The Grand Budapest Hotel

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9/10

Wes Anderson’s latest film is his masterpiece. This film stars Ralph Fienes as the manager of a prestigious hotel in 1928. He has affairs with older rich ladies who rent out the rooms, and he gets in trouble when one of them dies and leaves him a valuable painting. Wes Anderson really hit a home run with this one. Besides it’s usual quirkiness, it has absolutely amazing coloring. Possibly the best i have ever seen. Each scene is highlighted with beautiful shades that radiate off the hotel walls. The same Anderson camera angles are there as well. Back with stop motion perfection that makes any fan of his work smile. The film is littered with it’s usual list of actors that make the best of every scene, but some aren’t given enough time to shine.Bill Murray, Jude Law and F Murray Abraham are only present in a couple of scenes, but you will wish for more as they each give a different sort of charismatic charm to the roles they play. Fienes is absolutely amazing in this role. He has comedic timing that is relevant of the 1940’s style of cinema. Adrian Brody and Willam Dafoe also shine as the son and bodyguard of the deceased madam. They are after Fienes because they feel like he slept his way to the riches. Dafoe is silent but dangerous as a man who breaks all the rules to restore happiness to his client. It is in this role that Wes clearly has seen the SNL skit about him (See The Midnight Cotterie of Sinister Intruders). This film starts to have touches of a horror movie midway through with a dead cat, a severed head and a finger slicing scene that will have you wincing by how quick it happens. I like this darker side of Anderson, and wouldn’t be against seeing it in more of his films. The storyboard sets are also amazing. Some far away shots of the film are done by plastic castle models made nine feet tall. Anderson knew the audience would know the shot was manufactured, so he went with an old school style of building much like the old Godzilla films did. Many people have criticized this and one other scene in the film for it’s practical computer effects, but i think they are just right. They add a cheesy campy feel to the film that adds to the dry comedy. If i have one problem with this film, it is the ending. Characters don’t pay the price for some of the crimes they commit, so it’s a little odd when everyone ends on good terms. Anderson is always known for his odd endings, but this one just didn’t sit right with me. With the exception of that, it’s a perfect film. I will definitely be grabbing this one when it hits DVD shelves so i can see all of the things i missed in the wide angle shots. Every Anderson fan has to see this film. I can’t recommend it to everyone though since his comedic humor is kind of an acquired taste. I will leave the trailer below at the bottom and you can judge for yourself. Excellent film. 

The Muppets : Most Wanted

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7.5/10

During the first musical number of the film, Kermit sings about how sequels are never as good as the originals. While this wouldn’t apply to the 2011 Muppets film since that one is the 6th and this is the 7th of the Muppets films, this one nearly comes close to topping the 2011 Muppets. Most Wanted has most of the Jim Henson charms going for it. Creative lyrics with beautiful melodies that are composed by Christophe Beck. One thing you can always count on in Muppets films is that the songs will have you singing them for days and days. A couple of my early favorites are “I’m Number One” and “Stick With Me”. The films puppetry is also quite impressive again. The muppets are each given their own time to shine from the main story involving a kidnapping of Kermit to Walter, Fozzie and Animal figuring out a way to get him back. The storyline itself is enough to keep you intrigued while still giving you the subtle winks every time the outcome seems predictable. That is what makes Muppets films so entertaining; they aren’t your typical children’s films. I am 29 years old and have been a Muppets fan my whole life. Even as i get older, i find that these films still earn the $10 ticket worth. They are very minor reasons, but there are two things that keep this from equaling the magic of the 2011 film. The first is that i didn’t laugh as much during this film. I think there is nothing really wrong with that, but this film was filled more with it’s sentimental moments. When i watch The Muppets, i am in it to laugh. Most Wanted has it’s moments that will have you repeating the lines in laughter. I can just remember the first film being more quotable. The other reason is that the on screen charisma of Jason Segal, Amy Adams and Chris Cooper just can’t be matched by anyone in this film. Sure, Ty Burrell was born to be in a Muppets film, and Tina Fey is a welcome contribution even with a silly russian accent. But Segal was a fan, and you could feel that about that film. Burrell’s buddy cop moments with Sam the Eagle were by far my favorite parts of the film, and i would more than welcome a spin off film with just those two. Muppets Most Wanted is definitely a recommended film for an audience of any age. There is humor, colorful characters and touching moments. It’s a can’t miss for any fan who grew up watching the shows/films.

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.

Veronica Mars : The Movie

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6/10

The weekend’s best film is also the one shown in the least amount of theaters. Kristen Bell returns in the role she was born to play. She plays Veronica Mars, a small town daughter of the chief investigator and former Police Captain. As seen in the TV show, she is quite the investigator herself, and she returns to where it all started. Neptune, California has always been a place for drugs, violence and murder. The ladder is the premise for this film as Veronica’s best friend Logan is framed for murdering his pop star girlfriend. Veronica stays in town to help Logan in his journey to innocence. First of all, it was the fans of the series that attracted me to this film. The show was canceled prematurely after 3 seasons on the CW and it was the fans who funded the film so that they could finally get a fair ending. I think that is pretty impressive, and wish a couple of my cancelled shows had such a dedicated fan base. The movie itself plays like a CW TV show, so that should please fans of the series. It has all of the hip dialogue and sassy main character that would otherwise be lost in a genre that produces hundreds of these films every decade.It also has the trendy indie rock music that was popular for a show of this kind. I should know, i was a Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill fan. Every character is back from the TV show, but none are more appreciated than Keith Mars, Veronica’s father. The on-screen chemistry is one of the finer points of the film as Keith has always raised her on his own. He has tried to keep her out of the investigative world, but has come to understand that she is quickly following in her father’s footsteps.I was also quite surprised with how many celebrity cameos were in the film. Dax Sheppard is expected as he is the husband of Bell, but James Franco, Justin Long, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jerry O Connell are great as scene stealers. Franco in particular is the topic of conversation when he is seen in an internet video trying on tight jeans. The murder itself is studied and pressed quite well as a classic whodunnit? When the culprit is revealed though, it is a little lackluster. There is no chase scene or final fight between our protagonist and antagonist, so you are left wondering how this person could ever get this far with something as serious as murder. It is also tough to relate to some of the characters with their actions, but i do understand the interest here. Veronica Mars has a fan base that is undeniable, and it’s great that they got a film that can satisfy the cravings that were left abandoned in 2007. It’s just a shame that fans have to resort to a limited showing if they want to see their favorite TV show on the big screen. It is available on pay per view, so that should help some of you. I definitely recommend this film to fans of the show, but i think non fans will enjoy it as well. It does offer a nice 5 minute rundown of everything up to this point, so a guy like me wasn’t left scratching his head.

Mr Peabody and Sherman

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7/10

The re-visioning of the 1960’s side cartoon on Rocky and Bullwinkle sees our main protagonists in trouble traveling back through time to get back home. The voice acting of Ty Burrell (Mr Peabody) and 10 year old Max Charles (Sherman) is done really well, and the perfect choice to compliment old school fans of the cartoon. Peabody is a dog who is the adoptive father of Sherman. He is a very intelligent canine who tries to teach his son about world history through a time machine. Sherman disobeys his father when he takes the time machine out and gets stuck in ancient Egypt. The animation of the film looked very crisp and beautifully textured. Dreamworks once again scores on a beautiful cinematography that really updates the cartoon. One of the biggest benefits to showing this film over another animated feature is that kids will get a history lesson from this film. It makes learning fun by taking our two characters back through some of the world’s biggest events and listing the time and place for those events. Many such historical figures are even brought to life to help the duo get back home. People like George Washington, Marie Antoinette, Da Vinci and even King Tut are given plenty of screen time to represent their respective era’s. There were two things that i thought weren’t necessarily problems but were very interesting about the film. The first is that the film really has no antagonist. I am sure some people will fire back with Mrs Grunion (The Children’s services worker) being the villain, but she doesn’t have enough screen time and isn’t dark inside enough to pull it off. It’s weird to watch a children’s film nowadays that doesn’t have an antagonist. The other thing was that for a film that was marketed as a comedy, it’s not a very funny movie. There is some comedy in the film that will make you chuckle and that is mostly adult comedy. It’s kind of sad to say that the comedy in this film really doesn’t represent children very well. I could be wrong with different kids seeing this, but the children in my theater barely ever laughed. I think all of this is OK because it is still a good and educative film, but it’s just weird that they marketed to kids and it didn’t really do anything for them. I saw this film with my friend who is almost 40 and we both had a couple good laughs when the entire rest of the theater was dead silent. I think that has to do with the comedy that is present being too descriptive for a 5 or 6 year old to understand. Overall, Mr Peabody and Sherman is a delightful ride through the past. It’s a story about our children growing up and having to let go so they can spread their metaphorical wings. It’s also a story about being different and being OK with that. I would recommend waiting till DVD or if you can catch a dollar theater showing of it. It’s a good film, but it can wait.

Adult World

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4.5/10

A tale of growing up and letting our dreams go is told in this drama starring Emma Roberts, John Cusack and Evan Peters. Roberts stars as an aspiring poet who hunts down Cusack (who is a famous poet) to work under him and learn more. At the same time, Roberts runs away from home because her parents are tired of supporting a hobby that isn’t going anywhere. She needs a job quick to pay for her new apartment, so she starts at a porn shop because it’s her only option. The film does have a great premise, and one that hits especially close to home for me. It’s execution though, is forgettable at best. Roberts is good as a whiny and mopey teenager, but she doesn’t grow into much more by the film’s end. When the credits show at the 89 minute mark, we are left with the same suicidal teenager we started with. Cusack is outstanding as always. I like that he is taking on more outside of the box roles with his independent films. Last year, he showed a menacing side as a serial killer in The Frozen Ground, and now he shows a phobic snob in Adult World. He serves as a father figure who is constantly rolling his eyes at a young generation that he doesn’t understand. As i said before, the film doesn’t execute in the way it should. This could easily be a good movie, but it’s slow in it’s search for excitement, it has an attention seeking main character and it’s got an abrupt ending. Overall, Adult World is something that should only be seen if you are a fan of Cusack’s work. He is the only good thing about the film. I would say it’s good for a Redbox rental, but nothing more.

About Last Night

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6.5/10

Possibly the early favorite for surprise of the year for me. I really enjoyed this remake of the 1986 story starring Demi Moore and Jim Belushi. In this version, Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant star as two couples whose stories and growth intertwine. This film has a realism to relationships that i haven’t seen since 2006’s “The Break Up”. It’s harsh and realistic when it needs to be, and i appreciate that in a film. We have all been down the same roads that these people have been down. From the changing of who we are as people to pregnancy scares to being the idiot who says the wrong thing at the wrong time. Hart and Hall are amazing as an onscreen item. I think Hollywood has finally found someone who can match Hart pound for pound on the comedy that he drops to the audience. Hall is someone who takes every comedic punch that Hart gives her and throws it right back in his face. I actually thought she was the best part of this film. Ealy and Bryant are supposed to be the main characters of this story, but it just doesn’t work out that way. The audience will be more interested in Hart/Hall because they provide the film with it’s comedic tones. While on that subject, the film does have it’s comedy, but i was very surprised at how serious it became midway through. It has that perfect mix of humor and intelligence that you just don’t see in the romance department anymore. Christopher Mcdonald (Yes Shooter Mcgavin) even cameos in this film to give us a kind of father figure bar owner to Michael Ealy’s character. My only real critique about this film is that it has weird camera edits. It seems the scenes cut before the characters are finished talking. This leads me to believe that a lot of the film was probably improved with someone as comically gifted as Kevin Hart. There is also a weird scene midway through that reveals Mcdonald’s bar being financially in trouble and then nothing. It’s like it changes into a good fortune without telling us how he paid off that debt. About Last Night dives into a deeper territory by testing the limits of friendships and the responsibilities of finally growing up. Out of all the films i saw this weekend, i think it is the perfect date movie. I would recommend it to any couple who are in the mood for laughs, emotional roller coasters and surprisingly spirited performances. Kevin Hart fans will think this is one of his best roles to date, and they would be correct.

Vampire Academy

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3.5/10 – Combine “Clueless” with your typical Vampire genre entry and you will have Vampire Academy. The problem with that comparison is that it doesn’t have the memorable lines of Clueless, or the creativity of a 1960’s vampire film. What you are left with is a hip and sexy look at one of the oldest genres in cinema history. This film to me tries to even cash in on some of what made the Harry Potter franchise a success. It creates a cool school where the kids are vampires and carry magical powers. It just doesn’t work when you are talking about something as dark as vampires. I get what producer Don Murphy was trying to do here. He was taking six books in this genre and picking apart the best parts to grab the teen audience into coming along for a ride the same way Twilight did. I think that is my biggest problem with this film; it lacks originality. Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry star as two vampire teenagers who run away from their high school only to be dragged back after a year on the road. Deutch and Fry are two actresses who i feel could do a lot better in a straight comedy flick. They are too unbelievable to be in this role. They dress sexy, they say the cool lines and they never once seem like they are in danger. I did appreciate the attempt at classifying multiple vampire groups like the Strigori. I wish they would have explored the different families in that respect more and left the teenage lingo out of it. These girls are teenagers and so are their target audience, but it’s just so BORING for anyone outside of that group. The film clocks in at around 100 minutes, and you feel every single minute of it. It’s easy to get lost in the explanation of the families and what powers they possess because the stories carry on and on. There was a nice twist near the end of the movie which i thought was by far the best part of the movie. Other than that, the dialogue is laughable, the CGI is terrible and the fight scenes lack dedication. This film currently holds an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s easy to see why. I call out directors in children’s movies who treat kids like idiots, so i am calling out the same in teenage genres. I can totally get behind those of you enjoying these books. After skimming through their premises, i can clearly say that they sound like a decent read. But the film dumbs everything that you liked about the books and says sometimes books should just be left alone. I recommend this to the Twilight crowd, but no one else. To those people, i would still wait for DVD.

The Lego Movie

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9/10

The most creative movie i have seen in a few years deserves all of the critical praise it has received. The Lego Movie is something out of a childhood dream. It combines incredible animation with comedic humor that is totally unlike anything ever seen in the animation world. I loved the hell out of this movie for so many reasons. The first, it has an amazing cast. Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks,Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell and the always great Charlie Day bring so much heart to the voices they deliver. Freeman especially brings us so much dry humor as God. It’s a role that he has gotten so amazing at playing (Bruce+Evan Almighty) that people start to question if this man actually is God. As i said before, the animation is incredible. I give the designers of this film an Oscar based on how they brought the Lego world to life. I kind of want to watch this film again based on what i missed. The designs go on for miles and miles and it truly is incredible. The comedic timing has something for everyone. The kids will laugh because this is after all a movie for them, but the adults will love it too because it’s that kind of humor you can look devilishly at your husband/wife and appreciate. It’s also very creative how they tie the movie together at the end. There is a surprise ending that will really melt your heart for those of us who always played with our toys. A love letter to the child in all of us, if you will. I haven’t felt this good about leaving a theater in a while. Sure, there have been better movies in the last few years, but The Lego Movie makes you feel something that you thought was buried away with adulthood. It makes us feel like we are looking down on the world we create with our minds. A couple of the cameos are also very cool in the movie. I am not going to spoil them all, but only the couple that have already been seen in commercials (Batman, Superman, Spaceman). The only negative critique i have for this film is so little that it doesn’t hurt the movie at all. The 3D is kind of useless. Sure it adds to the coloring and the motion of the animation, but no real big tricks with stuff flying at your face. I think you can see this film without paying extra for 3D and still be amazed. There is also a song in the film titled “Everything is Awesome” that will surely be stuck in my head till the end of time, and that isn’t a good thing. The Lego Movie is a film that shouldn’t be missed by anyone. Moviegoers of all ages will be struck with the magic that Village Roadshow Pictures have created.

That Awkward Moment

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4.5/10

Who says you can’t grow up to be a child? Zac Efron sure doesn’t. Efron plays the biggest jerk i have seen in a film in a long time. This is seriously the best they had as a main character? This is the guy we are supposed to root for? Three friends (Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan) make a pact to stay single when Jordan finds out his wife has cheated on him. What follows is a fast talking waste of 94 minutes. The first problem comes in the form of the fast talking itself. The film tries to be a hip indie dialogue driven film, but the problem is that NO ADULT TALKS LIKE THIS. These are like grown babies who dress up in adult clothes. The only character that is worth anything is Jordan’s. His character is given plenty of time (Unlike Teller) and isn’t a complete jerk to every female he meets (Unlike Efron). You actually feel for this character, so you get invested into his rises and falls when he gets back with his wife. For those of you wondering, NO!!! The women do not add anything to the film. The have low self esteem insides which pushes them to be with guys like this in the first place. Efron calls his girl a hooker FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!! Other than the Jordan storyline, i didn’t find a lot else to enjoy. The film is lost between trying to be a comedy and an emotional drama. It tells us to laugh at one crude joke after another, and then forces us to try to feel bad when a character gets drunk at Thanksgiving in front of all of their families.It literally adds nothing to the romantic comedy genre. Don’t waste your time on a film this bad. Even for DVD, this is asking too much. The Efron fans will fall for every word he spews, hook line and sinker. I am sure Labor Day isn’t going to be amazing, but i will be glad to get this terrible taste out of my mouth that Director Tom Gormican has left me

Ride Along

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6/10

The latest film in the buddy cop genre pits the rough and tough exterior of Ice Cube with the comedic bumbling of Kevin Hart. Those things mix together pretty well, as both men have great chemistry with one another. It is however the lack of material that wastes away two decent performances with a flawed script. Ice Cube is a cop in Atlanta when he hears news that Kevin Hart has just got accepted to the academy. Cube’s biggest problem with Hart is that he plans on marrying his sister. The film has moments where it goes through an identity crisis, and doesn’t know if it wants to be a bad to the bone action film or a corny comedy. The parts that really feel the most natural to Ride Along are the parts that make it feel like it is a borderline rated R. When i found out this film was PG-13, i could only scratch my head and ask why. You have the biggest comedian currently in the world mixed with a guy who has some pretty good comedic turns in films like Friday, Barbershop and 21 Jump Street. Let these two loose on a script that neuters both of their performances. There were some excellent supporting roles in the work of John Leguizamo and Lawrence Fishbourne. They both seem like they are too big to be in a film like this with supporting roles, but they give it their all. A big twist happens midway through the film that is pretty obvious to anyone who is paying attention. I am happy to say that i totally saw it coming because i have seen enough of these buddy cop movies to know what to expect. Ride Along is a movie that is recommended because people love Kevin Hart regardless of what he does. It’s those fans that are going to make this movie #1 this weekend. It’s not personally the funniest thing i have ever seen him in, but it’s ok. You get about 70% of his funniest things in the trailer that most of you have already seen. I would catch a daily screening of this film. It’s just not worth the full price

The Nut Job

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3.5/10

This is the angriest i have been at a film in a long time. The continuing trend of Hollywood studios treating children like they’re idiots, continues with The Nut Job. This film is the equivalent to a cheesy joke told at a party with friends. It’s an unfunny and uninteresting mess.The film stars a couple squirrels (Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl) who are literally fighting over nuts to feed a park of other animals. The biggest pain in the film is how many times they use the “Nut pun” OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. I think the audience understood the first time that nuts is a dirty pun that you can use as a sexual innuendo. It’s childish the first time and mind numbing by time 1,456. The voice acting is what gives this film as high of a rating as it is. Liam Neeson is outstanding once again. This time he is a villain who is the park’s leader as he is harboring a secret plan to starve them all out. Neeson is one of those actors who doesn’t need a face to truly grasp the emotion that he is delivering. Even in a script this stupid, he finds a way to make his character menacing. The 3D is totally useless. There is absolutely no reason that this film had to be in 3D except to make Pixar own even more of your wallet. There is one part in the film that didn’t make sense to me, but by the film’s end it was put in there just so the bad guy could be defeated. Another villain who is a human is blessed with the ability to hear dog whistles. This talent hurts him as he holds his ears in agony every time it’s blown. It’s never explained why or how he has this ability but it sure enough shows you why it was put in the film at the end of the movie. If it wasn’t for the voice work and Pixar’s excellent animation, this film would have been worse than the latest Paranormal Activity. It was THAT bad. I will recommend this film for kids, but even the ten or so kids in the theater i was in were getting bored with it. I caught several glances of them kicking the chairs in front of them. One even played games on his mother’s cell phone. The kids will like it, but only the hardest of die hard Pixar adults will like this film. I have yet to even explain the worst part. That is saved in the closing credits of the film. The film’s theme is Gagnam Style by Psy, and sure enough he makes an animated appearance dancing on the side of the credits. If 80 minutes of torture won’t make you roll your eyes, Psy’s 2 year old dance on the side of the screen will. It’s great to have a song in a children’s movie (yelling) THAT THE CHILDREN CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE!!!!! Save your money and go see Frozen if you haven’t seen that. If you have, see it again. See it 400 times before this