Archive for the R-Rated Comedy Category

THE HEAT (2013)

Posted in 2013, Cinema Knife Fights, Comedies, Cop Movies, Gangsters!, R-Rated Comedy with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2013 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT:  THE HEAT (2013)
Review by Michael Arruda & L.L. Soares

the-heat-poster2(THE SCENE: A police interrogation room.  MICHAEL ARRUDA wears a police badge and sits across from his prisoner.  He leans into the prisoner’s face.)

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Listen, if you tell me the name of the guy you’re working for, I’ll give you an ice cream cone.

PRISONER:  I’m not talking.

MA:  How about an ice cream sundae?  (Prisoner shakes his head)  With extra hot fudge sauce.  You like hot fudge sauce, right?…with a cherry on top?

(The door bursts open and L.L. SOARES enters wielding a chainsaw.)

L.L. SOARES: I’ll get this low-life to talk.  Tell us who you’re working for, or I start removing body parts!  (Revs up chainsaw.)

PRISONER:  Yeah, right.  Like you’re really going to use that thing.

LS:  That’s not the answer I’m looking for.  (Runs at table and brings chainsaw down upon the prisoner’s wrist, cutting off his hand. Blood spurts like a geyser)

PRISONER (screams):  YEEEEE-OWWWWW! You just cut off my hand!!!

LS:  That’s okay.  You’ve still got another one.  Start talking!

POLICE CAPTAIN (enters room):  What the hell is going on in here?  Who the hell are you guys? Who the hell let you in here?

(Cue quick drum solo, and LS, covered in blood, looks in camera and winks)

LS:  We’re Cinema Knife Fighters.

(Cue funky theme music)

CAPTAIN:  Someone call an ambulance!  And someone arrest these two men for impersonating police officers!

MA:  I wouldn’t do that if I were you.  We’re just about to review a new movie.  Perhaps you’d like to hear it.

CAPTAIN:  Are you out of your friggin mind?

MA:  We’re reviewing THE HEAT, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

PRISONER:  I wanted to see that.  Was it any good?

MA:  We’ll tell you right now. If you behave.

PRISONER:  Captain, why don’t you pull up a chair?

CAPTAIN:  Are you crazy?  They just sawed off your hand!

PRISONER:  I have another one.  Plus, strangely, despite all the blood, I feel fine. And look (holds up stump), I’ve stopped bleeding.

LS:  One of the perks of Cinema Knife Fight Land.

(CAPTAIN pulls up a chair and sits down)

CAPTAIN: Okay, but just for a minute.

MA:  So, as I started to say, today on Cinema Knife Fight, we’re reviewing the new R-rated comedy, THE HEAT (2013), starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, and directed by Paul Feig, the same guy who directed BRIDESMAIDS (2011).

CAPTAIN: I loved BRIDESMAIDS!

LS: Me, too.

MA: In THE HEAT, Sandra Bullock plays an uptight FBI agent named Ashburn who nobody in the department likes, and so her boss Hale (Demian Bichir) sends her to Boston to work a case, and if she does well, then he’ll talk to her about the promotion she desires.

In Boston, Ashburn crosses paths with an offbeat and crude Boston police officer Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) who nearly kills Ashburn when she questions her prisoner without permission.  Of course, these two completely different women will eventually team up to work together to track down the villains in this one, drug dealers, specifically a mysterious drug lord whose identity remains a secret until the end.

Ashburn and Mullins eventually get along very well because they realize they’re both outcasts.  It’s more obvious in Mullins’ case with her unconventional methods and her wacky abrasive family, but Ashburn shares a similar loner past.  It’s revealed that Ashburn wasn’t popular in high school. In fact, the only people to sign her yearbook were teachers, and she was also a foster child.

LS (sniffs): Sad stuff.

MA: But the plot is secondary and unimportant in this movie, as it’s just an excuse to put Ashburn and Mullins in funny situations and make us laugh.  And if you judge a comedy by how many laughs it gets, then I’d give THE HEAT high marks because I laughed throughout this movie, and I laughed a lot.

LS: I laughed. I wanted to laugh more. But we’ll get to that.

MA: For the second straight week in a row, I sat in a sold-out theater.  Last week was WORLD WAR Z, and now this week THE HEAT.  What’s going on?  Are these movies that big of a draw, or are people out more because it’s summer?  I don’t know.  But I do know that last night’s audience was primarily women.  There were a few men in the theater, but for the most part, I was surrounded by women laughing hysterically.  Kinda like a nightmare I had once.

LS: Women laughing? Probably hit a little too close to home. Me, I dug it. Being surrounded by women. What’s not to like?

MA: Nothing, you goober!  I was referring to the laughing part.  I was making a joke at my own expense

LS:  Oh?  That was a joke?

MA:  Ha, ha!  Anyway, this brings me to an article I read earlier this year which talked about how the traditional “male audience” movies have struggled this year, films like BULLET TO THE HEAD (2013) starring Sylvester Stallone and THE LAST STAND (2013) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger tanked at the box office, while films geared more for women have been doing extremely well, and the article predicted that Hollywood would follow the money and make more films geared for women.

LS: I have an idea. Maybe the movies geared toward men were just lame?

MA: Last night’s audience certainly seemed to back this up.  Which leads me to one question:  alright, guys, where the hell are you spending all your time?  Why aren’t you at the movies?  I don’t want to see action movies go the route of the Western!

LS: The Western is making a comeback, if you haven’t noticed.

MA:  It’s been “making a comeback” since the 1980s!

LS:  And I saw a lot of men in my audience for THE HEAT. Sure, a lot of them were probably there because their girlfriends or wives dragged them to see it. But I’m sure some of them were there, like me, to enjoy the show. Screw demographics!

Hey, what is this, some kind of film theory course? Get back to the damn review!

MA: Anyway, that being said, I liked THE HEAT a lot.  I thought the jokes pretty much all worked, and the performances were right on target.  Melissa McCarthy is hilarious, and I can’t count how many laugh-out-loud moments she generated throughout the movie.  There were just so many quick one-liners and tirades.  The scene where she calls out her boss in front of Sandra Bullock comes to mind, completely humiliating the guy in front of the other officers in the precinct.

LS: Yeah, Captain Woods. I felt bad for that guy. He was played by Tom Wilson, by the way, who was good in the role.

MA: The movie also has more than enough jokes to make up for the fact that many of them were given away in the film’s trailers.  There are still lots of funny parts in this movie, even if you’ve seen the trailer multiple times, as I did.

LS: Problem number one. Too many good jokes here were ruined by being played to death in the trailers. I would have laughed louder at these if I hadn’t already seen them a thousand times. One of the downsides of going to the movies every week—we see too many trailers too many times.

MA: I agree.  But I thought there were enough other jokes in this movie that worked for it not to matter as much in this case.

Sandra Bullock is also very good in the straight role as Ashburn, and she generates lots of laughs as well.  The scene with the choking restaurant victim where Ashburn attempts a tracheotomy on the guy and sticks a knife into his throat, as opposed to just performing the Heimlich maneuver, is a keeper.  With scenes like this, the film definitely earns its R-rating.

LS: You thought that scene earned its R? Just a little blood? But it was funny stuff.

I thought the R-rating was for the friggin language. McCarthy, especially, has a vocabulary that includes non-stop swearing. It made me feel at home. Although you wouldn’t know it by this wimpy column. You still enforcing the “PG” language rule here?

MA: I thought it was PG-13 language?  Which, by the way, we both agreed to.

I think our language here is in line with other professional movie reviewers.

(LS responds with a bunch of bleeps)

MA: There’s also a very funny sequence where they have to swipe a guy’s cell phone and put a bug inside it, which takes place in a crowded night club. The audience was on the floor laughing during this whole sequence.  I also enjoyed the part where they get smashing drunk together.

LS: You mean the scene where they go to a seedy bar and get bombed out of their minds and do all kinds of wacky stuff? I loved that scene!

MA: The screenplay by Katie Dippold was hysterical.  I was really impressed.  THE HEAT is one of the funnier comedies I’ve seen in a while.

LS: Now here’s where we disagree. I thought Katie Dippold’s screenplay was kind of weak. Especially the drug dealer plot. It was obviously just there to give Bullock and McCarthy something to do, which is fine, but this movie could have been even funnier if they’d given it a better plot. Last time, Paul Feig worked with Kristen Wiig, who both starred in and wrote BRIDESMAIDS. Compared to Wiig’s script, Dippold’s is second-rate. What saves this movie is Bullock and McCarthy. They have real comedic chemistry together and transcend the weak script.

MA: You’re right.  The drug dealer plot is lame.  But the jokes work.  I wouldn’t call that a weak script.  Uneven, maybe, but again, I laughed a lot so I can’t say that I didn’t like the script.  It was funny.

LS: The actresses were funny. I’m not convinced the script would have been as good without them. But yeah, uneven might be a better word.

MA: I also really enjoyed Mullins’ South Boston family, an insane group that makes Mark Wahlberg’s family in THE FIGHTER (2010) seem normal!  It was a lot of fun to see Jane Curtin playing Melissa McCarthy’s mom.  Curtin gets to deliver a couple of good zingers, like the first time we see her driving by in a car.

LS: I didn’t like her family as much as you. I didn’t care much for the clan in THE FIGHTER, either. They just seem like Boston stereotypes—what the rest of the country thinks we’re like here in Beantown. They just annoyed me.

MA:  I disagree.  There’s some truth to that stereotype.  Ever sit in the bleachers at Fenway Park?

LS: It was nice to see Saturday Night Live veteran Curtin again—it’s been awhile since we’ve seen her onscreen—but she’s not given much screen time, and not much to do besides giving people the finger. I wish there was more of her, and less of her stereotypical brood. Although, a scene where the family meets Bullock for the first time, and she has no idea what they’re talking about when they ask her if she’s a “nahk,” was pretty funny.

THE-HEAT-PosterMA: The main story in this one, about drug dealers, ran hot and cold.  Michael McDonald makes a nice villain, and the scene where he sticks a knife into Bullock’s thigh is one of the movie’s best.  It’s certainly its most intense.  But McDonald’s not the main villain, and the whole story about the drug lord’s secret identity I could have done without, but this is nitpicking.  I liked THE HEAT a lot.

LS: It’s not nitpicking. The main plot sucked. McDonald was good—I used to like him a lot on MAD TV—and he does a good job with his role. But the plot about his mysterious boss—I couldn’t have cared less.

I did like some of the other perps, though. Like Spoken Reasons as the drug dealer Rojas, who McCarthy constantly harasses. He was pretty funny. And I loved that Kaitlin Olson (Sweet Dee from the FX comedy series IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA) was in it as a Bulgarian prostitute. I love SUNNY so much, I love seeing cast members move up to bigger things. Y’know, Charlie Day is going to be in PACIFIC RIM.

MA: Michael Rapaport turns in a nice sympathetic performance as McCarthy’s brother, Jason.

LS: Yeah, I like Rapaport, too. I also liked Demian Bichir as McCarthy’s boss, Hale. He was great as drug lord Esteban Reyes on the Showtime series WEEDS—that’s where I first noticed him. Since then, he was the lawyer in SAVAGES (2012) and was even nominated for an Oscar for his role in a small film called A BETTER LIFE (2011). Bichir’s star seems to be on the rise, and I’m glad for him.

There’s also a good scene where McCarthy trades barbs with comedian Tony V. in the precinct (he’s the guy she yells at for letting them take her perp out of stir). Tony V is a Boston legend and it was great to see him here (I just wish he was in the movie more). Speaking of which, there are a lot of shots of Boston here, which was wicked cool for people who live here.

One joke that didn’t make me laugh as much was the whole “albino” thing. The DEA Agent Craig (Dan Bakkedahl), who happened to be an albino (the character, not the actor), was the butt of a lot of jokes, and I just didn’t laugh that much. I just didn’t “get” it, in a way. It seemed too forced.

MA:  I didn’t get it either, but I did notice that early on in the movie, Sandra Bullock’s character is watching TV and she’s watching a scene from the movie FOUL PLAY (1978), starring Goldie Hawn, which featured an albino hit man.  Maybe screenwriter Dippold has a thing for albinos.

LS: Yeah you’re right. I remember that scene, early on, where Bullock is channel surfing and she switched from FOUL PLAY to a scene from THE MATRIX RELAODED (2003) featuring the twin albino hit men from that movie, too. But I still don’t totally get the whole running joke.

MA: There’s another reason THE HEAT works so well.  In addition to its being an over-the-top R-rated comedy, it has some genuine sincere bits.  I bought into Melissa McCarthy’s pain when dealing with her own family, and I believed that Sandra Bullock’s Agent Ashburn was at her core a very lonely and unhappy person.  And so, ultimately, I bought and believed in their relationship and their friendship.  That doesn’t come off as being forced or phony.

I thought THE HEAT was a lot of fun, and a sold-out theater of laughing women seemed to agree with me.

I give it three knives.  What did you think of it, LL?

LS: I liked it a lot, too, but I didn’t think it was perfect. The big plus here is the teaming of Bullock and McCarthy. McCarthy is on a roll since hitting the big time in Paul Feig’s last movie, BRIDESMAIDS. I remember her when she was Sookie the Chef, a supporting character on the TV series THE GILMORE GIRLS. Who knew back then she would become such a big star?

MA: You watched THE GIRLMORE GIRLS? (chuckles)

LS: Cut me some slack. I had a thing for Lauren Graham.

The point is, I’ve been a fan of McCarthy’s for a long time, and it just seems funny that she’s become such a big, bankable star so quickly.

As for Sandra Bullock, I never really liked her all that much. She just didn’t do anything for me, as a dramatic or comedic actress. I just didn’t care for her. But here, with McCarthy, I liked her a lot. It just goes to show that anyone can be good when given the right role. And the chemistry between these two ladies is dynamite. Whoever thought of teaming them up was a genius. The movie works because their teaming works. It actually reminded me of the classic straight man/comic teams from the past like Abbott and Costello. It’s a winning formula, and it’s nice to see them carry on the tradition.

And yes, they both have a lot of heart, too.

I also love that this one has so much “foul language” in it. I know there are people who think clean comedy is better and that resorting to four-letter words is just the sign of a bad script, but I’m not one of those people. I think a lot of swearing can make a funny movie even funnier. I love the English language, all of it, and that includes the wonderful world of cursing.

McCarthy and Bullock are so good, they make a lackluster script look better than it is. I still say that with a stronger plot, this movie could have been even funnier. The script was the only weak spot for me. That and the lame albino jokes.

MA: And you didn’t care for McCarthy’s family.

LS: Yeah, that too.

MA: And I thought we agreed the script is uneven, not weak.

LS: Okay, okay.

Which just shows that every movie has flaws. And yet, I have to be honest, I laughed a lot during this movie, and I thought scenes like Bullock and McCarthy getting drunk all night at a dive bar were comedy gold. I want to see more of these two together. They’re a great comedy team.

I give it three knives as well.

MA: This summer has been a lot better than normal so far.

LS: Yeah, it hasn’t been half bad.

(PRISONER tries to clap, but can’t with just one hand).

CAPTAIN: Are you guys done? We need the interrogation room and you’ve been in here awhile.

PRISONER: What about me?

LS: Oh, you’re free to go. We don’t have any evidence to hold you. You were just here to make the scene seem authentic. Thanks for that.

PRISONER: I was just here for the scene, and you cut my friggin hand off!

CAPTAIN (picks up hand): Don’t worry, son. We’ll pack this in ice and the hospital will stitch it back on and you’ll be good as new.

PRISONER: He cut off my friggin hand!

LS: Oh stop whining, you big baby.

MA: Looks like we’ve solved another case. Which is just how we roll, because, we’re the Cinema Knife Fighters.

(Funky THEME MUSIC plays again as MA and LS pose)

CAPTAIN: Get out of here, you idiots!

MA: We’re going; we’re going.

-END-

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

Michael Arruda gives THE HEAT ~ three knives!

LL Soares gives THE HEAT ~three knives, too!

Screaming Streaming: CASA DE MI PADRE (2012)

Posted in 2013, Comedies, Just Plain Bad, Michael Arruda Reviews, Parodies, R-Rated Comedy, Screaming Streaming with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2013 by knifefighter

SCREAMING STREAMING!
Streaming Video Movie Review:  CASA DE MI PADRE (2012)
By Michael Arruda

casa-de-mi-padre poster

I get it

Will Ferrell has made so many movies and has achieved so much success, he’s at the point in his career where he can do whatever he wants, like making movies that are experimental and offbeat, and stand little chance of making money at the box office.

I get it.  But that doesn’t mean I liked CASA DE MI PADRE, a movie that is indeed offbeat—it’s in Spanish with English subtitles— yet isn’t all that funny, nor is it much of an action movie.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like the idea of a quirky movie, but it’s got to work.  This movie doesn’t work.

In CASA DE MI PADRE (2012), now available on Streaming Video, Armando (Will Ferrell) is the black sheep of his family.  His father Miguel (Pedro Armendariz, Jr.) is always calling him stupid, and while he does work on his father’s ranch, we see him spending his days hanging around with his buddies.  When his brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns home with his beautiful fiancée Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), he’s welcomed with open arms by his father, but it turns out Raul is really a drug dealer who’s at war with the local drug lord, Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), who happens to be Sonia’s uncle.

Onza’s goons shoot up Raul’s and Sonia’s wedding, creating a bloodbath in the one stylish scene in the movie, leaving Armando to seek vengeance against Onza and to save his family’s honor

I kept waiting for CASA DE MI PADRE to be funny.  I’m still waiting.

I don’t think I laughed once, and that’s no joke.  Not a good sign for a comedy. Sure, it’s possible I could have missed the point.  I could have missed the good intentions of what Ferrell and company were trying to do here.  I’ll admit that.  Then again, CASA DE MI PADRE just might be a bad movie.

Ferrell plays it straight here.  Even though his character Armando is supposed to be a simpleton, he’s really not.  He’s no goofy idiot bumbling his way through situations a la a Mexican Inspector Clouseau.  He’s supposed to be an honorable man with a touch of spiritualism, a hero.  Gag.

I suppose the joke is that it’s Will Ferrell and he’s playing it straight in a Mexican action movie.  I suppose this is supposed to be funny.  So, if you’re into seeing a serious Ferrell play a Mexican farmer battling a Mexican drug lord, and you think that’s humorous, then this might be the movie for you. 

For a comedy, the jokes just aren’t there.  The screenplay by Andrew Steele is about as funny as Taco Bell ad.  I’ll take that back. I’ve seen funnier Taco Bell ads.  In all fairness, I’d guess that the screenplay accomplishes what the writer and director and Ferrell wanted it to accomplish.  There doesn’t seem to be much effort or interest in creating a straight comedy

Instead, the interest seems to be in creating an authentic Mexican action movie, and to get laughs simply through weird scenes and offbeat dialogue, as in, let’s have Ferrell deliver these serious lines with a straight face, and won’t this be funny! 

Here’s my answer:  no.

Director Matt Piedmont hasn’t made much of an action movie either.  There’s one decent action scene, the bloodbath at the wedding, but that’s it.  The rest of the action is incredibly flat.  So, without comedy, without action, you’re left with a Spanish language drama starring Will Ferrell, the type of thing you’d catch on your local Spanish language TV channel.

Genesis Rodriguez is drop dead gorgeous and in all seriousness is the only reason to see this movie.  But do you really want to sit through 90 minutes of CASA DE MI PADRE just to see Rodriguez?  Heck, even her nude love scene is ruined by frequent shots of Will Ferrell’s naked butt.  Yes, sadly, you will see more of Ferrell’s naked butt than Rodriguez’s.  What were the filmmakers thinking? 

Genesis Rodriguez - the only reason to see CASA DE MI PADRE.

Genesis Rodriguez – the only reason to see CASA DE MI PADRE.

I honestly felt as if the joke was on the audience.  Let’s make this as unfunny as possible and see what people say about it.  It’s as if they wanted to see our faces and laugh.

There are also some weird spiritual aspects to the story, including a talking mountain lion, which is so fake looking it makes the TWILIGHT werewolves look good!  It looks like a Muppet reject.  This lion talks to Ferrell and raises him from the dead.  Huh?  You know, maybe if you’ve had a few drinks before you see this one—.

There’s also some goofy songs sung by Ferrell and Rodriguez, but these miss the mark as well

In fact, the whole film misses the mark.  It’s so bad, I wish I hadn’t seen it

I chose to review CASA DE MI PADRE because it was an R-rated comedy, something we review regularly here at Cinema Knife Fight.  It’s about as far removed from traditional R-rated comedies as you can get.  It’s rated R because of its one nude scene (hey, is that still Will Ferrell’s butt?  Somebody make it stop!)  There’s also that one bloody scene at the wedding, but that’s about it folks.  The rest of the movie is hopelessly lame.

But didn’t I like the quirkiness of the whole thing?  The deadpan style of Will Ferrell?  His goofy buddies?  About those buddies— when the funniest thing they do is laugh, you know you’re in trouble.  Again, I felt as if they were laughing at the audience.  Yep, the joke is on us. 

Didn’t I like the scene with the severed hand?  You mean the hand that looked like it was bought from Toys R Us?  But wasn’t that funny?  That it looked fake?  No. 

Didn’t I like the strange camera angles?  The weird props?  The fake-looking mountain lion?  The mannequin?  You mean, the stuff that looked like it belonged in a Pee Wee Herman movie?  You know, I might have, if Pee Wee Herman had been around, but sadly, he’s not.

This is all a roundabout way of saying what you already know, that this movie simply didn’t work for me, not on any level.

As a result, I give CASA DE MI PADRE a whopping 0 Knives.

Don’t waste your time on this one.  Save yourself the torture and have a Dos Equis instead.

—END–

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives CASA DE MI PADRE ZERO KNIVES!

Zero

 

THIS IS THE END (2013)

Posted in 2013, Apocalyptic Films, Bad Behavior, Comedies, Disaster Films, Exorcism Movies, James Franco, LL Soares Reviews, Possessed By Demons, Post-Apocalypse Movies, R-Rated Comedy, Stoner Comedies with tags , , , , , , , on June 14, 2013 by knifefighter

THIS IS THE END (2013)
Review by L.L. Soares

This-Is-The-End-PosterBack in the old days, director Roger Corman used to make “quickie” films over the course of a weekend between his regular features. Sometimes he would have the sets for a few more days or an actor might get done with a role early and have some availability (since they signed up for a certain amount of time), and Corman would take advantage of it to make a fast extra film while he still could. Sometimes this resulted in an incomprehensible flick like THE TERROR (1963), and sometimes it resulted in an accidental classic, like LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960).

THIS IS THE END, the new movie by directors and screenwriting partners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, was probably not made over the course of a weekend, but it has that kind of feel to it. Like a bunch of friends were sitting around one afternoon and decided “Let’s make a movie!” While it clearly had an actual budget, there’s an “of the moment” aesthetic to the whole thing, some of which works in its favor, and some of which doesn’t.  It’s based on a short film called “Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse” (2007) which was written by Jason Stone, about actors and friends Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogan confronting the end of the world. Now, it’s been expanded into a feature-length movie.

It features a bunch of actors playing “themselves,” or a facsimile thereof, and what happens when they get caught in the middle of the “End Times.” They’re able to make this concept work because in the movie each person’s personality is well-defined enough so that they can play on that familiarity—even if they exaggerate things a bit—and we get sucked in because we feel that we know these people. Fans of the short-lived TV series FREAKS AND GEEKS (which only lasted one season, from 1999 to 2000) will especially find things to like in the movie. That was the show that put Judd Apatow on the map, as well as giving actors Seth Rogen and James Franco their first big break.

The movie begins with Rogen (KNOCKED UP, 2007 and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, 2008) meeting Jay Baruchel—who was in another Judd Apatow series, UNDECLARED (2001-2002), and had roles in movies like KNOCKED UP and TROPIC THUNDER, 2008) —at the airport. The two of them are long-time friends who haven’t seen each other in about a year, and they’re trying to kick-start their friendship again. This involves burgers from Carl’s Jr., smoking lots of pot, and playing video games on a new 3D TV. Then Rogen remembers that he was invited to James Franco’s (most recently in OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, earlier this year) house for a party. Baruchel isn’t too eager; he feels uncomfortable around Rogen’s newer “Hollywood” friends, but he agrees to go.

The party has its own pleasures, one of the biggest being Michael Cera (from SUPERBAD, 2007, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, 2010 and the cult TV series ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) playing himself as a kind of coke-snorting, super-cocky lady’s man. Who knew? Cera is so obnoxious playing “himself,” that he had me laughing out loud several times. He is friggin hilarious. It’s only too bad he’s not in the movie longer. Also at the party are such familiar faces as actress Emma Watson from the HARRY POTTER movies, comic actress Mindy Kaling (from the American version of the TV show THE OFFICE and her new show, THE MINDY PROJECT), singer Rihanna, and, in smaller roles, other FREAKS AND GEEKS alumni, such as Jason Segel and Martin Starr.

While on a trip to a convenience store to pick up some cigarettes, Rogen and Baruchel find themselves in the middle of an earthquake. Or what they think is an earthquake. A bunch of stuff falls on Rogen, so he doesn’t see it, but Baruchel witnesses several customers in the store being zapped by blue beams of light from the sky and sucked up through the store’s ceiling. Back at the party, no one will believe him.

That is, until the next tremor. Then the earth opens up as the mother of all sinkholes suddenly appears in front of Franco’s house, sucking down most of the partygoers into the flaming pits of Hell.

ThisistheEnd1There’s lots of death and destruction, until just a handful of the gang are left to survive—insecure Rogen, grumpy Baruchel, pretentious Franco, as well as Jonah Hill (from everything from SUPERBAD to MONEYBALL, 2011) in full diva mode and Craig Robinson (who you might recognize from HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, 2010 and the TV series THE OFFICE.). And, once they all try to get some sleep, out of the bathroom comes the shambling form of Danny McBride, who crashed the party the night before and was passed out in the tub when all of the scary stuff went down.

How much you’ll like this movie has a lot to do with how much you like these actors. I for one have been a fan of some of these guys since the FREAKS AND GEEKS days, when they were just kids. I like all these guys, and it’s just funny to see them interact in light of the horrific situation they’re in.

For me, though, the biggest plus here is Danny McBride, who I just think is one of the best comic actors around today. From his debut in the indie comedy THE FOOT FIST WAY (2006) to his hilarious HBO series EASTBOUND AND DOWN, I am a total fan. Although my enthusiasm for the guy doesn’t mean I’m delusional enough to have thought 2011’s YOUR HIGHNESS (starring Franco and McBride) was a good movie. His completely obnoxious persona completes works in this one, though.

Not everything works in THIS IS THE END. Once we have our six men trapped in Franco’s house, trying to figure out what is going on, there are moments when it almost seems like they’re not sure what to do next, and there are a few parts that go on too long. It’s the downside of a movie that feels improvised; sometimes the improvisation can seem to run out of steam. There are parts where they seem like they’re making it up as they go along.

There are some special effects, mostly involving CGI monsters, which aren’t too bad. But most of the movie is just a bunch of friends hanging out and talking, and on that level it works. I thought it was a lot funnier than a majority of comedies I’ve seen lately. It’s got its flaws, but it’s also a lot of fun. It seems to go on a little long, but if you judge a comedy by the amount of laughs it gives you, then you’ll probably feel like you got your money’s worth as you leave the theater.

I thought the trailers for this one looked pretty hilarious, and the movie does have its share of big laughs. I know I was laughing a lot during its running time, but I was a little disappointed that it did not live up to my expectations all the way through. I will say that, whenever Danny McBride is onscreen (or Michael Cera earlier in the film), the laughs increase. Another big plus is the segment where Jonah Hill gets possessed by a demon, and the other guys try to perform an exorcism on him. Oh, and a scene where we find out what happened to James Franco’s neighbor, Channing Tatum, is pretty hilarious as well.

The scenes with Danny McBride are some of my favorites in THIS IS THE END.

The scenes with Danny McBride are some of my favorites in THIS IS THE END.

It has its flaws, but there’s a lot to like about THIS IS THE END. I like these guys a lot, and it’s kind of like hanging out at their house for a couple of hours. It seems like that would be fun, even if the world was ending outside.

I give it three out of five knives.

© Copyright 2013 by L.L. Soares

LL Soares gives THIS IS THE END ~three  knives.

THE HANGOVER PART III (2013)

Posted in 2013, Cinema Knife Fights, Comedies, Gangsters!, Gimmicks, R-Rated Comedy, Sequels with tags , , , , , , on May 27, 2013 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT:  THE HANGOVER PART III (2013)
Review by Michael Arruda & L.L. Soares

hangover3.jpg(THE SCENE: Vegas.  The top of an extravagant Vegas hotel.  MICHAEL ARRUDA & L.L. SOARES are on the roof, making a rope from tied towels.)

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Tell me again why we’re doing this?

L.L. SOARES:  We’re crashing Chow’s party.  Since we weren’t invited, this is the only way in.

MA:  Scaling the side of a building?  I don’t think it’s worth it.

LS:  What do you know?

MA:  I’d rather start our review of THE HANGOVER PART III.  Why do you want to hang out with Chow, anyway?  That guy really bugs me.

LS:  Love him or hate him, he throws great parties.  But if you want to start the review first, be my guest.

MA:  Well, I meant “instead.”  I’d rather review the movie instead of climbing down the side of a Vegas hotel hundreds of feet high just to go to a party.  It’s not my idea of fun.

LS:  Your idea of fun is watching flowers grow.

MA:  Actually, I find reviewing movies a lot of fun.  So, let’s get started with today’s film, THE HANGOVER PART III.

LS:  And then we’re going to this party!

MA:  Sure.  Whatever.

Anyway, welcome folks, to another edition of CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT.  Today we’re reviewing THE HANGOVER PART III (2013) the third installment in the immensely popular and funny HANGOVER series.  I loved the first one, liked the second one as well, but I had my doubts about this one, since it’s the third in the series, and usually by the time you get to the third film in a series, the quality goes down.

While I generally enjoyed THE HANGOVER PART III, I think unfortunately, it does play like a third film in a series, which is not a good thing.

It’s actually not all that repetitive, since the main gimmick of the first two movies—where the characters awake from a drunken slumber to find themselves in some ridiculous predicament with no memory of the night before and then have to retrace their steps because one of their friends has disappeared, leading them through some wild and wacky adventures— is absent here.  This is not a good thing, since for me, the best part of the HANGOVER movies was in fact this gimmick.

LS: Yeah, I was a little torn over this. At first, it seemed like a ballsy choice to do something completely different in PART III. No crazy party, no blackouts, no increasingly outrageous revelations. PART III goes in a completely different direction, and usually I would like that. Except, I agree with you, what makes these movies so great is the gimmick, and how the filmmakers should be constantly trying to one-up themselves. For example, PART II should have been even more outrageous and shocking than the first one, but it wasn’t (at least it tried). PART III should have been the most outrageous of all, and should have risked getting an NC-17 rating! But it doesn’t even come close. PART III is easily the mellowest of the three when it comes to shocking revelations. I was disappointed.

MA: This time around, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are on their way to take Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to a special facility where he can receive treatment for his mental issues.  On their way there, they are highjacked and kidnapped by masked thugs who work for a man named Marshall (John Goodman).  Marshall explains to them that their old friend Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) had stolen a bunch of gold from him, and he wants it back.

LS: Those weird Porky Pig masks the kidnappers wear are kind of cool!

MA: They were cool, and I was actually hoping we might see them again later on in the movie, but we don’t.

Marshall knows that Chow has been in contact with Alan, and so he believes Alan, Phil, and Stu are his best option for finding Chow, who has otherwise evaded detection completely since he escaped from a Bangkok prison earlier in the film.  Marshall tells them that unless they bring Chow back to him with his gold, he’ll kill Doug.  Marshall gives them three days to do this.

LS: Who’s Doug, by the way?

MA: You know who Doug is! He’s the fourth member of the Wolf Pack. He’s the one who always either disappears or gets kidnapped or stays home so that he’s not part of the main story. A lot of people call him the “Zeppo” of these movies, like the Marx Brother Zeppo who rarely had much to do in the very early Marx Brothers movies!

LS: Oh yeah, Doug. What does he look like again?

MA: It doesn’t matter. Can I get back to the review?

LS: Sure you can. Man, you’re so touchy!

MA: And that’s the set-up for the plot of THE HANGOVER PART III.  Phil, Stu, and Alan have to track down Chow and bring him to Marshall and his goons in order to save Doug’s life.

LS: They should just let him have Doug. That guy’s boring anyway.

(ALAN from the HANGOVER movies suddenly appears on the roof with them)

ALAN: What are you guys doing?

MA: Alan! You shouldn’t be up here on the roof. It’s dangerous.

LS: Oh, stop treating him like a baby. He can be on the roof all he wants.

ALAN: Thanks a lot, LL. I was just wondering why you guys tied all those towels together.

LS: We’re going to climb down and crash Mr. Chow’s party.

ALAN: I want to go, too! (claps his hands)

MA: Oh brother. I just want to finish this review.

LS: Okay, Alan, The rope made of towels is all set. You can climb down first.

ALAN: Oh goody! You guys are so nice!

MA (whispers to LS): What’s the big idea?

LS (whispers back): I can test out the strength of these towels and see if they’ll hold us. This way, the big doofus tries them out for us.

MA: Okay.

(ALAN hesitates, then starts climbing down the towel-rope. At one point, the towels snap and he falls twenty stories to his death)

LS: That’s really too bad.

MA: Well, at least that wasn’t us.

LS: Yeah. Bye, Alan.

MA: Can I finally get back to our review now?

LS: Sure. My experiment is over.

tho3-1MA: As far as plots go, this one wasn’t too bad.  I did miss the gimmick from the first two movies, but in the same breath I also appreciated that this one was different.  But it’s not the most plausible plot.  Do I really think it realistic that a guy like Marshall would entrust finding Mr. Chow and his gold to three stooges like Phil, Stu, and Alan?  Not really.  But in a goofy comedy like this, I’m not going to be too hard on the plot.

LS: Yeah, like I said, I was torn. Normally I like it when someone does a sequel that takes real risks – that deviates from the same tired, old formula. Except in this case, I guess I didn’t find the HANGOVER gimmick to be all that tired yet. Like I said, they could have stuck to the formula but just upped the ante a lot, and tried to really make us squirm. But instead of amping things up, director Todd Phillips brings it all down a notch. And that’s kind of a bummer.

MA: The bottom line as to why I didn’t like THE HANGOVER PART III all that much—I mean, it was entertaining and diverting, and I didn’t hate it—is that it’s simply not all that funny.  I saw it in a packed theater, and the audience didn’t laugh a whole lot.  The most laughs the film got were at the end, in the wedding scene just before the end credits, and then—in which was for me the funniest part of the whole movie—the brief sequence after the credits start rolling.  I wish this sequence had been at the beginning of the movie and the plot of this one had been about what happened afterwards.

LS: Yeah, this is very important. If you go see THE HANGOVER PART III, you have to sit through the end credits. Well, just part of them. Just don’t leave the damn theater right away! If you do, you will miss what is easily THE FUNNIEST SCENE IN THE WHOLE MOVIE. And here’s where I am in complete agreement with you, Michael. This scene during the final credits is hilarious, and proves that the original formula of these movies still has a lot of life in it yet. And yes, this SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE FIRST SCENE IN PART III.  Dammit, I was kicking myself after I left the theater, thinking about the movie that COULD HAVE BEEN if they’d just left most of PART III on the cutting room floor and made a new movie based on that final scene. What a missed opportunity to really make us laugh!!

MA: I recognize writer/director Todd Phillips was looking to shake things up a bit, and to not be repetitive by avoiding the hangover gimmick in this film, but for me, that’s the best part of this series.  That’s why it’s called THE HANGOVER!  I said this when we reviewed the second film in this series, and I’ll say it again:  I actually like the gimmick better than I like the characters.  So for me, I really missed the hangover plot this time around.

LS: I don’t agree that the gimmick is better than the characters, and I’ll explain that soon, when it’s my turn. But I do agree that the gimmick is just as important, and this is one of the few franchises that should have stuck to the damn formula! Just about every other sequel this year is probably going to be predictable and tired and should have tried something new EXCEPT the HANGOVER PART III. What were you thinking, Todd Phillips? You don’t know when you have a solid gold gimmick with lots of life still in it.

MA: Of course, the jokes could have been funnier.  Again, I didn’t laugh all that much.  It also didn’t help that the early jokes—Alan’s misadventure with his new pet giraffe, and the scene at Alan’s father’s funeral—were all jokes that I had already seen in the trailer.  In fact, most of the better jokes in this one I had seen in the trailers.

LS: I loved the stuff with Alan and the giraffe! I wanted more stuff like that!

MA: I agree.  It was funny.  But I’d seen it already.

I wasn’t impressed by the screenplay by director Philips, and fellow writer Craig Mazin.  The plot, while not believable, was decent enough, but the jokes just weren’t there this time around.

I liked the scene where they break into what Chow has told them is his own house, and the bit where Stu and Chow have to first crawl through the house and then disarm the alarm is hilarious, but there were too few of these laugh-out-loud moments in this movie.

LS: That scene had its ups and downs, but overall it was pretty clever. I liked it, too.

MA: And I enjoyed the scene where Phil and Alan crash Chow’s party, and Chow escapes, soaring over the streets of Las Vegas as a human kite while Stu pursues him from the ground.

LS: Yeah, that was pretty good! Chow gets some of the best moments in this one. But a lot of people hate the character of Mr. Chow, so they might not enjoy those scenes as much as we did.

MA: But THE HANGOVER PART III rarely reaches those kinetic moments of sheer insanity which drove the first movie along.  Nor do the individual characters have as many memorable moments here.

Bradley Cooper pretty much plays it straight in this one as Phil, and while Ed Helms does get to enjoy some funny bits here as Stu, he sadly avoids his signature moments where awful things happen to him, unless you count the after-credit scene.  No tattoos, no missing teeth, no strange marriages to a hooker.  Honestly, I missed that.

LS: Bradley Cooper’s Phil is always the straight man. He just says cynical things and swears a lot, and while he doesn’t give an amazing performance here, I was satisfied with what he does.

MA:  Yeah, but he’s was funnier in the first two movies.

LS:  Helms, on the other hand, is pretty hilarious in the first two movies, and this time around they give him nothing to do for the most part except get bossed around by Alan. Poor Ed Helms! He deserves better.

MA: Even Zach Galifianakis as Alan, by far the funniest of the trio, while still as insane as ever, just didn’t generate the same kind of laughter as he did in the first two movies.  In fact, some of his scenes here are downright weird without being funny.  The scene where Phil tells Alan he loves him, and Alan starts wailing and crying is simply bizarre, and not humorous at all.

LS: Alan is a complete weirdo, but he’s a lovable weirdo. I have no problem with scenes that are just plain weird. My problem is scenes where Alan just sits around and pretty much does nothing. There’s one scene where they’re all just standing around, and Alan is sitting on the hood of their car, looking half-asleep, and I thought “this is exactly the kind of stuff that’s wrong with PART III,” they should be moving around non-stop, and Alan should never seem tired or like he has nothing to do.

MA: Ken Jeong is back as Mr. Chow, and his antics aren’t as funny this time around either.

LS: Usually Mr. Chow makes me laugh my ass off—despite myself. But yeah, he’s pretty uneven in this one. Sometimes he’s really funny, but a lot of the time he’s not. He even drifts into the “becoming annoying” category a few times during this movie, which is awful. CHOW SHOULD NEVER BE BORING!

Also, I want to give a shout out to Melissa McCarthy. She sure has become a big star since that BRIDESMAIDS movie. And she has a small role here as a pawn dealer in the heart of Vegas who has an instant love connection with baby-man Alan. I really liked her in this one, and enjoyed her scenes with Galifianakis a lot! More Melissa McCarthy!!

MA: You didn’t go see IDENTITY THIEF did you?

LS: No, it looked stupid.

MA: But Melissa McCarthy starred in it. With Justin Bateman. And she’s going to be in the upcoming cop comedy THE HEAT with Sandra Bullock.

LS: That looks kind of dumb, too.

MA: But you just said you were a fan of hers. You said “More Melissa McCarthy!

LS: I know…(thinks about it)…I’m sorry.

I liked her in this movie, though!

the_hangover_part_3_movie-wide

MA: Bottom line, THE HANGOVER PART III suffers from jokes that simply aren’t as creative as the jokes from the first two movies.  The cast is decent enough, and it’s fun to see these characters on the big screen again, but the situations they find themselves in here really aren’t all that nutty.  The wild chaotic hilarity from THE HANGOVER is largely absent in this third installment.

THE HANGOVER PART III is mildly amusing, but I wish I had laughed more.

I give it two knives.

So what did you think of it, LL?

(MR. CHOW suddenly appears on the roof with them)

CHOW: What are you doing on the roof of Chow’s hotel?

MA: Just getting some air.

CHOW: What’s that rope made of towels. You were going to crash Chow’s party, weren’t you?

LS: We don’t care about your stupid party. And we have nothing to do with that rope thingie. So cool your jets.

MA: Yeah, we’re trying to review THE HANGOVER PART III here.

CHOW: Okay, Chow will be quiet. Chow wants to hear what you thought of it…And it better be good.

LS: Michael just said it sucked.

MA: No I didn’t! I gave it two knives.

LS: Like I said, he said it was garbage.

(CHOW pulls out a loaded gun)

CHOW: Did you now?

LS: But don’t worry. I’m going to give my final comments now.

CHOW (smiles): Okay, Chow wants to hear that before Chow kills this guy.

MA: Gee, thanks.

LS (to Michael): Look, I wanted to really like this movie, but just about all of your problems with it are legitimate. We’ve already discussed in depth how going off of the tried-and-true formula this time around was a bad idea. But why didn’t Phillips’ risk work?

Well, the bottom line is, THE HANGOVER PART III isn’t a comedy.

CHOW: It’s not??

LS: There, I said it. I let the monkey out of the bag.

It starts out as a comedy, it seems to want to be a comedy throughout, but as soon as those Porky Pig-faced dudes kidnap our heroes, the movie stops trying to be funny, and instead gets too wrapped up in its plot involving Marshall, and the gold, and trying to get revenge on Chow, and suddenly, these characters who we love in comedy films, are suddenly in a thriller.

My argument is, the movie still holds up okay because I like these characters. Even though they stop doing funny things, I like Phil and Stu and Alan, and yes, even Mr. Chow…

MA: What about Doug?

LS: Who’s that?

Anyway, they all seem to be plopped into a serious crime movie instead of a comedy, but I like these characters, so I was still interested throughout, and I enjoyed it. But I DIDN’T LAUGH much at all. I have to admit, people in the theater with me did laugh. When Alan said something particularly odd. When someone did something that almost got them killed. People in the audience laughed a lot more than this movie deserved, because they LOVE these characters. And I guess I do too, which is why I didn’t hate this movie. But where were the monkeys? The unexpected tattoos? The Thai lady men?

I said I was torn, and I am. THE HANGOVER PART III came out a day earlier than normal (the first showing was Wednesday night at midnight), so a lot of critics had their say even earlier than usual. And the reviews for this one have been pretty awful. So I went into THE HANGOVER PART III expecting the worst, and, I have to say, it really isn’t that bad.

But it’s also not the comic masterpiece it could have been.

MA:  It’s not even close.  And it’s not really that great of a serious crime movie either.  It lacks grit and it’s not edgy. It’s not violent either.  I think Phillips got caught in the middle between comedy and crime movie and ended up not making either genre proud.

LS:  Oh, I agree. The only reason this movie works at all is the characters, and therefore the cast. They’re the only thing that saves this movie.  The script is just a letdown on a lot of levels.

And I want to emphasize how important the characters and actors are here. You could say, well the original gimmick is the most important thing and any characters can be plopped into the story and it will work.  But that’s not true. Director Todd Phillips produced a movie called PROJECT X in 2012 that was pretty much the same gimmick as the HANGOVER movies, except it was high school kids. And it was pretty bad. Why? Because the characters just weren’t that good (one was a complete asshole). They were not strong enough protagonists to keep you interested in the gimmicky storyline (to be fair, PROJECT X was not directed by Phillips, but by Nima Nourizadeh). So that’s why I say the cast is just as important to the HANGOVER movies as the gimmick.

But seriously, in PART III, which has the characters but not the gimmicks, it’s still second-rate. It could have been so much better.

MA: I agree.  It could have been better.

LS: I mean, let’s look at this and figure out why it’s such a dud. We have Todd Phillips, a director who isn’t afraid to push the envelope. He proved it with the first HANGOVER movie. Hell, he proved it back with his very first feature film, HATED (1993), a documentary about shock-rocker GG Allin. GG was a complete lunatic who would do anything at any given moment – which is why he was such a great choice for a documentary, and Phillips followed him around in his crazy everyday life to make that movie. I’m sure on some weird level that experience inspired him to create the HANGOVER films, where the idea was ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN AT ANY TIME.

And HATED wasn’t a fluke. Phillips also gave us OLD SCHOOL (2003), which has some pretty decent moments, including Will Ferrell jogging in the nude. And the first HANGOVER movie, which deserved to be the big hit it was. And I still wish they would release his “lost” documentary about what really goes on in college fraternities, FRAT HOUSE (1998), which I fear we’ll never get to see.

THE HANGOVER PART II was a disappointment because it didn’t do anything that out-shocked the first movie. But it was still pretty funny, and I liked it. PART III makes the fatal mistake that it just forgets to be funny. NOTHING HAPPENS! Nothing that takes us by surprise. Nothing that shocks us. If PART III is a thriller, then it’s a predictable thriller, and most of the time we’re not really on the edge of our seats wondering how it will all wrap up. What saves the third movie is that by now we love the characters so much, we’ll watch them doing almost anything.

MA: I don’t really agree with you. I mean, I like these characters too, but I don’t  love them, and I certainly don’t like them enough to enjoy them in a mediocre movie.

And by the way, you sure do like shouting a lot during this review.

LS: But PART III has completely dropped the ball on giving us anything that’s unexpected or that will make us uncomfortable or that will push the boundaries of an R-rated comedy. It doesn’t’ do any of these things. And that’s disappointing. But even more disappointing, even more frustrating, even more infuriating, is that after the end credits roll a little bit, we get that final, “secret” scene. That Easter egg at the end of the movie. And we find ourselves laughing our asses off. And we suddenly realize Todd Phillips could have given us that completely off-the-wall PART III that could have shocked us, and could have made us laugh uncontrollably for 90 minutes – but he just decided not to. He made a conscious decision to screw with the audience. And that annoys me.

I like PART III for what it is. But I kind of hate PART III because of what it could have been. What Phillips actually thought about and came up with, but didn’t make. Especially since he has said this is the last movie of a trilogy.

The bastard!

But, based on what’s up on the screen, I like these characters a lot, and I liked this movie a little more than you did, Michael. I give it two and a half knives.

But based on that final scene, this one could have easily been a three and a half knife movie. Hell, I give that one final scene by itself, three and a half knives.

CHOW: No, no. You  both were supposed to give this movie FOUR knives. That was the agreement. Chow is very angry now. Chow will kill you both.

LS: Not so fast, Chow.

(LS grabs CHOW and throws him over the edge. This time, CHOW forgot his hang-glider and falls twenty stories to his death).

CHOW: AAAAAAAAAIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEE

MA: Thanks. That was some quick thinking.

LS: Not really. He was just too predictable this time around.

Okay, I guess we’re done here, and now I’m kind of bummed out and I don’t want to go to Chow’s party anymore. So let’s just go down to the casino and play the slot machines instead.

MA: Or Texas Hold-Em.

LS: Yeah.

-END-

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

Michael Arruda gives THE HANGOVER PART III ~ two knives.

LL Soares gives THE HANGOVER PART III ~ two and a half knives

Cinema Knife Fight COMING ATTRACTIONS for MAY 2013

Posted in 2013, 3-D, Action Movies, Bad Situations, Coming Attractions, Disaster Films, Dystopian Futures, R-Rated Comedy, Sequels, Superheroes with tags , , , , , on May 3, 2013 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT – COMING ATTRACTIONS:
MAY 2013
By Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

(The Scene:  The interior of a HUGE laboratory, with STARK ENTERPRISES logos all around, and various Iron Man suits on display.  MICHAEL ARRUDA &. L.L. SOARES enter lab.)

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Welcome to the Coming Attractions column for May 2013.

L.L. SOARES:  Our time to tell you what we’ll be reviewing in the month ahead

MA:  We’re here at Stark Enterprises not only because we’ll be seeing IRON MAN 3, the first big release of the month, the weekend of May 3, but because this place is humongous, and it’s symbolic of the blockbuster movies that are finally starting to roll out in theaters this month.

LS:  Whatever.  I’m just glad we’re here.  I can’t wait to try on one of these funky Iron Man suits.

MA:  I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Mr. Stark explicitly said we could do our review from here if we don’t touch anything.

LS:  Since when do I care what you think?

MA:  If you blow yourself up fiddling with one of those suits, don’t blame me.

LS:  I won’t blame you.  I’ll come back to haunt you though.

MA:  Oh joy.  Anyway, we kick off the month of May with a review of IRON MAN 3, opening in theaters on May 3.  I love the Marvel superhero movies, and so it goes without saying that I’m really looking forward to this one.

Iron-man-3-new-banner-3

The original film in this series, IRON MAN (2008) is one of my all-time favorite Marvel superhero films.  The second one IRON MAN 2 (2010), not so much.  I realize this is the third film in the series, and so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it played like a third film in a series and wasn’t so good.

But I really enjoy Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, and I like Gwyneth Paltrow a lot, and the Marvel films have just been so good, I think this one will play better than a third film in a series.  Of course, I feel as if I’ve already watched IRON MAN 3, when I watched last year’s phenomenal THE AVENGERS (2012), which I liked even more than the original IRON MAN.

IRON MAN 3 features Ben Kingsley as the villain, The Mandarin, and Guy Pearce and Don Cheadle.  It’s directed by Shane Black, with a screenplay by Black and Drew Pearce.  Looking forward to it.

LS:  Yay, the Mandarin is finally in an IRON MAN movie! The Mandarin, in the comics, is like Iron Man’s big villain, the equivalent of the Joker for Batman, so it’s about time he made it to film. I wonder if the Mandarin’s giant blue killer robot ULTIMO will be making an appearance – with today’s CGI efforts, they’d be able to do him justice, but I didn’t see any sign of Ultimo in the trailers. The Mandarin’s main powers emanate from rings on his fingers that involve alien technology, and he’s a criminal mastermind. It looks like they have changed him a bit for the movie, making him more like an international terrorist, which is okay, as long as the basic essence of the character is there. The fact that he is played by Ben Kingsley means we should get a decent bad guy in this movie. Let’s hope they don’t waste him like they did Whiplash (as played by Mickey Rourke) in IRON MAN 2.

MA:  Yes, Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash was very disappointing, surprisingly so.

aftershock

LS:  Then, the weekend of May 10, we’ll be reviewing AFTERSHOCK.  Looks like another “End of the World” type movie, with a cast that includes director Eli Roth. Roth also acted in Quentin Tarantino’s INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, 2009 (and his Grindhouse entry DEATH PROOF in 2007), so he should do fine here. Aside from that, I don’t know much about it. But I hope to be entertained.

MA:  I liked the trailer for this one.  It looks like it’s going to be an intense movie.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-First-Official-Teaser-Poster-Is-Here

Moving right along, on May 17 we’ll be reviewing STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS, director J.J. Abrams’ follow-up to his successful STAR TREK (2009) movie, which was a reimagining of the classic 1960s TV show which I thought worked very well.

It’s been hush-hush with this sequel, as very little information has surfaced as to what this movie will be about.  Even the film’s trailers haven’t given too much away, which is a good thing.

The cast from the first movie are all back again, and this is also a good thing, since they all did a terrific job the first time around capturing the personalities of the iconic crew of the Starship Enterprise.  Chris Pine is back as Captain Kirk, Zachary Quinto returns as Mr. Spock (he was phenomenal in the first movie), Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Anton Yelchin as Chekov, and John Cho as Sulu. 

I’m looking forward to this one.

LS:  Me, too. I enjoyed Abrams’ first STAR TREK movie. It actually held up pretty well, even though he kind of put his own spin on these iconic characters. So I’m expecting more of the same with INTO DARKNESS. Should be a good time.

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On the weekend of May 24, we’ll be reviewing THE HANGOVER PART III (2013).  Do we really need a PART III? I don’t know. I liked the original a lot, the second one wasn’t as good, but it had some big laughs. I’m sure PART III will have laughs, too, but where else can they go with this series? As usual, Hollywood gets a hit and they flog it to death. But maybe THE HANGOVER series still has more to offer. We’ll see.

MA:  I’m looking forward to it.  I’m actually looking forward to the entire month of May’s releases.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve been largely disappointed with the movies that have come out so far in 2013, generally speaking. I’m hoping that May’s releases change this.

LS: I haven’t been too disappointed. I’ve seen at least four movies so far this year that might make my “Best of 2013” list, so I can’t complain too much. I’m usually not a big fan of brainless big-budget blockbusters, but this year’s crop of May movies look better than average.

MA: I can think of two so far that would make my “Best of” list, and we’re about to enter May, so like I said, I haven’t been too impressed by this year’s crop of films.

But I do love THE HANGOVER movies, although I recently re-watched PART 2 on Blu-Ray and didn’t find it as funny as I did the first time.  Still, how can you not enjoy the insanity which surrounds Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis)?  The stories in the first two movies are just so over the top I find it nearly impossible not to laugh at them.  I suspect the third film in the series will be just as nutty.

If you like your comedy with an edge, then THE HANGOVER movies are the films for you.

LS: Don’t gush too much. I guess THE HANGOVER movies have kind of an edge for mainstream R-rated comedies, but I really haven’t found them all that shocking. I do hope there is more of Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) this time around, though.

MA: It’s directed by Todd Phillips, who directed the previous two HANGOVER movies, but once again it’s not the original writers penning the script.  It’s written by Phillips and Craig Mazin, the same pair who wrote PART II.

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We finish May with a promising thriller, THE PURGE, which opens on May 31.  Starring Ethan Hawke, this dark actioner tells the tale of a futuristic society that allows crime to run rampant for one night of the year and what happens to one family in particular on this brutal night.  From the producers of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies and SINISTER (2012), this one is written and directed by James DeMonaco, who doesn’t have a whole lot of credits, but he did write the screenplay for the remake of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (2005) which I remember liking a lot.

This one looks like it has promise.

LS:  The trailer for this one looks really cool. And there are more sinister villains in masks, reminiscent of THE STRANGERS (2008). Ethan Hawke also had a really good showcase in his last movie with these producers—SINISTER, which I liked a lot—so I am eager to see what they come up with this time.

MA:  Also opening on May 31 is the thriller NOW YOU SEE ME (2013), an interesting-looking yarn about a team of illusionists who rob banks.  It’s got a great cast which includes Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Elias Koteas.

It’s directed by Louis Leterrier, who directed the CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010) remake, which I didn’t like, but he also directed THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008) starring Edward Norton, which I really liked.

It’s written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, and Edward Ricourt.  I hope to review this one solo as well on this last weekend of May.

LS: Yeah, if you review that one, you’ll be seeing it by yourself. However, I might be reviewing a few movies solo this month too, if they are showing near me. Some films coming out in limited release in May include THE ICEMAN, starring Michael Shannon as a real-life hitman and serial killer; the indie vampire movie KISS OF THE DAMNED; and the new movie by Ben Wheatley, who made my favorite film of last year, KILL LIST; this one’s called SIGHTSEERS, and I’m sure I’ll be reviewing at least one of these before the month is over.

MA: All in all, it looks like May is going to be a good month for movies.

LS:  Okay, I have my Iron Man suit on.  Now it’s time to take it on a flight.

MA (shaking head):  I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

LS:  Ignition!  (Rockets ignite, blasting MA in a fiery ball of flame.)  Oops! 

MA (charred and smoking):  Oops?   That’s all you have to say?

LS:  How about, “See ya!” (Ignites rockets and flies off into the sky).

MA: He really burns me up (drum beat). Anyway, folks, we’ll see you this weekend with a review of our first May movie, IRON MAN 3

LS: Look out below!  (LS in IRON MAN suits flies into the ground, creating a huge smoky crater.)

MA:  Oops!

—END—

 

RUN AND HIDE SUNDAY GIRL (PART 1)

Posted in 2013, Comedies, Kelly Laymon Reviews, R-Rated Comedy with tags , , , , , on March 12, 2013 by knifefighter

RUN AND HIDE SUNDAY GIRL (PART I)
By Kelly Laymon

I’m not one to constantly beat the Lady Drum, though I would if I could…as often as possible. I was supposed to be writing a review of 21 AND OVER (which opened on March 1, 2013), but between dealing with moving crap and my wacky laptop that reboots itself whenever it wants and erases my files along the way, I’ve lost more than I’ve written.

While attempting to re-create yet another incarnation of my review of 21 AND OVER, I gave up. And MONSTER-IN-LAW (2005) happened to be on TV on Superstation TBS. What is up with that nonsense? Are women really that obsessed with marriage and being a little princess for one day?

I’m not an always-offended-feminist who gets bent out of shape each time a woman mentions marriage, but when it’s executed so poorly…I have a problem with that. It’s unfunny and cartoonish garbage and, in this case, wastes whatever talent we may remember that Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez have. The only saving grace of MONSTER-IN-LAW is getting to look at Michael Vartan. Anything he has to offer is wasted in this, but he was so charming in the fairly decent NEVER BEEN KISSED (1999).

Michael Vartan in NEVER BEEN KISSED (1999).

Michael Vartan in NEVER BEEN KISSED (1999).

And it’s not the only horrible wedding romantic comedy Jennifer Lopez has given to this world. Jennifer Lopez was in THE WEDDING PLANNER (2001). It’s not Matthew McConaughey’s best work, but it’s also not his worst. Both of those films make me long for the days of OUT OF SIGHT (1998), when Jennifer Lopez was, ya know, actually really good in really good films. And makes me wish that McConaughey would either stick to playing Southern lawyers or, well, sleazy owners of male strip clubs in Florida.

Take that Katherine Heigl train wreck, 27 DRESSES (2008). Katherine Heigl is less than a year older than I am. In 2008, she would have been about 29-30-ish. And she’s been a bridesmaid 27 times? And, judging by one of the only two decent parts of the film where they show the myriad themes of the weddings she’s participated in, they’ve all been since college or so. Between 22 and 29 she’s been a bridesmaid 27 times? My god, I’m almost 34 and haven’t even attended 27 weddings yet, much less been a bridesmaid.

Granted, we have to play along now and then, but…c’mon.

The only wedding film I identify with is THE WEDDING CRASHERS (2005). But maybe I just identify with Owen Wilson’s hair, Vince Vaughn’s snappy talkin’, and gettin’ drunk at a party where it’s all totally cool. But the humor in that film revolved AROUND the weddings, not as much about GETTING married.

Owen Wilson's hair in THE WEDDING CRASHERS (2005).

Owen Wilson’s hair in THE WEDDING CRASHERS (2005).

See ya’ll Cinema Knife Fighters after that BURT WONDERSTONE deal, which I have a feeling I’ll have a lot to say about since I’m a huge magic nerd, a huge Steve Buscemi fan, and a decent Steve Carell fan who admires John Francis Daley. But that one looks like it could go either way. We’ll see!

© Copyright 2013 by Kelly Laymon

IDENTITY THIEF (2013)

Posted in 2013, Comedies, Kelly Laymon Reviews, R-Rated Comedy, Raunchy Fun, Slapstick with tags , , , , on February 13, 2013 by knifefighter

Steal This Movie!  Please!
Review by Kelly Laymon

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IDENTITY THIEF, released on Friday, February 8, 2013, serves up a familiar formula: the odd couple road trip movie.  With an angle for current events, we find stable family man Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman) receiving a phone call from “Diana” (Melissa McCarthy) notifying him that his identity has been compromised and needs all of his information for a LifeLock type of service.  However, THAT is “Diana’s” ploy to get the necessary details to create credit cards, a license to drive, etc..

As the real Sandy is preparing to leave his current job to join a start-up by his fellow angry co-workers (and expecting a third child with his wife), Diana-Sandy is on a shopping spree.  And drinking spree.  And fighting spree.  When the police show up at Sandy’s brand new office because he missed his court date (and they see the mug shot), the pieces start falling together.  His credit card is then declined at the gas station, and so on.  Adding insult to injury is the fact that Sandy works in finance and being trusted with money is key to his ability to keep his brand new job.

Because of stupid jurisdiction rules and regulations, the police won’t take care of the situation.  So, Sandy decides to fly down to Florida, catch this criminal, and get her back to Colorado so he can clear his name.  On top of pissing off Sandy, she has also run afoul of some black market identity sellers and has a bounty hunter (Robert Patrick) after her.

And, as I always like to say, wackiness and hilarity ensue.

In my THIS IS 40 (2012) review, I described Melissa McCarthy as having a comedy style that beats viewers over the head.  That description is even more true in this case.  If Melissa McCarthy was in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992), her motto would be, “ABM (Get it?  A BM?) – Always Be Mugging if you want the big laughs.”  Most of her gags rely on ridiculous physical comedy, whether it’s getting bonked on the head Three Stooges-style or an insane car crash.

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By the same token, we have an unusually restrained performance (take that with a grain or two of NaCl) by Eric Stonestreet as one of McCarthy’s sexual conquests.  Stonestreet is most popularly known as Cam from MODERN FAMILY (ABC), where he vacillates between over-the-top and slightly less over-the-top.

That’s not to say there aren’t some clever lines.  I found most of the humor in Bateman’s dry, sarcastic, slow-burn, which he does so well.  Even in lesser fare like IDENTITY THIEF and THE CHANGE-UP (2011), Bateman’s always worth it. However, don’t let the comparisons to MIDNIGHT RUN (1988) and PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES (1987) fool you.

I have a feeling that a person’s enjoyment of this film hinges on how much that person loves Melissa McCarthy.  In my case, I enjoyed her in 2011’s BRIDESMAIDS.  However, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with much I didn’t enjoy about that film.  I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of her TV series, MIKE & MOLLY (CBS), but I’ll give her credit that she does an admirable job with some truly terrible material on that show.  In this film, she’s too much.  For me, “too much” doesn’t always equal funny.

© Copyright 2013 by Kelly Laymon

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