Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The ABC's of Death

The ABC's of Death - 129 min - Not Rated

This was recommended to me bay a person who found out I was a movie reviewer. It is a great idea 26 directors have a letter to build a short around.  Well only three are note worthy you can see them as links inside my review on Web Wombat

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ted 2

Ted 2 - 115min - R

Ted 2....Oh boy. Seth MacFarlane is beating the Ted drum again. Someone take that thing away from him. So many times I have seen movies that were gems and when a sequel comes out it is missing its muchness. Watching makes me cringe at the sad, hollow sound of them banging the same drum over and over.

I didn't get a chance to see Ted and thought about skipping the sequel because I have been doing that a lot lately seeing things out of order however my blog is titled "What is Showing Next" for a reason, so I did. This felt like a pale attempt at a movie. The film got absolutely no laughs from me and the rest of the audience were only mildly amused with a few pity chuckles here or there. It's almost like the filmmakers had a few funny jokes, and they built the story around the jokes. It also felt like a cable episodic television show. The set up and the jokes were almost vignettes among themselves parading as a movie.

Seth McFarlane is a brilliant man and I know that he does the lowest common denominator humor so he can pay for things like Cosmos (which was brilliant) but he can and should do better than banging out sequels. Ted did well because it was something new and different he has the chops to make new and interesting material. You can see the same comedic timing that McFarlane is so good at, but it was still not enough to make this better.

I do want to go back and watch the original because if nothing else this film has made me interested enough in the characters to see the original. There was a good concept here. I just think they lost their way. I am intrigued to know how this bong-smoking teddy bear got its start. There are some jokes that are way offside, but McFarlane seems to have a bus pass to the topics that are at times too crass to be seen on screen.

I understand the appeal of this kind of movie I can see that this kind of humor works for a lot of people. When I go and watch it I have to take my cues from the audience and in this case they have given this movie a resounding yawn.

I want to take a look at the numbers for returns on comedy sequels and see if I can make a case for abolishing them except in the cases where there is an over-arching story arc that they are trying to tell.  Those obviously need them, but there beautiful one-offs that need to be left alone. Hold on.... I was thing of a different move there I am not saying Ted was a gem. I was thinking of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. That movie was perfect and also didn't need a sequel.  I am going to watch Ted and get back to you if its worth your time.

Raunchy comedies have a hard time making a sequel that can match the first one. When you scrape the bottom of the humor barrel for jokes you dont have much to work with. You cant elevate the material because it loses the audience.  All you can do is rearrange the same level of jokes you had in the first one or change the location you tell the same jokes in.

Am I wrong? 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Skeleton Twins

The Skeleton Twins - 93 Min - R

I wanted to see this in the theater but din't get a chance.  This is a great film. and you should add it to your lists.  See my review on Web Wombat.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Spy - 120min - R

I have been a Melissa McCarthy fan for a while. I absolutely love her but her movies are a different story. Even in her worst film I have found her performances to be good. In Spy, she has found her vehicle. This movie is outstanding. It gives her a believable edge and makes this plus size superstar into an action heroine without playing the action for laughs. They address her size but it's never the brunt of the joke unless its calling out the absurdity of the stereotypes. She kicks ass and I hope that they make more of these because this is a franchise I would want to see more of.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a support person in the CIA office and she supports handsome and debonaire but also douchey James Bond-type field agent, Bradley Fine (Jude Law). She performed well in training but was pulled in by the charms of agent Fine to stay behind the scenes and help him. She harbors a crush on Fine and when he gets killed she is forced into the field to find his killer.

The filmmakers could have gone for the easy joke and made McCarthy's body type the main joke in this film but they don't. They do address the absurdity of underestimating her range with each cover story being a cat lady who is a retired lunch lady or the divorced mother of three kids who has won a trip to Europe. The mission takes a turn and she needs to step up her game and persona and becomes just as influential and beautiful as her dashing counterparts. After spending the first part of the mission in frumpy old lady cloths she has to infiltrate a casino so she goes to the store and dresses the part and she looks stunning. Wearing a stunning evening gown she waltzes into the casino and carries on the mission.

Jason Statham plays Rick Ford, a field agent who is completely a loose cannon. He plays the baboonish, bully chauvinist pig really well. He adds just enough tension to the scenes with McCarthy to cause her problems without ruining the mission. His motivation is to find Fine's killer but goes against what HQ says and makes it his personal mission to solve this case before McCarthy can. As a comedic tool (I mean that in both senses of the word), he does an outstanding job of making those pig headed ideas seem as absurd as they are in real life. And it's nice to see Statham have light fun with a role.

The Director (Paul Feig) has again proven he has great sense of comedic timing and the ability to tell a great story. He is an experienced actor in his own right. I think it translates well to getting the best performances from his team. This one and Bridesmaids are some stand out films for him as a director.

The trailers do this movie a disservice. They play up some of the obvious body image jokes that are only a small portion of this film. I have said this before that the team who makes the trailers are trying to get people in the door. It's a shame that the film seems so shallow from the trailers because there is so much more going on here.

Is there a performer that you absolutely love and continue to love even if they are in some stinker films?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Warriors

The Warriors - 92 min - R

Movies seen when you are young may not stand up to age and time. This is a movie that I loved when I was a kid, Not so much as an adult but I sympathies with what the film wanted to be so I couldn't actually give it a red. See what i wrote on Web Wombat.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mad Max - Fury Road

Mad Max:Fury Road  - 120min - R

I know this movie is getting a lot of love from reviewers and viewers and I did enjoy most of it. It seems like the further and longer into the wasteland you travel the more unusual the bad guys get.  There is no doubt this is a high-octane, high-adrenaline, pedal-to-the-metal, no-holds-barred action movie. Action gets high marks, beautifully done. The grown up in me starts to ask questions and ruins the magic a little. I am forced to give this movie a yellow light to accommodate both sides of me.

I am trying to come up with a way to describe what they did to the story line here. It's a sequel but a reboot. Would that be a se-boot or a re-quel? They retcon the history so we are starting fresh.  I am unsure of where this fits in now because of the changes to the timeline but he still has his car and its running so it must have been before the Thunderdome.  But he is now not just a loner who is mourning the loss of his family he now has his demons haunting him with faces of lots of people we have never seen. Tom Hardy is certainly the new Max. He walks into the role like he has been performing it for years.

The reflex action that causes Maxes hand to flinch up seems a bit contrite we have never seen that action before. It seems a bit forced into the story for plot reasons and we now are seeing the emotional weight that Max is carrying around. I think it was more implied in previous movies and now they are busting out and he is now seeing things.

The introduction of Furiosa is outstanding. Charlize Theron does an excellent job bringing this new character to life with strength and compassion. She is just as powerful on screen as Max. I would even go so far as to say I'd watch the hell out of a movie focused on her struggle with creating a society around the ruins of the one they took over. She is interesting where so many of the side characters in the past haven't been.  

I start to wonder about logistics on how they survive in a land where so many things have disappeared. The spray cans of chrome paint they were spraying on themselves when they were about to die. Death comes hard and fast in the wasteland so really they have a huge supply of silver spray paint? Admittedly everyone else would have been getting the food, water and ammunition it was lucky for Immortal Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) to think "Crap I need to get as many of the little chrome paint cans for my minions in the fanatical army I am going to make."

Cirque du Soleil seem to find work after the apocalypse and that is where you might wonder how cool is too cool.  Most of those shots were all done with vehicles that were standing still and the CGI motion and that is outstanding and way safer than having a rolling fight on the trucks. The guitar player in front of the wall of speakers, you know the blind one with a flame thrower guitar. Yes cool looking but again distracting.  He was playing his ass off for the two to three days they were on the road. That is some serious playing but very silly.

If you are going to see this movie leave your adult taste at the door and don't over think this movie. It is nothing but eye candy. Pure, unadulterated eye candy and it doesn't need a reason.

Did you like this movie if so why? Are we rehashing old properties because we have run out of stories? 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Physician

The Physician - 150 Min - R

This was a movie that was chosen for me. A reviewer friend of mine picked a movie at random.  I was impressed with the story and the way that the two cultures were highlighted. A movie I wouldn't have normally seen. Take a look at the Web Wombat review. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 - 94 min – PG

I don’t like watching the sequels of films when I haven't seen the original--primarily because they rarely stand well on their own. Call it one of the hazards of the way I do my blog. However this installment of the Blart franchise does a good job of bringing the viewer up to speed on the events of the first one. The down side is that at best this movie rates a cute. It falls short of the green range because of its unoriginality.

Six years after the events of first film Paul Blart (Kevin James) gets divorced from his wife (Jayma Mays) after only six days of marriage before his mother gets run over by a milk truck. There is only so much woe a writer should pile onto a character. He is already a sad character because he is at the pinnacle of his life: a mall cop. Can a main character get a break? There is nothing in his life except his daughter, Maya (Raini Rodriguez). Maya, gets news that UCLA has accepted her at the same time he gets great news that he is going to the Security Officer Trade Association event in Las Vegas. Maya has second thoughts about telling her father she is going away to college because he will be alone. Maya inadvertently witnesses an art heist in the hotel and becomes a hostage. In pure Blarty fashion, Paul takes matters into his own hands and thwarts the bad guys.... again.

This movie boils down to be a family-friendly action film. Aside from being in Vegas and having people holding alcoholic drinks I would say that there is nothing of a questionable nature in the film. The action is completely vanilla in nature and mostly screwball fun. This doesn’t make it a bad film; it just makes it a bland film. Even with all of the gun-play it’s mostly non-lethal and the bad guys just get incapacitated.

The production value, performances, hell even the writing are all ok but below par considering the resumes of the talent. Keven James does a great job bringing this odd duck to life probably because he wrote the script so he has a great understanding of who Paul is. But looking at the body of his work you can see that this is not really his best work.

You can see the director’s (Andy Fickman) style in this film. His films are set in a less sterilized Disney movie of the week range. He is never going to be over the top raw or raunchy but has enough of the real life setting to kick it out of the idealized reality that most Disney films are set in.

The only thing I would recommend to the film makers is stop dumping on Mr. Blart. Too much abuse from life makes the viewer feel bad for him. Pity is not an emotion that you should be aiming for. They did do a good job of resolving the issues between him and his daughter. Having Paul mature enough to see that he is holding his daughter back by being needy is a great story to end with but man, it was depressing getting there. It made me want to go watch a comedy to cheer me up, wait I just got out of a comedy. That’s not good.

I have seen worse films but I have also seen a lot better ones. What other sequels standalone without relying on the original story?