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

preview_1106

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

three_idiotas_ver7

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

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

large_MV5BNTcwOTMzNDU1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzQ0MTM4MTI_._V1_SY1000_CR0_0_674_1000_AL_

__________________________________________________________________________________

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

hero

__________________________________________________________________________________

BAD-Banner101

BEATRIZ AT DINNER

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

Advertisements

THE INTERVENTION review

Wow, a lot of actors are jumping onto the directing band wagon lately, aren’t they? Well, someone add Clea DuVall to the list because she’s the captain of this vessel.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to make of this movie. It looks like it’s going to be a dramedy about a married couple that are having problems at home and now their friends are inviting them out to the middle of nowhere to intervene and help them, while also airing out their own dirty laundry. I was definitely interested, but I had some fears that the story would be a little unfocused. But maybe that’s what this story is: the multiple problems couples of all kinds can have and how they overcome it one way or another.

Let’s look at the extensive cast. DuVall is co-staring, additionally is also the film’s writer. Now, I’ve been a fan of DuVall for a long time. THE FACULTY was the first film that I saw her in, and I really liked her. Damn talented, and damn beautiful. Just look at those eyes. Those things can cut metal. GIRL, INTERRUPTED right on down to her role in the popular TV show HEROES. I wish I’d seen more of her work over the years, but this was well before I got into movies like I am now. But I’m here now and really excited to see what she’s got cooked up for us. Also, we’re presented with Cobie Smulders. What can you say? She’s a gem. I know most people know her from the smash hit TV show HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, but I’m a nerd and know her from her superhero films THE AVENGERS (2012), CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, and AGE OF ULTRON (2015). She’s done other stuff, I know, but nerdy shit trumps all. But I’m very interested excited to see her in this movie. And keep an eye out for her in the upcoming Jack Reacher sequel, NEVER GO BACK later this year. Others include Melanie Lynskey (UP IN THE AIR [2009], THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER [2012], and TV show TWO AND A HALF MEN), Natasha Lyonne (HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS [2016], the American Pie movies, and TV show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK), Ben Schwartz (TV shows BOJACK HORSEMAN, HOUSE OF LIES, and PARKS AND REC), and more.

I’m going in with above-indifferent expectations on this on the whole. I’m curious to see DuVall as a director and writer, and the rest of the cast looks pretty promising, but that trailer was not doing the movie any favors, so we’ll see. This is my honest opinion of THE INTERVENTION.

(SUMMARY)

Peter (Vincent Piazza) and Ruby (Cobie Smulders) have been having marital problems for years. Their closest friends, spearheaded by the ever doting Annie, stage a kind of intervention to express their feelings about their unhappy marriage. But as their weekend getaway progresses, Peter and Ruby may not be the only ones that have relationship problems.

(REVIEW)

Now this was a good movie. Not great, but likable in so many ways.

This ensemble cast is great. Everyone’s got wonderful chemistry together. As I understand it, DuVall, Lyonne, and Lynskey actually worked on a movie together before: BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER (1999), and remained friends ever since. It shows because they have wonderful chemistry and really does feel like a bunch of friends that have known each other for a long time hanging out. But it’s not even just them. The rest of cast works very well with each other, making particularly hard to point out any standout performances, as everyone’s taken the spotlight at least once in the film.

One of my favorite performances is Schwartz. I admit, I’m not overly familiar with his work. I’ve only seen him in PARKS & REC. So you can imagine my shock that he’s actually playing a straight character instead of an over-the-top nutball. That was his identity for me, and I’m sitting there the entire time, “Why haven’t you come up with a get-rich-quick scheme yet?!” And then I had to remember, “Oh, yeah… not PARKS & REC…” Still, like all comedians and funny-people, he makes the transition from goofy cartoon man to a real person seamlessly. Not only that, he has probably one of the more heartbreaking scenes in the entire movie. Seriously, bring a change of clothes because your eyes will piss tears.

***SPOILERS***

***

***

I think for me, the most comedic golden moment was after the intervention kind of happens and everyone else’s dirty laundry gets exposed, among them being when Lola (Alia Shawkat) kissed Jessie (Clea DuVall) and Peter walked in on it, which gets her lover Sarah (Natasha Lyonne) fuming, naturally. They get into a fight, resulting in a tackle into the nearby lake. Then they’re shown running back into the house and fighting over who’s going to take a shower… while their clothes are still on, and as the shower is running. Jessie says something like, “Oh what, do you want to make out with Jack?!” Actually, I don’t remember who, but I’m pretty sure it was Jack, either way, this gives Sarah ideas. Then they’re racing outside, Sarah making a beeline for Jack and Jessie’s right behind her going, “I wasn’t being serious!” and Sarah plants one right there on Jack. In retaliation, Jessie practically jumps Lola, kissing her… then Sarah kisses Lola, then Jessie kisses Jack, this whole scene quickly became the most hilarious what-the-fuck, and I loved every solitary second of it.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

But for all the good things this movie did, and for all the good characters that were made, there were two that spoiled the film for me: Annie and Peter.

Let’s talk about Annie first, as she’s the lesser of the two evils here. Man, I could not stand this chick, or really, how anyone handled her. She is a constant nervous wreck and it’s not funny to watch. Her character also doesn’t make a lick of sense. She’s the mastermind behind this entire weekend getaway and she panics when it’s time to “intervene,” constantly drinking to loosen up, even though it doesn’t work. She’s not taking any responsibility for what she’s orchestrated, constantly relying on other people to help her get to the point. And once shit does hit the fan and everyone’s in their own room just processing, she can’t simply let anyone be alone. She has to go in the room, quiet as a mouse, determined to say something that will comfort, but instead is just awkward and inconsiderate. She has no concept of boundaries and personal space, and that’s not a compelling trait to have in a character that we are supposed to sympathize with as much as everyone else. She’s the least likable character in the movie and it’s painful.

***SPOILERS***

***

***

Having said all that, Annie is somewhat redeemed at the end for having the second most heartbreaking scene in the movie. Right after Peter and Ruby announce that they’re going to keep fighting for their marriage, Annie says that the two of them were “supposed” to get divorced and be happy (more on this bullshit later). Some more dialog later, she starts crying, saying the line, “I hope you’re happy being married forever!” There’s context I didn’t write out, obviously, but after storming off and being chased by her fiancé, Matt (Jason Ritter), she tells him that she doesn’t want to marry him after all, after postponing their marriage three times in the past. I swear, this legit broke my heart as she said, “I want to want to marry you. I’ve never wanted to want anything more in my entire life.” The vulnerability that Lynskey radiated made me feel so sorry for the both of them. I don’t know if this saves her character as a whole, but all her terrible character choices did feel like it culminated into something tragic. It culminated pretty weakly, but it did go somewhere with it, I thought.

Now for Peter, and this winds up being the cardinal sin of the movie. He is a fucking asshole. No, I’m not just talking about him being negligent toward his wife, as you can make argument that he’s just working, but… man, you can see the effort that Ruby’s trying to put in to saving their established lives. She puts on this awesome lingerie (taking a moment to pander to my own penis here: holy fuck, Smulders looked incredible), and starts kissing Peter with the intention of sex. Oh god, what happened next got me foaming at the mouth. He kisses her back, rolls her on her side of the bed, as if they really were about to have sex… then as nonchalantly as a mother fucker can get, immediately lets go of her, turns off the light, and goes to bed, with a completely baffled Ruby left with the same expression as the audience, “What the actual fuck?!” First off, this isn’t my problem with Peter – okay, yes it is, but give me minute – if anything, it’s a testament to DuVall’s writing and directing talent. This scene has no dialog. It’s powerful as fuck. If there was an Oscars for best scenes, this would be nominated in my book. This perfectly encapsulates how bad their marriage has gotten; that he’s not even attracted to his ninety percent naked wife anymore. From that moment on, I’m on board with Annie. They need to get divorced so they, and by “they” I mean Ruby because fuck Peter, can be happy. But what happens when the intervention gets underway? Peter’s fucking offended! He storms off, gets drunk all day, comes back later like a dog with his tail between his legs, makes a breakfast buffet the next morning, plans a boat trip with the fakest happiest and peppiest voice you’ve ever seen and heard, and when Ruby isn’t buying this horseshit… he’s absolutely flummoxed. His mind got phenomenally blown like he just discovered who Tyler Durden was, while I’m sitting in my seat going, “NO FUCKING SHIT, DICK CHEESE!!!” The fact that they decide to work it out in the end feels completely unearned. He makes zero effort in winning back Ruby’s faith and this is one time I almost feel like Annie got it right: they should have gotten divorced. Them working it out was utterly unjustified.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

Overall, I enjoyed this film. Out of the three actor-becoming-directors movies that I’ve seen this past week, this was probably the best, or at the very least, was my favorite one. The actors were great, due in no small part to DuVall’s solid writing, creating some mostly likable characters, and proves that she’s got some great talent as both a director and writer, with some notable exceptions that she can definitely improve on. I am definitely open to her directing and writing more, so as I pour a shot of Captain Morgan, here’s to a wonderful first outing for miss DuVall. I would love to see this again (in a theatre closer to me than Hollywood’s Arclight), and I do recommend this to all you readers out there.

My honest rating for THE INTERVENTION: 4/5

intervention

Upcoming reviews:

  • YOGA HOSERS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EAy6-uCb1o
  • MORGAN
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqmHSR0bFU8
  • THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3uULkvZh1w

THE HOLLARS review

Okay, I’m on board with this one. Not much to say about it, other than it looks funny and well-acted. But let’s look at the talent in front of and behind the camera.

Co-starring and directing is John Krasinski, whom you might recognize from this year’s 13 HOURS and from the smash hit TV show THE OFFICE. This will mark his first big project, but he has directed before. An unknown movie that no one’s probably heard of called BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN (2009), as well as a few episodes of THE OFFICE. Good luck, dude.

The rest of the cast is pretty big, so I’ll just be brief. Co-staring in this dramedy is Margo Martindale (this year’s MOTHER’S DAY, and TV shows THE AMERICANS and THE MILLERS), Sharlto Copley (this year’s HARDCORE HENRY, CHAPPIE [2015], and TV show POWERS), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (this year’s SWISS ARMY MAN and 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE), Anna Kendrick (this year’s MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES, the Pitch Perfect films, and INTO THE WOODS [2014]), and so many more.

Penning the script it James “Jim” C. Strouse. He hasn’t done many screenplays, but you might recognize such works as GRACE IS GONE (2007) and LONESOME JIM (2005). Beyond him, I’m not familiar with the works of the rest. Josh Ritter is doing the music. He was (or is) part of a band called The Royal City Band and Paste magazine put him their list of “100 Greatest Living Songwriters” back in 2006. Never heard of him, personally. Eric Allan Edwards is the director of photography, and the only thing I recognize is his work on this year’s DIRTY GRANDPA, which… no. Oh, and he was also the D.O.P. for movies KNOCKED UP (2007) and THE BREAK-UP (2006).

Overall, the cast has me excited and I’m really looking forward to this. But enough dribble. Onward! This is my honest opinion of THE HOLLARS.

(SUMMARY)

Sally Hollar (Margo Martindale) unfortunately has a stroke that lands her in the hospital. Upon hearing the news, her youngest son John (John Krasinski) returns to him small town home to be with his distraught father Don (Richard Jenkins) and divorced brother Ron (Sharlto Copley). So begins this family’s unhappy yet quirky reunion together as their individual troubles surface and come to grips with them.

(REVIEW)

Disappointing. I do not think this was a very good movie.

There is a ton of Oscar buzz surrounding Martindale’s performance in this film. Sad to say, I have to be a naysayer. Martindale is not bad, per se, but I was expecting something that would have me in the fetal position and go home to give my own mother a big hug. Instead, I got a solid performance and the reasons why she didn’t emotionally hit me that hard is for the same reasons this movie didn’t work for me as a whole.

I have to express my disappointment in the writing. So many moments in this flick feel useless. For example, one of the first issues brought forth in John’s personal crap is possibly running into his high school ex-girlfriend, Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Why is this such an issue? So they dated in high school. John’s moved on. He’s got a girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick), that he loves and is about to become a father. Gwen’s moved on, married Jason (Charlie Day), who’s the nurse taking care of Sally, and they have a child. So with both of them moved on, why does this need to be a plot thread? It’s clear that Gwen still has feelings for him, due to her planting a hard kiss on his lips, and proclaiming that her relationship with Jason isn’t working out. An argument could also be made that he does secretly have feelings for her, as he does seem constantly nervous about meeting up with her again, and showing up at her home with flowers. But none of this amounts to anything in the rest of the movie. This entire subplot is tackled in one scene and never addressed again in another scene, or even really referenced. This entire fifteen minute section of the movie was an excuse to get Rebecca to come down from the city to the small town. That’s freakin’ ridiculous.

Also, I couldn’t stand Jenkins. Okay, he’s not bad, but where I blame Strouse for how unnecessary the Gwen subplot it, I definitely blame Krasinski for this one. In several scenes, Jenkins will suddenly cry hysterically over the situation. It’s not built up in any way. It just happens because… bad directing! But to make matters worse, and I’m not exaggerating here, Don will literally start crying like a baby and in just a few seconds after being told everything will be alright, he’ll stop crying almost instantaneously. *face palm* That’s not how emotions work! Look, I’m one to talk. I’ve cried during plenty of movies in my life. But every time it happens, it’s been built up to from something else. There’s an emotional journey taking place and it’s easy and relatable to follow. But Don will literally just ball out of nowhere and recover from that… like a bad actor, which he isn’t!

***SPOILERS***

***

***

Another issue presented in the story is when Sally admits to John that if she could do anything different in her life, she wouldn’t have married Don. The reveal is a legit shock, and it isn’t revealed right away why she said it. So there’s this lingering build-up to the reasons for her words. John takes his mom to a restaurant before she gets her surgery and brings up the subject one more time. You know what it’s all built up to? Quoting a dude who said “life sucks, enjoy the little things,” you know, in a famous philosophical person way, which to her means, “I just focus on the good times we had.” What the fuck?! You blurt out to your son that you wouldn’t have married his father, let that big ole question mark fester in his mind only to give him a proverbial middle finger later on?! What the hell is the matter with you lady?! Your brain tumor isn’t an adequate excuse!

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

Oh my god, and I can’t believe I almost forgot about Ron. Man, Copley is a terrific actor and mocap performer. I’m a huge fan of this man’s work. But how exactly he got roped into this dreadful role is beyond me. So far, I’ve narrowed it down to either bribery, or witchcraft. Neither would surprise me. Ron is a guy divorced from his wife and he barely gets to see his two daughters. What does he do to make the situation better? He stalks his ex-wife, parking outside her house and watching her through a pair of binoculars, gets his kids out of school without informing his ex to visit their grandmother, and even climbs into their bedroom from outside. Anyone looking at that sight would immediately call the cops and cry pedophile. Which happens! Okay, it’s just because he paid his kids an unsanctioned visit. And just as he’s about to be hauled away by the police, his ex’s boyfriend, Reverend Dan (Josh Groban), somehow just bails him out and takes him out for food and whatever. Oh my god, this is Copley’s worst role of his career and it’s heartbreaking to say that.

So, is there anything good about the movie? Well, yeah, Kendrick is actually a thousand kinds of adorable as the pregnant girlfriend and saves it for me for being the only character I actually liked. She got her boyfriend a flight back to his home, had a taxi drive from the city to be with that same kind-of-jerk boyfriend that can’t talk to the mother of his child like a real person by almost insulting her pregnancy, and among several other amazing things. She’s awesome as usual. And Charlie Day was a delightful jackass.

Beyond them? Um… not really, and even then, you could argue I was willing to grasp onto anything that would save this sinking ship and my excuse for “saved” was Kendrick, but yeah, this movie still wasn’t good. I can’t even really call it bad because the actors are fine enough, but because the writing is so unfocused and many plot points are… pointless, there’s really nothing here for me to recommend. I think you should skip this one, but I will point out that in the auditorium I was in, I was the only one not laughing.

My honest rating for THE HOLLARS: a weak 3/5

SONY-HLOS-01_27x40_062416.indd

Upcoming review:

  • A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2Jd6COX9Q0

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE review

Yet another film that’s been on my radar, but never made the time to see in it’s opening run. How does that happen? Laziness most likely, but I’ll never admit that to myself. “The world conspiring against me” is the most logical lie I’d believe from myself. It’s such a full-proof lie and ties so well together than no idiot could ever see through it. Hashtag, too smart for my own good.

Anywho, I honestly didn’t know much about the movie. Originally, I thought it was a British film of some kind, but the more I looked into it, it’s actually an Australian film. And that old man in the movie was none other than Jurassic Park veteran Sam Neill. Upon watching the trailer, yeah, I laughed at some of the jokes that seemed rather brutal, but still hilarious. This story about an orphan kid just trying to find his place in the world, it looked like it’d be pretty good and even offbeat, which I’m always down for.

Finally driving my ass down to Los Angeles to the one theatre that was screening this elusive picture, I can finally see what’s been keeping this little movie in cinemas for the last… jeez, four months? This is my honest opinion of HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE.

(SUMMARY)

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is an orphan kid with a record of burning things, stealing, vandalism, among other things that were done in small scale, but treated like huge deals. He’s bounced from foster home to foster home, but always given back to the system for being too unruly. His social worker Paula (Rachel House) brings him to her latest attempt at giving him to a home that will accept him in the middle of the New Zealand bush, with an older married couple named Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill). Bella welcomes Ricky with open arms, whereas her curmudgeon husband wants nothing to do with him. Ricky accepts staying, even after a couple attempts to run away, never getting too far from the house and from Bella and Hec, who know how to hunt and track. Soon, after Ricky’s birthday and presented with a dog that Ricky names Tupac, Ricky and Bella develop a relationship. But that soon comes to an abrupt end when she tragically passes away and it’s only Ricky and Hec left. But due to Hec’s loss, it is believed that Ricky is no longer able to live with him and will be taken back to the system, which he doesn’t want. Attempting to run away again into the bush, Hec eventually finds him completely lost. Things get complicated when Hec is believed to have kidnapped Ricky and a manhunt is ordered to find them as Ricky and Hec begin to bond in their own unique way.

(REVIEW)

When I got out of the theatre, I quickly looked up on IMDb and it gave this movie 8.4/10. Wow, that’s “Top 250” worthy. Do I agree? Eh, probably not, but it’s definitely a good movie.

Alright, so both Neill and Dennison are great. Neill does a fantastic job of being this bitter old man, but you feel for him when his wife passes away. He doesn’t want to be a father or father figure to this kid, he’s kind of honest about it, but there is this subtle sorry that he has when he has to break the news to Ricky that he has to go back to the system and sent to a new home, but he clearly has no intentions of fighting for him. Ricky is a pleasant enough kid, obviously tired of all the moving. But you can tell that he grows attached to the country lifestyle, or more specifically, to Bella. This comes especially heart-breaking when she does pass away. What brilliant writing to make a character have so little screen time, but still develop a real connection with the audience to make her passing really tragic. I haven’t seen that since STAR TREK (2009). But even after all that happens, he doesn’t want to leave this new home. He even makes active attempts to try and develop a connection with Hec. Once they get into the wild, that’s when the real magic becomes real as Ricky learns more survival techniques, and Hec does become more fond of Ricky.

One of the other standouts of this movie is House as Paula and her security officer side-kick, Andy (Oscar Kightley). These two play like a live-action Jesse and James from the POKEMON show. Paula, like Jesse, carries herself like she’s the leader and thinks she’s the smartest, the craftiest, and the most important, when in reality, they’re both equally idiots and easily get foiled. There’s this scene as they’re looking for Ricky and Hec in the bush when they stumble upon Ricky by himself. They start screaming as they chase after him, but then stop dead in their tracks as they look down at a ditch that’s probably no more than ten feet deep, but they’re too scared to cross. So their plan is to convince Ricky to cross by bribing him with a small bag of food. He obviously declines and runs away as Paula and Andy take their sweet-ass time trying to climb down this hilariously unintimidating ditch. This isn’t the only scene like this and they’re all incredibly funny.

And last, but certainly not least… Psycho Sam (Rhys Darby). I can’t talk about this here because… you need to experience it for yourself. Everything with Psycho Sam is bar-none the most hilarious shit in the movie.

But having said my high praises, I did have a couple of issues with the story. First off, I never really got the impression that Ricky was a problem child. I know through half-second flashbacks that he’s done some delinquent things, but he seems like a nice kid when the story progresses. He doesn’t talk back to anyone, he doesn’t really curse a lot unless provoked, he’s just a normal kid. Maybe he’s just smacked in the middle of nowhere that he didn’t have a chance to do anything that bad, but still, I liked him enough at the beginning.

I also don’t buy Paula’s conclusion that Hec kidnapped Ricky. Ricky runs away after Bella’s death by faking his own death by burning a scarecrow in his clothes, and accidentally burns down the barn he did it in. After Hec’s left to look for the missing Ricky, Paula arrives with Andy and with the very little evidence that’s strewn about, she comes to undeniable conclusion that Ricky was kidnapped by Hec… yes, the kid who has a history of burning things down and running away, sometimes with stolen things… was clearly kidnapped by an old man because… you took five minutes to look at a burned down barn. To make things even more bizarre, the police seem to go with it. No one else seems to question anything, it’s just… Ricky was kidnapped. No other explanation. See the problem here?

A few other issues I had involved some hunters having a strong desire to kill the two main characters and just how over the top the climax of the story got and just how many people were involved in hunting these two down.

I think the movie definitely had a few of flaws, but the heart-warming connections the characters make with each other, the sheer amount of adventurous fun everyone seems to be having, and some strong dramatic moments littered throughout the story make this a very good and strong film. I can’t agree with an 8.4/10, or even RottenTomatoes’ 99%, but I can confidently call this a good film that’s worth seeing, so I do recommend it if you can find it out there.

My honest rating for HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE: 4/5

HuntForTheWilderpeoplePoster

Got done just in time and leaving myself open for another busy week of movies. Here’s what’s coming up:

  • SAUSAGE PARTY
    • red band trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7fP9q_LyDc
  • PETE’S DRAGON
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPOamb6d_20
  • FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HszfdNS0JSc
  • ANTHROPOID
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blAKCJcXC5c
  • HELL OR HIGH WATER
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQoqsKoJVDw

DON’T THINK TWICE review

This movie has been on my radar for a bit now, thanks to someone putting those tiny little posters on my car in Hollywood. I had no idea what it really was. A TV show? A Youtube show? An actual movie? Or if it was a movie, was it a documentary? I’m not sure where I thought it was a documentary, as I hadn’t seen a trailer for it, but it’s been out for awhile now at select theatres and I just never took the time to get to know the movie. So I bit the bullet to see what all the hoopla was about. I have to say, this movie looked like it’d be pretty good. I was smiling at the trailer, I laughed a bit, and I was intrigued by its story.

The biggest star I recognized was Keegan-Michael Key, whom most will know from TV sketches KEY AND PEELE, or from the hilarious cat movie earlier this year, KEANU. He’s proven to be pretty funny and I kind of want to see what his KEY AND PEELE sketches are like, so his draw was certainly the strongest. Kate Micucci, from the comedy-folk duo Garfunkel and Oats, briefly on the TV show THE BIG BANG THEORY, and some may recognize her voice from the animated TV show STEVEN UNIVERSE. I liked what I heard when she sang “Weed Card,” and I liked her role in BIG BANG, but honestly, I’m not overly familiar with her. Still, I was curious. Gillian Jacobs, I wager, is more prominently recognized from the TV show COMMUNITY. I never watched it, but I imagine fans of hers may be interested. And finally, the writer and director of this picture, Mike Birbiglia. Again, not familiar with his name, as he’s only directed one full-length movie in the past: SLEEPWALK WITH ME (never seen it). But as far as his acting profile goes, he’s been in Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and some small roles in movies like, “POPSTAR,” “TRAINWRECK,” and “HOT PURSUIT.”

I went in with some moderately high hopes. I was expecting some strong laughs, and well-written characters, so let’s see how it held up. This is my honest opinion of DON’T THINK TWICE.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows The Commune, an improv group of six best friends: Miles (Mike Birbiglia), Jack (Keegan-Michael Key), Samantha (Gillian Jacobs), Bill (Chris Gethard), Allison (Kate Micucci), and Lindsay (Tami Sagher). Once upon a time, Miles was up for an audition on the popular TV show WEEKEND LIVE, but was rejected and always held a grudge against the show ever since, but still harbors wishes to get a second chance. He’s not the only one. Most of the group has similar wishes to be noticed by talents that make appearances at their improv shows, and when they do, Jack has a tendency to upstage the rest of the group, irking them. Well one day, it pays off and Jack gets a call that both he and his Sam, whom the two are in a romantic relationship, have auditions. This comes at a particularly awkward time when Bill’s father gets into a motorcycle accident and is in the hospital. But as Jack begins to realize his dreams and the others don’t make it like he does, the group slowly gets divided and the reality of their lives begins to take its effect that they haven’t reached their dreams like they’ve always wanted.

(REVIEW)

Not gonna lie, I’m not sure if I like my own summary for the movie. It makes it sound way too melodramatic, like something out of a Hallmark Channel, but please take my word for it… this movie is great. I can’t believe that I almost missed out on this movie because I thought it was a documentary. I’m a dumb-ass, what can I say? I wised up and took a crack at this one, and it paid off in spades.

I’ve become something of a recent fan of Key. I may not have cared much about his appearance in VACATION (2015), but pretty much ever since TOMORROWLAND, I’ve always valued seeing him on screen. He always leaves such a wonderful impression. After the hilarious film that was KEANU, I’m down for anything that Key is doing, and I’m so glad to see him in a grounded, very real role. I know this guy can play goofs really well, but I always crave comedians to do more dramatic stuff, as they always seem to shine in those roles, even if they’re not their most famous roles. Jim Carrey in THE MAJESTIC, Robin Williams in GOOD WILL HUNTING, now we can kind of add Key to this. It might be something of a cheat as it’s still a dramedy, but as it stands, I’m completely lost in his performance. He’s great.

Jacobs. Holy fucking shit, if there’s anyone that steals the show as much as Key does, it’s this woman. Suddenly, I have this passionate urge to write a personal apology to her for not having watched COMMUNITY because I can tell, she’d be my favorite person on that show. She’s so funny, and just like Key, her more dramatic moments are incredibly powerful. She is clearly the heart of the movie and probably has the most standout moments and scenes. While five out of six of these friends want a shot on WEEKEND LIVE, Sam is honest with herself and doesn’t believe really want to be on the show. She enjoys her time with The Commune and loves her life doing small improv scenes for smaller crowds. She’s not overly ambitious and I think that’s a really strong, really brave thing to have a character like that in a movie like this.

While I wish I could rave and rave about the rest of the cast, I just don’t have the willpower to do so, but everyone’s awesome. I do, however, wish Sagher and Micucci had more screentime and solo moments to let them shine as much as the others get to. They have them, don’t get me wrong, but a majority of the drama centers on the characters of Key, Jacobs, Birbiglia, and Gethard. Sagher and Micucci almost just round out the cast as supporting roles instead of equal spotlight with the other four.

But let me talk about this story. It’s incredibly unique. It’s so easy for writers to make a story about following your dreams and never giving up on them. That’s obviously not a problem or a tired story to write, but it’s been done. That’s not this movie. This movie is an honest look at a scenario if you did achieve your dreams, and the negatives of it, or if you just never got there at all. When was the last movie you saw that was like that? The closest I can think of is Pixar’s MONSTERS UNIVERSITY, but that entire story was just a build-up to the lesson rather than a kind of exploration of it.

In some ways, this movie is also kind of haunting. Being twenty-seven years old myself, I don’t exactly live on top of the world either. Each of these characters has mundane job that they would otherwise love to give up for something bigger. And these characters are implied to be in their thirties (or maybe I drastically misheard). But I have to swing right back around to the character Sam and my love for her because she’s perfectly happy with her current life. She has this passion for improv and thinks it’s okay to have a more low-key way of living that none of the other characters have. This is almost exactly how I feel about my own life. I work at restaurants a little more than a cashier or server. On the side, I’m writing these reviews, which I love. I won’t ever be a rich dude, but I don’t mind that. This movie, once again, kind of validated that it’s okay to feel the way I do about something.

As under-the-radar as this movie will be for most people, I think it’s a truly captivating film and I am truly sorry for nearly missing out on it. It may not be a laugh-out-loud kind of movie, but it’s a sweet, honest, and even inspiring. I highly recommend this movie if you’re looking for something that’s off the beaten path and a little more unique in its story.

My honest rating of DON’T THINK TWICE: 5/5

dont_think_twice

Upcoming review:

  • HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGj3AogT9EM

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC review

I love Viggo Mortensen. Need I say more? However, after the Lord of the Rings franchise, it was pretty hard pressed to find him in another movie. Not saying that he wasn’t working, but whereas most actors will work on multiple movies a year, Mortensen pretty much worked on only one film a year and his most notable roles can be can counted on one hand. HIDALGO, EASTERN PROMISES, THE ROAD, HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, and APPALOOSA. Some of those movies weren’t exactly well-received from critics either. Well, after a long hiatus without him, I’m ecstatic to see him on the big screen again, even in an indie format. And yeah, this movie looked interesting. Maybe I didn’t have the highest of expectations about whether or not it was going to as good as the critics were making it out to be, but I was allured by the story anyway. So without further adieu, this is my honest opinion of CAPTAIN FANTASTIC.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows Ben (Viggo Mortensen) and his six children, his eldest son Bo (George MacKay), his eldest daughters Kielyr (Samantha Isler) and Vespyr (Annalise Basso), younger son Rellian (Nicholas Hamilton), and his youngest children Zaja (Shree Crooks) and Nai (Charlie Shotwell). They live out in the woods where they have lived with their father for the last decade or so, living carefree. But not without discipline, constantly training their bodies through exercise, and their minds via reading books. This has translated to the children to being very fit and impressively intelligent. But tragedy strikes as their beloved mother, who was committed to a hospital, killed herself. Her family, unable to accept the lifestyle that Ben and his wife chose for their family, is not willing to respect her wishes as a Buddhist, to be cremated and ashes scattered, but rather to bury her. To make matters worse, Ben’s wife’s father Jack (Frank Langella) issued a direct warning to Ben that if he made an appearance at the funeral, the police would be notified and possibly result in the children being taken away from him. But a family decision is made to defy their grandfather and find their mother and take it upon themselves to respect their mother’s wishes, even her family won’t.

(REVIEW)

The movie more than lives up to it’s name. It’s fantastic.

Oh my dear sweet gentle Jesus, where do I begin? I like to talk about actors, so I’ll get that out of the way. Yes, Mortensen is phenomenal and is probably a career best. This is saying a lot because it’s hard to get his role as Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings franchise out of my head. Ben is one of the best written characters I’ve seen this entire year, and probably one of the best written parents I’ve ever seen. When he finds out that his wife and mother of their children committed suicide, he doesn’t wait until the end or the middle of the movie, he gathers them up in the next scene and is straightforward and honest with them. He straight-up tells them that she killed herself. This is unbelievably refreshing. Any conventional movie would make the character try and hold back information or try to sugar-coat it in some way. For once, someone has the balls to not underestimate the strength of their children and be honest with them, no matter how difficult it is to understand. Suicide isn’t something even adults can always fully comprehend and everyone has their own thoughts and their own reactions to it and this film portrays that very well. Most will rightfully shed their tears and look for someone to hold for comfort, and others will get angry and cast blame.

The story itself is also worth talking about because it’s unique. I don’t think there’s ever quite been a story like this before. I mean look at the summary. Kids raised in the wilderness, mother dies, mother’s parents ignore her final wishes of cremation and opt for burial, the children and their father see it as a rescue to respect the wishes her parents won’t. It’s an incredibly interesting idea. Sure, it’s got road-trip and fish-out-of-water elements, but they’re not dwelled on if these are cliches that you don’t like.

But the real gem of the film is in how challenging it is. What do I mean? Well, you can probably guess from the trailer. One of the biggest conflicts of the story is Ben constantly questioned about the life he chose for his children. For example, there’s a scene with Ben talking to Harper (Kathryn Haun) and Dave (Steve Zhan). The two parents confront Ben about their opinion of how his kids should be living their lives, going to public schools and getting a proper education. Funny thing is, Ben calls down their two sons and asks them if they know what the Bill of Rights is. Both give… very thin answers to say the least, and these boys are twelve, maybe thirteen years old. In order to prove his point that his children are educated, he brings in one of youngest children who can not only recite the Bill of Rights, but can in detail explain what it is. This child “just turned eight.” Yeah, that’s impressive for a kid that age. Hell, I’m twenty-seven years old and I just figured out what the Bill of Rights was just a few minutes ago (it’s the first ten amendments in the Constitution). It’s hard not to watch a scene like this and start thinking about what everyone might consider conventional. Maybe this sort of thing hits me particularly hard because I grew up in a family that showers each other in what their lives are and comparing themselves to everyone else. They’re not bad people, but when a differing opinion is offered, they look at you like you’re weird. When you try to challenge them to justify their own beliefs, they give half-assed answers, if you can even call them answers, and expect the conversation to end there. This is my kind of story about characters that embrace and thrive off of what others won’t understand.

I suppose if there’s anything to nitpick is that occasionally, the kids ask something like, “What’s Cola?” Even though Ben jokingly (or not jokingly, depending on how you want to interpret it) says that it’s poisoned water, it just kind of baffles me that these kids that can recite the Bill of Rights aren’t privy to even the word of “Cola.” And it really is never truly explained why the parents don’t care about their daughter’s final wishes, making Langella’s character a clear and obvious bad-guy, even though many might say that there is no real bad guy; Jack is just mourning his daughter and doing what he feels is right. Ehh, that’s never expressed. He almost seems like he’s doing all of this to spite Ben.

But honestly, these are pretty nitpicky things and, to be perfectly honest, do not take away from the story’s warmth and intelligence, not just in academic facts, but in how it tells its story and the characters it revolves around. I know there’s going to be a lot of people who won’t even know this movie exists. After all, it’s an independent film and a lot of movie-goers out there won’t want to make effort in looking for a movie not immediately in the mainstream, but guys… please, see it. It’s one of the best movies of the year and shouldn’t be missed out on.

My honest rating: 5/5

cf_online_1sheet_fin10

Upcoming reviews:

  • MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES
  • THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

DEMOLITION review

I wasn’t sure what to make of this movie at first. It looked like it was going to be a confused movie that wouldn’t know if it was going to be a comedy or a drama, and my fear would be that it would fail at both. But it was hard for me to tell, as it did have a pretty solid cast. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s usually great in anything he does. Plus, the same director of WILD? Hell yeah. But still, there was this sinking feeling in my gut that I wouldn’t take to this one. I suppose I hoped it would be good, but ultimately, I went in with mildly low expectations. In any case, I’ve now seen it and get to talk about it. This is my honest opinion of DEMOLITION.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal). He’s a successful investment banker who lives comfortably with his wife, Julia (Heather Lind). However, while the two are driving, they get into a devastating car accident. While Davis survives the ordeal, Julia tragically dies. But Davis seems strangly unaffected by her passing, while Julia’s parents think that he’s just grieving in a weird way. Almost immediately after her death, Davis tries to buy a bag of peanut M&Ms, which get stuck in the machine. This prompts him to write a letter to the vending machine company to complain, including the death of his wife in the letter. Eventually, he sends enough complaint letters that also mention his personal life that catches the attention of a customer service representative named Karen (Naomi Watts) and eventually her rebellious teen son, Chris (Judah Lewis), who all help give him clarity on his feelings toward his wife over the course of the story.

(REVIEW)

Well, that trailer sure spanked me for not having enough faith in it because this was a damn good movie.

Alright, so like I said in my prologue, I thought this movie would be confused; can’t decide if it’s a comedy or a drama. It’s definitely a dramedy. In the same vein as JUNO, it takes a tragedy and gives the reaction a quirky spin. His lack of emotional reaction to his wife’s death is developed over the course of the story and he does have a meaningful arch with a satisfying payoff, and Gyllenhaal nails it as always. Davis is a likably great complex character.

Watts as Karen is also pretty decent as an equally complex character, but as the story does mostly revolve around Davis, Karen does get a bit side-lined as far as having a character arch as well-developed as Davis. Gotta give props to Watts for acting her ass off though, but the character is sadly one of the more forgettable ones.

Now Chris Cooper on the other hand, playing the character Phil, is one of the other highlights of the film. Here’s a man who lost his daughter and is clearly struggling with it, trying to hold it together, going along with everyday life, as well as trying to honor her memory. Not only that, but trying to understand what is going through Davis’ mind, help him move on with Julia’s death, even though in his mind, Davis is acting out and pushing him away, even cold-heartedly avoiding the situation altogether.

While Watt’s performance may be forgettable in the story amidst the superior roles of Davis and Phil, there’s another character that overshadows her, but not in a good way and is quite possibly the only real problem I have with the movie, Karen’s rebellious teen son, Chris. Now let me get this out of the way really quick, Lewis does a fine acting job. Considering this is his first big role on the big screen (the previous being an uncredited role in POINT BREAK [2015] as young Johnny Utah), he’s actually very impressive playing a character struggling with his sexuality. Having said that, however, this is a character that I’ve seen a thousand times throughout cinematic history. If you really want a good laugh, one of them played by Gyllenhaal in DONNIE DARKO! Yeah, hardcore teens smoke, they blow shit up, they get in trouble at school, they say “fuck” a lot, OH MY GOD piss off you little shit! And there isn’t really a good explanation for his behavior either. Seriously, not one. There’s no mention of a father beating on him or his mom, he’s just not mentioned. Maybe Karen’s boyfriend/boss Carl, played by C.J. Wilson, is abusive in some way, but that would end up being seriously underplayed since Carl is revealed to definitely have a temper, even be violent (not toward Karen or Chris), but not abusive. Though I guess it wouldn’t be much of a stretch in logic. But still, I think that Chris’ behavior suggests he’s been like this for awhile. Is it because he’s confused about whether or not he’s gay? That’s no reason to take it out on his mom. Even if there is an argument out there that would tell me that’s how some teenagers act when struggling with this stuff, the fact remains that it isn’t explored, or explored enough, to warrant much sympathy.

But it’s hard to deny the chemistry between Lewis and Gyllenhaal. When the two share the screen, they have some pretty good and fun scenes together. Hell, who wouldn’t have fun taking sledge hammers to a house and smash shit like a game of extreme whack-a-mole? Plus, I love how Davis is able to convince Chris to stop randomly using “fuck” and to be more strategic about its usage. Those bits of their conversations always tickle me.

By the way, unless I missed it, what was the deal with that station wagon that keeps driving by Davis’ house? Did I miss that revelation? Eh, whatever.

Overall, this was a damn good film, probably one of the best of the year so far. If more development was given to Karen and certainly Chris, then the film would have been great, but even though they drag the film down, they don’t drag it down too harshly. Gyllenhaal and Cooper both deliver great performances and the story has a fantastic, heartfelt resolution. If you’re a fan of Gyllenhaal and quirky dramedies, then I highly recommend seeing this film. I may have only seen it once, but I would love to see it again.

My honest rating: a strong 4/5