Archive for Chazz Palminteri

A Night at the Roxbury

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Wealthy Yemeni-American brothers Steve (Will Ferrell) and Doug Butabi (Chris Kattan) enjoy frequenting nightclubs, where they bob their heads in unison to dance music (specifically Haddaway’s hit song “What Is Love”) and fail miserably at picking up women. Their dream is to party at the famous L.A. nightclub The Roxbury, a fabled nightclub where they are continually denied entrance by a hulking bouncer (Michael Clarke Duncan). By day, the brothers work at an artificial plant store owned by their wealthy father, Kamehl Butabi (Dan Hedaya). They spend most of their time goofing off, daydreaming about opening a club as cool as the Roxbury together, and Doug using credit card transactions as an excuse to hit on a phone approval operator. The store shares a wall with a lighting emporium owned by Fred Sanderson (Dwayne Hickman). Mr. Butabi and Mr. Sanderson hope that Steve and Emily (Molly Shannon), Sanderson’s daughter, will marry, uniting the families and the businesses to form the first plant-lamp emporium.

After a day at the beach the brothers decide that tonight is the night they will finally get into the Roxbury. Returning home, Doug gets into a heated argument with their father about going out clubbing instead of staying home. Their father has planned a dinner party with Emily and her parents. The angered Mr. Butabi then denies them access to their BMW car and their cell phones. They are given enormous cell phones by their mother (Loni Anderson) and allowed use of the fake-plant store’s delivery van, they are quickly rejected by the doorman (Michael Clarke Duncan). After discovering they might bribe their way into the club, the brothers drive around looking for an ATM. They get into a fender-bender with Richard Grieco (playing himself) and to avoid a lawsuit, Grieco uses his fame to get them into the popular club. There they meet the owner of the Roxbury, Benny Zadir (Chazz Palminteri), who listens to their idea for a nightclub of their own. He likes them and sets up a meeting with them for the next day. The brothers also meet a pair of women at the Roxbury: Vivica (Gigi Rice) and Cambi (Elisa Donovan), who see them talking to Zadir and think that the brothers are rich.

On the way to the afterparty at Mr. Zadir’s house, the brothers annoy his driver and bodyguard Dooey (Colin Quinn) by making him stop to buy fluffy whip and making jokes about sleeping with his parents. As revenge, the next day Dooey denies them entry into Zadir’s office for their meeting. He tells the brothers that Zadir was drunk out of his mind last night and does not know who they are. In reality, Zadir really wants to see them, but does not have their contact information. The girls break up with the Butabi brothers after realizing they are not really wealthy. The brothers fight and Doug moves out of their shared bedroom and into the guest house. Meanwhile Steve is forced into an engagement with Emily. The wedding is held in the backyard of the Butabi residence, but is interrupted by Doug. Having gone on a fluffy-whip-fueled bender, he interrupts the wedding, reconciles with his brother, and the wedding is called off. Afterwards, Richard Grieco (a guest at the wedding) talks to Mr. Butabi to help him understand that Steve was not ready for marriage, and that Butabi is too hard on Doug.

The movie ends as the Butabi brothers happen upon a hot new club. The building is unique in that the exterior is constructed to resemble the interior of a nightclub, and the interior resembles a street — this was an idea pitched by Doug and Steve to Zadir earlier in the movie. Attempting to enter, they are surprised to find their names on the VIP list. In addition, Zadir reveals that to reward their idea, he has made them part-owners of the club. Their new-found success comes full circle when they meet two women in the club: Doug’s phone representative from the credit card company (Meredith Scott Lynn) and a police officer (Jennifer Coolidge) whom Steve earlier flirted with while getting a ticket.

REVIEW:

In the late 90s, after the “frat pack” days of Saturday Night Live consisting of Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Chris Farley, etc., we came across a nice little era that brought us a nice little sketch about a couple of brothers that were always in the club bobbing their heads to Haddaway’s “What is Love”. Who knew that this little sketch would turn into a pretty big film, A Night at the Roxbury.

What is this about?

Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell extend their “Saturday Night Live” skit about dimwit club-goers Doug and Steve Butabi, who gain entry to the swanky Roxbury nightclub after a run-in with Richard Grieco.

What did I like?

They live. If I recall, these guys didn’t speak in their sketch, but instead just made some noises when they were sandwich dry-humping some chick. It makes you wonder how they could even warrant having a full-length film. Well, someone had the idea that these are real guys with real lives and real problems. Wile it may not have been the best, it was better than what we already knew. Unlike The Coneheads and Wayne’s World, where we knew at least a little about the characters, more so with the Coneheads, these guys were just random barfly creeps., if you will.

Cast and cameos. Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell bring their characters to the big screen and give “life”, but it is the cameos from the likes of Richard Greico, Michael Clarke Duncan, Chazz Palminteri, and Loni Anderson that stood out to me. Not to mention a cast that brought in SNL darling Molly Shannon, fellow cast member Colin Quinn, character actors Dan Heyda, Lochlyn Munro, and a very young Jennifer Coolidge. They really keep this film rolling along, if you ask me. I kind of wish they would have found a way to bring in some of the guys that were with them in the sketches, though, specifically Jim Carrey or Sylvester Stallone.

Song. Ah, the late 90s…when total crap music could still make you get up and hit the dance floor….maybe with a little help from some drinks and a pretty girl *AHEM* Sorry, that’s a story for another time. I do recall hearing Haddaway’s “What is Love” over and over and over again. I think that just about the time it had died out, I seem to remember it being replaced by the “Macarena”, this sketch started and it was brought back to prominence. Now, 15 yrs later, I had nearly forgotten that it existed, but appreciate the cheesiness that it had, as well as the memories associated with it, both personally and involving the Roxbury Guys.

What didn’t I like?

Flimsy. The so-called “plot” is so flimsy, that I’m surprised the whole picture didn’t fly away when some walked by. My goodness gracious, I don’t believe these people thought to do anything with these characters other than bring them to the big screen. Also, it is quite predictable with the whole brothers splitting up only to be reunited at the wedding and meet up with the club owner at the club they told him about, and they just happen to find their dream girls there. It was way too easy to see that coming, at least for me.

Jump. Earlier I mentioned how I appreciated the cameos in this flick, and I really did. However, I have to wonder what rock they dug Richard Greico out from under to stick him in this. Granted he is playing himself and serves only to get the brothers in the Roxbury and set things right at the end. Considering how they idolized the guy, it seems he would have worked better as a guardian angel who just happened to take the form of Richard Greico.

Stretch. Of all the SNL films, this isn’t the worst, but it makes you come to the realization as to one of the reasons we don’t see anymore sketches brought to the big screen. Stretching these characters out to this point in order to force a film into production serves no real purpose. Making matters worse, The Blues Brothers are similar characters in terms of how much we know about them from the sketch, but the film version is regarded as on of the best SNL films. It just goes to show how far things have fallen, and don’t forget how horrible MacGruber  the latest from the studio, which was horrible, as well.

What can I say about A Night at the Roxbury? This is one of those films that appeals to some and appalls others. For me, it has moments, but is nothing special. I would watch it again and again, but that is more for nostalgia reasons. Do I recommend it? Yes, but only half-heartedly. Not everyone will like this. If you are a fan of the late 90s SNL sketches, then you’re more than likely love this. Otherwise, take your best guess as to whether or not you should check it out.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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Stuart Little

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film opens with Eleanor and Frederick Little and and their son George on the day they are intending an adoption. While George is at school, his parents go to the orphanage where, they fall in love with a thoughtful, observant mouse named Stuart, who knows almost everything about the other children, having been there for a long time. Despite the warnings of Mrs. Keeper (the woman in charge), who says that humans should not be adopting mice, they decide to adopt him as their second son.

Immediately after getting home, Stuart meets Snowbell (voiced by Nathan Lane) the family cat, who immediately attempts to eat him. George is surprised when his parents introduce Stuart as his new brother. He thinks it is a joke at first, but is shocked when he sees they are serious. That night, Snowbell visits Stuart and requests that he keep a low profile, so as to avoid getting seen by the other cats and damaging Snowbell’s reputation.

George is at first sullen and somewhat disappointed and treats Stuart with contempt. He eventually snaps at a family gathering when they encourage him to play “catch” with him. He also earns Snowbell’s wrath when his friend, Monty the Mouth visits for food. As Snowbell tries to keep him from seeing Stuart, he makes a scene trying to get a cereal box from a cupboard. When he sees him and discovers he is a member of the family, Monty cannot contain himself. Enraged, Snowbell tries to kill him, who narrowly escapes by fleeing into the basement. Here, he learns that George keeps a playroom and the two interact and eventually, George comes to accept him as his brother. He also finds that George keeps a toy car just his size. They decide to work together to finish George’s homemade model boat, the Wasp, for the Central Park Boat Race the following week.

Snowbell, however, isn’t finished. He and Monty head to an alley that night to visit Smokey (voiced by Chazz Palminteri), a Mafia Don-like Russian Blue who is the leader of the alley cats. Since Snowbell doesn’t want Stuart killed, he makes a plan with the alley cats to remove him from the Littles’ house. On the day of the 92nd annual Central Park Boat Race, the Wasp is finished, and they arrive at Central Park. George discovers his nemesis, Anton, is there. At the same time, Stuart accidentally destroys George’s remote control, rendering his boat inoperable. To make up for this, he takes control of it himself. Anton, however, attempts to cheat by ramming his much larger boat into other ones and sinking them. When he attempts to do the same thing to the Wasp, Stuart manages to bite into the line of his sail, rendering Anton’s boat inoperable. He subsequently wins the race.

That night, the Littles are visited by Reginald and Camille Stout, a mouse couple claiming to be Stuart’s parents. After discussion, he reluctantly leaves with his parents, taking the toy car with him as a goodbye present from George and they go to their home, a small toy castle on a golf course. Three days later, the Littles are visited by Mrs. Keeper, whom they had asked to do some background research on Stuart. She tells them that, according to the records, his parents died several years ago after a pile of canned food fell on them. The Littles realised that he had been kidnapped and call the police.

A terrified Snowbell rushes to the alley and warns Smokey and the others about the Littles’ discovery. He then decides that the only way to rectify things is to kill him. They call a meeting with Reginald and demand that he and Camille hand Stuart over. But the Stouts, having grown to care for him, reveal the truth and Reginald orders him to escape before the cats find him. He does so after saying goodbye to his “fake parents”. Meanwhile, the Littles decide to place “missing” posters around the city to get help in finding him. While going through Central Park, he is ambushed by Smokey and a few cats. He manages to evade them by driving his car into the sewer, but he loses both the car and his luggage while escaping the storm drain. Eventually, he finds his way home just as the Littles leave to hang the posters. The only one home is Snowbell, and he tells him a lie about how they are enjoying life without him, and shows him the family picture with his face cut out (they had actually removed it to provide one for the missing posters). He leaves again. However, Snowbell sees the pain his absence has caused and realises his selfishness.

Discovering Stuart’s location from Monty and the other cats, who intend to eat him, Snowbell heads to Central Park and finds him sitting alone in a bird’s nest. Snowbell, however, turns on the other cats and escapes with him, admitting his lie to him and that the Littles actually do love him, he is in fact the only one who hates him. The cats catch up with them and Snowbell attempts to convince Smokey to call off the hit on Stuart, but is refused. Instead, he orders the cats to kill them both. Stuart responds by taking off Snowbell’s collar and using it to lure them.

The cats give chase, and eventually corner Stuart hanging from a tree branch. They group together on a lower one to catch him, but Snowbell breaks it at the last minute and sends them into the water below. Smokey sneaks up behind Snowbell and is about to kill him when Stuart releases a thin branch that hits him in the face and knocks him into the water. Enraged and humiliated, he walks off, only to be attacked by dogs upon turning a corner. Monty and the other cats also climb out of the water, whimpering and embarrassed. Snowbell and Stuart walk home and he shares a warm reunion with his family, telling them that Snowbell helped him get there. The Littles bring them inside and close the windows, ready for

REVIEW:

A term the movie industry tends to use a lot, mostly when it comes to family flicks, is “movie with heart”. Well, there is no better example of this than Stuart Little! I have never been fortunate enough to view a film that really makes you feel for the central character, except maybe a few of those Pixar films, but I tend to have high expectations for those.

So, what did I like?

Story. More often than not, today’s films choose to forget good storytelling in favor of any and everything else. This film does the opposite. Yes, it has a little CG mouse as its star, but, unlike other films that stick a CG character in the “real” world, they don’t focus on how he’s different, but rather just stick to him being a normal orphan. Yes, they touch on his being a mouse here and there, but that really is a side note to the major plot line of Stuart wanting his fairytale ending with a real family.

Age of innocence. There is just something about how innocent and sweet this story is that appeals to all ages and may very well be why this film, and more so the books, are such a success. With the exception of the rather dark turn that leads to the film’s climax, this is almost G rated sweetness.

Animation. I’m won’t say that this is the best use of CG I’ve seen, but compared to that waste of time that was Marmaduke (which was released 13 years later, btw), this shines. Stuart is very well crafted and executed and the cats don’t have that weird, creepy moving jaw that is used way too often when it comes to talking animals.

Cast. Those of you that have grown to love Hugh Laurie as the curmudgeon Dr. House on House will be shocked to see him as this loveable father here. He has great chemistry with Geena Davis, who seems at home in the colorful, dare I say retro setting. The voice casting isn’t half bad, either, led by Michael J. Fox as Stuart.

What didn’t I like?

Unnecessary plot twist and deviation from the source material. I know that this film doesn’t stick very close to the source material, so the dark tone the film takes near the end is probably the result of the director thinking this was too happy of a film. Personally, I had no issue with things going just right for Stuart. Where is it written that every film character has to be thrown a life curveball? The whole thing where the “mafia” cats hire a fake family to take Stuart away, just seemed unnecessary.

Stuart Little is one of those films that is good for all ages. It has something for everyone and will have you wanting to watch it over and over again. I wish I could say that this is a perfect film, but it isn’t. More importantly, though, it is a fun film to watch. So, give it a look-see!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars