Archive for October, 2013

The Croods

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Eep (Emma Stone) is a girl in a family of cavemen living and hunting in pre-historic times. Her family is one of the few to survive, mainly due to the strict rules of her overprotective father, Grug (Nicolas Cage). In their cave home, Grug tells a story to the family, which includes his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), his daughter Sandy, his son Thunk (Clark Duke), and his mother-in-law Gran (Cloris Leachman). He uses the story of a character who mirrors Eep’s curious nature to warn the family that exploration and ‘new things’ pose a threat to their survival, and says to never not be afraid. This irritates the bored and adventurous Eep, and after the family falls asleep, she leaves the cave when she sees a light moving outside, against her father’s advice.

Seeking the light’s source, she meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a clever and inventive caveboy. She at first attacks him but then becomes fascinated with the fire he creates and is eager to learn more. He tells her about his theory that the world is reaching its ‘end’ and asks her to join him. She refuses and Guy leaves, but not before giving her a noise-making shell to call him if she needs help. Eep is then caught by Grug (who had been searching for her), and is later grounded for what she had done. Grug brings Eep home and is joined by the rest of the family. Eep tells them about Guy and shows them the shell given to her, only for them to destroy it in fear of ‘new things’. An earthquake then occurs, sending everyone running for the cave, only to be stopped by Grug moments before the cave is destroyed by falling rocks. They climb over the wreckage to discover a land with lush vegetation, much different from their usual surroundings of rocky terrain. Grug takes his family into the forest to find a new cave.

The family is chased by a “Macawnivore” (a large, macaw-colored machairodont later called ‘Chunky’) and attacked by a swarm of “Piranhakeets” (deadly red-furred, piranha-like birds). In panic, Eep finds and sounds a horn similar to that which Guy gave her. Guy hears this and rushes to her. Thinking quickly, he creates a torch of fire, which scares the birds away. The other Croods are captivated by the fire, having never seen it before. They steal Guy’s torch and accidentally set the land around them in flames. Some giant corn is also lit, which rockets up to the sky, prompting a display of fireworks. After feeling impressed by Guy’s intelligence and ‘ideas’, Grug bottles him in a hollow log to carry him in, then suggests that they take solitude in the cave of a nearby mountain mentioned by Guy. Guy is forcibly persuaded to lead the way and learns of the Croods’ way of living, which he thinks of as unusual.

After an unsuccessful hunting attempt, Guy, his “pet” sloth Belt (Chris Sanders), and Eep build a puppet to fool and lure nearby animals. After they make a capture, the family greedily devours everything they caught. Grug then tells another of his morale-lowering tales, this time mirroring the events of their day. Guy then tells a story of his own about a paradise he nicknames “Tomorrow”.

The next day, the family reaches a path coated in spiked rocks which Grug, Thunk, and Gran get pricked upon trying to cross them. A freed Guy presents one of his inventions called shoes. He makes some out of all the resources he can find for each family member. This gains him some respect from the others except for Grug, who feels jealous of Guy’s cleverness. After Guy’s ideas help the Croods on their journey, the family members gain something. Ugga, Gran, and Sandy have their first idea to get past carnivorous plants by hiding under flower heads as they pass, Thunk encounters and befriends a crocodile-like dog he calls Douglas, and Eep and Guy grow closer while Grug is stranded in a ravine forcing Ugga to go back for him. The next day, Grug shows the others some of his ideas (like a see-saw, shades made out of wood, and a snapshot that involves the family being slammed with a flat rock) which fail and humiliate him. They soon reach the mountain where Grug is unable to convince the family that settling in a nearby cave is a better option. Angry, he attacks Guy. The two become stuck in tar and Guy reveals his family died drowning in it and their last words inspired his traditions of “Tomorrow.” Grug has a change of heart towards Guy and he and Guy trick Chunky into freeing them by pretending to be a female “Macawnivore” in trouble.

As they are about to reach their destination, an earthquake opens a deep ravine in their path. Grug throws each of them across the gap and reconciles with Eep while creating the first hug with her. Grug then throws her across the ravine and is left behind. He takes shelter in a cave and makes a torch. After seeing a blank rock face, he paints a large cave-drawing of the Croods and Guy together. He then encounters Chunky, who attacks him until Grug’s torch is accidentally blown out, panicking them both. The frightened Chunky lies near Grug for comfort, who then has his first good idea. Using a large skeleton rib and a bigger torch, Grug manages to lure the Piranhakeets into transporting himself, Chunky, Douglas, and several other animals across the ravine, barely escaping the oncoming “end” destruction.

Grug, along with the rest of the family and the animals, settle down in a paradise-like environment. Grug becomes less protective, letting the family be more adventurous and risk-taking, thus bringing happiness to them all.

REVIEW:

I don’t believe there has been a prehistoric (human) family since The Flintstones, so we’re a bit overdue for one. Enter The Croods, a family that is the last survivors on Earth.

What is this about?

When an earthquake obliterates their cave, an unworldly prehistoric family is forced to journey through unfamiliar terrain in search of a new home. But things for pessimistic dad Grug go from bad to worse when his daughter meets a clever cave boy.

What did I like?

Design. You may notice these characters have a distinctive thick look to them, rather than the waif thin look that is so popular with animation today. If you remember Lilo & Stitch, then you should be used to it because this is the same director. I love the way this guy makes his characters look like someone you see walking down the street. It really works for cavemen, who are supposed to be a bit more thick and muscular, which serves his style perfectly.

Family. The typical tropes that we see in a family comedy. While they are a tad bit predictable, it works extremely well in that they don’t try to do anything that would “rock the boat”. The mother and father are a sweet couple, there’s an ancient mother-in-law that the father wants gone, a rebellious teen, slow but lovable brother, and a baby who has a totally different personality than the rest of the family.

Creatures. You would think that this is Earth, but the creatures that they come across are definitely not the kind we’ve heard of in our day. These fantastic, colorful creatures are a sight to behold. Making it better is the fact that the creatures actually are a part of what is going on. There is a very pivotal scene near the end that shows the creature and Grug Crood interact for a common goal.

What didn’t I like?

Comedy. There are some great comedic moments in the film, but I have issues with the way that the script doesn’t stack up to the physical comedy. Gags are one thing, but the jokes need to be there, too. The fact that they aren’t are a pretty big blemish on this film that really is damn near perfect, if you ask me.

Not for adults. One of the big things about children films is that the filmmakers try to put something in there for the adults. Well, I’m not so sure this one does that. Now, with that said, don’t think that this is an insult to adult intelligence, but if you’re one of those people who expect realism and such, there is nothing here for you, sorry.

Score. Maybe this is just the musician in me coming out, but the score for this film should be just as epic and impressive as the visuals, but it isn’t. Instead, we get some generic music, save for the opening. I was highly disappointed with this, but again, I’m a musician, so music stuffs sticks out more to me than someone without a musically trained ear. See if you can pick out Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” fairly early on.

The Croods is one of the most entertaining, endearing, and crowd-pleasing family films I’ve seen in some time. The critics weren’t exactly head over heels for it, but audiences went crazy for this. I’m regretting not seeing this in theaters. The big screen is sure to have made these scenes pop! That being said, this is a definitely a contender for best film of the year in my book! Check it out ASAP!

5 out of 5 stars

High Plains Drifter

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , on October 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A stranger on horseback rides into the mining town of Lago. Three gun-toting men follow him into the saloon, taunting him. When they follow him to the barbershop and threaten him, the Stranger shoots and kills all three of them. Impressed with this performance, a dwarf named Mordecai, who works in the barbershop, befriends the Stranger. An attractive woman named Callie Travers bumps into the Stranger in the street on purpose and insults and badgers him. When she slaps his cigar from his mouth, he drags her into the livery stable and rapes her. Next, he rents a room at the hotel. That night, he dreams about a man being brutally whipped.

It is revealed later that Marshal Jim Duncan was whipped to death by gunfighters Stacey Bridges, Dan Carlin, and Cole Carlin while the people of Lago looked on. Only Sarah Belding, wife of hotelier Lewis Belding, made any attempt to rescue him. A corrupt faction in Lago wanted Duncan dead, as the Marshal discovered that the town’s mine is on government ground (the townsfolk feared that this news, if reported, would result in the mine being closed, which would threaten the town’s livelihood).

Sheriff Sam Shaw tells the Stranger he will not be charged for killing the three men. Meanwhile, the townsmen discuss Bridges and the Carlin brothers, who are due to be released from prison that day. The town double-crossed the three gunfighters after they killed Duncan, and the men are expected to seek vengeance. Since the men slain by the Stranger were the mining company’s new protectors, the townsmen decide to hire the Stranger as their replacement.

Presenting the offer to the Stranger, Shaw explains that the three gunfighters were caught stealing gold from the mining company, although he admits the gold was poorly protected. The Stranger declines the job until Shaw tells him he can have anything he wants. Accepting these terms, the Stranger indulges in the town’s goods and services, and makes Mordecai both sheriff and mayor. He also has Belding’s clients moved out of the hotel, dismantles Belding’s barn in order to make picnic benches, has the entire town painted red, and paints the word “HELL” on the “LAGO” sign just outside of town.

While the Stranger trains the townspeople to defend themselves, Bridges and the Carlin brothers are released from prison and make their way to Lago. They begin on foot but kill three men and take their horses.

A group of townsfolk try to ambush the Stranger in the hotel, but he kills all but one of them. After Belding inadvertently divulges his complicity in the attack (which left the hotel destroyed), the Stranger drags Sarah Belding into their room, and she sleeps with him willingly. The next morning, Sarah tells the Stranger about Duncan’s murder, and how Duncan was buried in an unmarked grave. She remarks, “They say the dead don’t rest without a marker of some kind.”

The Stranger rides out the next morning. Sarah intends to leave Lago and her husband. The Stranger finds the gunfighters, and has a brief shootout with them before returning to Lago. With the town painted red, townsmen with rifles stationed on rooftops, and a picnic and welcoming banner set up for the gunfighters, the Stranger mounts his horse and rides away. When the gunfighters arrive, they easily overcome the paltry resistance offered by the townspeople, killing several of the town’s corrupt civic leaders. By nightfall, they have the townspeople collected in the saloon while the barber shop and other buildings burn. The Stranger returns, and kills the gunfighters one by one, whipping Cole Carlin to death, hanging Dan Carlin with another whip, and shooting Stacey Bridges. Bridges’ last words to the Stranger are “Who are you?!” – but the Stranger doesn’t answer him. Belding attempts to shoot the Stranger in the back – but Mordecai shoots Belding first.

The next day, the Stranger departs, slowly riding through the ruined town in the same manner that he arrived at the film’s beginning. At the cemetery, he passes by Mordecai, who is carving a fresh headstone. Mordecai comments to the departing Stranger that he never did know his name, to which the Stranger replies cryptically, “Yes, you do.” As the Stranger rides out, it is revealed that the headstone engraved by Mordecai reads “MARSHAL JIM DUNCAN, REST IN PEACE.”

The Stranger rides off into the distance, his image absorbed by a mirage, seemingly vanishing into thin air.

REVIEW:

Someone was having a debate about western on some program I was listening to the other day and it came down to this, 9 times out of 10 John Wayne is the hero and 99.9% of the time, Cline Eastwood is playing an anti-hero. High Plains Drifter is no exception to that logic. As a matter of fact, this could be seen as the further adventures of “the man with no name.”

What is this about?

Amid shoot-outs and existentialism, a mysterious stranger (Clint Eastwood, who also directs) is hired to protect a small town from outlaws. But his recipe for defense could be a deal with the devil, and soon, even the enigmatic gunslinger’s supporters — including Mordecai (Billy Curtis) and Sarah (Verna Bloom) — are wondering just what they’ve signed up for. The rip-roaring conclusion could leave the town in tatters.

What did I like?

Storytelling. People ask me all the time why I like westerns so much. The fact is, if you look at any western, especially the upper echelon ones, there are some great stories to be told there involving good, evil, and the area in between. This film, is no exception to that rule, as it weaves a fantastic tale about a stranger who walks into a town to help defend it from outlaws. Yes, we’ve all heard that tale before a million times, especially in cartoons and such, but to see it in live action with the likes of Clint Eastwood, just makes it better.

Different. This is a little different western. For one thing, this isn’t some small town what seems to be the middle of the desert, but rather a small town by the ocean. When was the last time you saw water in a western that wasn’t a well or some sort of watering hole? Also, this isn’t a film that, like many of Eastwood’s films, has something to say about society. I’ll let you make your own judgment about what it says, so as to not sway your political bias one way or the other.

Brutal, but not bloody. Films of this era weren’t exactly known for being bloody action pieces the way we seem to envision every film that is released these days. Back then, the strength of pictures was in their subtlety. There are some downright brutal scenes in here, such as the repeated sight of a mystery man being whipped, but they never get graphic enough to turn you away. What happened to us, as a society, that allows us to revel in the pain and misery of a man getting beaten and bleeding to death, I wonder.

What didn’t I like?

Rape. In the very early scenes of the film, Eastwood’s Stranger is being bothered by a lady in town. The reason for this is unknown to me, as she just seems to be a nuisance. Apparently, Eastwood thought so too, as he threatens her if she doesn’t shut up. Well, she doesn’t shut her mouth, so he picks her up and carries her to a nearby barn, where he rapes her. Now, it isn’t bad enough that there is a random rape scene in here, but it is her reaction to it. Most women who have been raped make sure it is well known that they were raped so that revenge, usually vigilante style, can be taken on their attacker. As far as they showed, she didn’t even bring it up until her reappearance later in the film. Second, during the act, she seemed to be more enjoying it than anything else. Rape is never a good thing, but this just didn’t sit with me right at all.

Destruction. These small towns in westerns get it real bad. This town, Lago, was nearly wiped off the face of the earth because of some petty foolishness, including the destruction of some important buildings, such as the hotel, amongst others. When all the dust clears, the townspeople celebrate the hero, but really they are wondering if they would have been better off had they never come and played a part in the destruction of their town.

Every now and then film comes along that restores your faith in a genre. High Plains Drifter has become that film for me and westerns. With its dark, gritty tone overlayed with comedic moments and interspersed action moments, this is surely a film that everyone will find something to enjoy in. Some have said that this is Eastwood’s homage to Sergio Leone, while others maintain that it is a fourth film in “The Man with no Name” trilogy. At any rate, I highly recommend it!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Oblivion

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on October 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the year 2077, Tech 49 Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is one of the last drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Jack tells us that the planet was nearly destroyed sixty years ago, during a war against a race of alien invaders known as Scavengers (“Scavs”). The Scavs destroyed the moon, causing massive earthquakes and tsunamis, and then launched their invasion. They were only defeated by the use of nuclear weapons, which left most of the planet irradiated and uninhabitable. The few surviving humans migrated to a large space station called the “Tet”, a massive tetrahedral space station that orbits the Earth, which is powered using energy harvested on Earth by giant ocean-borne power stations that generate fusion power from seawater before migration to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. From Tower 49, a base standing above the remains of the northeastern United States, Jack and his partner and lover Victoria “Vika” Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) work as a team to maintain the autonomous drones that defend the power stations from the few remaining Scav bandits. They receive their orders from Sally (Melissa Leo), their mission commander, who is stationed on the Tet. Jack flies recon and repair missions to the surface, while Vika supervises from Tower 49, a home at around 3000 feet (1000 meters) above sea level. The two expect to leave Earth and join the other survivors on the Tet in two weeks. Although Jack and Vika had their memories wiped five years earlier for security reasons, Jack has recurring dreams about meeting a mysterious woman at the Empire State Building before the war—which was before he was born. Jack keeps a secret retreat in a forested area he sometimes visits.

A Scav signal beacon transmitting coordinates off Earth is followed shortly by the crash of a pre-invasion spacecraft. Drones arrive at the crash site and kill most of the crew, but Jack manages to rescue a woman, Julia (Olga Kurylenko), recognizing her as the woman from his dreams. Julia says her ship—the Odyssey—was a NASA mission, the objective of which she refuses to reveal, and she and Jack retrieve the ship’s flight recorder. They are captured by Scavs, who are revealed to be humans living in what remains of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex. Their leader, Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman), claims that the alien invasion was a lie and wants Jack to reprogram a captured drone in order to destroy the Tet by delivering a nuclear weapon powered by the Odyssey’s core reactor, the reason they deorbited the Odyssey. When Jack refuses, Malcolm releases the captives but urges them to seek the truth in the so-called “radiation zone” that Jack is forbidden to enter.

On their way back to the Tower, Jack takes Julia to the ruins of the Empire State Building and asks her who she is. She reveals that she was his wife before the war. His dreams were flashbacks to the day he proposed to her on the Empire State Building’s observation deck. As Jack and Julia share a loving embrace Vika watches via her video link to Jack’s ship, and when they return to the Tower she refuses them entry. When she informs Sally that she and Jack are no longer an “effective team”, Sally activates a drone that kills Vika. Before the drone can kill Jack, Julia uses the weapons on Jack’s ship to destroy the drone. Sally requests that Jack returns to the Tet with Julia, but they flee in his ship instead, pursued by more drones. They crash in the radiation zone, where Jack comes face to face with Tech 52, a clone of himself. He fights the clone, who, upon catching sight of Julia, also begins experiencing memory flashbacks, before Jack renders him unconscious. Jack sees that Julia has been seriously wounded by a stray bullet from his struggle with Tech 52. Jack impersonates Tech 52, activating his vehicle and going to Tower 52, where he encounters a clone of Vika, and steals a med kit to help Julia.

Shocked, Jack and Julia return to Beech, who tells them the truth: the Tet is in fact an alien artificial intelligence that seized Earth to exploit the planet’s resources, and Jack and Victoria are just two of many thousands of clones of their original selves (who were astronauts from 2017) created as soldiers to carry out the invasion of Earth. The Tet uses drones programmed to kill humans on sight. The survivors use old technology like stealth fighter shielding and vocal scrambling to confuse the drones (thus looking like “Scavs”). The Tet uses clones of Jack and Vika to maintain the drones, and thereby its dominance. Jack agrees to reprogram the stolen drone to destroy the Tet. When leaving the underground stronghold with the reprogrammed drone, they are attacked by three other drones. The drones enter the base and wreak havoc inside, severely damaging the reprogrammed drone and wounding Beech in the process. The humans finally manage to destroy the three drones, but are forced to find another way to deliver the nuclear bomb to the Tet. Jack proposes delivering the bomb himself. To throw off suspicion, Julia suggests that she accompany Jack, since Sally had requested him to bring her to the Tet.

During the flight, Jack listens to the Odyssey’s flight recorder, which reveals that he and Victoria were originally pilots on the Odyssey research mission to Titan, which was reassigned by NASA when the Tet was discovered near Saturn. Sally was originally their supervisor at NASA mission control, with other personnel, including Julia, on board in cryogenic sleep capsules. Upon approach, the Tet drew them in using a form of tractor beam. Recognizing that capture was imminent, Jack was able to jettison the sleeping crewmembers, who orbited for sixty years in suspended animation until Beech sent the signal to recall their craft.

Jack enters the Tet, where he is met by a sentient tetrahedral structure that had adopted the persona of Sally. Jack opens the sleep capsule to reveal Beech; Julia simultaneously emerges from another sleeping capsule at Jack’s secret forest retreat. The two men trigger the nuclear bomb and destroy the Tet at the cost of their own lives. The destruction of the Tet also deactivates the remaining drones around the world just as they were about to slaughter the survivors at the Scavs’ underground base.

Three years later, Julia is living with her young daughter in the forest retreat on the recovering Earth. A group of survivors arrive there, and Tech 52 emerges from the group. A voice-over by Tech 52 reveals that his previous encounter had re-awakened memories of Julia, and he had searched for her since the Tet’s destruction. Having the same latent memories as Tech 49, he then reunites with “his” family.

REVIEW:

Well, now that I’ve had time to rinse the taste of InAPPropriate Comedy out of my mouth, let’s hope that Oblivion doesn’t do anything to make me lose faith in the film industry. Well, more than I already have with all these damn remakes, reboots, etc.

What is this about?

High above a war-torn future Earth, Cmdr. Jack Harper is maintaining the planet’s defensive drones when a crippled starship enters his territory. Its sole occupant, a mysterious woman, leads Harper to shocking truths about humankind’s legacy.

What did I like?

Minimalistic. Sometimes these apocalyptic sci-fi films try to throw too much at the audience and it just ends up being a giant cluster of confusion. This film scales all that back and gives a couple of plot points with a minor third one thrown in beginning in the third act that is more of a way to tie up loose ends at the end of the film than anything else, but it works.

Cruise. I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise, but even I have to admit that the guy seems to have his career moving back in the right direction these days. Also, he isn’t a bad actor as we can see with many of his solo scenes. In order to pull off a scene where it is just you and the scenery, it takes some real acting chops, and Cruise has proven he has those.

Visual. The film is visually stunning. The immaculately clean and white space station is the start of it, then we see the remains of such landmarks and important places such as the Empire State building and Giants stadium, then we get some wildlife and greenery before finally seeing the space station that is in space. If none of these take your breath away when you first see them, especially if you are able to see this on the big screen, then you I just don’t know what to say, because these striking visuals can be argued as the best part of the film.

What didn’t I like?

Script. One critic brought up how this script could very well have been thrown out the window and this would have been just as effective. Truth is, the writing isn’t that good, but I don’t believe turning this into a dialogue-less picture would solve that problem. A few touch-ups here and there, maybe clear up some of the confusion with the scavengers and that should do the trick.

Women. The women in the film bothered me. First, there is newcomer Andrea Risenborough, who I swear they cast only because they couldn’t get Julianne Moore. The coldness of her was a turn off for me and I was hoping she would die a quick and painful death, when I should be wanting to see what happens with her character. Melissa Leo, who is playing some kind of supervisor, had the most horrible southern accent I’ve heard in all of my days. She has nothing to do, but sit there and spout out the same few lines, you’d think she could have gotten the accent right, if she must use it. Finally, there was Olga Kurylenko. First, I have to give kudos to how much she has grown as an actress since I first saw her in Hitman, however, I didn’t feel a connection to her character. I blame this on how they brought her in, rather than anything she did. As a matter of fact, I actually was a fan of how she was used in the ending.

At first, I thought Oblivion was going to be just another Earth apocalypse movie with hints of 2001: A Space Odyssey thrown in for good measure. At least, that’s how the trailer led us all to believe it was going to be. As it turns out, this was quite the surprisingly, entertaining sci-fi action film. Sure, it has its problems, but they aren’t glaring enough that they can’t be overlooked. I highly recommend this to anyone in the mood for a subdued bit of sci-fi. Give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

InAPPropriate Comedy

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , on October 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A tablet computer loaded with offensive applications creates cultural mayhem.

Psychology World

A psychologist (Rob Schneider) has a session with a sex-obsessed young woman (Noelle Kenney) who wants to change. She shows him the pills that make her wild. He takes them and passes out on the floor.

Flirty Harry

Flirty Harry (Adrien Brody) is a cop who, with a repertoire of double entendres, watches the streets of New York.

Blackass

Vondell (Da’Vone McDonald), Murphay (Calvin Sykes), Swade (Thai Edwards), Darnell (Chalant Phifer), and Acquon (Ashton Jordaan Ruiz) are five African American guys who go about their days causing trouble.

The Porno Review

J.D. (Rob Schneider), Harriet (Michelle Rodriguez), and Bob (Jonathan Spencer) (who spends most of the time masturbating) host an At the Movies-style film review series that showcases pornographic films, including a parody of Swan Lake known as Sperm Lake (which features several gay ballet dancers in place of the girls).

Things You’ll Never See

A one-off sketch showing a beautiful young woman (Kiersten Hal) dating an old poor man (Anthony Russell).

Above the Grate

Lindsay Lohan stands on an air vent much like Marilyn Monroe’s famous scene from The Seven Year Itch while a man watches from underneath (Under the Grate).

The Amazing Racist

Ari Shaffer and his cameraman go around the city showcasing extremely racist and offensive stereotypes against Asians, African Americans, and Jews. It is heavily implied that all of Shaffer’s doings were not rehearsed and done to random people on the street.

REVIEW:

I don’t think there is a more appropriate title for this waste of 83 minutes than InAPPropriate Comedy. Needless to say, I’m not going to waste too much of your time with this review, because it just doesn’t warrant that respect.

What is this about?

An all-star cast aims to leave no one unoffended with these gleefully outrageous comedy sketches directed by TV pitchman Vince Offer. The collection includes cop “Flirty Harry,” “The Amazing Racist” and other politically incorrect gags.

What did I like?

Lindsay. One of my favorite Marilyn Monroe films is The Seven Year Itch. Ever since Marilyn did that sewer grate scene, actresses have been trying to re-create it. Lohan throws her hat in the lot here. While it makes no damn sense (as if anything in this film does), it is actually the one thing that seems like it had some care put into it.

What didn’t I like?

Offensive. This is one of those films that is offensive just for the sake of being offensive. How do films like this keep getting made?!? Even worse, this made it into theaters, and I believe it was in the top 5 for a few weeks, which means there is actually an audience for this crap. I’m just not in that number, I suppose.

Cast. For the most part, this cast is largely unknown and Rob Schneider, who is no stranger to bad films. However, Michelle Rodriguez ad Adrien Brody show up in this and for what reason? I really can’t tell you, especially Rodriguez who just sits in a cheer to look pretty.

Racist. There is never an excise for racial jokes. Yes, they can be funny in small doses, but when you just beat the audience over the head with them, it goes from being racial to racist, and that is a huge problem this film has in my eyes. There was no reason to go as far as they did and they should have quit while they were ahead.

Let’s not beat around the bush, shall we? InAPPropriate Comedy is only meant for the handful of people who felt Movie 43 was a  tour de force. The rest of us should avoid this piece of @$~!@!~^ like it is the plague!

1/4 out of 5 stars

Behind the Candelabra

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on October 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1977, 17-year-old Scott Thorson, who works as an animal trainer for movies, meets Bob Black, a Hollywood producer, in a gay bar. At Black’s urging, he leaves his adopted home in search of better-paying work. Black introduces Thorson to Liberace, who takes an immediate liking to the handsome younger man. Liberace invites the two backstage and then to his luxurious home. Thorson observes that one of Liberace’s beloved dogs is suffering from a temporary form of blindness, and with his veterinary assistant background, informs the famous pianist that he knows how to cure the condition. After treating the dog, Thorson becomes Liberace’s “assistant” at the performer’s request.

Scott moves in with Liberace and becomes his lover. At this point Scott says that he is bisexual because he is also attracted to women. Liberace is sympathetic, informing him that he wanted and tried to love women, but was exclusively attracted to men. He relates a story of a “divine healing” in which a “messenger” informed him that God still loved him.

It gradually becomes clear that Liberace is trying to mold Scott into a younger version of himself; he requests his plastic surgeon Dr. Startz to transform Scott’s face to more closely resemble his own and makes an unsuccessful attempt to formally adopt him. When Liberace begins visiting pornographic theaters and suggests they see other people, Scott becomes upset. Meanwhile, Scott’s drug abuse and Liberace’s promiscuity create a rift that ultimately destroys their relationship: Scott retains an attorney to seek his financial share of the property, and Liberace ends their formal partnership and involves himself with his most recent “assistant”.

Not long thereafter, Scott receives a phone call from Liberace telling him that he is very sick with what is later revealed to be AIDS, and would like Scott to visit him again. Scott agrees, and he and Liberace have one last, emotional deathbed conversation before Liberace dies in February 1987. Scott attends Liberace’s funeral, in which he imagines seeing Liberace performing one last time with his traditional flamboyance, before being lifted to heaven with a stage harness.

REVIEW:

Before Elton John was the queen of all queens, there was Liberace. Most people are probably like me, you’ve heard the name, but don’t know much about the music or the man. Behind the Candelabra is a bit of a history lesson on the man and the way he treated his “assistants”. Here’s an interesting tidbit, this HBO film was released in theaters everywhere but here in the US. Man, we are such prudes!

What is this about?

Michael Douglas stars as flamboyant entertainer Liberace in this sequin-studded drama that chronicles the legendary pianist’s roller-coaster relationship with his young lover, Scott Thorson — from their passionate liaison to their stormy battles.

What did I like?

Flamboyant. I’ve always heard that Liberace was quite the opulent character. I seem to recall reading somewhere that he even had a toilet made of gold! Why would anyone want that to be solid gold, considering what goes down there? At any rate, I have to tip my hat to the costume and set designers for capturing and portraying the over the top style that Liberace had, both on stage and at home.

Tone. I know some people like their biopics as serious as possible because apparently they think everyone has a hard, depressing life. Yes, Liberace had some dark times in his life, but for the most part, this is a guy who loved life. When the film focuses on Liberace, it pushes his lust for life (as well as other things), and there is a somewhat lighter tone to this whole film that one would expect.

Performance. The entire cast needs to be commended, from the smaller characters such as Debbie Reynolds, David Koechner, and Scott Bakula all the way up to Matt Damon and Michael Douglas. There is not a weak link in this chain, with Douglas and Damon giving some of their best performances in quite some time. Someone said that the best writing these days is in television, and this just goes to show how true that statement is.

Music. Liberace was a musician, first and foremost, but the music in this film is important because it was the last film that Marvin Hamlisch scored. Hamlisch passed away in summer of 2012. The score he left is pretty nice and Hamlisch will be missed. He was a great talent.

What didn’t I like?

Plastic surgery. Take a minute and look up young pictures of Mickey Rourke and then look at him now. Big difference, right? Well, that same kind of thing goes on here with Rob Lowe. I don’t know what was going on with his face, but it looked like his face was stretched to the extreme measures. It was like watching a bad wreck. It was horrible to look at, but you can’t look away.

Scott. As I said earlier, Matt Damon gives a great performance, but his character falls a bit flat. Granted, almost all of his scenes are with Liberace, so he’s going to pale in comparison. You may not have realized it, but Damon is supposed to be the star of the film, but with the exception of a couple of points here and there, you can’t tell.

Music. Liberace was a musician, yet we only get one scene of him actually playing. When Douglas and Damon are sitting on the couch watching TV, we get a bit of history of Liberace, such as how he started using his trademark candelabra. I just wish that we could have gotten some more of Liberace at the piano, even if it was just him playing at home for Damon.

In this day and age, it is so hard to get a biopic that is interesting, entertaining, and faithful to real life. Behind the Candelabra constantly brings us moments of drama and some light comedic moments. The film’s ending, after Liberace’s death, is something to see. It sort of departs from the realism of the picture, but it is still worth seeing. I highly recommend it as a must-see! Check it out!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

A Letter to Three Wives

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 23, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Just as they are about to take a group of underprivileged children on a riverboat ride and picnic, Deborah Bishop (Jeanne Crain), Rita Phipps (Ann Sothern), and Lora Mae Hollingsway (Linda Darnell) receive a message from Addie Ross informing them that she has run off with one of their husbands. She, however, leaves them in suspense as to which one. All three marriages are shown in flashback to be strained.

Deborah grew up on a farm. Her first experience with the outside world came when she joined the Navy WAVES during World War II, where she met her future husband Brad (Jeffrey Lynn). When they return to civilian life, Deborah is ill at ease in Brad’s upper class social circle. Adding to her insecurity, she learns that everyone expected Brad to marry Addie, whom all three husbands consider practically a goddess.

However, she is comforted by Brad’s friend Rita, a career woman who writes stories for sappy radio soap operas. Her husband George (Kirk Douglas), a schoolteacher, feels somewhat emasculated since she earns much more money. He is also disappointed that his wife constantly gives in to the demands of her boss, Mrs. Manleigh (Florence Bates). Rita’s flashback is to a dinner party she gave for her boss. She forgot that her husband’s birthday was that night, and only remembered when a birthday present, a rare Brahms recording, arrived from Addie Ross.

Lora Mae grew up poor, not just on the “wrong side of the tracks,” but literally next to the railroad tracks. (Passing trains shake the family home periodically.) She sets her sights on her older, divorced employer, Porter (Paul Douglas), the wealthy owner of a statewide chain of department stores. Her mother, Ruby Finney (Connie Gilchrist), is unsure what to think of her daughter’s ambition, but Ruby’s friend (and the Bishops’ servant) Sadie (an uncredited Thelma Ritter) approves. Matters come to a head when she sees a picture of Addie Ross on the piano in his home. She tells him she wants her picture on a piano: her own piano in her own home. He tells her he isn’t interested in marriage, and she breaks off their romance. However, he loves her too much, and finally gives in and proposes, skipping a New Year’s party at Addie’s house to do so.

When the women return from the picnic, Rita is overjoyed to find her husband at home. They work out their issues; she promises to not let herself be pushed around by Mrs. Manleigh.

Deborah’s houseman gives her a message stating that Brad will not be coming home that night. A heartbroken Deborah goes alone to the dance with the other two couples.

When Porter complains about his wife dancing with another man, she tells him he has no idea how much Lora Mae really loves him, but Porter is certain his wife only sees him as a “cash register.” Unable to take it anymore, Deborah gets up to leave, announcing that Brad has run off with Addie. Porter stops her, confessing it was he who started to run away with Addie, but then explains, “A man can change his mind, can’t he?” Porter then tells his wife that, with his admission in front of witnesses, she can divorce him and get what she wants. To his shock, Lora Mae claims she did not hear a word he said. He asks her to dance.

The voice of Addie Ross bids all a good night. In the film, she is shown only once and from behind.

REVIEW:

I never watched that show Desperate Housewives, but I can see some influences in A Letter to Three Wives. As a huge fan of classic cinema, I am always looking for something great. This is one of those films that has a reputations, so I figured it’d be best to see what all the hoopla was about.

What is this about?

In this 1949 black-and-white classic, which won Joseph L. Mankiewicz an Academy Award for Best Director, three married women (Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell and Ann Sothern) vacationing on the Hudson suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of a disturbing missive: One of their husbands has broken his nuptial vows and cheated. But whose? The answer is revealed as each woman excavates the ruins of her marriage.

What did I like?

Letter. This Addie Ross person had to have some balls to write a letter to the three wives of these husbands, letting them know that she had an affair with one of them. For those of you that don’t know, a letter is an e-mail that was handwritten on paper before the days of computers, e-mail, and texting. Anyway, as you can tell by the title of the film, the letter is pretty important.

Cast. I would be hard-pressed to not praise this cast, which includes the likes of Kirk Douglas, Jeanne Crain, Celeste Holm, amongst others. Each etches their own indelible mark of history with this film, which could be another humdrum drama, but they give it that little bit of life it needs to keep audiences interested.

Addie. As important a role as she plays in the film, I appreciate how the focus is quickly taken from her after the opening narration, almost as if she is a red herring for the rest of the picture. An effective technique to be sure, and one that should be employed in some of today’s pictures.

What didn’t I like?

Flashbacks. A nice technique this film employs is the use of flashbacks. While I appreciate how these gave us some background and development of each of the characters, as well as providing something towards the mystery. My problem with the flashbacks though are how they seems to drag on. I would have preferred this to have been more concise, for the sake of the audience, though.

Subtraction. The novel this is based on is actually titled A Letter to Five Wives. For some unknown reason, they cut out the other 2 wives. Well, the fourth wife was actually supposed to be in this, but her scenes were cut to shorten the film. I don’t understand why they couldn’t have just left all 5 wives in and shorten the flashback scenes.

A Letter to Three Wives sounds like it could one of those supremely boring and depressing films. As it turns out, it isn’t that depressing, given that that alternate ending. This is one of those slow moving classic films that you need to pay attention to from beginning to end, soaking up everything from ambience to the great performances. That being said, I only recommend this to those of you with an attention span, otherwise, this will be a waste of your time.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Just Friends

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , on October 23, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1995, Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) is an obese, curly-haired high school student with a lisp, braces, and a “gentle giant” demeanor. He attends the graduation party of his best friend, Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart), on whom he secretly has a crush. He plans to confess his feelings by writing them in Jamie’s yearbook. When Chris tries to return Jamie’s yearbook, it is taken by her despicable ex-boyfriend, Tim (Ty Olsson). Tim reads Chris’s confession aloud at the party wherein Chris is publicly humiliated. He is further demoralized when Jamie doesn’t reciprocate his feelings. Chris receives a kiss on the cheek from Jamie and is told that they are like brother and sister. When the mob of partygoers burst out of the house again, Jamie admonishes them for making fun of Chris. Chris leaves on his bicycle tearfully and vows to leave town and never return in order to achieve greater success than his classmates.

Ten years later, Chris has lost weight, is handsome and is a highly successful Los Angeles record producer. He is also a womanizer. Prior to Christmas, Chris’ boss, KC (Stephen Root), orders Chris to accompany an emerging, self-obsessed pop singer called Samantha James (Anna Faris) to Paris. KC wants Chris to ensure Samantha signs with him. Chris sees difficulties in this but follows orders. During the trip to Paris, Samantha sets her private jet on fire by using aluminum foil in the plane’s microwave oven. This necessitates an emergency landing in New Jersey, near Chris’s hometown. Chris takes the singer to his mother’s house for a place to spend the night and re-engages with his teenage past, including his unresolved feelings for Jamie. At the local bar, Chris encounters some old classmates, including Tim, who is now balding, fat and a heavy drinker. Jamie also appears, working as a bartender to support herself through graduate school. Chris plans to impress and seduce Jamie. However, a number of unexpected problems, including a growing realization that Jamie’s friendship is important to him, hamper Chris’ plan. Chris bonds with Jamie on several occasions and during a friendly ice skating “day date”, Chris is taken away in an ambulance after being injured in a game of hockey. Jamie is reunited with Dusty Dinkleman (Chris Klein), a paramedic and former high school nerd who was also in love with her.

Prior to his date, Chris had left his younger brother, Mike (Christopher Marquette), to spend time with Samantha. Samantha eventually pushes Mike against the bathroom wall to find out Chris’ location and, following initial resistance, Samantha, knowing Mike’s strong feelings towards her, passionately kisses him, resulting in the brother’s disclosure (thinking that Chris and Jamie have had sex already, Mike uses the term “lover”). Samantha consequently becomes jealous towards Jamie, believing that the old classmates are in a relationship, and in an angry rage, Samantha destroys Jamie’s family’s Christmas decorations. Embarrassed by Samantha’s actions, Chris returns home but is visited by Jamie there. Jamie reveals that she is not mad at Chris and plans to spend the night with him; but, due to Chris’ continuing lack of assertion, the two end up falling asleep and no romance ensues.

The day after Samantha’s vandalism, Jamie speaks with Darla (Amy Matysio), who is now married to Clark (Fred Ewanuick), about the night before and her fear that Chris lack of affection might mean that he doesn’t like her. Jamie admits that whilst the two are “just friends”, she tried to “put herself out there” to Chris, to show Chris that she is interested in a relationship. Meanwhile, Chris attends Clark’s workplace, a dental surgery, to talk to Clark, revealing to him that “the timing wasn’t right” and that their shared history hinders his willingness to have sex with her. Chris explains that he feels like he is in high school again.

Later, Chris and Clark catch Dusty singing to a sexy nurse and then kissing her. Dusty then reveals to Chris and Clark that he only plans to have sex with Jamie, as he wants to humiliate her in the same way that he felt she used to humiliate him. Chris tries to warn Jamie about Dusty during a children’s Christmas pageant, but instead ends up attacking Dusty and ruining the play. Jamie refuses to listen when Chris tries to tell her about the nurse, leaving Chris angry and disappointed with both Jamie and her family. Chris consequently gets drunk and enters the bar where Jamie works, proceeding to blame her for keeping him in the “friend zone”; he also exclaims that Jamie will never amount to anything meaningful. Jamie punches Chris and he is tossed out of the bar at her request.

Upon returning to LA, Chris realizes that Jamie is his one true love interest and returns to New Jersey hoping to finally be with her. Chris declares his true love for Jamie at her house and the two kiss outside in view of the neighborhood kids

REVIEW:

Look at Ryan Reynolds today. Does he look like someone who was ever overweight and/or nerdy? Let alone had any trouble picking up girls? I don’t know if he was anything like his character in Just Friends, but I am very appreciative that this film was made, as I can totally relate.

What is this about?

After being snubbed by his high school crush, an overweight nice guy moves to Los Angeles, where he slims down and blossoms into a womanizer. But when he’s stranded in his hometown, he bumps into the girl who once broke his heart.

What did I like?

The zone. Unless you were one of those guys that was a teen heartthrob and/or you were superjock, chances are that you had a few crushes, many of which didn’t even know you existed. Hell, some of them to this very day, don’t know I exist. If this film accomplishes anything, it is that it brings attention to the fact that girls push aside the sweet guy who would do anything for them and make them a pseudo-gal pal, in favor of the guy who will trample all over their heart and leave them a shell of their former selves. Not that I’ve had any experience with this subject, mind you. It is still good to know that this is a phenomena that occurs everywhere.

Brittany. So, Anna Faris was tapped to play this Brittany Spears-like character and she knocks it out of the park. First of all, it should be noted that this was made in 2005, which was around the time of Spears’ “meltdown”. Faris, who is comedic gold, steals the show with her diva like behavior and overactive sex drive. I was wishing for more!

Revenge. The sheer thought of getting revenge on the females who spurned my affections is quite thought-provoking. I can’t help but say that I would get immense pleasure out of seeing them reap what they sowed. I know that sounds vindictive, but  this is something that need. Chris Klein’s character, which is a departure from his normal schtick, has it right, if you ask me!

What didn’t I like?

Fat suit. I was telling my friend, Alyse, about this film and just happened to mention that it has Ryan Reynolds in a fat suit. As you can see in the poster up there, Reynold’s suit is not very  well crafted. On top of that, I just have a hard time believe that Reynolds was this fat guy who turns into a handsome guy. It all seems to Cinderella-ish to me. If they wanted to do that, then they should have gone all out with the Cinderella angle. There is even a moment where he is asked how he los the weight, but he never answers. I’m curious, too, it could be some weight loss surgery is the reason or it could be old-fashioned diet and exercise. Who knows?

Change. Being from a small town, myself, I know how rare it is for anyone to leave and make a name for themselves while everyone else stays home and works at the mom and pop store. My issue is this. 10 yrs pass from the beginning of the film to when Reynolds returns, and yet everyone looks exactly the same, except for him, another geek (Chris Klein), and the jock/bully. The object of his desire, played by Amy Smart (I still was expecting Jason Statham to crashing through the window and use her to get his heart pumping again). < Crank reference. seemed to have gotten hotter!!!

Incomplete. I wasn’t going to mention this, but I have to. My disc from Netflix decided to start acting all wonky and I wasn’t able to repair it to watch the final scenes. It was doing the same thing upon my initial starting of the disc. I really hate it when I get a disc that works, but doesn’t work. Irritations ratcheted up to a maximum level! UGH!!!!

As a pure romantic comedy, Just Friends is one of the lesser ones that I’ve seen, but nowhere near as ad as some of the ones that I have the “pleasure” of viewing. The fact is, this is not a good film, but it does have moment that will keep it in your memories for a day or two, but on the whole, this is sure to cause some conversations among you and your friends from high school about why your friendship was the way it was. I know there are a few that I need to ask about. I can’t recommend this, but I won’t dissuade you from seeking it out, either.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Pain & Gain

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film opens with Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) running from large numbers of heavily armed Miami police officers, only to be hit by a police cruiser. Then the story goes back in time a few months. Lugo is a schemer and recently released convict, who served time for Medicare fraud. Sun Gym owner John Mese (Rob Corddry) hires him to increase membership and make the gym more fitness based. Lugo triples the gym’s membership within six weeks and befriends trainer Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie). Doorbal, a bodybuilder, uses steroids, which render him impotent. Lugo soon lusts after the earnings and lifestyle achieved by a new gym member he begins to train: Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), who Lugo believes is a crook. Inspired by motivational speaker Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong), Lugo decides to be a “doer” and hatches a plan to extort Kershaw for his assets by kidnapping and torturing him.

Lugo recruits accomplices Doorbal and Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson), a recently released cocaine-addicted convict who has turned to Christianity. Though Doyle is reluctant to join the team, he soon caves in after a violent altercation with his priest. This “Sun Gym gang” unsuccessfully attempts to kidnap Kershaw at home, but incapacitate him with a taser outside his deli and take him to a small warehouse he owns (which is stocked with sex toys). The kidnappers disguise their voices, but Kershaw identifies Lugo from his distinctive cologne. The scheme goes as planned otherwise: Kershaw makes calls, under duress, to provide fake explanations for his disappearance, gets his family to move out of state, and signs the documents which transfer his assets to Lugo. Lugo even bribes John Mese to notarize documents in Kershaw’s absence, by presenting documents signed by Kershaw and using Kershaw’s money to sponsor the Sun Gym.

The Sun Gym gang is able to collect Kershaw’s money and assets, but they realize releasing him is a bad idea. Therefore, Lugo concocts a plan to kill Kershaw by forcing him to drink liquor and crash his BMW, making it look like a drunken accident. When Kershaw survives the crash, the gang burns the car with Kershaw in it. Kershaw escapes the blazing vehicle, so the gang runs over his body and leaves him for dead. Unbeknownst to them, Kershaw survives and is hospitalized. The Sun Gym gang members spoil themselves with Kershaw’s riches. Lugo takes over Kershaw’s car and his home in a ritzy Miami suburb; Doorbal marries his nurse, Robin (Rebel Wilson), and uses his cut to purchase penile erection treatments; and Doyle abandons his restraints of religion and sobriety and fritters away his money on cocaine and his new stripper girlfriend.

Kershaw reports what happened to the police, but they are turned off by his unpleasant manner and don’t believe his bizarre story even when he gives them Daniel Lugo’s name, particularly because of Kershaw’s blood alcohol level. He then contacts Ed Du Bois, III (Ed Harris), a retired private investigator, who declines to take the case but warns Kershaw to quickly leave the hospital before the gang returns to kill him. Kershaw takes his advice and hides in a motel. Upon reflection, Du Bois takes Kershaw’s case and tails the Sun Gym gang. Meanwhile, Doyle has wasted all of his cut and attempts to rob an armored car. However, dye-packs planted in the money bag explode, and he narrowly escapes the police, getting his toe shot off. He and Doorbal – who depleted his share on payments for treatments, his and Robin’s wedding, and a new home – explain to Lugo they need more money, and they propose another kidnapping.

They target Frank Griga (Michael Rispoli), who owns a phone sex operation. After a promising discussion at Griga’s mansion, the gang invites Griga and his wife Krisztina Furton (Keili Lefkowitz) to Doorbal’s home to propose an investment scheme. However, Griga insists on meeting with someone more experienced and questions Lugo’s amateurish business savvy. This angers Lugo, who attacks Griga and accidentally kills him. Krisztina discovers this and tries to shoot Lugo, but Doorbal injects her with a horse tranquilizer. Lugo and Doyle try to use codes obtained from a heavily sedated Krisztina to open a safe at her and Griga’s home, but the codes do not work. When Krisztina rouses and tries to escape, Doorbal gives her a second injection, accidentally killing her.

Lugo and Doorbal purchase equipment to dismember the bodies and dump the body parts in several barrels, which they sink in a lake, while Doyle incinerates their hands (on a barbecue grill) to eliminate their fingerprints. Doyle loses his sanity over the violence and gore, leaves the gang, and returns to the priest’s church. The police learn of Griga and Krisztina’s disappearances, and with evidence from Ed Du Bois, they set a plan to arrest the Sun Gym gang. The film returns to June 17: the police arrest Doyle at the church, Doorbal at home, and Mese at Sun Gym. Lugo sees the raid and flees. Although he is hit by a police car, he escapes and heads out by sea in Kershaw’s go-fast boat. Kershaw and Du Bois deduce Lugo is going after Kershaw’s hidden bank account in the Bahamas and accompany the police to capture him. Lugo’s pursuers catch up with him and Lugo runs. Du Bois shoots him, Kershaw chases Lugo in a car and incapacites him, and the authorities arrest him. Lugo is brought back to the United States and stands trial with Doyle, Doorbal, and Mese.

At the trial, it is revealed that Robin divorced Doorbal the night before she testifies against him. Doyle (a composite of gang members) has an attack of conscience, confesses, and testifies against Lugo; he is sentenced to 15 years in prison, serves seven years, and goes free. Lugo and Doorbal receive death sentences and sit on death row in Florida. Mese is sentenced and dies in prison. Doyle’s stripper girlfriend, Sorina Luminita, is not charged

REVIEW:

There was a song in the 80s, I think it was Aretha Franklin that sang it, called “No Pain, No Gain”. I’m sure when she was singing/writing that she never would have envisioned the future total idiocy of these meatheads in Pain & Gain. This is a true story, by the way!

What is this about?

Michael Bay’s comedic action flick tells the true story of Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal, two Miami muscle heads who become major-league criminals. Known as the Sun Gym Gang, the pair’s lust for money leads them to kidnapping, extortion and murder.

What did I like?

Bodybuilders. Outside of some documentaries about Schwarzenegger, I don’t believe there has been any films about bodybuilders. Shocking when you think about how fitness crazy we are in this country. My best friend is one of those fitness nuts (but not a bodybuilder…yet). I found it to be quite the gamble to tackle this subject on film, when there really isn’t an audience for it, but hey weirder things have become bigger hits, so who am I to judge?

Rock hard. Good googly moogly the Rock is huge! I was a fan when he was dominating the WWE and he wasn’t close to being that big. For a bodybuilder character like this, it works, but the size is for his upcoming Hercules movie. What I liked about Johnson’s performance was how he was able to take this slow and lovable guy and make endear him to the audience, not to mention make him a tragic figure along the way. Say what you will about the Rock, the guy is starting to show some range as an actor (shame no other wrestlers can do the same when they appear in films).

Tone. For the most part, the film keeps a nice action comedy tone, similar to the Bad Boys films that were also directed by Bay. The mix of comedy, action, and the drama that comes late in the film with the introduction of Ed Harris’ character, is phenomenal. Also, Bay is known for big explosions and such…well, other than a couple of attempted murder attempts involving a car blowing up, there isn’t much in the way of explosions showing that the douche the Michael Bay is, he is capable of pulling the reins back.

What didn’t I like?

Narration. I think I’m just not a fan of narration, because it seems like I’m always bitching about the narrators. In this film, it seems like every character we see gets the chance to narrate. Even the janitor, who has nothing to do with the goings on in the picture, get a chance to say his piece. That’s just a bit much, is you ask me. If you must have multiple narrators, limit it to the main characters.

Mack daddy. Look at the poster up there. Anthony Mackie is obviously the third wheel, right? At the very least, he isn’t as major as The Rock and Wahlberg. Other posters totally omit him. The thing is, he’s a bit underappreciated. He’s not the straight man that Wahlberg is or the lovable giant that the Rock is, but he serves as a good median between the two. That being said, my issue with his involves his relationship with Rebel Wilson. I love Rebel, she’s hilarious without being obscene or insulting, the way many comics seem to be these days. However, a friend of mine brought this point up and I’m reiterating it, why did they stick the black man with the chubby white girl? This is more obvious when Wahlberg and Rock share the hot Russian chick. They could share Rebel? What’s up with that?!?

Monk. Good lord was Tony Shaloub, who usually plays lovable, relatable characters when we see him, is beyond likable here. Now, this character he plays apparently wasn’t such a nice guy either. Ever notice that the unlikable villains cannot be killed? Well, apparently, even in real life that happens because this guy even got run over by a van and lived!!! WTF?!? Shaloub’s performance wasn’t bad, just not what you would expect from him. Debate whether or not that’s something you like or not.

Believe it or not, Pain & Gain is a true story. It actually went down in Miami in 1995. From my understanding, not too much of this is changed for film purposes, which makes this absurd and that much more entertaining. A surprise hit for this year, I whole heartedly embrace and recommend this film. Surely you’re going to have a good ol’ time. Definitely something you should check out!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

Much Ado About Nothing

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The plot of the film is largely unchanged from that of Shakespeare’s original play. Differences include the modern-day setting, the switching of Conrade’s gender, and expanding Ursula’s role slightly by giving her some of Margaret’s scenes. Whedon’s film imagery advances an unusual interpretation of the text, that Beatrice and Benedick had had a one night stand before the plot unfolds. This interpretation emphasizes four lines from Act II, scene i, where Beatrice, responding to the accusation that she has “lost the heart” of Benedick, answers,

“Indeed my lord, he lent it me awhile and I
gave him use for it–a double heart for his single one.
Marry, once before he won it of me with false dice;
therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.”

Whedon overlays these lines with images of Beatrice and Benedick as lovers, opening the way to seeing the pair as finding their way back to a lost love, rather than finding it for the first time. The scene demonstrates how film techniques can add nuanced interpretation to the text. The movie is filmed in black and white, which helps tie it to the screwball romantic comedies of the 1930s and 1940s, such as His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby.

REVIEW:

Geek lord Joss Whedon is a very, very busy man these days, what with being one of the major players in the Marvel universe. Somehow, though, in the little bit of down time he has, he brought together many of his friends and usual suspects in Much Ado About Nothing, a Shakespeare play that was cut and paste into modern times.

What is this about?

In Joss Whedon’s modern take on the Shakespearean comedy, Claudio’s love for the beautiful Hero makes him a target of his friend Benedick’s mockery. But as Benedick trades barbs with Hero’s cousin Beatrice, he just may be falling in love.

What did I like?

Shakespeare. In high school and college, I dreaded the time of the year when we would get to the Shakespeare units. The confusing, advanced, for lack of a better term, dialogue is what turns myself, and a lot of other people off. This films uses Shakespearean dialect, but the modern setting somehow makes it more bearable, or funny, depending on how you look at it.

Coulson. I have to give it up to Clark Gregg. He’s been around for quite some time, even had some starring roles, but his recent role in the Marvel universe as Agent Coulson is what has made him more of a bankable star. The guy has some acting chops, but he really gets to flex them here. I was really impressed with how competent an actor he actually is.

What didn’t I like?

Whedon vs. Shakespeare. William Shakespeare was a master of dialogue in his day. Back in those days, though, attention spans were longer and people were more focused, as opposed to today where we can’t even make it an hour without needed to see something flashy or exploding. Whedon’s strength is in his ability to weave witty dialogue (as well as creating rabid fanbases). Put these two together and it works…or does it? I’m not sure, since this is more or less just a Shakespeare play put to film, I don’t really feel the Joss touch, and I felt like it would have been nice to get that touch.

Black and white. The decision to put this in black and white is a mystery to me. Now, I’m a huge fan of those old black and white films of yesteryear and, as we saw recently with The Artist and awhile back with Clerks, its a technique that audiences can respond to. Apparently, this was done to capture the slapstick tone that was prevalent in the 30s and so forth. That would be all well and good, except that this doesn’t really have any slapstick!

My friends, colleagues, and dear readers, I must apologize for this curt review of Much Ado About Nothing. I was struggling to stay awake throughout, thanks to an extra long day/night. That being said, this is something that should be seen, if for no other reason than to see what Joss Whedon can do outside the realm of science fiction. Give it a shot if you get the chance!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Silent Hill

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Rose and her husband, Christopher Da Silva, are concerned about their adopted daughter, 9-year old Sharon, who has been sleepwalking while calling the name of a town, “Silent Hill”. Desperate for answers, Rose takes Sharon to Silent Hill. As they approach the town, she is pursued by police officer Cybil Bennett. A child appears in the road, causing Rose to swerve and crash the car, knocking herself unconscious. When she awakens, Sharon is missing, while fog and falling ash blanket the town.

Rose wanders the empty streets of Silent Hill looking for her daughter and instead encounters monsters. Rose meets a woman named Dahlia Gillespie who speaks of her own daughter, Alessa, being abused by the townspeople and, upon seeing a photo of Sharon in the locket around Rose’s neck, claims that Sharon is Alessa. Rose returns to her car and runs into Cybil, who arrests her. As they head back to the road out of the city, they discover that the road is cut by a huge fracture, so they pair up to search the town, only to be confronted by a humanoid creature, which is shot by Cybil.

Meanwhile, Christopher also simultaneously scours the town, shown to be abandoned and without mist and falling ash as it is to Rose and Cybil, with the assistance of officer Thomas Gucci, who is there in search of the missing Cybil. Christopher discovers documents revealing that the town was abandoned after a coal seam fire thirty years ago, along with a photograph of Dahlia’s daughter, who bears a strong physical resemblance to Sharon. Told to stop investigating under threat of incarceration, he returns home.

Rose and Cybil meet Anna, a woman who leads them to a local church for refuge. As they approach it, Anna is killed by the monster Pyramid Head. In the church, Rose and Cybil discover a cult headed by a woman named Christabella. Christabella tells Rose about a “demon” who knows Sharon’s whereabouts. After convincing Christabella to help them locate the “demon”, Rose and Cybil are taken to a local hospital. There, Christabella also sees the photo of Sharon in Rose’s locket and, seeing the likeness between Sharon and Alessa, condemns Rose and Cybil as witches. Cybil is captured by the townspeople while Rose descends into the hospital basement. There, Rose encounters a burned Alessa on a bed and Dark Alessa, the incarnation of the dark side of Alessa’s soul.

In a flashback, Rose discovers that Silent Hill had a long history of witch burnings, stemming from the cult’s beliefs. Thirty years before Rose’s arrival, Alessa was stigmatized for having been born out of wedlock by an unknown father; her schoolmates bullied her, while the adults made no effort to protect her. Dahlia agreed to Christabella’s suggestion that she allow the cult to “restore innocence” in Alessa. When not allowed to follow Alessa into the ritual, Dahlia realized that they intended to kill her daughter and ran to the police.

Alessa was ritually burned, but in the midst of the ritual, a fire accidentally burst out. When Dahlia returned with the police, Alessa was badly burned, but alive. While in the hospital, Alessa’s pain and rage caused her dark side to manifest in the form of a duplicate of herself, an incarnation of the darkness of her soul. Rose learns that Sharon is the manifestation of Alessa’s remaining innocence and goodness. After the flashback, Rose is told that she must aid Alessa in her revenge by granting her entry into the church and that Christabella will soon find Sharon and attempt to burn her as well.

Rose enters the church after Cybil has just been burned alive by the townspeople, and Sharon is about to suffer a similar fate. She confronts Christabella with her knowledge of the truth, attempting to convince the cult that they are in denial of their own fate. Christabella stabs Rose, causing her blood to drip onto the church floor. The blood serves as a portal, which Alessa rises out of. Alessa captures Christabella in barbed wire. The barbed wire snakes up Christabella’s skirt, penetrating her and ripping her apart. The townspeople are also killed, leaving Dahlia, Rose, and Sharon the only survivors. At the end of the massacre, Alessa and Sharon fuse and become one person again.

As they leave the town, they discover that the abyss and the fracture is gone, allowing them to leave Silent Hill, while Dahlia stays behind. Meanwhile, Christopher returns home and falls asleep on the couch. He wakes up just as Rose and Sharon/Alessa return home, but they arrive in the foggy, Silent Hill version of the home, while Christopher sees rain and sunshine, indicating that Rose and Sharon/Alessa are still trapped in the Silent Hill dimension.

REVIEW:

Lauded as one of the best video game movies, Silent Hill is actually a solid entry into both the video game movie and horror genres. Having only briefly played the game, I can’t really compare it to the source material, but I hear it is “decently close” to it from a couple of friends who frequent this game genre.

What is this film about?

Rose takes her adopted daughter, Sharon, to Silent Hill to find out why the ghost town has been appearing in the girl’s nightmares. When Sharon goes missing after a car crash, Rose sets off on a hellish search to find her.

What did I like?

Atmosphere. One of the things that many horror films these day miss is the creepy atmosphere. I mean, here we have this abandoned town engulfed in smoke, fog, and ash. You don’t get much creepier than that. In comparison, most of today’s horror films take place in these nice neighborhoods that none of us live in, or on the beach. Seriously, who is scared of spending time on the beach?

Pyramid head. One of the few things I know about the game is Pyramid Head, so I was glad that they actually used him in the film, and without using too much of the guy. The filmmaker gave us just enough to appease the fans, justify having him in there, and make him terrifying.

Twilight Zone. I seem to remember an episode of The Twilight Zone where a man was in one building and his family was in the same building, but they couldn’t touch/hear each other because of them being in what turned out to be different dimensions. The same idea is prevalent here once Alessa, her mom, and inadvertently, the motorcycle cop (Walking Dead fans may recognize her) go into Silent Hill and are never seen in this dimension again. This is made clear by the phone calls, the fact the Sean Bean’s character say he feels them, and the final scene. One must wonder, is this an alternate dimension, or are they dead?

What didn’t I like?

Where’s my controller? I was sitting here watching this and it really felt like I was playing the game, which for me is almost a prerequisite when it comes to video game films. However, I can hear those old fuddy duddy movie critics clamoring for more of a cohesive plot, and they do have a point. Truth be told, unless you are paying strict attention, you may get lost with everything that is going on.

Length. I’m a little biased, as I am clearly no fan of lengthy films, but this one seems to be overly long, and for no real purpose. Does the extra time move the story along or present a new idea? No, it just serves to bog the picture down with more stuff that have no idea about, thus making what could really be a great film, just good.

Hit or miss. The special effects are hit or miss with this film. In some instances, they are great, but in others, such as the final scene, they aren’t so great. No, they aren’t quite Syfy channel bad, but it is obvious some effects got more attention than others. A little consistency would have been nice, people! That’s all I’m saying because you have a woman burned alive and it looks real, then a young child comes from beneath the ground with barbed wire tentacles that leave trail of death and gore never seen before, and yet, the fatalities in the early Mortal Kombat games seemed more realistic and believable than all this.

It was a dark and stormy night when I first saw Silent Hill. Man, that was back when I went to see movies at night. I’ve gotten cheap smart since then. At any rate, for those of you out there looking for a film that will appease both your horror and suspense appetites, this is sure to be the film for you. I highly recommend it, so give it a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.

4 out of 5 stars

The Pirates of Penzance

Posted in Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , on October 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Frederic (Rex Smith) was sent in the care of his nursemaid, Ruth (Angela Lansbury), to be apprenticed to a pilot. But she misunderstood her instructions, being hard of hearing, and apprenticed him instead to a pirate (Kevin Kline). Now he is turning 21 years old, and his service is finished, so he decides to leave the Pirates of Penzance. Ruth wants him to take her with him, but he soon meets some young maidens, the daughters of Major-General Stanley (George Rose), and realizes that Ruth is “plain and old”. Frederic quickly falls in love with one of them, Mabel (Linda Rondstadt). He has a strong “sense of duty” and has vowed to lead a blameless life and to exterminate the pirates. Soon, however, the pirates return and seize the girls. Their father then arrives and lies to the pirates, telling them that he is an orphan. He knows that they are orphans themselves and never attack an orphan.

After the pirates leave, General Stanley wrestles with his conscience, having told a lie. Mabel and Frederic try to cheer him up, and Frederic has engaged the constabulary to help him defeat the pirates. The police arrive, but they turn out to be timid. Then the pirate king and Ruth find Frederic alone. They have reviewed the fine print on his apprenticeship indenture and have discovered that he is still a pirate because he was born in leap year on February 29, and he will not be out of his indentures to the pirates until his 21st birthday. Mabel agrees to wait for Frederic until then! The Police return and, hearing the pirates approach, they hide. The pirates arrive and seize the still guilt-ridden Major-General. The police are coaxed to battle the pirates, but they are defeated. However, the Sergeant of Police (Tony Azito) calls on the pirates to “yield in Queen Victoria’s name.” The pirates tearfully do so and release the Major-General, surrendering to the police. However, Ruth reveals that the pirates are all “noblemen who have gone wrong”, and the Major-General pardons them and invites them to marry his daughters, as all ends happily.

REVIEW:

The Pirates of Penzance is a musical, though I think it fits more into the category of operetta, by that talented duo of composers, Gilbert & Sullivan. If you’ve never heard of this, surely you know the “Major-General’s song”, or at least the melody. I, for one, didn’t know there was a film version, but here we are.

What is this about?

Part of the Broadway Theatre Archive, this production of the celebrated operetta penned by Gilbert and Sullivan was taped during a live performance at the Delacorte Theatre in New York’s Central Park. Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Kline star.

What did I like?

Stage. If you’ve ever seen a musical on stage, then you will notice how the cast has to exaggerate everything, especially their and/or singing. To me, it appears as if the cast was evoking that same emotion of their performances, because none of them give subdued performances, but rather the kind that one can catch on stage.

Cast. With the likes of Angela Lansbury and Kevin Kline leading this cast, surely they can’t fail. Throw in leading man Rex Smith and the golden pipes of Linda Ronstadt and you’ve got the makings of greatness, if only the songs were better,

What didn’t I like?

Rex. I was reading some of the comments and reviews and the general consensus is that Rex Smith overacted. I give him a little bit of leeway, as it is obvious everyone is too much, especially in the opening scene.

Music. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Gilbert and Sullivan, but the songs in this aren’t that great, with the exception of the “Major-General’s song.” As this is an operetta, I wasn’t expecting a string of show-stoppers, but something more than the generic tunes that serve as filler. These are not bad songs, just not interesting. A couple of them are decent, but not memorable.

Sorry for the somewhat brief review, I’m fighting the urge to fall asleep before I finish this. The Pirates of Penzance is one of those musicals that I’ve heard about over and over, but never had the chance to watch. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m glad that I did. No, I’m not in love with it, but it did provide me with some entertainment, which is all that really matters, right? Do I recommend it? Yes, while probably not the best version of the musical, it is still something that should be seen. Check it out!

3 out of 5 stars

Blackenstein

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on October 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Big and burly black soldier Eddie Turner (Joe De Sue) stepped on a land mine while serving in Vietnam and lost both arms and legs. His physicist fiancee Doctor Winifred Walker (Ivory Stone) thinks she’s found help for him in her white former teacher and colleague Doctor Stein (John Hart) who has recently won a Nobel Peace Prize for “solving the DNA genetic code”.

In a tour of Doctor Stein’s castle-like Los Angeles home, Winifred is introduced to his other patients: the ninety-year-old Eleanor who looks to be only fifty (Andrea King) thanks to Stein’s treatments, and the bald Bruno (Nick Bolan) whose lower legs have been successfully re-attached via “laser beam fusion” and Stein’s “DNA solution”.

Winifred is startled when she sees one of Bruno’s legs is tiger-striped, which Doctor Stein attributes to “an unknown RNA problem” which he hopes to correct during the course of treatment. His sinister black assistant Malcomb (Roosevelt Jackson) seems overly interested in her reaction to this sight and in her in general.

Meanwhile, the stoically suffering Eddie is being verbally abused by an obnoxious white orderly (Bob Brophy) at the local Veteran’s Hospital. When Doctors Stein and Walker arrive to ask if he’d be interested in submitting to experimental limb transplant surgery that could correct his condition, he consents.

Doctor Stein gives Eddie new replacement arms using his DNA solution, and Eddie seems to be recovering well until Malcomb confesses his attraction to Winifred. Winifed tries to let him down gently, explaining that she intends to marry Eddie as soon as the surgeries are complete, and Malcomb seems to accept her statement, but he later vindictively sabotages the DNA solution used during Eddie’s leg surgeries with the contaminated RNA, causing the former soldier to start to devolve into a primitive brutish state with hairy hands and a Neanderthal brow ridge.

As his condition worsens and he loses the mental capacity for speech and rational thought, the stony-faced Eddie becomes a slowly shambling monster resembling an African-American version of the iconic Boris Karloff Frankenstein with a squarish Afro instead of the usual scars and neck bolts.

Although he lies in a near catatonic state by day, compelled by horrible cannibalistic urges the black suit and turtleneck-clad Eddie secretly leaves the house late each night in search of victims who he dismembers, disembowels and devours zombie style, always returning in time each morning for his ongoing schedule of DNA injections with his doctors none the wiser.

Two police detectives visit Doctor Stein as the body count starts to rise (their suspicions aroused due to the fact that all the killings took place in the surrounding vicinity and that the abusive hospital orderly was the vengeful Eddie’s first victim), but Stein is ignorant of the fact that there is now a murderous monster living in his basement laboratory. Winifred however has become suspicious of Malcomb and spends her time in the lab, examining the various solutions used during Eddie’s surgery.

One night, returning from his usual senseless rampage, Eddie hears screaming coming from Winifred’s room. He enters to find Malcomb at her bedside and interrupts the attempted rape. Malcomb grabs a gun and empties it into the unaffected Eddie as Winifred flees. Eddie strangles Malcomb and then goes on to kill Bruno and Eleanor, the latter aging rapidly as she dies.

Doctor Stein meets Winifred on the stairs, where she tells him Eddie is the monster. Together they down run to the lab.

Winifred busies herself preparing an injection of the DNA solution that she hopes will cure Eddie. When Eddie draws near, he seems moved by her terror and backs away, perhaps dimly remembering that she is his fiancee. Doctor Stein however attacks him from behind, provoking a violent response. After a brief tussle with his creator that ends with Stein being fatally knocked into the high voltage electrical equipment, Eddie leaves the house.

The police arrive too late to stop Eddie but discover Doctor Stein’s body and console Winifred.

Eddie finds a brunette attempting to start a Jeep and spends several long minutes chasing her around an empty industrial warehouse. The police call in the Los Angeles County Canine Corps, and the Dobermans surround Eddie, knock him to the ground and, with a fittingly macabre irony, viciously tear the monster to pieces in the same way he killed his victims

REVIEW:

There was a sketch on either Saturday Night Live, MAD TV, or In Living Color once that made African-American versions of famous movie monsters, or so I thought at the time. Little did I know that these were real, at least Blacula was. Now, I find out that there really was a films that featured Blackenstein.

What is this about?

After Eddie loses his arms and legs in Vietnam, his fiancée enlists the help of Dr. Stein in reassembling her limbless lover. But when an evil lab assistant sabotages the operation, Eddie turns into a mad monster with an awesome afro.

What did I like?

DNA. As far as I know, this isn’t the same studio that brought us Blacula, so the films aren’t related, but in that film they related Blacula to Dracula, and it was done somewhat effectively. For Blackenstein, though, there is no relation to Frankenstein that I picked up on. There is this DNA aspect that I found pretty interesting, though, and actually looked forward to learning some more about it.

Tell-tale. A great big kudos to the filmmaker for coming up with an original story and not just telling Frankenstein again, but with an African-American cast. This is not Victor’s monster, so why should he have that same story? Doesn’t quite add up if you ask me. Apparently, the filmmakers thought the same thing.

Violent. When Blackenstein turns into a mindless brute and goes on a killing spree, it is gloriously violent. Sure, it may be a bit campy, but that’s part of what makes this film so entertaining. The title alone should let you know now to expect anything serious!

What didn’t I like?

Pacing. The film starts very slow, and doesn’t really pick up until past the halfway point and even then it still isn’t very exciting, as the development of the titular monster is happening, but not in a way that captivates the audience. I feel as if this would have been better served with a faster pace and cutting out some the unnecessary exposition.

Igor? Dr. Stein has an assistant, Malcomb, who is obviously the equivalent of Igor. That isn’t my issue, but rather the fact that out of nowhere he suddenly becomes infatuated with Dr. Walker, not that you can blame the guy, but this comes off as just a convenient plot device, rather than something that was actually given thought.

Patients. There are two other patients in this castle/hospital of Dr. Stein, who are also getting DNA treatments. I found myself wondering what purpose they served, though, other than to just be success stories of Stein’s treatment. We see them twice and that’s it. I almost wish they would have turned into monsters and terrorized the city, as well. At least then, then would have served some useful purpose.

Also known as Black Frankenstein, Blackenstein was originally meant to be a serious horror film. This is something that is obvious when you look at a few of the performances of the cast. They are taking it as serious as a Shakespeare tragedy. However, there is no mistaking this flick is pure camp. Does that make it good or bad? That depends on your taste. For me, it wasn’t my cup of tea, but I was able to enjoy it for what it is. The next person may love it and the person after that may hate it. All a matter of personal preferences, you see. Do I recommend it? Not really, but if you’re in the mood for a Blaxploitation horror, then here’s something for you.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

This Is the End

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to visit his old friend and fellow actor Seth Rogen, who invites Baruchel to attend a housewarming party hosted by James Franco. At the raucous party, many celebrities and others drink, do drugs, have sex, and commit other hedonistic acts. Baruchel is uncomfortable being around many people he does not know well—including Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Michael Cera, Craig Robinson, and Emma Watson—so Rogen accompanies him to a convenience store for cigarettes.

Beams of blue light from the sky suddenly carry away several store customers. The frightened Rogen and Baruchel flee to Franco’s home amid explosions, vehicular crashes, and mass chaos, but find the party undisturbed. The partygoers scoff at Baruchel’s account, but rush outside because of a powerful earthquake and see the Hollywood Hills on fire. A large crack opens in the earth, and Cera, Mintz-Plasse, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Martin Starr, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, Jason Segel and David Krumholtz are among those killed. Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Hill, and Robinson survive, and learn that the largest earthquake in California history has struck Los Angeles. Believing that as famous actors they will soon be rescued, the five take inventory of the available supplies, including food and water, various drugs, and a revolver which Franco had kept from Flyboys. They set up a ration system, board up the doors and windows, and await help.

The next morning, Danny McBride—who, unknown to the others, crashed the party and fell asleep—wakes up first. Ignorant of the crisis he wastes much of the supplies, and disbelieves the others’ accounts until a desperate outsider seeking aid is decapitated in their presence. The men pass the time by taking many drugs and filming a homemade sequel to the 2008 film Pineapple Express, which most of the group had appeared in. Tensions rise, however, due to various conflicts, including Jay and Seth’s growing estrangement, and the others’ skepticism of Baruchel’s belief that the disasters might be the Apocalypse the Book of Revelation predicts.

An armed Emma Watson returns and reports mysterious animal noises. Due to a misunderstanding, she quickly leaves, taking all of the drinks. Robinson is chosen to travel outside to the cellar for water, but is frightened by something monstrous. The group successfully reaches the water, but McBride’s boorish behavior results in much being lost, and the others decide to evict him. McBride tries to kill the others with the revolver but fails as the gun is fake, for use as a prop; he then angrily leaves the house.

Robinson’s experience causes him to believe in Baruchel’s theory of the Apocalypse and that the blue beams have, as part of the Rapture, taken good people to Heaven. He volunteers to explore a neighboring home for supplies with Baruchel. Hill, angry at Baruchel for his theory, is raped by a male demon after secretly wishing for Baruchel to die. Now demonically possessed and supernaturally strong, Hill chases Franco and Rogen while Robinson and Baruchel flee a demonic bull. The group subdues Hill, but during an exorcism attempt a fire destroys the house and Hill’s body, forcing the four outdoors.

Regretful for the mistakes in his life that kept him from Heaven, Robinson volunteers to sacrifice himself so his friends can escape a large winged demon. The plan succeeds but, unexpectedly, Robinson is taken in the Rapture because of his good deed, giving hope to the group. When cannibals led by McBride capture the men, Franco similarly volunteers to sacrifice himself. Although the plan succeeds and a blue beam begins to take Franco, his taunting sneers to McBride cause the beam to vanish, and the cannibals eat Franco. As Satan prepares to consume Rogen and Baruchel, they reaffirm their friendship and await death. A blue beam suddenly strikes Baruchel, but Rogen’s presence prevents him from reaching Heaven. Rogen sacrifices himself to save his friend, and just before death is also taken by the Rapture.

Robinson, now an angel, welcomes Baruchel and Rogen. He explains that Heaven is a paradise where any wish comes true. Jay wishes for the Backstreet Boys, and the film ends with the band performing “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” for a raucous heavenly party.

REVIEW:

Remember back in December when everyone was thinking the world was going to end? Well, how do you think celebrities would have handled that if it would have actually happened? In a brilliant bit of writing we get to find out in This is the End.

What is this about?

Playing themselves in this witty black comedy, Seth Rogen and a bevy of Hollywood notables are stuck together at a party when the apocalypse dawns. In typical celebrity fashion, the trapped stars bicker rather than bond in the face of doom.

What did I like?

Truth. As Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel are leaving the airport, they get into a discussion about what is real and what isn’t. The highlight of this discussion is gluten. Why gluten? Well, as we all know, 5 or so years ago, no one said anything about being allergic to the stuff, but now you can’t go anywhere or watch any commercials without seeing something about the stuff. Even the pet food is without gluten now!! Thank you Jay Baruchel for informing the public how stupid they are to be falling for this crap!

Caricatures. The cast is the current “frat pack” of movies today, but the interesting thins is that they aren’t playing characters, but rather themselves. Well, let me take that back. They are playing exaggerated caricatures of themselves. For instance, we all know Michael Cera as the quiet guy who would never do anything wrong and Jonah Hill as the loud asshole. Well, Hill is playing himself as a quiet guy, much like he has been in many of his latest films and Cera is being the antithesis of what we expect him to be. He’s drunk, smoking pot, have sex with girls at the party, telling everyone to suck his dick, etc. Brilliant doesn’t begin to describe how awesome it is seeing him do something outside of the comfort zone.

Emma unchained. Also playing against what we know them as in sweet little Emma Watson. Well, she’s not exactly sweet here. The stereotype of British actresses as foul-mouthed smokers. Well, Watson is just that, and then some. On top of that, she is dead sexy! Ugh! Why can’t I get over the fact that she’s not little Hermoine Grainger, anymore?

What didn’t I like?

Improv. I appreciate that this whole film seems to be just some friends hanging out with each other ad-libbing some naturally funny stuff. However, the fact that this is a full-length, feature film with them doing this is cause for a little concern. Surely, they could have scripted something better to tie in with the plot.

Reunion. Before all hell breaks loose, pardon the pun, we get a scene with Cera, Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Yes, the boys from Superbad were back together. Apparently, I’m not the only one that felt this should have been something more than just them ribbing on each other. Maybe they’ll get the idea and we’ll see them in a film together again.

Effects. One would think that you could use some really cool special effects to end a film like this, especially since we’re dealing with end of the world stuff. Demons, hellfire, rapture, and all the like should look totally awesome, and yet, I felt like I could have created something better when I take a crap. Such a shame, really, because it really brings the ending down and the final scene doesn’t do much to help it, unless you’re into it (I won’t spoil what happens.)

Many people have listed This is the End as one of the funnies films of 2013. Quentin Tarrantino even has it as one of the best films of the year. What do I think? I was cracking up in the beginning, but the humor either lost some of its punch or just wore on me as the film went on and I just didn’t find it funny anymore. Par for the course with today’s comedies, I’m afraid. Still, I can’t argue that this is one of the funniest films of the year. It remains to be seen where it will rank with everything else this year, though. I highly recommend it to anyone that wants a laugh and is curious to see how actors would handle something that their money can’t get them out of.

4 out of 5 stars