Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ten years after the worldwide pandemic of the deadly ALZ-113 virus (known as the Simian Flu), human civilization is completely destroyed following martial law, civil unrest and the economic collapse of every country in the world. Over 90% of the human population has died in the pandemic, while apes with genetically enhanced intelligence have started to build a civilization of their own.

In the ruins of San Francisco, Caesar leads and governs an ape colony located in the Muir Woods. While walking through the forest, Caesar’s son Blue Eyes and his friend Ash encounter a human named Carver, who panics and shoots Ash, wounding him. Carver calls for the rest of his small party of armed survivors, led by a man named Malcolm, while Blue Eyes calls for the other apes. Caesar orders the humans to leave. The remaining humans in San Francisco, who are genetically immune to the virus, are living in a guarded and unfinished high-rise tower within the ruined city. Prompted by Koba, a scarred bonobo who holds a grudge against humans for his mistreatment, Caesar brings an army of apes to the city tower where he conveys the message that while the apes do not want war, they will fight to defend their home. He demands that the humans stay in their territory and states the apes will stay in theirs too.

Malcolm convinces his fellow leader Dreyfus to give him three days to reconcile with the apes to gain access to a hydroelectric dam in their territory, which could provide long-term power to the city. Dreyfus, distrustful of the apes, arms survivors using an abandoned armory. Malcolm then travels into the ape village, but is captured by gorilla guards, who bring him to Caesar. After a tense discussion, Caesar allows Malcolm to work on the dam’s generator, if they surrender their guns. As Malcolm, his wife Ellie and son Alexander work, they bond with the apes. Mutual distrust of both sides gradually subsides; the truce is endangered when Caesar’s infant son discovers a shotgun smuggled in by Carver, but the two sides reconcile when Ellie offers to help treat Caesar’s ill wife Cornelia with antibiotics. Meanwhile, Koba discovers the armory and confronts Caesar, questioning his allegiance and taunting him over his “love” for humans. In response, Caesar severely beats Koba, but at the last moment refrains from killing him; adhering to his philosophy that “ape not kill ape,” Caesar hesitantly forgives Koba. The furious Koba then returns to the armory, where he steals an assault rifle and murders two human guards. Returning home, he secretly kills Carver, stealing his lighter and cap.

The dam is eventually repaired, restoring power to the city. During the celebration, Koba sets fire to the apes’ home, then, unseen to anyone else, shoots Caesar in the shoulder, causing him to fall from the settlement’s main tree. In the panic of the loss of the alpha and the fire, Koba takes charge, and having planted Carver’s cap at the scene of the shooting, urging the apes to fight against the humans. Malcolm’s group hides as Koba leads the apes into San Francisco. The apes plunder the armory and charge the tower’s gates. Despite heavy casualties, the apes breach the gates using a hijacked tank, overrun the tower and imprison all the humans as Dreyfus flees underground. When Ash refuses Koba’s orders to kill unarmed humans, citing Caesar’s teachings, Koba kills Ash and imprisons all those known to be loyal to Caesar.

Malcolm’s group finds Caesar barely alive and transport him to his former home in San Francisco. Caesar reveals to Malcolm that Koba shot him, realizing his notion that apes were better than humans was naïve and that apes can be as violent as humans. Malcolm leaves the group and heads to the city to find medical supplies for Caesar. While looking for medical supplies, Malcolm encounters Blue Eyes; disenchanted with Koba’s leadership, the young ape spares Malcolm’s life and returns to the house with him, where he reconciles with his father. Caesar grows nostalgic watching a video clip from his childhood of his former owner and father figure Will Rodman on his old camcorder as Malcolm learns of Caesar’s past. A plan is put into action: Blue Eyes returns to the tower and frees the caged humans and apes loyal to Caesar, then Malcolm leads the apes, unseen, into the tower from below. After accomplishing this, Malcolm encounters Dreyfus, who informs him that his men have made radio contact with more survivors at a military base to the north, who are on their way to help fight the apes. Caesar confronts Koba at the top of the tower, but as they battle, Dreyfus detonates C-4 charges he has planted beneath the tower. The resulting explosion kills him and collapses part of the tower. Caesar overpowers Koba, with Koba hanging over the edge of the tower. Pleading for his life, Koba reminds Caesar that apes do not kill apes, but Caesar states that Koba is not an ape and lets him fall to his death.

Malcolm informs Caesar of the impending arrival of human military reinforcements and both lament the lost opportunity for peace. Caesar tells Malcolm that the humans will never forgive the apes for the war they started and advises him to leave with his family for safety as the two of them acknowledge their friendship. As Malcolm disappears into the shadows, Caesar stands before a kneeling mass of apes, awaiting the war to come.


As much as I hate and detest remakes/reboots, I will admit that sometimes they have a good idea, such as in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Because someone in Hollywood pulled their heads out of their ass and came up with an actual idea, we now have a franchise on our hands. The second film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, promises to be more action and less exposition, but is it worth watching?

What is this about?

A decade after their escape, Caesar and his fellow super-intelligent apes strike a tenuous peace with human survivors of the simian virus. But all-out war is on the horizon, a conflict that will determine which species will dominate the planet.

What did I like?

Little humans. In films such as the Transformers franchise and others where the stars are obviously NOT the humans, we get the opposite of what we paid to see. Instead, we are force-fed human characters in a veiled attempt to save money on CG. That is not the case with this film, as it spares no expense with the apes, nor does it shove humans down our throats. Sure, we get some human stuff, but it is just enough to create plot and conflict. Maybe some other films should take note, I’m just saying.

Mirroring viewpoints. Heading into the climax, I noticed that the faction of humans and apes were mirroring each other in their viewpoints. On one side, there was Caesar and Malcolm, played by Jason Clarke, who wanted peace and harmony, while on the other side there was Koba and Dreyfus, played by Gary Oldman, who wanted to bring about a great war. This is especially obvious during the final confrontation between Caesar and Koba because at the same time they are slugging it out, Clarke and Oldman’s characters are having a discussion about their opposing views and who is right and wrong. It really is a nice touch to show these things happening at the same time.

Apes. I’m more of a practical effects/stop motion guy. If you’re an avid reader of this blog, I think you can tell than by now. With that said, though, I cannot deny that CG technology is ever improving. Looking at the apes, I was impressed with how lifelike they were, both in design and portrayal. Tell me, when was the last time you looked into a CG apes eyes and saw raw emotion? Why is it Andy Serkis didn’t win an Oscar for this, again? The man was robbed!!!

What didn’t I like?

Wife and kid. Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-McPhee, who play the wife and kid to Jason Clarke’s character try to insert themselves and be relevant to the plot, but it just wasn’t happening for me. That isn’t my issue, though. As the film closes, they just suddenly disappear. Where did they go? It never is mentioned where they disappeared to, nor are they even mentioned. They were just here one scene and gone the next.

Apism. Not to sound like an ape racist (would that be an apist?), but all these apes looked the same to me, save for Koba and Blue Eyes. The only reason those two stood out was because of their scars. Do I think they needed name tags? No, but surely as these apes learn more and more to be their own society some individuality has to start to show, at least for the sake of the audience. At least the gorilla and the orange orangutan had no problem being recognized, as they are the only ones.

That one guy. Yep, there is always that one guy. You know, the one that just wants to see the world burn because he doesn’t like or is scared of something? The first human we see, turns out to be a giant asshole. He shoots an ape just because he was frightened, which becomes the catalyst for this whole film in some respects, around the campfire he talks about how much he hates them, and the next day he is shown to have smuggled a gun up to the dam, when Caesar had forbidden them (made worse by the fact that it was Caesar’s infant son that found it!) As far as being one of the most hated characters in the film, he succeeds. Was he necessary? Maybe for a couple of scenes, but that was it. I feel this guy got way too much screentime, while Gary Oldman was given just a couple of minutes more than James Franco’s clips from the first film!

Let’s see…the apes have risen and we’ve seen the dawn of their dominance. War is next! Seriously, that is the name of the next film. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had the unenviable task of serving as a sequel and filler until we get to said war. Not many films in this spot end up as successes, but there is one that stands out amongst all the others, Empire Strikes Back! Now, this isn’t in the same league as the piece of cinematic perfection, nothing is, but it does seem to be in the same ballpark. This is a film that has great direction, writers who actually care about the project and the people who will be watching it, and great actors. Mix those factors together and you’re sure to get a great film. The issues I have are few and far between, so do I recommend this? Yes, very much so, but I advise you to watch the first film if it has been awhile, if for no other reason than to refresh your memory.

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A montage of news clips of Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War protests is seen while The Lennon Sisters cover of “My Favorite Things” is heard.

Raoul Duke (Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (del Toro) speed across the Nevada desert. Duke, under the influence of mescaline, complains of a swarm of giant bats, before going through the pair’s inventory of psychoactive drugs. Shortly afterward, the duo stop to pick up a young hitchhiker (Maguire), and explain what they are doing. Duke has been assigned by an unnamed magazine to travel to Las Vegas and cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race. However, they have also decided to take advantage of the trip by purchasing a large number of drugs, and rent a red Chevrolet Impala convertible. The young man soon becomes terrified of the antics of the duo, and flees on foot. Trying to reach Vegas before the hitchhiker can go to the police, Gonzo gives Duke part of a sheet of “Sunshine Acid”, then informs him that there is little chance of making it before the drug kicks in. By the time they reach the strip, Duke is in the full throes of his trip, and barely makes it through the check-in, all the while hallucinating that the hotel clerk is a moray eel, and that his fellow bar patrons are lizards in the depths of an orgy.

The next day, Duke arrives at the race, and heads out with his photographer, a man by the name of Lacerda (Bierko). During the coverage, Duke becomes irrational and believes that they are in the middle of a battlefield, so he fires Lacerda, and returns to the hotel. After consuming more mescaline, as well as huffing diethyl ether, Duke and Gonzo arrive at the Bazooko Circus casino, but leave shortly afterwards, the chaotic atmosphere frightening Gonzo. Back in the hotel room, Duke leaves Gonzo unattended, and tries his luck at a quick round of Big Six. When Duke returns, he finds that Gonzo, after consuming a full sheet of LSD, has trashed the room, and is sitting fully clothed in the bathtub, attempting to pull the tape player in with him, as he wants to hear the song better. He pleads with Duke to throw the machine into the water when the song “White Rabbit” peaks. Duke agrees, but instead throws a grapefruit at Gonzo’s head before running outside.

The next morning, Duke awakes to a massive room service bill, and no sign of Gonzo (who has returned to Los Angeles while Duke slept), and attempts to leave town. As he nears Baker, California, a highway patrolman (Busey) pulls him over for speeding, and advises him to sleep at a nearby rest stop. Duke instead heads to a payphone and calls Gonzo, learning that he has a suite in his name at the Flamingo Las Vegas so he can cover a District Attorney’s convention on narcotics. Duke checks into his suite, only to be met by an LSD-tripping Gonzo, and a young girl by the name of Lucy (Ricci) he has brought with him. Gonzo explains that Lucy has come to Las Vegas to meet Barbra Streisand, and that he gave her LSD on the plane not realizing she had never taken it before. Sensing the trouble this could get them into, Duke convinces Gonzo to ditch Lucy in another hotel before her trip wears off.

Gonzo accompanies Duke to the D.A.’s convention, and the pair discreetly snort cocaine as the guest speaker delivers a comically out-of-touch speech about “marijuana addicts” before showing a brief film. Unable to take it, Duke and Gonzo flee back to their room, only to discover that Lucy has called. Their trips mostly over, Gonzo deals with Lucy over the phone (pretending that he is being savagely beaten by thugs), as Duke attempts to mellow out by trying some of Gonzo’s stash of adrenochrome. However, the trip spirals out of control, and Duke is reduced to an incoherent mess before he blacks out.

After an unspecified amount of time passes, Duke wakes up to a complete ruin of the once pristine suite. After discovering his tape recorder, he attempts to remember what has happened. As he listens, he has brief memories of the general mayhem that has taken place, including a heated encounter with a waitress at a diner, convincing a distraught cleaning woman that they are police officers investigating a drug ring, and attempting to buy an orangutan.

Duke drops Gonzo off at the airport, after missing the entrance, driving across the tarmac and pulling up right next to the plane, before returning to the hotel one last time to finish his article. Duke speeds back to Los Angeles.


Certain people in this household are obsessed with Johnny Depp. As such, while I had actually planned to watch something else this evening, we ended up watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The jury is still out on whether this was a better choice than what I had planned.

What is this about?

This cult favorite chronicles the hallucinogenic misadventures of a sportswriter and his lawyer on a three-day romp from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Motoring across the Mojave Desert to Sin City, the hazy travelers ingest a cornucopia of drugs.

What did I like?

Here’s Johnny. I hear all the time about how Johnny Depp has become a one-note act. Watching his last few films will lend one to think that all he can do is a funny accent in some kind of makeup. Then we see something like this, Public Enemies, or his new film, which I cannot think of the name of right now, and remember that the guy actually is a really good actor. Who else can pull off this mix of madness and paranoia?

Hallucinations. People, there are lots of drugs to be had in this films and, as one can imagine, the combinations of said drugs and the paranoia of our stars creates some interesting hallucinations. Bats flying in the middle of the desert, melting floors, my personal favorite, giant lizard people, among other visions. Terry Gilliam was able to portray these sights to the audience in a way that only he can, leaving us wanting more.

Period piece. Set in the early 70s, I felt at times like I was really back there. Not because of any specific lingo, clothing, or what have you, but because of the music. Yes, the soundtrack transports us back to those days. Mixing the likes of Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, and more, it is hard to ignore the impact that these songs have as one watches the film.

What didn’t I like?

Vomit. People vomit, especially when they are drunk and/or high. I get that, but I have to question the need to show said vomit. In some modern media, when we see someone vomit, the act of spewing isn’t scene and if it is, it is from a distance, not in full color. I like to think I have a strong stomach and all, but watching del Toro blow chunks made me queasy!

Read a book. Apparently, this is a book. I have never heard of it, to tell you the truth, but this isn’t exactly the genre I peruse when I’m in the library or bookstore, either. That being said, at times I felt as if this film was shooting a bit above its head. That is to say, the concept was there, but something was lacking in the execution. I can’t tell you exactly what, but it was just a feeling I had watching.

Lost and confused. Have you ever read a book, watched a TV show, or even a movie and, while you paid attention the whole time, you still had no idea what was going on? That is how I felt watching this. I was reading some other reviews and I am not alone in this train of thought, either. For me, there didn’t seem to be a clear plot. We are privy to the knowledge that Depp and del Toro are driving from L.A. to Vegas and are on all kinds of drugs, but why they are on this road trip is never really told, except for in passing, as with most other things in the picture. Important facts and plot points are “blink and you’ll miss it.”

For years now I have been hearing people clamor about how impressive Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is, but unfortunately I wasn’t really that impressed with this picture. Now, before you come tar and feather me, let me say that this is not a bad film. It just is a bit more on the artsy-fartsy side than I would like. Depp and del Toro give standout performances to keep it going, but in the end, I believe this just wasn’t the film for me. Do I recommend it? Yes, it may be your cup of tea. So, give it a shot!

3 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 6/18

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on June 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

According to my facebook, more than a few parents are sending their kids off to camp this week. In honor of that, I thought this week’s trailer should be about a summer camp. Anyone remember Meatballs?

Check out the trailer!

Jurassic World

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Twenty-two years after the Isla Nublar incident, Jurassic World is a new, fully functional dinosaur theme park located on the island. Brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell go to visit their aunt Claire Dearing, the park’s operations manager. Upon arriving on the island, they are left in the care of Claire’s assistant Zara. Simon Masrani, the park’s owner, arrives and takes Claire to see their new genetically modified dinosaur, the Indominus rex (a hybrid of Abelisaurus, Carnotaurus, cuttlefish, Giganotosaurus, Majungasaurus, Rugops, tree frog, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Velociraptor DNA[a]). Upon inspection, he tells her he wants Owen Grady, a Velociraptor expert and trainer, to look for vulnerabilities in the Indominus enclosure.

Owen is approached by Vic Hoskins, the head of InGen security, who proposes using the Velociraptors (Blue, Charlie, Delta, and Echo) as weapons. However, one of the staff falls into the Velociraptor enclosure, forcing Owen to rescue him before barely escaping himself, proving that the raptors are not tame. Gray and Zach slip away from Zara and explore the park. Claire arrives at Owen’s bungalow, having previously been in a relationship with him, and tells him of Masrani’s request; he reluctantly agrees. After arriving at the enclosure, they find that the Indominus has seemingly scaled the wall and escaped. After Owen and two staff enter the enclosure to inspect it, the Indominus ambushes them, having faked her escape, and kills both staff before disappearing into the jungle. Owen escapes by hiding under a vehicle and cutting the fuel hose to douse himself in gasoline to hide his scent.

After an attempt to capture the Indominus fails, Claire closes off the northern part of the park. Gray and Zach are on the gyrosphere ride and drive it into the woods where they are attacked by the Indominus. They eventually stumble across the ruins of the old Jurassic Park’s Visitor Center, where they repair a jeep and drive toward Main Street, the park’s central hub. Owen and Claire arrive at the visitor center soon afterwards but are attacked by the Indominus. Masrani flies after the Indominus in his helicopter and follows her as she breaks into the Jurassic World Aviary. The Pteranodons and Dimorphodons attack the helicopter and cause it to crash into the aviary, killing Masrani and freeing the other pterosaurs inside.

Zach and Gray arrive back at Main Street as the pterosaurs begin attacking the congregated tourists. Zara finds them but is quickly picked up by a Pteranodon and dropped into Jurassic World Lagoon, where she and the Pteranodon are eaten by the park’s Mosasaurus. Owen and Claire arrive and reunite with Gray and Zach. Hoskins takes command of Jurassic World and decides to use the Velociraptors to find and kill the Indominus, with Owen reluctantly agreeing. However, the Indominus turns the Velociraptors against the InGen soldiers, killing most of them and allowing her to flee. Owen manages to escape. Meanwhile, Hoskins has Dr. Henry Wu, the park’s chief geneticist, board a helicopter with some of the dinosaur embryos.

After returning to Main Street and entering the Innovation Center, Owen, Claire, Zach, and Gray find Hoskins packing up the laboratory and the rest of the dinosaur embryos. He tells them he plans to turn the Indominus into a weapon. Suddenly, a Velociraptor appears and kills him. The four escape, only to be surrounded by the Velociraptors outside, where Owen manages to reestablish his connection with them. When the Indominus arrives, Owen and the Velociraptors attack her, but the Velociraptors are apparently killed. Realizing they are outmatched, Claire decides to open up the Tyrannosaurus enclosure and lure the female T. rex[b] into a fight with the Indominus. The T. rex is initially overpowered, but when the Velociraptor Blue reappears and attacks the Indominus, she strikes back. They both force the Indominus towards Jurassic World Lagoon, where the Mosasaurus lunges out and drags the Indominus to her death. The T. rex departs, but Blue shares one more moment with Owen before also leaving for the jungle. The survivors are evacuated to Costa Rica. Zach and Gray are reunited with their parents while Owen and Claire decide to stay together. On Isla Nublar, the T. rex surveys the destruction caused by the Indominus and roars.


So, this is the 4th entry into the franchise but, if you think about it, if anyone had common sense, we wouldn’t have a franchise. With the catastrophe that happened in Jurassic Park, you’d think people would stop messing with nature and making attractions/parks, but nope. Now we have Jurassic World!

What is this about?

Once a popular, state-of-the-art dinosaur-themed attraction, Jurassic Park has fallen behind the times. In response, the owners decide to design a bold new exhibit, but the terror it inspires becomes all too real after the technology malfunctions.

What did I like?

Honor your past. It would appear that this park is built on the same island as the original. A point is made to distance from that “tragedy”, as Jake Johnson’s character is wearing a Jurassic Park shirt (which he bought on eBay), but there is some reverence to be found. A point comes in the film when the boys are being chased that they happen into what appears to just be an old shed, but in fact is the main auditorium for the original park, complete with the jeeps. It is a nice throwback to the film that started it all.

Music. Think back to the original film when we very first saw the island. Remember hearing John Williams’ iconic, epic theme playing as the helicopter headed towards it? Well, a downfall of this film is that we don’t really get any epic moments like that, but the Williams’ theme is there. Michael Giacchino (you may best know him for doing the scores to The Incredibles, Lost, Alias, the new Star Trek films, etc.) did a masterful job of blending his score with Williams’ work. It is next to impossible to tell whose work is which and it all works for the tone of the film

On the right track. I will say this about the premise of this park, they are on the right track to getting the park right. Keeping the really dangerous dinosaurs, such as the T-Rex behind a heavily secured door, only to bring it out for food is a good thing, if you must have him. Training the raptors, also a good idea. The “kiddie park” part, where kids get to ride baby dinosaurs was priceless. So, we’re getting there, just need to stop messing with mother nature…more than they already are, of course.

Tag team. Not to spoil anything, but the final confrontation is something pretty epic as the humans and dinos, including the mosasurus, who lives in the water park part of the park combine forces and work in tandem. In the theater I was in, kids and adults were cheering. I’m sure they would have gotten up on their feet if they could have.

What didn’t I like?

Setup. I noticed some pretty big plot holes in this picture that just could not be overlooked. First, B.D. Wong, who is the only actor to return from the original film, takes the DNA samples and leaves the island. Second, there is this Black Ops reality show type security force that infiltrates the island after someone dies. Why do they do this and what gave them the authority? It is never explained. On one hand, I feel this is setting up for a sequel and, if that is the case, I will come back and rescind these comments. However, as it stands right now, it is almost as if crucial parts of the film that would explain what is going ended up on the cutting room floor, or were never written at all.

Pratt-fall. Chris Pratt is on a meteoric rise in Hollywood. He is a total bad-ass here, but I still can’t take the guy seriously. It isn’t because he cracked a few jokes, but because of his role on Parks & Recreation. I still haven’t separated him from Andy. In Guardians of the Galaxy, it wasn’t that much of a stretch because it felt at times as if Star Lord was Andy playing dress up. This is nothing against Pratt, he is a fine actor, I just need a bit more time before I see him in badass roles, I suppose.

Creation. Indominus Rex. The name alone should tell you this thing is bad news. A creature created from merging various aspects of other animals. It is raised in captivity and ate its sibling. Why on Earth is this thing still alive? Well, as someone pointed out, it represents the greed of today’s society. It was created because consumers wanted “bigger and better”.  I’m thinking why not just shoot a T-Rex with some steroids or something, not make a Frankenstein dinosaur. I really wonder if these people will ever learn!

I have to say Jurassic World was a fun time. Not only was this movie an enjoyable popcorn summer flick, but I was in a packed theater with people who actually cared to see the film, not text everyone, let their babies cry, or walk all over you to get out in important scenes. Maybe I need to come to Texas and visit my best friend everytime I want to see a movie in the theaters. HA! While this picture does have its issues, I feel it is a worth successor and the sequel we deserved to the original Jurassic Park. I am looking forward to seeing what happens with this franchise going forward. Do I recommend it? Yes, very much so!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 6/11

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on June 11, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Yesterday was Julie Garland’s birthday, so let’s celebrate it by watching the trailer for one of her films, Meet Me in St. Louis. Watch and see what you think!


Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Murphysboro, Illinois, Tammy Banks strikes a deer on the way to her job at Topper Jack’s (a fictional fast food restaurant), causing significant damage to her vehicle. Once she arrives at Topper Jack’s, her supervisor, Keith, fires her for repeatedly showing up late for her shift. Upon leaving, Tammy indignantly causes a scene by contaminating or stealing food. After her car dies on the way home on Illinois Route 13, she eventually arrives to find her husband, Greg, eating a romantic meal with their neighbor, Missi. Upset, Tammy leaves and walks two doors down to her parents’ house.

She tells her mother, Deb, about her plans to leave and takes her grandmother Pearl’s car. Pearl requests to come along. Tammy initially refuses but ultimately agrees when Pearl proves that she has a large sum of cash. Tammy has beer with Pearl, and the next morning they wake up near a park where Pearl convinces Tammy not to go back home. Pearl wants to go to Niagara Falls with Tammy since she hadn’t gone as a child. Along the way the two stop in a bar in Louisville, Kentucky, Tammy meets Earl and his son Bobby, and Earl hooks up with Pearl. Tammy and Bobby begin to make a love connection as Pearl and Earl drunkenly make out in the car. Bobby gives Tammy his number to call him so he can pick up Earl. Back at the hotel, Tammy is forced to sleep outside. The next morning, Bobby picks up Earl, and the two leave. Tammy, infuriated with Pearl, leaves her, but returns after feeling guilty. Tammy and Pearl are arrested after Pearl gets caught buying a case of beer for underaged teenagers as well as shoplifting a pint of whiskey for herself. Tammy is released, but Pearl stays at the jail for possessing illegal prescription drugs.

To bail out Pearl, Tammy robs a Topper Jack’s, where she converses with employees Becky and Larry. Finally having obtained the money, she rushes to the prison to bail her out, but Bobby has already bailed out Pearl. With the help of Pearl’s wealthy lesbian cousin Lenore (who made her fortune off of a small chain of pet supply stores), they destroy the car to hide the evidence from the robbery. The two then stay at the home of Lenore and her wife, Susanne. At a 4th of July party thrown at the house, Pearl gets drunk and humiliates Tammy by making rude comments about her weight and appearance in front of all the guests. After Tammy runs off to the dock on the lake by the house, Lenore follows her to both comfort her and offer her some tough love, telling her that she has always been complaining about her life, but has never done anything about it. She tells Tammy that if she wants to make things better for herself she needs to work hard to make it happen.

Later in the morning, Tammy brings coffee to Pearl, who is presumably asleep outside. After repeatedly trying to wake her, Pearl does not wake up and Tammy assumes she is dead. She, Lenore, and Susanne grieve Pearl’s death, but Pearl suddenly awakens, much to everyone’s shock. Pearl was actually unconscious due to the large amount of alcohol she drank the previous night. Tammy is relieved, and she tearfully demands Pearl to get help for her drinking problem. The ambulance arrives and takes Pearl to the hospital. The police arrive as well, and Tammy is arrested.

Tammy is released from prison 38 days later, and her father, Don, picks her up. He offers to kill Greg for her, though she declines. Returning home, Tammy finds that Greg and Missi have packed Tammy’s belongings. She and Greg agree to an amicable divorce. She walks down the street to her parents’ place and finds out that Pearl is now living in Brookview Retirement Home. Tammy goes to Brookview to break her out, but Pearl is actually happy there. She has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at the home, and she is dating one of the men there. However, they do still take a trip to Niagara Falls.

At Niagara Falls, Bobby surprises Tammy there and they kiss. Tammy tells him about her choice to move to Louisville to get a fresh start in life and get closer to him. The last scene shows Missi leaving Greg to be with Keith Morgan and Tammy befriends Becky and Larry


I have a confession to make. I have a small crush on Melissa McCarthy. Judging by some of the comments and reviews she gets, I think I may be the only person besides her husband that actually is a fan. Tammy does not afford her the opportunity to show her beauty, but we do get a toned down version of what we have been getting from her of late. Is this for the best, though?

What is this about?

Pushed to the limit after losing her job and discovering her husband’s been cheating on her, Tammy agrees to flee town with her alcoholic grandmother. Their destination is Niagara Falls, but the journey offers some unexpected pit stops.

What did I like?

Buds. Both Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon are no stranger to these buddy road trip movies, as they both have starred in critically acclaimed films. Having said that, I still don’t think I would have paired them together (originally, I believe it was supposed to have been Shirley MacLaine, if you can believe that), and yet somehow it works. There is some nice chemistry and back and forth between the two that really captures the audience’s attention. Are they going to get along? Do they really hate each other? It is an interesting dynamic.

Grandma. I know Susan Sarandon is getting on up there in age, but that Mama’s Family hair wasn’t working for me. Ignoring that, though, she gave arguably the best performance of the film. Striking a solid balance between comedy, drama, and a hint of tragedy, she steals the show from her “granddaughter”. Also, she can still pull in the men, which I imagine is true in real life, as well.

Victims. Melissa McCarthy’s character needs to make some $3,000 or somewhere thereabouts, so she decides to rob a franchise restaurant from the chain that fired her. In the process of doing so, she stops just short of making friends of the people working there (which apparently does happen, judging by the post-credits scene with all of them in a hot tub. What I like about this arrangement is how it just naturally flowed and wasn’t awkward. The three of them could probably make a sitcom together. As a matter of fact, I believe the blonde was on McCarthy’s show, Mike & Molly once.

What didn’t I like?

Fast food. I really don’t mean to judge, especially in this economy, but how and why is it that an apparently 30-40 something year old woman is flipping burgers or whatever is it she did at that place? Tammy isn’t shown to have any ambitions or anything, but surely she could have gotten a better job doing something…anything else.

Tara? Toni Collette is too fine an actress to be relegated to the role of I guess you would call her mistress? I say this because she is in 2, maybe 3 scenes and says little to nothing. Tammy’s husband is some no name actor, why did they feel the need to bring in someone like Collette to pair with him. Surely they could have found another no-name out there that would have been just as good, but cheaper.

Nice guy. When a love interest appears in a film, they usually have some defining characteristic about them that audiences use to remember them. This isn’t the case for Mark Duplass’ character, as he is 100% forgettable. Part of that is the fault of the script. We are privy to little to no information about this guy, but are expected to cheer for him as he tries to win McCarthy’s hand. It just doesn’t work. The guy may very well be too nice.

Final verdict on Tammy? Well, it seems to have more heart than many of McCarthy’s previous outings and doesn’t have her doing the fat comic thing. As a matter of fact, with the exception of one dramatic scene, her weight isn’t even mentioned. There are some genuine funny moments and some apparent comedic scenes that don’t work. The introduction of Kathy Bates’ character helps the film keep moving forward before it can devolve into monotony, though I’m not really sure why she had to be a lesbian. Do I recommend this? I think so, but only because this is one of those rare films today where you get to see the acting side of McCarthy. Give it a go, then.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

English gangster Albert Spica has taken over the high-class Le Hollandais Restaurant, run by French chef Richard Boarst. Spica makes nightly appearances at the restaurant with his retinue of thugs. His oafish behavior causes frequent confrontations with the staff and his own customers, whose patronage he loses, but whose money he seems not to miss.

Forced to accompany Spica is his reluctant, well-bred wife, Georgina, who soon catches the eye of a quiet regular at the restaurant, bookshop owner Michael. Under her husband’s nose, Georgina carries on an affair with Michael with the help of the restaurant staff. Ultimately Spica learns of the affair, forcing Georgina to hide out at Michael’s book depository. Boarst sends food to Georgina through his young employee Pup, a boy soprano who sings while working. Spica tortures the boy before finding the bookstore’s location written in a book the boy is carrying. Spica’s men storm Michael’s bookshop while Georgina is visiting the boy in hospital. They torture Michael to death by force-feeding him pages from his books. Georgina discovers his body when she returns.

Overcome with rage and grief, she begs Boarst to cook Michael’s body, and he eventually complies. Together with all the people that Spica wronged throughout the film, Georgina confronts her husband finally at the restaurant and forces him to eat a mouthful of Michael’s cooked body. Spica obeys, gagging, before Georgina shoots him in the head.


Young Helen Mirren is a goddess, and there wasn’t much of a drop off as she has aged like a fine wine. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover is one of the showcases of what she was capable of at a young age, not to mention giving us a film that we just don’t these days in this politically correct society.

What is this about?

Tired of her barbaric husband, the wife of a crime boss engages in a secret romance with a bookish patron between meals at her husband’s restaurant.

What did I like?

Barbaric. In today’s world, when a film comes out that has anything remotely violent, there is always some sort of group just ready to pounce. I can only imagine the field day they would have with this one where Michael Gambon’s character physically and verbally abuses everyone he comes into contact with, especially Helen Mirren’s character, whom he makes sure everyone knows she is his property. Hard to believe that some 40 or so years later he’ll become kindly old wizard, Dumbledore.

Helen. Dame Helen Mirren is not only a vision of loveliness, as always, but she strips down, showing her natural (and quite impressive) curves a few times as she has some fun with “her lover”. More importantly, though, is the fact that for most of the film she says little to nothing, but when it is time for her to speak, well, she isn’t one of the greats for no reason, I’ll put it that way. Her final soliloquy, for lack of a better term, is quite moving and sets up what she has to do quite nicely.

Beautiful. While the lighting is quite dark, I couldn’t help but notice how beautifully shot this film was. Everything from the costumes, to the food, dishes, etc. Obviously, this is more of an “artsy-fartsy” type of film, and the setting and scenery reflect that, but man alive is it beautiful.

What didn’t I like?

Sadist. Maybe I’m just so used to Gambon playing nice, “grandfather” type characters, but this thief guy he played was a real piece of work. Not only did he boss everyone around without remorse, but he took pleasure in torturing and killing his victims, as well as slapping around Helen Mirren’s character. For film purposes, he worked, but on a personal level, I despise and detest him.

Food. It would appear that this is a formal restaurant which serves haute-cuisine. Thing about that, though, is that for all we know they could have been serving gruel or dirty bath water. I’m not saying this needed to have the same kind of food budget or cinematography as Chef, but it would have been nice to see some of the actual food, even if was being messed up by certain acts going on in the back of the kitchen by Mirren and “her lover.”

Full frontal. This is going to sound very hypocritical of me, especially after praising Helen Mirren’s nude form, but I was not a fan of full frontal scenes that involved Alan Howard’s character. Kudos to the guy for having the bravery to film those scenes, of course, but I just wasn’t a fan. Maybe it is just me not wanting to see a naked guy, as opposed to a naked woman, though.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover is one of those films that feels like it should be something more than it is. What I mean by that is this could very well have been done as a play on a stage for much less money, so why not do it that way, rather than subject us to 2 hours that cannot be recovered. I did not receive any enjoyment from this film. As a matter of fact, there were times when I was downright uncomfortable. As such, I do not recommend this, but I will say that this isn’t a bad picture. It just wasn’t for me.

3 out of 5 stars


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