Archive for Ed Helms

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Based on the worldwide sensation and bestselling book series, and boasting an A-list cast of comedy superstars headed by Kevin Hart and Ed Helms, DreamWorks Animation brings audiences the long-awaited global movie event, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. This raucously subversive comedy for the entire family tells the story of two overly imaginative pranksters named George and Harold, who hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants.

What people are saying:

“With a tidy plot, clean animation, and humor that fits its source material snugly, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is entertainment that won’t drive a wedge between family members” 4 stars

“Captain Underpants is an homage to the funny high jinks of The Kids Next Door series that aired on Cartoon Network. Unfortunately it doesn’t capture the fun and wonderment of childhood like The KND. Instead, the movie proves beyond a doubt to NEVER believe any of the professional critics reviews on Rotten Tomatoes! This is the most disappointing movie to come out of Dreamworks who is known for their excellence in family entertainment.”

“As superhero films shift more in the direction of mature themes (even the PG-13 offerings are starting to push the envelope), a specifically child-friendly hopeful franchise starter such as Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is an appreciated gift” 3 stars

“One of the best surprises of 2017. Captain Underpants has no shame in all the right ways. As a fan of the books when I was a kid, this movie was an absolute love letter to me. It’s faithful, over the top and very self-aware. But from humor that is pulled off with care, the genuine connection between the two main characters and animation that is bright and whimsical, even non-book fans can find a certain joy in this movie.” 4 1/2 stars

“My family really enjoyed this movie and it passed the “six laugh test”. Now, if you do not like puerile humor and pee and poop and fart jokes, then this movie may not be for you. However, there is plenty in this movie that does make it quite funny. George and Harold have been terrorized by their principal for years and have tried to fight back with various pranks to buck up their fellow students. Principal Krupp has never been able to prove their culpability in the pranks. When he finally gets evidence on them, the duo are forced to try hypnotizing Krupp with a cheap toy from a cereal box. Of course, they are amazed when it works and he becomes their comic book creation Captain Underpants. This movie is quite conscious of its puerile nature and uses that to its self-deprecatory advantage. When it comes down to it, this movie is about kids and friendships and just how deep those friendships forged in early years can be. The movie stays pretty true to the tone of the book and is completely insane.” 5 stars

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Vacation

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Hoping to bring his family closer together and to recreate his childhood vacation for his own kids, an adult Rusty Griswold takes his wife and two sons on a cross-country road trip to Walley World. Needless to say, things don’t go quite as planned.

Trying to bond his family together and relive his childhood memories, Rusty Griswold takes his family to Walley World, an amusement park. On the way they face challenges, overcoming fears, and troubles with mischievous people. When his family admits that they never wanted to go, he starts to think his family thinks he’s a loser. Will they make it to Walley World or will the family separate?

Rusty Griswold takes his own family on a road trip to “Walley World” in order to spice things up with his wife and reconnect with his sons.

What people are saying:

“Surprisingly funny and at times charming.
As a huge fan of the 80’s films I was really not expecting much. But it’s not half bad. No it’s not great like the old ones . But good enough .” 2 stars

“It has some laugh out loud moments that are peppered throughout the film, but the majority of it needed to be polished by better writers. It wasn’t terrible, but it could have been so much better.” 2 1/2 stars

“I’m so glad I ignored the bad ratings and watched this film anyway. It’s hilarious! I haven’t laughed that much at a film in a long time. Quite a dark sense of humour which made it even better! Great film.” 5 stars

“Nice family comedy. kinda far fetched and unbelievable but it kills a couple hours and you get a few laughs out of it.” 3 stars

“I gave this movie a solid 23 minutes before I had to shut it off with extreme prejudice. What a complete hunk of garbage. This movie make European Vacation look like a god damn masterpiece. I’m embarrassed for anyone who had anything to do with the production of this turd.” 1/2 star

We’re the Millers

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Low level marijuana drug dealer David Clark is robbed of his money and stash, some of which he owes to his supplier. His boss, wealthy drug lord Brad Gurdlinger forces David to smuggle marijuana from Mexico in order to clear his debt. Realizing that one man attempting to get through customs is too suspicious, he hires a stripper stage-named Rose, a runaway teenage girl and thief named Casey, and his 18 year-old neighbor Kenny to pose as a bogus family called the “Millers”. Because of the extra load of the marijuana on the RV, one of the radiator hoses breaks while going up a steep incline. A family they had encountered at the border called the Fitzgeralds, consisting of Don, Edie, and Melissa, catch up to them and tow the Millers’ RV to a repair shop. On the trip to the shop, David learns that Don Fitzgerald is a DEA agent after finding his badge and gun in the glove compartment.

The marijuana turns out to be stolen from Pablo Chacon’s cartel. The next day, when the Millers head to the shop to pick up the RV, Chacon and his henchman One Eye are waiting for them and prepare to execute the family. They immediately tell Chacon that they aren’t a real family and that they didn’t know they were stealing from him. Rose is given a chance to prove that she is a stripper by dancing, and when she gets close, turns a steam vent onto Chacon. The Millers then escape in the RV, with Kenny behind the wheel. Due to Kenny’s erratic driving, the RV veers off the highway and a tarantula, hiding in a bowl of fruit given to them when they picked up the marijuana, crawls up Kenny’s leg and bites his testicle. As Kenny has a severe allergic reaction to the bite, the Millers head to the hospital. This further delays the delivery of the contraband, but David re-negotiates with Gurdlinger for a fee of $500,000. When Kenny is finally released, David rushes him to the RV in a wheelchair and tips him over. David inadvertently reveals how much he is getting paid, in comparison to how little he offered to pay each of the others. Casey, Rose, and Kenny are left in disgust by the revelation, and so David leaves them at the local carnival.

David regrets abandoning them and returns to the carnival, begging them on his knees to come back with him. On their way back to the RV, One Eye discovers them and as he is about to shoot everyone, Don Fitzgerald comes out of the camper and subdues him. Chacon then comes around the corner and is about to kill them all, but David hits Chacon and he drops his gun. Rose picks it up and accidentally shoots Chacon in the shoulder and as he is recovering, Kenny punches Chacon and knocks him out. Don arrests Chacon and One Eye and tells the Millers that he will arrest them too, but actually gives them the opportunity to leave. David delivers the drugs to Gurdlinger who tells him he’s late and that their deal is off. DEA agents then crash into the room, arresting Gurdlinger. The agent in charge is Don, who tells David that he will have to be in the witness protection program until Gurdlinger’s trial. He then adds that anyone that was a witness to the crime will be in protection, and David smiles. The Millers are then seen together in a beautiful home, with several marijuana plants growing in the garden.

REVIEW:

Comedies these days seem to forget what its like to actually be funny, so when I heard people raving about how hilarious We’re the Millers was, my interest was piqued. I just hope that I wouldn’t end up being let down.

What is this about?

When a small-time pot dealer gets mugged, he needs to find a way to pay back his supplier. Agreeing to smuggle in a major stash from Mexico, he rounds up a fake family to act as his cover, and they head for the border in an RV.

What did I like?

Charming. You don’t normally think of a film about a drug dealer smuggling pot across the border being charming, but it actually is. Credit the chemistry between the four leads with that “miracle”, if you will. Bringing together four random people who just happen to cross each other’s paths and making them a family so that they can smuggle pot for the “father’s” boss could not have been easy, but the real selling point is how they seem to bond over the course of the trip, and that is what truly makes this film.

Support. Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, and Molly Quinn play a family that also is traveling down to Mexico. As it turns out, Offerman’s character is DEA, so you can imagine how that sits with our drug smuggling family. That point aside, he turns out to play a very key part later on in the film, as well as being a hilarious supporting character.

Love story. Even though they are playing husband and wife, Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Anniston’s characters are not being forced down our throats as trying to fall in love. I bring this up because most comedies would have done that very thing, especially seeing as how they can’t stand each other at the very beginning of the film (the story of why is told when they meet Offerman and his family). I was a fan of how the filmmakers were smart enough to realize the hormones of the kids and bring in characters for them to fall for, otherwise it was sure to end up with them falling for each other making for a story that just would have caused more complications that it was worth.

What didn’t I like?

Identity thief. Out of the blue, we meet the real Pablo Chacon, who was believed to be the name that Ed Helms’ character was using to smuggle drugs in and out of Mexico. My issue with this is that it served no purpose other than to throw a little action into a film that really didn’t need it. Just make Helms more of the bad guy and the deadline he set should have has more weight attached to it. That’s just my idea, though.

Wanna be a baller. So, Will Pouter’s character gets bitten by a tarantula that was in the fruit he was given when they picked up the pot. For some reason, the filmmaker’s decided to have him pull his pants down and show his swollen testicle (and other parts). I’ll be the first one to sat that had he been a girl and that was his chest, I’d have no problem, but since he’s a guy, I have issue with it. Yeah, double standard, I know…but it happens. Fact is, I really didn’t find this funny. It was just fine without them having to show it 3, 4, even 5 times, I believe. Once was enough!

Friends strip. Jennifer Aniston is a beautiful woman with a body most women would die for, but I just found it hard to buy her as a stripper. She just doesn’t have the curves for it. Maybe someone a little more voluptuous would’ve been more convincing, because even when she was stripping, I wasn’t buying it. On the flipside, she makes a very believable mom.

What can I say about We’re the Millers. This is a comedy that many people who was just going to e a run of the mill, pardon the pun, film that was destined to be inferior. As it turns out, this is on many people’s “best of” lists in terms of comedy, and I believe I saw it on at least one person’s best of 2013. For me, it wasn’t that good, but it is a solid viewing, sure to leave you laughing and thoroughly entertained. Word to the wise, stick around for the credits. There is a nice little scene involving the family and the Friends theme. I highly recommend this film. Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

The Hangover Part III

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two years after the events in Bangkok, Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) escapes from a maximum security prison, using a riot as cover. Meanwhile in America, Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) causes a 20-car freeway pileup after he purchases a giraffe and accidentally decapitates it on a low bridge. Alan’s father Sid (Jeffrey Tambor), furious with Alan for never owning up to his mistakes, dies of a heart attack in the middle of a lecture. After the funeral, Alan’s brother-in-law Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) informs friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) and Stu Price (Ed Helms) that Alan has been off his ADHD medication and is out of control. They attend an intervention, in which Alan agrees to visit a rehab facility in Arizona, so long as “the Wolfpack” takes him there. On the way to Arizona, Phil’s minivan is rammed off the road by a rental truck and the group is taken hostage. They are later confronted by mob leader Marshall (John Goodman) and “Black Doug” (Mike Epps), his head of security.

He tells them that Chow hijacked half of a $42 million gold heist and, seeing how Alan has been the only one to communicate with Chow during his imprisonment, deduced that the Wolfpack could locate him and retrieve the gold. Marshall kidnaps Doug as collateral and gives the others three days to find Chow, or else Doug will be killed. Alan sets up a meeting with Chow in Tijuana, Mexico, where Stu and Phil will hide and attempt to drug him. However, Alan gives away their location and he forces them to confess they are working for Marshall. Chow explains his plan to retrieve the stolen gold from the basement of a Mexican villa he previously owned. Stu, Alan and Phil break into the house and successfully retrieve the gold, but Chow double-crosses them by locking them in the basement, rearming the security system and escaping in Phil’s minivan. They are arrested but mysteriously released from the police station, where they are picked up by a limousine and taken back to the villa, where they meet up with Marshall.

They learn that Chow had lied to them; the villa was never his and the gold they stole was the other half he didn’t get from Marshall. Marshall forgives them for their mistake but kills “Black Doug” for his incompetence and reminds them of their now two-day deadline. The group tracks Phil’s phone, which was left in the minivan, outside a pawn shop in Las Vegas. The pawnshop owner, Cassie (Melissa McCarthy), tells them that Chow traded a gold brick for $18,000, far less than its usual sell rate of $400,000. Using Stu’s former lover Jade (Heather Graham) as their contact, they learn that Chow is barricaded in the penthouse suite of Caesars Palace. Phil and Alan sneak into his suite from the roof, but Chow escapes, jumping from the balcony and parachuting down to the strip. Stu catches up to Chow and locks him in the trunk of the limo that Marshall had lent to them. They take the gold and meet with Marshall, who releases Doug back to the group. Although Marshall initially promised to not harm Chow, he changes his mind and shoots through the trunk of the car, presumably killing him. Luckily, Alan had freed Chow through a backseat compartment just moments earlier.

Chow emerges from the limo and kills Marshall, allowing the Wolfpack to live because Alan had saved his life. He offers Alan a bar of gold as a gift, but Alan turns him down, and ends their friendship due to Chow’s unhealthy influence on the group. As Chow sadly watches them leave, they go to retrieve Phil’s minivan from the pawnshop and Alan makes a date with Cassie. Six months later, the two marry. Vowing to begin taking responsibility for his actions, Alan regretfully resigns from the Wolfpack, but would still like for the gang to hang out on occasion. As the four walk to the ceremony, a montage of clips from the previous films play, thus ending the film. In a post-credits scene taking place the morning after the wedding, Alan, Cassie and Phil appear to have staged another wild party that they cannot remember. Stu emerges from the bathroom with breast implants and Alan remembers that the wedding cake was a gift from Chow, who emerges from the next room naked, laughing and wielding a Katana.

REVIEW:

I’m not sure anyone really wanted it, but bring the Wolfpack trilogy to an end, we have The Hangover III. The big question that has been surrounding this has been, can they recapture the magic that made the first film such a huge hit, or will this one fall flat on its face and suffer from sequel-it is?

What is this about?

Capitalizing on the success of two previous Hangovers, Phil and the boys set out on another road trip and soon find their plans reduced to chaos. Before the dust settles, the gang will have to figure out how to rescue Alan from a mental hospital.

What did I like?

Giraffe. Ok. Decapitating a giraffe is a bit much. I’m no fan of killing animals, especially majestic ones such as giraffes, but the fact that this sequence captured the audience is something to be aware of. It very well could have just ducked under the bridge. Seriously, though, if you saw someone driving down the interstate with a giraffe, wouldn’t you be stunned and shocked, too?

Full circle. Since this is supposed to be the end of the saga, it just seems right that they bring things around full circle and return to Las Vegas. If you recall, The Hangover was set in Vegas. Also, some characters from the other films returned. I was very glad to see Heather Graham again, but it would’ve been nice to see Mike Tyson.

Molly. How can anyone not like Melissa McCarthy? She’s cute, cuddly, and funny! Her character here is an employee at a pawn shop and apparently has an attraction to the lovable shlub, Alan. The chemistry between the two of them is great, especially when we see them again near the end.

What didn’t I like?

Rushed. I like to point to Shrek 3 as a sequel that was bad, rushed into production, and was nothing more than a cash grab. Well, this film falls into many of those same trappings. When this was announced, I felt like they were rushing it out just to cash in, and the finished product just validates that thought.

Characters. The plot for this doesn’t matter, let’s face it. We watch this franchise for the interaction of the characters, especially to see what Alan does. However, this whole film may as well have been the Alan and Chow show, because the others may have been kidnapped along with Justin Bartha’s character, because they served no purpose, other than collecting a paycheck. Where was the funny confidence of Bradley Cooper’s character? Where was the funny neuroses of Ed Helms’ character? They surely weren’t to be found in this threequel.

Ending. I’m not going to spoil the ending, just know that it leaves things open for a possible 4th film, while also being a fitting ending for this franchise, considering what it is. Having said that, during the ending, we get full frontal of Ken Jeong. I don’t want to seem like I have a double standard, because if that was a female, I’d have no qualm with seeing her full frontal, but just seeing Jeong standing there in his “glory” was uncomfortable for me.

This is a franchise that surprised everyone with the first film. The Hangover part II was actually very well received, but The Hangover part III just seems as if they stopped trying and figured they had an automatic license to print money. That sadly was not the case. I enjoyed parts here and there of this film, but not enough to blow me away. It was just an average outing. Thank goodness for Melissa McCartney and that giraffe, because everything else falls flat. Sure, you can check it out if you want, but I won’t really recommend it.

3 out of 5 stars

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film is about two brothers who reside in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Jeff (Segel) is a 30-year-old unemployed stoner, living in his mother’s basement. His older brother Pat (Helms) struggles with a failing marriage. Their widowed mother, Sharon (Sarandon), is disappointed with Jeff and with her unfulfilled dreams.

Jeff looks for his destiny in seemingly random occurrences. He finds inspiration in the feature film Signs, which reinforces his belief in his outlook. One day, he answers the telephone; it’s a wrong number, from somebody asking for “Kevin,” and Jeff contemplates the meaning of this and decides it’s a sign. He pursues people or things named Kevin as a result.

After coincidentally meeting his brother Pat, they suspect that Pat’s wife, Linda (Greer), is cheating on him. They try to determine how to handle the situation. Meanwhile, Sharon finds some solace in a “secret admirer” sending her messages at work. Throughout a day of random meetings and emotional revelations, Jeff, Pat, Sharon, and Sharon’s secret admirer come together in a traffic jam on a bridge, and Jeff finally finds what he’s looking for.

REVIEW:

This must be some kind of Freaks and Geeks alumni weekend, first with James Franco, and now with Jason Segel in Jeff, Who Lives at Home. This is one of those independent dramedies, so the question is does it remember that it has comedy roots, or does it go down that drama route without ever looking back?

What is this about?

Siblings Jay and Mark Duplass direct this comedy focusing on two brothers — one a moderate success, the other still living with Mom. A trip to the store for glue, however, turns into an encounter with destiny for the stay-at-home slacker.

What did I like?

Believe it or not. I know that I can’t be the only one to notice that nearly every movie, TV show, or what have you has characters that are pretty well-adjusted (by default), live in big fancy houses and, for the most part, have no real problems. The filmmakers decided to turn that on its side and give us characters who are struggling both mentally and financially. In other words, these are real people. A breath of fresh air, to be certain.

Old lady crush. There are a few women of, shall we say, advanced years that I have a giant crush on. Helen Mirren tops the list, of course, but Susan Sarandon is up there pretty high. It was a good thing to see her on the screen again, and better looking than ever. Separation/divorce did her good!

What didn’t I like?

Shrill. This is another flick where the woman seems to be doing nothing more than nagging her husband. I love Judy Greer, don’t get me wrong, but they could have either written her character better, or found another actress. Also, a redhead? I guess Ed Helms’ character was looking for someone like his mother.

Location. As someone who actually lives in Baton Rouge, I can say that there is not a single place in this city that looks like that dilapidated semi-ghetto they portray it to be. As a matter of fact, this was filmed in Metairie, LA. Why wasn’t it actually filmed here, rather than an hour or so down the road? Your guess is as good as mine!

Kevin. Segel’s character is one of those that is innocent to a fault, as we see when he gets his mugged by the guys he was playing basketball with, including “Kevin”. Maybe it is just me, but wouldn’t it have been a nice touch to have “Kevin” show back up at the film’s end in some manner? Maybe to return Jeff’s money, have a part in the climax, or even be Sarandon’s secret admirer.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home didn’t really do anything for me. There were moments that made me chuckle and the story is good enough, but there isn’t anything here that will have me wanting to go buy this DVD or move my schedule around because this is on television one day. Do I recommend it? That’s a tough one because this isn’t bad, it just doesn’t have anything work recommending. I guess if you’re in a bind, desperately looking for something to watch, this will do. Otherwise, it is best going on to something else.

3 out of 5 stars

Cedar Rapids

Posted in Comedy, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Naive and idealistic insurance agent Tim Lippe has led a sheltered life and hasn’t encountered all that others have; the movie is about his becoming more aware of his cocoon and moving out of it. At the beginning, he is shown welcoming a former teacher into his home, addressing her as Mrs. Vanderhei, and promptly having sex with her. Afterwards, he reminisces about his experiences as her student. In his position as an insurance agent, he is sent to represent his company (Brownstar Insurance) at a regional conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Lippe is sent as a replacement for his co-worker, Roger Lemke, who dies in an auto-erotic asphyxiation accident. Tim idolized Roger, believing that his death was merely an unfortunate accident, and that he embodied all it was to be decent, honest, caring to the community and most importantly “Christian,” as these are the key criteria used to judge the winner of the coveted “Two Diamonds” award, which Roger had won 2 years in a row. Tim is under pressure from his boss, Bill, to ensure they win again and keep the small company afloat.

Lippe meets fellow insurance agents Ronald Wilkes, Dean Ziegler and Joan Ostrowski-Fox, or “Ronimal”, “Dean-Z” and “O-Fox” respectively. He also meets Bree, a prostitute who works the parking lot in front of the hotel. She affectionately calls him “Butterscotch” after he offers her a piece of butterscotch candy. Initially wary of almost everyone at the conference, he spends more time with Ron, Dean and Joan, and starts to develop genuine friendships and even a crush on Joan. All the insurance agents participate in a Scavenger Hunt, with Tim being paired with Joan, and although no one manages to complete the final task, they come farthest and thus win the contest and a gift card to a local restaurant. Tim, Joan and Dean become rather intoxicated through the night and end up in the hotel swimming pool, Tim and Joan’s sexual tension builds to a head and, after making out in the pool, they make love (later, in Joan’s hotel room). Regrettably, they were all seen in the pool by ASMI president Orin Helgesson.

The next morning, Tim is guilt-ridden and calls his older girl friend (and ex-teacher) Macy to confess, before desperately asking her to marry him, she takes this opportunity to explain that as a recently divorced woman she just wants to have fun, so she too has been sleeping with other people and tells him that perhaps “it’s time for him to fly away from the nest and start a new life”. Tim returns to Joan, who attempts to comfort him by telling him what Roger Lemke (the man he idolizes) was really like: that she was his lover but left him after his sexual appetites became a bit too twisted for her, and that he bribed Helgesson for each one of his Two Diamond awards. Tim refuses to believe this, and flees Joan’s room, accusing her of being a “prostitute” sent to destroy his life.

He runs into Dean and accidentally lets it slip that Lemke had bought all of his Two Diamonds. Dean swears to not tell anyone, it becoming apparent that he already sees Tim as a true friend. After some words of advice from Dean, Tim goes to Helgesson for his assessment: it does not go well, and under the pressure he ends up also bribing Helgesson for the award, leaving him penniless and ashamed. He later comes across Bree and accompanies her to a party, which ends up with Tim getting high on crystal methamphetamine and inadvertently starting a fight. Ron, Joan and Dean show up just in time to rescue him, as well as Bree who claims she is in love with Tim. The night ends with Bill appearing at Tim’s door to inform him that with the successful acquisition of another Two Diamond award, he has received a generous offer for the company and despite it meaning the branch’s closure, he has chosen to sell. The day of the Diamond awards comes and while Bill is formally announcing the sale, Tim bursts in and takes over the podium; this when he reveals that his company has unethically acquired the award every year by bribing Helgesson and confesses to doing so himself. Helgesson flees the room, his reputation in tatters. A furious Bill confronts Tim, his revelations having cost Bill the sale of his company. Tim responds by announcing his intentions to leave the company and start another with his clients from Brownstar, 17 of which have agreed to stay with him. Bill storms off, dumbfounded.

As the four friends say their goodbyes and prepare to see each other next year, we see Joan and Tim are happy as friends and Dean invites Ron and Tim to stay at a wealthy friend’s cabin in Canada for the summer, both of them surprising Dean by gleefully accepting, their shared experiences having clearly awarded genuine friendships and personal growth to them all.

It is revealed during the credits that the three of them went on to start their own company together called Top Notch, with Joan involved as well.

REVIEW:

Sometimes, Netflix will send me movies that are at the top of the list, but only because I hadn’t rearranged it, yet. This is how I got to watch Cedar Rapids. While I wasn’t excited about this flick and wondered how it even managed to make it on my list, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Chances are most of you have not heard of this. I know I hadn’t. The plot involves an insurance agent who has been working in the town he grew up in. All of a sudden, the man he has idolized since he began working for the company turns up dead. This means that Tim, played by Ed Helms,  will have to head to the conference down in Cedar Rapids and take his place, not to mention continue the tradition of bringing back the coveted Two Diamonds award.

At the conference, Tim meets an interesting cast of characters, starting with the young prostitute Bree, and fellow insurance agents Ronald, Joan, and the man his boss had told him to avoid, Dean. I can’t remember why it was that he was supposed to avoid him, though.

At the conference, things start to happen, such as Tim falling in love with Joan, finding out a terrible secret about his former idol, getting high on crystal meth, and of course the climactic moment when he finally grows a backbone and tells his boss off.

The comedic chemistry between all of these character is gold. While Ed Helms may not be the best leading man, he makes for a nice central character. Isiah Whitlock, Jr. makes a nice comedic turn as the “token black guy”, with his best scene being when he goes all “gangsta”. John C. Reilly steals the whole show as Dean., the loud-mouthed, lecherous supposed “frenemy”, if you will. Anne Heche (where has she been?) makes a very Julianne Moore-like appearance as the girl of the group, Joan. Take my word for it, you’ll have to do a double take when you see her.

There are quite a few funny moments throughout the film, and it never seems to get bogged down in trying to be too serious. It remembers that is a comedy, first and foremost, which is something so many films tend to forget these days. There are better comedies out there, but you will still be at least mildly entertained by this one. I have to say that is likely to go down as one of the surprises I’m sure to see this year. Check it out if you get the chance!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Hangover part II

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2012 by Mystery Man

hangover2

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two years after their escapade in Las Vegas, Stu Price, Phil Wenneck, Alan Garner and Doug Billings travel to Thailand to celebrate Stu’s impending wedding to Lauren. Much to Alan’s dismay, they are joined by Lauren’s younger brother, Teddy. During Lauren’s father’s toast, he shows his disapproval of Stu by comparing him to congee. At the end of the night, Stu hesitantly joins Phil, Doug, Alan and Teddy for a beer. Sitting at a campfire and roasting marshmallows, the group toast to Stu and Lauren’s future happiness.

The following morning, Phil, Stu and Alan, along with gangster Leslie Chow – whom Alan befriended after Las Vegas – and a chain-smoking capuchin monkey, awaken in a dirty hotel room in Bangkok. Stu has a face tattoo (a replica of Mike Tyson’s tattoo), and Alan’s head is completely shaved. However, they cannot find Teddy, only discovering his severed finger. Chow begins recalling the events of the prior night, but he dies after snorting a line of cocaine. Panicked, the trio dispose of Chow’s body in an ice machine.

Through a tip from Doug who is still at the resort, they go to a prison to pick up Teddy but are given a wheelchair-bound elderly Buddhist monk, who knows more about what happened, but does not reveal anything: he has taken a vow of silence, and rejects also an alternative such as writing something down. After finding a business card, they travel to a neighborhood smouldering in ruins. They enter a nearby tattoo parlor where Stu got his tattoo, and they learn that they had started a fight that escalated into a riot. The trio then return the monk to his Buddhist temple, where they are encouraged by the head monk to meditate. Alan is able to recall that they had been at a strip club. There, they learn that Stu had engaged in sex with a kathoey prostitute. Upon exiting, the trio is attacked by two Russian mobsters from whom they had stolen the monkey, and Phil is shot in the arm.

After Phil is treated at a clinic, Alan confesses that he had drugged some of the marshmallows from the previous night with muscle relaxants and ADHD medication in order to sedate Teddy but accidentally mixed up the bags. After noticing an address and time point for a meeting written on Alan’s stomach, the trio meet up with another gangster, Kingsley, who demands Chow’s bank account code and password by the next morning in exchange for Teddy. They return to the hotel to try to find Chow’s password, only to discover that he is still alive. They steal the monkey (who had the code given to him by Chow inside his jacket for safe-keeping) back from the Russian mobsters through a violent car chase, during which the monkey is shot and injured. After taking the code and leaving the monkey at a veterinary clinic, the group complete the deal with Kingsley. Suddenly, Interpol agents appear and arrest Chow. Kingsley turns out to be an undercover agent, who tells the trio that the police have searched all day for Teddy but were unable to find him.

Desperate and out of clues, Phil once again calls Doug’s wife Tracy. Stu then has an epiphany and the trio rushes back to the hotel and find Teddy in the elevator unharmed (albeit still missing a finger). Teddy had woken up in the middle of the night to get more ice for his severed finger (after the first bucket of ice had melted) but became trapped after the power went out. The four use Chow’s speedboat, the keys for which were in Teddy’s pocket, to travel back to the wedding reception. Arriving on land just as Lauren’s father is about to cancel the wedding, Stu makes a defiant speech where he rejects being boring and instead states that he is in fact quite wild. Impressed, Lauren’s father gives the couple his blessing. After the wedding continues on, Alan presents Stu with a special gift at the post-reception dance: a musical guest performance by Mike Tyson. Teddy later discovers that he had taken many pictures during the night on his mobile phone. The group, along with Tyson, agree to look at the pictures together once before erasing the evidence of their exploits once again.

REVIEW:

A couple of years ago, this little film called The Hangover came out of nowhere and surprised everyone. Now, it has spawned a sequel, The Hangover part II.

I’ve been reading some of the critics’ complaints about this film and the biggest, most recurrent one is that it is basically a carbon copy of the first, only darker. Now, as I was sitting here watching this film, I did see some similarities and parts taken, but that the whole point of the movie! Everything is sort of happening again, just in a different city (Bangkok instead of Las Vegas).

With that said, there are different things that happen as well and it is the combination of new and old that keeps this fresh and from falling into that trap the Home Alone movies did.

As far being darker than the first…well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but it is set in Bangkok, a city not known for being especially friendly to those that come into its borders. On top of that, their 16 yr old compatriot loses a finger (the reason why is shown in the pictures that roll during the credits, but for the film, we think it is something far worse).

The first film was a riot, but I actually think this was one was even funnier. I don’t know, maybe it is because these guys have more chemistry now, or the writing is more seasoned after seeing what worked in the first film and what didn’t, but this one had me on the floor laughing more often than not.

The scenery is breathtaking. It goes from a virtual paradise to the slums of Bangkok and back, showing us what Thailand has to offer, without actually being some sort of Thai tour brochure, of sorts.

No chemistry has been lost among the returning leads, as a matter of fact, it seems as if the time away from these characters has allowed them to grow. Yes, that includes Alan, as well.

The story is great, but I especially liked the way they showed how Alan views himself and his “friends” and little boys. It sort of makes you feel sorry for the guy. I do wonder, though, and this just may be something I forgot from the first film, why it is he seems so attached to Phil. If you notice, everytime they meet, he says “Hi guys! Hi Phil!” I don’t quite know what to think of that, especially after the look he gives him in the final scene, but that is something you have to see and interpret for yourself.

If I do have one piece of negativity about this film, is that it didn’t capitalize on the hotness of the female cast. They were on the beach, so someone please tell me why they couldn’t have had at least one scene with Jamie Chung and Sasha Barresse in a bikini! Kind of negates the whole reason for having them there, if you ask me. They could have just as well hired some schlub actresses from some random acting class to read these lines and such.

So, this summer, we had a bridal shower gone bad in Bridesmaids and a bachelor party turned into a sting operation/kidnap and rescue mission in The Hangover part II. What was my verdict on it? Well, I loved it. Everything from man-child Alan to the drug dealing monkey to everytime they said “Bangkok has him now” (a phrase that I don’t believe was every explained). This is a hilarious picture and a must-see for all of us that need or could use a laugh. I highly recommend it!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars