time, and you have one of the best films of 2014.
The Recommendation: A must-see for anyone who is a fan of the movies. Or Michael Keaton. Or Edward Norton. Or Emma Stone. Or fun.
The Verdict: 9.5/10 Damn Near Perfect
First off, the acting. Seth Rogen, once again, plays himself in this movie. I say that like it's a bad thing, but it's not. I enjoy Seth Rogen personally. I wish he would try to put himself out there in a more dangerous role, but I don't mind him continuing to make safe parts for himself. But then there's James Franco. He is screen-hogging the hell out of this movie, and it was very distracting and quite unwelcome. This movie and his performance will only continue to add to the James Franco hate that already exists out there. Now I know he was screen-hogging in This is the End too, but then it was quite welcome because he was making a parody of himself. Here it appears he's not being a parody of himself, and that's where the unwelcome screen-hogging came in. Oh well. The supporting cast is sadly underwhelming, short of Randall Park as Kim Jong-Un. Park is the only person asked to to do much of anything from an acting standpoint, and he delivers easily the most memorable performance of the movie. Rogen and co. asked a lot of Randall Park, and he most certainly delivered. However, I'm sad to say that Lizzy Caplan and her CIA counterparts have very little material to work with here, and her role is reduced to merely cheerleading on the sideline. Seriously! Ok, let me give you a quick example: at one point, North Korea is getting ready to use its nukes, (it's in the trailer) and then there's a shot of the CIA literally just standing there yelling at Rogen and Franco for whatever reason or another. Hey guys! Shouldn't we worry about the nukes that North Korea is getting ready to fire? No? We should just keep yelling at Franco and Rogen for unrelated things, right? Ok, cool.
And that's my biggest problem with this movie: this movie sets up some very potentially serious moments, but then resolves them with very silly resolves. For example, in the interview itself (spoiler: there's an interview of Kim Jong-Un in The Interview! WHOA) the gang sets up a very interesting line of questioning for Un as they try to make him slip up. But then, instead of further going down this path, they resolve this plot line with a pop culture reference. I don't know. Maybe it's my Newsroom side coming out, but I would've really liked this moment and many others that are set up with very serious and legitimate plot points to not be resolved with silly pop culture references or other silly things. I mean think about This is the End. The apocalypse is a very serious matter, and they do treat it fairly seriously in the final act while still throwing in jokes to keep you laughing. It became a drama with a side of comedy. That's where The Interview fails. It sets itself up to be a drama with a side of comedy, but then chooses to keep itself a comedy with a side of drama.
Here also is where my rule of comedies will once again come out: if the movie makes me laugh, then I can't hold the plot flaws against it. And while there were quite a few misses with the humor, there was also quite a few hits. But, at the end of the day, this movie is merely good. The stories surrounding the movie are absolutely far more sensational than the movie itself. And while I still look forward to what Rogen, Franco, and Goldberg have to offer next, I will also send them a warning: it's time to mix things up, guys. Your formula is starting to wear thin on me. Consider yourself warned.
The Critique: plot holes-a-plenty are not enough to take away from a good comedy. Silly at best.
The Recommendation: I mean, how can you not watch this movie? Just do it to say you did.
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
Horrible Bosses 2 (2014): Dale, Kurt and Nick decide to start their own business but things don't go as planned because of a slick investor, prompting the trio to pull off a harebrained and misguided kidnapping scheme.
Is this movie the exact same as the first one? Yes. Does it matter? No.
Ok so I loved the first Horrible Bosses. I thought the chemistry of Sudeikis, Bateman, and Day was fantastic, and Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Anniston, and Colin Ferrell were great as the big mean bosses. And Jamie Foxx was screen-hogging like nothing else and it was hilarious. I thought there was great symbolism and appeal for the working class American in it. After all, who doesn't have or has never had at one point one of those three bosses? I know I have, and I am 22. We all have had to take orders from someone who is either illogically strict, a crackhead, or overly sexual. And it made the first Horrible Bosses great. Sadly, the main theme of the bosses is gone here and replaced by Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine screwing over our three "beloved" characters. However, the chemistry between Sudeikis, Bateman, and Day is back and better than ever. While it is basically the exact same plot as the first one, fans of the original Horrible Bosses, such as myself, will feel right at home seeing those three get into their antics on screen. So, let's dive into it shall we?
The acting is....well, decent at best. Christoph Waltz unfortunately has very little to do here. I was hoping to see a comedic side to this great actor that we had never seen before, but sadly it's just the same Waltz we've seen before which makes him rather out of place honestly. That said, Chris Pine though. Easily the best acted role in the film, Chris Pine has an absolute blast as Rex, the kidnapped son of Waltz, creating a surprisingly well-developed character throughout the 108 minute film. And remember when I said Jamie Foxx screen-hogged the crap out of the first one? Well, he's back, and he takes screen-hogging to a whole new level in Horrible Bosses 2. Fortunately this is a very good thing as the big scene involving his character MF Jones is probably the best scene of the whole movie. Of course it also is the best scene of the whole movie because of the chemistry between Sudeikis, Bateman, and Day. Seriously. I want more movies with these three as the leads. It doesn't have to be another Horrible Bosses movie, Hollywood. Just....anything. Let's do the whole Three Stooges thing again with these three as the Stooges. Ready? BREAK. Put these three in more movies PLEASE. Anniston and Spacey also have smaller roles here and are still excellent, (I still love me some Kevin Spacey) and there's a random cameo from Keegan-Michael Key (it's literally in the first minute of the film so no spoiler) but it doesn't go anywhere. Sadly the Key of Key and Peele is only in this movie for us to go hey! It's Key! And what about Non-Stop though? That's about it in the acting department. Oh! Breaking Bad fans will recognize Jonathan Banks but to say he's underutilized is a tremendous understatement. Oh well.
So how is the story? Ha! Story. There is none. The plot they create here is ridiculous and totally illogical. Those who disliked or missed out on the first Horrible Bosses will not enjoy themselves here because of this and none of the three main characters are really all that likable. After all, the whole "plot" is them going and doing something despicable, after all. To take from Charlie Day's playbook....Horrible Bosses is like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Those who love the show can't help but love the main characters but if an outsider came in halfway through the show and watched it they would most likely be like wait, what? Why do you like this? These characters are despicable. That's Horrible Bosses 2. There's really nothing else to talk about. There is no directing. There is no script, as it is very obvious that most of the movie is improv'd. About the only other thing worth mentioning is that there were a few cool montages in here from an editing standpoint. So the editing was excellent. And they largely recycled the same songs from the first one again here. Which I don't have a problem with cause they are good songs, but again....it adds to that theme of if you liked the first one....
To say it again, at the end of the day, guys, it comes down to this. If you liked the first one and want more of the same, go see Horrible Bosses 2. If you missed the first one please dear God please see it first. This is not 22 Jump Street. There is no breaking of the fourth wall winking at the audience about how we, the movie-makers, know this is the exact same as the first one. (Nick Offerman's entire reason for being in 22 Jump Street) There is no standout joke in Horrible Bosses 2 that will bring in new fans. It's a big silly comedy with a lot of plot holes and poor direction from Sean Anders and company. However, since I liked the first one, it made me laugh. And at the end of the day for a comedy that's all that matters. So it receives a solid good from me. As long as a movie makes me laugh it doesn't matter. Boom. Marker drop.
The Verdict: More of the same. Here, let's do the exact same thing we did in the first one again without ever acknowledging that that's what we're doing. Sound like a plan? Ok. Break! Horrible Bosses 2.
The Recommendation: If you liked the first one, go see it. If you thought the original was ok, then stay away. If you haven't seen either, then seriously. Go watch Horrible Bosses. I think it's hilarious and so might you.
The Verdict: If you like the first one? 7/10. If you hated the first one? Probably a 2/10. So we'll average it out and get to a 4.5/10. So the final verdict for Horrible Bosses 2 is a 4.5/10 Slightly Below Average
Dumb and Dumber To (2014): 20 years since their first adventure, Harry finds out he has a daughter who was adopted. Lloyd and Harry try to find Harry's adopted daughter.
Was this movie really necessary? No. Is it still enjoyable? Um.....slightly.
Dumb and Dumber is one of the quintessential 90s comedies out there. While the original has garnered a massive cult following, the truth is the movie has not aged very well at all. To me personally the idea of slapstick comedy is a pretty outdated one. So, while usually I go into movies as unbiased as possible, I was very worried that this movie was going to be terrible due to how outdated its premise and ideas are. So, with that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. There was still a fair amount of slapstick in this movie, and while most of it was a miss for me, with a lot of "ughhhh this isn't funny" moments, the movie also had its fair share of hilarious moments. And while some were mentioned in the trailer (the phone gag was still pretty funny) there were quite a few that weren't. I also must compliment the movie for doing a great job of keeping the best parts of itself under wraps and not unveiling them in the trailers. I'm sure that is the biggest question many are asking about this movie: are the funniest gags in the trailers? The answer is no. Not all of them at least. That's good! YAY! So, let's dive into it shall we?
Can we take a minute to talk about Jeff Daniels? This man deserves credit where credit is due. Fun fact: the man's paycheck was only around $50k for the original, which was about 140 times less than Jim Carrey's $7 million. Don't get me wrong: Jim Carrey is a funny guy, but to see Jeff Daniels play dramatic roles in movies like Good Night, and Good Luck., Looper, and the lead in The Newsroom and nail them as well as he does, and then come around and nail his role in Dumb and Dumber To.... that's talent. That is serious talent. The man really deserves more credit than he's getting. And it starts HERE! Raising awareness, people! Jeff Daniels is an awesome actor! Got it? Ok. Moving on. Jim Carrey is awesome in here too, however, the rest of the cast gets kind of overlooked. The only people even of note are Rob Riggie and Laurie Holden. The girl, Rachel Melvin, is borderline awful, and sadly just serves as some unnecessary eye candy. Seriously. The bikini gag with her was stupid and was only in the movie for one reason. I hate it when movies do that....also, I honestly think Rob Riggie is vastly overrated. I think he benefits from a good writing team on his characters because to me his delivery is rather poor. He's like a discount Jason Segel! Ya! We'll go with that. Sorry not sorry if you like him, but seriously. His performances in 21 and 22 Jump Street I were poor at best, however the writing of his character made it alright, and the same holds true here: poor performance, good writing. Actually his character was arguably the most well-written character of the entire film who also had one of the funniest moments of the entire film too. But it was in no way thanks to his performance of the character. Oh the sighs, man...
At 110 minutes long, the movie was definitely too long. The directors, the Farrelly brothers, could've really benefited from cutting out about 20 minutes somewhere between the second and third acts of this movie, or at least 20 minutes worth of gags that weren't funny. That's the thing with this movie: it's a wildly mixed bag. And depending on what kind of humor you enjoy, you'll be rolling on the floor laughing at certain points, and just sitting there shaking your head at other points. As for the story, it's surprisingly decent. There are actually spoilers in Dumb and Dumber To. Which is weird! But there are, and some of these potential spoilers are also some of the funniest points of the movie. However, there really isn't anything else that this movie has to offer. There's no real reason to see it on the big screen unless you are a huge Dumb and Dumber fan. The fans of the franchise will not be disappointed with the movie, but there are definitely better comedies out there from this year. Save your money and Netflix this one. Or watch the movie you didn't watch between Big Hero 6 and Interstellar from last week.You'll probably have a much better time.
The Critique: A wildly mixed bag. Fans of the movie will not be disappointed, however this movie will likely not bring any new fans to the franchise. Also, why does this movie exist at all again? $$$$$$$$$$
The Recommendation: All Dumb and Dumber fans should line up to see this, however everyone else? Just wait and Netflix it. You'll feel better.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 5.5/10 Slightly Above Average
Oscar Talk: Hahaha I made a funny! LOOK MOM LOOK AT HOW FUNNY I AM. I should get hired as a comedy writer in Hollywood. You listening Hollywood? Ok! I'm available anytime guys!
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993): After a bitter divorce, an actor disguises himself as a female housekeeper to spend time with his children held in custody by his former wife.
Where to begin? It's so hard to review a piece such as this that has become such a pivotal point of American culture, but we'll give it a try. The premise of this movie is ridiculous: a man disguises himself as a housekeeper to spend time with his children due to a terrible divorce. As he maintains this persona his normal self also holds down a job with its own storyline. As the two storylines converge, the premise and scenes become more and more ridiculous and yet......I bought it. I bought every second of it. On paper this movie should be only as good as Martin Lawrence's Big Momma's House, or Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill. Which are terrible, by the way. There is exactly one reason why this movie works and is as great as it is. And his name is Robin Williams.
So yes, first and foremost let's talk about acting. There is a strong supporting cast here. Led by the incredibly talented Sally Fields as William's divorced wife, the supporting cast does nothing but add to the believability of this movie. From Pierce Brosnan to Robert Prosky, to even a surprisingly talented child actor in Lisa Jakub, I was very impressed with the legitimacy of the acting in this movie, despite its comedic label. However, the true star here is the late great Robin Williams. In what is arguably his greatest achievement as an actor, Williams perfectly embodies two different characters in the same movie with Daniel Hillard and Mrs. Doubtfire. He even goes as far as to portray the two different personas in the same shot. The ability to portray two different characters simultaneously is one of the hardest things to do in the acting business, and Williams makes it look easy here. By himself he converted me not just to his character, but to the overall movie as well. His role alone is worth watching this movie again and again, and really makes you realize just how great of an actor Robin Williams was. He will be forever missed.
Now this isn't all about Robin Williams, and this movie is not without its blatant flaws. First and foremost, the movie takes an incredibly dated and now borderline offensive view to the idea of cross-dressing and transgenders. I can't really go into it without spoiling anything, however the approach of this movie was a less-than-admirable one. There is an awesome gay couple throughout the movie, though. Additionally, there are some obvious corners cut in the story, like a man who couldn't even cook spaghetti turning into a perfect upper-class housekeeper in seemingly two or three days. I mean you wanna talk about an extreme makeover....but the biggest fault is that, despite this movie being labeled as a comedy, there was a huge amount of time in which I was treating this movie like a drama. Which, in turn, led to me noticing the various plot holes of the movie. There just were not as many laughs as there should have been. But I will say that in the world of complaints, the complaint of there not being as many laughs as there should be is a far more positive complaint than saying that there was simply not enough laughs. Yes, there is a huge difference in the wording there. Point is, this movie is great. However, replace Robin Williams with Adam Sandler and leave everything else exactly how it is, and this movie is.....well......not so great. Actually.....it might be pretty bad. But, there are plenty of examples of movies that are great due to an actor's performance, and this is and always will be one of them. RIP Mr. Robin Williams.
The Critique: Robin Williams at his finest, Mrs. Doubtfire is a wonderfully flawed and enjoyable 125 minutes of film.
The Recommendation: The perfect movie to remember the greatness of Robin Williams by, if you haven't seen this already I would recommend it as a must-see.
Rewatchability: Moderately High
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
22 Jump Street (2014): After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college.
Ok this movie is freaking brilliant. Spoiler: this movie is the best comedy I've seen of 2014 thus far. End of discussion. Bye bye. See ya later. But I bet you had a feeling that was the case. And that's not why you're here. Actually...this movie just might be the funniest sequel ever. Fun fact. But you're here because you want to know why. Am I right? If I'm not then legitimate question: why are you here? You know what? Doesn't matter. We're going to discuss why this is the best comedy of 2014 thus far. Ready? Ok let's do this!
Here's how you know you have something good: when a movie can spoof the genre it's in (over-the-top buddy cop movies) and yet still be a fantastic movie within that genre, you're on to something. When you have a movie that knows it's a sequel of a movie that was totally needless to begin with, and has so much fun with this fact and yet is still a good movie, you have something special. Right from the beginning, this movie just lays down the parodies and the smart humor and doesn't let up all the way through the credits. Oh my God the credits had my CRYING they were so funny. But that's what the movie does! It realizes that it's stupid. It realizes that the original is unnecessary and thus this one is pointless as well. It realizes that its premise is ridiculous. And it has an indescribable amount of fun with itself. From Nick Offerman's constant gag of pointing out the similarities of this mission to what they did the first time, to all the references to Ice Cube's previous endeavors, to the running gay joke between Hill and Tatum, (which is really smart and sweet) this movie constantly lays out some of the funniest jokes I have ever seen. I have....wait, do I have only one problem with this movie? C'mon self, surely I have two problems with this movie. No I don't. Holy sh*t I just assumed I had a second problem.....man by that rule that means that this movie deserves a 10. Um....well the one problem I have with this movie is that it gets a little too ridiculous in the third act. Right after one of the funniest fist fights I have ever seen, this movie just got me shaking my head a little too much at its ridiculous and it did take me out of the movie. Briefly. Briefly! But then it came roaring back, and delivered one of the best credits sequence I have ever seen.
The acting was spot on. It's easy to say that oh! Jonah Hill is obviously a better actor than Channing Tatum. But in these movies their chemistry is so wonderful that they really are equals. Tatum lives up his persona as the dumb jock perfectly as Hill acts up his nerd side brilliantly as well. And Ice Cube has a far bigger role in this, and I am so glad that he does! He's brilliant as, well, himself in this, just like he was in the original. While I was saddened by the loss of Dave Franco (who is a very talented actor as well) he's made up for by the supporting cast in this movie. Also the cameos from start to finish are hilarious. Better than the original! Which is saying something given who showed up in the first one. The soundtrack was awesome (loved the use of M83's Midnight City but that's just cause I have a thing for M83 right now) and there was actually some pretty original editing tactics as well. You know what, let's just give the directors here some credit. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's previous achievements include 21 Jump Street, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and The Lego Movie. Ya. Decent list. And by decent I obviously mean awesome. Didn't think they could top The Lego Movie but guess what? They did. I cannot wait to see what they have up their sleeves next.
So I hope I have convinced you of the greatness of 22 Jump Street. If you haven't seen this movie, go see it. Please. It's gonna be tough for anyone to top this.
The Critique: The funniest movie of 2014. Almost perfect, 22 Jump Street is one of the best parody movies I have ever seen.
The Recommendation: I'll say it: this is a must see for anyone who likes to laugh during a movie. Go see it.
The Verdict: 9.5/10 Damn Near Perfect (I'm only giving this a 9.5 because c'mon, you can't give 22 Jump Street a 10 right? People would laugh at me!)
Oh right. This movie is 112 minutes long. Perfect length, in case you were wondering.
21 Jump Street (2012): A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring.
I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! I'm sure you have missed me profusely. Every night lying in bed wondering....."When oh when will Enter the Movies post another movie review?" Well, my friends and lovely readers, the answer is here. It's today, by the way. In case you couldn't figure it out. Because you're reading this right now. Today. Whatever day that might be for you. You didn't miss me at all did you? No? Ok well uh.......I guess I should review this movie or something. Right! Ready? No? Ok here we go!
21 Jump Street. Inspired by a crazy late 80's buddy-cop comedy by the same name, (starring a young Johnny Depp in a rare non-movie role, fun fact) the modern interpretation has already gone down as one of the smartest and funniest comedies of 2012. After watching this movie in 2014, on the cusps of its inevitable sequel, I'm going to have to say.....yes. Yes it is one of the best comedies if not the best comedy of 2012. That isn't saying much, as 2012 was a notoriously bad year for comedies, but this movie's formula of buddy-cop, satirical cop, and parody of itself styles work perfectly. Did that make sense? No, not really. It's been a while, so I'm a little rusty. It successfully blends a buddy-cop comedy together with a satirical cop movie, as well as the fact that it's a parody of itself from start to finish. Hopefully that one made sense and if it didn't, well too bad. Everyone in this movie knows it's a ridiculous premise, and they love pointing out the fact that it is. But it's never once overtly pointed out. If Tatum or Hill in this movie had just flat out said, man this is ridiculous, why would anyone believe we are in high school? It wouldn't have been funny. However, if there's a running gag in the movie of everyone pointing out the fact that Channing Tatum looks like he's 40, but they still buy the premise, then it's funny. The movie, on several occasions, breaks the fourth wall, however they never overtly do so. That's what makes it so smart! And the bond between Tatum and Hill is legitimate enough that when the plot gets going, you root for them! You know, as you're supposed to in a buddy-cop comedy. And the car chases in the third act are some of the best satirical car chases I have ever seen. I was rolling on the floor laughing with some of the gags in those scenes. Without a doubt the best part of the movie. All of these elements together make for a wonderfully hilarious 109 minutes.
Now, there are some flaws in this movie. For one, the third act is waaaaaaaaay too long. I mean holy crap it's practically half of the movie! There's just too much concluding and tying up of loose ends here. Honestly I would've been cool if the Hill-Larson romance had been left unconcluded. Maybe because it's my least favorite part of the whole movie. But it's tied up. Oh well. Additionally, I did not buy Channing Tatum's storyline at all. He goes from major jock to major nerd practically overnight. While Hill's story I bought into, I did not buy Tatum's story. In any way, shape, or form. But, as the rule of comedies go, it doesn't matter as long as you laugh. And boy did I laugh from start to finish in this movie. At the end of the day that's all that really matters in a comedy.
Ok, other aspects of the movie to talk about....the score was very underutilized, unfortunately. I just watched the movie and I can only really remember one cool musical montage. But, sometimes that's ok. You don't always need pop music to remind you of how you're supposed to feel at that moment, so I didn't really miss it. The acting was awesome. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were amazing together. Without that duo this movie suffers tremendously for sure. I hope to see them together in future movies that aren't named 22 (or 23) Jump Street. The dialogue was largely improv'd, and the strong supporting cast of Brie Larson, Rob Riggle, Dave Franco, and of course Ice Cube (though he only plays one character in all of his movies, I'm ok with it) hold their own against Hill and Tatum. And the cameos throughout are fantastic. There's just so much hilarity packed into 109 minutes. And only a few dick and butt jokes. Well, ok more than a few, but definitely less than This is the End (my top comedy of 2013) and Neighbors (my top comedy of 2014 thus far) so if you want to a watch a good comedy that isn't super-repulsive, pick 21 Jump Street. If you haven't already. Really I feel silly making recommendations on this movie because I feel like everyone's seen it but if you somehow haven't, then check it out! Ok? Ok. Time for 22 Jump Street. Peace.
The Critique: A wonderful blend of buddy cop, satire, and parody, 21 Jump Street is without a doubt the funniest comedy of 2012.
The Recommendation: If dick and butt jokes don't totally repulse you, and you haven't seen this movie yet, listen to your friends (and me!) and check this out.
The Verdict: 8.5/10 Somewhere between great and awesome.
Ok so I'm back! I know I've missed a lot of summer movies in recent weeks, but I'll play catchup. Let's have some fun!
Neighbors (2014): Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne face off against Zac Efron and James Franco's younger brother Dave in a battle of ridiculous and hilarious pranks. Need I say more? Oh I know! The frat movie to end all frat movies.
Neighbors. Ok I'm going to be honest. Because that's what I usually do. I try not to have expectations going into a movie, but here I couldn't help it. I had high hopes going into this movie. I was hoping that Neighbors was going to be 2014's This is the End. So is it? Well......no. I think I realized after watching this movie that This is the End is one of the funniest comedies to grace the screens in a long time, so to sit here and hope that anything could match it is a bit unfair, yes? Well, agree with me or not I say it's unfair. First off, the question on everyone's minds: is it funny? Well, my answer is yes. To someone who is in the middle of his college career and is right in the middle of this movie's target audience, this movie is hilarious. To someone over the age of.....40? Maybe? This movie will be disgusting and gross and incredibly offensive. Basically, here's the guideline for this movie: if you thought that This is the End was offensive or borderline offensive, AVOID THIS MOVIE LIKE THE PLAGUE. I don't care if you like Seth Rogen or Zac Efron, this movie is more vulgar and crude than This is the End could even dream of. I didn't think that was possible, until I saw this. Between dick jokes with actual dicks and sex jokes with actual sex and poop jokes with actual poop, this movie holds nothing back with its humor. Nothing. NOTHING. So, consider yourself warned. Now for someone who isn't grossed out by this fact, this movie delivers these jokes in an effective manner and even throws a few smart jokes in from time to time. That said, let's dive into this, shall we?
First up, acting. Most of the cast is solid here. The storyline of Ike Barinholtz and Carlo Gallo was unnecessary as I felt that neither of these actors really carried their weight here, however they only had minor roles so it doesn't matter. Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Dave Franco were all outstanding and hilarious. Franco and Efron had some great chemistry, and Efron even turned his screen-hogging into a running joke throughout the movie. He was intentionally overacting in this, and it certainly added to the humor. The person who deserves all the praise, however, was Rose Byrne. If there was any question as to whether this beautiful Australian could act or not, it has been officially answered. Before this I had only seen her in horror and action movies (Insidious, Knowing, Start Wars Episode 2, and her unnecessary dramatical role in The Internship) so I was worried that she was going to be unable to hold her weight opposite Rogen. Well not only did she do so, but if you ask me, she outperformed Rogen. I know, bold statement. But she truly was the best part of this movie, as she flawlessly created this badass girl that was able to do everything from convincingly seduce college frat boys to being a mischievous and gutsy new mom. She and Rogen had such great chemistry in this that I actually checked after the movie to see if they are together in real life. (They're not) I really hope that she joins Rogen and James Franco in these movies of theirs from here on out, because damn did she work just as well with Rogen as Franco does.
The story was mostly imrpov'd, as expected, but it was still an effective story for a comedy. There were several jumps with plot lines, such as with Barinholtz and Gallo, and there was this very awkward post-third act after the shenanigans with the neighbors were done that was just a plot device to try to create an "ending" that was unnecessary, like with the ending to This is the End, but it hardly took away from the otherwise satisfying plot. And, as with all comedies, you can forgive a lot of it makes you laugh. And this movie definitely made me laugh.
Some great cameos, wonderful song choices, and rather original editing sequences involving FaceTime conversations, Neighbors is as well-produced as you can get as far as a movie is concerned. NIcholas Stoller did a great job in the directors chair here ensuring that none of the actors got overzealous and started screen hogging. I actually really loved the song choices in this movie. The dance numbers were both catchy and appropriate for what was happening on screen at the time, and when the movie needed some era-specific selections, it did not disappoint. While this movie is certainly not for the feint of heart, I personally look forward to watching this movie again and again. A ver early contender for comedy of the year.
The Critique: While it did not meet my expectations, Neighbors does not fail to bring some great laughs throughout its 96 minute runtime. Great acting, writing, and editing bring together a movie that is exactly that: great.
The Recommendation: please God don't watch this movie if you didn't like This is the End. This movie is very much aimed at college students. Everyone who likes a funny party movie will greatly enjoy this.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966): Um....f*ck it. Here's IMDB: A family gets lost on the road and stumbles upon a hidden, underground, devil-worshiping cult led by the fearsome Master and his servant Torgo. SO MUCH INTRIGUE RIGHT?
First of all, thank you for reading. Damn. 10,000 views. If you told me back when I started this thing in September 2013 that I'd hit 10,000 views I would've just laughed. See I started this thing just for my own personal amusement. I just wanted to remind myself of these movies so that I could have a conversation about these movies whenever I needed to with people. Just be like hey! I saw that movie once! Let me see what I said about it! And whip out my phone. Since I was just writing for myself basically, I didn't hold back with what has come to define Enter the Movies: my incredibly weird and unusual writing style. Now, it's here to stay. However, over time, people started approaching me saying that they liked my reviews. I was surprised, because I didn't think anyone even knew that they existed, much less enjoyed them. Now, an article from the local paper (thank you Madeline Rafi!) and an endorsement from a local athlete (thank you Nikki Newman!) later, as well as a lot of support from Reddit, my blog has become...well, a thing. So thank you everyone Thank you. I now do this for you. To entertain you. If I put a smile on your face, then I did my job. That said, let's celebrate by watching the "movie" Manos: The Hands of Fate! Because that sounds like a good idea....should get the smile part done at least....
Supposedly made on a bet between friends, Manos: The Hands of Fate has reached cult status, but not in a good way. This movie.....where do I even begin? Seriously. Let's talk about Grown Ups 2 really quick. That was the worst movie of 2013 due to bad acting and a terrible story, as well as horrid directing. However even in this movie there is a level of competency with the making of the film, as the editing, cinematography, and sound are at least decent. There's a certain level of competency you expect in any movie, right? After all if it's made it to the big screen it should be at least, well....made properly. This movie, however, fails on every aspect of movie making. In my junior year of high school, I made a 20 minute(ish) movie called What Is Justice? I'm not trying to self-promote, because after all there is only one copy, but my movie, hastily made in about 2 hours on Movie Maker software with stock Movie Maker sounds, is better than this piece of sh*t. A f*cking gorilla could make a better movie than this. Every aspect of filmmaking is completely nonexistent here. From random illogical editing cuts, to incredibly distracting music, to the fact that this movie is shot ENTIRELY in hand-cam fashion, to the fact that ALL of the actor's voices were dubbed in post-production by THREE people, this movie is the worst movie ever made. Done. How did no one step up and tell the director, insurance salesman Harold P. Warren, that this was a bad idea? Oh wait, was Harold P. Warren also the lead actor, writer, and producer? .........yep. That'll do it. He had no one around him to tell him that it was a bad idea. That just allowing this movie to exist was a bad idea.
Here, let me give you an example of how bad this movie is. So, this is meant to be a horror movie. So Warren and the female lead, played by Diane Mahree, are looking at a very "creepy" picture. They are having a conversation, with the distracting music behind their conversation, when all of the sudden, without warning, there's a cut to their character's daughter holding a (clearly untrained) dog. Everything stops as we watch this girl struggle to keep the dog from jumping out of her lap. And the music stopped. So, basically, we go from a very loud conversation and just overall noise to silence in.....instantly. Because f*ck you. Seriously, this movie deserves to be the blunt end of a would you rather question. It's so bad that it's not even funny bad. It's below that! It's like this.....there are good movies, and there are bad movies. Then there's 50 feet of crap. And then there's Manos: The Hands of Fate. (Thank you to my inspiration, Hollywood writer Aaron Sorkin, for that reference.) Here, I'll get the would you rather questions going. Would you rather watch Manos: The Hands of Fate, or sit through an hour-long sermon courtesy of the Westboro Baptist Church? Spoiler: if you pick Manos, you're wrong. At least Westboro will give you a good laugh. This is comparable to hearing fingernails on a chalkboard. Or dying. The one saving grace of this movie is that it is disgustingly short. While most of the time I would criticize a movie coming in at 74 minutes, here it is welcome, even though those 74 minutes CRAWLED by. I had to take breaks to finish this. I'm not even kidding. I HAD TO TAKE BREAKS TO COMPLETE THIS. AOEIFAJWEOIFJABNADFLKADAKLDALKDSF I DON'T EVEN WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS MOVIE ANYMORE. NO YOU CAN'T MAKE ME. I DON'T WANNA I DON'T WANNA....
Ok I'll say one more thing. The only thing even remotely memorable about this sh*t show of a movie is the character Torgo. He is played by John Reynolds, who supposedly did LSD before his scenes in this movie and as a result was constantly twitching uncontrollably throughout his performance. All it did was lead to a few good laughs. We got to laughably bad a few times, guys! Whoo! Oh ya, and his death scene is hilarious, as he is seemingly massaged to death by a bunch of women. Spoiler? F*ck you. The biggest crime of this movie is that not everybody is dead by the end of it. Bite me.
The Critique: The worst movie ever made.
The Recommendation: A MUST SEE FOR EVERYONE. FEEL MY PAIN PLEASE.
The Verdict: 0.1/10 That 0.1 is for Torgo. #TORGOCOMEBACK2014
The Voorman Problem (2013): How do you sum up a 13 minute short film without spoiling anything? Um....got it! Dr. Williams goes to a prison and investigates Voorman, an inmate claiming to be God. (Insert Morgan Freeman joke here)
So this is going to be a short review, after all there isn't much to talk about here. Since this movie was nominated for Best Live Action Short, I figured I'd take a look at it. I wasn't going to write a review, but now that I've seen it, I have to tell everyone to do the same! First off, it's only 13 minutes long. This is both a blessing and a curse. There's only like 4 scenes, and each of them are great, but then the movie ends very suddenly. I have a feeling that a good short leaves you wanting more, but they set up a great idea for a movie and then....it ends. I was legitimately sad. No lie. I wanted more! The banter between Freeman and Hollander was outstanding, even though they only had two scenes together. That's about the only thing to comment on, as the other two scenes were just Freeman and an extra contemplating Voorman. But man! I WANT MORE. GIVE ME MORE. This movie was definitely deserving of its Oscar nomination. Congrats to Mark Gill and company on that achievement! But ya! It's $2 on the iTunes store. It's worth every penny. I promise!
My number: 4/5 I WANT IT ALL....or...more. Sorry....had a Freddie Mercury moment there....
Blue Jasmine (2013): The latest annual Woody Allen movie (fun fact: there has been a Woody Allen movie every single year since 1981) stars Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, a New York socialite forced to move to San Francisco after her life falls apart.
Confession time: this is my first Woody Allen movie. Ever. Not too proud of that. From the research I did after watching the movie, I believe I chose an interesting one to start with. From what I read this is not a typical Woody Allen movie. This is more of a drama, as opposed to a comedy. I'm still labeling it a comedy because it was funny, but it is very much a character-driven comedy. That said, how is the actual movie? Well the primary thing to take away from this movie is Cate Blanchett. I'm all for Amy Adams winning Best Actress this year, but if Blanchett wins it I will completely understand. The supporting cast is strong (couple cast members of Boardwalk Empire show up....Woody Allen must like that show) and they definitely do well to lighten the movie given what's happening to Blanchett's character. But will it resonate? Will it leave a lasting impression? I don't think so. Sure it has great characters, and a strong story arc from Blanchett, but the truly great movies resonate. This movie doesn't. Right down to the part where the ending is rather unsatisfying.
So Cate Blanchett. Wow. She takes a very unlikeable character with few redeeming qualities and makes you root for her. Somehow. It's absolutely amazing. After all, she's pretty much a jerk. She uses almost everyone, and when people without money and means approach her she basically tells them to go fuck themselves. Yet, despite this, you can't help but feel bad for her and all the crap that's happening in her life. This is all because of Blanchett. She absolutely carries this movie guys. More so than any one actor or actress has carried a movie all throughout 2013. And is almost the sole reason for going and seeing this. Sure there's a solid supporting cast, but this is Blanchett's movie. With such a strong emphasis on characters, you have to have a strong actor or actress leading the way in your movie, and boy does Blanchett deliver. One of the best performances of this year. The (as I said) strong supporting cast is welcome here as well. Sally Hawkins is great as Jasmine's sister, and her thuggish boyfriend, played by Bobby Cannavale, is rather intimidating yet loving and adorable. Particularly when he cries. Boy that sounds weird....just take it from me, when he cries and how he responds later to being accused of doing so is rather funny. And Louis C.K. is great in this too! He's doing a good job thus far transitioning over to movies. Well, far better than Kevin Hart to say the least. My biggest problem with the supporting cast was the character Sally Hawkins has to play. She plays her well, but she isn't written very soundly in my opinion. Sure the movie is about Blanchett, but since the entire movie is character-driven, doesn't it make sense that all the characters be well-written? Or is that just me? That's just me? Ok.
I don't really know what else to talk about. Oh! Music! I have a feeling that music selections is something Allen has always been good at, because the big band selections in this movie were excellent. I really loved them. But, the movie just lacked the necessary punch to make it great. I have no idea what that punch could've been, I just know it wasn't there. One person cannot carry a movie on their own guys. It just doesn't work. Maybe I just need to watch more Woody Allen movies? I will certainly make a point to see a few more in the upcoming months. I just don't get it on first viewing. I don't even know what to say against this movie, besides the ending. I guess the characters aren't necessarily the most human? I mean they aren't, but this didn't detract from the movie at all. I don't know. I do know that unless if I pursue more Woody Allen movies, I will likely completely forget about the existence of this movie within a few months, past the part where Cate Blanchett (likely) wins Best Actress from it. So go see it for that. If you don't care for that sort of thing, your time is definitely better spent elsewhere.
The Critique: gosh. Um.....Cate Blanchett. She's an A-list actress, and it shows beautifully here. Otherwise it's not the most memorable of movies.
The Recommendation: if you like Woody Allen or Cate Blanchett, it's a must-see. If not, well.....there are better movies from 2013 to see.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
I finally met my match guys. I just do not know what to say about this movie at all. I think I'm going to watch a few more Woody Allen movies before I critique another that's for sure.
Frances Ha (2013): A story that follows a New York woman (who doesn't really have an apartment), apprentices for a dance company (though she's not really a dancer), and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possible reality dwindles.
Sorry, had to IMDB that one because the story is rather hard to explain. So, critically speaking, as in not my personal opinion, this is the best indie movie of 2013. The reason it's not my own personal opinion is simply because I have not seen that many indie movies from 2013. Definitely not enough to render a judgement on this topic. But if you are to see one indie movie from the past year, I would definitely recommend Frances Ha.
So here are my thoughts. This movie is very much an indie movie. Which means that the director, Noah Baumbach, throws a lot of ideas against the wall, from everything that Frances goes through to even the sights (it's shot in black and white. I don't really know why but it didn't bother me at all. Don't let this fact turn you off!) and sounds of the movie. But the beauty of this movie is that about 90% of it works. Some of the musical selections are pretty weird and out there, and very little of what happens in the movie has any sort of consequence after it happens, but the events that occur in the movie, such as a broke Frances taking an entirely spontaneous weekend trip to Paris on a credit card she just received, are wonderful to watch. Frances is a great antihero, one which you identify with and root for from minute 1 on. And this is a short film too. 86 mins long to be exact. While many movies at that length suffer from a lack of character development, Frances Ha gets around this by really only requiring Frances herself to need any character development. And boy does she.
So this movie came out in May of 2013, in case you didn't know. And Greta Gerwing was up for best actress at the Globes this year. That's how memorable a performance she puts in here. She almost single-handily carries this movie as Frances, expressing various emotions flawlessly throughout the short movie. She's funny. She's lovable. She's identifiable. And through it all she's a bloody antihero! Remember that name, Greta Gerwing, for you will be hearing it a lot more in years to come. However, the movie's greatest strength is a double-edge sword. As a result of how important Frances is, everyone else is totally forgettable. Some of the acting from the supporting cast is actually kind of bad, well, at least it's not up to my standards as a viewer. Particularly the best friend of Frances, Sophie. Mickey Sumner does not do a good job with this character, with some some off-the-wall expressions and awkward acting. And she is not written very well which does not help. But again, her role is rather minimal. Frances is who this story is about, and she does a phenomenal job. That really is all that matters here.
In conclusion, this is a nice heartwarming story about finding yourself and figuring out what you want to do with your life and the mistakes you make along the way. But it is told in a far better manner than another recent movie with the same theme of finding yourself, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. If you want to see a movie about finding yourself, I would absolutely recommend Frances Ha over Secret Life any day of the week. Why? At every turn Secret Life is constantly bashing you over the head with moments where you should be moved. HERE! WE ARE MOVING YOU RIGHT NOW. FEEL IT? In contrast, Frances Ha lets the story develop and allows its theme to evolve right in front of you. A far more effective strategy. Plus Greta Gerwing outperforms Ben Stiller any day of the week.
The Critique: One of the best indie movies of 2013, Frances Ha tells a funny, wonderfully moving and identifiable story of someone trying to find themselves without constantly reminding you that that's what it's about.
The Recommendation: since it's short, I'm gonna recommend this to anyone. It's definitely worth a watch.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Oscar Talk: Greta Gerwing may be nominated for best actress. I wouldn't be surprised, since by doing that Hollywood would be showing its support for the indie films. POLITICAL DECISIONS. But she does deserve it in all seriousness. Can't wait to see what she does next!
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013): Martin Scorsese's latest stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, and captures his rise on Wall Street to living the high life to his fall from prominence.
So....wow. So if you read my American Hustle review, one of the things I said was that that felt a lot like a Scorsese movie. That is, until I saw this. THIS is a Martin Scorsese movie. And hey! It actually is! Honestly this just might be the best Scorsese movie since Casino. In my opinion. Yes I'm skipping The Departed I know. And I loved The Departed. But this is better. Scorsese is one of the all-time greats. This is no secret. And from time-specific pop music, to some of the best voice-overs I have ever seen, to some of the best editing I have ever seen, the Wolf has reminded me once more why he is my favorite director.
So first off, the acting. If Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't win best actor, something is wrong. This is the best performance I have seen from him. Ever. So many great moments. Too many to describe. I will bring up one: the speeches. At several points throughout the movie, DiCaprio has monologues at his firm to get his gang of stockbrokers riled up. While every single one of them is an incredible monologue, one in particular stands out. That is when DiCaprio is trying to convince his stockbrokers to sell a stock of a company that he owned 85% of. (which is illegal, if you didn't know) There's an electricity in the air during that scene. This is without a doubt one of the best moments in cinema this year. Jonah Hill puts in a phenomenal performance as well. He is wild and unpredictable as Jordan's second-in-command, Donnie. And he is funny too. There's a surprisingly large amount of improv throughout this movie. Definitely the funniest Scorsese movie ever. Seriously, if nothing else watch this movie for DiCaprio's performance. And Jonah Hill. This is definitely the best performance I've seen from either of them. Will it win them awards? DiCaprio I'd say yes with relative certainty. Hill's got a lot of great competition so we'll see.
Next up, I have to talk about the voice-overs. Scorsese over the years has employed the use of voice-over narration in some of his classics like Goodfellas and Casino. Well, the voice-over narration here from DiCaprio is some of the best narration I've ever heard in a movie. Ever. So good that I have to mention it as a huge positive in the movie. A HUGE positive. Also Scorsese breaks the fourth wall at some points too at various points with DiCaprio and it works. So well. Just the flawless integration of having the narration become what's happening on screen is a craft Scorsese has been honing for years and he nails it here. This movie is just one of the best spectacles to witness in cinema this year. Oh and a great job with the pop music selection too. This is nothing new, but it was still a great thing worthy of mentioning. A lot of time was put into selecting the soundtrack.
Ok to move on from constantly praising Scorsese, let's talk about some negatives. First off, the movie was too long. It is one minute shy of three hours, and it definitely feels it. Scorsese probably could've cut out about 20-30 minutes of girls and drugs and the story would not have suffered. DiCaprio may have suffered but that's exactly why Scorsese didn't make any more cuts. The movie is really a character study on Jordan Belfort more than anything else. The other complaint I have is with the movie in general. It is crazy. Very similar to The Great Gatsby of earlier this year, except far more enjoyable. But still, it's about the parties and living the high life more so than it is about the illegal activities committed by Belfort. I was certainly hoping to see more of the illegal activities. But it is very provocative. VERY. That's the point. When you're living the high life you keep wanting more more more. Once you've snorted cocaine off a hooker's ass, what's next? Ten hookers at once? Then what? That's the whole point. It's a cautionary tale on the toll that greed can take on you. Not a tale about what Belfort did that got him in jail. Finally, I should mention that there is virtually no female influence in this movie whatsoever. All the girls here are here for the guys and their own pleasure. So stay away if you're a feminist. You will hate this movie from start to finish.
Overall, this movie is crazy as fuck. Like really crazy. Definitely worth the watch though. It is one hell of a ride.
The Critique: Scorsese and DiCaprio at their best. One of the craziest movies around, this is definitely in my top 3 best movies of 2013.
The Recommendation: VIEW AT YOUR OWN RISK....drugs, sex, and alcohol are literally EVERYWHERE. This movie did flirt with NC-17. Actually the reason it didn't come out back in November was because Scorsese had to cut out a few sex scenes otherwise it was going to be rated NC-17. So buyer beware.
Rewatchability; Moderately High
Where to see it: Should definitely be seen in a movie theater. If you can.
The Verdict: 9/10 Awesome
Oscar Talk: Nominees likely include Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Adopted Screenplay, Editing, Production Design
Anchorman 2 (2013): Ron and the Channel 4 News Team are back! This time, the gang finds themselves trying to gain traction at the Global News Network. Obviously, hilarious events ensue, full of one liners, outrageous improv, an interesting romance, and of course, Baxter the dog.
Boy have I waited a long time for this. First off, Anchorman is one of my all-time favorite movies out there. Why? Well, that is an excellent question my friend! It wasn't just the crazy one-liners, or the great comedic interlude between the characters that did it for me, rather it was because I actually care about these characters. I care about Ron, Brian, Champ, and Brick. So many comedies you could care less about the characters and its story, as long as it makes you laugh it doesn't matter is what I typically say, but that is not the case with the original. However this is just me personally, and I will say right off the bat that if you don't care about the characters in the first Anchorman, this movie will do nothing to change your opinion on them. Well maybe Brick but then again, how could you not like Brick? This movie follows a formula very similar to that of the original, right down to referencing itself at times. Sometimes this worked (Brian Fantana's cologne cabinet makes a very clever cameo) and sometimes they didn't. (The song was clearly forced. Funny, but not as natural and logical to the story as Afternoon Delight was.) But still, the movie was very enjoyable to me, and made me laugh all throughout its 119 minute runtime, particularly in an absolutely ridiculous third act.
So first of all, story. Now the rule of comedies I have will once again have to apply here, because the story itself is absurd. There were quite a few corners cut to get the plot from point A to point B, like the part where the gang gets into an incredibly violent Winnebago accident and then are totally fine in the next scene. But did you honestly expect otherwise? I still genuinely cared about the Channel 4 News Team this time around. I wanted to see them succeed against all odds. Oh, additionally there is a crazy romance here between Carrell's character and Kristen Wiig's character, who is of course very similar to that of Brick. This led to some of the movie's funniest moments, as Carrell and Wiig fumble through dates and just physical intimacy in general. I'd almost recommend seeing the movie just for this part. Actually Carrell gets a lot of screen time, and of course Ferrel does too, but the losers in Anchorman 2 are Paul Rudd and David Koechner, as they really don't get that much screen time. Which is unfortunate. The only other major complaint I will voice here involves Meagan Good's character, Linda Jackson, or the African-American boss. Her character made very little sense to me, and clearly seemed to exist just for the sake of the comedy. One second she hates Ron to the point that she beats him up, and then a few scenes later she wants to sleep with him. No middle ground, just straight from pure hatred to wanting to have sex. Wait what? But man was the dinner scene with her family funny. So again, the absurdity of this plot point is forgiven because it made me laugh.
So, acting. It is clear to me that this is not a cash-grab sequel. These guys, particularly Will Ferrel, clearly are just doing this sequel because they absolutely love playing these characters. And it shows, as most of this script is improv'd from everyone. Especially Ferrel. Harrison Ford didn't impress me as much as I was hoping he would, (he certainly does not have a funny side) but other than that all of the major characters are done very well. Right down to the absurd cameos in the third act. These cameos honestly make the scene in the original where all the news teams fight each other look like there were a bunch of nobodies in it. The fight scene in the sequel and the cameos within is without a doubt the best scene of the movie.
So there ya have it! I felt that this movie was hilarious. Not as good as the original but still absolutely hilarious. If you enjoyed the first you will most certainly have fun seeing the characters you've come to know and love back on screen. However if you didn't enjoy the original then you will not enjoy this one. Also it is a sequel. And yes it is Anchorman but I would strongly recommend seeing the original before this one if you somehow missed it. Some of the characters, particularly Veronica Corningstone, may make no sense at all if you watch this movie by itself. Well her motivations I should say. Ya. Veronica associating herself with Ron won't make much sense if you haven't seen the first one. But if you like comedies or the first Anchorman, go see it. This movie is right there with This is the End for funniest comedy of the year in my book.
The Critique: an absurd and fun comedy very similar to that of its predecessor. Well acted, good one-liners, and just an overall fun experience.
The Recommendation: Fans of the series and of comedies will feel right at home here. However if you don't fall into either of those categories approach at your own risk.
Where to see it: a theater viewing doesn't offer much here past laughing with strangers. This movie is not a visually stunning piece in case you couldn't figure that out.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Oscar Talk: Ha. Oscar talk. Ready for ironic hashtag use? #RONBURGUNDYOSCAR2013
Silver Linings Playbook (2012): Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in David O. Russell's film about two people with various mental and social problems who are put together for a dance competition as Cooper tries to win back his ex-wife. And of course a relationship between them grows in an intriguing fashion.
Horrible Bosses (2011): Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses after which all hell breaks loose.
This movie is fucking hilarious. How's that for an opening line? Having Charlie Day, who in my opinion is the funniest man on the screen right now, always helps, as well as one of my all-time favorite actors in Kevin Spacey playing the charismatic yet diabolical character that I love seeing him play again and again. Additionally the chemistry between Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis is amazing, which honestly is probably the primary reason that a sequel is in the works. I would not mind seeing a Wolf Pack series with these three actors. I'm sure someone in Hollywood is salivating over the undeniable chemistry these three have and will follow through with that. Just make sure that their humor is unscripted. You can tell (thanks in part to the bloopers in the credits) that a large part of the humor is improvised, which definitely helps them bounce ideas off of each other.
Now each of our three protagonists has their own terrible boss, and while Sudeikis' man isn't really fleshed out (Colin Farrell is completely outmatched here anyway) the other two are. And boy are they great. I don't think anyone other than Charlie Day could sell the thought of Jennifer Anniston lusting unsuccessfully after any man, married or not, but MAN does he sell it! This is 100% attributed to Charlie Day and nothing else. He plays the awkward guy who is totally uncomfortable with his situation so well. This movie is also smart because there are several rape jokes within these two character's interactions, but they put the woman in the position of power and have the other two guys even say things like "Ya yours doesn't sound so bad." Whenever Day complains about it. Meanwhile Spacey's character is terrifying. Man is he evil. However this is a double-edged sword because as a result he doesn't have that much humor to add to this comedy. I'm still waiting for Spacey to make me really laugh but I am very ok with his charismatic and evil side. He is the best in the business at that without a doubt.
The story does start out as believable, but man by the third act it is absolutely ridiculous. One of my favorite moments comes here when our three protagonists are on the run from Spacey's character while simultaneously Charlie Day is on the phone with Anniston's telling her about all the nasty things he's going to do to her. While she fingers herself naked in a bath tub. Almost forgot to add that part. So much respect gained for Anniston to be willing to do this role. You don't see anything but regardless, she really puts herself out here with no shame attached. But still, the story is very shallow. However I've said it a million times and I'll say it again: as long as it makes me laugh, I will forgive a lot. And man did it have me cracking up at many points throughout.
I think this is going to be a shorter review because I don't really know what else to talk about. Oh! The humor itself is mostly crude. Definitely not safe which is nice, but there's also a lot of humor that is created out of the interactions of Day, Bateman, and Sudeikis. They play off of each other and will even take some screw ups with their own lines and just run with it. Those are the primary points of humor. Crude, physical, and one-liners. Mixed together well and man does it go down smoothly.
The Critique: a fun buddy movie with an absolutely crazy premise. But absolutely hilarious.
The Recommendation: definitely for those under 45, but man will people with ridiculous bosses love this movie.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Django Unchained (2012): A misfit buddy-cop comedy set in the slave era of the south brings together Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) as bounty hunters set out to find Django's wife at Candyland, where they meet the dangerous and cunning Calvin Candy. (Leonardo DiCaprio)
This is a great movie. Director Quentin Tarantino has been honing his skills over the years with each his movies, and each one is a bit better than the last. Now is this the best Tarantino movie? I say yes. But that's just me, as Inglourious Basterds definitely deserves to be talked about in that discussion. I mean the story is fantastic. It definitely takes its story matter very seriously and really nails the gruesome horror of slavery. Here's what the real movie critics have complained about with Tarantino movies in the past that I agree with 100%: he's a good example of a director who's in love with his own writing. The result? Conversations throughout his movies go on so much longer than they should, to the point that I almost want to just skip ahead to the end of it. This totally throws off the pacing of the movie. Seriously, the opening conversation of Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds are textbook examples of this. I know that he's building suspense and tension prolonging the scene but on the flipside watching Waltz drink a glass of milk has nothing to do with the actual story. You could easily cut out 5 minutes in both of these and still have a lot of tension build up over the course of the scene. I think there's a joke somewhere that there's at least a movie and a half of all the extra dialogue throughout Tarantino movies.
Anyway the pacing of this one is far better than anything Tarantino has done, until we get to Candyland. Once we arrive there the pacing screeches to a sudden halt. But there is a great tradeoff here. A PHENOMENAL tradeoff that other Tarantino movies did not have: Leonardo DiCaprio. Oh man is he terrifying as Calvin Candy. He doesn't show up until well into the second act of the film, and because of these slower sequences he is really given a chance to flesh out his character. One of the great impromptu moments of recent memory happens here, as I'm sure everyone knows, where DiCaprio hurt his hand in the middle of a scene, and, rather than cutting, he continues in character with the scene and delivers one of the most memorable moments of the film. Poor Kerry Washington. So I didn't really care that the pacing was basically stopped in the Candyland sequence because DiCaprio made it interesting. The other actors here are great as well. Christopher Waltz is charming and charismatic, playing a character as ruthless as his character in Inglourious Basterds but far more likable. Jamie Foxx is good as well, though he does get a little outplayed by DiCaprio and Waltz. They are the true stars of the movie. Finally this is a Tarantino film! What does that mean? Lots and lots of blood and death. Like, tons. As I said this movie does not dance around its setting as Basterds did, rather it shows the gruesome horror of slavery head on, as well as the idiocy of southerners during that time. The KKK scene is one of the funniest moments of movie (with a great cameo from Jonah Hill) and really shows just how stupid the concept and logic of that group was. But because of this, it can be hard to watch at times. But that's the point, right?
The ending of this movie is the only thing I have a real problem with, as it turns into a massive and totally unrealistic bloodbath and fulfills the norm of a Tarantino movie, but that's not a major complaint to have in this movie's 165 minute runtime. Ultimately if you think you can handle the blood and gore, you should check it out if you haven't already.
The Critique: a funny and serious take on the buddy-cop comedy set in the mid 1800s. Tarantino at his best.
The Recommendation: if you don't like the sight of blood, stay away. But if you like Tarantino or mid-1800s slavery movies, it's a must-see.
The Verdict: 8/5/10 somewhere between great and awesome.
The Heat (2013): A modern twist of the classic 1970's mismatch-buddy-cop comedy movies starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock.
How to put my thoughts into words....well...it's no secret that comedy movies don't have spectacular plots. The rule I've adopted is this: if a movie makes me laugh, I can forgive almost everything else. This movie is a textbook example of this. The plot has so many plot holes it's like swiss cheese without the actual cheese. But damn did I have fun. This movie is absolutely hilarious, so as a result who cares how absurd the plot is! Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock have some truly special chemistry together. I hope that this is the beginning of a Simon Pegg/Nick Frost type of relationship between them.
So I'm going to give you a quick example of the absurdness of this plot. Initially, Sandra Bullock character is working alone and has to deal with McCarthy's character to get to a witness in her investigation. But since it's dealing with something in McCarthy's neighborhood, she wants in. So, how does she do this? By stealing all of Bullock's files on the case. If this actually happened in real life, McCarthy's character would be arrested for (at the very least) obstruction of justice. But this is of course the point where they put aside their differences and join forces. But who cares, right? This movie is HILARIOUS. And I'm really proud of what it does because this movie actually derives its humor from things other than dicks and poop. Now it is vulgar thanks to Melissa McCarthy, (there is a running gag in here that Bullock can't curse) and there is some crude humor, but about 90% of it is based on the interactions of Bullock and McCarthy and what happens around them. The problem though is that this movie does not have as much memorability as the other big comedy of the year, This is the End. I had a blast on the first viewing, but I sense that this movie would lose its freshness on the second and third viewing because of its absurd plot and lack of one-liners. For that reason, I do not believe this is the best comedy of the year. (That's still This is the End for me) But it was still quite a bit of fun.
The acting was amazing. McCarthy is one of the best out there, and her performance definitely helped bring up Sandra Bullock. On a side note this was the first movie I've seen with McCarthy in it, and I am definitely going to go and see more movies with her, for sure. The writers really let McCarthy be herself here, as there is a lot of improv from her. Sadly this movie is really just those two, as none of the supporting cast is given a chance to flesh out their characters. Also while Sandra Bullock's character has a nice story arc, Melissa McCarthy doesn't change at all. This is an amazing thing, cause Melissa McCarthy don't need no stinking story arc! She's just a badass with a Mark Wahlberg's family in The Fighter type family. That's all that needs to be known about her. Oh and there's this great running gag in the movie where McCarthy's character keeps running into her one night stands. These may be some of the funniest gags in the movie. Whoever thought of this is an absolute genius.
Overall, this movie is great. I just wish it had a bit more of logical plot. Actually, you know what? No. I bet if this movie had a better plot it would not be as funny. So enjoy yourself. Good luck with repeat viewings though.
The Critique: A fun, hilarious buddy cop movie. Week plot, but this movie doesn't need one.
The Recommendation: I feel safe recommending this movie to anyone over the age of 13. A great way to spend 112 minutes.
The Verdict: 7.5/10 Really Good
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