Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Funny most of the time, but the marketing kind of spoiled some of the fun.
I saw Nicholas Stroller's Neighbors almost a week ago,I just held off on writing a review... until now. Until Godzilla, which comes out tomorrow, there have only really been two big releases of the summer: this one, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I have seen both, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but Neighbors is the best movie of the summer so far.
Neighbors is a movie that lives up to its promises, which TASM2 kind of did but not completely. It has just the right amount of stupidity to make it work. Most of the time. The movie did make a few stumbles, but hey, it managed to prove that Zac Efron was talented, so I'll give it credit for that at least.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play happily married parents named Mac and Kelly (yeah right, like she'd marry HIM)who move next door to a frat house. The fraternity is led by Teddy (Efron), who Mac claims "looks like something a gay guy created in a lab. In an attempt to be cool again,Mac and Kelly become friends with the fraternity... and party with them.
But soon, the partying and the volume next door becomes a problem for them. So when they call the police, lets just say, the fraternity doesn't take it well. Soon, the frat house starts tormenting them with pranks and before you know it, there is an all out prank war between the two houses.
Neighbors mostly succeeds from its dialogue. There are a few of the gags that are funny, and them some of them miss the mark. Also, the trailer kind of takes away the surprises from the movie. Sure, there are still plenty of other laughs to enjoy. But scenes like the ones with the airbags lost their touch once I got to the actual movie, because I saw it so many times in the trailer.
Overall, I've seen funnier movies, and then I've seen unfunnier movies. The cast, especially Efron, who nails the frat leader role, and Byrne, who is one of the hottest chicks in the business, executes their lines perfectly. Also, Dave Franco does a fantastic Robert De Niro impersonation. I hope I have sold you, it is pretty good. So for what it's worth, see it.
Labor Day (2013)
A laugh riot
I told myself that I would only write reviews for movies that I see in theatres from here on out. But I suppose exceptions can be made. I'm making that exception for Jason Reitman's Labor Day. When a good director makes a bad movie, you feel it. You feel the artist behind the camera desperately try to make art out of garbage, and typically the end result is regret. Regret of an opportunity wasted. Labor Day is one of those cases.
Jason Reitman seemed to be on such a role. I loved his first four movies (Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and Young Adult), and had hope that he could continue his winning streak with Labor Day, the first straight "drama" he has made yet. Sadly, the final result is the most outrageous movie to be released in quite some time. It's a self-serious drama that begs you to buy into its romance. Hell no.
Oscar Winner Kate Winslet magically earned a Golden Globe nomination here for her role as Adele, a slightly depressed divorced shut in who lives with her emotionless son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). On Labor Day weekend, the two take a rare trip to the grocery store, where they meet Frank (Josh Brolin), an injured man who asks them to take him to their house.
Soon, they discover that Frank is an escaped convict who served many years for murder. Are they scared of him? No, not really. Griffith doesn't really show emotion here. He mainly just reads off of a teleprompter. Anyways, soon, Frank ties Adele up. Then what does he do? Brace yourself, it's crazy: he cooks a bowl of chili. Adele and Henry just happened to be held hostage by the gentlest murderer of all time.
Soon, they make a peach pie. Then, Frank plays baseball with Henry. Then, Frank and Adele become lovers... all within five days. They become so madly in love that they discuss leaving the country together as a family. Do you see where I'm going with this? While I watched this movie, I constantly asked myself if what was happening was actually happening. It's a love story so ludicrous I can't believe Winslet didn't chuck it out the window the second she read it.
Reitman has said that the novel moved him to tears. Unless the novel took place in a year, then there's no way that's possible. I didn't buy it. There is plenty of talent on display here. Brolin and Winslet are watchable in anything, but Labor Day is pushing it. Instead of being moved by the romance, I was moved to laughter. I laughed and laughed at the plot inconveniences, and just how hard Reitman tried to make a compelling movie. I needed a drink afterwards, and I'm not talking about soda.
The Other Woman (2014)
When it's funny, it's pretty funny. When it isn't, well...
There is nothing wrong with a good girl revenge comedy every now and then. But when it's done, it needs to be done right. It needs to have the right script, and the right actresses for the leads. In the case of The Other Woman, only about half of that is true. While some of it is quite funny and the actresses are always delightful, the script takes some pretty dumb detours.
Cameron Diaz plays Carly, a New York lawyer who seems to be in a happy relationship with a guy named Mark (Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau). Mark is kind of mysterious, so one night, out of suspicion, she follows him to his house only to realize that he's married to a woman named Kate (the always delightful Leslie Mann). So, once they discover just who each other is, the two sort of form an alliance. But soon, they discover that there is yet ANOTHER woman. This one is named Amber (the unbelievably sexy Kate Upton), and once she discovers what Mark has been up to, the three women plan vengeance.
Sure, it's a rip off of better girl-power movies, but that isn't the problem here. I laughed, a fair amount. The problem is that there are times during The Other Woman that are so excruciatingly bad that I as soon as the movie was over, I ran out of the theater in embarrassment. Embarrassment that I just spent money on it.
Don't get me wrong: I had low expectations going in. I mainly saw it because I had money to blow. If I hadn't already seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I probably would've been in there instead. But I had no where else to go. Strangely, those excruciatingly awful moments don't involve Nicki Minaj, who makes her acting debut as Carly's assistant. Minaj is kind of a moron, but yet her presence is kind of funny. I can see her pursuing an acting career. The movie, I'm sad to say, needed more of her.
The movie does work for about half the time, but that other half is pretty bad. The soundtrack, which includes Lorde's god awful "Royals", a remake of "Love is a Battlefield", and oh dear God, I just threw up. Never mind, I can't continue. Just know that nearly every song played is cliché and awful. Upton is mainly here to look good, so, mission accomplished. Diaz and Mann make a good comic team also.
But then there are the times when the humor falls flat on its ass. The entire last half hour, honestly, is quite horrible. It takes a weirdly violent turn in the last ten minutes, in which Mark has a strange temper tantrum. It also feels like an eternity, especially during scenes like when Diaz pours laxatives into his drink. Guess where the scene goes. Unfortunately, that scene goes the same direction that the rest of the movie goes: down the toilet.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
It's very flawed, but it works well enough.
I attended the 11:00 p.m. showing of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 last night, and had planned on writing the review the next morning. Much to my surprise, things didn't quite happen like that. Once the movie was over, my friend and I exited the theater and then discussed how mixed we were on the movie for an entire hour. This was at around two in the morning. A day has gone by, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 still has me so torn.
Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man, as wonderfully surprising as it was, was unnecessary, mainly because the studio only waited five years to reboot Sam Rami's Spider-Man movies (I personally would like to see those continued, but, whatever). As unnecessary as it may have been, it actually turned out to be the second best Spider-Man adventure, ranking behind Rami's perfect Spider-Man 2 (sue me, I don't care, it's amazing). What brought the movie to life was the chemistry between Peter Parker/ Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy (on and off-screen couple Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone). They worked so well together that I was tempted to hug myself. Webb, who's only other non-Spider-Man movie is (500) Days of Summer, knows what he is doing when it comes to the romance. Also, Garfield is perfect in the title role; a worthy replacement for Tobey Maguire.
Now, Webb returns with the sequel, and Stone and Garfield are as charming as ever. In fact, they just might be the greatest comic book couple of them all. It's a bold statement, but a true one. The visual effects are spectacular and the entertainment value is high. Also, there are some strong moments here. There were times when I let the action carry me away, and these times were reminiscent of the other movies. But yet, there were a few short time periods where the movie was so bad that I felt like my soul was being shanked.
The sequel picks up some time after the original. Peter Parker is still trying to fight crime, while protecting the ones he loves. Peter and Gwen are still dating, which leaves him with a guilty conscience. If you remember from the previous movie, Peter promised Gwen's late father (Denis Leary) that he would avoid her at all costs. He doesn't do that, until he begins seeing Captain Stacy everywhere. He is also still trying to figure out what exactly happened to his parents and how they were involved with the sinister Oscorp company.
If that wasn't bad enough, just wait. Enter Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a grown-up Steve Erkel who becomes obsessed with Spider-Man after he rescues him. Dillon, an Oscorp employee, soon falls into an eel tank, gets stung a lot (duh), and becomes Electro. Judging from that last sentence, I wonder how Oscorp is still a running company. It clearly isn't a safe work environment. Anyways, Electro, who can manipulate electricity, is pretty cool and one of the movies many visual marvels, but his motives for killing Spider-Man (Spider-Man doesn't remember him) are weak.
Then, enter Harry Osbourne (Dane Dehaan), Peter's childhood friend and son of Oscorp founder Norman Osbourne (Chris Cooper) who carries a very distracting Hitler haircut. Seriously, that haircut drove me crazy. When Harry becomes terminally ill, he believes that Spider-Man's blood can save his life. So, let's just say, he wants Spidey dead too. Harry certainly is an interesting character, but had Dehaan done what he did with Chronicle, then the performance would've been remarkable. Instead, Harry is just whiny (he has a temper tantrum) and, well, his haircut is obnoxious. I'm not letting it go.
TASM2, like the constantly bashed Spider-Man 3, has a little bit too much story and just a bit too many villains, but it works. Also, the action sequences are a knockout, and Garfield shares some sublime moments with Stone and Sally Field, who plays his Aunt May. While a good amount of it does work, it is kind of a bumpy ride.
The scenes with Dillon talking to himself are awkward and occasionally dumb. In fact, Electro doesn't become cool until the final hour. But he is quite the special effect. The soundtrack is bizarre, and the score doesn't always mesh well with what's happening on-screen. Spider-Man himself seems a little too jokey this time around. Sometimes, he tries so hard to be funny I'm surprised the crowds of people "oohing" and "awing" didn't hand him a microphone.
Not to mention, Paul Giamatti's brief performance as The Rhino is inconceivably dumb. If he is the lead villain in the next round (there's supposedly two more movies coming out, at least), then you may just have to count me out. Giamatti is a great actor, but his accent is too difficult to take seriously. Also, there are a few loose ends that need to be tied up, and some of them probably won't be in the sequel.
Lastly, the movie would've been better had the ending not dragged on. Had the movie stopped at a certain point, then it would have had more of an effective and poignant ending. Instead, the movie wants to get everyone jazzed up for round three, so it sets up the next movie and not very well.
There is more wrong with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 than right, but yet it still gets my recommendation, I guess. How? Well, its target audience (Spider-Man fans) will go for it. Being one of them, I enjoyed a good amount of it. Yes, it had its ups and downs, but it is still an enjoyable movie to some extent. It's a close call though; if round three is a similar movie, then expect harsher criticism. Whether we like it or not, more Spider-Man is coming.
The boat that rocked
It's been four long years since Darren Aronofsky directed a movie, and I must say that waiting for one of your favorite directors to return isn't an easy thing to do. I can only imagine how Terrence Malick fans felt when he took a twenty year break between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line. After waiting long enough, it comes to a point where you don't care what movie the director brings, as long as they return. Aronofsky has returned with Noah, and I'm glad.
Aronofskys last film was Black Swan. Remember? That sexy, wild and hypnotic psycho-sexual thriller that won Natalie Portman an Oscar? Yeah, of course you do. How could you forget it? Let's just say, Aronofsky left on a high note(it's his best movie). And what I've learned is that once a director makes something special, it's expected every time. So, how does Noah rank? Well, it's not as good as his great films, like Black Swan, Requiem For a Dream, and The Wrestler. But it's more ambitious than any of those, and it's ambitious enough to make it special.
The last time he tried a movie like this was The Fountain, a movie that die-hards like myself enjoyed, but that's it. It had a lot of flaws. Noah also makes an occasional stumble, but it's still good. Basically, Aronofsky takes the tale of Noah (played to perfection by Russell Crowe, in his best performance in a while), and adds his own story lines to it. A risky move, but one that works.
I watched Noah as a movie, not from the biblical standpoint. From the biblical standpoint, it's way off. But the movie is entertaining. The visual effects are spectacular and the acting, particularly from Crowe and Ray Winstone as the villain, is dead on. Also, there are nearly too many powerful moments.
Not everyone is going to enjoy Noah, but that's OK. I thing Aronofsky knew that going in. He's a man with a vision, and not everyone likes his vision. He has a strange way of telling stories. I went along with his vision and had a hell of a time. It falls short of greatness, but it lands into the damn good category. If Noah was trimmed and a little more faithful to the source material, then it would've been better. I guess there is one thing to gather here: if you give a visionary filmmaker four years and a zillion dollars, then something good will come out of it. And that is the case with Noah. It's not as great as I hoped, but it's good enough.
Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (2013)
It's disappointing if you're expecting greatness or sexiness. Otherwise...
If you witnessed the trailer for Nymphomaniac (which was removed from Youtube because it was graphic), you're probably assuming that it's a weird sex-fest. If that is what you're thinking, then you aren't far off. But that is what I've learned to expect from director Lars von Trier: weird sex. And if you're into strange sex, then you're in luck: Von Trier gives over four hours of it.
Von Trier is a strange man. A few years ago, he was treated for mental illness. When he came out, he made a film called Antichrist, which is about, you guessed it, mental illness. In fact, his past few films have focused on the topic. Nymphomaniac Vol. I (Vol. II is out in April) joins Antichrist and Melancholia as a part of his depression trilogy. Is it as good as those two? Not quite, but I think Vol. II will be.
Vol. I opens with a woman named Joe (Charlotte Gainsborg, a von Trier regular who truly deserved some credit for Melancholia), lying on the ground, beaten, in an alley. She is found by a man named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), who takes her in and nurses her back to good health. Soon, Joe begins explaining how exactly she ended up where she ended up. She tells of her sexual experiences, and tells just how she came to be. The stories are told through flashbacks, and the young Joe is played by newcomer Stacy Martin.
The rest of the cast includes Shia Lebeouf (before he went bonkers) as the man who took her virginity. Christian Slater stars as Joe's father. Now the best performance here, and it is a brief one, is Uma Thurman. Thurman plays the wife of a man that Joe sleeps with. Thurman is only on screen for about seven minutes, but it it easily the best seven minutes of the movie. I wanted an encore.
Now, judging from the trailer, you expect this movie to be a sex fest. While it is so, that doesn't exactly mean it's sexy sex. That's actually something that I admire about the film. Some of it is sexy, but a lot of it is off-putting. From Joe's perspective, sex is something that she simply just can't stop doing. An actual addiction, and in some ways, a chore. Von Trier could've made it sexy, but instead he takes it in another direction. I like that, mainly because I never really bought sex addiction as a real addiction.
Nymphomaniac Vol. I is constantly entertaining, but it is isn't the great movie that Melancholia was. It has great moments, and then dull ones. I am mainly referring to the scenes between Joe and Seligman. I realize that these scenes are used a narrative tool, but does Skarsgard have to constantly keep referring back to fishing? Also, if Joe knows she's a bad person beyond saving, why should we care? I don't know. Vol. I is a good movie, but it's an incomplete one. I can't give the final verdict until Vol.II. Vol. I is a strange journey, but it's a fascinating one. Count me in.
*Note: I have seen Vol. II and I wrote a review on it, but it wasn't posted... for some reason. Vol. II is better, but it falls apart in the last fifteen minutes. I say that Vol. II is better, but yet I give them both the same rating. Does that make sense? I don't know, but judging from the amount of people that found this review useful, I don't think anyone really cares.
Nymphomaniac Vol. II:B+, overall rating: B+
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Far and away Wes Anderson's best movie to date.
Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel is the Wes Anderson movie of Wes Anderson movies. Anderson's films don't appeal to all, as I have recently learned. But honestly, if you don't like his new movie, then there is seriously something wrong with you. I know it's still early in the year, but The Grand Budapest Hotel is easily the most enjoyable film of 2014 so far.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is this hotel in some made up, Wes Anderson-ian European country. The film revolves around a man named Zero Moustafa (the older version is played by F. Murray Abraham). Zero tells the story of his life to a young writer (Jude Law). What's this story? Well, Moustafa tells of his experiences with former hotel owner M. Gustav (the hilarious Ralph Feinnes). Gustav is a playboy and a bit of a con artist.
When his latest lay (Tilda Swinton, covered in fantastic make-up) dies suddenly, she leaves Gustav her most prized possession: a priceless painting named "Boy with Apple". The woman's son, played by Adrien Brody, doesn't take this well. And before you know it, Gustav is soon accused of murder, and from there, well, I can't share.
This is such an Anderson film, and it shows. From the fake sets to the quirky characters to the lightning quick camera angles. Although not all of his films are great, you always know that they're his, and that makes them a little better. TGBH is far and away the best movie that Anderson has ever made. As a longtime fan, it is easy to say that.
TGBH is dumb. In fact, it takes dumb to new heights. But it's the right kind of dumb. Not Adam Sandler dumb, but good dumb. think Airplane, but even smarter. Did I just contradict myself? I don't know. When you see it, you'll know exactly what I mean. This is the funniest, zaniest, and visually luscious film he's made yet. It's fun, and the fun never seems to stop.
I can't wait to go back. I find it strange that they would release it in March, mainly because it might hurt its chances at Oscar glory. I have only seen five movies this year, this being one of them. Anderson shouldn't worry. I can't picture another movie this year being as smartly funny as this one. I loved this movie. Every second of it. The performances are right on target, and so is the dialogue. Everyone that gets the joke, nails it. There are many reasons to see it, whether it's for Anderson or for Feinnes' pitch perfect performance. Regardless, just go. It's a trip well spent.
I haven't written a review since September. I don't know why, but I guess I just sort of lost interest in it. I have seen many great movies since then, such as 12 Years a slave, Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Her, but I just didn't have the energy. But seeing this movie made me want to write again. So, hopefully, it does the same for you.
Grown Ups 2 (2013)
It's nothing special, but it is a blessing compared to Jack and Jill.
I have sort of lost faith in Adam Sandler, but I always hope that someday he might make a good movie again. I haven't given an Adam Sandler movie a full recommendation since Funny People, not I am not one of those Sandler haters. In all honesty, not all of them are that bad. Case in point: Grown Ups 2. Of course, the critics hated it. But I actually thought it had its moments.
Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, and the majority of the cast are back the second time around. This time everyone is living in their hometown. Sandler's wife (Salma Hayak, who still looks fantastic) wants a baby, and there are plenty of other shenanigans. The main story (there really isn't a plot in all honesty) revolves around a group of frat boys (led by Taylor Lautner, finally doing something decent) whose territory is trashed and assume it's Sandler and crew.
Like its predecessor, there isn't exactly a plot. It is a lot of shenanigans, and they are enjoyable to watch. This obviously doesn't rank up there with Sandler's funniest comedies, such as Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, or The Wedding Singer, but it also isn't on Jack and Jill territory. That is good enough for me.
The sequel has plenty of funny moments, but then again not all of them work. I just wish that Sandler and his friends would realize that farts and pee aren't funny. Who, besides a ten year old, laughs at that still? It is something was wasn't funny then, and I know I get really tired of it now. Grown Ups 2 needs a better story and a few other things. It honestly isn't that bad. I'm just glad it isn't Jack and Jill or That's My Boy. I hope we never have to see Sandler go there again. Ever again.
The Wolverine (2013)
Not the best in the series, but not that far off.
I hate to admit it, but I completely forgot that I saw The Wolverine. As an X-Men follower, I of all people should've written this review a few weeks ago. I had intended on it, but I have been mega busy. So, here I am, telling you now, not mega busy. The Wolverine isn't the best X-Men movie in the series, but it is one of the better ones.
The film follows Logan (Hugh Jackman, as great as ever), who has a huge opportunity thrown his way when he gets to Japan. What is it? A dying ex-soldier who Logan saved years ago offers Logan the chance to live a normal life; to drop the immortality and live life normally. Logan is soon in trouble when this Viper woman shows up, and soon everyone is out to get him.
I am one of the rare few who actually liked X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The script was clunky, but as a movie it is pretty entertaining. That said, I myself was slightly skeptical on The Wolverine. Not because of that movie, but because there isn't much of a cast. It is basically Jackman and Famke Janssen, who returns as Wolverine's dead love Jean. That is it. I needed more than that.
I was wrong though. The Wolverine works because this time the script is better. Also, they picked a director who actually made sense. The Wolverine is directed by James Mangold, an overlooked filmmaker who experiments with genres. He directed Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, and Kate & Leopold. See what I mean? This guy knows how to direct a movie, and with this movie he has created a gorgeous universe. He handles these actors well, because he knows how to.
The star of the show is Jackman, obviously. Once Jackman is gone, so am I. In his sixth performance as Wolverine, it is clear that he hasn't lost his touch. This movie is just part of the reason why he is a star. He's great. Also, the visual effects work marvelously and the action sequences are cool. Also, there is a twist that you will never see coming.
Overall, I prefer the previous X-Men film, X-Men: First Class. But The Wolverine is a consistently entertaining film that leaves you jazzed up for the next (and what I predict will be the last) X-Men film, X-Men: Days of Future Past. If you were left dissatisfied with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, go for this one. It is better. It is a much more mature film with an interesting premise. See it.
Jeff Bridges' first acting gig in three years... and it's this?
Summer 2013 has a fair share of flops. I happened to see a few of them. Actually, I think I saw all of them. Anyways, I recently saw R.I.P.D. I didn't pay to see it, because I have common sense. I'm also going to assume that you didn't pay to see it either, considering it bombed. I mean, from the trailer, I think it just went without saying that it would suck. Yep, that sounds about right. It does.
Ryan Reynolds plays a cop who is killed in the line of duty. But he gets another chance when he is enlisted into the R.I.P.D. (the Rest In Peace Department), a police force for dead cops. Their goal is to hunt down the undead. Reynolds character is paired with an old west ranger (Jeff Bridges, the only thing that sort of works in this movie), and together they try and find Reynold's killer, along with the rest of the undead.
What we have here is Men in Black meets Ghostbusters, and it just doesn't work. The majority of the material just never takes lift off. It is hard to believe that Jeff Bridges, who hasn't done anything since True Grit, would make his acting debut with this. Is he bad? Nope. His performance is enjoyable, but he pretty much plays Rooster Cogburn.
The movie is pretty predictable, stupid, and the visual effects aren't even good. It also will take one good joke and recycle it over and over again. Reynolds and Bridges are just here for a paycheck... I hope. I hope they didn't actually find this script good. Bridges saves the movie from being the worst movie of the year, and Mary Louise Parker is funny as an R.I.P.D. officer. Other than that, this movie is just lame. I think it would be best for everyone if we just let R.I.P.D. rest in peace... and not come back.