A Most Wanted Man

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5/10

Do you ever feel like you are an X in a world of O’s when you watch a film? I felt that was after watching Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s final starring role before his untimely death. The reviews for this movie has been insane and include a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I saw the trailer rarely for this film, but for the first time about 3 months ago. I wasn’t impressed by what i saw mainly because the trailer had a difficult time explaining what the film was about. After watching the movie, i can say that director Anton Corbijn doesn’t have the slightest clue on how to communicate the story he is trying to tell. It’s about a russian immigrant who turns up in Hamburg to lay claim to his father’s riches. However, there is speculation as to whether this man is an oppressed victim or a hell bent terrorist extremist. If this story doesn’t sound that appealing to you it’s because it has been done about 100 times since 9/11. Based on the novel by John Le Carre, A Most Wanted Man is a slowburn adaptation that does no favors to capture the tension in Carre’s books. The first hour feels completely compressed as it is trying to tell many angles from characters who we learn nothing about. Hoffman gives another amazing performance while smoking more cigarettes than any actor i have ever seen. In an era with laughable accents by American actors, Hoffman sounds like a student of the game who has studied hours for a Russian accent. The problem is that we don’t really know if we are supposed to be cheering for him and his government team because we don’t know much about him or the supposed terrorist he is chasing. The characters in this film are stuck in a moral stand still maze with below the surface doubts on how they really feel about their methods. They use every dirty trick short of entrapment to get this man to admit to something, and it doesn’t bring out the best in the people that we spend the most time with. The camera style is impressive, but unchallenged by anything riveting. There are no high speed chases, no fight scenes, and no heartbeating ending to even try to push the angles to do more. Aside from Hoffman, Rachel MCadams hands in a notworthy performance. She plays the lawyer of the rumored terrorist in question. MCAdams isn’t the only female character in the film, but she is the only one who is invested in writing time, and not just another faceless personality similar to action films in 2014. There in lies the biggest problem with A Most Wanted Man; what is it’s genre? One would say an espionage film, but that’s not it’s own drama in the video stores of today. Drama is probably the closest and safest bet to file this in even though there are no scenes that pull for tears or fears (There’s an 80’s joke in there somewhere). It does start to pick up during the 2nd hour, but is killed by an ending that is unforgivable for the worst. When the credits roll at the end of 2 very long hours, you feel like you tried to invest in something that had no appeal to you what so ever. The final scene makes it feel like the camera was left on for too long, and that is a perfect telling of the movie in general. It’s too long, too ambiguous, and too dull for anyone to enjoy. I will go on a limb here and say that it will be very difficult for any of my readers to enjoy this film. I usually will sometimes recommend a film even if i didn’t enjoy it because i know some of you will. I just can’t see anyone pulling anything from this morally colorless film. It’s so dry that i reached for the water every 2 minutes and ran out about 40 minutes in. 90 minutes into “A Most Wanted Man,” a CIA officer asks, “What are we trying to achieve here?” Viewers can be forgiven for replying, “If you don’t know, why should we?” Not recommended.

And So It Goes

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5/10

Rob Reiner returns to the directors chair in this film about Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton playing bickering neighbors who are forced to see their mutual connection when Douglas’s son goes to jail leaving his 10 year old daughter at Douglas’s doorstep. As romantic comedies go, this one isn’t terrible but it has problems displaying what kind of film it really wants to be. There are points in the movie that are filtered with dramatic turns from the point of view of Keaton and Douglas conveniently both losing a significant other. Then there are points with raunchy comedy including fecal matter jokes from a dog, Douglas complaining about seeing a child’s private parts, and a baby delivery that seems like it was something out of an Adam Sandler film. And So It Goes would be a much better film if it decided up front what it wanted to be, and didn’t see “How it goes”. Douglas is still charming enough to play a role that really colors him out to be a bastard. He says some of the absolute rudest things, but because of Michael’s ability to wink at the camera, you are left smiling at the once powerful leading man. Keaton isn’t anything spectacular from roles she has played before in The First Wives Club, Something’s Gotta Give, or Father of the Bride. She plays the role pretty safe and never pushes her character to anything more than the voice of reason. It would be nice to see her in a role that isn’t typcast for her, but “So It Goes”. The pacing of the story doesn’t do anyone favors as the movie feels unintentionally like the actors are definitely reading from a script. The two leads are legendary actors of film, and Reiner should’ve given them the reigns to show a different version of themselves than the one that this boring script calls for. It’s predictability at it’s absolute shameless as you pretty much see where the film is going to go 15 minutes into it. The best reason to see the film lies in the performance of good old Frances Sternhagen. Her smokey delivery really is priceless. Most people won’t recognize the name, but if you have seen films like The Mist, Julie and Julia, or Misery, you will remember the magic and show stealing variety that she is famous for. Films like these really make me think back to the times when Nora Ephron birthed the genre known as the rom-com and the different kind of sub genres that it has spawned as a result to careless screenwriting. What surprises me most is that Rob Reiner was at one time one of the top directors in Hollywood, but his film career over the last ten years has been shoddy at best when you consider that the guy acts in better films than he directs. When the credits role after 91 minutes of screen time, you will feel yourself wondering how this film is any different than the tons of John Cusack rom-coms that never hit movie theaters. What is the justification that gives this movie any reason why it had a wide theatrical release? Overall, it’s not going to be one of the worst films of the year in my book, just one of the most forgotten. It’s sad to see such high scale actors settling for this kind of mud. Douglas in particular needs a movie to showcase that he is still a strong presence. In my opinion, his best was always thrillers and smart comedies. And So It Goes is only a movie that i would recommend to the absolute biggest Michael Douglas fans. I think many will balk when they see the trailer, but there are some decent enough laughs and heartfelt moments for you to spend a dollar on this at the local Redbox. As far as theaters go? And so it BLOWS.

Lucy

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5/10

Director Luc Besson is notorious for some terrible movies that he has either directed, produced, or written. His newest film Lucy is possibly the worst from a director always trying to make an artsy commentary about the human race. One of the biggest reasons Lucy is a terrible film is that for a scale so big, it will easily be forgettable in 2 years. Scarlett Johansson stars as the character in title. She is a woman who gets drugged after a gang deal gone wrong, and the drug allows her to use more than the normal 10% of humans. Lucy borrows a lot from the 2011 film Limitless. A film i liked one hundred times more than this horrible mess. The thing i liked most about Limitless as opposed to Lucy is that it’s an original idea, and it makes that idea relatable by doing things that we would do if we could unlock more of our brain. Lucy becomes sort of a superhero of sorts with the most insane of visuals. Everything from erasing life around her to controlling other human beings to becoming a computer system. I have watched films with far fetched ideas, but Lucy presents it to where it’s funny for all the wrong reasons due to vicious overacting. Johansson in particular i felt was miscast in this role. A lot of people will disagree with me here, but she only ever has one reaction to everything and that is her “I’m smarter than you, so i can treat you like an idiot” look. This makes the character hard for the audience to get a read on. Should we cheer for her because she is held prisoner in this drug? or should we go against her because there could be some very dangerous consequences to her using 100% of her brain? Besson never gives us a definitive answer, and like most art pieces he leaves it in the hands of the viewers. The cinematography and action scenes were done very well. Lots of CGI visuals that will make you feel like the first time you watched slowshot camera work in The Matrix. The way everything is shot is very eye popping, and that is why i feel like Besson has the ability to be a decent director. I get that he took a risk with a script that he really believed in, but he didn’t do himself any favors by giving us the motto “Humans are wasting their time in their lives”. I felt this way while i was watching this boring piece of slop. It’s a film that is part philosophical, part action movie that goes from mayhem to boredom and to insanity in an instant. 82 minutes clearly isn’t long enough to give the audience enough time to soak in what they are witnessing. It’s of course new ground to all of us, but we are never given scientific logic as to how she can do these things just because she unlocks more of her brain. We are supposed to just believe because hey it’s unfamiliar to us. I didn’t have a lot of faith going into this film because i sensed it as one of those trying to enlighten the audience into the ways we are negatively living our own life. The problem with that is even if i could unlock more of my brain, i would live more like Bradley Cooper in Limitless than i would Scarlett Johansson in Lucy. It’s amazing that Besson figures out a way to take one of the most popular female action stars currently and make her so unlikable in a script that doesn’t show off her best side. It’s not even the fact that Scarlett can’t do weird independent films because Under the Skin was a riveting watch. She was impactful in that film without barely ever talking. Don’t see Lucy in theaters, but if you feel like giving it a shot when it comes to DVD, then by all means. It currently holds a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and i don’t think there is a better grade for it. You are either going to think this story is innovative or very hard to sit through. Lucy is a movie that pretends to be smarter than it really is. Frustrating and far from intellectually engaging

Video Games : The Movie

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5/10

Director Jeremy Snead takes us on an 8 bit journey with this documentary about the history of video game culture in America. The first half of the film starts off on a high note with a descriptive albeit brief timeline lesson on the past and present of video game history. It’s in that aspect that the film would’ve gotten a passing grade from me. The film is 100 minutes long, so there is plenty of time to be descriptive through every decade of video game culture. Instead, the second half of the film turns into a commercial with Snead being the biggest salesperson. The documentary has the kind of feel where it’s Us Vs Them in terms of the lovers and haters of this multimedia. During this time, it feels more like a special on the Game Network and not so much a movie/documentary. There is a lot of focus on the future of gaming, and there is nothing wrong with that. But for me personally, i gave the film a chance because i wanted an in depth learning experience on the gaming systems that i grew up with. The timeline focus of the film is also done very sloppy because instead of going chronologically they go back and forth creating a chopped up revision of history. The whole thing just feels unfocused and repetitive by the time the final scenes hit. I would rather know more about the creation of some of these games and less about the growing popularity of gamers by dismissing the sterotypes of them being nerds. If i were to recommend this to one type of crowd it would be for new gamers who picked up their controls in a dedicated fashion over the last five years. Anyone else, this information won’t be anything new or informative to them. This documentary will only give those fans the motivation for them to invest more of their hard earned dollars into a profession that hasn’t even reached 1/4 of it’s technological potential. The touching up of the 8 bit Nintendo games on this feature makes them look better than ever before. It almost doesn’t feel like the same games we used to play with the restoration to the pixelated genre. The narration by actor Sean Astin is done very well with a lot of pie graphs to match his statistics in the opening ten minutes. Astin’s job becomes kind of pointless as the film goes on because the documentary is taken over more by interviews with people who work in the gaming industry slinging mud to the opposite side. There are also appearances in interviews by Zach Braff, Wil Wheaton, and Chris Hardwick speaking on their favorite video game memories. Overall, Video Games The Movie is a lot like my experience with games. The nostalgia factor is nice, but i couldn’t care less about the future of the new technology. The games that will live on forever are the ones that stepped out on a time when the game world almost died after the Video game crash of 1983. This documentary gets a failing grade from me because it has trouble figuring out it’s true identity. I will not leave you the reader going home without a recommendation though. If you can find it, The Discovery Channel released a special a couple years ago called Rise of the Videogame that is leaps and bounds better than this one. Check that out to get a great history on video games that isn’t a war between the companies.

Planes : Fire and Rescue

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5/10

The sequel to last year’s Planes is an overall better movie than it’s predecessor, but the story is too weak, the characters are too many, and the time is too short for anyone to get any kind of good feeling from this film. Dusty Cropduster is back as the top Airplane racer in the world. When he suffers an injury that limits his performance on the track, he finds himself in the middle of a new dream that includes him becoming a firefighter of sorts. The convenient plot with the Fireman gimmick is that there is a fire every 5 minutes in the woods. Whether this is true or not, this is the thing that will bother you the least during the 73 minute run time. Yes, you heard that right. 73 MINUTES!!! What is the most amazing out of the run time is just how boring it is. Believe me when i say i don’t have a short attention span. The movie is terribly boring because we never get to really know the characters due to the short screen time we have to establish their backstories. It’s also boring because Planes is a movie that really didn’t need a sequel. It was one of the worst animated films i have seen of the 21st century, and that doesn’t set the bar high for this sequel. The story feels very rushed and that’s understandable considering they waited a whole 11 months to release Fire and Rescue. That’s bad for Paranormal Activity pacing. The comedy in this had me laughing a couple times, but one of the things i despise the most about kids movies are overdone puns. Kids movies are supposed to have these, but not every single line. One of the characters is named Boat Reynolds, and i have to admit that had me chuckling. I also enjoyed a spoof on the 70’s TV show CHIPS with a show called CHOPS. In fact, i would’ve been completely OK with that movie instead of the one we got. It certainly had a better storyline. As i said before, the amount of characters are outrageous. There are no fewer than 30 characters between the two films, and for anyone to remember four of their names at this point would be amazing. The new characters are nothing great. They are voiced by John Michael Higgins, Regina Hall, and Ed Harris along with many others. Ed’s character is decent, but we don’t get more than a minute of screen time with anyone else. This movie could’ve easily been another 15 minutes or so to build on the character development, and it would’ve done nothing but improved it. Among the things i liked about this film, the 3D is done beautifully with lots of fly by shots, as well as a beautiful ending scene that takes place with the entire forrest in a beautiful auburn blaze. The fire shots really pile on the eye candy of a beautiful 3D presentation. I wouldn’t say the 3D is completely worth it, but if there is a way for you to watch it on DVD in 3D, then by all means go for it. The regular animation is done a little better too with lots of wide angle scenic shots. Most of Planes was done up in the sky near the clouds, and it all got old fast. The score for this film was also noteworthy for a Disney film. AC/DC’s Thunderstruck plays during the first rescue mission, and it sets the heart pounding mission ablaze. There is also a song made just for the movie that is one of my favorite music numbers of the year for film. It’s called “Still i Fly” by Spencer Lee. It’s a beautiful mid 90’s motivational ballad that gives us a point of view from Dusty’s perspective. Kind of Kenny Wayne Sheppard meets Goo Goo Dolls. If Disney would’ve spent more time establishing their characters and building a plot that will keep a child from moving around in their seats, Planes Fire and Rescue could’ve really taken flight. As it remains, Planes Fire and Rescue is a mess of a film of an uninspired sequel to an already uninspired propeller-driven Cars spinoff. Planes is 0/2, and i hope it’s the end of Dusty and his personality-less friends.

Tammy

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5/10

After finishing the newest comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, i have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the movie actually had possibilities of being a decent film with an emotional hard hitting back story. The bad news is that the execution of that chance is swallowed whole by slapstick comedy and the obnoxious traits of our main characted. Tammy (McCarthy) is a woman who can never win in life. She is fired from her job at a fast food joint, she finds out her husband is cheating on her, and her car is totaled after an accident with wildlife. She goes on a road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) after feeling like both characters have nothing left to lose of their lives. It’s a kind of Thelma and Louise story which is ironic considering Sarandon is in it. She is absolutely the best part of this film playing an alcoholic almost senile grandmother who is responsible for a lot of the comedic tones of the movie. I was completely wrong about McCarthy playing the same character because this one is slightly different from her roles in The Heat or Identity Thief. She exerts a bottled up sadness that shows she is just too good for screenwriter Ben Falcone’s script with help from McCarthy herself. Falcone cameos in the film as Tammy’s boss who fires her. If i had advice for both of them it’s to stick to acting. Falcone did write 2011’s Bridesmaids which i felt was one of the best films that year, but in Tammy it shows that he still has a long way to go. The scenes almost feel pointless in the first hour of the film with Tammy being put in a different scenario to draw out the cheapest of laughs. The movie gave me two total laughs in the whole film and that is mostly because there are too many tired jokes aimed at Melissa McCarthy’s weight. The parts that did make me giggle dealt with the great comedic timing of Melissa McCarthy and some of her stupid responses to people calling her out on her issues. I do like Melissa, but i am looking more and more forward to her drama role with Bill Murray in Saint Vincent later this year. I think it’s time she advanced her career a little further than the roles that don’t do her justice. This movie has one of the best casts of the year, but i can’t for the life of me figure out why they are all wasted. It’s like Falcone invited them all on screen to make you point and smile, but not take too much away from his genius writing (Eye roll). Dan Akroyd, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Toni Collete, Alison Janney and Gary Cole are all table dressing for a story that could’ve given them something to do with only 92 minutes of running time. Collete in particular only has one line in the film. How could this happen? It’s just pure sloppyness. I really feel like this movie would’ve worked better as one of those female ensamble dramas like Fried Green Tomatoes or August : Osage County. When the boiling issues of our characters hit hard in the final half hour, you wish you got a film like that because it certainly would’ve pushed the audience a lot further. I think the biggest problem with Tammy though is the fact that any audience who isn’t brainwashed by liking anything McCarthy comes out with will find that they can’t relate to her character at all. In fact, from what i gathered The movie’s principal intention is to make you laugh at a loser, and revel in scenes from which polite people would instinctively turn away. It’s annoying when it tries to be funny, and a rambling attempt to cash in on McCarthy’s fame. I don’t recommend this film at all except maybe a Red box rental. Melissa McCarthy gives her all in every performance she is given. Even if those roles aren’t written well at all. Isn’t it time she gets a script that puts her in a leading role that she deserves?

Earth To Echo

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5.5/10

Three friends find a mysterious object in the Nevada desert that gives them the adventure of a lifetime before they move and split up forever. There are many problems i had with this movie, and i will get to them later in the review, but this film was nowhere near the mess i was worried about. First of all, the film does have it’s comparisons to E.T. Most notably by adult viewers who will be taking their children to see this film. I definitely think this film works better for the 12 and under crowd but there is enough in the movie to keep adults semi interested. What i loved about this movie is that it’s more about friendship underneath the surface of this story about a robot crashing. These are three boys with a lot of charisma, especially that of a boy named Reginald. He is probably the best written child character that i have seen in a long time. Hollywood seems to think that people shouldn’t care about child characters as long as it’s a fun enough story. That is not the case in Earth To Echo as these three boys each play an important role in the history of their friendship. Sadly, this is one of the only good things about this movie. There are some nice effects when it comes to the look of the robot, and the cinematography was good enough to warrant a passing grade. However, the CGI effects look terrible, especially when they are slowed down for the audience to fully enjoy. If you look close enough, you can almost perfectly see the green screens behind the action in question. The big problem suffering in Earth To Echo is the robot story itself. It’s totally not necessary. Yes, i understand that is the main premise of the movie, but i feel that there is enough of a storyline between the kids being forced out of their homes from the construction of a freeway that i don’t feel Echo was ever needed. The chemistry and passion of the boys would’ve been enough to carry this into a friendship film along the likes of Stand By Me. The point of my rambling is that this movie suffers the most when it’s slowed down during those robot moments. The robot doesn’t talk and barely makes any communication with his handlers. The parts that did have any kind of momentum with the robot was too similar to 2011’s Super 8. The movie just felt completely unoriginal when it didn’t have to be. Another big problem with this movie is the ongoing awful phase of “shot on video” style. It’s totally useless and not needed at all. One will argue that the main boy named Tuck is filming his whole life for his Youtube channel, but it’s just not necessary. The camera angles are too close from people who obviously don’t know how to hold or use a camera, and they action is too quick for a style like this. There were many times when i had trouble understanding what was going on because someone wasn’t told to zoom out when they zoom in. I am more curious in the children who watch this movie, and what they took away from it. E.T was one of my favorite childhood movies, so it’s tough for me to watch a movie that gives you that kind of return to memory lane, but the things that were there before are now torn down. The film could’ve warranted a 6 or possible 7 out of 10 if they made it a little longer (85 minutes only) or focusing more on what these boys need to do to stay together. Earth To Echo shows a lot of sparks, but never fully gives the audience enough to be inspired. It’s a worn out cliche of post 2000 kids adventure movies and never finds it’s own voice to make the audience care. Skip it.

Transformers : Age of Extinction

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5/10

What can you say about a series of films in which i have disliked every film. Then, director Michael Bay makes his latest effort a 2 hour and 40 minute epic of a film that ruins anything good about this film to begin with. There isn’t going to be any great analysis in this review. The reason this movie is bad mainly centers around the amazingly unnecessary length in time.There is absolutely no reason that a Transformers film ever has to be over 2 hours period. The movie had a decent first hour that was making this the closest i have ever enjoyed a Transformers film. Then it screwed it up with convenient scenarios and a dragging war scene that makes us feel exhausted by the time it reaches the credits. Transformers : Age of Extinction stars Mark Wahlberg taking the leading reigns from Shia Lebouf as a Texas father who finds Optimus Prime and is immediatly hunted down by the government. Wahlberg is one of few welcome breaths of fresh air as a father who is just trying to provide better for his ever growing daughter. Wahlberg works mainly because he is ACTUALLY an action star as opposed to the loud and obnoxious Shia Lebouf. One of the major problems with the other three films is that they don’t create any characters for you to cheer for or hope for their health. Age of Distinction has a few of these and some are surprising because they are bad people. Stanley Tucci is brilliant as Joshua Joyce, the leader of a robot maker who is out to end the autobots once and for all. Tucci glides across the exceeding entertaining point by giving us hilarious lines in the form of panic from the horrors he has created. TJ Miller is decent in the film, but is only in it for a matter of 30 minutes. The film overall has a darker tone with more gruesome imagery than the previous films. Some death scenes are done in a way that show you that Age of Extinction is treading on territory we haven’t seen before. The usual favorites are there that will make you laugh as always. Michael Bay clearly still has no idea how to write real people with real conversations. The boyfriend character of the daughter’s in particular really makes you hate the guy no matter how honorable they try to make him. With lines like “I need this mouthwash when i’m making out with your daughter” and “She has the best hands for my clutch”, it makes you wonder if Bay himself is an autobot who has never actually been around humans. The action to the film is excellent as usual because if there is one thing Michael Bay does is take the same building that has fallen in three previous movies and knock it over again. The final war scene goes on for the last hour of the movie, and this is long by Saving Private Ryan standards. Many fans and non fans of the series will be reaching for their watches by about the 90 minute point of this film. One thing that made me laugh in particular about this film as opposed to the others is that there is no branch of army anywhere to be found. SERIOUSLY. Remember when Josh Duhamel and Tyreese were soldiers who were fighting for mankind? Well, apparently soldiers in Age of Extinction just let everything get torn to hell and assume the autobots will save us even though every news channel is calling them terrorists. The ending leaves the door open for a sequel of course, and even two more films have already been confirmed. I know the fans of Transformers are going to like this movie because they have to, but how many times can you watch the exact same movie? That is exactly what this is, the exact same movie. You don’t really learn anything new to go with the previous three films which makes me even more angry when it comes to the fact that this film was nearly 3 hours. The Wolf of Wall Street was 3 hours long and do you know why? It had amazing performances to match a story that every single bit had to be seen to be believed from the memoirs of Jordan Belfort. The Transformers movies are like a big advertisement for the toys and Chevy vehicles. I can not recommend this movie to anyone except fans of the series. They are going to read my review and say they loved it, and to that i say i am happy that someone enjoyed it. Mark Wahlberg’s daughter said a line in the movie that i wanted to share with everyone because i think it would be the perfect ending to this review. “You can’t keep spending money on junk to make new junk”. Well put Tessa, but you clearly don’t understand what it means to be in a Michael Bay film.

Think Like a Man Too

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5/10

This sequel to the 2012 original shows you the magic of Hollywood when it cuts up the best parts to put into a trailer and leaves you with a tired premise that is seen in every film about Vegas ever.It all feels like a poor excuse for the cast to splurge in Vegas with non stop celebrity cameos to keep the bored observer interested. Kevin Hart and the gang return to celebrate the wedding of two friends in the group (Regina Hall and Terence Cowrley) by going to Las Vegas and having the ultimate bachelor and bachelorette parties. It was strange to me just how similar this film was to Saved By The Bell : Zach and Kelly’s Wedding. As the scenes unfolded, i found myself able to predict each one almost comedically. By this point in his career, Kevin Hart has reached popularity of epic proportions for someone who started off as a quiet side character in many of his earlier films. In Man Too, he doesn’t have enough to do after exhausting his usual “Short guy” Schtick. By the time we are done with every possible joke that he has, his performance almost turns dramatic. This year’s About Last Night was a good example of what Kevin Hart can do when he is presented with a script that allows him to grow (No pun intended). That film was about a lot more than him flexing his comedic abilities; it showed his audience that this guy can be something more. It’s no secret that i am not a big Kevin Hart fan, and it’s mainly for roles like Think Like a Man Too. There are too many characters between the two groups which never gives leads like Hart and Regina Hall room to shine. If that wasn’t enough, we are treated to another movie with that one white guy in the group who is……..wait for it……WEIRD. Between Director Tim Story and other famously terrible director Tyler Perry, i wonder if these guys know how to write white people without being whacky. I am not kidding when i say EVERY SINGLE LINE that comes out of the guy’s mouth is the one that keeps the audience shaking it’s head in lunacy. I have to give this movie credit though, at least he isn’t racist. More craziness happens midway through the film when the female group stops the plot and everything around it to have a Bel Biv Devoe music video. I am dead serious that the movie stops for 5 minutes so the girls can go full R&B star with everything from camera talking to lip synching on a stage with a male dance club as it’s background. That scene is appropriate because that is what the whole film summed up felt like. It was just a bunch of scenes thrown together to see what stuck with no attempt at an ending that was shocking or even entertaining. If there was one thing i enjoyed about this film it would be that they at least attempted to give every character a decent storyline, and not lose them completely in the background. It’s not executed very well though, as it feels too crowded. By the final 20 minutes, we have been through every kind of emotion loud and desperate that we can’t help but look at our watches to see how much time is left. Think Like a Man wasn’t a movie i necessarily enjoyed, but it at least had a great almost novel like structure that was creatively done for the way it was telling it’s story. In this sequel, everything is thrown together on the same page, and it never feels like a sequel beyond the characters. The famous motto goes “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. In the forgettable presentation from this talented cast, lets hope that credo rings true. Avoid it like the plague

A Million Ways to Die in the West

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5.5/10

Director and star of the movie Seth Macfarlane returns to the silver screen with the anticipated follow up to his 2011 smash hit, Ted. The most surprising thing about A Million Ways to Die in the West is the fact that it’s not a very funny movie. It has it’s cheap laughs, but my biggest problem with Macfarlane’s comedy has always been that his jokes are too drawn out…..FOR WAY TOO LONG. Macfarlane stars as Albert, a sheephearder living in the wild west of Arizona in 1898. Macfarlane is dumped by his girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), but falls head over heels for new girl, Anna (Charlize Theron). The problem? Anna has a husband who is the most famous gunslinger in the west, Clinch (Liam Neeson). As i said before, jokes feel drawn out for way too long ruining some legitimately good laughs. The kind of fast paced talking smart man schtick with jokes also doesn’t mix well with the visual slop usually seen in Adam Sandler movies. In this one, there is a vicious diarrhea scene, fecal matter on a child’s pillow, and even being urinated on the face by a sheep. The biggest sin with the laughs that actually work is the fact that they are rendered powerless by a nearly 2 hour run time. By the time the final 20 minutes hit, these jokes feel overused and even exhausting by this point. Macfarlane himself isn’t the kind of guy we can get behind. The underdog story is a good one to use in a old west setting, but Macfarlane is very unlikable and at times annoying. He is the kind of guy who has commentary for everything going on in the town, but has no desire to change any of it. The more a character complains, the more the viewer will roll their eyes. Thank God for his co-stars though, because there are some good performances to recognize. Liam Neeson is by far the best part of this movie. He plays a villain that doesn’t play for jokes once. Neeson is the best when he is himself, and that is exactly who he plays as Clinch. He is every bit the man you see hunting for his family in the Taken films. Neil Patrick Harris is very charasmatic as the rebound man for Macfarlane’s ex-girlfriend. He has a musical number at the saloon that is about moustaches that will be stuck in your head for days. Harris is cocky, but knows how to always look through the screen at the viewer and wink for a smile out of us. Giovanni Ribisi also hands in a buzzworthy performance as Macfarlane’s best friend, Edward. It’s the little things that Ribisi does that has us chuckling. Things like playing a comedic straight man to Macfarlane’s comedic banter. He brings out the best in every scene that he is in. It’s just unfortunate that there aren’t more of those scenes to go around. There is a beautiful score by Joel Mcneely that really takes you back to westerns like Blazing Saddles and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. He does his magic behind these long shots of beautiful mountains that play to twangy guitars and rusty violins. The setting and wardrobe are very complimentary, so no complaints there. It’s a shame that a movie like this didn’t fully deliver with a trailer that was very well done. I saw this trailer almost every time i went to the movies and was so psyched to see it. It’s not nearly one of the worst movies of the year, but i can’t give a pass to this one. As great as Ted was, A Million Ways to Die in the West will always be known as Macfarlane’s clunker. At times, it tries to be Blazing Saddles with creating the kind of racist and degrading religious jokes that would be taboo 40 years ago, but don’t carry the same weight in a Family Guy society that has already explored that avenue. Saddles was a film that at it’s time was so shocking because it was a white and black male leads that were going nose to nose with slander jabs that didn’t often make it to the big screen. It’s a different age in a different era, and A Million Ways to Die in the West is a long joke about how it sucked to live in the wild west…..A very long joke.

Blended

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5/10

Adam Sandler’s latest off screen vacation shows him making a movie in the setting of Africa. Sandler stars as a widowed father to three girls while trying to step back into the dating world. Drew Barrymore is his first date, and she carries two boys of her own. When you get past the obvious Brady Bunch kind of storyline that this film has to it, there is a lot of positives and negatives to talk about. After coming out of it, i have to say that i didn’t hate the movie as much as i thought i would. With that said, it’s still not a good film at all. It just has a lot to appreciate. One of those things is that it’s not as terrible as three of his latest efforts in Grown Ups 2, That’s My Boy and the painfully awful Jack and Jill. Blended is a two headed dragon that is trying to be two kinds of films at once and only succeeding at one. It fails as a comedy for a lot of the typical reasons Sandler films do these days. It’s childish, slapstick, and loses any kind of moral compass by the opening frame in a toilet (appropriate eh?), or the scene an hour in when rhino’s are having sex. There are many convenient openings for jokes that will make the clear headed viewer roll their eyes. One scene in particular has a character named Dick dating Drew Barrymore’s best friend, Jen (Wendy Mclendon-Covey). Adam Sandler comes across an online rumor of Barrymore and Covey being lesbian lovers, and the joke comes when Jen tells Barrymore “I am done with dick”. Get it? it’s funny because Sandler just called her a lesbian two minutes ago.Every joke just feels like it was written in a board room with the most juvenile setup. I also don’t understand how Sandler and Barrymore are able to take their family of 7 on Sandler’s bosses trip to Africa when his reservation was only for 6 total people. A Sandler fan will say “Well it’s easy to make those reservations change”. And while that may be true for a plane ride, the WHOLE TRIP has already been planned. I am talking hotel, activities and even chairs at the dinner table. I laughed about 5 times total throughout the whole movie and those were light chuckles. Most of the laughs come from Terry Crewes as the entertainer in Africa who follows the families everywhere they go on the trip blending his african music with comedic lyrics. Other than Crewes who is always electric, the kids of the families provide the other laughs. It’s cute little kid laughs that add to the second head of this beast. More on that later. The one part that gave me a legit laugh was a cameo by Allen Covert as Ten Second Tom. For those of you who remember 50 First Dates, that character makes a funny cameo that sort of draws the two films worlds together.. That second head that i referred to is the one that succeeds as a family movie. I knew the film was rated PG-13 coming into my screening, but i was very surprised with how tame this movie was considering all of the crude parts were used for the trailer. Underneath the crude, there is a genuine heart felt story just dying to be told. Barrymore carries the load for this genre as she has a deep bonding with Sandler’s kids. Even Sandler’s backstory with his wife’s passing puts the pieces in place for you to root for these two characters to get together by the end. There are two things that ruin this. One is that Sandler is still a jerk as he is in all of his movies. He once again insults family, friends and anyone else in order to be the hip guy of the film. It makes the viewer wonder why someone as great as Barrymore would ever get with him. The second problem is the chemistry of Sandler and Barrymore. Plenty of Sandler-holics will tell me that the chemistry of the two leads are still there and it was just as good as 50 First Dates and The Wedding Singer. To that, i say they are correct……kind of. The chemistry is definitely there, but it feels like more of a friendship chemistry than a romantic one. I understand that these characters don’t really like each other when they go on the trip, but they don’t even kiss till the final 10 seconds of the movie. Drew is leagues above Adam in the romantic family genre, and if she had a leading man who could give her the performance that makes that relationship believable, then Blended would be a 6 or a 6.5. I promise you that i am not being picky about this movie at all. I go into every film with open eyes even if i don’t want to see it. I expected the world out of Godzilla and that kind of disappointed me. This is kind of the opposite. I expected the absolute worst out of Blended, but it actually was a lot better than i thought. As it stands, it’s nowhere close to my 20 worst films of the year. Blended is a film that any Sandler fan will think is a great movie. If you don’t mind tasting the same food for 15 years in a row, then it will always taste the way it did on day one. But if you go into Blended with a clear mind, you will think it’s an easily forgettable movie, and that is kind of sad. It’s sad that movies like Jack and Jill will be remembered more because of how bad they are ,and Blended with all of it’s heartfelt family sentiments will be forgotten because it’s only in the middle of Sandler’s filmography. Blended is two styles of movie that can never really fully commit one way or the other. recommended for Sandler fans, but everyone else can wait for DVD.

Walk Of Shame

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5.5/10

Elizabeth Banks stars as a news anchor who competes for the job of a lifetime, but goes through an extreme day of hell to get there. Banks goes out on a long night of drinking after she thinks she lost the job to another woman. When she wakes up at a bartender’s (James Marsden) house, she encounters a very long day of trying to get back home. Walk of Shame is a movie that I found charming at times with a decent amount of legit comedy. I did find myself laughing at a couple of scenes, and usually that would be enough for a film like this to get a passing grade, but it’s slow at times and the encounters are just too convenient to the storyline. Banks is given a yellow dress in the movie that apparently makes her look like prostitute to every person in the film, but to me it just looked like a normal dress that she would wear on the air. It’s because of the prostitute thing that a lot of her trouble happens. From running into other prostitutes to encountering drug dealers to being hunted down by the police, this movie has every bad day situation that you can encounter. Besides the comedy, the reason this film does get as far as it does is because of the amazing cast who usually serve as extras in a movie. People like Kevin Nealon, Bill Burr and Lawrence Gillard Jr are given more screen time than they normally would. All three have great comedic timing and were responsible for the best scenes in the movie. Director/writer Steven Brill should just stick to directing because his writing is very flaccid. Each situation breezes by without enough time for the audience to soak in what really happens. I could also see the payoffs to the jokes happening from miles away. This movie is a straight to pay per view film, and it’s probably a good thing. It’s got enough to make you watch it at home and enjoy a couple good laughs, but it’s easily forgettable by the time the credits roll at the 93rd minute. Walk of Shame is one of few occasions when Elizabeth Banks has been the lead, and I hope for her sake it isn’t the last. Walk of Shame is a film that she as well as the audience will want to soon forget. Not recommended.