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Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates – August 26 2016

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates – August 26 2016

Mike and Dave Stangle [Adam Devine and Zac Efron] are young, adventurous, fun-loving brothers who tend to get out of control at family gatherings. When their sister Jeanie reveals her Hawaiian wedding plans, the rest of the clan insists that they both bring respectable dates. After placing an ad on Craigslist, the siblings decide to pick Tatiana and Alice, [Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick] two charming and seemingly normal waitresses. Once they arrive on the island, however, Mike and Dave realize that their companions are ready to get wild and party hard.

Mike and Dave combines the boisterous, brash humor of Workaholics, which is the brainchild of Devine, and mixes it with bawdy Bridesmaids high brow chick comedy. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. Same basic build up of crude comedy as the likes of Bridesmaids, Neighbors or even Wedding Crashers. Basic jokes with a basic end game in mind. The basics aren’t always wrong.

Our four leads make it work. We know who they are and what they’re characters are about. There is definite chemistry that makes the low brow stuff seem at least medium brow. Getting all the brows in today, hah. While it’s a basic story about who’s the worst guy in the room when there are so many to choose from, getting to the answer is the fun part. There is, in fact, fun to be had.

Because the filmmakers know their target audience and know what they’re delivering, it works. They know it’s bathroom humor and schtick, that the leads are way too attractive and like minded to have the issues they have with each other. They also know it’s first world problems and that makes us less fortunate souls laugh in spite of the troubles the white, rich and entitled endure. The film is a vehicle for one thing: to make you laugh. You will laugh.

In fact, probably a lot. Mostly at the glittering Aubrey Plaza and a lot at Anna Kendrick. Some at Efron and maybe a little at Devin. Mostly Plaza, though. She’s foul-mouthed, flirty and so well timed she makes some of the ridiculous scenarios we find her in work. Kendrick is lovable and misguided and I almost wished they hadn’t forced either girl into their end game. Let them be jovial and messed up and flawed just like the guys. Really, the lack of misogyny and gender rules was refreshing and I have to applaud the film makers for that. The girls got to have as much fun, if not more, than the dudes and looked good while doing it. Nothing wrong with that.

Pacing seemed a bit frenetic and when the girls weren’t holding the reins, it got a little off track. The supporting cast was great and perfectly balanced the wild antics of the leading four. Of course, the plot and script were fairly basic but the character development and the comedic chemistry of the cast was a welcome surprise. There’s nothing super special going on here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh and enjoy the ride any way.

Acting: Plaza is a standout and the chemistry she had with Kendrick is great, but the boys were good too. Devine is a lot to take, though.

Directing: The filmmakers knew what they were doing in that their bar was not too high; there are funny momensts, lots of antics and some impressive casting choices.

Overall: Three Three - Sour PatchSour Patch Kids

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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Comedy - Buddy

 

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War Dogs – August 19 2016

War Dogs – August 19 2016

With the war in Iraq raging on, Efraim Diveroli [Jonah Hill] offers childhood friend David Packouz [Miles Teller] a chance to make big bucks by becoming an international arms dealer. Together, they exploit a government initiative that allows businesses to bid on U.S. military contracts. Starting small allows the duo to rake in money and live the high life. They soon find themselves in over their heads after landing a $300 million deal to supply Afghan forces, a deal that puts them in business with some very shady people.

Without question, I love real life stories. Even if the real part gets bent a little. Makes it more entertaining, obviously. I love war time films too, although I don’t know if this classifies as one, exactly. Another thing I love? Miles Teller. He’s oddly handsome, always very likable and a damn fine actor. Very well rounded. Jonah Hill is a bit of an enigma too; always very funny but even in Superbad, very able to relate emotion and depth. I mean, no way I wasn’t checking this out.

We meet young David [Miles] when he’s a bit lost; young and out in the real world on his own, he’s a massage therapist with no real future. A scheme with some sheets empties his bank accounts and he’s desperate. Enter his childhood best friend, Efraim [Hill], a hot shot who has been gone for a few years, building a network of contacts. Efraim sells guns but he does it legally and to the government no less. A loophole in the Bush administration allowed civilians to bid on opportunities for the war in the early days of it. This opportunity lands them a few crumbs until they get the whole pie: a 300 million dollar deal that sends them to a ruthless dealer [Cooper in a thankless role].

Without a doubt, Teller is the standout here. The story is from his characters’ point of view. We learn about his friendship with Efraim from childhood and the distance that had grown since Efraim moved. There’s clearly some unease there and a friend even warns David early on to be careful. Instead, he puts bros before everything and almost loses his wife and child in the process. It’s a very dark buddy drama, unlike anything I’ve seen. There are moments of levity of course. Hill as Efraim masters an eerie laugh and long distance stare that is both scary and funny. The dynamic of their relationship and how it starts to crumble is what the film is about, more so than the actual gun running.

At times the pacing is a little slow, but Todd Phillips is known for that. He sets up the characters, the setting, the story for ages before action takes place. Its not a bad thing, if it’s well done. In some of his previous work [Hangover 3, I’m looking at you] it hasn’t worked so well. Here, it does. We care about David and his wife Iz and their new baby. We care more about his relationship with Efraim because it’s the centerpiece. The script is very well written, with punchy dialogue and moments of ramping tension broken often by that odd, robust laugh Hill uses often. Tone is darker than you might expect, but it suits the film well.

Teller is great, very lost and beaten down when we meet him. We see him gain some success, a wife and a baby, a great job with his best friend and he comes alive. This is important for the catalyst that happens in the end. Teller’s delivery of David has to go through these stages for him to come to the conclusion about his best friend when he does. He has to gain some bearings and know what’s important to him and what he’s willing to lose. Teller manages all of this in two hours. Hill is great as always, funny and menacing at the same time but his character is the bad guy and he makes us hate him. It’s really a great piece about the spoils America made of the war, ones that reached far beyond the war-torn land where it was waged.

Acting: Teller was awesome and the chemistry between he and Hill was spot on. Hill delivered likely his most layered and complex character yet.

Directing: Though the pacing was not as punchy as some might expect, and save for one sequence there’s little action, it looked and felt just like I thought it should.

Overall: Four Four - RaisinetsRaisinets

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2016 in Action - War Time, Drama - Life

 

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Sausage Party – August 12 2016

Sausage Party – August 12 2016

Life is good for all the food items that occupy the shelves at the local supermarket. Frank [Seth Rogen] the sausage and Brenda [Kristen Wiig] the hot dog bun can’t wait to go home with a happy customer. Soon, their world comes crashing down as poor Frank learns the horrifying truth that he will eventually become a meal. After warning his pals about their similar fate, the panicked perishables devise a plan to escape from their human enemies.

Surprisingly, there was not much promo about this film. I had not heard of it until literally the beginning of summer. Right away, I had no doubts that it would be awesome. A no apology animation for adults? Heck yes. Plus, I’m super partial to Kristen Wiig right now and pairing her zaniness with Rogen and his gang of idiots sounded like too much to pass up.

We meet Frank and Brenda right before the Fourth of July weekend. They’re excited to finally be chosen, as hot dogs and buns always make it out on the Red, White and Blue holiday. They think making it out means being chosen by the gods; the gods being humans who shop at the store that makes up their world. When a mustard returns from being chosen with terrifying tales that drive him to commit mustard-cide, Frank decides maybe the great beyond is not so great after all.

While the animation is sharp and glossy it’s not especially pretty to look at but maybe that was the point. We’re not here to be transfixed by pretty colors and deep landscapes. Instead, we’re here to laugh at the absurdity of a hot dog getting it on with his bun girlfriend and the entire supermarket being a little world in and of itself. Every nook and cranny is like a new neighborhood, a new setting and it’s all very cleverly done and I loved it.

The comedy is as crude as it gets but fitting for most the circumstances. One sequence at the very end goes a little overboard, but I happen to love dirty, crude humor so I laughed. A lot. Some might find it appalling. Perhaps the idiot family a row down from me and the mans, who brought two little children. To a rated R cartoon. Go figure.  This movie is another installment of the crazy, out there, absurd comedy we enjoyed in This Is The End. If you can appreciate that, you’ll love it.

Rogen was funny as always but it was both Wiig and Cera I found the funniest. A few sequences were just hilarious with them. I thought the Douche subplot was a little too much because it felt ultimately pointless but it offered a few laughs at least. The pacing was perfect and the film-makers never waver on tone; this is a movie dreamt up by some stoners talking about munchies and what could be and what, in all their mary jane induced stupor, they thought could be. Good stuff. Seth Rogen knows who his audience is and he doesn’t shy away from delivering to them and as a part of said audience, I can appreciate that. If you enjoy his comedy, this is an absolute yes; if you don’t, check it out anyway because Wiig is awesome and so is Cera.

Acting: Cera and Wiig brought a lot of life to their characters and Edward Norton was hilarious but I had no idea it was him till they announced it. Which was likely his intent.

Directing: Paced well with solid tone and a great script, the premise utterly ridiculous, but that’s the point.

Overall: Four Four - RaisinetsRaisinets

 

 
 

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Suicide Squad – August 5 2016

Suicide Squad – August 5 2016

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot [Will Smith], Harley Quinn [Margot Robbie], Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker [Jared Leto] launches an evil agenda of his own.

Obviously, I like my geeky movies. Mostly Marvel, but I don’t discriminate. I love Dc too. I thought Batman VS Superman was one of the best movies of the year, despite the hate. It was dark and dramatic and very open ended, which it was meant to be. Justice League, folks. This movie is merely a gap to introduce the villains we’re bound to see in future Justice League and DC films.

Some brilliant badass at the pentagon decides after the mess created by Superman, Batman and Wonderwoman, it’s time to form a counter team. A team made of special types, just in case the guys who saved the world change their mind and go rogue. By special, I mean bad. Enter Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Diablo [Jay Hernandez], Boomerang [Jai Courtney] and Killer Croc [Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje]. The worst of the worst. Sent to stop the evil witch Enchantress [Cara Delevingne] from wreaking havoc on the world. 

Critics are shredding this film. I have to believe it’s because Disney, owner of Marvel, has lined their pockets because they shredded BVS too. That movie was amazing and the ending the perfect teaser for more to come. This movie was meant to introduce some bad guys and get us better acquainted with the landscape of the DCU. It does all of that. We meet the bad guys first, with all but one (Slipknot in a pointless, thankless role) getting backstories as we do. Then we meet this films’ antagonist. It’s not the evil witch you’re thinking actually.

Right about here I got a bit confused. I would say from the second act well into the third, I was fairly confused, to be honest. A throwaway character, a mission for no apparent reason while a witch is tearing apart the city and a weak sublot involving the much touted Joker. Most of the scenes with Joker were confusing, to be honest. Not that there was no need for him, I just didn’t get the story they decided to tell with him. I felt like he was for shock value only; truly expected him to be a huge part of the film and he was but a footnote.

Harley Quinn stole the show, without question. Margot Robbie was outstanding and outshone just about everyone else. She looked the part, sounded the part with that perfect accent she mastered and certainly acted as crazy as we know Harley to be. Will Smith was in fine form as well. For me though, one of the most intriguing characters was Diablo. Always had a think for Jay Hernandez and he does a phenomenal job here. The character is so infused with depth and humanity I couldn’t help but love him, even in all his tortured hotness.

While a few of the characters fell flat, it was the Joker that surprised me. I think he had ten lines. That’s stretching it. Rumor has it Leto is none to jazzed about his limited exposure. There were lots of flaws but no movie is truly perfect. We all know we’re waiting for Justice League, which was teased more than once here, so let’s not focus on the bad. The good was Harely, Diablo and Deadshot, and glimpses of our favorite DC heroes.

Acting: Robbie knocked it out of the park as Quinn, Smith was awesome as Deadshot but it was, for me, Hernandez as Diablo that was an unexpected success.

Directing: There were moments it felt like too many hands were in the pot. Things clearly fell through the cracks. The action was so toned down I was basically shocked. Story was a little weak and confusing but we got plenty of Justice League teasers.

Overall: Four Four - RaisinetsRasinets

 

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2016 in Action - DC, Mega Cast

 

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Secret Life Of Pets – July 22 2016

Secret Life Of Pets – July 22 2016

Max [Louis C.K.] is a spoiled terrier who enjoys a comfortable life in a New York building until his owner adopts Duke, a giant and unruly canine. During their walk outside, they encounter a group of ferocious alley cats and wind up in a truck that’s bound for the pound. Luckily, a rebellious bunny named Snowball [Kevin Hart] swoops in to save the doggy duo from captivity. In exchange, Snowball demands that Max and Duke join his gang of abandoned pets on a mission against the humans who’ve done them wrong.

Being as I am such a fan of animation, even at my ripe age, I was looking forward to this. It looked hilarious and cute and featured Kevin Hart, who I love. Not a huge C.K. fan, but I appreciate his humor. Not sure either are suited for a family film like this, but I guess someone with the power thought otherwise.

First we meet spoiled terrier Max [C.K.] who lives in the lap of luxury in Manhattan. Unitl his owner adopts a new dog, Duke [Stonestreet] a gruff newfoundland. The two do not get along and after some struggles end up lost in the streets of NYC. A neighbor dog Gidget [Slate] notices them missing and gathers their pals to search for them. Meanwhile they’ve run into Snowball [Hart], an angry bunny who hates humans and recruits the lost dogs to help exact some revenge.

Right away you realize Snowball and Max are the main pieces of this story and the other various friends and foes are plot devices to allow the kiddies some laughs. No one is really useful nor do they resemble the rag tag group a’ la Toy Story. They may offer some laughs but little else. Snowball is the star of the film here but is not properly used. His delusions of grandeur could have made an epic plot but it falls short. Hart is spitfire funny and C.K. entitled as usual. A rare performance by Dana Carvey was welcomed even if he served no real purpose.

A few of the bits, chases that last too long and a sausage factory scene gone wrong, just never pay off. The tone is sometimes slapstick and sometimes endearing and it all almost works. Almost. The film makers have too grand of a vision and not a grand enough way to pull it off. They focus on the wrong things, such as those chases and the relationships between pets and owners, instead of making it about their allegiance to each other or against the same foe, at the very least. It’s a bit jumbled.

Kids will love it because of the zany action and it looks great. Great soundtrack to go with the action, which in animation is always a plus. It just barks up too many trees at once and no one gets the tennis ball out of it. Funny and cute just not what I had hoped it would be.

Acting: Hart is funny as should be expected but painfully underused. C.K. is a bit over dramatic for a kids film, I felt.

Directing: Besides it being a jumbled mess at times, it is funny and looks great but it’s subpar in comparison to other animation as of late.

Overall: Two 1/2 TwoHalfMike & Ike

 

 

 
 

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Ghostbusters – July 15 2016

Ghostbusters – July 15 2016

Paranormal researcher Abby Yates [Melissa McCarthy] and physicist Erin Gilbert [Kristin Wiig] are trying to prove that ghosts exist in modern society. When strange apparitions appear in Manhattan, Gilbert and Yates turn to engineer Jillian Holtzmann [Kate McKinnon] for help. Also joining the team is Patty Tolan [Leslie Jones], a lifelong New Yorker who knows the city inside and out. Armed with proton packs and plenty of attitude, the four women prepare for an epic battle as more than 1,000 mischievous ghouls descend on Times Square.

Let me preface with one fact: Ghostbusters is my absolute, all time, can-watch-it-every-single-day favorite movie. Ever. I love everything about it and I love the sequel, the Real Ghostbusters cartoon and of course, Slimer. To say I was skeptical about a reboot would be putting it lightly. For years fangirls & fanboys like myself hoped the original four might reunite. The devastating loss of Harold Ramis ended that hope. Talk stirred awhile after about a complete reboot. Then they announced an all female lead cast and I thought, well, let’s see how this goes.

After a ghostly encounter opens the film, we meet Erin [Wiig] who is hoping for a tenure at a reputable college. We learn once upon a time she and researcher friend Abby [McCarthy] wrote a book about the paranormal and both wholeheartedly believe in the presence of ghosts. The two, along with engineer Jillian [McKinnon] experience a real life ghost and realize something is feeding energy as ghosts start popping up all over. Along with mouthy Patty [Jones] who knows the city and all its secrets, they form a team to root out whoever is causing these ghostly occurrences.

Going in skeptical did not prepare me for how good this was. The teasers and first screener word of mouth was not kind. Hogwash. The negativity is based on fanboys unwilling to embrace A. A new cast at all B. A female cast. End of story. It was awesome! I wasn’t familiar with McKinnon or Jones but they were both hilarious and I’d dare say McKinnon’s wily and zany Jillian was the funniest and most layered character we meet. Wiig is a little toned down for my liking as is McCarthy, in

Wiig is a little toned down for my liking as is McCarthy, in fact but there is a reason for that. They are bigger than life personalities and people expect something from them. Kooky, off centered comedy from Wiig and mouthy, crass humor from McCarthy. Instead, they embraced the team effort we get here and it is no ONE person’s movie. Like the original when both Akyroyd and Murray were already huge stars, but dimmed their ways for the team to become center focus.

The cameos by our favorite busters left a little bit to be desired. There were some issues with pacing, as in one scene towards the end Wiig’s detachment from the team then sudden regrouping has no explanation. As if a scene was left on the cutting room floor by accident. The villian is neither scary no truly fleshed out but he doesn’t really have to be. I thought the addition of a dumb guy secretary was funny and well deserved. Besides these small issues, which don’t impact the overall film, I was very pleasantly surprised.

In fact, I hope they give us more. Let us learn a little bit more about each character and how they fit into the puzzle just right. I thought the girls all had chemistry, the comedy was well timed and perfectly pitched and besides the pacing, the action and story I thought were great. It kind of feels like the original in a lot of ways, which I am sure they intended. It was so good I might even check it out a second time, which is a rarity for me. I just know there are little easter eggs and call outs a ghostbuster nerd like me will love. I truly hope we get more with this team of Busters.

Acting: They had great chemistry and felt like a real team, but McKinnon stole the show, I thought. The villian was weak though, nothing about him made me uneasy.

Directing: Well written with a flair for comedy but the pacing was a bit off at times, as mentioned.

Overall: Four Four - RaisinetsRaisinets

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2016 in Action - Fantasy, Mega Cast

 

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Central Intelligence – July 8 2016

Central Intelligence – July 8 2016

Bullied as a teen for being overweight, Bob Stone [Dwayne Johnson] shows up to his high school reunion looking fit and muscular. While there, he finds Calvin Joyner [Kevin Hart], a fast-talking accountant who misses his glory days as a popular athlete. Stone is now a lethal CIA agent who needs Calvin’s number skills to help him save the compromised U.S. spy satellite system. Together, the former classmates encounter shootouts, espionage and double-crosses while trying to prevent worldwide chaos.

Kevin Hart is no joke right now. Every five to six months he has another movie out. Getting while the getting is good, I presume. Taking a page right out of Eddie Murphy’s 1980’s career. Murphy had hit after hit before he slowed down. Pairing up with a similar machine, Dwayne Johnson, who brings new meaning to DJ Khaled’s famous ‘ANOTHER ONE’. Johnson is not just pumping out movies, but wildly successful ones. A billion dollar franchise times two. Doesn’t mean putting these two together will work, but I was looking forward to finding out.

Calvin once helped a portly and innocent Bob back when Calvin was the pride of their high school while Bob was a punchline. Bob never forgot it so when he needs help, on the eve of their high school reunion, he turns to Calvin once again. Calvin has seen his best days, he thinks, while Bob is living a stellar life no one would expect. The two hang out for a few days and it’s clear Bob isn’t exactly normal. Still cherishing the glory days he was not a part of, he seems to hero worship Calvin who has settled down and left his golden sneakers behind. Calvin doesn’t know Bob, if he every did, and when the CIA gets involved, he’s not sure who to trust.

Kevin Hart has a ton of energy and he’s hard to match. Johnson seems to be the perfect fit as his gentle bear delivery with his kinetic energy delivers an interesting and charming character. Bob knows he was always on the outside looking in but he still seemed to enjoy the view. Making sweet lemonade out of his lemon filled life, he comes out on top. Hart’s character is a bit bitter and selfish at times, flawed but good in nature. Their flawed relationship was funny and endearing to watch and they had some amazing chemistry.

There were a lot of twists I didn’t expect and literally till the end I was not sure who the ‘bad guy’ was. More than once I was surprised. The dialogue was a little weak and you absolutely know when Hart goes off script. He delivers gold when he does. Action is well choreographed and looks amazing and the pace is good. Tone is a bit uneven; sometimes its crude comedy other it’s touching buddy action flick. Not to say it can’t really be all of that, but it’s a bit unevenly handled. The ending is a bit cliche but you like the characters, Bob especially, so much you don’t really mind it. A few moments left me rolling my eyes.

The ending is a bit cliche but you like the characters, Bob especially, so much you don’t really mind it. A few moments left me rolling my eyes. The big reveal of Bob’s partner and the breakdown of Calvin’s relationship felt forced. Just for laughs maybe, ones that never come. Really though their chemistry and a fairly refreshing plot line, even though at its base it’s good guys go bad, saved it from being a mess. Hart and Johnson were great together and they were giving pretty free reign, with not too many B players to steal screentime. I think both Hart fans and Johnson fans will enjoy it and the rest of you…what are you doing with your life?

Acting: Hart is rapid fire funny but its really Bob’s gentle giant comedy that steals the show.

Directing: Despite some cliches and some uneven tone, it’s enjoyable, paced well and shot with great skill. Looks and sounds great, and the action is well placed.

Overall: Three 1/2ThreeHalf Red Vines

 

 

 

 
 

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