Archive for Jason Bateman

Central Intelligence

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

What is this about?

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

What did I like?

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

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

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

What didn’t I like?

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

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

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

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

3 3/4 out of 5 stars


Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a world populated by anthropomorphic mammals, Judy Hopps, a rabbit from rural Bunnyburrow, fulfills her dream of becoming the first rabbit officer in the police department of nearby city Zootopia. After graduating valedictorian upon being presented as the new Zootopia Police Department member by Mayor Leodore Lionheart, she is assigned parking duty by Chief Bogo who doubts her potential due to her being a rabbit and thus smaller than most of the large animals on the force. During one of her shifts, she meets Nick Wilde, a con artist fox, and his partner Finnick.

Hopps abandons her shift to arrest a thief named Duke Weaselton. She is reprimanded by Bogo and nearly fired until Mrs. Otterton arrives pleading for help locating her missing husband – one of many animals recently missing in Zootopia. To Bogo’s dismay, Hopps volunteers and agrees to resign if she cannot solve the case within 48 hours. She sees Wilde in the last known photo of Otterton and tracks him down, coercing him into to assisting her with the investigation.

After acquiring Mr. Otterton’s license plate number, Hopps and Wilde track the vehicle to Mr. Big, an Arctic shrew crime boss. Initially, he orders them “iced,” but after his daughter spares them, Mr. Big informs the pair that his florist Mr. Otterton had gone savage and attacked his chauffeur Manchas. Hopps and Wilde locate Manchas, who mentions “night howlers” were responsible for attacking him before he goes savage and chases the pair out of his home. When Bogo and his reinforcements arrive, Manchas disappears. Bogo demands Hopps resign, but Wilde takes a stand, insisting they have 10 more hours to solve the case. As the pair leaves, Hopps learns from Wilde that he was bullied by prey animals as a pup and became a criminal, believing he would be stereotyped as one no matter what due to being a fox.

Wilde realizes that the city’s traffic camera system may have captured Manchas’s disappearance, and the pair consults Assistant Mayor Dawn Bellwether. They identify the captors as wolves, hence “night howlers”. Hopps and Wilde locate the missing mammals (including Mr. Otterton) at Cliffside Asylum. All are predators, and all have gone savage like Manchas. The two discover Mayor Lionheart consulting with Dr. Madge Honey Badger about the predators’ condition. The pair escape with the evidence and the police swarm the area, arresting Lionheart.

Having developed a friendship with Wilde throughout the case, Hopps requests that he joins the Zootopia Police Department and become her partner, which Wilde happily considers. However, during a press conference, Hopps mentions that the savage animals are predators and argues they have gone back to their “natural state.” Wilde is hurt and angrily walks out on her offer. Fear and discrimination against predators spreads across Zootopia and a guilt-ridden Hopps resigns. During this time, pop singer Gazelle holds a peaceful protest and publicly asks for the harmonious Zootopia she loves to be restored.

Back in Bunnyburrow, Hopps learns from her former bully Gideon Grey that “night howlers” are flowers that have a severe psychotropic effect on mammals. Hopps returns to Zootopia and reconciles with Wilde after being told where he is by Finnick. They locate Weaselton and catch him. With help from Mr. Big, Judy learns that Weaselton has been collecting night howlers for a secret laboratory. The pair discover the lab and find sheep scientists creating a night howler serum which has been injected into predators via dart guns. Hopps and Wilde race to the ZPD with the evidence, but the sheep scientists pursue them.

Just short of the ZPD, the pair encounters Bellwether who tries to take the evidence. Realizing Bellwether is the mastermind of a species-supremacist conspiracy, Hopps and Wilde try to flee, but Bellwether shoots a dart at Wilde and calls the ZPD for help. Wilde becomes savage and corners Hopps, but it turns out the pair were acting and had swapped out Bellwether’s darts for blueberries. With Bellwether’s confession recorded on Hopps’s carrot pen, the two have enough evidence to unravel the conspiracy. Bellwether is then arrested for her crimes alongside her accomplices. When informed and interviewed on the matter, Lionheart explains that he had no knowledge of Bellwether’s plot, but fully confesses his crime of illegally imprisoning the savaged predators during his confidential mission by stating that it was done for the “right reasons.”

Some months later, Hopps is reinstated into the ZPD. The savaged mammals are cured. Inspired by his friend’s faith in him, Wilde joins the ZPD as the first fox police officer and Judy’s new partner. During the credits, all of Zootopia enjoys a performance by Gazelle while Bellwether angrily watches the live streaming from prison.


A man of my age should not be excited for a kids’ film, but I can’t help it. I’ve been looking forward to Zootopia since the first trailer dropped last summer. Why, you may ask? Well, there is so much promise and potential here. Disney isn’t just recycling another princess story, but rather coming up with original material. Hopefully it pays off!

What is this about?

Nick Wilde is a fox with a criminal record. He meets Judy Hopps, a rabbit that is just starting out as a police officer. She is trying to live up to the expectations of her parents, Bonnie and Stu. Judy and Nick must work together to find a missing otter. Along the way, they develop an unlikely friendship and learn about the other citizens of Zootopia. The team discovers the surprising truth about the missing otter, realizing the disappearance goes deeper than they ever expected.

What did I like?

Creativity. A society of all types of animals living in one big city. I really liked how the developers not only gave us different climates for the various animals, but also different sizes, tunnels, entrances, exits, etc. It really felt like a city where animals had just evolved into civilization, rather than another anthropomorphic animated tale.

An offer you can’t refuse. When I heard there was a scene based on The Godfather, I was skeptical. After all, the audience for this film is nowhere near old enough to have watched and appreciated that fine film. However, when I saw the scene and how it fit in with the story, I was relieved. Yes, it is probably there because the writers are fans and it is something for the adults, but the main thing is that the scene works. On another note, there is also a small Breaking Bad reference, if you can catch it.

Relevance. Even in a society of animals, racism (or speciesism) is present. Predators are not looked kindly upon in this society because, well, they could revert back to their killing ways. Because of this, and with someone turning predators back to their savage ways, they have more or less become second class citizens. Yes, this is a theme in a kids movie. The same kind of thing that we are experiencing in society today where people are turning on each other just because they have different beliefs, skin color, or don’t vote a certain way. I give this film a standing ovation for tackling this subject, because it is obvious parents aren’t doing their job anymore and our society is headed to hell in a handbasket!

What didn’t I like?

Exploration. As little Judy Hopps was riding the train into Zootopia, we see the various areas of the city. It kind of reminded me of the first couple of Hunger Games films, where we saw the different districts and how different they were. Here’s my issue with this, though. It seems to me that they could have done more with exploring the city. For the most part, the film stays downtown. They make one trip out to the tundra, a couple of treks to the rainforest, but that’s it. I don’t believe they even went to the desert! If you’re going to have these impressive ecosystems (and go through all the trouble of creating them), then do something with them!

Give it away. If you’ve been keeping up with the marketing for this film, then I’m sure you’ve seen the most popular trailer for it. You know, the one with the sloths at the DMV. The first time I saw that, I laughed for a good 10-15 minutes. It cracked me up! However, that is an actual scene from the movie, with a couple of snippets taken out here and there. While I loved it, I think they should have saved it. Maybe given us a peek, but not the whole thing. The trailer for Captain America: Civil War came out yesterday and they gave away the one thing that they really should have held close to the vest, Spider-Man! What is with trailers these days and giving everything away? As far as the sloths go, it is hands down one of the funniest scenes in the film and it isn’t hard to see why they put it out there, I just wish they’d have shown a little restraint and not given us the whole thing!

Dance, Gazelle, Dance. A trope that was started back with Shrek, if not before, was ending animated films with a dance sequence utilizing all the characters. This has never been my cup of tea and, while this film works it into the story (a concert featuring the biggest pop star of this world, Gazelle), I still couldn’t get into it. Just give me my happy ending and roll the credits. If you must have Gazelle sing and dance underneath that’s fine, but that didn’t do anything for the film to include it in the actual movie.

Final verdict on Zootopia? This is one of the best animated film I’ve seen in the last few years. Each character is developed and given something to do, other than just standing there (aside from the characters that are meant to just stand there). The story isn’t what I initially thought it was and, with the exception of one swerve, nothing was predictable. This is definitely a film worth taking the kids to see multiple times, but please make sure they are well-behaved and not running up to the top, jumping on people so that they can put bunny ears on the screen (yes, this actually happened!) Control your children, people!

5 out of 5 stars

Horrible Bosses 2

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Nick Hendricks, Dale Arbus, and Kurt Buckman decide to start their own business after tiring of working for ungrateful bosses. Their idea is a car-wash-inspired shower head called the “Shower Buddy”. They have trouble finding investors until they are approached by Bert Hanson and his son Rex. Bert admires their commitment to manufacturing the product themselves, while Rex prefers to outsource to China, and agrees to invest if they can make 100,000 units. Taking out a business loan, the three rent a warehouse, hire employees, and manage to produce their output. However, Bert backs out of their deal at the last minute, claiming that he never signed an agreement, and he plans on taking their inventory in foreclosure and selling them (renamed the “Shower Pal”) himself, while leaving the three in $500,000 debt with their outstanding loan.

Seeking financial advice, Nick, Dale, and Kurt visit Nick’s old boss, Dave Harken, in prison, who says the three have no feasible legal options to recover their losses. The three then resolve to kidnap Rex and hold him for ransom. They seek the help of “Motherfucker” Jones, who says the best way to kidnap someone who knows them is to keep the victim unconscious for the duration of the kidnapping. The three create a ransom note asking for $500,000 and go to the office of Dale’s old boss, Dr. Julia Harris, to steal a tank of nitrous oxide. While there, Kurt and Dale are almost caught by Julia’s sex addiction group meeting; after the group leaves, Nick has sex with Julia, providing the distraction that allows Dale and Kurt to escape the building. The trio goes to Rex’s house, but while they hide in the closet, Dale accidentally turns on the tank and they pass out. When they wake up in the morning, they find Rex gone.

When they arrive back at the warehouse, they find Rex tied up in the trunk of their car. Rex gets out and reveals he found them hiding in his closet, but decided to stage his own kidnapping with them due to his strained relationship with his dad. Rex sent the ransom note to his dad and increased the ransom to $5 million. The three are uncertain of Rex’s plan, but Rex threatens to go to the police if they back out. They call Bert to inform him of Rex’s kidnapping, threatening to kill Rex if Bert calls the cops. However, the police, led by Detective Hatcher, subsequently arrive at their warehouse to question Nick, Dale, and Kurt due to their involvement with Bert. When the police leave, Rex breaks down, knowing Bert cares more about his money than his son. Now sympathetic to Rex, the trio agrees to work with him in the fake kidnapping, and all four devise a plan to outsmart the police and take the ransom money, utilizing untraceable phones, a basement garage to block out any tracking signal, and Kurt disguising himself as Bert.

While the plan is in motion, Nick, Dale, and Kurt find that Kurt left Bert his own phone instead of the untraceable one. They nevertheless call Bert on Kurt’s phone to give him the instructions. Before they leave, Julia arrives at their hotel room and demands to sleep with Dale or else she will report them for breaking into her office. Dale’s wife Stacy, whom Dale has three daughters with, arrives, and believing Dale is cheating on her with Julia, storms off. Dale angrily locks Julia in the bathroom so the three can leave. In the basement garage, Nick, Dale, and Kurt, wearing masks, tell Bert to give back the cell phone. Bert is killed by Rex, who reveals that, after seeing that his father did not care about him, he decided to kill Bert and frame Nick, Dale, and Kurt in order to inherit the family business. Rex forces Kurt to switch pants as Rex’s pants have Bert’s blood on them.

As the trio are about to be cornered by the police, Jones arrives, as he anticipated that the three would be betrayed and killed and was seeking to claim the ransom money for himself. He attempts to help them get back to the warehouse where Rex is supposed to be tied up, with the police chasing them, before Rex does so they can prove their innocence. When they get back to the warehouse, Jones escapes with the money and the police arrive to find Rex tied up. Before the police arrest Nick, Dale, and Kurt, Kurt’s phone rings in Rex’s pocket, and the police recognize the ringtone as the same phone that was left to Bert by the kidnappers. Rex tries to claim the phone is his, but when Hatcher asks why Rex did not bother to call the police if he had a phone, Rex takes Hatcher hostage. Dale attempts to attack Rex, but Rex shoots him, which distracts Rex long enough for Hatcher to subdue him.

A few days later, Dale wakes up to find out that the three did get in trouble, but because Dale helped save Hatcher’s life, the police dropped the charges. He also finds out that Julia helped make amends with Stacy, although she hints at having had sex with him during his coma and promises to have sex with his wife as well. In the aftermath, their business goes into foreclosure, but is subsequently purchased by Harken in prison, who allows the three of them to stay employed. Jones, meanwhile, uses the ransom money to invest in Pinkberry


What do you do when you make a small film that turns out to be an unsuspected success? Of course you quickly churn out a sequel, because that is how business is done in Hollywood these days. Whether audiences want it or not, we get remakes, reboots, sequels, and prequels, just so studio execs can keep their billion dollar lifestyles. Unfortunately, Horrible Bosses 2 is one of those films that should not have been made, at least not as quickly.

What is this about?

In a renewed attempt to escape their employers’ abuses, the oppressed heroes of Horrible Bosses open a business together. When a slippery investor torpedoes their dream, the boys strike back by kidnapping his son.

What did I like?

Voice of reason. In almost every movie he is in, Jason Bateman plays a no-nonsense, stick in the mud character that is usually the least likable of the cast, or at least one of the least liked. There are times, though, that those same characteristics can work to his advantage. Take for instance this role in which he is paired with two morons, as is said about his partners multiple times throughout the film. Bateman’s character isn’t necessarily the brains behind the operation, but he is the voice of reason, keeping everyone grounded. I shudder to think of where this might have gone had he not been there.

In the cards. Reprising his role from the first Horrible Bosses, Kevin Spacey appears in a couple of quick scenes. I wager these were all filmed the same day when he wasn’t on set for House of Cards. Spacey knocks it out of the park in what may very well have been the performance of the film. He has a Hannibal Lecter type of sophistication about him, mixed with a dose of crazy, thrown in what random bits and pieces that Spacey came up with. It was a joy to watch, especially in the epilogue, but I won’t spoil that.

She can be my dentist. Whew! Jennifer Aniston with dark hair is just…there are no words! Brad Pitt, what were you thinking? Do you not get the picture that you downgraded to that big lipped skeleton you’re traipsing around the world with adopting kids? Anyway, Aniston is not just tasty eye candy, but her character is a little more fleshed out, as we learn she has a sex addiction, which explains a lot of her actions from the first film. Also, she has a collection and needs Charlie Day’s character to sleep with her so that she can complete it. Yeah, she’s still a bit psycho, and the audience loves her for it!

What didn’t I like?

Yammering. I mentioned earlier how Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis’ characters were called morons for a good part of the film. If I recall from the original, that is no change for Day’s character, but Sudeikis was a bit more competent. What happened that turned him into a grown up frat boy, for lack of a better term, I wonder? Why is it that he and Day constantly yammer on about random stuff and the most inopportune moments? Is this supposed to be funny?

Waltz from days gone by. Christoph Waltz has not had a bad performance. Even in bad movies like The Green Hornet, he seems to be a bright spot. That record will not be besmirched by this film, though it is close. I have issue with the way Waltz was portrayed. Obviously, he has a very thick German accent. It is what has made him such a hot commodity. I’m not sure if he was supposed to have been covering it up for this character, or playing someone who was making an attempt to cover up where they were from. Also, this look…it wouldn’t have bothered me, except every time he was on screen, I felt like I was back in 6th grade with my beginning band director, Mr. Ramsey. I wonder if I should tell him that he resembles Christoph Waltz in disguise.

Length. I feel as if this film went on way too long. This is a comedy, there is no need for it to go much past an hour and a half. Truth be told, I lost interest about 10 minutes or so into the picture, and didn’t really come back until the security tapes of Aniston and Bateman were on display. What would I cut to make this shorter? Perhaps cut down the chase scene. This is a comedy, not an action comedy. No need for all that. I’d also cut out all the rigmarole in the last act. It just seemed as if they were talking in circles, which is mostly what this film does, now that I think about it.

Everything that Horrible Bosses was, Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t. This film isn’t funny, charming, witty, innovative, interesting, or anything. It is one of those sequels where the studio noticed that something they just threw out to the wolves, so to speak, made a lot of money, so they want even more. This caused the writers to half ass throw together a script, then we get this rushed product that is far inferior to its predecessor. I liken it to this…when you put toast in the toaster and pull it out before it is toasted, you’ll have somewhat toasted bread, but it won’t be full toast. This film was that partly toasted bread, not quite toast. I don’t have much to say on the positive side for this film, I’m afraid so, as you can just about guess, this is not getting a recommendation from me. You’d be better served torturing your own boss like they did in the first film.

2 out of 5 stars

Identity Thief

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Sandy Patterson gets a call from a woman saying someone attempted to steal his identity. She tells him about an identity protection service and asks him for his name, date of birth, and social security number. Little does he know that his identity is actually about to be stolen.

At work, Sandy gets called in by his boss, Harold Cornish, and he asks him to make cuts on bonuses, despite the fact that he is getting a bonus himself. As Sandy goes to do so, he gets a call saying he has an appointment at a salon on Friday in Winter Park, Florida. He’s confused, but he gets called over by his co-worker Daniel Casey. In the parking lot, he and a few other co-workers meet to discuss starting their own firm since their boss is not the greatest person. Daniel asks Sandy if he’ll join them, to which he agrees.

A little while later, Sandy tries to get gas, but his card is declined for insufficient funds and the gas station clerk cuts it up. He calls the credit card company and he’s told he’s spent a lot of money in Florida. As this happens, he gets arrested. At the same time in Florida, Diana continues splurging with Sandy’s money. At a police station, Detective Reilly tells Sandy that he missed a court date in Florida for assault. They pull up a mug shot of Diana and determine she’s stolen Sandy’s identity. It gets worse at work when Daniel (now his boss) says cops are asking about him possessing drugs. Reilly and other cops show up and say a card with Sandy’s name was used to buy drugs from a man named Paolo. When told they can’t do anything unless the identity thief was standing there in Denver with them, Sandy (knowing where he can find her) offers to go on his own and bring her there and get her to talk to Daniel to clear his name and that he won’t press charges.

Trish, Sandy’s wife, finds out about the situation and knows Sandy’s taking a risk, but he assures her he’ll get the job done. He ends up in Florida and finds Diana at the salon where she made an appointment and follows her. After confronting her on the road she manages to steal his rental car. He obtains her address through registration in her abandoned car and goes to Diana’s house, which is full of merchandise and other stolen credit cards. The pair scuffle and Sandy attempts to handcuff her. Before he can cuff her, two people named Marisol and Julian are pounding at the door, telling Diana she gave Paolo some bad credit cards. They shoot the door open, but Sandy and Diana escape.

Sandy tells Diana about his plan to redeem his name and Diana agrees to go along with him. Meanwhile a skiptracer (Robert Patrick) is dispatched to track down Diana to obtain a substantial bounty. On the road, Diana reminds Sandy that the people at the airport would have an issue with both of their ID’s reading “Sandy Bigelow Patterson”, so flying back is out of the question and they must return to Denver by driving.

After travelling through several states, the skiptracer catches up to the pair and captures Diana. A chase ensues and she knocks him unconscious, and Sandy rams his van off the road. When he gets out to check on Diana, a truck plows into his rental car, totalling it. They take the skiptracer’s van with him tied to the back, but it overheats on the road. They end up walking and almost stop to rest in the woods, but they encounter several snakes, one of which ends up in Sandy’s pants, which he takes off and throws away. Another snake bites Sandy’s neck and Diana accidentally knocks him unconscious while trying to beat the snake.

Sandy wakes up at a bus station in new pants with no money and no phone. He asks how they got there, and Diana says she carried him half a mile until she flagged down a truck to take them there. Unfortunately, the next bus to Denver doesn’t come for another three days. Sandy finds some money in his socks and is told by a guy who works at the station about a place to find a cheap car. When they stop for gas and realize they need more money, Diana asks if there’s anyone Sandy would like to get back at, and he thinks of one person – Harold Cornish. Knowing that there is someone who handles his finances, the two of them sneak into an accounting firm and coax an accounts processor into giving them access into restricted files, and they steal Cornish’s identity to create new credit cards. The accounts processor realizes this too late as they are fleeing.

Meanwhile, the skiptracer goes to the bus station and threatens the employee unless he tells him where to find Diana. He then gets shot by Marisol who, along with Julian, has been tracking the pair throughout their journey. Having overheard Skiptracer’s conversation they continue to pursue Sandy and Diana.

Sandy and Diana finally arrive in St. Louis and stop at a hotel and Diana spends more money than necessary. She gets a makeover and has dinner with Sandy. Things get heated when he asks Diana what her real name is, but she admits she doesn’t know it. She cries as she tells him that nobody cared about her when she grew up, so she doesn’t even have her own identity. She then says she lied about that just as the accounts processor comes in with cops, who arrest both Sandy and Diana. As they’re being escorted, they run into Marisol and Julian. Marisol calls Paolo, who tells her to follow Diana and kill her. That’s when Skiptracer arrives and shoots the two thugs in the legs and throws them in the trunk of their car.

Diana manages to un-cuff herself as she’s in the back of the police car, and then breaks the back windshield and escapes, just as Skiptracer hits the police car. Sandy gets out as well and Skiptracer nearly hits him, but Diana pushes him out of the way and gets rammed by the car, which causes Skiptracer to swerve off. As Sandy and Diana run away, Skiptracer is arrested along with Marisol and Julian. Diana is not injured from being hit by a car, and she and Sandy eventually make it home, where they are greeted by Trish and their daughters. Diana has dinner with Sandy’s family and reconciles with them.

The next morning, Sandy is prepared to tell Diana that he’ll go in alone to the station, but she’s gone. She left a note saying sorry. He goes into work, preparing to quit, but Daniel shows him that Diana is meeting with the police in an office. Detective Reilly tells Sandy he is no longer part of the investigation and Diana is taken away in cuffs. Before she leaves, Sandy has a moment with her and asks her why, and she says she knew he wouldn’t turn her in, but it was the right thing to do for her to do it herself.

One year later, Sandy is celebrating another birthday, this time with his third kid joining them. The family goes to visit Diana in prison, where she’s doing well taking some exams. As Trish takes the girls outside, Sandy presents Diana with a birth certificate of hers that he was able to find and it’s revealed that Diana’s true name is Dawn Budgie, which she thinks is a terrible name; the two then share a laugh on the matter, with Diana proudly stating that she “already knows who she is”. Diana hugs Sandy and begins to walk away, until an officer taunts her, prompting Diana to react and strike her in the throat. Another guard pulls out a taser from her pocket, and tases Diana in the back. Diana falls, but recovers seconds later. She then gets up and walks back to go to her cell. The camera takes one more shocked look from Sandy, as he walks away.


There have been a plethora of films released this year that critics seem to totally despise. Identity Thief is one of those that audiences seem to totally ignore what they said and saw it in droves, some multiple times, but was it worth the price of admission?

What is this about?

Is Sandy Patterson a banking executive living in Colorado with his wife and kids, or is he a she and living it up in Florida? When Sandy is accused of crimes he hasn’t committed, he must track down the woman who has — in his name.

What did I like?

Molly. Although the made every attempt to make Melissa McCarthy an unlikable boil on the butt of civilization, her natural talent and charisma shone through. She is a very funny gal and we are sure to be seeing lots more of her in the coming years. Did I also mention that when she has that makeover near the film’s end, it seemed to open up the door for her character to show some emotion and allow the audience to see that she is human. Without McCarthy, this film doesn’t stand a chance!

Identity. There comes a point in the film that Melissa McCarthy’s character comes to the realization that she doesn’t know who she is. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except this is a film about identities, so it added another layer, both to her character and, to a lesser extent, the plot, as it serves as a bit of motivation for her crimes.

What didn’t I like?

Comfort zone. I think I say this in every film I see Jason Bateman in, and I will keep saying it until he does something about it. The guy seems to be in a trap of playing the same character over and over again. TV actors talk of type-casting. Well, Jason Bateman also seems to be suffering from that because he can’t seem to play anything but the put-upon nice guy who gets taken advantage of, only to have things work out for him conveniently at the end of the picture.

On the side. For some reason, we have this side plot involving Melissa McCarthy’s character, a bounty hunter, and a couple of hitmen. It doesn’t really fit into the story, if you ask me. It would have made more sense had they actually been chasing her from Florida to Colorado, but that wasn’t the case, at least they weren’t chasing her in a non-stop “I’ll kill you!” kind of way.

Cameos or wasted talent. I have to raise a question about this. Such talented stars as Morris Chestnut, John Cho, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, and especially Eric Stonestreet, appear in limited roles, some bigger and more important than others, but are quickly brushed to the side or forgotten. It just seems to me that these characters could have contributed more to the goings on. I especially think this of Stonestreet, as he would have made a nice coupling with Melissa McCarthy’s characters, but maybe that’s just me.

Ok, so who thought that a road trip film about identity they would be a funny topic? Apparently the writers of Identity Thief, that’s who, but they were sadly mistaken. I found myself struggling to find a laugh in this mess of a film. There were a couple of chuckles, all of which went to Melissa McCarthy. I really wanted to like this picture, but just couldn’t. There isn’t any reason to torture a soul with this, so no, it doesn’t get a recommendation from me. If you want to see McCarthy do her thing, watch Bridesmaids, Mike & Molly, hell, you can even go back and watch her in a more dramatic role on The Gilmore Girls, but this is not worth your time.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars


Posted in Comedy, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Joel Reynolds is the owner and founder of Reynold’s Extract, a flavor-extract company. Although his business is successful, his marriage is now completely sexless. His best friend Dean, a bartender and pothead, offers to ease his mind with Xanax and various other drugs, but the straight-laced Joel refuses.

One day, a series of mishaps occurs at the extract factory, resulting in an employee, Step, losing a testicle. Cindy, a con artist and drifter, reads a news story about the accident and gets a job at the factory, flirting with Joel in order to find out more information about Step. Although Step initially decides not to sue the company, he changes his mind after a “chance meeting” with Cindy, and hires ambulance-chasing lawyer Joe Adler.

Joel entertains the idea of an affair with Cindy, but still loves Suzie and would not want to have any regrets. At the bar, Dean suggests hiring a gigolo to seduce his wife, so that Joel can then have a guilt-free affair of his own. Joel initially balks at the idea, but—after his judgment is impaired by an accidentally administered dose of ketamine—eventually accepts and the two hire Brad to pose as a pool cleaner and have an affair with Suzie. The next morning, Joel sobers up and realizes what he has done and tries to stop Brad from going to his house, but he is too late; Brad and Suzie have begun an affair. Brad falls in love with Suzie and wants to run away with her. After smoking marijuana with Dean and his friend Willie, Joel attempts to call Cindy, but soon realizes that he is calling Willie’s number. Just then, Cindy walks into the apartment. Willie realizes Joel is trying to make time with her [she’s living with Willie, they’re a couple] and Willie furiously punches Joel in the face.

Joel meets with Adler and his associates in the factory office to discuss the terms of the settlement. The workers, believing that the meeting is about a buy-out of the factory by General Mills, organize a strike. Frustrated by Adler’s unflinching negotiations and the disrespect from his employees, Joel storms out and goes home, where Suzie admits that she had an affair with Brad. Joel admits he hired Brad to do so, and leaves the house to escape her wrath.

Joel moves into a motel, where he spots Cindy staying in another room. When he goes to her room, he notices a purse stolen from one of his employees, along with other stolen items, and realizes that she is not only a thief, but behind a lot of the problems at the company. He begins to leave and call the police, but softens when Cindy breaks down in tears, and the two spend the night together. The next morning, Cindy disappears, but leaves the stolen items behind.

Step meets with Joel at the factory to tell him he is dropping the lawsuit on the condition that Joel promotes him to floor manager. Meanwhile, while cleaning the pool herself, Suzie loses her temper with her annoying, overly talkative neighbor Nathan and tells him what she really thinks of him; just as she is finishing her tirade, he collapses and dies. Feeling that she may have caused his death, Suzie attends the funeral, where she runs into Joel. After a few awkward moments, the two share a ride home, hinting at a possible reconciliation. It is revealed that Cindy has scammed Adler also and ends up stealing his luxury car, replacing it with Step’s truck.


Independent comedies tend to lean more towards being dramas than comedies, but when you put someone like Mike Judge behind everything, then you might actually get something worth laughing about. This is the case with Extract.

What is this about?

Poised to sell his successful flavor extract company, Joel’s life is pretty sweet — until an on-the-job accident threatens his livelihood. To make matters worse, his marriage is failing, and a sexy con artist is stirring things up at the office. Will things work out for Joel, or is everything doomed to come crashing down around him?

What did I like?

Affleck. Some people may have forgotten, but Ben Affleck is actually a decent comic actor. If you don’t remember, just look at his work in Kevin Smith’s film’s. Probably his best in terms of funny would be Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. With all the serious stuff he’s been doing lately, it was good to see him back in a comedic role.

Formula. When Mila Kunis is trying to get some info out of Jason Bateman, he tells her how he got to be owner of his company and where the formula came from. Listening to how it was done takes you aback and makes you wonder if someone really did/could do that. There obviously is a market for it.

Simmons. Yes, Gene Simmons is in this, but he’s not the Simmons I’m referring to. That would J.K. Simmons. He has a bit of a supporting role, but it is one, much like J. Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man films, that is comically serious.

What didn’t I like?

Bateman. I don’t think I’ve ever liked this guy, even going back to Teen Wolf, Too. For some reason, though, the last few years have found either him or Paul Rudd in just about every comedy, playing the same whiny guy with an insanely hot wife and something to do with infidelity. Enough is enough! Time for a new character!

Wiig out. Kristin Wiig is apparently the current “it” girl in terms of hot comediennes. She’s not a bad looker, either. Hell, we see her rocking a bikini, and it is a pleasant surprise to see she’s quite the hardbody. That being said, I can’t help but think they wanted someone more attractive for this role, but settled for her because she was funny and looked good in a bikini.

Death. David Koechner is playing another character that the audience hates. Hey, it works for the guy, so I’m not going to knock him for it. However, he dies at a point in the film, and it leaves you wondering…why? I mean, there was no real point to killing him off, other than to get rid of an annoying character, but it didn’t move the plot forward any, so why would they do that?

Extract is supposed to be a companion piece to Office Space. As such, it fails to live up to that film’s legacy. However, when you think of it as a stand alone picture, it works on many levels, most notably, the comedy. While there are moments that I love in this film, there are also those that I didn’t care for. It is for that reason that I can’t fully recommend this to everyone. That being said, give it a shot if you’re in the mood for a chuckle or two.

3 out of 5 stars

Up in the Air

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) works for the Career Transitions Corporation (CTC). He makes his living traveling to workplaces around the United States and informing workers of their dismissals in place of their employers, who fear doing it themselves. Ryan also delivers motivational speeches, using the metaphor “What’s In Your Backpack?” to extol the virtues of a life free of burdens like relationships with people as well as things, arguing that the best way to live is to travel light, with little to hold one down.

Ryan relishes his perpetual travels. His personal ambition is to earn ten million frequent flyer miles with American Airlines. While traveling, he meets another frequent flyer, Alex (Vera Farmiga). They begin a casual relationship, meeting whenever they can arrange to cross paths.

Ryan is unexpectedly called back to CTC’s offices in Omaha, Nebraska. An ambitious, freshly graduated new hire, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), is promoting a plan to cut costs by conducting layoffs via videoconferencing. Ryan argues that Natalie knows nothing about the actual process, live or not, as she has never fired anyone and does not know how to handle upset people. He plays the role of a fired employee to show her inexperience. His boss (Jason Bateman) assigns him to take Natalie with him on his next round of terminations, much to his annoyance. Throughout the rounds, Natalie is visibly disturbed by firing people face to face.

As they travel together and become better acquainted, Natalie questions Ryan’s philosophy, but he is satisfied with his lifestyle. During the trip, Natalie is shattered when her boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her by text message. Ryan and Alex try to comfort her. Natalie later lectures Ryan about his refusal to consider a commitment to Alex in spite of their obvious compatibility, and becomes infuriated; she apologizes later, but soon afterwards they are ordered back to Omaha to begin implementing Natalie’s program. There are problems during a test run; one laid-off man breaks down in tears before the camera, and she is unable to comfort him.

Instead of returning immediately to Omaha, Ryan convinces Alex to accompany him to his younger sister Julie’s (Melanie Lynskey) wedding near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Julie had him (and others) take photos of a cutout picture of her and future husband Jim (Danny McBride) in various places because they cannot afford a honeymoon trip. When Jim gets cold feet, Ryan’s older sister talks Ryan into using his motivational skills to persuade Jim to go through with it. Although this runs counter to Ryan’s personal philosophy of non-commitment, he persuades Jim that “everyone needs a co-pilot” and the important moments in life are rarely unshared. The wedding takes place without any further problems.

Ryan begins having second thoughts about his own life. As he starts to deliver his “What’s In Your Backpack?” speech at a convention in Las Vegas, he realizes he no longer believes it and walks off the stage. On an impulse, he flies to Alex’s home in Chicago, Illinois. When she opens the door, he is stunned to discover she is a married woman with children; Ryan leaves without saying a word. She later tells him on the phone that her family is her real life and he is simply an escape. When she asks him what he wants out of their relationship, he is unable to answer.

On his flight home, the crew announces that Ryan has just crossed the ten-million-mile mark. The airline’s chief pilot (Sam Elliott) comes out of the cockpit to meet Ryan. He notes that Ryan is the youngest person to reach the milestone; Ryan, who had been preparing for that moment for a long time, shows little emotion.

Back in his office, Ryan calls the airline to transfer five hundred thousand miles each to the newlyweds, enough for them to fly around the world for their honeymoon. His boss then tells Ryan that a woman he and Natalie fired has jumped off a bridge, just as she warned them she would, and that when Natalie found out, she quit via text message. Ryan claims to have no memory of the employee making this threat. The company puts the remote-layoff program on hold because of government concerns, and Ryan is once again “back on the road”.

Natalie applies for a job in San Francisco, California. The interviewer is puzzled as to why she chose to work for CTC, given her sterling qualifications; she tells him she followed a boy. Based on a glowing recommendation from Ryan, he hires her. The film concludes with Ryan standing in front of a vast destination board, looking up, and letting go of his luggage


I happen to be lucky enough to work somewhere where if they want to fire me, they need to call me up to the front office to do so. Not everyone is so lucky, though. Some people work in stuffy offices and can be fired by people who don’t even work for the company. This is the basis for Up in the Air.

What did I like?

The truth. I’m scared to death of flying. No, it has nothing to do with 9/11. I’m on of those people who is scared og heights, so flying is also out of the question. In this post 9/11 world, we are always hearing about how airlines are either charging for this or that and how rigorous and invasive bag checks and searches are. It doesn’t show that too much here, but Clooney’s character does give us some ideas about how to get around those things that are supposed to “help”

Cover your bases. More often than not, we see films that veer off in too many directions, leaving the viewer lost and confused as to what is going. Not to mention the fact that some of these plot tangents either don’t get resolves or are totally forgotten. This film, though, manages to give equal time to all these various storylines and resolves them all…some not so happily.

The bottom line. In the early scenes of the film, we get a shot of the extremely attractive Vera Farmiga’s backside. That right there is almost worth a star! I’m sure the female audience members would have preferred it to have been George Clooney’s, though.

What didn’t I like.

Glittery vampires rot your brain. This is Anna Kendrick’s first film that has no glittery vampires, werewolves who can’t keep their shirts on in human form, or no talent, overrated, Down Syndrome looking leads. Kudos to her for making the leap into more adult films. She does a good job for the most part, but she still comes off as a bit of an immature teen, when she is supposed to be fresh out of college. Yes, some teen-ism is  expected, but I felt she coud have done better.

At least someone is getting work. Melanie Lynskey and Jason Bateman seem to be in nearly every film these days. Hell, Melanie has been in the last 3 in a row that I’ve watched, I think. I don’t have a problem with her, though. She’s talented and not an eyesore. However, Jason Bateman is just starting get on my last nerves. He’s not on the list of people I want to use medieval torture devices on…yet, but he’s getting there. Roles like this where he is nothing more than a douchebag boss, aren’t helping his case with me.

Family. Maybe I’m just cold-hearted, but I really didn’t see the need to bring in Clooney’s family issues. That whole thing about carrying around a cardboard cutout of his sister and her fiancée so they could be photographed in various places and then the whole thing about him not being around  really ruined his character for me. I say this because, he builds it up that he is one of these people who rarely goes home (I can relate), but rather a loner. That’s the way he should have stayed.

Up in the Air is a good film. Critics were head over heels for it. However, like many critical darling pictures, I wasn’t in love with this. I liked it, but wasn’t crazy about it. The film is a bit too slow and dramatic for my taste. Still, there are those out there who will actually be head over heels for this kind of picture. I’m just not on of them. Still, it wouldn’t hurt you to give it a shot.

4 out of 5 stars

The Change-Up

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on May 13, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Growing up together, Mitch Planko and Dave Lockwood (Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman) were two inseparable best friends, but as the years have passed, they have slowly drifted apart throughout the film. Dave is an overworked lawyer, husband, and father of three children (Sydney Rouviere and Lauren and Luke Bain) and Mitch is a single, quasi-employed man-child who has never met a responsibility he liked. To Mitch, Dave has it all: his beautiful wife Jamie (Leslie Mann) and three children who adore him and a high-paying job at a prestigious law firm. To Dave, living Mitch’s stress-free life without obligation or consequence would be a dream come true.

Following a drunken night out together, Mitch and Dave urinate in a wishing fountain and remark that they wish they had each others’ lives. Their worlds are turned upside down when they wake up in each other’s bodies the next day and proceed to freak out. Despite the freedom from their normal routines and habits, Mitch and Dave soon discover that each other’s lives are nowhere near as rosy as they once seemed. Afterwards, Mitch and Dave go to find the fountain, but it has been moved to an undisclosed address. Dave now enlists that Mitch go to his work and hand in documents, which leads to disastrous results, and Mitch enlists that Dave go to his film shoot. When Dave arrives at the set, he finds out that the film is a “porno” movie. Further complicating matters are Dave’s sexy legal associate, Sabrina McArdle (Olivia Wilde) and Mitch’s estranged father, Mitch, Sr. (Alan Arkin). With time not on their side, Mitch and Dave must struggle to avoid completely destroying each other’s lives before they can find their way to get their original ones back.


The standard film plot of friends, who are total, opposites of each other making some kind of wish, switching bodies, learning a lesson, and trying to get back to where they made said wish is rehashed, yet again, here in The Change-Up.

What did I like about this film?

Character study. I would never have thought it possible, but both Reynolds and Bateman manage to fully channel the other’s character when they are “switched”. From Reynolds lecherous ways and filthy mouth to Bateman’s neuroses, it was obvious they spent to time and effort to study each other in order to pull this off.

Olivia Wilde. Since her divorce, she has been looking hotter than ever. Maybe its the few extra lbs she’s put on that’s making her not look anorexic anymore. Anyway, she has a somewhat minor role, but its a good one that she really pours herself into.

It’s good to laugh. Can you believe it? A comedy that actually makes you laugh! I didn’t think those still existed, but it seems as if they do.

What didn’t I like?

Stop the drama. In contrast to the great comedic moments, there is that lull just past the midway part of the film where things get serious and we forget this is a comedy and start thinking this is a drama. I get what they were trying to do by getting the characters to act more like the other, but I just think there could have been a better, funnier way to do this.

Put some clothes on. There are some gratuitous nude/topless scenes here, that just don’t fit. The pseudo-porn shot, perhaps, because of Reynold’s being an actor, but Leslie Mann breastfeeding was just not necessary. Even those that think she’s mega hot will agree with me there. I didn’t mind seeing her getting ready to shower, though.

Potty humor. What was with the fecal humor? The film starts with Bateman getting projectile feces shot at him from his baby’s bottom, as he ‘s changing the diapers. Later on, we get Leslie Mann doing her best Jenny McCarthy thing by having Mexican food related stomach issues. For me, this would have been better without that scene. A beautiful woman should not be seen on the toilet, in my opinion.

Recycled plot device. How many times are we gonna get this body switch plot device. It has been done to death. I appreciate the effort the filmmakers gave in trying to do something a little different, but it still is the same old, same ol’.

Alan Arkin. You really have to feel sorry for the guy. I’ve seen characters shoehorned, forced, and foisted upon audiences before, but he has to take the cake. There really was no reason to have him there, especially since he’s been estranged from Reynolds for many years now. It just made the whole thing uncomfortable and awkward, especially when he randomly called Bateman’s characters (inhabited by Reynolds).

While it makes a valiant effort, The Change-Up can’t escape its biggest enemy, which is the major plot device, even if they all but ignore it until they absolutely have to. That being said, I still enjoyed most of this film. There are enough laughs here, especially in the early parts of the film, to keep the audience interested. Give it a shot sometime, who don’t you?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars