THE LITTLE HOURS review

Well, hello to you too, random-ass movie.

So as I’m writing my initial impressions of this movie, I just saw the trailer a few seconds ago. It’s definitely one of those movies that’s a period piece, but with a modern sense of humor and way of talking. Kind of a wonder why this doesn’t take place in the modern day, but fine, whatever, middle ages with “fuck” as your main word, who am I to argue with what Hollywood wants to let get made. At a glance, the movie isn’t really that interesting, but some jokes do stand out in my head that make me laugh. In retrospect though, this is a raunchy comedy, and they don’t always agree with my sense of humor. But don’t knock it ’till you’ve seen it, right?

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Dave Franco (NERVE [2016], UNFINISHED BUSINESS [2015], 21 JUMP STREET [2012], and upcoming animated film THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE [2017] and THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), Alison Brie (GET HARD [2015], SCREAM [2011], Netflix TV show GLOW, and the upcoming THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), Kate Micucci (THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE [2017], DON’T THINK TWICE [2016], and TV show GARFUNKEL AND OATES), Aubrey Plaza (MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES [2016], TV shows LEGION and PARKS AND REC, and the upcoming film INGRID GOES WEST [2017]), who also produced this movie, and John C. Reilly (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], THE LOBSTER [2016], STEP BROTHERS [2008], and upcoming films the animated RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018] and HOLMES AND WATSON [2018]). In support, we have Fred Armisen (BAND AID [2017], THE SMURFS 2 [2013], TV show PORTLANDIA, and the upcoming LEGO NINJAGO), Molly Shannon (HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 [2015], SERENDIPITY [2001], and HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS [2000]), and Nick Offerman (THE HERO [2017], MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI [2016], and TV show PARKS AND REC)

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Jeff Baena, known for I HEART HUCKABEES (2004). Composing the score is Dan Romer, known for BEASTS OF NO NATION (2015) and BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (2012). Finally the cinematographer is Quyen Tran, known for a ton of short films.

Overall, I might enjoy this, I might not… I’m seeing this at a pretty damn expensive theater, so I’d really like to like it.

This is my honest opinion of: THE LITTLE HOURS

(SUMMARY)

Set in the Middle Ages. Massetto (Dave Franco) is a slave to Lord Bruno (Nick Offerman). He is also having an affair with his wife, to which the affair is discovered and Messetto is forced to flee the castle for his life. Soon after, he meets the kindly, but drunken Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly). He offers the young man a place of solace in his convent as a deaf and mute helper… which poses its own set of unique problems as Massetto learns that the convent is full of mentally and emotionally unstable, and sexually repressed nuns who take a liking to him.

(REVIEW)

DISCLAIMER: Apparently, this is a parody of “The Decameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio. But… as anyone who knows me really well, I haven’t the faintest idea of what that is, so… yeah, I can’t judge this movie as a parody. But I can judge it as a raunchy period comedy.

Yeah, it’s about what I expected. Raunchy for no reason other than for the sake of it. But as far as raunchy comedies go, this wasn’t awful.

I guess if you really think about it, the concept itself lends itself to some solid possibilities that the movie does admittedly utilize. Deaf and mute, young and attractive man in a convent full of sexually repressed women, it starts out and goes exactly where you might expect it to go. They start spilling their secrets and desires and eventually attempt to take advantage of Massetto’s “disabilities” and he being unable to say anything lest the truth come out and he gets sent back to his master for execution. There is a plot here with legit obstacles. I suppose the biggest problem is that this movie doesn’t really try to go all that far with its own ideas. It’s basically just sex jokes. Granted, there’s a witch joke that comes out of nowhere that’s mildly amusing, but that’s pretty much it. No one thought to themselves to really flesh out the conflict and opted for the bare minimum in both humor and plot.

The characters suffer in much the same way. The performances are… fine, for what it’s worth. Plaza’s signature deadpan “fuck you” line deliveries and Brie and Micucci’s highly expressive faces make you want to laugh at them, but they’re not given any good lines. Again, this script is composed of swearing, and swearing isn’t automatically funny. Yet, they’re characters are pretty well-defined. Alessandra doesn’t want to be a nun. She wants a normal life and to one day find romance. But she’s forced into this position because… her father donates a lot of money to the convent…? Hey, I said the characters were well-defined, not their backstories. And much of the plots central conflict comes from her inability to keep legs closed, desperation and opportunity set in when Massetto enters the picture. Fernanda is completely apathetic to the nun ways, often drinking and caring little about expressing herself sexually and Genevra is sexually confused, idolizing Fernanda and her certainty, developing feelings for her that become almost obsessive. All of this, it’s ripe with hilarious possibilities. To be fair, Genevra is probably the funniest character that you care most about, but even that gets pushed to the wayside depending how tolerable you are of her borderline cartoonish personality later on.

There are three characters that stand out. Franco as Massetto, Reilly as Father Tommasso, and Armisen as the Bishop. Franco’s dilemma certainly made for the most hilarious reactions, considering how disinterested he is in the psychotic women at first, but then sort of gives in to the novelty of fucking a nun. Good-natured, but hardly a saint in retrospect. Usually, I don’t like Reilly, mostly because I associated him as another unfunny Will Ferrell since the two used to work together a lot, but ever since he made a real name for himself out of Ferrell’s shadow, he’s been damn funny, or at the very least, enjoyable to watch. Him as the drunken Father Tommasso is no exception. And Armisen, though briefly appearing in the film, led to a pretty long string of hilarious scenes when the transgressions of the three women came to his knowledge. “Eating blood? Do you think I’ve ever written down ‘eating blood’ before? Where am I?” Yeah, the line is in the trailer, but that’s still not old.

Beyond that, the film isn’t all that much to write home about. I have a feeling this will pass over quite a few radars and it’s not hard to see why. Perhaps this movie will appeal to those who are more familiar with the source material it’s satirizing, but for me, it’s just a raunchy comedy. The acting is great, there’s some hilarious ideas, and impressively distinct characters that will definitely make this a more memorable comedy this year. But it uses foul language as its main source of comedy, which, unless you like that sort of thing, then you’ll find this movie’s comedy pretty scarce. It’s not bad, but it’s lack of clever comedy drags it down hard. I’m not upset that I saw it, in fact, some scenes I would love to revisit, but I don’t see myself sitting through this movie again. I can only recommend this to those who know the Boccaccio stories, or if you love raunchy comedies. Beyond that, I say, don’t spend your money on this at the theater. I recommend this as a light rental. Netflix, Redbox, any of those.

My honest rating for THE LITTLE HOURS: 3/5

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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

MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI / MA VIE DE COURGETTE review

Do I count this as a 2017 or a 2016 release? As far as I know, this French animated film didn’t come out in the US until recently, yet it’s nominated for Best Animated Film in the 2017 Oscars. I’m sure it was released in Europe some time ago, but this just seems a little too delayed. Well… I’ve decided to count it as a 2017 release because that’s when it was released in theatres around me, despite the Oscars.

In any case, this looks like a very interesting film. First off, I love stop-motion. I think it’s the most impressive animation style. One would think it has it’s limits, it forces the teams behind them to get creative with the stories and what they animate. While I’m sure bad stop-motion animated films exist, I haven’t seen or even heard of one. This definitely looks unique. It isn’t played up like a comedy, but rather on the dramatic side about a young boy who has to be put in an orphanage while his mother isn’t around. He is surrounded by other orphan kids. Some he doesn’t get along with, one he develops a crush on, all that good stuff. Were I to hazard a guess, the story is most likely going to be really emotional and depict how these orphan kids band together and become their own family, helping each other get through their own personal problems. I mean, it’s nominated for an Oscar. If I’m not crying at some point in this movie, it’s over-rated.

Since I’m not overly familiar with foreign films or filmmakers, I’ll just mention the American voice talent going into this. Voicing the titular character Zucchini is Erick Abbate, known for TOUCHED WITH FIRE (2015), and TV shows THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA and Netflix’s DAREDEVIL. Other talents include Ellen Page (TALLULAH [2016], X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST [2014], and SUPER [2010]), Nick Offerman (THE FOUNDER [2017], SING [2016], and HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 [2015]), and Will Forte (KEANU [2016], MACGRUBER [2010], and TV show THE LAST MAN ON EARTH).

Overall, I’m looking forward to this. Some nice looking animation and a serious story. I won’t lie, I think the character designs look… morbid and strange, but if I can open my heart to Aardman Animations, which has some silly-looking character designs, there’s room for a French look. I think I’m going to enjoy this one.

This is my honest opinion of: MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI/MA VIE DE COURGETTE

(SUMMARY)

Zucchini is a nine-year-old boy, living with a single drunken mother and no father to speak of. Building a pyramid out of the many beer bottles lying around their home, Zucchini accidentally makes a mess, which angers his mother. She attempts to go to his room, threatening to beat him, but out of fear, he closes the door on her and she falls down, dead. Taken to an orphanage by a kindly police officer named Raymond, he doesn’t quite fit in with the others at first, especially since he’s made fun of for his name by Simon, the boy who presumes himself the boss of the kids. After several attempts to get Zucchini to tell him why he’s with them fail, he steals Zucchini’s beloved self-made kite. This enrages Zucchini and the two begin to fight. Afterward, the two become friends and Zucchini is soon accepted by the others as well. Not long later, a new girl comes to the orphanage, named Camille, whom Zucchini develops a cutsie relationship with. Bonds are forged from their similar lives as these children learn what it means to grow up too fast, but learn to open their hearts to each other.

(REVIEW)

I didn’t just enjoy this, I thoroughly loved this film. Never in my life have I seen a movie like this. It’s the perfect blend of innocent, yet not. Light-hearted, yet dark. Depressive, yet fun. It’s one of the most unique animated films I’ve ever seen. I should also make a point to mention that I don’t think this movie is for kids. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not rated R, or anything. It’s not laced in foul-language or nudity, it’s not an adult-only movie, but it’s very mature. It deals in very heavy themes and ideas that young kids may not be able to understand or handle very well. So please, parents, do your research about this PG-13 movie and I hope that I can shed some light on that in this review.

Making good on what parents should expect this movie to be like, it pretty much opens on this nine-year-old kid killing his mom. It’s on accident, so don’t freak out, but… a kid kills his mom. In the orphanage, we learn that one of the kids witnessed her father murder her mom, and then committed suicide, and was under the care of an aunt who was abusive to her and later on only wants her in her care for money. One kid’s dad is in prison, another had parents who did drugs, and another was molested… or worse… by her father. Yeah, this is not a kid’s movie. Now, let me be clear again, nothing is explicitly said in graphic detail. There’s no disturbing imagery to depict what happened to these children. It’s simply the implication that can be disturbing to anyone who may not have been exposed to something like this before, especially little kids.

But make no mistake, this is a fantastic movie. The story never dwells on these harsh ideas for long. They serve as a foundation to understand what kind of world these kids are from. Instead, we see how their pasts reflect who they are, and how they do have something in common with each other. A big theme of the movie is that they have no one to love them, but they are their own little family. It’s truly heart-warming to see them bond and interact with each other.

I won’t lie, it’s very hard to talk about this film. It’s one of those rare phenomenons that’s left me struggling to find the right words. Maybe on some deep level I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t left in tears by the end. I don’t know. I mean, I was left profoundly affected by it, I just don’t know how. Maybe that’s what I’m meant to feel. This movie felt real, despite the stop-motion animation. Sometimes, the most important feelings we get don’t have a name to them. It might take some time for this to digest completely and maybe I’ll have something to say by then. But for now, I know for certain that this is a wonderful bit of animation with great and memorable characters. I highly recommend seeing this. Drop what you’re doing and find the next showtime for this if it’s playing near you. I promise, it’s worth the money, the drive, and definitely worth it’s Oscar nomination.

My honest rating for MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI/MA VIE DE COURGETTE: 5/5

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THE FOUNDER review

Hey, a movie about the founding of McDonalds. Because… why the hell not?

Ehh, based on the trailer, it’s not exactly based on McDonalds being created. It looks like it’s more or less based on how it became a world-wide sensation, if I had to hazard a guess, and Michael Keaton’s character is the man that made it like that. I’m not sure, but anything with Keaton’s name is probably worth seeing.

Let’s look at this cast, huh? Keaton is a living legend isn’t he? Considered to be one of the greatest actors today, and I don’t think you’ll hear many arguments. From his early comedy days, to his iconic turn in Tim Burton’s BATMAN (1989), all the way up to his ironic (but brilliant) turn in BIRDMAN (2014). He’s a man who’s talent continues to inspire and entertain for generations. Still kickin’, he’s a class act no matter what he’s in. Speaking of class acts, Laura Dern is in this too! Yup, famed veteran of JURASSIC PARK (1993) is still kicking ass and taking names like she’s always done. WILD (2014), CERTAIN WOMEN (2016), and OCTOBER SKY (1999), she’s not just an impossibly beautiful face, but a hurricane of emotional talent that glues your eyes to the screen. Other talents include Nick Offerman (SING [2016], HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 [2015], and TV show PARKS AND REC), Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring films, YOUNG ADULT [2011], and WATCHMEN [2009]), and Linda Cardellini (AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON [2015], the live action Scooby Doo movies, and TV show MAD MEN).

Now for behind the scenes. John Lee Hancock, known for SAVING MR. BANKS (2013), THE BLIND SIDE (2009), and THE ROOKIE (2002). Writing the script is Robert D. Siegel, known for TURBO (2013) and THE WRESTLER (2008). Composing the music is Carter Burwell, known for HAIL, CAESAR! (2016), SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (2012), and IN BRUGES (2008). Finally, the cinematographer is John Schwartzman, known for JURASSIC WORLD (2015), THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012), and THE ROCK (1996), and will be working on the next two Fifty Shades movies.

This could be an interesting movie. Even if it isn’t, I’m sure we’ll get some solid performances out of the insane cast. So I’m looking forward to it.

This is my honest opinion of: THE FOUNDER

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1954. Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a traveling salesman, trying to sell a new kind of milkshake maker. Problem is, he can’t sell one. That changes when he gets a call that a burger stand wants to buy eight of his product. Unable to believe his luck, Ray travels to the burger stand, called McDonalds, ran by brothers Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch). Immediately taken with the fast service, he learns their story and eventually decides that he wants in on the venture. Although not completely trusting of Ray, they accept his notion that if they attempt to franchise a second time, McDonalds could be the new American symbol. Ray is accepted into the business, so long as any changes within the restaurants are approved of by the brothers. But what begins as a passionate expansion of a brilliant idea soon inflates Ray’s ego as he begins to make ideas without the brothers’ consent, becomes detached from his loving and supportive wife, and starts to slowly turn McDonalds into his vision.

(REVIEW)

Oh crap, this was a haunting. Er, in a good way. This movie’s great! … Yeah, this might take some explanation.

But, movie first. So Keaton is the center of the damn universe in this flick. He is beyond amazing, but that shouldn’t be any surprise. Keaton’s always that way. The way he portrays Ray is so unbelievably layered and complex, you’re never quite sure what to make of him. One minute, he’s a normal guy, fast-talking, just trying to make a living like everyone else. There’s a connection the audience can make there, a guy starting at the bottom. He gets frustrated when things go south, trying to keep a positive attitude. He’ll even snap at his supportive wife, but not without apologizing immediately after. You see a man in love with this new concept of fast-food and only wants to see it go national. You see his passion get the better of him sometimes, so it’s hard to hate the guy. But then when he starts ignoring his wife, despite her active support, even getting the hots for another man’s wife, so it’s impossible to say that he’s a good man. See how this guy is written? First you get him, then he’s an asshole, then he’s charmingly passionate, then he’s a jerk-off supreme leech who couldn’t find success on his own and stole the success of other men. It’s the ultimate story of a hero’s downfall.

I should also be clear that I haven’t done much research into this matter, so I can’t attest to how despicable the real Ray Kroc was, but if half of this story is true, then I’d say the movie isn’t that far off. I’ll probably look into it at some point in the future to see what was fabricated and what was true. I imagine, because this is a two hour product placement of McDonalds, the company of said restaurant probably requested that certain details not be shared or only to be hold in half truths. I’m not sure how much I believe that the brothers’ first restaurant was that passionate about the service that even they would be out in the parking lot sweeping up garbage. I might believe the tennis court make-believe training segment. I don’t know if I believe that the brothers didn’t want to franchise more after their first foray into it. Something’s telling me they wanted to, but lacked the persistent know-how that Ray would eventually provide. Most everything else seems pretty legit and well-backed by the movie itself.

But it doesn’t end with Keaton. Both Lynch and Offerman are spectacular and have incredible chemistry. Their relationship is explored just the right amount. You love Mac for his ferocious loyalty to Dick (insert immature joke here), for giving up his dreams of working in the film industry to work with Dick. He is so cheerful and endearing in how much he loves his brother and is part of his accomplishments, even sacrificing his health once to make that dream larger. And Dick is lovably confrontational toward Ray when their ideas start to clash, putting the spotlight on his wonderfully “serious business” voice with his “my eyes will eat your face off” angry stare. But he’s a kind and practical man when not pushed and thoroughly unapologetic. I love how these two have a tried and true passion for what they created. Having a set of morals that shouldn’t be broken, even in the face of adversity or the promise of greater wealth. They aren’t greedy men and are happy with and proud of what they have now. Which makes it such a particularly painful moment when Ray snatches everything from under them, not just “taking” their idea, but… have you ever heard of the phrase “highway robbery?” Even that doesn’t seem to quite cover it! It’s heart-breaking and makes you wonder what the differences are between McDonalds today versus back in the last 50’s when there was a different attitude and care for what they were doing. Sure must have been something.

Oh and who else was wonderful? Dern, oh my god. Why, God? Why do you tease us with these blessings you send us? She is amazing, despite how limited her screen-time is. Ethel is Ray’s wife who shows nothing but support for her husbands ventures, but her support is either not appreciated enough, or completely overlooked. She’s grown tired of him not being home to enjoy their lives together, but sees the lovable passion in his eyes when he comes across McDonalds. Even when their friends are laughing at him, and she herself doesn’t have the highest regards for this latest scheme, she still shuts up those nay-sayers and still shows him support. But all that success goes to his head and even when she’s taking active responsibilities in the company, she’s totally shafted when he not only eyes the wife of another man that would ultimately be under his employ and offer up some innovations to the company that he would utilize, but divorces Ethel one random night during dinner and tells her it in the most nonchalant way. God damn, Dern’s face speaks volumes. Shock, heart-ache, bewilderment, that feeling of “it all amounted to nothing,” by heavenly Jesus, that’s the very moment that Ray became a monster to me. Dear God, I hope Ethel is a fictional character because if she isn’t, I hope Ray is burning in a special place in hell for what he did to her.

And I love seeing Wilson on screen, no matter how brief. It always tickles me when I see Linda Cardellini, gah, I love the talent that drives this movie.

Now on a personal note, I currently work in the restaurant industry. I won’t lie, I think I would have loved to work for McDonalds when it started off. If the story presented to us here is true, then there was a genuine passion to make their restaurant the best of the best. There was real training, a hands-on approach to show how the process of whatever needs to be done. I’ve worked in a few food-service places and with the exception of this burger joint I used to work at, no place cares enough to do real training. It’s “throw your new employees to the wolves and see who comes out dead, or limping. Also, I feel like the story here feels hauntingly similar to restaurants I work in now. “Franchise, franchise, franchise!” “Franchise the darn thing!” These words ring horrifyingly and hilariously loudly in my head. The same mistakes were being made in real life as they were in the movie. Like, quality isn’t consistent, nor are menu items. Proper training is shrugged away, and essential items are often overlooked for restocking or replacement for what seems like to be an invasion of the brand to make more money as opposed to making each individual restaurant an equally great, or be it’s own uniquely amazing place. The original owners of McDonalds seemed to be content with less, so long as their stores were great, but as soon as greed sets in, it takes away from what’s already established.

So as you can see, I’m absolutely head-over-heels for this. Maybe it’s just about time we got a legitimately good film in January that I will take anything that’s half decent, but I do think it’s a great movie and I recommend it to anyone. It’s funny, it’s bad-ass, it’s compelling, it’s interesting, it’s everything a good biopic needs to be.

My honest rating for THE FOUNDER: 5/5

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