Archive Page 2
Dumb and Dumber To
The original Dumb and Dumber is one of my all-time favorite comedies. Don’t judge me, I don’t bash on you for liking whatever crappy movie you think is great. Anyway, the original film is a classic. It’s got just the right amount of stupid antics combined with sight gags and subtle humor (e.g. the salmon of Capistrano) to make it the complete package. It’s endlessly quotable (“I like it a lot”), and even to this day, I pretend like I’m running incredibly fast while I’m in the passenger side of a car.
Dumb and Dumber To is none of those things. Sadly, it’s a completely unnecessary sequel 20 years too late. It makes the typical mistake these kinds of movies make, and that is to rehash the original film. This sequel takes it to the extreme and essentially become a near remake of the first film.
Dimwits Harry and Lloyd embark on a cross-country trek to find Harry’s long-lost daughter so she can give him a kidney. They carry an unopened package with them that is worth millions. They are accompanied by a criminal who they trade barbs with, and accidentally kill him. Once they get to their location, they learn that there is more to their journey than meets the eye, criminals and police get involved, and everything gets sorted out in the end.
But it’s still funny, right? Wrong. Most of the jokes don’t land. The humor is tired and surprisingly mean-spirited. There are barely any gags worth remembering. The only part that I found funny was when Harry, Lloyd, and the criminal were debating the “He Who Smelt It” game rules, and even then it was only mildly funny.
Overall, this was a sad reminder of the state of Hollywood today. They resurrect every old property and spit an ill-advised sequel or remake into the theater. This movie doesn’t deserve to exist.
The Monster Squad
Back in the 1980s, kid movies were a big thing. A group of plucky youngsters would get involved in strange adventures that were way over their heads, and would ultimately save the day and/or world by the end. The Goonies, in 1985, was perhaps the greatest example of this format. The Monster Squad is one of the poorer examples of this format.
The Monster Squad has a promising premise, but executes it in the most moronic way possible. A group of kids who are obsessed with monster movies form a club so they can revel in their hobby. Meanwhile, all the classic Universal horror villains (Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Wolfman) gang up with a thread-bare plot to take over the world. When the kids find out, they used their combined monster lore to defeat the bad guys.
I’m a fan of whimsical fantasy movies when they are done right. The Monster Squad, however, is done completely wrong. The characters are flat and boring. They have no personalities. They merely exist to shuttle the story along. We feel nothing for them. When the main kid is in danger, I didn’t care in the slightest.
The monsters are equally dull. They do nothing to strike fear into our hearts. They lurch about, hiss at the kids, and are generally impotent to do anything even remotely horrifying. They are easily defeated by the youngsters with shotguns, wooden stakes, and silver bullets.
Obviously, the kids are going to kill the monsters, that’s the whole premise. But it’s done in such a lazy fashion. The requisite fat kid kills the Creature from the Black Lagoon with a shotgun blast to the chest. Gee, how inventive. The requisite tough kid kills vampires with wooden stakes while they lumber toward him without any sense of urgency or danger.
With an underdeveloped plot, one-dimensional characters, and monsters with nothing to do, The Monster Squad fails on every single level. It’s too bad, because it could have been great in the right hands.
Bridge on the River Kwai is another one of those classic movies that is classic for inexplicable reasons. Watching it, I honestly could not figure out why people like it. Was it the languid pace and lack of urgency? Was it the battle of superior White morality over that of the evil Japanese? Was it Obi Wan Kenobi as the main character? It’s hard to say. Perhaps it’s the combination of all three.
Kwai is sort of like the ultimate movie for spoiled assholes. The movie begins with a group of freshly captured British soldiers being hauled into a Japanese POW camp. The new inmates are told they are going to be put to work building a bridge. The bridge is extremely important to the war effort and must be built on time.
Obi Wan tells Saito (the head of the Japanese camp) that officers are not required to do manual labor because of the Geneva Convention. Saito says he doesn’t care, and everyone is has to work. Obi Wan remains defiant. He and his officers refuse to work. They put up with starvation, beatings, and being locked in an iron box. Eventually, Saito gives in and tells the officers they don’t have to work. The officers get to chill while their grunts go build the bridge.
We’ve all had an insane teacher, right? I know I have. Those people that push you really, really hard, scream at you, and bring you to your boiling point. And then, when it’s all over, you look back and realize, “Holy shit, I am better at this thing now because of how hard they pushed me.” Whiplash is like that, but dialed up to eleven. J.K. Simmons plays an instructor at a prestigious music school, who is trying to push his student, Miles Teller, to become the next big jazz musician. Teller tries to live up to Simmons’ impossible standards. He practices his drumming until his fingers bleeds, he deprives himself of sleep, he breaks up with his girlfriend, and he endures hours of torture just to please his instructor. But there’s a fine line between pushing for greatness and going too far. Simmons ends up crossing the line, taking the hazing to lunatic levels. While you watch this movie, you simultaneously cringe in fear in anticipation of Simmons’ next tirade, and you watch with rapt attention, hoping that Teller will win his accolades. Simmons is in a league of his own with a phenomenal acting presence here. He absolutely deserved every award he won for this role. This was a phenomenal movie, and one we can all relate to on some level.
Silver Linings Playbook
This is a movie about damaged people, but it manages to be fun and uplifting at the same time. Hollywood almost always gets the medical field wrong, and the psychiatric field gets the shortest end of the stick. This movie manages to get things kind of right, at least more right than most Hollywood movies. Bradley Cooper plays a Bipolar guy who refuses to take his meds, and Jennifer Lawrence plays a girl with raging Borderline Personality Disorder. They freak out and clash with each other, and are as dysfunctional as one would expect given their diagnoses. Even so, they work together, and through teamwork (and love *facepalm*) they get better. The hokiest part was that they find happiness THROUGH THE POWER OF DANCE! I JUST GOTTA DANCE YOU GUYS! which is a bit too cliché for my tastes. The acting was pretty good, though.
Full disclosure, here is a list of Marvel Cinematic Universe properties I haven’t seen: Captain America 2, Thor 2, Iron Man 3, Avengers 2, Ant-Man, Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Amazing Spider-Man, and Amazing Spider-Man 2. So, I probably wasn’t prepared for Captain America 3:
The Combining of All Properties Civil War. Seeing this movie presented an interesting experiment: watch a bunch of characters I’m not very familiar with cavort on-screen, and try to see if I can figure out what the hell is going on.
Civil War is about Selfless Captain America fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. Err, wait no, scratch that. Civil War is about Sanctimonious Captain America defending his psycho assassin best friend despite the fact he’s a murderous lunatic who deserves to rot in a prison cell.
Apparently, I was supposed to love Creed because of its amazing acting, incredible story, and wonderful direction. Creed was pretty good, I suppose… for a remake.
The problem with Creed is the problem with every fucking movie Hollywood has been churning out lately. It’s a goddamn motherfucking remake. Yeah, that’s right, it’s a remake of the first film in the series: Rocky.
Rocky has long been hailed as one of the finest movies of all time. But it’s 40 years old. That means the current generation is largely unaware of it, and the last generation has probably forgotten most of it. It was an easy trick for the writers of Creed to do a virtual carbon copy of the Rocky screenplay and make it good. Of course it’s good. It was good the first fucking time in Rocky! That’s the reason everyone loved it. They were just watching Rocky again. What a crock of shit!
If you don’t believe that Creed is nearly identical to Rocky, check out this breakdown:
Creed: main character is an underdog no one takes seriously
Rocky: main character is an underdog no one takes seriously
Creed: main character finds an old, down on his luck trainer to teach him to be a better boxer
Rocky: main character finds an old, down on his luck trainer to teach him to be a better boxer
Creed: best fighter in the world sets up a publicity stunt match, giving the underdog a once in a lifetime shot
Rocky: best fighter in the world sets up a publicity stunt match, giving the underdog a once in a lifetime shot
Creed: main character meets a girl and falls in love during his journey
Rocky: main character meets a girl and falls in love during his journey
Creed: the big fight is expected to be an easy win for the champion, but the underdog holds his own
Rocky: the big fight is expected to be an easy win for the champion, but the underdog holds his own
Creed: main character loses by decision
Rocky: main character loses by decision
Creed: the point of the movie is the main character’s journey of self-discovery
Rocky: the point of the movie is the main character’s journey of self-discovery
This critically acclaimed 2013 film from South Korea makes you wonder what it takes to make a film “critically acclaimed.” Apparently, it isn’t an interesting story, good action sequences, or wonderful acting, because Snowpiercer has none of those things, but still rocks a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In yet another dreary, boring, post-apocalyptic nightmare, Snowpiercer takes place on a perpetually moving train. The world was completely frozen-over, and the last remnants of humanity took refuge on one insane man’s train, which continues to run indefinitely, despite nobody being alive to maintain the train tracks.
The train is divided into two classes: our heroes (the poor) and the villains (the rich). The rich are stealing children for some reason, so the poor decide to rise up one day and find out what’s going on.
Chris Evans leads the poor people in their uprising. They fight their way to the front of the train with some pretty bland action scenes along the way. Tilda Swinton shows up to chew some scenery, and John Hurt appears to cash a paycheck before both move on to better projects.
Evans finds the crazed engineer, played by Ed Harris, who says they have to use small children to keep the guts of the train clean. Because, yeah, um, just accept it. Some more fighting happens, the train explodes and derails, and everybody dies except for one kid and a Korean chick.
There is nothing unique or thrilling about Snowpiercer. It’s yet another entry into a tired genre that needs to go on extended hiatus.
Chevy Chase stars as Fletch, an intrepid reporter hot on a California drug case. Chase is at the height of his comedy powers here, when he was snorting mountains of cocaine, but it hadn’t caused irreparable brain damage yet. He dons plenty of wacky disguises as he investigates a labyrinthine mystery involving an airplane company, the police, and a rich man who wants to be murdered. It isn’t super jokey, and I wouldn’t even say it’s an outright comedy. Yes, there are tons of light moments, and nothing is really taken seriously. But I would almost classify it as a light drama. Chase does a great job moving the action along, and makes the comedy appear effortless. While it is a fun movie, it is rather unmemorable, and I don’t think it has a lot of replay value. Still, it’s worth a watch.