Archive for Jonah Hill

Sausage Party

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A misplaced sausage and his savory friends embark on an existential adventure through the aisles of a massive supermarket in this raunchy animated comedy from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. As the store’s annual 4th of July sale draws near, the perishable pals must return to their rightful places on the shelves before the customers come flooding in to fill their carts.

What people are saying:

“Despite all the cursing and envelope-pushing and bat-bleep crazy sexual stuff, Sausage Party isn’t mean-spirited. It’s just … stupid. But also pretty smart. And funny as hell” 4 stars

“If it takes a film about an animated sausage and a bun, laced with toilet humor and extreme sexual puns, to provide a modern-day existential critique of the lunacy of human nature and modern racial and religious discourse, then I’m all for it.” 4 stars

“I’m sure the average undereducated giggling pimply faced pubescent teenage boy will find this movie titillating, but really, anyone trying to defend its puerile banality just sounds as unconvincing as someone who claims they only buy “Playboy” for the articles. There really isn’t anything new or insightful in this movie and the only boundaries it pushes is it bearing a MA15+ classification and putting a price sticker on the DVD.” 1/2 star

“Moral outrage at comedy is the conservative answer to the “Constitutional Crisis”, which, I do believe is real, but seriously, this film is brilliant and it doesn’t matter how heavy the material is, the story is full of characters that matter in their community which is trying to save itself. A lesson some folks might heed is in that orgy… for the community. ” 5 stars

“If you don’t like Seth Rogen, this movie isn’t for you. If you aren’t into thinking outside of the box when it comes to animation, this movie isn’t for you. If you like your animated characters all cute and nice with a good moral story…..this movie is not for you. If you have kids….this movie is DEFINITELY NOT for you! Having said all of that, I can take or leave Seth. I’ve seen some movies I’ve liked of his and some I didn’t like. I remember seeing previews or some kind of review for this and thought Sausage Party would be stupid then decided to give it a try. This is probably my most favorite Seth Rogen movie to date. It’s obvious he was on drugs when he came up with the idea for this movie. Thank goodness he was! It’s funny and definitely outside of the box. The idea of the perspective of food in a grocery store is brilliant. I laughed through the whole thing. Was caught off guard by a couple of things. There is one scene towards the end……you’ll know it when you see it. Again, it’s not for or meant for everyone. This is your warning.” 5 stars

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War Dogs

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

“War Dogs” follows two friends in their early 20s (Hill and Teller) living in Miami Beach during the Iraq War who exploit a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on U.S. Military contracts. Starting small, they begin raking in big money and are living the high life. But the pair gets in over their heads when they land a 300 million dollar deal to arm the Afghan Military–a deal that puts them in business with some very shady people, not the least of which turns out to be the U.S. Government.

What people are saying:

“As giant a leap forward for Todd Phillips as “The Big Short” was for Adam McKay. It’s not only the best movie of Summer 2016, it’s one of the year’s very best films. Miles Teller and Jonah Hill make a fantastic team, and Bradley Cooper totally kills in his glorified cameo. Belongs in a time capsule w/ “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “The Big Short” so future generations can see what life was like in early 21st century America. So smart, sharp and tautly paced; even the song selections are inspired. ” 4 stars

“This movie is very fun, informative, enjoyable, eye opening and we’ll casted. I believe I watched this movie 3 times in a week with different people telling them they needed to see it. Definitely brought a light to Gun Running and not in a negative way.. They do paint a negative/good light on greed vs need.” 4 1/2 stars

“Instead of outrage or any sense of shock and surprise, all the film has on offer is mild entertainment. Given the company, that feels like a bit of a miss.” 1 1/2 stars

“Excellent performances from Hill and Teller as they take advantage of a government initiative to purchase excess arms. Movie explores the mysterious world of arms dealers through the cynical eyes of Hill and Teller. Cooper adds to the story as the shady middleman who ultimately brings down the scam. Lots of foul language and some tense violence so the R rating is deserve” 4 stars

“In some ways this movie resembles the great gangster flick ‘Goodfellas’ in that it is a confessional about a couple of guys who climb the ladder of criminal success and eventually get in over their heads. Of course, the film alludes to ‘Scarface’ and you can see the rags-to-riches connection to that classic as well. Note that both films have a strong ethnic dimension, one Irish and the other Cuban; here our anti-heroes are Florida Jews. Anyway, the plot is straightforward: two wise guys go into the arms-dealing business and get engaged in ever-larger, ever-more-dangerous deals while experiencing a variety of domestic, drug, contractual and character-related problems that eventually are their undoing. The main attraction to this film is the fantasy of scoring millions of dollars in an exciting, high-adrenaline way, visiting extremely dangerous locales and firing assault rifles for fun and profit, while driving expensive sports cars and living in ritzy beachfront digs. What red-blooded man wouldn’t like such a scenario?” 3 stars

Hail, Caesar!

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Four-time Oscar (R)-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo) write and direct Hail, Caesar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

What people are saying:

“The Coen brothers transcend genre, from noir to thriller to dark comedy, they can nail it. But I particularly enjoy their takes on farce (especially when George Clooney is involved). This movie is not perfect, but I laughed out loud throughout, particularly when everyone embraced the silliness of the story as part of the whole point. It may not be the Coen brothers’ best ever, but it doesn’t have to be to be enjoyable.” 3 1/2 stars

“Hail, Caesar! is great fun. Lively jabs at organized religion, Hollywood and the power structure. The cast must have had a blast during filming. Anyone who is interested in Hollywood in the 50″s blacklist era should enjoy. ” 4 stars

“A silly, jumbled, yet consistently entertaining chapter in the Coen Brother’s directorial saga, “Hail, Caesar!” commends the golden age of Hollywood with a star studded cast and an eye for historical detail. ” 3 1/2 stars

“If you love montages of old films(specifically from the 50’s) -this is perfect. Between Ethel Merman and Will Rodgers, to the creation of a scene of Ten Commandments. It is funny. I agree that it can be hard to follow at times. But, putting political satire in a movie is not new. Still, the scene with the Soviet submarine is hysterical!!!” 4 stars

“Very intelligent film. The filmakers deal honestly with many subjects. If you are looking for the typical crass Coen Brothers film, this one falls short. It still is iconoclastic but the icons it looks at are those things that are worshiped by a typically disconnected 21st Century intellectual, Take a look and see which icons you would have preferred the filmmakers to have left alone.” 5 stars

The Wolf of Wall Street

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After losing his job at a Wall Street firm, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes a job at a boiler room trading company that specializes in penny stocks. Thanks to his aggressive pitching style and the high commissions, he makes a small fortune. He befriends a man named Donnie Azoff, and the two decide to go into business together. They recruit Belfort’s accountant parents as well as several of Jordan’s friends, whom Jordan trains in the art of the hard sell. The basic method of the firm is a pump and dump scam. To cloak this, Belfort gives the firm the respectable name of “Stratton Oakmont”. After an exposé in Forbes, hundreds of ambitious young financiers flock to his company.

Jordan becomes immensely successful and slides into a decadent lifestyle of prostitutes and drugs. Jordan has an affair with a woman named Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie) at one of his parties. He divorces his wife and marries Naomi, and soon they have a daughter, Skylar. Meanwhile, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI begin investigating Stratton Oakmont.

Jordan instantly makes $22 million on his securing the IPO of Steve Madden, Ltd. To hide his money, Jordan opens a Swiss bank account with the corrupt banker Jean-Jacques Saurel (Jean Dujardin) in the name of Naomi’s aunt Emma (Joanna Lumley), who is a British citizen and outside the reach of American authorities. He uses friends with European passports to smuggle cash to Switzerland.

Donnie gets into a public fight with Brad Bodnick (Jon Bernthal), one of their money couriers, and Brad is arrested. Jordan also learns from his private investigator that the FBI is wiretapping his phones. Fearing for his son, Jordan’s father pressures him to leave Stratton Oakmont and lay low. Jordan, however, cannot bear to quit.

Jordan, Donnie and their wives are on a yacht trip to Italy when they learn that Emma has died of a heart attack. Over the objections of his grieving wife and his yacht captain, Jordan decides to sail to Monaco so they can drive to Switzerland without getting their passports stamped at the border and settle the bank account, but a violent storm capsizes their yacht. After their rescue, the plane sent to take them to Geneva is destroyed by a seagull flying into the engine. Jordan considers this a sign from God and decides to sober up.

Two years later, the FBI arrests Jordan during the filming of an infomercial. Saurel, arrested in Florida over an unrelated charge, has told the FBI everything. Since the evidence against him is overwhelming, Jordan agrees to gather evidence on his colleagues in exchange for leniency.

Disgusted with Jordan’s lifestyle, Naomi tells Jordan she will divorce him and wants full custody of their children. Jordan throws a violent tantrum, gets high, and ends up crashing his car in his driveway during an attempt to abscond with their daughter.

The next morning, Jordan wears a wire to work. Jordan silently slips Donnie a note warning him about the wire. The note finds its way to the FBI, and Jordan is arrested for breaching his cooperation deal. The FBI raids and shuts down Stratton Oakmont.

Despite this one breach, Jordan receives a reduced sentence for his testimony and is sentenced to 36 months in a minimum security prison in Nevada. After his release, Jordan makes a living hosting seminars on sales technique.

REVIEW:

Given the events of today, which I will keep to myself, if you don’t mind, I wasn’t really in the mood to watch a film, to be honest with you, let alone sit here and write a review. However, an outing with the little woman and a big fat burger have lifted my spirits and I am now able to bring you The Wolf of Wall Street.

What is this about?

Martin Scorcese’s high-rolling Wall Street drama is based on the memoirs of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, whose giddy career ended in federal prison.

What did I like?

Go for it. There are certain subjects that films tend to avoid or just skim over. Money laundering isn’t necessarily one of them, as can be proven by watching just about any drug trafficking flick, but when you throw in the face that this actually happened and director Martin Scorsese is taking the chance to bring this to light, then you know it has to have been something big. I don’t know much about the goings on up there on Wall Street, other than the whole place is corrupt and money hungry. This film demonstrates that in one chance scene with Leonardo DiCaprio’s character and Mathew McConaughey, who has this cool chest beating song that I’m sure will be stuck in my head for days.

Frantic. The first half of this film is very quick. There are cutscenes to random clips from mostly the 70s and, just like the reaction from the cocaine that is being ingested, the whole first half or so moves along at a level that is far above what it should be doing. Now, I did notice that as the drug use lessened, the pace slowed. If that correlation was done on purpose then it was a stroke of genius!

New girl. Amy Adams. Jessica Biel. Jennifer Lawrence. Scarlett Johansson. Jennifer Aniston. Sandra Bullock. These are just a few names of the “hot” actresses (use whichever definition for that term that you wish) at the time. Truth be told, some of them are getting a bit long in the tooth, others just don’t have the draw they one had, while some are just coming into their prime. Enter Margot Robbie, she has a somewhat small role in this film as DiCaprio’s second wife, but, damn, what she does with those scenes shows that this is someone that is more than a pretty face and a hot body. There is a real talent there. I mean, she is able to go toe to toe with DiCaprio, a man some consider on the list of the greatest actors currently working.

What didn’t I like?

Pacing. I want to come back to the pacing of this film, but this time I will focus on the second half of the film. This the part of the film where we are taken down a darker path than what was shown to us in the first half, also the comedy seems to be less in this half and, as I mentioned before, the frantic pace has drastically slowed. In short, the film has become a serious drama. Given that this is the part of the film that deals with the criminal activities, it is understood, but I have to wonder if there would have been a way to do this without slowing things down and making one remember than this is a 3 hour film!

Leo. Nothing against DiCaprio, but what does he have on Scorsese, or vice versa? It seems like he has been in every one of his films since he made the jump from TV to film, maybe even before. I will say, though, that it is not out of the ordinary for a director to have a go-to guy. Quentin Tarantino has Samuel L. Jackson, Ron Howard has Tom Hanks, Alfred Hitchcock has Cary Grant, and Tim Burton has Johnny Depp (remains to be seen if he keep Helena Bonham Carter after their split). DiCaprio does a great job in this role, but I can’t help but feel as if it would have worked better with someone else and Scorsese just cast his golden boy for the sake of casting him.

Glorification. Have you noticed that some of the most popular “heroes” in culture are actually deplorable human beings? Think about it, pirates weren’t exactly moral, upstanding citizens, knights did more raping and pillaging than saving villages and such, and most of the names from the Old West that we look up to are the villains. For some reason, we celebrate the villains. Take a look in the comic book world. As popular as Batman is, it is the Joker that more people want to be (I know I did). There is a fascinating documentary about this very subject that I recommend, Necessary Evil: Villains of DC Comics. What does this all have to do with this film? Well, our “hero”, if you will, in this flick is DiCaprio, obviously, but he and his lackeys are actually taking money from their clients. It really isn’t shown in the film, so that his character, Jordan Belfort, can come out smelling like roses, but that is what really happened. Why are we celebrating this villainy? I can’t tell you, but I’m sure the people who got ripped off by the real Belfort were none too pleased about this.

Final verdict on The Wolf of Wall Street? Well, first off all, it is way too long for what it is. Scorsese has done much better work. There is a lack of depth to this film that seems as if this was either rushed into production, theaters, or there was just a lack of care. On the positive side though, we get great performances from DiCaprio, introduced to Margot Robbie, and continue to see Jonah Hill prove his acting mettle. Who would’ve thought the Seth Rogen clone from Superbad would turn out to be a competent actor? So, do I recommend this? In terms of cinematic works, yes. While flawed, this is still a fine piece of cinema. However, if you’re just looking for a film to kick back and enjoy, then this isn’t for you. If not for all the hookers and blow, this would be more artsy-fartsy version of Wall Street in some respects. It is what it is, though, and only your personal proclivities can determine whether you’ll like this or not.

4 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

The Watch

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the town of Glenview, Ohio, Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller) is an active participant in the community and senior manager of the local Costco store. His life is disrupted when the store’s night security guard is murdered. The local police have no leads, and show no interest in investigating further. Determined to find the killer and bring him to justice, Evan decides to form a neighborhood watch. However, he only manages to recruit Bob (Vince Vaughn), a construction worker and loving father; Franklin (Jonah Hill), a high school dropout who dreams of being a police officer but failed the written, physical, and mental-health tests; and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade), a recent divorcé.

The watch members use the group as an excuse to drink and have fun (much to Evan’s annoyance). While driving on patrol, they accidentally hit something. They discover a strange metallic orb that acts as a highly-destructive weapon, and deduce that it is of alien origin. Meanwhile, several more townspeople are mysteriously killed. The watch responds to the murders and encounters an alien, which attacks them. Evan (apparently) kills it with a lawn gnome before the group returns with the creature to Bob’s house. The creature regains consciousness and escapes, stealing the metallic orb and warning them that the aliens have already infiltrated the town. The watch theorizes that the aliens are stealing their victims’ skin and disguising themselves as humans, so anyone in Glenview could be an alien. Bob confides to Evan that he is worried about his daughter Chelsea (Erin Moriarty), and does not trust her boyfriend Jason (Nicholas Braun). Evan admits that he has been avoiding his wife Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) because he is infertile, and revealing that to her may cause her to leave.

Evan suspects that one of his neighbors is an alien (due to his strange, stiff way of speaking and because he always seems to be watching him). As the watch scouts the neighbor’s house, Bob learns that Chelsea is at an unsupervised party with Jason. Bob disobeys Evan’s orders, and rushes to the party with Franklin. Bob prevents Jason from raping Chelsea, but Jason beats him until Franklin intervenes. Evan and Jamarcus investigate the odd neighbor alone, discovering that he (only) hosts orgies in his basement. When Bob returns, he and Evan argue over his putting his daughter above the watch. Bob quits, telling Evan that he has no friends because he tries to control everything. Evan goes home and admits his infertility to Abby, who accepts the news and tells him they will work things out.

Evan then receives an urgent call from Jamarcus, who confesses that he is one of the aliens but has decided to side with humanity after experiencing human culture (and oral sex). He warns the group that the aliens are building a transmitter (beneath the Costco store) which will summon their armada to destroy the earth, and is expelled from the watch for his deception. Bob, Franklin and Evan arm themselves and infiltrate the Costco to destroy the transmitter. Bob encounters Jason (one of the aliens in disguise), and they fight. Evan and Franklin attempt to disable the transmitter, but are surrounded by aliens. Jamarcus arrives and saves the pair, revealing that the aliens’ brains are located in their crotch; Bob kills Jason by ripping off his penis. Evan discovers that the transmitter is powered by the metallic orb and removes it, disabling the machine. More aliens arrive, forcing the group to flee. The watch uses the metallic orb to destroy the Costco building, killing all of the aliens inside.

In the epilogue, Evan and Abby rekindle their passion and adopt a daughter. Bob is closer to Chelsea and accepts her new boyfriend (who is intimidated by stories of how Bob killed Jason by “ripping his dick off”). Franklin is finally accepted by the Glenview Police Department, and Jamarcus continues participating in the secret neighborhood orgies. The group maintains the watch, continuing to protect Glenview from criminals (and aliens).

REVIEW:

When I was growing up, there were neighborhood watch signs all over the place, but these days, not so much. What ever happened to those things, I wonder? Apparently, they still exist, as we can see in The Watch.

What is this about?

Four somewhat civic-minded guys use their neighborhood watch group as an excuse to take a daily break from chores and family togetherness, but they get more than they bargained for when they accidentally uncover an alien plot to invade Earth.

What did I like?

Aliens. I am so glad that aliens can actually invade someplace other than big cities and/or farm towns, but rather a small town in the midwest. All too often, it seems as if all the aliens seem to do is invade the same old Washington, D.C. or New York in every film, at least the ones that I have seen. I even made a blog post about the phenomenon back in the days of Myspace blogging. I was also somewhat impressed with the look of these aliens. In a film like this, they could have very easily been some cheap SyFy channel looking effect, as opposed to what we actually saw.

Dr. Manhattan’s Orgy. It is a very small part of the film, but it ends up leading to a revelation by one of the characters, I won’t spoil who. Ah, the wonders of an orgy party, eh? Unlike in A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, this one seems to actually have been a party first, orgy second. Billy Crudup as the creep neighbor who runs/hosts this thing is great, and I am a little disappointed we didn’t get more from him.

Family first. There is a moment a little past the halfway point where the guys are staking out the orgy, thinking that some alien hijinks are taking place over there, when Vince Vaughn gets a call about his daughter at an unsupervised party with her very unlikable boyfriend. Ben Stiller gets pissed that he leaves, and when all is said and done (and Vaughn has rescued his daughter from apparent rape), he demands an apology. Vaughn goes off on him, saying that the watch isn’t as important as his family. Just like Rob Coddry in Butter, Vince Vaughn takes a step out of his usual characters, and actually plays a genuine nice guy who cares for his family first and foremost.

What didn’t I like?

Stiller. It is obvious that Ben Stiller wanted this to be a great film, but it just didn’t happen, and he’s a major reason for it. The guy is supposed to be the lead, and yet you don’t really feel anything for him. He’s the kind of guy that works better in a more comedic role, but for some reason he keeps trying ot be the straight man. The one time he really shines is early on when he and Jonah Hill are taking a skater kid to the cops. The comedic back and forth between the two is a highlight of the film, which it probably why they put it in the trailer?

Potty humor. I’m all for a bit of low brow humor. In certain films, it works in massive doses, but those are the films that are made to showcase this kind of lewd, crude humor, but this isn’t one of those pictures. The constant reference to penises and other off-color jokes just went too far, and actually made this flick less enjoyable than it could have been had they just gone with some “regular” jokes.

Wannabe. One critic said that this was trying too hard to be a new version of Ghostbusters. I initially brushed that off, but after I think about it for a bit, it does make sense. Four guys coming together to fight a menace. Unfortunately, they don’t do it half as well  as the Ghostbusters. For the most part, they come off as lame losers, a fact that it beat to death by Will Forte’s character.

This summer, amidst all the Trayvon Martin hoopla, there was some talk of shelving The Watch, but instead they just changed the title. I kind of think this would have been better served on the shelve until further notice. The premise is decent, but it isn’t carried out very well, causing this to turn out to be a total disaster of a flick. With that said, it isn’t totally horrible, just not really worth watching. I do not recommend this to anyone, unless you just want to see a bad attempt at some sci-fi comedy.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

21 Jump Street

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) are former classmates who meet again at police academy. Schmidt, obsessed with Eminem was a chubby nerd while Jenko was a underachieving jock. They end up becoming best friends at the academy as they help with each others’ weaknesses, with Schmidt helping Jenko study and Jenko motivating Schmidt through physical activity. They graduate together as partners, but are assigned to park patrol. They catch a break when they spot a group of One Percenters and arrest their leader Domingo (DeRay Davis). However, the department is forced to release him as Jenko forgot the wording of the Miranda rights. The two are reassigned to a revived specialty division on 21 Jump Street.

They are introduced to Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), who explains the division specializes in infiltrating high schools and that they were chosen because of their youthful appearances. Schmidt and Jenko are assigned to stop a new synthetic drug from spreading to other schools by finding the supplier. They go undercover as brothers, living at Schmidt’s parents’ house. Jenko accidentally switches their identities and they get each others’ classes. They learn the lead dealer of the drug is the popular Eric (Dave Franco), but he is not the supplier.

They go to the dealing room where Eric forces them to take the drug there and not wait. They attempt to regurgitate it but are unsuccessful, and they undergo the phases of the drug while talking to their P.E. teacher, Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle), and also while running track and during band practice. The mistakes that happen at the track meet cause Eric to take a liking to Schmidt.

Schmidt manages to fit in with the popular kids and takes a romantic interest in Eric’s friend Molly (Brie Larson), while Jenko becomes friends with the nerds in his AP Chemistry class while his teacher Ms. Griggs (Ellie Kemper) takes a sexual interest in him. Jenko discovers that his new friends secretly tap into other people’s cell phones to listen into their conversations. Schmidt decides to throw a party at his house to gain Eric’s complete trust and Jenko takes the opportunity to tap into Eric’s phone. Despite Captain Dickson ordering them not to serve alcohol and drugs to minors, they nevertheless buy alcohol and steal confiscated marijuana. When Eric arrives with Molly and his other friends, Jenko steals Eric’s phone for his friends to tap into while Schmidt fights off a rival of Eric’s.

Schmidt pretends to sell the drug for Eric but is actually giving it to Captain Dickson to be confiscated. While at Eric’s house, Schmidt asks Molly out to prom while Jenko listens through Eric’s phone. He also insults Jenko to Eric with Jenko listening. Schmidt and Jenko learn that Eric is making a deal soon. When Jenko spots Eric leaving school, he takes Schmidt to follow him. They see that Eric is dealing with the One Percenters and they follow them, but are forced to run away when Domingo spots them. Back at school, Jenko accuses Schmidt of his earlier insults, possibly ruining the case, and getting in too deep, but Schmidt brushes him off. Jenko and Schmidt get into a fight that results in them getting expelled and fired from Jump Street.

Later that night, both are confronted by Eric and his friends, who want to bring them on as security after hearing about what happened with the One Percenters. He tells them about a deal happening during prom where they get to meet the supplier. At prom, they are surprised to see that the supplier is Mr. Walters. The One Percenters arrive for the deal, and Domingo recognizes Schmidt and Jenko as police officers, and tells two of his men to kill them. However, the two men reveal themselves as DEA Agents Tom Hanson (Johnny Depp) and Doug Penhall (Peter DeLuise), who were a part of the Jump Street program when it began. Hanson casually talks to Schmidt and Jenko during the standoff which gives Domingo the opportunity to kill Hanson and Penhall. A gunfight ensues among Schmidt and Jenko, Mr. Walters, and the One Percenters. Mr. Walters and Eric escape in a limo with Molly as a hostage, with the One Percenters in pursuit of them in another limo. Schmidt and Jenko pursue all of them in another limo where Jenko creates a homemade chemical bomb from his knowledge in AP Chemistry to kill the One Percenters. They then confront Mr. Walters, who shoots at Schmidt. Jenko jumps in front of Schmidt, saving his life and getting shot in the arm and his chest, which was protected by a bullet-proof vest, in the process. In response, Schmidt shoots Mr. Walters in the groin, severing his penis. The duo successfully arrest him and Eric and make amends with each other. Schmidt makes amends with Molly and the two share a kiss. They are rehired into Jump Street where Dickson gives them a new assignment in a college setting, to Schmidt’s excitement but to Jenko’s dismay.

REVIEW:

The original 21 Jump Street was a crime drama aimed more towards teens. At the time it was on, I either didn’t have Fox, or just didn’t care about it. Talking to many of my friends from the time it was on, the feeling is mutual. With that said, the show did gain a cult following and introduced to the acting skills of a young man named Johnny Depp.

What is this about?

In high school, Schmidt was one of the biggest nerds, while Jenko was the #1 jock who picked on everyone. A few years later, they find themselves enrolling in the police academy together, becoming best friends and, with each other’s help, passing the tests and becoming partners. Their first assignment is bike patrol in the park. On a routine patrol, they see some One Percenter’s doing a drug deal and give chase. Most get away, but their leader is caught. It seems like this would be a good thing, but Jenko forgot to read him his Miranda Rights, so he had to be let go. A very unhappy commanding officer sends the two down to Jump Street, where they are to begin an undercover assignment that sends them to high school to uncover a new and potentially dangerous drug and who is supplying it. Will they find the drug and the supplier? Will they revert back to the dynamic they had when they were in high school the first time? Will the captain’s head explode from being such and angry black man?

What did I like?

Tone. The original series was a bit serious from what I hear. Some people may scoff at the change to a more comedic tone, but since this isn’t a verbatim remake of the original and we have different characters all over the place, it works for me.

Self-awareness. The film addresses many things in films that the audience is thinking. For instance, early on, it says something about the writers not having any ideas on their own, so they just remake old things. Later on, there is a scene during the freeway chase scene where a truck full of some kind of gas has a slight accident, but doesn’t explode, as we see in so many films.

Chemistry. Just like in real life, partners have to have chemistry. If you’re going to pair up an odd couple like Hill and Tatum, then they better work well together, and they do. Who would have thought that Channing Tatum had some comedy chops. I have to tip my hat to this guy, where many stars who can’t act are assuming people are just criticizing them or being haters, Tatum has taken the time to hone his craft and the improvements are showing.

What didn’t I like?

Franco II. This kid, Dave Franco, has rubbed me the wrong way ever since I first saw him on the last season on Scrubs. His older brother, James, has his moments, but at least he has the chops to back it up. This guy just grates on my everlasting nerves, and this time it can’t be blamed on the characters since he’s supposed to be likable.

Hot for teacher. The AP Chemistry teacher obviously has some kind of horny, lustful, attraction towards Jenko. It actually is a bit passive-agressive. All that is well and good, but here’s the thing. For all the emphasis they put on Schmidt and Molly, it seemed they could have done some exploring with these. I can just see some of the awkward situations, but I guess that would have been too much to ask.

Not the same. I give all the props in the world to Jonah Hill for losing all that weight for this role, but I have to question a couple of things. First is, was it really necessary and would it have worked better if he was the old size? Secondly, his character seems like a really, really smart guy, why the hell did he end up at the police academy and not in college?

The mixture of action, comedy, and sheer absurdity are what makes 21 Jump Street a surprise hit for the year. Throw in a cameo from the show’s stars who appear and tell the guys that they used to work Jump St. (always nice to have some continuity), and we have a winning formula. Now, I’m not saying this film is perfect…far from it, as a matter of fact, but it is entertaining and that is what movies are about, first and foremost. I highly recommend this.

4 out of 5 stars