The Other Woman

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5.5/10

Interestingly enough, the film that i had the least interest in was the one that ended up winning the best weekend film. That’s not to say that The Other Woman is a great film by any means, but it has it’s charms. It stars Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton as three women being played by the same guy. Mann in particular gives her best performance in her limited filmography. She plays Kate King with the kind of humorous sadness that this film should’ve entirely been about. The Other Woman is supposed to be a story about the power of feminism, but it never fully commits to that power to give us the courageous film that we could’ve gotten. Diaz in particular is such a robotic character that it’s hard to ever get any kind of read on her emotions. She goes through the whole film explaining how she doesn’t need a man, only to be interested in a new man 5 minutes later. She tries to be the tough, independent female, but she is terribly miscast. Upton is in her 3rd film, but none of that acting lessons are paying off in this film. She brings nothing more to the typical bimbo with breasts, and the movie’s 2nd half suffers greatly for it. With all of the issues i just mentioned, you are probably wondering what about his film i enjoyed. It does deliver in comedic schtick. I found myself laughing during this film the most i have in months. Leslie Mann has certainly learned enough about comedic timing from starring in her husband Judd Apatow’s flicks. She is the sole reason why this film succeeds in the casting department. I also dug seeing Don Johnson playing the father no one has ever had. He portrays Diaz’s father, and specifically gives her some jaw dropping advice when Diaz suspects her boyfriend is cheating on her. He says “To put on something sexy, go over and get laid”. What father says this to his daughter at any age? He also has a completely unbelievable hook up by the end of the film, but i am not going to spoile that for you. The Other Woman’s first act sets the bar pretty nicely for where the film should go. It’s unfortunate that the 2nd half of the film gets gobbled up in too many story lines moving at once. The viewer will often have to stop to reflect on where the characters are at that point. The revenge scene with the boyfriend is severely ridiculous. I wish i could tell you more, but i know a few people who plan on checking this out. I only recommend this film to the ladies who are planning a girls night out. I think they can relate to some of what goes on in the film enough to appreciate it. The men will win because their women will appreciate that their guy isn’t like the nimrod in this film. Enjoy it ladies, and remember to thank your favorite film critic

Wolf Creek 2

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5.5/10

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Australian Outback, hunter Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) returns in the sequel to the 2005 original that redefined horror. I am kind of in the middle when it comes to how i really felt about this film. It does have it’s memorable scenes like a sensitive male anatomy part getting cut off in the most graphic and revealing way possible. It also has a kangaroo massacre scene with several kangaroos being run down by a car with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” being played in the background. I found myself laughing during these scenes, and i don’t know if that’s what the filmmakers were going for or if there truly is something wrong with me. Besides that, Wolf Creek 2 offers nothing really new in this sequel. Jarratt is outstanding as usual. He could pretty much play the antagonist role in his sleep at this point. His charm is the only reason i would recommend fans of the first film to see this one. The story structure is practically the same as the first film. You can almost time everything scene by scene, and it’s because of that you can predict what is going to happen next. The ending is EXACTLY the same as the first film. It’s at the end of this 100 minute film that you realize there was no point at all to making a sequel to this. I mean, we did see more of the hideouts for Taylor than we did in the first film, but we learn nothing more about his character. I can only hope that if they do a Wolf Creek 3 that it’s a prequel showing us the origins of Mick Taylor. That is exactly what they should’ve done with this sequel. Like the original, two backpackers are camping throughout the Australian outback when they come across a psychopath who likes to hunt humans for fun. The protagonists are so unlikable, and i blame that on the fact that unlike the first film, this one doesn’t take the time to give us a back story for them. Some people didn’t enjoy the first film because the first 40 minutes were built up so slow and only focused on the three protagonists journey to Wolf Creek. I thought it was done right, as you legitimately cared about what happened to those three people. In this film, their deaths mean nothing. The graphic gore has times of sheer genius, but it flakes out in the last act. It truly cannot decide if it wants to be a plain rated R or to really push the boundaries into territory not often seen in the States. The ending is something that is a little confusing and totally doesn’t make sense. The door is certainly open for a 3rd film, but i can only hope that they grant my wish, and not give us another plain Jane sequel. Overall, i would only recommend this film to fans of the first movie who are thirsty for more of Jarratt’s comedic tones that he brings to his characters. Either way, wait till DVD.

Rio 2

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5/10

The effort is on a higher scale in this sequel to the 2011 animated feature that i wasn’t a fan of. I will say that Rio 2 is a better film than it’s predecessor, but it is completely riddled in problems. Blue and the family are back with the mission to move the family to his girlfriend’s (Jewel) homeland of the amazon. Blue runs into some tough adjustments along the way, and he has to prove to Jewel that he has what it takes to rough it in the jungle. This film felt very tedious and overstuffed to me. There are too many characters with too many storylines, and only 95 minutes of screen time to wrap everything up. The characters are so hard to distinguish because a lot of them look the same. It’s a rough animated film when you have to memorize every celebrity (Over 20 of them) just to know who is standing in what scene. Beyond this, the characters and their journeys just aren’t that exciting. One thing that films like Despicable Me and Frozen does well is that they give us characters that we learn so much about in such a small bit of dialogue. I felt like i knew everything about the sisters after i watched Frozen, and that is because that is storytelling done well. The animation is absolutely breathtaking with far away shots of Rio and the amazon. There is definitely nothing to complain about in the graphic department of coloring and shading. I did not see this film in 3D, but i can imagine that you won’t need it to fully enjoy the scenery that compliments the colorful feathers of each bird. I also felt that the songs were done a lot better than the first film. One scene in particular is where the villain of the film, Nigel is singing about how he plans to poop on the party of the main characters. It’s cheap laughs for the kiddies, but that doesn’t mean i didn’t catch myself laughing at it as well. The soundtrack is definitely the highlight of this film, but those tracks are few and far between. Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Tracy Morgan and Bruno Mars to name a few, really do a great job for their characters. Their voices don’t necessarily stick out in a scene and that is perfect when doing voice work. It should be about the film and not the actors playing the animation. Overall, i know there are a lot of Rio fans out there, but i would wait till DVD on this one if you absolutely have to see it. I can just hope that this series will stop here because these characters have already squeezed every drop of this less than stellar franchise. Rio 2 is a bust.

Noah

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5/10

WOW!!! So that just happened. After sitting through 2 hours and 15 minutes of Director Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, i can clearly say that this is the most extreme interpretation of any story in any book ever. I hate to say that i can kind of understand why the Catholics are so upset with this film. That’s not to say that i agree with them, but i get why they are mad. This film is INSANE. It’s like mixing the bible with the film Apocalypse Now. For those of you who thought Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet was an extreme adaptation, you now have no room to talk. Noah is the tale of Noah’s Ark and the end of the world. Noah (Russell Crowe) gets his family and all of the animals into this wooden ark and Noah is told to do this to survive the massive flood. In this film, Noah is a murderer, a bible obsessive to the point of pure insanity, and threatens to kill his son’s 2 newborn daughters. He even gets to the point of running through the Ark with a knife about to kill those babies. On top of all of this is the hypocritical point of view that Noah is doing all of this from the word of God, but yet lets thousands of people die in the storm because they supposedly ruined the world. Getting into a religion debate is the LAST thing i want to do in this world, but doesn’t it say something in the bible about forgiving? Apparently not because Noah and God are quite vengeful in this film to the point of water knocking off people hanging on cliffs. There are also rock people in this film that protect Noah’s family by blocking the people getting to the ark. The CGI on the rock people is absolutely terrible. It makes the movie seem comical at times when it’s not supposed to be. This is weird because the CGI for the animals in the ark actually isn’t too bad. They mostly use wide shots for these animals, and that is the right way to go about it. Already halfway through this review, i can tell you that there are just too many crazy things in this film. I might have to do an hour long video review someday Some things i did enjoy about the film was the fact that they did dare to do something different and entertaining for once. I just think they failed at the aspect of making it anything but comical. I also thought the cinematography was beautiful. Especially with the scenary and some amazing editing done during the symbolism shots. Noah occasionally has these shots when he is sleeping and hearing the word of God. The acting isn’t terrible either. I think Emma Watson and Jennifer Connolly are good without having to be the main focus of the film. Crowe is about the craziest choice you could have possibly have had from a guy who isn’t named Nicolas Cage. The film does start off kind of slow, but it’s in the 2nd hour that it really picks up. Funny enough, the ark takes off with about an hour left of the film, so you kind of wonder what they could do with that time. That is when all of the craziness erupts with six people stuck on a boat all turning on each other. The pacing of their actions made me feel like i was watching an HBO show because we are predicting what these characters will do before they even know it.The ending is weak because they go back on all of the insanity they have created for a cliche ending. Overall, this is the craziest thing i have ever seen for an adaptation. I think a majority of the good reviews is because it’s a story that people definitely weren’t expecting.To me, it’s very hard to take seriously because of the mind blowing events on screen. I would recommend this film only because there will not be anything like this for a LONG time. Wait till DVD though. If i have one big regret about this film, it’s that i didn’t have the option of having a rewind button to enjoy the laughter of the madness unfolding around me. Overall verdict – Better than Son of God, but only because it wasn’t boring.

The Single Moms Club

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5/10

I didn’t like this movie at all, but i have to say that it is my favorite Tyler Perry movie. This means that this film had the least amount of things that pissed me off. Nia Long, Amy Smart and YES Tyler Perry star in this film about 5 divorced women who go through the struggles of raising children by themselves. I thought it was very honorable of Perry to cast himself in the lead male role opposite of the most beautiful woman (My opinion) in the movie, Nia Long. His acting is nothing less than creepy. This film could have easily been turned into a horror/suspense film because of the weird motions he goes through with trying to be with Long. It’s sad to say that he is the least creepiest when he dons a grey wig and women’s clothing. If you think i am saying this because i think Perry is a terrible actor, you would be wrong. I also thing he is a terrible writer. My favorite line that he himself utters in the film takes place when Nia Long calls his cell phone and they have a conversation. When it is over, he asks for her phone number. Ummmmmm maybe just look on the phone THAT SHE CALLED YOU ON!!!!!!! With my Perry frustrations out i can now focus on the movie itself. The film is funny because it’s very convenient. The characters go through THE EXACT SAME THING at the EXACT SAME TIME. They all find good looking men that like them AT THE EXACT SAME TIME. And what Tyler Perry film would great without racism? This film is weird with that subject though because sometimes it’s played for laughs and sometimes it’s played as a seriously disturbing subject. You kind of can’t play on both sides of the road on this one. You ask your audience to laugh and be angered when racism rears it’s ugly head. There are some great characters in the film that are led by Wendi Mclendon-Covey (Bridesmaids) and Cocoa Brown. Covey is given the deepest role as a racist white woman who makes the biggest transformation by the end of the film. She bickers a lot with Brown and it makes for some legitimately funny moments that even made your favorite film critic chuckle. Terry Crewes also cameos with his usual comedic schtick. I don’t care what that guy is in, he will always be funny to me. Beyond this, the rest of the characters are on sleep mode. One female even came close to topping Perry’s phone number line. She divorced her husband but is still living in a house that her husband funds. She is secretly seeing a guy behind her exes back, but he says that he will cut her off if he finds out she has a man. Cocoa Brown tells her that if he stops funding her that she can receive more money by taking him to court since she has custody of the child. She is completely shocked to find this out. DERRRRRRRRR!!!!!! The film itself clocks in at just shy of 2 hours, but i think that is because it has the deepest message of any Perry film. It’s about women who lose everything they know and because of friends they are given the power to stand back up. That message did kind of hit a soft spot with me as my friends have always been my rock. If i had the audacity to make someone sit through a Tyler Perry film, this would be the one i would recommend. For those of you who like his humor, wait till DVD. There is no reason to rush to the theaters when this will be a rental in 2 months……..trust me.

Need For Speed

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5.5/10 – (SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS) With the exception of Fast Six, this is the most i have ever had to suspend disbelief in a “Speed movie”. Need For Speed is the latest in a film genre about the machines men love and wish they had.It is an adaptation of the popular video game series. Aaron Paul stars as Tobey Marshall, a mechanic and driver who is given the opportunity to save his shop by racing against his arch rival for a boat load of cash. Aaron’s best friend is killed in the race, and he is to blame. He serves 2 years in prison for something that i honestly don’t understand how they pieced the blame on him. That’s exactly what ruins this film though, the fact that it has to brake every ten minutes for some other bombshell in disbelief. There were a couple of big problems that i had with the film that i will share at the bottom. If you don’t want to be spoiled, i suggest you don’t read it. Drive and Rush should have taught us that it is possible for this genre to produce good films. Those two show that the racing can be secondary as long as it has a great story to fall back on. In Need For Speed, the story is easily forgettable as we see beautifully shot chase scenes that will make the viewer feel the power of these muscle cars. The film also delivers two good performances by Aaron Paul and Michael Keaton. I had no idea Keaton was even in this film (Why has Hollywood been doing this with their trailers lately?), but he has the absolute time of his life as the organizer of the big race who hosts his own radio show. Keaton is quite literally off of his rocker in this role and i loved every minute of it. This film also had a pretty wide variety of cover songs that really set the mood for each scene. The best of all is a mellow cover of “All Along the Watchtower”. Beyond this, the film is lost in 2 hours of mediocrity. It has no chemistry between Paul and his female counterpart, it has a lot of awkward scenes just for the hell of it, and it is possibly the biggest insult to law enforcement. Overall, Paul has always had great dramatic chops, but he wastes it in terrible film choices like this. I hope his choices are better in the future. It will be hard to get out of the Jesse Pinkman typecast. Recommended to car buffs, but no one else.
Problems i had
1. While doing over 100 MPH on the freeway, a friend of Paul’s comes by with a gas truck. He fills up the car while they are driving at full speed. UMMMMM NO!!!! A car is already dangerous when it’s turned on while filling up. Multiply that danger by 50 when it’s going over 100 MPH.
2. The villain makes a threat to Aaron Paul on the radio show where he tells the world that he will give them 7 million dollars to make sure Paul doesn’t race in the final race. An issued threat would probably mean jail time for a death threat.
3. Aaron Paul has a friend in the film who steals 3 helicopters. He goes to jail for these acts and then manages to convince the guard to let him watch the final race on an IPAD. I can’t make this up people
4. (BIG TIME SPOILERS) The ending has Paul going to jail for 6 months for illegal racing. I guess they forgot eluding the officers multiple times, destruction of property, disturbing the peace, auto theft and assault during the final race. Smells like more than 6 months to me

Son Of God

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5.5/10

The spirit is there for an above expectations film, but the execution is a little underwhelming. Son of God is the latest Jesus bio flick about his presence in Rome with the apostles who he inspires. These kind of films aren’t my kind of taste in film, so i apologize for the review ahead of time. I will say that Son of God is probably the best holy movie i have seen since The Ten Commandments. It has a well performing cast, heart stopping imagery and a phenomenal score written by the great Hans Zimmer. With the imagery, there is no holding back in the camera shots of this film. They give you the kind of shots that will make you feel completely uncomfortable if you have any relationship to Jesus or religion. The biggest problem with the film? The first hour is INSANELY BORING. It just moves soooo slow, and it kills any motivation that the film has to bring in an audience that wants nothing to do with it. The second hour of the film is where the film starts to pick up, but it is a little late by that point. I once again explain that this will hurt the people with no interest in this film other than curiosity. The religious movie goer will feel inspired by every bit of this 2 hour and 15 minute run time. The villains are a little over the top with what sounds like 90’s bully lines. One line in particular was when Jesus was crucified and one of the soldiers said “Hey Jesus, i bet you can see your holy temple from up there”. Keep in mind that these soldiers are holy crusaders to begin with, so it’s kind of against their religion to make that kind of joke, but i digress. It’s lines like this and some of the acting that gives this film a stamp of corny. With some of the dialogue, it almost seemed like they were making two different films. Son of God is a film that i can recommend to the religious crowd. If you do not apply to this and want to see it, i suggest you wait till DVD. The theater experience was a little awkward at times for a guy like me. I was also amazed at how many trailers there were for holy films coming out. I knew about “Noah” and “Heaven is for Real”, but there were two other films coming out with similar premises. Hell, one even stars the Duck Dynasty guy who got kicked off the show. I can’t make this stuff up guys. I wait for Hollywood to approach me with a movie deal someday. My final stamp of approval, i can’t recommend Son of God since it was half good/half bad for me.

August : Osage County

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5/10

Osage County is perhaps one of the most overrated films i have ever come across. For all of the Oscar buzz and critical praise that this film received, it really is quite disappointing. The story which is based on a play of the same name is about a dysfunctional family dealing with the loss of the father of the household and the secrets that follow. This 2 hour run time really has nothing to fill in the blanks with but childish arguments. Sure, it is an honest look at a real American family, but the big events in this film happen few and far between. Meryl Streep is definitely Oscar nomination worthy in her portrayal as Violet Weston. She is the same Streep who brings tears of cinematic virtue to every role she plays. Her character struggles with drug abuse, and it’s clear she is ripping apart at the seams. Julia Roberts is ok, but i didn’t feel she deserved an Oscar nomination. She practically plays the same character in every film (my opinion), and i think this film is cluttered with too many characters for it to be a memorable role for her. Two other bright spots in the film are Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale as the brother and sister of Violet. They have amazing chemistry as a couple who have been married far too long, and bring the best comedic chops to the film. It is the great acting performances like this that even give this movie this high of a grade. It tries so hard to be this generation’s Friend Green Tomatoes, but it just doesn’t have the articulate pacing of that film. The characters are so unlikable that by the end of the film we are left with a closing that doesn’t touch our hearts like it should. Overall, i would say that maybe this film will appeal to some female movie goers, but that’s about it. My advice to those fans who want to see it is to wait till a dollar theater or DVD rental. August : Osage County shows brief moments of excellence, but it’s the long waits in between that kill the momentum of this Oscar favorite.

Grudge Match

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5/10

Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro return to the boxing ring in a film that is decent, but easily forgettable. The two fighters fought twice with each of them winning one fight. When Stallone retires from the ring, De Niro has to wait 30 years for his rematch. The two out of shape veteran boxers are laughed out of every press conference and promotion for the fight. This film wasn’t bad considering it’s a tired setting for both actors. Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin each add their brand of humor to the film, and it’s only a few scenes that actually bring a smile to your face. This is one of those films where all of the good lines are said in the trailer and that is unfortunate. I did enjoy the story of the film and how the two boxers are tied closer than their respective sport. I also enjoyed that this film has bravery by actually having a winner. I have seen too many sports movies where it will end in a tie or never tell us the winner that i was expecting that with this film. Pittsburgh is the perfect place to set this film in. It’s the city of workers who are tougher than the concrete they walk on. It makes sense to make both of these fighters from the steel city. Grudge Match is a decent film to see for a family who are looking for something to do to keep them out of the cold. But as a critic, i have to say that this film runs out of energy before it even hits the final round. The verdict – Give it a rental.

Homefront

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5.5/10

I was really disappointed with this film about Jason Statham and his daughter starting a new life in the country. James Franco played a badass villain who really showed a different level for his acting. I know he has played a villain before, but nothing like this. He is a country hick who takes no lip from anyone. Franco is great, and there are some excellent dramatic scenarios that unwind, but this film has a lot wrong with it. The biggest thing is that these people are natural born idiots. I get that parents can act extreme if someone messes with their child, but even this is taking it over the line. This whole movie unwinds because two kids had a very minor fight at school. The reactions are just stupid and never quite make you feel relative to the subject. I also felt that the fights were very obviously choreographed. Even for a Statham film, the fights were just obviously overdone with everything looking too crisp for country people who probably don’t know anything about martial arts. Finally, i felt the editing was awful. They kept doing something where they would start cutting to the next scene but then stay on the present scene and then go to the next scene. It was just really weird to watch because you are focused on one piece and then they are shoving the other one at you before you are done with the previous scene. Homefront does have it’s charms, and if the film was ever on TV i would probably watch it. It does carry a deeper storyline than most Statham films. It just fails in the execution of the events that unfold. I would like to see this film done as a 20 minute short film by a college student looking to take his strides in Hollywood. Anything more than that just doesn’t make sense to me. Some people might like this film, but i just can’t recommend it.

Dom Hemingway

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5/10

Jude Law stars in the role he was born to play. He plays Dom Hemingway, a mob worker who is jailed for 12 years after taking the rep for a drug deal gone wrong. While in prison, he abandons his daughter and wife, the ladder dies from cancer. When he gets out, it’s about a man on the verge of redemption. Law is absolutely amazing as Hemingway. He plays him as a loser who is always looking for the easy way out, but we cheer for him during all 90 minutes of this movie. Dom is an alcoholic, a womanizer, and a guy who has clearly not learned a lot from the 12 years he lost. He picks right up with a drunken three way with two prostitutes paid for by his mob boss. Law is very fast talking with brash English cursing to everyone he ever comes across. It is a role that is easy to like even with his flaws. The movie doesn’t do much beyond that to keep the attention of it’s audience. The film suffers greatly whenever Law isn’t on screen because everyone else is boring compared to our protagonist. The film does have some well shot scenes, but it almost feels like they don’t go on long enough for us to get the background of these other characters. The relationship between Dom and his daughter is presented, but we don’t have a heart to heart between them until the final 10 minutes. By then it is too late to ever get any clarity from this relationship, and that is a shame. This is the biggest probelem with this film; it goes nowhere. The main character really is no better by the end of the film because he is riddled in one bad luck scenario after another. Overall, i wish the film was more along the spark that it kicked off with in the first 20 minutes. It is there that we see so much promise for the journey ahead. By the 87th minute, Dom feels so defeated that there is nothing to look forward to at that point. If you see the trailer and feel like you really have to see this film, get it on DVD. It will be hard to find in theaters in a couple weeks, and i certainly don’t think it’s worth the journey to find it.

Escape Plan

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5/10

I was very disappointed in this film starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger about an escape artist who escapes from prisons for a living. This film was INSANELY unbelievable even for a Stallone film. I watched The Expendable movies and loved them, but this film doesn’t pack the same charm. There are limits to everyone’s suspension of disbelief, but this excedes those limits to overdrive. It is also very predictable as you can see many of the swerves coming from a mile away. I did enjoy the work of Jim Caviezel in this film as the villain atop the prison. He seemed to be having a lot of fun in the work as the villain for once. A lot of the action scenes and witty dialogue is there, but it just doesn’t give us the same kind of charm from this year’s Bullet to the Head and The Last Stand. Those films were far superior and give us a story that is down to earth. The thing i didn’t understand about the prison was if they knew Stallone was an escape artist and they studied his work by reading his book, why wouldn’t there be more focus on him? I would have a guard on him 24 hours a day. Even when he sleeps. Those same thoughts will ruin this film for anyone with half a brain. I recommend this film to hardcore Stallone/Arnold fans, but no one else.