BRAD’S STATUS review

This looks like it could be pretty charming. Been seeing the trailer crop up from time to time and I’m pretty intrigued. The story looks like it’s about a father and a son. The father takes his son touring a college that he wants to get into all the while wondering if the life choices he’s made has made him a successful person, comparing himself to other more successful friends of his from years ago. Oh… well, now that I’m writing it out, I have my reservations. If this movie is about a grown man comparing himself to his friends and the movie’s resolution is that he learns to accept his life as is, then… yeah, this better be a short movie.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Ben Stiller (ZOOLANDER 2 [2016], TROPIC THUNDER [2008], and MYSTERY MEN [1999]) and Austin Abrams (PAPER TOWNS [2015], THE KINGS OF SUMMER [2013], and GANGSTER SQUAD [2013]). In support, we have Jenna Fischer (HALL PASS [2011], BLADES OF GLORY [2007], and SLITHER [2006]), Michael Sheen (HOME AGAIN [2017], MIDNIGHT IN PARIS [2011], and UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS [2009]), Jemaine Clement (LEGO BATMAN [2017], MEN IN BLACK 3 [2012], and DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS [2010]), Luke Wilson (ROCK DOG [2016], IDIOCRACY [2006], and MY DOG SKIP [2006]), and Mike White (THE STEPFORD WIVES [2004], SCHOOL OF ROCK [2003], and ORANGE COUNTY [2002]).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Mike White, making his directorial return in ten years, but is known for writing THE EMOJI MOVIE (2017), NACHO LIBRE (2006), and SCHOOL OF ROCK (2003). The composer is Mark Mothersbaugh, known for BEATRIZ AT DINNER (2017), FANBOYS (2009), HAPPY GILMORE (1996), and upcoming films THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE (2017) and THOR: RAGNAROK (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Xavier Grobet, known for WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT (2016), FOCUS (2015), and MONSTER HOUSE (2006).

Overall, I’m interested, but not excited.

This is my honest opinion of: BRAD’S STATUS

(SUMMERY)

Brad (Ben Stiller) is a father taking his son Troy (Austin Abrams) out to tour colleges. But while he’s doing that, he’s struggling with what he believes is a life that he didn’t expect have, comparing his mediocrity with his college friends who are wildly more successful that he is.

(REVIEW)

I don’t think I hate this film, but it’s definitely not that good.

The first and primary problem is that Brad isn’t a very likable character. All he does throughout the film is complain. Complain about how his life isn’t where he thought it was going to be, constantly sizing himself up with his old college friends who found success in other fields. He daydreams about how their lives are. The good, the bad, barely ever focusing on his own life, which clearly needs reworking. Even when he does think about his life, he’s complaining. About the kid who quit his position in Brad’s nonprofit organization, his wife’s total complacency, hell, he even comments how he’d feel jealous of his own son’s success. I mean, what the hell? What parent thinks about this?! And this translates to him being a pretty spazzy asshole, telling Troy that even geniuses get rejected from Harvard, that he needs to start thinking about what he wants to do with his music, and bringing up money that he doesn’t want to needlessly spend, he’s actually a pretty mean-spirited person, and when he’s not mean-spirited, he’s depressive.

And when he’s neither of those things, he’s kind of creepy. Yeah, no joke, Brad is really creepy. One of the first scenes in the movie is Brad looking at his half naked son, covered only by a bath towel, and says, “You have the body of a man now.” Uh… Another scene is where they’re both in a hotel room and he has a tickle session with him in his underwear. Really, a father is having a tickle session with his eighteen year old son… in his underwear…? Uh…!!! But it doesn’t end there. Somewhere in the middle, Brad decides to go almost full AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999) and starts fantasizing about these college girls who seem to have the rest of their lives figured out. It’s about as uncomfortable as it sounds.

And do you want to know what his ultimate resolution is? The one thing in the story that makes him realize how good he’s got it? He attends a concert with those same college girls and their music is really pretty. That’s it. That’s literally it. *face palm*

I don’t want to make it sound like it’s all bad. There is a level of self-awareness in the film that makes for some humorous moments. There’s characters that look at Brad as he dozes off and comments how he’s being weird. Or when he’s talking too much, people will tell him to shut up. These are admittedly very satisfying moments and do prevent it from being a total disaster of a movie.

And there is admittedly something relatable about Brad himself. As much as I complain about the frequency of his daydreaming and comparing and contrasting, as an insecure person myself, I do that too. I’m on social media a lot and I do browse by posts of people who are doing such fun things, like going to clubs, traveling, meeting new people, getting married, having kids, climbing the ladder of their dream jobs, or being otherwise successful. And then there’s me, not doing all that because I’ve got my own life to deal with and how my choices got me to where I’m at and constantly trying to get out myself out. It’s hard not to feel a rush of mixed emotions, even toward the people I love: jealousy, envy, pride, sadness, depression, it’s enough to get your head spinning. But the thing is, even on the worst of days when I do that, it goes away the moment I switch off Facebook and watch a video on Youtube. Or when I’m on the road to work. Or even watching these movies and writing about them. It most certainly goes away when I’m talking to my amazing girlfriend. The point is, this isn’t shit that gets me all day. Just in that one moment, and that’s where I feel the disconnected from Brad. He dwells on it even in times when he’s supposed to feel the proudest. He’s too insecure and his life really isn’t all that bad.

Overall, I can’t say this the worst thing ever. It’s clear that there was a good, even poignant idea here that wasn’t developed properly. Some of it pays off in the end, but far too much of the movie follows a man who is way too much of a crybaby and not even all that likable, even by the film’s end. I don’t think I recommend this. No, it’s by no means the worst movie I’ve ever seen, or even the worst this year, not even close, but I just don’t think anyone would get anything out of it. At best, save it for a rental or viewing on Netflix, but definitely not in theaters.

My honest rating for BRAD’S STATUS: a weak 3/5

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THE EMOJI MOVIE review

Oh my god, I am so very excited to see this. Oh, not because I think it’s going to be a legit good movie. No, no, no. Quite the opposite. RottenTomatoes has this at a 6% (as of 7/29/2017) and IMDb has it at a 1.5/10 (as of 7/29/2017). Yeah, I laugh when I see these ratings, but I know one I go in, this movie will make me mad beyond belief. And why shouldn’t it? It basically looks like INSIDE OUT (2015), but such a knock-off discount that even the 99 cent store wouldn’t sell it at half price. It takes place in our phones and our emojis are content with their lives, except one specific “meh” emoji, that actually has several emotions, but has to only use… the one he’s known for? Already this premise has me asking questions. Whatever, who cares?

Here’s the voice talent. T.J. Miller (DEADPOOL [2016], BIG HERO 6 [2014], HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON [2010], and upcoming films GOOD: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS [2017] and READY PLAYER ONE [2018]), James Corden (TROLLS [2016], INTO THE WOODS [2014], BEGIN AGAIN [2013], and upcoming films OCEAN’S EIGHT [2018] and the animated PETER RABBIT [2018]), Anna Faris (KEANU [2016], TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT [2011], and TV show MOM), Maya Rudolph (MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA [2017], POPSTAR [2016], BRIDESMAIDS [2011], and the upcoming animated THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE [2017]), and Patrick Stewart (LOGAN [2017], X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST [2014], and TV show STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION).

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is Tony Leondis, known for IGOR (2008) and LILO & STITCH 2 (2006). Alongside Leondis, making a red flag total of three writers, we also have Eric Siegel (a bunch of TV shows) and Mike White (BEATRIZ AT DINNER [2017], NACHO LIBRE [2006], and SCHOOL OF ROCK [2003]). Finally, the composer for the score is Patrick Doyle, known for A UNITED KINGDOM (2017), THOR (2011), DONNIE BRASCO (1997), and the upcoming MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017).

Overall, someone kill me to save me.

This is my honest opinion of: THE EMOJI MOVIE

(SUMMARY)

Gene (T.J.  Miller) is supposed to be a “Meh” emoji. Thing is, he’s discovered that he has multiple emotions to convey. He’s about to have his first day as an emoji on his owner’s phone, but freaking out when he’s selected, he makes the wrong face, which causes him to be labeled as a malfunction. Desperate to avoid being discarded, he and a newfound friend, the unused Hi-5 (James Corden), track down someone named Jailbreak (Anna Faris), who can take him to an app that will fix him and make him a normal “Meh” emoji.

(REVIEW)

Nope, I’m not wasting any effort on this review. If no effort was going to be attempted to make this movie original, then I have no reason to put in effort for this review.

All I will say is that it’s a knock-off of WRECK-IT RALPH (2012), with a hint of INSIDE OUT, and it’s painful.

No joke is funny. It’s just a long string of obvious phone puns. The world itself barely makes any sense, every character is annoying, and… I can’t keep going with this poor excuse for an animated movie for kids.

I am assuming that if you take your children to see this movie, you’re punishing them. Please avoid this film at all costs. If you give them money, they will make a sequel and that’s something both kids and critics alike really don’t need in their lives.

My honest rating for THE EMOJI MOVIE: 1/5

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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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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