Archive for Chris Rock

Bee Movie

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jerry Seinfeld stars in this animated comedy as recent college grad Barry B. Benson, a worker bee stuck in a dead-end job making honey who files a lawsuit against humans when he learns they’ve been stealing bees’ nectar all along.

What people are saying:

“Bee Movie is utterly amazing. It’s like a sequel to a movie no one has ever seen, but maybe someday we can get the prequel it deserves in “A-Movie.” 5 stars

“This is a decent but far from superb film from DreamWorks. While it does have plenty of moments and features an All-Star cast, it just feels a bit flat and underwhelming. It obviously does feature a very silly premise(which isn’t a bad thing) and Jerry Seinfeld is a big plus. Even though I’m a big Patrick Warburton fan, his character was pretty annoying. Overall this isn’t a terrible movie, it’s just not close to being among the studio’s finest efforts.” 3 stars

“Bee Movie is, pun-intended, a solid B movie with some laughable moments and inside jokes that can last a long time. It has an unusual charm that can always bring us a laugh.” 4 stars

“It will pass the time, but I expected more from Dreamworks. It is very clever and full of humor that will appeal to older audiences but the story here is very silly. It’s not top notch animation but it’s a unique enough movie that has enough laughs to warrant a viewing.” 3 1/2 stars

“It may not be the best insect themed CGI animated movie ever made, but it comes close. It’s certainly better than that over rated load of crap known as “A Bug’s Life” which in My opinion is the real worst of these kind of films. That being said, this isn’t a bad movie. It’s funny, has a good cast, a good plot, and it’s just a lot of fun to watch. Funny thing, is that last week I was looking for a movie to keep my nephews entertained, something they had never seen,and I finally decided to go with Bee Movie, I figured they would watch it and move on to the next movie like they(and most 3 and 4 year olds) tend to usually do, but no. Much to my shock, the nephews ended becoming to obsessed with this movie that I ended up deciding to let them keep the film. It’s only been two weeks and these kids have watched it nearly a hundred times. And I mean literally. I like this movie but with nephews who are even more obsessed with It how can I not give it to them? I’ll just get It at Hasting or ebay or something. I have NEVER seen these kids so obsessed over a movie as they are over this one. They just love it so much. ” 4 stars

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Revisited: Dogma

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon) are fallen angels, banished for eternity from Heaven to Wisconsin for insubordination after an inebriated Loki (with Bartleby’s encouragement) resigned as the Angel of Death. When the trendy Cardinal Glick (Carlin) announces that he is rededicating his cathedral in Red Bank, New Jersey in the image of the “Buddy Christ”, the angels see their salvation: Anyone entering the cathedral during the rededication festivities will receive a plenary indulgence; all punishment for sin will be remitted, permitting direct entry into Heaven. They receive encouragement from an unexpected source: Azrael (Lee), a demon, once a Muse, also banished from Heaven (for refusing to take sides in the battle between God and Lucifer); and the Stygian Triplets (Barret Hackney, Jared Pfennigwerth, and Kitao Sakurai), three teenage hoodlums who serve Azrael in Hell.

Bethany Sloane (Fiorentino)—a despondent, infertile, divorced abortion clinic employee—attends a service at her church in Illinois. Donations are being solicited to help a hospitalized, comatose homeless man—known only as John Doe Jersey (Cort)—who was beaten senseless outside a skee ball arcade in New Jersey by the Triplets. Later that day, Metatron (Rickman)—the Voice of God—appears to Bethany in a pillar of fire and declares that she is the last relative of Jesus Christ. He explains that Bartleby and Loki cannot be allowed to succeed: By re-entering Heaven, they would be overruling the word of God, thereby disproving the fundamental concept of God’s omnipotence, and nullifying all of existence. She, together with two prophets who will appear to her, must stop the angels and save the universe.

Now a target, Bethany is attacked by the Triplets, and is rescued by the two foretold prophets—drug-dealing stoners named Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes and Smith). Azrael then summons a Golgothan (a vile creature made of human excrement) to find and kill Bethany, but Silent Bob immobilizes it with aerosol deodorant. Other allies in Bethany’s mission are Rufus (Rock), the thirteenth apostle (never mentioned in the Bible, he says, because he is black), and Serendipity (Hayek), a Muse with writer’s block.

On a train to New Jersey, a drunken Bethany reveals her mission to Bartleby, who tries to kill her; a melee ensues, and Silent Bob throws the angels off the train. Bartleby and Loki now realize the potential consequences of their scheme; and while Loki wants no part of destroying all existence, Bartleby remains angry at God for his expulsion—and for granting free will to humans while demanding servitude of angels—and to Loki’s horror, resolves to proceed.

Bethany and her allies discuss the situation: Who is really behind the angels’ plan, and why has God not intervened? Metatron explains that God’s whereabouts are unknown; he disappeared while visiting New Jersey in human form to play skee ball. At the cathedral, the group attempts in vain to persuade Cardinal Glick to cancel the celebration; Jay angrily steals Glick’s golf club.

At a nearby bar, Azrael captures Bethany and her protectors and reveals that he is the mastermind behind the angels’ plan—he would rather not exist at all than spend eternity in Hell. Silent Bob kills Azrael with Glick’s blessed golf club. Serendipity tells Bethany to bless the bar sink, turning its contents to holy water, and Jay, Rufus and Serendipity drown the Triplets in it. Bartleby and Loki reach the cathedral; Bartleby kills all the celebrants, and when Loki attempts to stop him he tears off Loki’s wings, making him mortal. When the protectors block Bartleby’s entry into the church, Bartleby kills Loki and fights off Rufus, Serendipity and Bob, but as he flees, Jay shoots off his wings with a machine gun.

During his latest of several attempts to seduce Bethany, Jay mentions John Doe Jersey. Realizing that the homeless man is the mortal form that God assumed, Bethany and Bob race to the hospital. Bethany disconnects John Doe’s life support, liberating God, but killing herself. As Bartleby again attempts to enter the cathedral, God manifests before him as a woman (Morissette), and kills him with the power of her voice. When Bob arrives with Bethany’s lifeless body, God resurrects her and conceives a child within her womb. God, Metatron, Rufus, and Serendipity return to Heaven, leaving Bethany and the two prophets to reflect on what has happened.

REVIEW:

Sometimes when I watch a film that was released in my lifetime, I don’t look back on it with nostalgic longing, but instead I am in awe of how far the cast and crew have come (or fallen) since its release. Dogma was the last time Ben Affleck did a Kevin Smith film., until he was brought back in for Jersey Girl and there was a cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back2 as a matter of fact). For this one, he even brought in his buddy Matt Damon. The two of them haven’t worked or have been seen together since, that I can recall. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for this film, but maybe that was just a falling out behind the scenes.

What is this about?

Fallen angels (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), a gnarly demon (Jason Lee) and a half-baked apostle (Chris Rock) walk among America’s cynics and innocents and duke it out for humankind’s fate in director Kevin Smith’s 1999 comic meditation on religion. A modern-day battle against evil takes place in suburban New Jersey, after an abortion clinic worker (Linda Fiorentino) gets a higher calling from two clueless prophets (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith).

What did I like?

Religious satire. Hard to believe in this era where everything offends everyone that people actually had a sense of humor. Religion is one of the institutions that tends to be held to a higher standard. No one really touches it , especially the Catholic faith. Kevin Smith, though, had the balls to take on the church and their rules. All throughout the film, characters joke about how depressing it is to go to church, how Catholics think they are the only ones that are right, etc. It is true that this could not be done with another religion, like say Islam, but Smith, being a Catholic, himself makes jokes that come from the heart and aren’t meant to be malicious and that may be why this film succeeds in its humor.

Story. Two angels get kicked out of heaven and have to live on Earth for eternity, in Wisconsin! Azrael, a demon, plots to get them back in, thus negating all of existence just so he can stop living in torture. With God missing, thanks to being mugged while playing skeeball, the only one that can stop all of this is the last Scion, a couple of prophets, the 13 th apostle, and a muse. Sounds a bit far-fetched, but Smith is such a capable writer and this cast has enough talent and chemistry, that this insane story, which should have been a disaster, comes together brilliantly. I do wonder, though…the angels were banished after Sodom and Gomorrah. That was way before Wisconsin was any near becoming a state. Did they just get banished to the woods, or whatever was up there, until it became Wisconsin? I’ve always wondered that.

No one is safe! Not only does Smith attack the Catholics, he goes after atheists, pro-life/pro-choice, feminists, racism, etc. I think the only group he didn’t get were politicians. In attacking everyone, Smith shows that he is an equal opportunity offender, not just one joke that lasts for two hours. “Variety is the spice of life!” they say and that applies towards comedy, as well.

What didn’t I like?

Fading chemistry. As I mentioned in my opening, there was a time when Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were inseparable. I believe that it was around the time of this film that we started to see them go their separate ways. It is obvious that something changed in their dynamic as the film progresses because they maybe have a handful of scene in which they are both on the screen. The few scenes in which they are both on, it is like an uncomfortable dinner with your ex who you just broke up with. Maybe I’m just seeing something that isn’t there, though.

Lead, lady, lead. Call me crazy, but I feel that a leading actress should make you take notice of her, regardless of what her character’s characteristics are. Linda Fiorentino doesn’t really do that. Nothing about this woman is particularly special, and that may be why she was cast. As a leading lady, though…well, there’s a reason she hasn’t been in more stuff. She is constantly overshadowed by the rest of the cast and, if not for her character being so necessary to this plot, one has to wonder why she’s even around. Since Janeane Garofalo made a quick appearance, I wonder if she would have made for a better leading lady, or perhaps one of Smith’s usuals from the ViewAskew-verse?

Alanis? The thought of a female version of God scares some people. That was part of the controversy surrounding that song in the 90s, “One of Us”. Chris Rock’s character sums it up best when he says God isn’t a she or he, not anything. In essence, he says God is what you make him out to be. Apparently, Kevin Smith thinks Alanis Morissette is God. Some people would have picked Charlton Heston, Lynard Skynard, Ronald Regan, Morgan Freeman John Ritter, etc. Myself, I’d have gone with Louis Armstrong. I guess it’s just a matter of personal taste. Why she was skipping around like a flower child is a mystery to us all, though.

Kevin Smith has said he feels Dogma is one of his most personal films. If I’m not mistaken, this is also his first film to not be released as an independent. My final thoughts on it are it does what it sets out to do, make a smart satire about Catholic dogma and the way Smith feels about, having grown up in the church. Will people be offended if they watch this? Probably, and other will enjoy the ludicrous situations. It all is a matter of personal opinion and tastes. Do I recommend it? If you’re a conservative bible-beater, this is not for you. I’ll say that right away. For everyone else, this is a fun ride from start to finish with interesting and insane situations as well as an inspired story. Yes, I do recommend it, very highly as a matter of fact!

4 out of 5 stars

 

Grown Ups 2

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Three years after the events of the first film, Lenny Feder has relocated his family back to his Connecticut hometown where he and his friends grew up.

In the film’s opening in the Feder household, Lenny wakes up to find a wild deer standing next to his bed. Upon waking up, his wife Roxanne startles the deer, causing it to urinate all over their home. Eventually, Lenny is able to get the deer out of the house just in time to take his children Greg, Keith, and Becky to their last day of school. Roxanne brings up the idea of their family having another baby, but Lenny says their family is perfect as is, upsetting Roxanne.

At the Lamonsoff household, Eric Lamonsoff and his wife Sally are at odds with each other over how to raise their children- Sally believes in unwavering support while Eric prefers to be more practical with them. At the McKenzie household, Kurt surprises his wife Deanne with a thoughtful anniversary present, only to find that she has completely forgotten. Meanwhile, Marcus Higgins is waiting at a train station after receiving a letter from an old girlfriend, who tells him that he has a seventeen-year-old son Braden. Marcus is stunned to see a tattooed, six-foot-tall boy, who turns out to be Braden. Marcus tries to be nice and takes him to school, but Braden shows an immediate dislike toward him.

After dropping off their kids, Lenny, Eric, Kurt, and Marcus spend the day roaming around town, reminiscing about the amazing summers they used to have when they were kids and Lenny’s childhood bully, Tommy Cavanaugh. Lenny argues that he could take Tommy as a kid and he can still take him. Eventually, the friends go to see Becky’s ballet recital, where Lenny runs into Tommy, whom Lenny is visibly terrified of. Tommy threatens that if Lenny ever lies again about being able to beat him up, he’ll publicly beat Lenny up.

Once the kids are out of school, Lenny, Eric, Kurt, and Marcus decide to visit the old quarry, where they used to swim as kids. There they run into a bunch of partying frat boys who force them to jump into the quarry naked. Braden who was partying with the frat boys, witnesses this and goes off to vandalize their frat house. When the frat boys return, they swear to take revenge.

Lenny arrives home to help Roxanne set up for a 1980s-themed party for their friends. Meanwhile, Marcus begins to bond with Braden, who realizes he was wrong about his father. As all of their friends begin to arrive, Roxanne urges Lenny to consider having another baby. Lenny continues to protest the idea and is left dumbfounded when Roxanne reveals that she is pregnant. Lenny, feeling overwhelmed by this discovery, goes off to drink with his friends. The Feder’s party goes well most of the night until Tommy Cavanaugh shows up and disrespects Lenny in front of everyone, so Lenny challenges Tommy to a fight. In a surprising turn, Tommy decides to take a dive so that Lenny can look tough for his kids, and the two develop a mutual respect. Soon after, the angry frat boys arrive at the house looking for retribution for the damage to their frat house. They go on to insult the local town residents, inciting a fight. The locals hold their own against the frat boys and eventually send them running away defeated.

After all the commotion dies down, the four friends have pancakes at Eric’s mom’s house. Mrs. Lamonsoff reassures Lenny that a new baby is a wonderful thing and eventually he will never be able to imagine life with just three kids. Lenny has a change of heart and returns home, telling Roxanne he is sorry and excited about the new baby, and they reconcile

REVIEW:

I think I was one of the handful of people who actually liked Grown Ups. Even so, I wasn’t clamoring for a sequel. Nonetheless, the gang got back together and we have Grown Ups 2, but do we really need it?

What is this about?

After moving his family back to his hometown, Hollywood talent agent Lenny Feder and his grown-up childhood friends learn lessons from their kids — and some of the locals — on the last day of school.

What did I like?

Shaq. Say what you will about Shaquille O’Neal, he knows how to have fun with his image. Comedic roles like this are the kind of things he should be taking, rather than the serious stuff like he started with in Blue Chips or the failed superhero experiment, Steel, and let’s not bring up some of his other failed films. Here, Shaq is a big cop and, despite his size, he appears to be just one of the guys. I have to mention that when he first appears, I couldn’t help but think of Hightower from the Police Academy movies.

Wives. I think I mentioned this in the last film, but I’m going to say it again. How in the bloody blue hell can these schlubs end up with these super hot wives?!? If ever there was proof that Sandler’s films were nothing more than his fantasies, this is it. Hey, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dreamed of waking up next to Salma Hayek.

Buck. We open the film with a deer in the house. Apparently, I missed the memo where you must have an animal in your opening scene, because this is the second film that does so. The other being The Hangover part III. Now, the insanity that ensued with this buck was actually quite funny, even the pissing, but what really made this something worth mentioning is that it wasn’t a forgotten device. They brought it back in the end (still wearing Salma Hayek’s bra on its antlers), which made it make sense and not a one-off something or other.

What didn’t I like?

Ad-lib. The previous film felt like it had a plot. This one seems like it was just Adam Sandler wanting to get together with his friends and make a movie. I have no problem with that. I even sort of liked that it felt natural and not scripted. However, all the subplots that were going on and the drastic shift in production value, for lack of a better term, from the first film made this film not work as anything more than just a series of vignettes, none of which ended up being funny. No wonder Rob Schneider didn’t come back.

Humpty dance. What in the world was going on with the Fluzoo’s and their noses. Not Shaq and Tim Meadows, mind you, but rather Ellen Cleghorne and the son. If you can remember back in the day, there was this rapper known as Humpty Hump who had this plastic nose he would wear. Maybe it was just the way they were lighted, but they both seemed to have Humpty’s nose, and I don’t really know why, unless it was supposed to be for comedic effect, which fell flat.

Tropes. I’m a fan of Adam Sandler’s movies, but he really needs to step out of his comfort zone, because these things are just getting predictable now. For instance, you know he’s going to have the usual supporting cast, at least 2 or 3 of his buddies from Saturday Night Live, a couple of super hot chicks, one of which he is married to, gay and fart jokes, something to do with his being Jewish, and the 80s. A few films escape this formula, The Waterboy, for instance, but most of them use the same thing, and it is starting to wear thin on even me.

I find it ironic that this film is called Grown Ups 2, when they aren’t really acting like grown ups. They were more grown up the first time around. I was expecting to love this film as much, if not more than the first, but instead, Sandler pulls this crap out of his ass. There are a few redeeming qualities for this film, but this is one of those flicks that is best watched at a party with lots, and I do mean LOTS, of alcohol!

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After four years since bidding the penguins goodbye, Alex the lion has a nightmare about himself and his friends still stranded in Africa and finding they have all gotten old. He then wakes from his nightmare on his birthday, and the animals present him with a miniature model of New York City out of mud. Alex suggests to Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, and Gloria the hippopotamus that they should go to Monte Carlo to get the penguins to fly them back to New York City, which they agree to.

In Monte Carlo, Alex and his gang’s attempt to reach the penguins and King Julien blunders and sparks chaos in the Monte Carlo Casino, where its security calls the captain of Monaco’s animal control, Chantel Dubois, to deal with the animals. A high-speed chase around the streets of Monaco ensues between the relentless Dubois and the animals in a truck driven by the penguins to reach their aircraft and they depart on the plane, barely escaping Dubois.

In the skies of France, the plane’s gear assembly fails and the plane crashes into a suburban rail yard as the authorities close in. They come across a circus train and knocked on it, desperately trying to get in. Seeing their only chance of escape is on the circus train, they desperately claim that they are circus animals themselves, which convinces Stefano the sea lion and Gia the jaguar to let them in despite the protests of Vitaly the tiger. The animals soon learn from Stefano that they are performing in Rome and London, where they plan to impress a promoter to get them on their first American tour. Before the zoo animals’ claim is discredited, the penguins suddenly appear with a deal to purchase the circus themselves, resulting in the pleased departure of all the humans. Afterwards, Julien finds himself falling in love wth a tricycle-riding bear name Sonya. Meanwhile the others prepare for the performance at the Colosseum in Rome. Unfortunately, to the zoo animals’ horror, the show proves to be a disaster. The angered audience demands refunds, right to going to the point of chasing the circus to the departing train to London.

En route to London, Stefano soon reveals to Alex that Vitaly was once their inspiration. Once a professional ring jumper who used to leap through incrementally smaller hoops to excite crowds and was always pushing himself to the limit, his attempt at an impossible jump through a flaming pinkie ring ended in disaster when he burned his fur, which he had coated in extra virgin olive oil in order to slip through the narrow opening, destroying his confidence in his talent and the whole circus suffered by his example. An inspired Alex then has the train make a stop in the Alps and convinces the performers to rework their act to become the opposite of the world-famous human-only Cirque du Soleil as an animal-only lights and acrobatic show. Heartened by Alex’s vision, the zoo animals and the circus animals develop sophisticated acts together and become closer friends in the process, especially Alex and Gia who find themselves falling in love.

Meanwhile, Dubois is arrested in Rome after causing problems with the local police officers while chasing the animals out of her jurisdiction, but escapes and discovers that Alex was the missing lion from the zoo in New York. Once free, Dubois recruits her injured men and they head toward the Alps, forcing the animals to proceed to London despite incomplete rehearsals. In London, the troupe prepares for the promoter in the audience, but Vitaly is discovered packing to leave. Alex convinces Vitaly to stay by reminding him of how he enjoys performing the impossible and suggests that he uses hair conditioner as a safer lubricant to perform his flaming ring jump. As a result, Vitaly’s stunt is performed perfectly, which proves to be the opening of a spectacularly successful show and Alex and Gia grew closer to each other. After the impressed promoter arranges for an American tour, Dubois shows up with a paper showing that Alex was missing. Though the penguins are able to foil Dubois’ plan, Alex is forced to confess that the four of them are just zoo animals trying to get home, disappointing the others who feel used and lied from the four of them. Also, Julien breaks up with Sonya, telling her that he can’t be a part of the circus.

Finally, both the zoo animals and the circus arrive in New York City. Likewise, the zoo group and Julien finally arrive at the gates of the closed Central Park Zoo, only to realize that their adventure has changed them too much to return to captivity and that they were “home” when they joined the circus. The zoo animals resolve to return to the circus and reconcile with their new friends, but they are then tranquilized and captured by Dubois. The zoo staff, delighted by Alex’s reappearance, thank Dubois, incorrectly believing that she was returning the missing animals. Unnoticed, Julien manages to reach the circus (despite being darted by Dubois) and the penguins realize that the group had been ambushed. Upon learning about the zoo animals’ plight, Gia and Vitaly convince the circus animals to rescue their friends and they set out for the zoo, performing aboard a flying circus.

Meanwhile at the zoo, Alex awakens to find that he along with Marty, Melman, and Gloria are in their enclosures, surrounded by tall chain-link fences. Dubois steps on stage to receive a million-dollar check of appreciation from the zoo, which she rejects, and secretly loads a poison-filled dart into a gun which she hides inside a foam finger in preparation to kill Alex. The circus animals arrive in time to stop her and a massive brawl occurs where the circus uses all of what they had developed as part of their revamped act. As the group tries to leave, DuBois attempts to kill Stefano, who is stranded at the zoo. However, Alex saves Stefano by performing a performance he describes as the “Trapeze Americano”, proving that it is real, and all the animals then defeat the insane DuBois, and escape.

Heartened by this valiant demonstration of their new friends’ love, Alex and his friends decide to join the circus permanently to start their American tours across the country. Meanwhile, DuBois and her men find themselves inside shipping crates on a cargo ship bound for Madagascar, thanks to Skipper (just like in the first film).

REVIEW:

There comes a point with films like Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted that you truly must sit back and wonder if it was made to tell a good story or just grab a few $$$ from kids and their parents. I happen to believe this is more of the latter, but I could be totally wrong.

What is this about?

Having ended their African adventures, Alex and his friends set their sights for New York City — this time, hitching a ride with a traveling circus. But as they make their way through Europe, they run into their fair share of roadblocks.

What did I like?

Animal control. In both previous films, it seems as if the humans just let the animals rum amok with little to no effort to control them. Yes, they did make an attempt to capture them, but that was obviously just to have a villain or two. This time around, we meet Chantal Dubois, a French animal control officer who is apparently very competent, as she has never not captured her target. It is about time we got someone like this to give them a run for their money!

No king. I found the character of King Julien to be a bit over the top and too much. Then again, he is voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen, so I really shouldn’t be surprised. In this film, he and his “subjects” get very little screentime. I guess focus groups felt the same way and the filmmakers decided to scale him back.

Circus and balance. I must say that the circus scene was quite impressive. I’m not quite sure that I loved it, but there was a definitive entertainment factor there. A note must be made about the balance in the film’s tone. Make no mistake that this is a kid’s film, but there are moments in there that adults can enjoy as well, without having to lower their IQ to understand something.

What didn’t I like?

Character design. In the first Madagascar, there was a look to the characters. It was almost as if they were crude cut outs or something. That look is still here, but they’ve smoothed it out so much, that you can barely tell. They might as well just have been animated normally. When you have something that makes you unique, then why change it?

3D. I didn’t see this in theaters, but it was obvious some of the scenes they wanted to utilize the technology with. The circus was one, but also there is a scene with Melman, the giraffe, where he extends his neck directly toward the audience. Some people may eat this stuff up, but not me. 3D is supposed to be for special, grand things, not just whatever you can throw at the screen.

Afro circus. I’m sure we all saw the commercials for this thing over the summer with that annoying “Afro circus” song. While it isn’t featured as heavily as you would imagine, it is in here a few times and just as annoying. I guess if I were about 8 yrs old, I might feel different, but good lord was I about ready to puncture my eardrums just so I would never have to hear that thing again!

There has been some debate as to whether Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is the best of the franchise. I think it has the best plot of the 3, but the first seems to be more my cup of tea. That is a personal preference, though. Do I recommend this? Yes, as a matter of fact I do. It is one of the better family films that was released last year (note I said better, not the best). You can sit the whole family down and watch this one, so enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

The Longest Yard

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Paul “Wrecking” Crewe (Adam Sandler) is a former NFL player disgraced for shaving points in a big game. He gets in an argument with his rich girlfriend, Lena (Courteney Cox), regarding his failure. He locks her in a closet, gets drunk, and goes joyriding in her Bentley Continental GT through San Diego. After completely wrecking the car and disabling several police cruisers in the process, he gets arrested and convicted for grand theft auto and driving while intoxicated, and is sentenced to three years in Allenville Penitentiary in Texas.

In prison, Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) asks Crewe to help the prison guards’ football team. Crewe, under threat of an extra five years in prison for a falsified accusation of attacking Captain Knauer (William Fichtner), decides to help him. He informs Hazen that what his team needs is a tune-up game, in which they play a team like Appalachian State in order to boost morale. Hazen decides that Crewe, with the help of a fellow inmate, Caretaker (Chris Rock), will make a team out of the inmates for them to play as their tune-up game. He starts off with a poorly organized team, before being noticed by another prisoner, former college football star Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds), who decides to help him by coaching the team.

Crewe, Nate and Caretaker find a rating system on the criminals (up to five stars, depending on how prone to violence they are). They all set out to find and recruit some five star inmates: linebacker “Battle” (Bill Goldberg); fullback Turley (Dalip Singh Rana); and at safety, Torres (Lobo Sebastian), a chain-smoking outsider. But after realizing their team is built on power and nastiness (primarily on defense) and there is no offensive threats on the team, Crewe realizes he needs more players. Caretaker suggests that it is due to their lack of “brothers”, as they only have one currently on their team: defensive lineman Switowski (Bob Sapp), a childlike and friendly, but large strongman.

Crew approaches the black inmates, but one of them, Deacon Moss (Michael Irvin), says that none of them want to play on his team because of Crewe’s point-shaving history. So Crewe challenges Deacon to a 1-on-1 basketball game where if Crewe wins, the men will join the team. They play basketball and call their own fouls, with Crewe getting physically punished during the game. Despite Crewe losing, one of the black inmates, Earl Megget (Cornell “Nelly” Haynes, Jr.), is impressed by Crewe’s resilience and joins the team, which Deacon allows with no consequence. Megget becomes the team’s running back by impressing Crewe with his running ability.

After a tip from Unger (David Patrick Kelly) that Crewe and Meggett are the only real offensive threats on the team, Captain Knauer, the guards’ quarterback, decides that the guards should try to stop Megget by trying to get him to assault one of them and sticking him in solitary confinement. Three guards, Denham (Stone Cold Steve Austin), Garner (Brian Bosworth), and Engleheart (Kevin Nash) try to provoke Megget by using racial slurs and making him pick up books they dropped on the floor repeatedly. The guards give up on this after he withstands their harassment without being provoked. Witnessing this, Moss, “Cheeseburger” Eddy (Terry Crews), and the rest of black inmates agree to join the football team. Hazen and guards go to extreme lengths to stop Crewe’s squad, even flooding their field, but the team overcomes these obstacles.

Caretaker suggests that since the guards have been playing dirty, that the inmates should start acting more like criminals, such as swapping Engleheart’s anabolic steroids for estrogen pills, examining x-rays of guards with broken bones, and acquiring tapes of the guards’ past games from Hazen’s elderly secretary Lynette (Cloris Leachman), in exchange for Crewe playing sexual games with her. To sabotage the inmates’ morale, the guards Garner, Engleheart, Holland, and Lambert have Unger plant a bomb in Crewe’s cell during the inmates last practice. Crewe, deciding to stay with the team for their post-practice hype, doesn’t notice Caretaker going to Crewe’s cell to leave him a present. Unger, waiting for Crewe to enter his cell, doesn’t notice Caretaker going into Crewe’s cell. Caretaker places an old college piture of Crewe as a present on top of his radio. Caretaker listens to the “music” that Crewe was listening to (set up by Unger to provoke Caretaker to change the station) and does change the channel, causing the bomb to explode. Unger, still not knowing it was Caretaker, closes the cell door to keep any help from arriving. Crewe and Scarborough arrive too late and watch Caretaker burn to his death. At the funeral the next day, Crewe and the football team leave presents for Caretaker including a bible from Moss, Caretaker’s stopwatch and whistle from Scarborough, and a picture of his mother from Crewe that he showed him a few nights before.

During game day, the inmates, now calling themselves “Mean Machine”, with gear provided by the late Caretaker, overcome a rough start, and Crewe has to help the team realize that winning the game is more important than personal grudges. One of the referees is also corrupt, and Crewe has to coerce him to make fair calls by giving up two downs to throw the ball in his groin. The first half ends with the score tied. The angered Hazen informs Crewe that if he does not lose he would be framed for the murder of Caretaker. Crewe acquiesces to Hazen’s threat. After the guards score touchdowns while inflicting punishment on the inmates, while Crewe fakes an injury to leave the field. Crewe returns to the field, but the other inmates, believing he has returned to his old point-shaving ways, ignore him, and allow him to get tackled twice.

After losing his helmet and still getting the first down, Crewe admits his sabotage to the other inmates, and asks for their forgiveness. United again as a team, the Mean Machine scores two touchdowns to cut the guards’ lead to 35-28, but Megget injures his knee. Scarborough comes in for one play as replacement and scores a touchdown off a trick play involving a fumble called a Fumblerooski. They decide to go for the two point conversion, and the win. As they get up to the line they seem to be confused, and Crewe and Coach start arguing in order to trick the guards. Moss gets the snap and passes it to Crewe, who scores the winning conversion. Knauer, with a newfound respect for Crewe, lets him know that he will testify that Crewe had nothing to do with Caretaker’s death.

Hazen admonishes Knauer for losing a fixed game and notices that Crewe is heading towards the exit along with the fans. Retrieving a sniper-rifle, he demands that Crewe be shot for attempting to escape. Knauer hesitates because of the numerous people near Crewe. Knauer sights up Crewe, but hesitates again, calling out Crewe’s name to get him to stop. As Crewe picks up the game football and returns back, Knauer angrily hands the rifle back to Hazen and leaves, while Crewe gives the game ball to Hazen, telling them to place it in his trophy case.

Moss and Battle pour a cooler of Gatorade on Hazen in a mockery of a typical football game celebration. Hazen angrily shouts that they will receive a week in the hotbox. Battle yells back, “Who gives a shit!”

REVIEW:

I’ll admit that I haven’t seen the original version of The Longest Yard, yet, but I will be getting to it before the end of the year…hopefully. This version, though, is a decent football comedy that seems to take a few notes from Necessary Roughness, but is a little less about football, and more about the players. Is it worth watching, though?

It is an Adam Sandler flick, but, as I’ve said in reviews of some of his more current films, he seems to have “grown up” from the man-child he was in his Saturday Night Live and early film career. Having said that, I still found myself wanting him to bring Bobby Boucher from out of nowhere. Yeah, I’m weird like that.

So, what worked for me?

Football. Here we are in the end of April. Baseball is getting ready to take over the airwaves for the next 3 1/2 months, especially after the NBA playoffs (which just started a few minutes ago) are over. I’m not one of those guys who gets into the NFL draft, so, aside from playing Madden and NCAA football on my PS3, I needed some football, and getting it and a nice little comedic film is a nice two-fer for me.

Michael Irvin. As a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, it was great to see the hall of fame receiver out there. What was even better was seeing him in #88 again. If that wasn’t enough, the guy isn’t a bad actor.

Relationships. More often than not, films just throw characters out there and expect us to believe they’re suddenly friends (or enemies). This film doesn’t do that, but rather plays up the relationship amongst them, be it positive or negative.

Bob Sapp. The big guy is so lovable that its hard to not feel sorry for him, even if he does seem a little…off. Of course, the whole time I was just waiting for him to snap, which finally did sort of happen when Nelly told him something during the game.

Nelly’s library scene. I’m not a fan of Nelly, but like most of the world, I had “Hot in Here” and the rest of his stuff from around that time cranked up in my car. Like Michael Irvin, I was surprised with how good of an actor the guy seems to be (especially compared to some other rappers who make movies). This is best shown in the scene where he is in the library and getting harassed by he redneck guards. If you look on his face, you can tell he wants to reciprocate, but instead he holds it in and takes the ribbing with a smile. It is because of this that the black inmates join the team.

What didn’t work?

Wrestlers. Look, I have nothing against wrestlers. Fact is almost all of them played football before stepping into the ring. The Rock played at Miami, Goldberg actually made it on the Atlanta Falcons, etc. However, one would think that for a movie about football, they would have tried to get football players, first. Granted, they did have most of the wrestlers as guards that were described as “not making it past the college level”, which is what wrestlers are, if you think about it.

Expensive equipment. The guards practice facilities and whatnot looked like the kind of stuff you would see at some upper high school or lower college in Texas (which it probably was). That’s all fine and dandy, except that this stuff was paid for with taxpayer money. I just can’t see that going over very well.

Courtney Cox. So, Sandler is supposed to be this hotshot, washed up quarterback. Obviously, he’s going to have a hot girlfriend. This is how we get Courtney Cox. However, I think they could have done better. I may be a bit biased, though. Haven’t really thought she was that hot since Friends, but maybe to him she was the bee’s knees.

So, what is the final verdict onThe Longest Yard?It is a decent football flick that is helped by the small cameo roles that its “stars” all play. Sandler may actually be the weakest part, and yet he is the official star. Sad, but true. I still say this is a definite must-see football film, for those that are into the genre. I highly recommend it!

4 out of 5 stars

Grown Ups

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 1978, five childhood friends won their junior high basketball championship. During the celebration, their coach “Buzzer” (Blake Clark) encourages them to live their lives in a similar way to how they played the game. Thirty years later, the five friends have since separated. Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) is a high powered Hollywood talent agent who is married to Roxanne (Salma Hayek), a fashion designer. Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) is now a co-owner of a lawn furniture company who is married to Sally (Maria Bello). Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock) is a stay at home father who is married to Deanne (Maya Rudolph), the primary breadwinner of the family. All of them harass Kurt for not being more useful. Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider) is a thrice divorced pacifist vegan married to Gloria (Joyce Van Patten, real life wife of Dennis Dugan), who is 30 years older than him. Marcus Higgins (David Spade) is a lazy womanizer.

When they learn that their coach has died, they all return to New England with their families for the private funeral. Lenny rents the lake house for the 4th of July weekend for his friends to stay at, but Lenny can’t stay for the whole weekend because Roxanne has a fashion show in Milan. While at the lake house, Lenny is annoyed that their kids would rather play video games than spend time outdoors, so he and the others force their kids to spend more time outside while at the house, and when they let Eric try the rope swing he’s too afraid to jump off and injures a bird in the process. At a local restaurant, Lenny runs into his old nemesis Dickie Bailey (Colin Quinn). Dickie is still upset at Lenny because he allegedly had his foot out of bounds when he made the long-ago game winning shot and challenges him and his friends to a rematch, but Lenny declines, declaring it a waste of time. During dinner, the group discusses spreading the coach’s ashes in the morning, but Lenny says he can’t be there because of Roxanne’s fashion show. Roxanne angrily storms off because Lenny painted her negatively. She allows him to spread the ashes, but demands they leave early the following morning.

The next morning, the five guys row out to an island to spread Buzzer’s ashes. Rob breaks down and tells the guys that he screwed up his previous marriages and that he’s nervous about meeting his daughters who are coming. They finally meet Rob’s daughters, Jasmine and Amber, who seem too gorgeous to be Rob’s, and Bridget, who very closely resembles him. That evening, when Roxanne is packing, Becky’s tooth falls out, but Roxanne is too busy to notice and she tells her that she’ll put a dollar under her pillow later. When Becky asks why she would do it instead of the Tooth Fairy, Roxanne tells Lenny that she’s worried that she ruined Becky’s childhood. When Lenny hears his kids supposedly talking on their cellphones, he comes into their bedroom to find them actually talking on “cup phones” with the other kids. Happy that the kids are starting to have the same kind of fun he did at their age, he asks everyone to install cup phones around the house. Roxanne then tells Becky through the cup phone the truth about the Tooth Fairy.

In the morning while packing the car, Roxanne sees all the kids having fun down by the lake and decides that they can’t leave the lake house. Happy with his wife’s new attitude, Lenny decides they should head to a waterpark for a day. Back out the house, Deanne becomes suspicious of Kurt when she sees him spending time with Rita, Lenny’s nanny. That evening, the adults spend time together drinking and dancing, while reminiscing about their pasts. Roxanne then confronts Lenny about the fact that he canceled their Milan plane reservations before the funeral behind her back. Lenny claims that he felt their time at the lake house was necessary because their kids were becoming too spoiled. Deanne confronts Kurt about supposedly flirting with Rita. Kurt assures her that he wasn’t flirting with her, but he enjoyed having an actual conversation with her because he doesn’t feel like he gets that with Deanne. Deanne offers to take him out on more dates. Eric then admits to the group that he isn’t co-owner of a lawn furniture company and that he was laid off two months ago. He just didn’t want everyone to think of him as a failure. Lenny resolves to offer Eric an investment opportunity. Gloria then tells everyone that despite their recent hostility, she senses love between everyone.

In the film’s climax, the group then head off to a 4th of July barbecue, where they are once again challenged by Dickie and his friends to a rematch of the basketball game. Rob suggests that their coach would want them to take the challenge and despite everyone’s being out of shape and Rob’s injury, they agree to a game. The game is close, but most of the players get too tired to continue, leaving only Lenny and Dickie on the court. They bring out their sons to continue playing. When Lenny has the chance to make the game winning shot, he deliberately misses and allows Dickie to win, giving him a sense of victory. Lenny and the others take the loss in stride. The movie ends with Marcus drunk and purposely starts a game with arrow roulette and everyone runs in fear

REVIEW:

 In the early 90s, Saturday Night Live was still funny. A big part of that was cast members Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider. These guys have all gone on to movie careers, Sandler the most successful. So, someone decided to put these guys back together and that is how we have Grown Ups.

The thing that is the most impressive about this film is that is seems like the cast is actually having fun. It was like they just showed up and just improved it. With such talented comedians as these, that was no big deal. It was quite refreshing to see that.

With a cast like this, do you honestly think this would be anything other than hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing.

This was not a perfect film, though. A couple of things got under my skin. I don’t necessarily know if it was the film or just a sign of the times, but the way that Adam Sandler’s kids just seemed to be so spoiled. So much so, that they had a cow when the saw a TV that wasn’t a flat screen, there was a scene at the beginning where they threw their hot chocolate back because it didn’t contain Godiva, and don’t get me started on how they wouldn’t drink water that wasn’t Voss or didn’t know what to do outside. Ugh!

I’ve mentioned this cast is a bunch of SNL alumni. However, though it seems like these guys are just out there having fun, I do have to wonder about Kevin James, though. The guy was great here, but you can’t tell me he was anything more than a stand-in/replacement for the late Chris Farley.

The supporting actresses (wives) in the film are not only great in their roles, but they are ungodly hot! One has to sit there and question how these guys can end up with Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph. WTF?!?

Adding to the hotness are Rob Schneider’s daughters. Leggy blonde Madison Riley, uber hottie Jamie Chung, and Schneider look-a-like Ashley Loren don’t really have much to do other than look pretty (Riley and Chung…not Loren) and be teases for the perverted old guys.

Critics seemed to hate this film, and I’m not really sure why. How often is it that we see a film where the cast actually looks like they’re having fun and not there just to collect a paycheck. On top of that, this is a comedy that has one serious moment, but doesn’t do like many comedies these days do, and that is drift into drama and never come back. Grown Ups is just a great film that everyone who had a close group of friends when they were growing up should see.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Death at a Funeral

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film revolves around the funeral ceremony for the father of Aaron (Chris Rock) and Ryan (Martin Lawrence). Aaron, the older son, lives with his wife Michelle at his parent’s home. Aaron and Michelle have been trying to buy their own home and have children but have been unsuccessful. Aaron envies Ryan because Ryan is a successful writer, while he has not had his novel published, and resents his brother because he would rather spend money on a first class ticket from New York to L.A. than help him pay for the funeral expenses.

Elaine (Zoe Saldana) and her fiancee Oscar (James Marsden) are on their way to pick up her brother Jeff before heading to the funeral. To ease Oscar’s nerves, she gives him what she believes is Valium. Jeff later reveals to Elaine that it is actually a hallucinogenic drug he’s concocted for his friend. Chaos ensues when Oscar hallucinates that the coffin is moving; he knocks it over, which pushes the body out of the coffin.

Aaron is approached by an unknown guest, a little person named Frank (Peter Dinklage), who reveals himself to be the secret lover of his deceased father. Frank shows Aaron photos as proof and threatens to reveal them to Aaron’s mother unless he is paid $30,000. Aaron tells Ryan, who suggest Aaron pay the money because Ryan claims he’s buried in debt. While Aaron and Ryan meet with him to pay him, Frank starts to deride Aaron’s ability as writer and Aaron refuses to pay. Frank gets angry and tries to leave the room; Ryan attacks Frank and both Aaron and Ryan tie Frank up to prevent him from leaving. Norman comes in and sees what happened. He gives Frank what they also believe is Valium to try and calm him down and Jeff tells them it’s not Valium.

While Jeff and Norman, who are supposed to be watching Frank, get distracted by Uncle Russell, Frank jumps off the coffee table and hits his head. With Aaron, Ryan, Jeff, and Norman believing Frank is dead, they plan to put him in the coffin. While everyone is outside watching the naked Oscar on the roof threatening to jump because he saw Elaine unwillingly get kissed by Derek, Aaron and Ryan put Frank in the coffin.

Elaine calms Oscar down by revealing she is pregnant. With everyone back inside, they continue the eulogy. While Aaron awkwardly tries to do his speech, Frank starts banging on the coffin and suddenly emerges from it. The pictures fall out of his pocket and Cynthia sees the pictures, screams, calls Frank a bastard, and starts to attack him. Aaron yells for everyone’s attention as he tells them that his father was a good man with flaws like everyone else.

The film ends with Aaron and Ryan saying goodbye while Ryan gets a ride to the airport by little Martina, who Ryan has been trying to get with all day. Aaron and Michelle are finally alone and going to try and have a baby. Aaron asks where Uncle Russell is and Michelle tells him that she gave him what she believes is Valium to calm him down. In the final scene Uncle Russell is on the roof naked.

REVIEW:

First of all, let me say that if I ever go to a funeral as dysfunctional as this, I demand to never see any of these people ever again. Having said that, it is still hilarious to watch these events unfold and hilarity ensue.

Death at a Funeral is hands down one of the funniest films I’ve seen in quite some time. Now, I won’t sit here and say that it is well written, but rather the comedy comes from the most unexpected places.

For instance, who in their right mind would think Danny Glover would be one of the funniest members of a cast consisting of Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan,  and Martin Lawrence? That is the case, though. He provides your typical grumpy old man humor that works in this family atmosphere.

The plot is a fairly simple one. The main character’s father has dies and the funeral is being held. With a funeral comes all kids of headaches, especially when you have to pay for everything and make sure it all goes smoothly. Unfortunately, things don’t work that way.

I’m not so sure about this cast. I mean, separately, they are great, but together, they either work or they don’t.

First off, let me mention Luke Wilson. This guy seems like he was just there to be the “token white guy” in a cast full of African-Americans (I’ll get to James Marsden and Peter Dinklage in a second). If that was his purpose, then it works, but you have to wonder what exactly he was chosen for. I mea, he is much more talented than this. Of course, he doesn’t exactly give a bad performance. He just seems to be ab it out of place.

Chris Rock seems to be playing the straight man here. Remember the days when you would see him in a movie and expect some over the top loudness, rather than some guy who seems to have all the life sucked out of him? Rock needs to go back to that.

Martin Lawrence, at least, knows what has made him a star. His character is what you would expect…over the top and larger than life. For Lawrence, it works.

Regina Hall is gorgeous as ever. The fact that she is in “heat” for the entire film just makes her that much more desirable. I’m not so sure about her character, though. I think that has more to do with her lack of character development. At least she wasn’t a nagging, overemotional wife.

James Marsden really steals the show. He is by far the funniest guy in the entire cast…at least his character is written that way. His reaction to the vallum/acid pills leads to some great comedic moments and pretty much moves the film forward because before then it was dying a slow and painful death.

Zoe Saldana is as stick thin as ever, but at least she isn’t a nag or bitch like she ends up being in her other roles.

Tracy Morgan, like Martin, does what he does best. It works for him, so why mess with perfection?

Peter Dinklage is a totally random character who is essential to the film’s plot. The situation he’s put in prove how versatile (and humble) he can be. Although, I have to wonder what made them cast him, as opposed to a “full size” actor.

Death at a Funeral will have you rolling on the floor laughing in some parts. At the same time, it tries to get too serious at some points. Actually, the only serious part of this flick is Chris Rock. Everyone else seems to behaving fun. So, if you can get over Rock being a stick in the mud, then I highly recommend this flick.

4 out of 5 stars