Archive for February, 2017

Home Alone

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Home Alone is the highly successful and beloved family comedy about a young boy named Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) who is accidentally left behind when his family takes off for a vacation in France over the holiday season. Once he realizes they’ve left him home alone, he learns to fend for himself and, eventually has to protect his house against two bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) who are planning to rob every house in Kevin’s suburban Chicago neighborhood.

What people are saying:

“Macaulay Culkin is arguably one of the best child actors to ever hit the big screen. Home Alone shows how he can take the spotlight and entertain any viewer. With an addition of the Wet Bandits’ hilarious antics and physical humor this is a very strong Christmas comedy that should be watched every year.” 4 1/2 stars

“A true holiday classic! I watch this movie almost every Christmas and it never seems to get old. The movie has pretty much everything; family conflicts, crime, action, comedy, and is also great for kids! If you haven’t seen this yet – now is the perfect time!!” 5 stars

“Home Alone has not aged well, but it’s still a well made film. John Hughes started losing his touch right around here. The John Williams score is great. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are perfect as the bumbling crooks. Who would’ve thought that? Macaulay Culkin was definitely one of the best, most spirited child actors of all time. Watching this as a 32-year old adult it just doesn’t have the same magic it did when I was a kid.” 3 stars

“Classic jokes and an all-star cast make this a great movie to revisit. Fast paced silliness accompanied by a variety of Christmas music entertains the whole family. We tend to forget about the vast array of characters and side-stories in this movie aside from Kevin (Macaulay) and the burglars.” 5 stars

“This is the movie as a kid that proved to me that laughter is great medicine. I was pretty sick the day my dad took me to see this in the theaters and walked out of the theater feeling much better. Great script by John Hughes and full of slapstick greatness by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.” 4 stars

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on February 25, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Hard-partying brothers Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) place an online ad to find the perfect dates (Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza) for their sister’s Hawaiian wedding. Hoping for a wild getaway, the boys instead find themselves outsmarted and out-partied by the uncontrollable duo.

What people are saying:

“…where the comedy really takes off, Aubrey Plaza, who was so sharp playing a good girl pretending to be bad in The To Do List, is even sharper playing a bad girl pretending to be good. She’s got a face made for deception — she’s like a devil doll, eyebrows lowering with cunning — and her line readings are killer.” 3 stars

“The story and humour do fall flat occasionally however the central 4 and there combined comedic flair (which makes it annoying to see Plaza and Kendrick split up for the second act) add up to enough craziness to keep viewers entertained for 90 minutes, even if it’s not one you rush to re-watch.” 3 stars

“It was very raunchy…I know some people like that, but I felt it was too much. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it in small doses–wedding craters, hangover, horrible bosses are all great movies but, as someone else said, raunchy-for-the-sake-of-raunchy can lose it’s appeal very quickly. I thought the premise of the movie seemed different and intriguing, especially because it was loosely based off of true events and the girls were far from boring–I just couldn’t find the humor” 2 stars

“Based on a true story (of sorts), Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is an extremely raunchy sex comedy. While it sports an impressive cast that includes Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza, and Anna Kendrick, the writing is atrociously bad. The plot’s pretty much a standard rom-com vacation, with all the usual tropes and clichés that go with it. And the comedy is chock-full of gross-out sexual humor. Formulaic tripe, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is utterly pointless and vulgar.” 1 1/2 stars

“I hate to write anything bad about Anna Kendrick or Aubrey Plaza as I usually really like both of them. However, they completely ruined this movie. Their acting was fake, forced and obnoxious. Zac Efron and Adam Devine were hilarious and the only scenes I could stand were the ones with them. I don’t think it was the fault of the two actresses, it seemed more like a directorial error but unfortunately, it ruined the entire film. It does have a few laughable moments and Adam Devine and Zac Efron definitely make a great duo. Hopefully they join forces again under someone else’s direction.” 1 star

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Freya the Ice Queen (Emily Blunt) brings her sister Ravenna (Charlize Theron) back to life, and the powerful evil siblings plan to conquer the Enchanted Forest. Only the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and his secret lover Sara (Jessica Chastain) can stop them in this sequel continuing the inventive twist on the Snow White fable.

What people are saying:

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is visually arresting and boasts a stellar cast, but neither are enough to recommend this entirely unnecessary sequel” 2.5 stars

“When people gripe about Hollywood’s reliance on sequels and cheap franchise cash-ins, this is the kind of movie they mean: no Grimm’s Fairy Tale, but a grim tale nonetheless.” 2 stars

“Visually beautiful with all kinds of now-typical fantasy action, “The Huntsman” is that pretty but dumb date we all wanted, but knew wouldn’t be good for very long. I enjoyed it for what it was, and truly the visual effects are stunning and creative, but the plot was paper-thin (even as the writers tried to contrive a complicated story by pushing a lot of plot lines in quick sequence).” 3 stars

“If you can get past Chris Hemsworths terrible Scottish accent this is a lot better than the Snow White film. I suspect that’s mainly down to the lack of the abysmal Kristen Stewart. This is quite fun and pretty to look at (I’m including Mr Hemsworth in that), and Sheridan Smith, Nick Frost and Rob Bryden add some much needed comedy element! ” 3 stars

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War is an unnecessary sequel that wastes its talented cast. Why did these actors do this movie? They are all better than this. Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain are only in this for the paycheck. Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron overdo it as the villains. Thankfully, Theron camps it up with her performance, making her performance the most fun to watch. Unfortunately, there isn’t any emotional attachment to these characters. You just don’t care about them. The plot is generic and boring. The script is terrible. They try to do humor in this film, and it fails miserably. The action is fine, but it just isn’t exciting. Overall, there really isn’t any point to this movie. These excellent actors are trapped in a movie with a lazy script and dull action.” 1 1/2 stars

Central Intelligence

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1996, student and star athlete Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) is being honored at his high school’s senior assembly. Halfway through Joyner’s speech, Trevor Olson (Dylan Boyack) and his friends grab shy, overweight student Robbie Wheirdicht (Sione Kelepi) from the boy’s locker room and throw him into the assembly naked. Only Joyner and his girlfriend, Maggie Johnson (Danielle Nicolet), are sympathetic towards Wheirdicht, who runs away quickly after Joyner has given him his varsity jacket to cover his private parts. Everyone else, including the bullies, laugh, and the devastated Robbie dropped out of school and disappeared after the incident.

Twenty years later, Joyner is married to Maggie Johnson and works as a forensic accountant but is dissatisfied with his career. Maggie suggests they see a therapist to salvage their deteriorating marriage. At work, Joyner receives a friend request on Facebook from a man named Bob Stone, who reveals that he is Wheirdicht and requests that they meet. Joyner is shocked to see that Wheirdicht (Dwayne Johnson) has transformed into a muscular, confident man. Stone asks Joyner to review a few accounting records. Joyner deciphers the records as multi-million dollar transactions from an auction, with the final payment set to be made the following day. Stone avoids Joyner’s questions and spends the night on his couch.

The next morning, a group of CIA agents led by Pamela Harris (Amy Ryan) arrive at Joyner’s house in search of Stone, who escapes and erases all traces of his presence. Harris tells Joyner that Stone is a dangerous rogue agent who intends to sell satellite codes to the highest bidder. Soon after, Stone abducts Joyner and explains that he is trying to stop a criminal known as the Black Badger from selling the codes but needs Joyner’s skills to find the coordinates of the deal’s location. After an attack by a bounty hunter, Joyner flees and calls Maggie, telling her to meet him at the marriage counselor’s office. Harris intercepts him and tells him that Stone murdered his partner Phil Stanton and is the Black Badger himself. She warns him to refrain from telling Maggie and gives him a device to alert them to Stone’s location. Joyner then arrives for marriage counseling, where he finds Stone posing as the counselor (the real counselor bound and gagged with duct tape in the office closet by Stone).

Stone convinces Joyner to help him, and Joyner sets up a meeting with Olson (Jason Bateman) who is able to track the offshore account for the auction, so they can get the deal’s location. Olson at first apologizes for his behavior 20 years ago, but then reveals that he was only kidding them and bullies Stone again who is unable to react despite Joyner encouraging him to punch Olson for this. Harris calls Joyner and threatens to arrest Maggie if he fails to help them detain Stone. Joyner is forced to betray Stone, and the CIA arrests him. As Harris tortures Stone to get him to confess, Joyner decides to help Stone escape. Joyner deduces that the deal is happening in Boston and helps Stone steal a plane. At an underground parking garage, where the deal is assumed to be taking place, Stone enters alone, while Joyner sees Harris entering a short while later. He mistakenly assumes that she is the Black Badger and runs after her, only to find Stone meeting with the buyer and claiming to be the Black Badger. Stone shoots Joyner, grazing his neck, to keep him safe.

Stanton (Aaron Paul) arrives, revealing that he is alive, and claims he is the real Black Badger. The buyer attempts to retrieve codes from both Stone and Stanton, but the CIA arrives and a shootout begins, while Joyner grabs both codes and runs outside. He encounters Stone and Stanton, who engage in combat. Unable to decide who is the criminal, Joyner randomly shoots Stone, but Stanton confesses that he is the Black Badger and that Stone is innocent. Joyner causes a distraction by backflipping over Stanton, allowing Stone to rip Stanton’s throat out, killing him. The two deliver the codes to Harris, who then drops them off at their high school reunion, where Joyner reconciles with Maggie. Stone is announced as the Homecoming King, with Joyner revealing to Maggie that he hacked the voting system to ensure Stone’s win. Olson attempts to bully Stone a third time, but Stone knocks him out. As Stone delivers his speech, he relives his most embarrassing high-school moment and takes off all his clothes confidently. He walks off stage to unite with his high-school crush Darla McGuckian (Melissa McCarthy), a formerly cross-eyed girl. Stone, Joyner, and everyone else dance.

Before the ending credits, some time after the meeting, Maggie is pregnant and Joyner has joined the CIA. As a gift for his first day on the job, Stone gives Joyner back his varsity jacket from high school.

REVIEW:

Laurel & Hardy. Oscar & Felix. Ren & Stimpy. These are a few of the inummerate odd comedy couples we have seen over the years. Enter Johnson & Hart. A true odd pairing if there is one. Do they have the chemistry and comedic timing to make Central Intelligence a winner?

What is this about?

When a career accountant reconnects with a former classmate who now works as a CIA operative, the mild-mannered number-cruncher soon finds himself waist deep in a lethal counterespionage operation.

What did I like?

From geek to chic. We all know that one guy or girl we grew up with that was made fun of because of their looks. Fast forward to today and they’re laughing at everyone because they got hot. I love these kind of stories, especially when they work out for the best. Johnson’s character was a fat schlub who got embarrassed at an assembly by being dragged out there in the nude. 20 yrs later he’s tall, buff and a CIA agent. Can’t get much better than that, right?

1996. Speaking of 20 yrs ago, this film really speaks to me, especially when they touch on how Hart’s character isn’t where he thought would be when he graduated high school. As a fellow member of the class of ’96, and someone in the same boat, I feel his pain. In another vein, I didn’t get to go to my reunion because of work commitments and watching this reunion made me wonder how my classmates have changed over the years. I’ve seen the pictures on facebook, but I wonder how they look in person.

Guessing game. For a spy film, there needs to be a little bit of mystery. This film delivers by keeping us guessing as to who the “bad guy” is until the last act, where another big surprise is revealed. I’ve read some scathing reviews about this flick and, whether I agree with them or not, I can’t help but give props to how they were able to keep the audience on their toes.

What didn’t I like?

Bully tactics. I may be trying to read too much into this, but how is it that there were no repercussions for the group of boys that tossed Johnson’s character butt naked out in the middle of an assembly. There had to have been some punishment for that mental anguish that was caused to everyone for seeing that. Instead, we see the leader of the group somehow works in the same building as Hart and isn’t the slightest bit remorseful. *SIGH*

Mental case. Perhaps it is just me, but Johnson’s character seems to be a little…off. What brings me to this conclusion? Well, he seems to have an unnatural obsession with Hart’s character. Not in a homosexual way, but more in the stalker type way. For instance, to save him from further embarrassment, Hart covers Johnson at the assembly with his letterman jacket. A jacket which he never got back. Also, even though this was the only real interaction they had, Johnson used Hart as his emergency contact. Need I go on? Somehow this was never even mentioned in the film, though.

Storytime. Truthfully speaking, the story isn’t the best. I say this because of the weakness of the entire script. Were it not for the chemistry and comedic abilities of Johnson & Hart, I doubt this film would have even semi worked. The CIA angle was too convoluted for a comedy and there were holes big enough to drive a tank through when it comes to the certain plot lines such as the aforementioned bully angle.

Final verdict on Central Intelligence? I found this to be a much more enjoyable film than what I was expecting. The few action scenes are great, the chemistry between Johnson and Hart can’t be beat, and Johnson’s charisma as the lovable schlub turned hunk is perfect for the tone of this film. Do I recommend this film? Yes, though I wouldn’t rush to see it. If you feel like waiting for it to show up on FX or TBS, it won’t be a loss. Still, give it a shot sometime!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 2/23

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on February 23, 2017 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Concluding Black History Month, I invite you to check out the biopic about the Buffalo Soldiers. Watch the trailer and see if their story interests you

Kung Fu Panda 3

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 2016, one of the most successful animated franchises in the world returns with its biggest comedy adventure yet, KUNG FU PANDA 3. When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible-learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas!

What people are saying:

Kung Fu Panda 3 boasts the requisite visual splendor, but like its rotund protagonist, this sequel’s narrative is also surprisingly nimble, adding up to animated fun for the whole family” 3 1/2 stars

“I almost did not watch this. I saw the first two and really liked them. I felt compelled to watch this just to finish the series. It actually turned out a lot better than I thought. There were times where the film was predictable, but the graphic of the movie made it quite enjoyable. I chuckled several times throughout the movie and I never got bored. I would definitely recommend watching it until the very end because the final fighting scene was very well done.” 4 stars

“This third installment in the Kung Fu Panda series lives up to all of the things you want it to with beautiful animation, clever humor, and a couple underlying messages that more than just kids can appreciate. ” 5 stars

“Nothing will be better than the first movie (something that hollywood has still to learn) and the trailer promised much more than the actual movie, still an enjoyable movie but probably just out of love for Po’s character” 2 1/2 stars

“I adore the Kung Fu Panda franchise, and although this movie is not up to par with the first two, it is still amazingly unique in it’s own way. I loved the super villain in this one, he was so sarcastic and cool and his theme song whenever he walked in was amazing. The visuals and animation is extremely well done, and they have successfully, once again, combined 3D animation with subtle 2D visuals. The story line is not as great as the first two, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this film.” 4 stars

*batteries not included

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on February 18, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy are among the impoverished residents of a slum tenement threatened with demolition by evil land developers. Only a miracle can save Cronyn, Tandy, and their friends — and that miracle manifests itself in the form of a “family” of extraterrestrial flying saucers, who need the electricity provided by the tenement to survive. The grateful humanized spaceships repay their earthbound hosts by doing battle with the villains’ henchmen. When the building is engulfed in flames, all seems lost, but the aliens have a few more tricks up their metallic sleeves.

What people are saying:

“A cute movie but seems a bit underdeveloped. Never really explains where or how the robots come about. What was with the villain? It seemed the movie couldnt decide whether he was bad or good and never really went anywhere with his character except flip flopping. I thought the old lady was delightful and well acted. I also really did enjoy the robots. A heart warming story about friendship and the underdogs coming together.” 3 1/2 stars

“This has always been one of my favorite “silly” Sci-Fi movies. Thoroughly entertaining with a a great cast. The natural closeness of real life partners Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy can be seen felt throughout the whole movie. Funny and sweet with a pleasing end that leaves you feeling good. It’s has a wonderful sound track with great music. A great family movie. Get out the popcorn, turn out the lists cuddle up and enjoy.” 5 stars

“*batteries not included has left a legacy that embodies good-spirited movie magic. It’s an endlessly lovable movie, built around a simple premise that becomes fantastical and serves to only reinforce core human values. It’s very well made, enjoying direction that underscores its qualities and performances that accentuate its humanity.” 4 stars

“This movie was great, back in 1987, but now watching it in 2012; it just didn’t make the cut. It was really slow, way too long, and the special effects and way under par, even for 1987. It will always hold a special place in my heart as a good, memorable movie(as a 7 year old boy), but I wouldn’t recommend this movie to any adults, or children over 10. ” 2 stars

“This movie is a family cult classic in our household. I can’t even tell you how many times we have seen it. My oldest child is now 20 and she still will come in with it for us all to watch. It is such an endearing story and everyone seems to care so much for all the characters. To me it is a nice break in the string of raunchy, crude, disconnected movies that movie critics want you to “get in tune with”. This movie reminds us that we don’t have to have sex, gore, or provocative thinking to get true entertainment. Sit back and enjoy this movie and I assure you that you will be reminded what really matters.” 5 stars