Archive for Jay Baruchel

Goon: The Last Enforcer

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

After one too many injuries, hockey enforcer Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is forced to give up his aspirations of going to the big show and settle into a buttoned down career as an insurance salesman at the urging of his pregnant wife Eva (Alison Pill). However, Doug can’t resist the siren call of the Highlanders, so he sets course to reclaim his former glory.

What people are saying:

“Baruchel’s sequel is everything Dowse’s original film was, amped up a degree or three: The fights involving dim-bulb hero Doug (Seann William Scott) and his various rivals are bloodier, the locker-room talk is dirtier and the on-ice action is slicker. The unlikely project – how many made-in-Canada films spark a franchise? – doesn’t quite reach the heights of the original film, which found surprising pathos in Doug’s tale of sweet good guy to brutal goon. But it delivers on nearly every other scale, including standout performances from returning players Scott, Alison Pill and Liev Schreiber, as well as some bits of comic gold courtesy of series rookies Wyatt Russell, T.J. Miller and Jason Jones” 4 stars

Goon was a keeper. The perhaps prophetically named “Last” isn’t exactly 101 minutes in the penalty box, but it’s a disappointing throwaway.” 2 stars

“It was okay ehh? Lots of good one-liner’s and even more fights. E Cuthbert was funny in her bit part. If you liked the first one then this one will not disappoint. The Sports Desk segments were funny yet sometimes monotonous. We could have done with a little less vulgar language. Don’t over-analyze it – just watch and enjoy. ” 3 stars

“Pretty funny with a decent story. it is a step below from the first movie in basically every aspect (like how you could really feel the hits in the fights in the first one, these fights were forgettable), but it was still enjoyable overall. i wasn’t a fan of some of the additions. the new hockey player that gives out candy is really annoying, and is an example of why this movie went over the line into goofy territory. the first movie was really funny without being goofy. i liked the team owner and new antagonist. he was pretty intimidating and looked like a medieval warrior in some of the scenes” 3 stars

“Six years later, the follow-up arrives. Not totally awful, in fact the skating action by the stars and mostly pros, stuntmen-standins, is very good. Credit the camera work for the excitement on ice. But off-ice the film is draggy in places and not very interesting. I prefer the wackier Sean William Scott from yonder years. Not really a lot to laugh at here. I know they are all older but that doesn’t mean they have to be duller. The ever-present fight scenes are brutal, and the language is what you would expect. Nice to see them all again, though. ” 3 stars

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RoboCop (2014)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2028, multinational conglomerate OmniCorp revolutionizes warfare with the introduction of robotic peacekeepers capable of maintaining law and order in hot spots such as Iran. Led by CEO Raymond Sellars, the company moves to market its tech to domestic law enforcement, but the passage of the Dreyfus Act, forbidding deployment of drones on U.S. soil, prevents this. Aware that most Americans oppose the use of military systems in their communities, Sellars asks Dr. Dennett Norton and his research team to create an alternative. The result is a proposal for a cyborg police officer. However, Norton informs Sellars that only someone who is stable enough to handle being a cyborg can be turned into one, and some candidates are rejected.

A Detroit policeman, Alex Murphy, is chosen after he is critically injured in a car bomb explosion arranged by crime boss Antoine Vallon in revenge for Murphy’s investigation into his activities. Norton persuades Murphy’s wife Clara to sign off on the procedure. Upon waking up and realizing the extent of his transformation, Murphy flies into a rage and escapes the lab, but Norton is able to convince him to return. As Norton reveals to Murphy that the only remnants of his human body are most of his head (excluding parts of the brain), his respiratory organs and a hand, Murphy is disgusted, and asks for euthanasia. Norton reminds Murphy about his wife’s and son’s patience, and convinces him to live on. During combat training with trainer Rick Mattox, Murphy proves unable to compete with the standard OmniCorp drones in efficiency. Norton alters his programming to make him more efficient, but also less empathetic.

Shortly before he is to be publicly unveiled, Murphy has an emotional breakdown, forcing Norton to remove his emotions. During the ceremony, RoboCop identifies and apprehends a criminal in the crowd. He goes on to dramatically reduce crime in Detroit, wrecking public support for the Dreyfus Act. Aware that Clara has begun to ask questions, Sellars orders Norton to keep her away from her husband.

Clara nevertheless manages to confront RoboCop, telling him of their son David’s nightmares. The experience leads Murphy to override his programming and access the previously sealed files on his attempted murder. From them, he learns his son witnessed the explosion and was left traumatized. Murphy pursues Vallon’s gang for revenge. He takes heavy damage from their armor-piercing weapons, but manages to kill the boss and his men. Murphy returns to the station and joins with his old partner, Jack Lewis, to confront the two corrupt cops who betrayed him to Vallon, shooting one and tazing the other. Learning that the Chief of Police was also involved, Murphy moves to arrest her, but is remotely shut down by Mattox.

With the help of Pat Novak, a pro-OmniCorp talk show host, Sellars uses the incident to get the Dreyfus Act repealed. Clara goes to the press and angrily demands to see her husband. Fearful of being exposed, Sellars orders Mattox to destroy RoboCop while he’s being repaired. Norton is able to reach him first and reveals the truth. RoboCop narrowly escapes the building just as it undergoes lockdown.

Murphy returns and storms the building, destroying the ED-209 drones sent to stop him while Lewis and his fellow police arrive to hold off the rest of OmniCorp’s forces. Mattox subdues Murphy and prepares to finish him off, but is killed by Lewis. Murphy then makes his way to the roof where Sellars is waiting for a helicopter with Clara and David as hostages. Murphy’s programming initially prevents him from arresting Sellars, but he overcomes it long enough to kill Sellars despite being severely wounded.

OmniCorp’s parent company, OCP, shuts down the project. The President vetoes the repeal of the Dreyfus Act based on the testimony of Norton, to Novak’s anger. Murphy’s body is rebuilt in Norton’s laboratory, and he waits for Clara and David, who are coming to visit him.

REVIEW:

Here we go with another remake of a classic 80s property. Robocop aims to introduce new audiences to the titular character, while also creating a so-call hero for this generation, or some such crap.

What is this about?

When Detroit cop and family man Alex Murphy is critically injured in the line of duty, a robotics firm transforms him into an experimental crime-fighting cyborg, though he remains haunted by his human past in this reboot of the 1980s sci-fi classic.

What did I like?

Family life. Remakes are not my cup of tea. I believe they are just lazy filmmaking and show how un-creative Hollywood is becoming, especially with more and more of these being released every year. Don’t even get me started on how they besmirch the legacy of the original. Take True Grit, for instance. When the remake came out, the artwork on the original DVD cover was changed to look similar. Clash of the Titans, and many others I’m sure, had that same thing done to them. What I do like about remakes, though, is how they touch on some thing that just aren’t covered in the original. In the case of this film, we get more of a look at Officer Murphy’s family life. How the accident really affected his wife and kid and all that. I don’t believe the original Robocop gave us that. As a matter of fact, I seem to recall the wife leaving after he became a cyborg. So, that’s a change. Depending on your personal opinion, it may be for the better or worse.

Morality. From a morality standpoint, the picture takes a stand on how right or wrong it is to keep a man alive who is nothing more than a head and vital organs. Thinking about it now, that is a quandary. On the one hand, you’re keeping this guy alive after getting severely injured in the line of work, but on the other hand, what kind of life can he truly have now that he is more man than machine, from a physical standpoint, at least. The quandary is something that actually makes you think, that’s for sure.

Original theme. The original theme music from the original film had a heroic march feel to it, giving the audience the emotions of following Murphy on his mission to rid the streets of Detroit from the bad guys. The filmmakers actually snuck it in here a couple of time as an Easter egg, of sorts. There are other nods to the original, such as the pre-painted mechanical body, lines from the original, etc. Knowing how poorly the news of this being was received, I think the filmmakers wanted to extend an olive branch to the fans. It was a decent attempt, that’s all I’ll say about that.

What didn’t I like?

Mr. Roboto. I have two things to say about this. First, the new cyborg body isn’t impressive. It is almost like an insectoid exoskeleton, rather than something that would be used to fight crime. Last I checked, Robocop wasn’t going around doing parkour. Also, like the actors who play superheroes, Joel Kinnaman spends way more time with his visor off. As a matter of fact, I think this version it only comes down when he’s fighting. WTF?!? That thing needs to be down at all times, similar to Judge Dredd, where much of his design comes from. My other point is how wooden and robotic Kinnaman’s acting is. I felt no emotion, sympathy, or even connection to the guy, nor did I want to cheer for him when he became Robocop. He’s just unlikable. I won’t go so far as to say he was miscast, though, because the script didn’t do him any favors.

Satire subtraction. The original film was actually a big satire for the overabundance of excess violence, advertising, and cooperate greed that was commonplace in the 80s. There is little satire in this film, mostly by Samuel L. Jackson’s character playing a weird combination of Al Sharpton and Bill O’Reilly (doesn’t that though give you nightmares?), but the rest of the film doesn’t even try to hint at satire, instead going for the straight and narrow, dare I say safe, route.

Violence without blood. Some of the best scenes from the original involve the gratuitous violence. Limbs being shot off, guys getting mutate and then splattered on a windshield, it is glorious! If you’re looking for more of the same with this version, though, I must warn you that there isn’t even a drop of blood spilled. Does this film need gratuitous violence to be good? I wouldn’t say that, but when a person gets shot, they are going to bleed. When a guy get’s blown up, he is not going to still look nearly the same. That’s just the way things are

Robocop makes an attempt at being a new action franchise, but it just isn’t good enough. It doesn’t stand up to the original, feels like it was made just for a cash grab, has an inferior plot. Also, the fun of the original is drained out of this one as it becomes just another dry, forgettable action flick. There are some good points, though. As I mentioned, the extended family story was nice as was showing the Arkham City way Robocop can decipher clues and recreate crime scenes, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. Do I recommend this? No, unless you want to fall asleep in an action flick. I tried, I really tried to get into this, but just couldn’t and I’m sure there are others that have or will have the same reaction.

2 out of 5 stars

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Five years after the Viking village of Berk has made peace with the dragons, dragons now live amongst the villagers as working animals and companions, and even take part in racing sports. Hiccup goes on adventures with his dragon, Toothless, as they discover and map unexplored lands and territories. Having come of age, he is being pressed by his father, Stoick the Vast, to succeed him as chieftain, although Hiccup remains unsure if he is ready for this responsibility.

While investigating a wildfire, Hiccup and Astrid discover the remains of a fort encased in a colossal green ice formation and encounter a dragon trapper named Eret, who blames them for the destruction of his fort and attempts to capture their dragons for an insane conqueror called Drago Bludvist. The two riders return to Berk to warn Stoick about the dragon army that Drago is amassing, and Stoick orders the villagers to fortify the island and prepare for battle. Stoick explains that he once met Drago and found him to be an unreasonable madman, but Hiccup refuses to believe that war is inevitable. Hiccup flies off with Astrid and they surrender themselves and their dragons to Eret so as to be taken to Drago in order to reason with him.

They are captured by a dragon rider named Valka, who is revealed to be Hiccup’s long lost mother. She explains that she spent twenty years rescuing dragons from Drago’s traps and bringing them to an island haven created out of ice by a colossal Alpha dragon called a Bewilderbeast, to whom all dragons answer. Stoick tracks Hiccup to the island where he discovers that his wife is still alive. Simultaneously, Astrid and the other riders kidnap Eret to find Drago, but they are also captured and Drago learns of Berk’s dragons.

Drago and his army lay siege to Valka’s sanctuary, where he reveals that he has his own Bewilderbeast to challenge the Alpha. A titanic battle ensues between the two Bewilderbeasts in a fight for control over all dragons on the island. Drago’s Bewilderbeast emerges victorious by killing the Alpha and seizes control of all the dragons, including Toothless. Hiccup tries to persuade Drago to end the violence, but Drago orders him killed as well. Toothless, under the influence of the new Alpha, approaches Hiccup and fires a plasma blast. At the last instant, Stoick pushes Hiccup out of the way, and is hit instead, killing him instantly. Drago leaves Hiccup to his fate and, riding Toothless, leads his now larger army to destroy Berk. Stoick is given a ship burial and Hiccup, now filled with regret at the loss of his father and his dragon, decides that he will fly back to Berk to defend his people and live up to his father’s legacy.

The dragon riders and Eret ride baby dragons, which are immune to the Bewilderbeast’s control, and arrive at Berk after the Alpha had already attacked the village and taken control of the dragons there. Hiccup confronts Drago and a brainwashed Toothless while the other riders work to distract the Bewilderbeast. Drago again orders Toothless to kill Hiccup, but Hiccup succeeds in disenchanting Toothless. Drago then orders the Alpha to shoot the pair, and the Bewilderbeast successfully encases them in a large blast of ice, seemingly killing them. His victory is short-lived, as Toothless, now glowing with plasma, blasts away the ice, revealing that both he and Hiccup are unharmed. Toothless challenges the Alpha and repeatedly fires plasma blasts at the Bewilderbeast. This frees the other dragons from the Bewilderbeast’s control and all fire at it, severely injuring the colossal dragon until Toothless fires a final massive blast, breaking its left tusk.

Defeated, Drago and his Bewilderbeast retreat into the ocean as the villagers celebrate their victory. All the dragons acknowledge Toothless as the new Alpha dragon, and Hiccup is made chief of Berk by the village elder. The film ends with Berk being rebuilt with a statue of Stoick erected in his honor, and Hiccup doing his duties as chief, proudly declaring that while others may have armies and armadas, Berk has its own dragons.

REVIEW:

Honestly, I don’t recall much about the original How to Train Your Dragon. That is not because it was a bad film, but rather I haven’t had the chance to watch and refresh my memory about it. I do remember how fun and entertaining it was and saying to myself that it was a notch in the right direction for DreamWorks who was and is still struggling to beat Pixar (though that gap is shrinking). Does How to Train Your Dragon 2 stand up to its predecessor or suffer the same fate as so many sequels tend to do these days?

What is this about?

Five years have passed, and while everyone else is caught up in dragon races, Hiccup and Toothless explore the island and make a shocking discovery. Will the mysterious Dragon Rider be friend or enemy to the rest of the island?

What did I like?

Aged like fine wine. Taking place 5 years after the first film, one would expect that characters to look a bit older…if this were live action. However, when it comes to animation, rarely do we see characters age, unless it is a time jump of some sorts. Just think about how long Bart Simpson has been 10 years old! The animators were smart enough to age these characters, rather than leave then in their pre-adolescent bodies.

Species. With a bigger film, we get to meet more dragons. While none are specifically introduced, with the exception of the Bewilderbeast(s), there are obviously different species that what we saw in the first film. Now, it is possible that these were introduced in the Cartoon Network animated series, but I haven’t had the chance to catch that, yet. I do appreciate seeing that there are more species out there than just the few we already knew. It shows how vast the dragon kingdom is. On a side note, the Bewilderbeasts are quite impressive. Such a shame we didn’t get to see more of the battle between the two alphas.

Here kitty..er…dragon. How can you not like Toothless. I have to give credit to these animators and designers. Not only did they create an instantly recognizable face of the franchise, but he steals your heart straight away with his cat like mannerisms and playful demeanor. If dragons were around in our world, this would be the kind I’d want as a pet, and I’m sure that I am not the only one. However, when it comes time to defend Hiccup, Toothless doesn’t mess around, and that is something that I also appreciated, along with the discovery of new powers previously unbeknownst to both Toothless and Hiccup.

What didn’t I like?

Do something, mom. After a brilliant introduction of Hiccup’s mom, previously thought deceased, she silently falls into the background and becomes a, for lack of a better word, a mother. Cheering on and offering advice to her son is all she does after being reunited with her husband Stoick the Vast. Now, this would be all fine and dandy if she hadn’t been initially introduced as a total badass, feral warrior. I must wonder why they “tamed” her for the rest of the picture.

Drago. Is it me, or does it seem like there is a prerequisite for there to be a villain named Drago in medieval era type stories. Here we have another one, this one borderline insane and somehow has found a way to control dragons. So, what is it that I didn’t like about him? Not to spoil anything, but he is defeated a little bit too easily. Also, while he may seem to be in control, had it not been for that Alpha he had, the tide might never have turned in his favor. This is a guy that gets ahead on opportunity, not his skill, and that does not a good villain make.

Tragedy. After the way the first film ended, I shouldn’t be surprised that this one takes a dark turn, as well. What does surprise me, though, is how they did it, and the fact that the character who is killed still lives in the books, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t know how far they want to stray from the source material, but it just seems as if killing serves no real purpose. The emotional toll it takes on the characters is one thing, but can’t we just make it through one of these films without some kind of tragedy fueling the climax?

How to Train Your Dragon 2 has been out for about a month now, and yet the theater I was in tonight was actually more packed than the ones for Transformers : Age of Extinction and X-Men: Days of Future Past. I guess there is something to be said for a good family flick. That is what this is, a good family film that appeals to both kids and adults. There are a few flaws here and there, but overall this is a fun film. I highly recommend it, possibly even in 3D!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

This Is the End

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to visit his old friend and fellow actor Seth Rogen, who invites Baruchel to attend a housewarming party hosted by James Franco. At the raucous party, many celebrities and others drink, do drugs, have sex, and commit other hedonistic acts. Baruchel is uncomfortable being around many people he does not know well—including Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Michael Cera, Craig Robinson, and Emma Watson—so Rogen accompanies him to a convenience store for cigarettes.

Beams of blue light from the sky suddenly carry away several store customers. The frightened Rogen and Baruchel flee to Franco’s home amid explosions, vehicular crashes, and mass chaos, but find the party undisturbed. The partygoers scoff at Baruchel’s account, but rush outside because of a powerful earthquake and see the Hollywood Hills on fire. A large crack opens in the earth, and Cera, Mintz-Plasse, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Martin Starr, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, Jason Segel and David Krumholtz are among those killed. Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Hill, and Robinson survive, and learn that the largest earthquake in California history has struck Los Angeles. Believing that as famous actors they will soon be rescued, the five take inventory of the available supplies, including food and water, various drugs, and a revolver which Franco had kept from Flyboys. They set up a ration system, board up the doors and windows, and await help.

The next morning, Danny McBride—who, unknown to the others, crashed the party and fell asleep—wakes up first. Ignorant of the crisis he wastes much of the supplies, and disbelieves the others’ accounts until a desperate outsider seeking aid is decapitated in their presence. The men pass the time by taking many drugs and filming a homemade sequel to the 2008 film Pineapple Express, which most of the group had appeared in. Tensions rise, however, due to various conflicts, including Jay and Seth’s growing estrangement, and the others’ skepticism of Baruchel’s belief that the disasters might be the Apocalypse the Book of Revelation predicts.

An armed Emma Watson returns and reports mysterious animal noises. Due to a misunderstanding, she quickly leaves, taking all of the drinks. Robinson is chosen to travel outside to the cellar for water, but is frightened by something monstrous. The group successfully reaches the water, but McBride’s boorish behavior results in much being lost, and the others decide to evict him. McBride tries to kill the others with the revolver but fails as the gun is fake, for use as a prop; he then angrily leaves the house.

Robinson’s experience causes him to believe in Baruchel’s theory of the Apocalypse and that the blue beams have, as part of the Rapture, taken good people to Heaven. He volunteers to explore a neighboring home for supplies with Baruchel. Hill, angry at Baruchel for his theory, is raped by a male demon after secretly wishing for Baruchel to die. Now demonically possessed and supernaturally strong, Hill chases Franco and Rogen while Robinson and Baruchel flee a demonic bull. The group subdues Hill, but during an exorcism attempt a fire destroys the house and Hill’s body, forcing the four outdoors.

Regretful for the mistakes in his life that kept him from Heaven, Robinson volunteers to sacrifice himself so his friends can escape a large winged demon. The plan succeeds but, unexpectedly, Robinson is taken in the Rapture because of his good deed, giving hope to the group. When cannibals led by McBride capture the men, Franco similarly volunteers to sacrifice himself. Although the plan succeeds and a blue beam begins to take Franco, his taunting sneers to McBride cause the beam to vanish, and the cannibals eat Franco. As Satan prepares to consume Rogen and Baruchel, they reaffirm their friendship and await death. A blue beam suddenly strikes Baruchel, but Rogen’s presence prevents him from reaching Heaven. Rogen sacrifices himself to save his friend, and just before death is also taken by the Rapture.

Robinson, now an angel, welcomes Baruchel and Rogen. He explains that Heaven is a paradise where any wish comes true. Jay wishes for the Backstreet Boys, and the film ends with the band performing “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” for a raucous heavenly party.

REVIEW:

Remember back in December when everyone was thinking the world was going to end? Well, how do you think celebrities would have handled that if it would have actually happened? In a brilliant bit of writing we get to find out in This is the End.

What is this about?

Playing themselves in this witty black comedy, Seth Rogen and a bevy of Hollywood notables are stuck together at a party when the apocalypse dawns. In typical celebrity fashion, the trapped stars bicker rather than bond in the face of doom.

What did I like?

Truth. As Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel are leaving the airport, they get into a discussion about what is real and what isn’t. The highlight of this discussion is gluten. Why gluten? Well, as we all know, 5 or so years ago, no one said anything about being allergic to the stuff, but now you can’t go anywhere or watch any commercials without seeing something about the stuff. Even the pet food is without gluten now!! Thank you Jay Baruchel for informing the public how stupid they are to be falling for this crap!

Caricatures. The cast is the current “frat pack” of movies today, but the interesting thins is that they aren’t playing characters, but rather themselves. Well, let me take that back. They are playing exaggerated caricatures of themselves. For instance, we all know Michael Cera as the quiet guy who would never do anything wrong and Jonah Hill as the loud asshole. Well, Hill is playing himself as a quiet guy, much like he has been in many of his latest films and Cera is being the antithesis of what we expect him to be. He’s drunk, smoking pot, have sex with girls at the party, telling everyone to suck his dick, etc. Brilliant doesn’t begin to describe how awesome it is seeing him do something outside of the comfort zone.

Emma unchained. Also playing against what we know them as in sweet little Emma Watson. Well, she’s not exactly sweet here. The stereotype of British actresses as foul-mouthed smokers. Well, Watson is just that, and then some. On top of that, she is dead sexy! Ugh! Why can’t I get over the fact that she’s not little Hermoine Grainger, anymore?

What didn’t I like?

Improv. I appreciate that this whole film seems to be just some friends hanging out with each other ad-libbing some naturally funny stuff. However, the fact that this is a full-length, feature film with them doing this is cause for a little concern. Surely, they could have scripted something better to tie in with the plot.

Reunion. Before all hell breaks loose, pardon the pun, we get a scene with Cera, Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Yes, the boys from Superbad were back together. Apparently, I’m not the only one that felt this should have been something more than just them ribbing on each other. Maybe they’ll get the idea and we’ll see them in a film together again.

Effects. One would think that you could use some really cool special effects to end a film like this, especially since we’re dealing with end of the world stuff. Demons, hellfire, rapture, and all the like should look totally awesome, and yet, I felt like I could have created something better when I take a crap. Such a shame, really, because it really brings the ending down and the final scene doesn’t do much to help it, unless you’re into it (I won’t spoil what happens.)

Many people have listed This is the End as one of the funnies films of 2013. Quentin Tarrantino even has it as one of the best films of the year. What do I think? I was cracking up in the beginning, but the humor either lost some of its punch or just wore on me as the film went on and I just didn’t find it funny anymore. Par for the course with today’s comedies, I’m afraid. Still, I can’t argue that this is one of the funniest films of the year. It remains to be seen where it will rank with everything else this year, though. I highly recommend it to anyone that wants a laugh and is curious to see how actors would handle something that their money can’t get them out of.

4 out of 5 stars

Goon

Posted in Comedy, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott), a bouncer at a bar in Massachusetts, feels ostracized from his family, his father (Eugene Levy) and brother both being doctors. One day he attends a minor league hockey game with his friend Pat (Jay Baruchel). Pat taunts the visiting team during a fight and one of their players climbs into the stands, calling him a homosexual slur. Doug, in defense of his gay brother, quickly knocks him out, which prompts the rest of the crowd to cheer him on. Soon after, Doug gets a phone call from the coach of his hometown team who offers him a job as an enforcer, a player whose role is to protect his teammates and act as a deterrent by hitting or fighting opposing players who take liberties with his teammates.

In the meantime, veteran enforcer and Doug’s idol Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber) is demoted to the minors after serving a 20 game suspension for slashing an opponent in the head from behind. Three years prior, Rhea hit and concussed the highly skilled prospect Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin) who has had trouble recovering from that incident due to the fear of being hit, being stuck in the minors and falling in with the wrong crowd. After earning himself the nickname “The Thug”, Doug is called up to Canada and hired by Laflamme’s team, the Halifax Highlanders, to protect Laflamme and be his roommate.

The Highlanders experience success with Doug as their primary enforcer, and he quickly gains popularity among fans and teammates much to the chagrin of his parents and Laflamme, particularly after losing ice time and the alternate-captaincy to Doug. Doug becomes romantically involved with Eva (Alison Pill), a hockey fan with a penchant for players.

With 4 games left on their schedule, the Highlanders need two wins to secure a playoff spot. On a road game in Quebec, after an opposing player concusses Laflamme with a heavy hit, Doug savagely beats the player unconscious and is suspended for the next game against Rhea and the St. John’s Shamrocks. Doug encounters Rhea at a diner, where Rhea dismisses Doug’s claim that he is a hockey player, calling him a goon. Rhea warns him that if they ever meet on the ice, he will “lay him the fuck out.” The Highlanders, with Doug suspended and Laflamme hospitalized, lose to the Shamrocks.

Doug reaches out to Laflamme, and promises him he will always have his back on the ice. In their next game, the Highlanders lead 1–0 thanks to renewed teamwork between Doug and Laflamme. In the dying seconds, Doug blocks a slapshot with his face and his ankle is injured in the ensuing scramble. The Highlanders win, but need a win against Rhea and the Shamrocks in their last game for a playoff spot.

After two periods, the Shamrocks are beating the Highlanders 2–0. Rhea and Doug drop the gloves in the third period, and dole out and receive physical punishment during the fight. Doug is knocked down first, but Rhea calls off the linesmen and allows him to get back up. Doug manages to break Rhea’s nose, but breaks his previously injured ankle in the process. Doug manages to stand back up and knocks out Rhea with a vicious cross. Eva and his teammates help a seriously injured Doug off the ice and Laflamme, inspired by Doug’s efforts and Rhea’s demise, scores a natural hat-trick to lead the Highlanders to a 3–2 victory and a play-off berth. While being comforted by Eva in the locker room, Doug victoriously comments, “I think I nailed him.”

REVIEW:

Hockey is not a sport that I typically keep up with or have any interest in. Sure, back in the 80s, I watched a few games with Wayne Gretzky, but that was more because of that Saturday morning cartoon, ProStars (kudos if you remember and/or watched it). I’m more of the football/basketball kind of guy. So, I bet you’re thinking, why am I watching Goon, a film that is all about hockey? Well, a sports comedy, no matter the sport, is sure to tickle my funny bone, supposedly.

What did I like?

Payoff. This is one of the few films that I know of which holds off the big moment when the two major forces, if you will, do not meet until the end and then nothing happens until the final act. In the time before that, we are privy to Sean William Scott’s character rise from lowly bouncer to beloved hockey enforcer who is the spark that gets his team, which hadn’t won a game before he got there, into the playoffs.

Fights. Like most people, the only reason I have any interest in hockey at all is the fights. If all hockey games could be like this, then I’d be the biggest hockey fan in the world, more than likely. The fights are what really keep this film moving along, although, they seem to get stale until the big one at the end.

Annoying…not so much. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews for just about anything Jay Baruchel is in that his voice is annoying, However, for some unknown reason, it works for his character. Or maybe, it was the fact that he was trying to act so street that it was overshadowed.

What didn’t I like?

Jagged little pill. Allison Pill. Does that name ring a bell? Well, if it doesn’t, think about the drummer chick in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. She may be a total cutie, but I just wasn’t buying her as the beer drinking, foul mouthed, hockey groupie slut character they made her. I tried, really I did, but it just wasn’t happening. Maybe it’s the face, or the fact she doesn’t look like a New Jersey hooker, who knows?

Doppelganger. I know that Scott was supposed to be being built up as the next version Schreiber’s character, but it looked like they even tried to make them look-alike, especially around the cheek region. I was half expecting him to shave his beard into that moustache or vice versa.

Seriously? Eugene Levy is Doug’s father, a successful Jewish doctor, but he is very unaccepting of his son, well sons when he learns that the other one is gay, a subplot that feels like an uncomfortable silence when it is touched on.

Goon is a surprisingly good independent comedy about a lovable, albeit slow-witted guy who is really good at beating people up. Outside of boxing, wrestling, MMA, etc., the best place to do this is on the hockey ice. With a story like that, how can you go wrong, right? This is a film that you should definitely check out sometime!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

How to Train Your Dragon

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) is the son of the chief Viking, Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler), on the island of Berk. The Vikings have been plagued by attacks of dragons raiding their livestock and destroying their homes; their lair has remained elusive from Stoick’s searches. Hiccup, scrawny and destructively clumsy compared to others in his community, attempts to compensate by building contraptions to kill dragons, specifically the most dangerous dragon known, the mysterious Night Fury, whom no one has ever fought and survived, to earn some respect, most importantly with Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera), a competently aggressive girl of his age intent on joining the Viking ranks.

After the latest dragon attack, Stoick organizes yet another search for the dragons’ nest, while signing Hiccup up for dragon killing lessons with other children under the tutelage of Gobber (voiced by Craig Ferguson), the local blacksmith. Between lessons, Hiccup explores the nearby woods and finds that one of his inventions has indeed trapped a Night Fury, damaging its tailwing. Hiccup tries to kill it but cannot bring himself to do so, and instead cuts the dragon free. The dragon pins him down and roars at him but then disappears. Hiccup returns later to find the dragon cannot fly away from a small depressed glade due to the condition of its tail. Hiccup becomes friendly to the dragon, and over time he learns what actions please or distress the Night Fury. In understanding how he can make the Night Fury react, Hiccup is able to transfer this knowledge to his dragon training classes and “defeats” the foes Gobber sets on the class through pacification, becoming renowned in his community as a formidable warrior, much to Astrid’s dismay. Due to the dragon’s retractable teeth, Hiccup names the Night Fury “Toothless”.

Hiccup secretly fashions a make-shift prosthetic tail and riding assembly, allowing him to guide Toothless in free flight. Hiccup and Toothless develop a close bond over time, and Hiccup finds that other dragons can be similarly domesticated. One day, Hiccup finds Astrid spying on them; worried that Astrid will reveal this to the rest of the village, Hiccup has Toothless bring Astrid aboard, then shows Astrid the joys of flying. However, while soaring, Toothless finds himself lured along with a flock of dragons returning with stolen livestock, heading towards a volcanic island. Inside, they find the dragons fearfully serve a gargantuan dragon (a Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus) living inside the island, feeding it the stolen livestock to avoid being eaten themselves. Hiccup, Astrid, and Toothless escape and return to Berk. By this time, Stoick and the fleet have returned, having failed to find the lair themselves.

The next day, Hiccup is put to the final test, and when he refuses to kill the offered dragon and instead tries to pacify it, Stoick attempts to end the fight, scaring the dragon and putting Hiccup’s life in danger. Toothless hears Hiccup’s screams and saves him from the other dragon, but is soon caught by the other Vikings. Hiccup is forced to reveal his training and the lair, and Stoick, after disowning his son, sets out with another fleet, using a chained-up Toothless to guide them. Left alone, Astrid helps the aggrieved Hiccup come to a personal epiphany that his empathy and daring inventiveness with Toothless are in fact strengths of a worthy warrior. Thus inspired, he convinces Astrid and the other teenagers to pacify and mount the other training dragons to set off to try to stop the Viking fleet, yet unaware of the giant dragon awaiting them.

The children are too late to prevent the Vikings from rousing the monstrous dragon against them, but they are able to delay it long enough for the Vikings to retreat safely, and for Hiccup and Stoick to free Toothless. Hiccup and Toothless lead the giant dragon on a dangerous flight, eventually into a direct descent to the ground. As the giant dragon nearly devours them, Toothless turns around and ignites the dragon’s breath; the dragon cannot stop and collides into the ground, killing it and releasing a giant fireball. Hiccup falls out of his saddle on the rapid ascent, but as he falls towards the flames, Toothless saves the boy and protects him from the flames with his wings, much to Stoick, Astrid, and the other Vikings’ relief.

Some time later, Hiccup wakes up from the injuries and finds himself back in Berk. Toothless is in his home, and Hiccup finds out that he has lost his left foot, replaced with an artificial limb Gobber made. Whatever regrets he has are quickly forgotten when he exits the house to find that the Vikings and dragons are living together. Hiccup is celebrated as a hero by everyone, particularly Stoick and Astrid. Hiccup and Astrid race their dragons through the newly-reformed Berk, signifying a new beginning for both worlds.

REVIEW:

One of my fellow movie bloggers actually beat me to reviewing this film, by a few days. After you read mine, check his out here.

 I’m a big fan of dragons and really wanted to see this film when it came out, but something kept me from seeing it. After watching it tonight, I am really regretting that decision.

More often than not, films that are made in 3D don’t look like they really take advantage of the technology, with the exceptions of Beowulf, Avatar, A Christmas Carol, but not many others.

How to Train Your Dragon actually takes advantage of the medium (from what I can tell). On top of the beautiful animation, the filmmakers made the flying scenes actually worth watching, and not just some half-assed floating scene, the way many other flying scenes in films tend to do.

With the Shrek franchise coming to an (excluding the spin off for Puss in Boots), there is talk of this or Kung Fu Panda becoming the next big thing over at Dreamworks. Not to mention an animated series. Nothing against these characters, but I think that Po would make a better franchise, whereas the dragons and vikings here would be perfect for an ongoing animated series of adventures. Just look at Penguins of Madagascar.

The plot here is one of those stories that is both refreshing, sweet, and comical. It takes you on an emotional journey that doesn’t leave you with a bad taste in your mouth after the film ends. It seems to be that these days, films try to put that sentiment in there and just end up bringing about a bit of a depressing film. This only works if you have an established foothold. For example, had Toy Story 3 been the first (or only) film in that franchise, it wouldn’t have been as good or worked as well, because ti does become a bit of a downer.

…Dragon doesn’t fall into that category. There is a story that is established. Characters with their own problems, such as Hiccup and his attempt to please his father. Astrid and her need to prove herself among the boys. Snotlout who wants to be the uber tough guy, etc. Oh, and of course, there is Toothless, the injured dragon.

After they are established and the audience is connected to these characters, we get some high drama among them, which in turn leads to the resolution, albeit a bit bittersweet (you have to see the ending to know what I’m speaking of).

The voice cast is pretty cool. With Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson in tow, one has to wonder why they couldn’t get Sean Connery and Colin Ferrel to make a rounded out Scottish/Irish or wherever they’re from cast.

Jay Baruchel has one of the most annoying voices I’ve ever heard, yet for some reason it works for Hiccup…or maybe it was less annoying coming from an animated character, rather than a live person.

America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Kristin Wiig all lend their voices to the other children. I wish I could say there was something memorable about them, but there isn’t, save for Hill’s recognizable voice.

On the other hand, Christopher Mintz-Plasse voices the other kid, Fishlegs, who seems to be able to quote each dragon’s strengths and weakness (in a RPG game style). This actually had me cracking up.

One of the things that doesn’t get enough credit about this film, is how cool each species of dragon came across on screen, especially the really dangerous ones they just mentioned. Hopefully in the forthcoming sequel, we’ll get more of those.

If I do have anything bad to say about this film, it is that it isn’t quite as memorable as other animated films I’ve recently seen. More importantly, though, since when do vikings wear Uggs?!? Seriously, they all are wearing Ugg boots! Oy!

How to Train Your Dragon was on many best of lists for 2010, and had it not been for Toy Story 3, it might have been the best animated film of last year. For me, they are neck and neck. I found very few things to take issue with in this picture. Admittedly, I did think that this was just another run of the mill animated flick, so you can imagine my surprise when the final product came out as well as this. I highly recommend this to everyone.

5 out of 5 stars

She’s Out of My League

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on August 21, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Kirk Kettner (Jay Baruchel) is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in his mid-20s who has low self-esteem and, by his own admission, has not accomplished very much in life. He works at the Pittsburgh International Airport as a Transportation Security Administration officer, and hopes of becoming a pilot one day. He tries to get back together with his self-centered ex-girlfriend, Marnie (Lindsay Sloane), who had ended her relationship with Kirk two years ago, but remained close with Kirk’s parents (Debra Jo Rupp and Adam LeFevre) and overbearing brother Dylan (Kyle Bornheimer), and continues to participate in family activities with her new boyfriend Ron. The movie opens where Kirk is rehearsing his “getting back together” speech to his three best friends who also work at the airport: Stainer (T.J. Miller), Devon (Nate Torrence), and Jack (Mike Vogel). Stainer is depressed by the speech, and tells Kirk he deserves way better. Jack advises Kirk to send the message to Marnie that since the breakup his life has been a nonstop parade of random sex with countless numbers of women, while Devon advises Kirk to just be who it is. When Kirk presents his personal speech to Marnie, she is highly dismissive of his continued romantic interests after his latest pursuit.

Then at work one morning, a beautiful woman, Molly McCleish (Alice Eve), arrives at the passenger terminal for a flight to New York. While proceeding through security, her striking looks attract unwanted attention and harassment from several male employees. Kirk is the only employee to treat her courteously: Kirk’s boss Fuller asks Molly to remove her shoes and belt to get a better look at her, but Kirk asks her to simply step through the frame to see if the alarm sets off. She walks through and no alarm sounds. Fuller then stops her and asks her to step over to the wanding area, claiming Molly had items which caused the wand to go off, but Kirk points out it was only his tie clip. Fuller then backs off, and Molly thanks Kirk for pissing off his boss for her. She then proceeds to her flight, accidentally leaving her phone in the airport security area. Upon realizing she has misplaced it, Molly calls her phone and Kirk, back at the security checkpoint, answers. The two arrange for a time to meet the following evening so that he may return the phone to her.

The following night, Kirk arrives at the Andy Warhol Museum where Molly, a professional event planner, is running a party. Devon accompanies Kirk to the Museum where Kirk returns Molly her phone. After returning the phone, both stay and met Katie, Molly’s sister. Katie then purposefully causes Kirk to spill his drink on the museum director and was asked to leave the museum for being uninvited for the party. Molly offered tickets to Kirk to the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game vs. the New York Islanders at the Mellon Arena as an apology. During the intermission, while Molly and Stainer go to get drinks, Molly’s friend and work partner Patty (Krysten Ritter) breaks some shocking and unexpected news to Kirk that Molly is into him. The next night at the bowling alley, Stainer, ranking-obsessed, tells Kirk that on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 meaning the most attractive and successful, he’s a 5, and Molly a 10, and that a relationship does not work if the difference is more than 2. Kirk then receives a call on his cell phone from Molly, whom to his greater surprise, asks him out. Prior to the date, while Katie is helping Molly pick out her dress for her date, Patti objects, claiming that she got hurt dating Cam, so she picks a guy like Kirk because he was safe and she wouldn’t get hurt. Molly simply states that Kirk is a nice guy. When Patti asks when Molly wants the “bad date bail-out call”, Molly says she won’t need it. Meanwhile the next day at the airport, Kirk shows up to work sleep deprived over the thought of him dating Molly. That night, Kirk and Molly go out for dinner at a fancy restaurant in Pittsburgh. Kirk’s nervousness only results in giggles from Molly. While having a conversation, Kirk notices a woman departing the restaurant without her jacket, and brings it to her. Kirk is mistaken by the husband for a waiter, as he pays him a couple dollars (Kirk wears a red jacket which looks almost identical to the waiters), but Kirk explains he doesn’t work there. On his way back to the table, Kirk lets a group of tough looking but non-intimidating men walk through the entrance. One of the men happened to be Molly’s ex-boyfriend Cam. After a brief conversation between the 3, Cam departs. After dinner, Kirk and Molly continue their date by going out for a walk around the downtown area, exchanging stories of themselves. Molly then receives a phone call, but sees it is Patti attempting to make the bail-out call, and lets the call go. When Kirk drops Molly off at her house, Molly kisses him. Kirk thanks her. The next day at work, Stainer is shocked to hear that Molly intentionally kissed Kirk, claiming the world is at a tilt. Molly then gets herself invited to Kirk’s family lunch. Her looks turn the heads of both Ron and Dylan, who invite her into the pool. Marnie and Dylan’s fiancé Deb are angered. During lunch, Molly discusses her work with Kirks family. After Ron and Marnie leave, Dylan and Kirk play slapshot regatta, which Kirk had promised to play in exchange for Dylan not embarrassing him. Kirk defeats Dylan for the first time.

That night in Molly’s house, while the two are making out, Kirk ejaculates in his pants, just before her parents arrive for a surprise visit. Attempting to conceal the ejaculate from her family, he initially avoids standing up but then quickly leaves to avoid Molly and her parents noticing what happened. The next day at work, Kirk and his friends are waiting for their shift to start. Marnie, whom is jealous and upstaged by Molly’s looks, takes an interest in Kirk again, claiming that she sees a change in him, and that she likes it, and proposes getting back together. Kirk says no, and Marnie walks away in disgust. Stainer shares his story about his relationship with Tina Jordan, and how he was a 6 and she was a 10, and that he wasn’t good enough for her. After making numerous comparisons about rankwise unbalanced couples, Stainer states the exceptions in all but one: Beauty & The Beast. Devon then advises Kirk to go up to Molly with confidence. At the airshow where Molly is working, Kirk approaches Mollys tent, where Molly lays down that her spending a whole day with her family, and him not even spending 30 seconds with hers was a red flag. Kirk then explains what happened, and Kirk and Molly are fine again.

During a date, Kirk suggested to Molly to throw a birthday party for her sister, Katie. During the party, Molly’s former boyfriend Cam tells Kirk that Molly has a defect and to avoid saying that she is perfect. After the party, both of them went to Molly’s place. Molly showed Kirk her webbed toes, which Kirk considers so minor that he decides that she is too perfect for him, and he breaks off the relationship. Kirk and Marnie resume their relationship and decide to go on the family trip to Branson.

When Kirk and his family go through security to depart for Branson, Stainer snatches a drink from Ron. He then tells Kirk that he has nothing mutual between any of his family members. Kirk says that he doesn’t want to go to Branson, but Stainer was right about him not being good enough, and proceeds to the gate to board the plane. While Devon gives Stainer a dirty look, Stainer sees the cup he had snatched from Ron was from the French Fry Factory where Tina Jordan worked. When Stainer goes over and asks her why their relationship never worked out, Tina claims that Stainer was plenty good enough for her, but not for himself. With this, Stainer realizes his mistake in telling Kirk that he is a 5 and his relationship with Molly would not work. He attempts to get Kirk off the plane, but Kirk refuses. While Stainer is being dragged off the plane, he shouts to Kirk that he is “a 10” too. Stainer then phones Patty, claiming that it was both his and her mistake for telling Kirk and Molly the relationship wouldn’t work, and pleads for her help by getting her to bring Molly over to the airport. Meanwhile, back on the plane, Kirk realizes his mistake, and gets out of his seat, declaring he would go find Molly and tell her he is good enough for her, whilst saying the f-bomb to all his family but his mom and Ron. His plane exit is shot down in flames when the flight attendant asks him to take his seat, and buckle up, and a $25000 fine would be required for her to reopen the passenger entrance. Kirk awkwardly retakes his seat. Back at the airport, Stainer and Molly rush to the gate, busting right through security with Stainers’ threatening words towards his boss who had been guarding the way. Stainer and Molly check the flights and discover that the flight to Branson has departed. Stainer then phones Jack, demanding that he stops the plane. The status on the flight is then set to delayed, as the plane captain announces that the plane is having mechanical problems, and they would have to de-plane. This angers many of the passengers, but Kirk, with great relief, rejects Marnie and rushes off the flight through the airport to find Molly. Marnie follows, initially in a pleasant tone, convinces Kirk to stay with her. When he takes off his Branson Bound shirt and throws it in her face and runs, Marnie is angered, and chases him. Kirk is sprinting down one conveyor belt, maneuvering around everybody. Marnie is running down another conveyor belt that is parallel to Kirks, and the same direction, but bumps into a man and falls down, giving Kirk time to get further away. Stainer phones Kirk, telling him that Molly is with him and they are in the opposite direction Kirk is running. Kirk turns around to the conveyor belt moving in the opposite direction. Marnie, however, is on the other side, sticking her arm out at chest height, knocking Kirk down, but Kirk gets back up and continues running. Marnie continues to chase him as he jumps on an airport cart. Marnie pulls an airport attendant in the back seat off. This causes tension, as the driver begins to speed, knocking over the popcorn stand. Kirk tricks Marnie into looking at certain people, then knocks her off the cart into a crowd of people. Kirk then finds Molly, and reunites with her. Later, as a surprise, he takes Molly on a trip in a small plane, with himself being the pilot; he has taken flying lessons.

PLOT:

I’m sure all of us guys at one time or another have had that girl that they felt was out of their league, whether they were just friends with them or actually had the good fortune to date them. This is the basis for She’s Out of My League.

Yes, this is a romantic comedy, but it isn’t one of those sappy ones. Often times, us guys could are in the mood for a little romance. Ok…I can’t say type that with a straight face. Most of the time, when we go see a film like this, it is usually a girl wondering why she’s with some guy and then there is all these pointless sappy drama stuff. Luckily, there is none of that here, except for enough to add some conflict to the plot.

The comedy in this film is great, but I would have liked for it to have been more. It seemed like they writer’s were holding back or were scared to put in a good joke here or there becuse *GASP* the audience might laugh.

Plotwise, as I said before, we get a nice story here, but I think there was too much time spent on trying to keep the two apart.  No wonder they felt like they should have been apart. It seemed like everyone was telling them to do so, until the last 5 minutes, of course.

The casting isn’t great, but it works. Jay Baruchel, as I said in my review for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, has the most annoying voice, but as a geeky, underacheiving loser, as this role calls for, he works. I still didn’t care for his whiny attitude. If  you had a girl that hot, would you be complaining and second guessing? I know I wouldn’t.

Alice Eve is perfect. As the hot chick, she works, and her chemistry with Baruchel is great. Not to mention, she appears to have awesome comedic timing.

The supporting cast of Krysten Ritter, Mike Vogel, Nate Torrence, and T.J. Miller all help (and hurt) the story. Without them, this film would not be half as good as it turned out.

Every year, there are one or two films that come out of nowhere and surprise everyone with how good or bad they are. She’s Out of My League is one of those pictures. When I first saw/heard about this film, I thought it was going to be another horrid comedy, but after watching it tonight, my preconceived notions were proven to be false. This is a really good picture. Now, it will probably be forgotten a year from now, except for Alice Eve’s rising star performance, but that doesn’t take anything away from its quality. Go check it out. It is definitely worth a look-see!

4 out of 5 stars