Quick Reviews: CARS 3 / ALL EYEZ ON ME / ROUGH NIGHT / 47 METERS DOWN / MAUDIE

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Starring: Owen Wilson (MASTERMINDS [2016], MIDNIGHT IN PARIS [2011], MARLEY & ME [2008], and the upcoming SHANGHAI DAWN, due out… who knows when), Bonnie Hunt (ZOOTOPIA [2016], THE GREEN MILE [1999], JUMANJI [1995], and the upcoming TOY STORY 4 [2019]), and Larry the Cable Guy (A MADEA CHRISTMAS [2013], WITLESS PROTECTION [2008], and DELTA FARCE [2007]). In support: Nathan Fillion (PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS [2013], WONDER WOMAN [2009], TV show CASTLE, and the upcoming video game DESTINY 2 [2017]), Chris Cooper (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], THE MUPPETS [2011], and THE BOURNE IDENTITY [2002]), Armie Hammer (FREE FIRE [2017], THE BIRTH OF A NATION [2016], and THE LONE RANGER [2013]), Kerry Washington (DJANGO UNCHAINED [2012], LAKEVIEW TERRACE [2008], and TV show SCANDAL), and Lea DeLaria (TV shows ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and ONE LIFE TO LIVE)

Directing: Brian Fee, making his directorial debut. Writing: Kiel Murray (CARS [2006]), Bob Peterson (FINDING NEMO [2003]), and Mike Rich (SECRETARIAT [2010], RADIO [2003], and THE ROOKIE [2002]). Composing: Randy Newman (MONSTERS UNIVERSITY [2013], SEABISCUIT [2003], JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH [1996], and the upcoming TOY STORY 4 [2019]).

(SUMMARY)

Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is still as popular as ever and still considered a champion after all these years. But then a harsh reality settles in when a rookie racer named Jackson Storm (Hammer) starts surpassing him in speed and starts winning the races. Sadly, he’s also a jerk to Lightning and eventually, Lightning’s inability to keep up causes him to spin out of control and he experiences a horrible crash. Though out of the game for a few months, Lightning is determined to decide for himself when he quits, not the voiced of those who think he should. After signing on to a new sponsor, headed by Sterling (Fillion), promising to train him to the point of being just as fast as Storm, with the help of the young and eager trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), whose training methods frustrate Lightning as a big race approaches that will determine his staying power in the sport of racing.

(REVIEW)

It’s surprisingly better than I thought, but… yeah, it’s still just okay. I admit that there is a certain level of poetry to see a career and proud racer learning to accept his age and growing increasingly aware that his time may be coming to an end, but wanting to end on his own terms, not because others are telling him too. It can be surprisingly brutal, so when McQueen is determined to prove his worth, it is pretty easy to get sucked in to his story. Sadly though, the movie is mired in predictability and a ton of lame and unfunny jokes. The moment a certain plot point crops up, you know exactly where the story is going to go. Even though it’s handled well, the rest of the movie getting to that point simply feels like filler. By no means bad, it’s still not consistently written well like Pixar’s previous work. While being the most memorable and poignant of the Cars films, it’s still not up there with Pixar’s greats.

My honest rating for CARS 3: 3/5

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AllEyez

Starring: Demetrius Shipp Jr. In support, we have Kat Graham (ADDICTED [2014], DANCE FU [2011], and TV show THE VAMPIRE DIARIES), Lauren Cohan (THE BOY [2016], and TV shows THE WALKING DEAD and CHUCK), and Danai Gurira (TV show THE WALKING DEAD and upcoming films BLACK PANTHER [2018] and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]).

Directing: Benny Boom (S.W.A.T.: FIREFIGHT [2011]). Writing: Jeremy Haft (STREET KINGS 2: MOTOR CITY [2011] and GRIZZLY MOUNTAIN [1997]), Eddie Gonzalez (STREET KINGS 2: MOTOR CITY), and Steven Bagatourian. Composing: John Paesano (ALMOST CHRISTMAS [2016], video game MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA [2017], animated film SUPERMAN/ BATMAN: APOCALYPSE [2010], and upcoming films MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE [2018] and PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING [2018]. Cinematographer: Peter Menzies Jr. (GODS OF EGYPT [2016], THE INCREDIBLE HULK [2008], LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER [2001], and the upcoming animated film PETER RABBIT [2018]).

(SUMMARY)

Tupac Shakur (Shipp Jr.) started off as a normal kid growing up with his lawyer mother Afeni (Gurira) and his younger sister. But when the kids are forced to live in California, Tupac quit school to earn money to take care of his sister. He started rapping and didn’t take long before he was signed on to his first studio. In just a couple years, he became one of the most controversial and popular rappers in the 90’s.

(REVIEW)

I wish I could say this movie got me into the life of one of the most popular rap artists of all time, but… it’s a movie I feel like I’ve seen a dozen times over, particularly in STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (2015), or in better films like MOONLIGHT (2016). While that acting is good, particularly Graham as a young Jada Pinkett Smith is the spitting image of the younger version of the real-world woman, and Shipp Jr. does bring a ton of energy to the role he’s been given, it just doesn’t do anything particularly new. Give COMPTON a little credit, you can argue that it came out around the time when police brutality was getting a ton more media attention in recent years, and could be interpreted as a call-to-arms against that kind of bullshit. This movie is just a standard biopic. Plus, I’m going to be on Jada Pinkett Smith’s side and say that it’s tasteless for the film-makers to throw in a poem that she never knew existed until years after Tupac’s death all in the name of a forced, directionless, and unimpactful romance subplot. It’s not the worst, I suppose, but I couldn’t get into it.

My honest rating for ALL EYEZ ON ME: a weak 3/5

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Starring: Scarlett Johansson (GHOST IN THE SHELL [2017], THE JUNGLE BOOK [2016], HER [2013], and the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]), Jillian Bell (FIST FIGHT [2017], OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY [2016], and 22 JUMP STREET [2014]), Zoë Kravitz (ALLEGIANT [2016], MAD MAX: FURY ROAD [2015], X-MEN: FIRST CLASS [2011], and the upcoming FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 2 [2018]), Ilana Glazer (THE NIGHT BEFORE [2015] and TV show BROAD CITY), and Kate McKinnon (GHOSTBUSTERS [2016], TV shows SNL and THE VENTURE BROS, and upcoming animated film FERDINAND [2017] and animated TV series THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS RIDES AGAIN). In support: Demi Moore (WILD OATS [2016], CHARLIE’S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE [2003], and G.I. JANE [1997]), Ty Burrell (FINDING DORY [2016], MUPPETS MOST WANTED [2014], and TV show MODERN FAMILY), Colton Haynes (SAN ANDREAS [2015], and TV shows ARROW and THE GATES), and Paul W. Downs (TV show BROAD CITY), who also co-wrote the script.

Directing and co-writing: Lucia Aniello. Composer: Dominic Lewis, known for FIST FIGHT, MONEY MONSTER (2016), and THE DUFF (2015). Cinematographer: Sean Porter, known for 20TH CENTURY WOMEN (2016) and GREEN ROOM (2016).

(SUMMARY)

Jess (Scarlett Johannson) is a city counselor, and about to get married. Her best friend from college, Alice (Jillian Bell), has planned a fun weekend in Miami, Florida to celebrate, along with their other friends Blair (Zoë Kravitz), Frankie (Ilana Glazer), and Pippa (Kate McKinnon). After a wild night of drugs, drinking, and dancing, they return to their rented home and hire a stripper. Unfortunately, Alice accidentally kills the man and the ladies panic and try to figure out what to do next.

(REVIEW)

Yup, didn’t like it. Raunchy comedies and I rarely get along, and this is no real exception. Far too many jokes are sex or drug related and I just can’t laugh at this brand of shock humor when it’s been done countless times before with no real variation. Even if there is a joke done in a different way, that doesn’t automatically mean comedy. While I do admit that there are a couple legit surprises that I didn’t see coming, and some of the reaction shots can be humorous, making this arguably my favorite movie that McKinnon’s been in, none of this really prevents the movie from being bad. It’s by no means the worst – can’t be too mad at a movie that I knew wouldn’t be funny to me – but I don’t see myself seeing this movie again. Only see this if you do like raunchy meaningless comedy, but even then, I think there’s funnier and better comedies out there.

My honest rating for ROUGH NIGHT: a weak 3/5

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Starring: Mandy Moore (TANGLED [2010], A WALK TO REMEMBER [2002], and THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: THE ROYAL ENGAGEMENT [2001]), and Claire Holt (TV show THE ORIGINALS, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, and H20: JUST ADD WATER).

Directing and co-writing: Johannes Roberts (THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR [2016]) Co-writing: Ernest Riera (THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR). Composer: tomandandy (SINISTER 2 [2015]), RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION [2012], and THE HILLS HAVE EYES [2006]). Cinematographer: Mark Silk.

(SUMMARY)

Loving sisters Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Holt) are on vacation in Mexico, mostly because Lisa is getting over a bad break-up because she’s apparently too boring. In an effort to spice up her life and show her boyfriend up one, Kate drags Lisa in a cage dive to see sharks. However, not long after they get submerged and see three great white sharks, the cable to their cage snaps and the crane breaks off the boat and the three young women plummet to the ocean floor. With no communication to the surface, rapidly depleting oxygen, and bloody wounds attracting the sharks, it becomes a series of desperate gambles to stay alive.

(REVIEW)

I wanted to like this, I really did. But I do not. I honestly don’t know how this movie is feature-length. Leave the cage, get eaten by a shark. Stay in the cage, hang out, be safe, let search and rescue do its job. This movie shouldn’t be very long. But it’s one of those movies where you’d be justified in screaming at the screen, “Oh nah, girl, don’t do it!” “Bitch gonna get eaten!” This movie is so poorly written that I an curious if I could make a drinking game out of it: take a shot for every time Moore says, “Please be careful,” “I am so scared,” “No, please, don’t go.” Seriously, someone try this out for me when it comes out on Blu-Ray. There is great atmosphere, and some chilling visuals I give it that. But the story falls flat when it comes to characters that are annoying and an ending that feels like such a slap in the face of the viewers, I can’t recommend this movie to anyone. No, not the worst. I didn’t think I’d like it, but it’s not good.

My honest rating for 47 METERS DOWN: a weak 3/5

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Starring: Sally Hawkins (PADDINGTON [2014], BLUE JASMINE [2013], JANE EYRE [2011], and upcoming films PADDINGTON 2 [2017] and GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS [2019]) and Ethan Hawke (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN [2016], BOYHOOD [2014], DEAD POETS SOCIETY [1989], and the upcoming VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS [2017]).

Directing: Aisling Walsh. Writer: Sherry White. Composer: Michael Timmins. Cinematographer: Guy Godfree

(SUMMARY)

Set during the 1930s in Marshaltown, Nova Scotia. Maud Dowley (Sally Hawkins) is an arthritic woman with a talent for simple paintings. Unable to take care of herself, she sets out to look for a job to provide for herself. As fate would have it, a local impoverished fish peddler Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawk) is looking for a woman to take care of his small house while he’s out on his rounds trying sell fish and wood. She takes the job and though their relationship is beyond rocky, the two eventually strike up a complex relationship, leading to an imperfect but loving marriage, all the while the local townsfolk flock to their home to buy her increasingly popular paintings.

(REVIEW)

It kills me to do a quick review on this movie, but I’m paralyzed on what to say about it other than… it’s one of the best romance films of the year. Both Hawkins and Hawke are phenomenal and flawlessly bring to life a relationship that is so unconventional, so complex and complicated, yet so tender, meaningful, and beautiful that I can’t help but gush. With gorgeous landscapes, cute, but memorable artwork, and unforgettable performances, this is one of those few reminders that a movie doesn’t need to have the biggest drama or greatest of stakes to be compelling, or to overly dramatize to make interesting. All it needs is to give you a raw and passionate look into the life of a woman who may not have changed the world, but definitely changed and warmed the hearts around her. And wiping away the tears in my eyes, I happily say that this brilliant films warmed mine.

My honest rating for MAUDIE: 5/5

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BAND AID review

Oh man, if I missed out on this movie, I would have been pissed.

So, a little bit of background. To my understanding, not only is movie Zoe Lister-Jones starring in this movie, but she’s also directing it. Her debut, no less. I first became a fan of Lister-Jones on the TV show WHITNEY, the critically panned an unpopular Whitney Cummings sitcom that only ran two seasons. Personally, I kind of liked the show mostly because of the female talent, which included Lister-Jones, whom I thought was hilarious. Today, she’s part of the much more popular sitcom LIFE IN PIECES among an ensemble cast. I wish I watched more of that show, but I’m here to say that this movie is arguably one of the more anticipated movies of the week for me. Why? Again, kind of a fan of Lister-Jones and had no idea that she had a directing bone in her body. Goes to show what I know, right?

Anyway, the story looks like it’s about this married couple who can’t seem to stop fighting. They go to counseling and they decide to go through unconventional means to repair their relationship by turning their fights into song lyrics. They start a band using that platform and get some help with a neighbor. I have to admit, there does seem to be a special charm about it and, in case I haven’t said it a million and one times, I’m really excited for this project.

Well, here’s the cast. Starring, we have Lister-Jones (TV shows LIFE IN PIECES, NEW GIRL, and WHITNEY), Adam Pally (MIDDLE SCHOOL [2016], DON’T THINK TWICE [2016], and TV show THE MINDY PROJECT), and Fred Armisen (TV shows UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, PORTLANDIA. and SNL, and the upcoming THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE [2017]). In support… and possible cameos, we have Brooklyn Decker (BATTLESHIP [2012], JUST GO WITH IT [2011], and TV show FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES), Jamie Chung (OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY [2016], SUCKER PUNCH [2011], and TV show ONCE UPON A TIME), Colin Hanks (ELVIS & NIXON [2016], THE HOUSE BUNNY [2008], and TV show LIFE IN PIECES), Retta (MIDDLE SCHOOL and TV show PARKS AND REC), and Chris D’Elia (TV shows UNDATEABLE and WHITNEY).

Now for the crew. Directing AND writing this movie (new information) is, of course, Lister-Jones, making her directorial debut (congrats, miss), but has written for movies before, including CONSUMED (2015), LOLA VERSUS (2012), and BREAKING UPWARDS (2009), none of which I’ve heard of. Composing the score is Lucius, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. Finally, the cinematographer is Hillary Spera, known for a bunch of stuff I’ve never heard of.

Overall, pretty excited with this one and really want to show support for Lister-Jones. Let’s see how she does as this triple threat.

This is my honest opinion of: BAND AID

(SUMMARY)

Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) are a married couple that can’t stop fighting. Even therapy doesn’t seem to quite help. But, in a last ditch effort to save their marriage, they decide to turn their fights into song lyrics, which leads them to starting a garage band.

(REVIEW)

This was about to be a “Quick Review” but I enjoyed this movie so much that I wanted to give it the full treatment.

This is almost this year’s SING STREET (2016). Okay, maybe the music isn’t quite as good, but this is one of the best romance dramedies of the year.

First of all, woman of the damn hour, Lister-Jones knocks it out of the park. I feel like nearly everything she did was pitch perfect. Every emotion was nailed. If a scene was meant to be funny, it was hilarious. If it was meant to be serious, it was thought-provoking, or tear-jerking, and feels absolutely raw and real, thanks in no small part to the wonderful chemistry between Lister-Jones and Pally. The opening scene alone has perfectly intertwined smart comedy and intense drama, all because of dirty dishes. I think one of my favorite aspects of this movie is that the depiction isn’t constantly the two of them acting bitter and resentful. There’s a scene with Anna at her god-son’s birthday party and she and Ben are miserable with all the kids that are crowded around them. They escape to a bathroom in the house and share a joint where the two of them are calm and collected around each other. There’s another scene where they’ve already started their garage band and before even coming up with a song, they’re already fighting. I feel like in a lesser film, as soon as the idea for turning the fights into music would instantly have them getting along and only have one or two minor fights thrown in that last two seconds. But it’s written in a way that even though they do connect on a bizarre level doing this, they do still find reasons to argue. It feels like a very realistic portrayal of a dysfunctional couple, but at no point did I want to see them break up.

Now for the music. While I doubt they’ll find themselves among the piles of Oscar considerations next year, I did enjoy it. They’re incredibly simple and not always well played, but they’re amusing and the lack of professional play-style is certainly part of the charm. To be fair, Lister-Jones and Pally aren’t bad singers and their voices do blend well together, especially Lister-Jones’ song at the end of the movie. Damn, woman. I hope a soundtrack of sorts comes out for this because I can see myself turning on their songs to pass the time when I’m walking to work.

I’d also be lying if I said the cameos didn’t tickle me a bit. Hanks is a douche who is obnoxious while he’s talking on his phone and D’Elia flirts with Anna. Hannah Simone from NEW GIRL as the best friend, Retta from PARKS AND REC as their therapist, Angelique Cabral making a pretty fun LIFE IN PIECES reunion of sorts, and Brooklyn Decker from FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES, it was a lot of fun to see these faces.

With all the praise that I can dish out about this film, I do have a couple of problems.

The movie does succumb to that lame cliché where the characters are finally happy and find some semblance of peace, but then at the end of the second act, something contrived happens to cause them to have a gargantuan explosion of an argument that ruins everything until it’s resolution at the end. Granted, I feel like this movie does that cliché a lot better and makes a little more sense than most movies do, but it’s still distracting that it exists within the story.

And I think Lister-Jones’ history on sitcoms shines through a little too obviously. What do I mean? Weird Dave (Fred Armisen). Don’t get me wrong, Armisen is funny, sometimes downright hilarious, and even has some pretty dramatic scenes of his own. But the majority of his presence on screen is a little too goofy and out of place. You have several scenes with Anna and Ben fighting. Some of that drama gets heavy, especially when the root of their fighting is realized, creating some of the most heartbreaking scenes in the film where Lister-Jones ought to be considered for an Oscar nom. But then you have scenes where Dave will stare off blankly into space before saying something that’s either random nonsense or just outright weird. A character like Dave would work in an over-the-top comedy like MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES (2016), but in a movie that deals with such harsh realities, it doesn’t fit into this story. Lister-Jones clearly knows comedy and drama, and proves that she can blend the two almost seamlessly, but this was a weird choice that I didn’t always agree with.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable film. Great comedy and drama, fantastic acting, enjoyable music, and a story that keeps you engaged and invested in the characters. Certainly not perfect, Lister-Jones can definitely improve in some areas, but this is a really good movie that I am so happy I got to see and hope to see more movies directed and written by her. It’s likely that most won’t be able to find this movie in theaters anymore, but if you get a chance to rent it, I highly recommend.

My honest rating for BAND AID: 4/5

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Quick Reviews: 3 IDIOTAS / DEAN / THE HERO / BEATRIZ AT DINNER

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3 IDIOTAS

Starring: Martha Higareda (NO MANCHES FRIDA [2016] and STREET KINGS [2008]). In support: Vadhir Derbez (HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER [2017])

Co-writing: Martha Higareda

(SUMMARY)

In the present day, two friends are told by a college rival that he knows where to find a friend of theirs who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. In flashback, we’re shown how these friends met and challenged one another to be inspired to do the things that they want to do, falling in love, and challenging what is perceived to be the conventional.

(REVIEW)

On paper, this doesn’t sound too bad, and can even have a pretty strong message if done right. Sadly, it was not done right. The movie is painfully unfunny, what with its overuse of fart jokes. While some ideas are interesting, the rest of the film barely justifies it. Even the romance between characters Poncho and Mariana feels forced. It somewhat breaks my heart to say this because even though I don’t remember liking NO MANCHES FRIDA all that much, I did really like Higareda. I remember liking her performance, and she’s no worse here. But it’s a chore to sit through this. To my understanding, this movie is a Mexican adaptation of an Indian film similarly called 3 IDIOTS (2009). Whereas IMDb gives this movie 3.9/10 (as of 6/15/2017), IMDb has the Indian original at an 8.4/10 (as of 6/15/2017). Wow. That’s an insane contrast. I’m rather interested in seeing that myself just to see if such a rating is warranted. But alas, this quick review is about this one. It’s not funny, makes zero sense most of the time, and even resorts to a crap load of clichés. I don’t recommend this. Not even as a rental. Check out the Indian original. It’s gotta be better than it’s Mexican remake.

My honest rating for 3 IDIOTAS: 1/5

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DEAN

Starring: Demetri Martin (IN A WORLD… [2013], TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT [2011], and TV show HOUSE OF LIES), Kevin Kline (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST [2017], THE ROAD TO EL DORADO [2000], and WILD WILD WEST [1999]), and Gillian Jacobs (DON’T THINK TWICE, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 [2015], and TV show COMMUNITY).

Directing and written by: Demetri Martin (Debut. Congrats.) Co-composing the score: Mark Noseworthy (unknown work) and Orr Rebhun (TV shows ENLISTED and THE CRAZY ONES). Cinematography by: Mark Schwartzbard (TV show MASTER OF NONE).

(SUMMARY)

The story follows Dean (Demetri Martin). His mom just passed away and he’s having trouble grieving, unlike his estranged father (Kevin Kline), who just wants to help him. Instead of grieving, Dean takes a vacation to Los Angeles and falls for a young woman named Nicky (Gillian Jacobs).

(REVIEW)

For a respectable list of firsts for Martin, as writer, director, and star, this is an impressive feat. He has a good sense of character writing and relationships, and every one of his actors are believable in their respective roles. Whether it’s because he was genuinely a great director or it was a great collaboration with his actors, it’s hard to say, but it pays off well. It’s got some good comedy and drama. Jacobs steals the show any time she’s on. There’s even a few surprises that I didn’t see coming. Having said all that, the movie is pretty basic in its design. If you read my summary, the movie is about what you’d expect to get. It’s not saying anything particularly profound, or trying anything all that new, and has been done in better movies that came before. Overall, it’s a safe movie, but it’s an impressive movie for someone who’s never written, directed, or starred in a movie before, and throwing a couple of surprises does elevate the movie to above average. If you’re a die-hard Martin fan, I recommend a matinee screening. Otherwise, I recommend it as a solid rental. It’s nothing amazing as a whole, but it’s not too shabby either.

My honest rating for DEAN: a strong 3/5

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THE HERO

Starring: Sam Elliott (ROCK DOG [2017], GHOST RIDER [2007], and TV show THE RANCH) and Laura Prepon (THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN [2016], and TV show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and one episode of CASTLE). In support: Krysten Ritter (BIG EYES [2014], TV shows JESSICA JONES and DON’T TRUST THE B— IN APARTMENT 23, and upcoming TV show THE DEFENDERS), Nick Offerman (MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI [2017], HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 [2015], and TV show PARKS AND REC), and Katharine Ross (DONNIE DARKO [2001], BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID [1969], and THE GRADUATE [1967]).

Directing and co-writing: Brett Haley (short films). Co-writing: Marc Basch (unknown films). Composer: Keegan DeWitt (MORRIS FROM AMERICA [2016]). Cinematography: Rob Givens (short films)

(SUMMARY)

Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) is a seventy-one year old struggling actor, seemingly only known for one role for the last forty years, a western called THE HERO, of which he is being offered a lifetime achievement award for the role that made him famous. Despite all this, Lee hasn’t worked that much since, and often finds himself voicing over for commercials. When he’s not doing that, he’s getting high with his friend and drug dealer Jeremy (Nick Offerman) and being reminded that he wasn’t the best father to his thirty year old daughter Lucy (Krysten Ritter). And despite striking up a relationship with a much younger woman named Charlotte (Laura Prepon), as well as finding internet fame for a speech he gave at his award ceremony, he finds himself diagnosed with cancer and finds himself in a situation where he needs to sort his life out.

(REVIEW)

You’d think it’d be incredibly morbid for elderly actors playing roles that tease their deaths, but give credit where credit is due, Elliott owns this movie. You feel every inch of his frustration as a struggling actor and, despite being so popular in one film, hasn’t given him the clout to get better roles. But it is delightfully entertaining to watch him get high off his ass. And usually I get a little queasy watching an old man make out and have sex with a much younger woman, but the characters are written so well that their chemistry does make it very sweet to watch… of course, I have a cousin who might be pretty annoyed with this. Either way, from the small amounts of comedy to the heavy drama, Elliott carries this film flawlessly. And for the life of me, I will never forget, “Lonestar Barbecue Sauce. The perfect partner… for your chicken.” There is sadly some predictability to the film, as in you know how they’ll get resolved and even when. Other scenes drag on much longer than necessary, and one or two questionable character decisions, but overall, this is a good movie. I recommend it and can see this getting Elliott an Oscar nomination next year. It’s not great, but it’s good and worth seeing.

My honest rating for THE HERO: 4/5

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Starring: Salma Hayek (HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER [2017], SAUSAGE PARTY [2016], DESPERADO [1995], and the upcoming THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD [2017]) and John Lithgow (MISS SLOANE [2016], INTERSTELLAR [2014], SHREK [2001], and upcoming films DADDY’S HOME 2 [2017] and PITCH PERFECT 3 [2017]). In support: Connie Britton (AMERICAN ULTRA [2015], and TV shows NASHVILLE and AMERICAN HORROR STORY), Chloë Sevigny (THE DINNER [2017], LOVE & FRIENDSHIP [2016], and TV show BLOODLINE), Amy Landecker (DOCTOR STRANGE [2016], DAN IN REAL LIFE [2007], and TV show TRANSPARENT), Jay Duplass (PAPER TOWNS [2015], and TV shows THE MINDY PROJECT and TRANSPARENT), and David Warshofsky (WILSON [2017], NOW YOU SEE ME 2 [2016], and TAKEN [2008]).

Directing: Miguel Arteta (ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY [2014], YOUTH IN REVOLT [2009], and THE GOOD GIRL [2002]). Screenwriter: Mike White (NACHO LIBRE [2006], SCHOOL OF ROCK [2003], THE GOOD GIRL [2002], and the upcoming THE EMOJI MOVIE [2017]). Composer: Mark Mothersbaugh (PEE-WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY [2016], ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP [2015], THE LEGO MOVIE [2014], and upcoming films THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE [2017] and THOR: RAGNAROK [2017]). Cinematographer: Wyatt Garfield (short films and unknown movies)

(SUMMARY)

Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a massage therapist. She’s had a rough week what with her pet goat killed outside her home and the general stresses of her job at the hospital. But one fateful day, going to a rich neighborhood to take care of frequent client Cathy (Connie Britton), her car breaks down as she tries to leave. Being a gracious host, Cathy invites Beatriz to their dinner party that night to celebrate business deal with their equally rich and infamous Doug Strutt (John Lithgow). Soon, heads clash as Beatriz’s naive and pro-life attitude insights arguments with Doug, who is in love with his job and cares little about hurting others’ feelings.

(REVIEW)

Damn. In some ways, it’s a letdown, but in others, it delivers exactly what it promises: a minority arguing with a Donald Trump-like figure. Why is it a letdown? Because many of the arguments in the movie are pretty contrived and predictable. The movie has solid character-setup. We get a great sense of who Beatriz is when she’s introduced. She’s an animal lover and a passionate healer. When we meet Doug, he’s an asshole and a pig because he’s a rich white guy and he’s shameless about it. But as soon as they’re sitting down enjoying the dinner, you know that the arguments are coming. I know, that’s the whole point of the movie, but every fight ends with Beatriz apologizing and promising to keep a cool head, only to go ballistic again. Granted, for different reasons, but you’d think the first blowup would be indication enough of what kind of company she’s a part of and it makes little sense that she’d stick around. Even when she agrees to stay out of the way for the duration of the party, it’s still never enough for her to keep her mouth shut and continue to be a semi-ungracious guest. Don’t get me wrong, Lithgow is a fiendishly charming guy and Hayek probably delivers the best performance she’s had in recent memory. There is a passionate drive behind this movie and you can feel it in the insensitive-in-a-good-way comedy. I think in different character circumstances, this would have been a truly effective film. As is, it’s not bad, but it’s something a disappointment. It’s worth seeing, if only for the performances, but I think each important scene wasn’t transitioned into very well and that’s the supposed to be the whole crux of the film. I recommend it as a rental.

My honest rating for BEATRIZ AT DINNER: 3/5

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE review

Unlike a lot of kids, I actually never read the books this movie is based on. Can’t exactly explain why. I always had an interest, but I never made the time or any real effort to read them. So, to be completely honest, I have no idea what they were about. I actually assumed it was about a little kid with superpowers who saved older kids from whatever was terrorizing them.

I see that the movie is very different from my preconceptions. It looks like it’s about two kids who are notorious pranksters. One day, they go too far and their mean principal threatens to keep them apart in separate classrooms to prevent their diabolical schemes. Genuinely afraid to be apart, they hypnotize their principal via ridiculously random magic ring into believing that he is the kids’ personal superhero creation, Captain Underpants, who goes around fighting crime and monsters that don’t exist, until a real threat comes along for him to save the day.

I have to admit… I don’t think this looks good. I mean, I can appreciate DreamWorks keeping the animation the same style as the books, but man, I do not buy these voice actors as kids. Even if the movie happens to be really good, which I’m not holding my breath for, Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch will distract the living daylights out of me for how much they do not sound like kids. Look, I know Hart is a short dude with a high pitched voice, but he still doesn’t sound like a kid. He sounds like a high-pitched voiced adult. But hey, I’ll keep my mind open. DreamWorks has done amazing work in the past. But for every few great films, they’ve got one bad one too. Initial thoughts are: not a good movie.

But let’s take a look at the voice talent. As previously stated, we have Hart (THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS [2016], GET HARD [2015], GRUDGE MATCH [2013], and upcoming films JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE [2017] and RIDE ALONG 3, due out… who knows when), Middleditch (THE BRONZE [2016], THE CAMPAIGN [2012], TV show SILICON VALLEY, and the upcoming GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS [2019]), as well as Ed Helms (VACATION [2015], THE LORAX [2012], and THE HANGOVER [2009]). In support, we have Nick Kroll (SING [2016], and TV shows THE LEAGUE and PARKS AND REC), Jordan Peele (STORKS [2016], WANDERLUST [2012], and TV show KEY AND PEELE), and Kristen Schaal (THE BOSS [2016], and TV shows BOBS BURGERS and THE LAST MAN ON EARTH).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing is David Soren, known for TURBO (2013). Penning the screenplay is Nicholas Stoller, known for STORKS, MUPPETS MOST WANTED (2014), and THE MUPPETS (2011). Finally, the composer for the score is Theodore Shapiro, known for COLLATERAL BEAUTY (2016), INFINITELY POLAR BEAR (2014), and DIARY OF A WIMPY KID (2010).

Overall, not terribly thrilled to see this, but here’s to hoping it’s better than it’s letting on.

This is my honest opinion of: CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE

(SUMMARY)

Harold (Thomas Middleditch) and George (Kevin Hart) are a pair of kids who are the best of friends. They make comics together, their favorite creation being the crime-fighting Captain Underpants, and try to have as much fun as possible. This isn’t easy when they’re at school, which is run by their evil principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms). They combat his authority by pulling off pranks. He’s been unable to get them in trouble due to a lack of proof. However, the inevitable happens and the two boys are about to be separated into different classes. In an act of desperation, Harold attempts to hypnotize Krupp using a magical toy ring… and it miraculously works. They turn Krupp into their comic creation Captain Underpants and he gets loose, trying to fight crime with super powers that he doesn’t have.

(REVIEW)

While I wasn’t wholly wrong about this movie, I’d be lying if I said was completely right. It’s no Kung Fu Panda or How to Train Your Dragon, it’s perfectly fine for what it is: a harmless kids movie.

Because the movie is painfully clear that it’s meant for kids, the humor is exactly that: kiddie humor. So most of the jokes aren’t especially funny. It’s just tolerable. Thankfully, DreamWorks had the foresight not to go all NORM OF THE NORTH (2016), but keeps the humor pretty innocent. I think maybe there was one fart joke that wasn’t too bad, and a surprising lack of potty humor. Instead, the jokes are pretty much what you’d expect them to be. The kids hypnotize their principal into turning into their undergarment clad superhero and laugh at him as any kid would, and the guy acting all goofy. Again, thankfully, it’s written in a way that isn’t annoying. It’s not written funny, for the most part, but it’s not obnoxious.

Even the plot has been kind of done before. Not the superhero bit, of course, but the whole, “We’re fun-loving kids in a school that hates fun and we’re the rebels who want the rest of the kids to have fun too.” MIDDLE SCHOOL (2016) did that and you can argue that FIST FIGHT (2017) did it too to a degree, albeit it’s the teachers struggling to deal with unruly teens. Give the movie some credit, that’s not the focus of the story and they do segue into a more exciting story. But even that’s been done before too: unleashing a goofy adult that young people need to rein in and pretend they’re related, like in JUMANJI (1995). Once again though, it could have been worse.

The movie also does try to have a moral at the end: find something to laugh at yourself about. I can’t lie, I like that moral and it’s pretty unique in a kids movie. The problem is that the rest of the movie doesn’t really back it up. The movie starts off about pranks and learning to lighten up, then it turns into a silly superhero movie, and it’s only at the end where the moral is brought up. But even then, it’s not really enforcing its moral. The kids are still laughing at the teacher’s name and spent a good chunk of time making fun of it in a self-made comic book they made. These kids never make fun of themselves or point out their own flaws. So the moral is completely confused and ultimately pointless.

Is there anything that’s funny? Well, I did like a few jokes in the beginning. You might recall from the trailer when the two kids try to leave their principal’s office only for him to press a button and then a high tech lockdown initiates, preventing their escape. By the end of the dramatic lockdown, George says, “Wow, that’s an expensive door.” But this is followed up with Mr. Krupp smugly saying something like, “Do you like it? I had a choice to spend school funding on a magnetically sealed door, or keep the theater-arts department open. I think I made the better choice.” I admit, I laughed at that. There’s another sequence where, if I remember correctly, Captain Underpants has turned the entire front of the school into an amusement park of sorts and Harold and George are like, “What do we do?! We have to stop this!” A shot of kids having fun goes by and then you see Harold and George going through a sugar rush, clearly enthralled by the festivities at some point. And pretty much anything when Professor Poopypants comes in. Yup, Kroll steals the show on this one. One line that just came back to me was when Poopypants has got these kids in a bind and he’s about to sap their ability to laugh at anything, the kids try to appeal to his good nature by saying something like, “Dude, you gotta lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself,” or something to that effect. And then Poopypants exclaims, “Oh really, Oprah?!” Again, I laughed quite a bit on that one. There’s also this running gag with this lady on hold. That was funny too.

That’s… kind of it, actually. It’s not like a good DreamWorks movie like How to Train Your Dragon where adults could go in without kids and get something out of it. No, you’d want to bring your kids for this one. It’s a movie for them and it works fine for what it’s supposed to do: keep ’em entertained, which it will do effectively. The animation is fine, and fast-paced, so it’s never boring. It’s colorful and competently made, so it’s not completely devoid of imagination. Personally, if you wanted to see a better version of this that both kids and adults would enjoy, LEGO BATMAN (2017) is the way to go. But if your kids are itching to see it, go ahead, it’s harmless and not painful to sit through. But if you’re an adult hit with nostalgia who grew up with the books unlike me, I’d say wait for a rental. It’s not exactly worth a theater viewing. Not bad, not that good, just… meh. I’m not the target demographic, so it is what it is.

My honest rating for CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE: 3/5

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Quick Reviews: THE WEDDING PLAN / DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL / BERLIN SYNDROME

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THE WEDDING PLAN

In this Israeli romantic dramedy, Michal (Noa Koler) is a woman on the eve of getting married, just one month away. Unfortunately, her financé breaks up with her. Despite her devastation, she refuses to give up her wedding date and sets out to find a replacement husband.

Yeah, it sounds pretty crazy, and it kind of is, but I can’t deny the level of raw truth and honesty comes from this obviously insane plot. There’s a tremendous amount of emotion weaved into it and you surprisingly feel for Michal. It’s a tad predictable and due to the amount of drama, it’s not exactly laugh-out-loud funny, but it is carefully well-written and Koler is a remarkably charming and engaging actress to keep you interested in how it’s going to end and how Michal will end up in the story. Despite it’s religious undertones, it’s not forcing them upon the audience and just showcasing how her religion affects her and what it means to her, which is something that Pure Flix can learn from. By no means perfect, and this certainly won’t be for everyone, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy myself. I say, if you get the chance, give it a watch. It’s cute for what it is.

My honest rating for THE WEDDING PLAN: 4/5

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In this family road-trip comedy based on the kids books, Greg (Jason Drucker) is a kid who just wants to have fun during his summer vacation. But his lame parents decide to take a road-trip to visit their his grandmother for some quality bonding time. Naturally, hi-jinks ensues and the trip is nowhere as smooth as anyone had hoped.

It’s awful. Even for a kids film, it’s utterly garbage. I went in hoping to simply be bored with lame jokes, but I wasn’t ready for the sheer amount of immature humor that would await me. There’s all manners of poop, pee, and vomit jokes that left me feeling like I needed a shower worse than the characters did. Already, this movie had me squirming in disgust, and that’s just in addition to all the other problems. Bad jokes that drag out, utterly stupid resolutions to problems with the simplest of answers, a painfully obvious and distractingly Asian brother, a family that doesn’t resemble anything remotely close to their stick-figure drawings, I wouldn’t recommend this movie to a toddler, let alone to any kid who might be interested. Don’t see it. It’s trash. Not even a rental. Spare your kids’ brain cells and show them anything else other than this.

My honest rating for DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL: 1/5

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In this erotic thriller, a young woman named Clare (Teresa Palmer) is touring across Germany, taking in the sights. Not long later, she meets the dashing Andi (Max Riemelt). However, things take a horrible turn for the worst. Clare and Andi have sex and soon realizes that she can’t leave the apartment and that she must remain there for his pleasure.

I have no idea what the hell this movie was trying to be. Was it supposed to be a psychological analysis of how serial rapists get started? A cautionary tale of not traveling alone as a woman? No matter what this movie was supposed to be, it’s atrociously awful at conveying it! Do you want to know all of what this movie is? A hot white girl being the personal sex slave of a sick German asshole that the movie wants you to sympathize with and she does extremely little to fight back. She resists only in the beginning. But even after that, she’s got glass bottles, boiling water, and other hard objects to fight back with and frustratingly never utilizes a single thing to fight back, or even really does a good job of calling for help. It’s an unbelievably unpleasant film to sit through and clocking at a two hour runtime, I felt like it shared THE GODFATHER’s running length. If you’ve never heard of this, good. Keep it that way. And better yet, never see it.

My honest rating for BERLIN SYNDROME: 1/5

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BAYWATCH review

WHY?!?!?!

Alright, so for those of you that somehow don’t know, BAYWATCH was a very campy 90’s TV show about hot and busty women running in slow-mo, and David Hasselhoff. I couldn’t tell you much beyond that because I didn’t actually watch the show as a kid. Wasn’t appropriate, I guess. I don’t know.

But here we are. The show is long dead and now we somehow needed a movie about that. We really didn’t, but hot men and women definitely sell tickets. For all the wrong reasons in this case, I’m sure, but fine. It’s here, let’s get on with it. I’m not excited, I think this is going to hurt, but here we go.

Starring in this eye-candy factory, we have Dwayne Johnson (THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS [2017], MOANA [2016], SNITCH [2013], and upcoming films JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE [2017] and RAMPAGE [2018]), Zac Efron (MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES [2016], WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS [2015], THAT AWKWARD MOMENT [2014], and the upcoming THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), and Priyanka Chopra (PLANES [2013], TV show QUANTICO, and video game MARVEL AVENGERS ACADEMY). In support, we have Alexandra Daddario (THE CHOICE [2016], TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D [2013], PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF [2010], and the upcoming SAN ANDREAS 2, due out… who knows when), Kelly Rohrbach (TV show RIZZOLI & ISLES), Ilfenesh Hadera (CHI-RAQ [2015], OLD BOY [2013], and TV show MASTER OF NONE), Jon Bass (LOVING [2016], and TV shows THE NEWSROOM and GIRLS), and Rob Heubel (HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER [2017], KEANU [2016], and THE OTHER GUYS [2010]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Seth Gordon, known for IDENTITY THIEF (2013), HORRIBLE BOSSES (2011), and TV show THE GOLDBERGS. Co-writing the script are Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (FRIDAY THE 13TH [2009] and FREDDY VS. JASON [2003]). Composing the score is Christopher Lennertz, known for SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE (2017), MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (2016), and video game MASS EFFECT 3. Finally, the cinematographer is Eric Steelberg, known for MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN (2014), UP IN THE AIR (2009), and JUNO (2007).

Overall… no. Just… just no.

This is my honest opinion of: BAYWATCH

(SUMMARY)

Baywatch are the elite lifeguards of the beach, and with the legendary Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) on constant watch, it’s no surprise. And with a few new recruits under his wing, including the cocky former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron), which the two definitely don’t get along, Mitch is going to need all the help he can get. Turns out, not only is there a strong of illegal drugs being found on the beach, but dead bodies are turning up as well, and Mitch has a strong feeling that a locally famous businesswoman named Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) may be involved somehow. But while the cops are bogged down by red tape, Mitch and his crew of lifeguards decide to take matters into their own hands and figure out why people are dying.

(REVIEW)

I admit that I think it’s better than I originally figured, but it’s still not good.

First off, I’m going to take a wild guess here. Even though the show was probably known for making fit men and women as eye-candy, I’m going to assume that it never really went over-the-top with it. The show was at its core, a drama. Which means that it took its content seriously. I won’t say the show was dark or didn’t have a sense of humor, I’m sure it had comedy laced throughout, but I highly doubt that it was the focus. I imagine the show was as if Sports Illustrated was a soap opera. Here… eh.

I’m calling it, I think this movie is more or less supposed to be a mockery of the Baywatch license. Clearly, this movie is exploiting its most famous elements: slow-mo titillating running featuring hot men and women. The problem is, it’s not a good mockery. It doesn’t make clever jokes. If you were told Hollywood was making a parody of Baywatch, what’s the first set of jokes that would come to mind? Someone comments on why characters appear in bullet-time, gratuitous shots of boobs and asses, it’s all bare-bones comedy and what you’d expect, and that’s not a good thing. If you can guess the jokes before they happen, or not be surprised by the jokes they use, then no one thought the jokes through. And tossing in raunchy words to earn that R-rating is both tacky and unnecessary. Believe it or not, comedy writers, swear words aren’t automatically funny. Yeah, if I can look at this movie and automatically know that this doesn’t do the original show justice despite having never seen the show in bulk, then you know there’s something wrong with the movie.

But how about I stop making comparisons between the movie and TV show because I can’t keep that up before someone starts calling me wrong and correcting me. Never mind that it’s a mostly unfunny comedy, you want to really know what lights a fire under my ass about this movie? It’s basically a buddy-cop film. I’m dead serious. This movie has every single one of those clichés. Angry captain, cop is assigned a new-guy partner that he doesn’t want, but forced to take him under his wing anyway, they don’t get along but eventually find common ground, one of them is a screw-up who can’t do anything right, they do things off the book and outside the law because the rule book gets in the way, and there’s no time to wait, with a few forced romances that you could give two craps about. Yeah, it’s all in this movie. Just replace “cop” with “lifeguard.”

Let’s get to the actual movie, shall we? The first problem arises when you learn that Mitch has had over 500 confirmed rescues in his career. Over 500?! This must be the most dangerous damn beach in the world if so many people need rescuing. Of course, isn’t the world record for most lifeguard saves over 900? What do I know, right? And not that I know anything about being a lifeguard, but there are still things about the profession presented here that seem way too ridiculous. In the establishing shots of the beach and Mitch’s skills, he sees a wind-surfer and immediately starts rushing in his direction to save him. Mind you, the surfer is not in any trouble yet. But as soon as he hits the wrong wave, that’s when he falls and needs saving, at which point, Mitch is already diving into the ocean after him. So, what, he’s so good that he can predict an accident before it even happens? Give me a break.

There’s admitted some jokes that I’m a bit iffy on. There’s a bit where Matt is staring at Summer’s (Alexandra Daddario) breasts. It’s obvious and they do this back and forth, “Are you staring at my boobs?” “I… was not.” “You so were.” At some point, Summer even bounces her boobs as a “test” to see if he was staring, to which he does, big surprise. I don’t know, this joke feels like a blow to women not being objectified and that a woman is pouring fuel on that fire feels particularly lame. But I suppose another argument could be that it’s still making fun of the stereotype of… I don’t know, men staring at a woman’s tits right in front of her. I don’t think it’s funny. Maybe if these two characters had a history and pre-established connection, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it’s literally just a dude being a pig and a woman who almost finds his horniness charming. Hell, she falls for him in the end having done very little to earn her affections.

I also didn’t need to look at dead man penises, body fat going in Efron’s mouth – which, by the way, he has a mask and doesn’t put it on, the dumb-fuck -, a cross-dressing Efron that doesn’t make sense even in context of the scene, there’s just so much of this movie that doesn’t work.

Even some of the few good elements have inconsistencies to them. About the only character I enjoyed seeing on screen was usually Ronnie (Jon Bass), the token fat guy of the movie. One bit that got me howling with laughter was when he starts choking on food, then his long-time crush C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach) gives him the Heimlich maneuver, saving his life. After a slow-mo shot of her ass looking like she’s humping him, it’s pointed out that he has an erection. For whatever reason, I laughed so hard when he realized what was happening and then he belly-flopped into a wooden beach chair, but his erection was so hard that his penis broke through the wood and he got stuck. There’s a good two to three minutes of just making fun of his pain and it’s hilarious. I’m usually not a fan of this type of humor, but Bass really sells his misery and it’s amazing to watch.

There’s another scene where he’s showering in the nude singing what I can only assume is a Katy Perry song and then C.J. walks in and he starts freaking out. Turns out, Ronnie didn’t realize that the showers are co-ed and as he uncomfortably tries to pass himself off as cool and show that he’s comfortable with showing her his penis, she laughs at him and tells him that everyone showers with their suits on. Most of the comedy is on Bass’ shoulders and he has some pretty rich reactions to everything that he doesn’t want to do.

But of course, even Ronnie is written inconsistently. He has a scene where he dances all impressively with Leeds, which confuses me. I would think anyone that can dance like that wouldn’t have a single problem talking to women. Oh, but did I forget to mention that the first time he interacts with C.J. in the movie? Yeah, get this, he does that cliché where he can’t speak a single word. I really hate nerdy characters who can’t talk to hot women. It’s an old and tiring trope. But I especially hate it when it’s a character who has something that would otherwise inspire a little self-confidence, such as dancing really well, isn’t enough to get him to break out of his own bubble.

Overall, I don’t like this movie. I guess I’m not too angry with it because I didn’t think I’d enjoy it anyway, and I didn’t expect it to be good. I admit, a few gags got me laughing, but a comedy needs to be funny for the duration of the story and I need to be invested in the characters. It’s not funny, and I don’t care what happens to these characters, so I can’t enjoy it. If you like raunchy, by-the-numbers buddy-cop flicks, then I guess you’ll be fine. But if you’re anything like me and you prefer your comedies with a brain and some out-of-the-box creativity, then this isn’t for you. I guess if you’re uber curious, make it a rental, but not in theaters.

My honest rating for BAYWATCH: 2/5

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PARIS CAN WAIT review

Hmm… EAT PRAY LOVE (2010). Is that the easiest aesthetic to compare? American middle-aged woman goes on a vacation across Europe to experience what the varying cultures have to offer and what have you. But give this movie some credit, I actually feel a tad excited to see it. Probably moreso than I should admit.

For those that don’t know, I have a soft-spot for rom-coms. Practically raised on them. Thanks, Mom. So as it happens, some of my favorite films happen to be rom-coms. LOVE, ACTUALLY (2003), SERENDIPITY (2001), NOTTING HILL (1999), IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), the list goes on. Even modern ones aren’t so bad. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (2016) and EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY (2017) are some solid ones. So whenever a seemingly-good one comes along, I get a little antsy to see it.

Although, strangely, this doesn’t look like a typical rom-com. It looks like it’s about this semi-neglected wife and as she’s on vacation with her all-important husband, it’s decided that his French friend will take her to Paris and they make a bunch of pit-stops along the way. Maybe they strike up a romantic relationship, the trailer wisely doesn’t reveal that bit of info, but I’m actually kind of hoping that it remains platonic throughout. I doubt it, but it never hurts to hope, right?

Anywho, let’s take a look at the on-screen talent. Starring, we have the ageless and ever-talented Diane Lane (BATMAN V SUPERMAN [2016], INSIDE OUT [2015], UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN [2003], and the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE [2017]), as well as Arnaud Viard (known for French films) and Alec Baldwin (THE BOSS BABY [2017], STILL ALICE [2014], THE DEPARTED [2006], and the upcoming M:I 6 – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE [2018]).

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Eleanor Coppola, known mostly for documentaries and shorts. Composing the score is Laura Karpman, known for BLACK NATIVITY (2013), CARRIE (2002), and video game GUARDIANS OF MIDDLE EARTH. Finally, the cinematographer is Crystel Fournier, known for French films.

Overall, I’m obviously not expecting anything ground-breaking, but I’ll settle for likable characters and pretty scenery. Something’s telling me I’ll get half of that in spades.

This is my honest opinion of: PARIS CAN WAIT

(SUMMARY)

Anne (Diane Lane) is on a business vacation with her all-important husband Michael (Alec Baldwin), who has been glued to his cellphone with business calls, practically neglecting his wife, who is eager to go to Paris. However, yet another business call takes Michael elsewhere, but one of Michael’s french business associates and friend, Jacques (Arnaud Viard), volunteers to drive Anne to Paris. Despite some hesitation, everyone agrees. Of course, Jac doesn’t take her directly to Paris. Instead, he takes her to many historical sites and restaurants along the way.

(REVIEW)

If you’ve seen the trailer, then you can probably decide whether or not this movie is for you. On a personal level, I liked it more than I didn’t, but it’s definitely got some flaws that are impossible to overlook.

I might as well just tackle the main problem with the movie, as it is very much front and center. The whole story is basically that Jac promises to take Anne to Paris, who really wants to go there, but instead makes a ton of detours to take her to eat and constantly delays her from her destination.

You see the problem yet? All this woman wants to do is go to Paris, but this dude keeps taking her on dates. The worst part of it is, Anne just goes along with it, barely ever voicing frustration. Any normal person would be like, “Dude, take me to Paris, or I’m calling the cops and telling them that you’re kidnapping me!” Or even simply calling a cab incognito and making a run for it. The first thing he does is makes her book a room in a hotel and takes her to eat in a fancy restaurant. During that scene, he starts getting really personal, and asks Anne if she’s happy in her marriage and he even mentions a story of how Michael gave an aspiring young actress his expensive watch. That watch was given by Anne as a gift and he told her that he lost that watch. Oh, I am perfectly aware that this scene is supposed to function as fuel for our disdain for Michael, but because the previous set of dialog involved him asking to her face if she was happy in her marriage, it comes off as an obvious means to get Anne distant from her husband and leave a door open for Jac to walk through later on. It’s pretty douchie to ask personal questions and then mention a personal story.

Get this, not only is that dinner something that she ends up paying for by him putting the food on her room tab, but he makes her pay for his hotel room too! Why? Because he doesn’t have a credit card, and he has a business deal that will result in him getting cash and he’ll pay her back when they reach Paris. Clearly, Anne must be outraged and throwing a justified tantrum over his actions, right? WRONG! Oh sure, she gives a disapproving look, like her kid just called her a doodie-face, but that’s the extent of it. She forgives him for his intrusive questions. She forgives him for making her pay for his room and the dinner. And this pattern repeats throughout the entire movie. They constantly make detours and he constantly makes her eat at restaurants, and I can only assume that she’s constantly paying for all of them. There’s a scene where his car breaks down and, get this, he’s all care free and wants to picnic, killing off probably a good hour or two before deciding to check the car for what made it break down. Go freakin’ figure though, Anne knows cars and fixes it with her pantyhose (broken fan belt and apparently, tightening the pantyhose can be a poor-man’s fix to get it to the shop).

I guarantee you, if anyone acted like a real human being in this movie, it’d be ten minutes long. Anne would refuse to go to any detours and insist on going to Paris that day. Even if she was weird enough to be suckered into going to the hotel and that dinner, she would’ve let him stay in that hotel to work off the debt while she called a cab to take her to Paris. No one would ever let this crap drag this long.

I know everything I just said would be enough argument for anyone to think that this movie isn’t for them and will skip it. Not that I would argue, but do I agree with that? Eh… not really. Here’s how I survived this movie. I took it by individual scenes, rather than the entire package. The entire package will make people angry and call out this movie for how terribly written it is. But like I said, I opted to see the movie scene by scene. By doing that, the movie isn’t half bad.

The true star of the film is the cinematography. The opening shot is a simple slow zoom out of a beautiful sunny landscape with Anne looking on. While that’s happening, we hear an off-screen Michael on his phone talking about how he’s not going to be able to go to Paris or something of that nature and you see this ever so slight twitch in Anne’s shoulder, clearly overhearing the conversation and not happy with what he’s saying. It’s a brilliant moment. We don’t see her eyes or face, but we know exactly what she’s feeling.

Beyond that, this movie’s background is pure eye-candy and borderline exploitative. I didn’t mind, of course, because it’s better than a CGI backdrop or sound stage when neither would have been necessary. France’s nature shots, the architecture, the art, it’s all undeniably gorgeous to look at. And the food. Let’s talk about this food from hell. I went into this movie at 10:30 in the morning. I did not eat breakfast. I already mentioned how Anne and Jac eat a lot and that the cinematography is amazing. Can you see where I’m going with this? The food porn is pure torture. Obviously, I mean this in the best way possible, but when you’re hungry and looking at the most delicious food, the manipulation is too easy to get ensnared by. But once again, the food is shot like it was in a porno. It looks delicious. Even though I don’t know what the food tastes like, I’m sitting there imagining what that it does taste like and I really want to eat with them.

And when you take the individual scenes and block out the entirety of the story, Lane is a damn delightful and engaging actress. Her character is stupid as hell, but if you can ignore that, then Lane is great. You see bouts of a great performance, and even though her reaction shots aren’t realistic in the least, she knows how to get the emotions across. That may be of little comfort to most, but I still enjoyed her performance for when the scene called for her to be a good actor… even in the scenes that demand intense emotion that feels incredibly out of place. Viard is devilishly charming at times too. You do get this impression that he means well, despite his creepy actions and if you’ve enjoyed the cinematography in the film, it’s his actions that allow us to get eyefuls of everything, so yay for that.

Even the comedy shines through pretty well. Remember the broken-down car scene I mentioned earlier? There’s this amazing line after the picnic and Anne’s looking through the car’s engine to determine what’s wrong. Jac’s sitting comfortably in the car like a douche bag and Anne asks him a question about the car – I forget what – and he responds with, “I wouldn’t know,” to which Anne retorts with, “Of course not. There’s nothing to eat in here.” Hilarious line. And there is enough charm to make the scenes enjoyable to watch.

If I heard someone say that this was a bad movie, I would find myself unable to disagree. But if someone walked out saying that they liked it, I would agree with that too. Perhaps I was a sucker for the imagery and the acting, but even I can’t deny how horribly stupid the main characters are and how much this infects the overall story. I won’t revisit this movie, but I suppose if all you wanted to see was the scenery and get entranced by yummy food, then the only advice I can give is to ignore the idiot characters and maybe you’ll have an easier time with this than most. Other than that, I don’t really recommend seeing it in theaters. Maybe a rental if you’re that eager, but even if you skipped out on this movie entirely, you’re not missing much. I’m sure not going to see it again.

My honest rating for PARIS CAN WAIT: a weak 3/5

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