Tag: Hannibal Buress

The Secret Life of Pets 2

Illumination entertainment keeps putting out movies, and they keep remaining less than stellar and below average, sometimes even bad and horrible. They rose to fame with Minions and forgot that if they want to compete with the big boys they need good stories, not just retreads of old movies.

The first Secret Life of Pets was basically just Toy Story, but with pets, and more violence to make it worse. Fun.

And in between the movies, we had all the bad Louis C.K. stuff, after they already announced The Secret Life of Pets 2! Oh no, will they recast the dog or replace him completely? They went with recasting. And they must have focused entirely on the recasting, because they couldn’t even come up with a single good story for this sequel to exist, with technically limitless possibilities.


Just dogs doing dog things.

Max (Patton Oswalt, a change!) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) are now good pals, living together, being great. But there is going to be a change in the house. An addition??? Yes, a baby. Something that changes their lives, but something Max feels very protective over. And before the kid can go to school, they take the dogs to a farm to hang out? To have a vacation, I don’t remember at all.

While Max learns to be a better dog, he leaves a toy with Gidget (Jenny Slate) who has a whole big adventure with cats because of that.

And also Snowball (Kevin Hart), now a nice happy pet, likes to pretend he is a super hero. And by doing that, he has to help save a white tiger from a mean circus guy, which puts them on the run from these scary wolf guys who want the tiger back.

Also starring Harrison Ford, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, and Ellie Kemper.


Hey, that’s not a real cat. You’re a phony!

What do I mean when I say no single good story? Because this film needed to have three main stories instead, and loosely (read: Badly) bringing them together at the end to pretend this was a coherent thought.

It started off with our leads, but to be honest, the main story seems to really be about Snowball and the tiger. It is the plot that at least sort of brings everything together.

None of these stories on their own are enough to carry this movie. It keeps switching between plots, and honestly, the Max plot just feels like filler, and the Gidget plot has amusing moments, but not enough to be worth it. Hart’s character was the best part of the first film, and so it makes sense for him to have a bigger role, but he was less confident and exciting than the first film, for whatever reason.

I also complained that there was excessive violence in the first film, or at least violence being the solution to the problems. And well, same here. I also complained that we had too many pets driving vehicle ridiculousness, which was a theme for movies that year, and they only sort of did it this time.

Overall, this movie feels like they wanted to just make it a TV series, but were given a bigger budget and put a few ideas together. Gotta rush out those sequels, or else they might have to make more Despicable Me movies!

0 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Mainstream 2018 Part 1

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Mainstream 2018 (Part 1)! Basically, the popular movies I had missed, and need to really review, or else.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Mainstream 2018 Part 1

Alpha

In the face of this movie, I expected the worst. I thought this movie had to be a typical January release, something similar to
10,000 BC. But alarmingly, it came out in September, and when I finally got to see the movie it mostly met my expectations. It was surprisingly not amazingly bad, just regularly bad.

Gross CGI landscapes to recreate the before time, and a pretty uninspired storyline about the bringing together a “dog” and a man. The other sad aspect of this movie is that people might watch it and go, “Oh, so that’s how it happened! Domestication!” and take this movie as fact. That would be a shame. And I don’t know if people actually say that, because I barely know people who have seen it, but this straw man stands in my mind. A forgettable film, like most dog films.

1 out of 4.

Alpha
Waiting for Mufasa to show up takes forever.

Crazy Rich Asians

When I first heard this title, I really assumed it was sort of a joke. I didn’t know it was based on a book of the title, or why it was called that, but it just felt off. I thought it would be some sort of exploitative film that was a comedy no one would watch, and hey, it feels good to be wrong. A romance more than anything, this is a film about an outsider being brought into the world of ridiculously rich Asian people in Singapore. So we get all of the wealth, luxury, and snide comments with some back stabbing.

On its whole, it could have been a forgettable romance film. But the lavish sets went all out to display a lifestyle most of us can only dream about, while also bringing in new cultural elements to American cinema. Having the lead be the mom from Fresh Off The Boat was great, and showed she has at least some range. The ending teared me up too. And damn it, it is great in general to see different people on our romance movies. Bring on this wave of Asian-American films, damn it.

3 out of 4.

CRA
Out of the three adjectives in the title, I’d prefer the middle one myself.

Mission Impossible: Fallout

“More Mission Impossible? I thought we were done with those,” said no one really ever. Or at least said people who hadn’t been watching them. I will go on record and say the only one I didn’t get enjoyment out of was the second one, and that one has a lot of stranger things going on. I just didn’t see them until I was already an adult, so it took me awhile to appreciate them. Because lets face it, there isn’t another successful American action franchise that is going into this level of detail and craziness for its stunts. It wants Cruise to do most of the work.

He is never going to be the level of some of our older or past martial artist stars, with the long choreographed fight scenes, but its at least a step in the right direction. This film is still exciting, but overall, it feels uninspired. It just isn’t as good as the last two modern MI movies. The stunts aren’t as sexy, even if they have bigger overall stunts. It doesn’t fill me with as much awe, and the story line just gets excessive as it attempts to continually top itself. The ending also feels really clunky and I never really feel that sense of dread that it is going for. A good attempt at an action movie, I just expect a bit more now from the franchise.

2 out of 4.

MI5
The biggest stunts are helicopters? Eh, I’ve seen helicopters before.

Ocean’s Eight

I am a huge Ocean’s Trilogy fan, and a huge Steven Soderbergh fan, and so even if the director wasn’t really involved, I was hoping to love this one. Heck, the stars are there too, with a lot of big names.

I will say it feels gimmicky, and not equal, to just go the opposite direction and make it an all female cast. It doesn’t feel natural, just like an all male heist would be with the large numbers (which is why technically the two sequels had…one woman in on the heist). In the movie, it does seem to make a lot more sense, given just the nature of the crime and the talents they needed to pull it off, so that is the good news. The biggest issue overall is just that the movie feels forgettable when it finishes. No one person stands out in acting, and the various twists to show how it was pulled off are for the most part guessable, especially thanks to the title.

I still hope they can do more. Go for it. Just lets raise the stakes.

2 out of 4.

O8
Yep, eight people, like most of the advertising, spoiling a twist.

Tag

Finally, a film people maybe thought initially was a joke. A high budgeted comedy (and slightly action?) movie, about people playing tag, that has gone on with very specific rules for decades, and one person who never, ever gets tagged. So many stars, so little time, and such a ridiculous concept (based loosely on a real story). I wanted to enjoy it and was intrigued by the trailer. But like a lot of modern comedies, I think it really just needs a group of people or slight inebriation to really fully enjoy.

I’d prefer a comedy I can find historical alone, and this is clearly one meant for you to enjoy with your own group of friends, which is fine, but limited. Again, with a large cast, no one really feels like a standout, and some people seem to be doing the same sorts of character they are always type casted into. The ending also went a really strange place. Unexpected, sure, but something that feels almost like a complete genre switch.

1 out of 4.

Tag

Mainstream movies may be a broad title, especially when you compare them to the other quick themes I put together, but hey, its my themes suck it. I originally would have done genre, but too many films are multi-genre that I didn’t want to deal with that hassle.

Blockers

I was very excited when I saw the trailer for Blockers. Not due to the actors, or the plot, or the humor in the trailer. Just the title alone.

I really hoped that the title of the film was officially a picture of a rooster and the word Blockers. I can’t tell you if any film title has officially just been a picture, or included a picture, but I was excited that this one might be one of the first in a good while.

Unfortunately, no. It is just called Blockers. Sure, rooster imagery abundant on the posters. But it is not the same.

It is just not the same.

Parents
Look at all these cocks right here.

Ah, growing up. The joys of being a parent. Movies and stuff. Mitchell (John Cena), Lisa (Leslie Mann), and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) met each other on their daughters first day of school. They became best friends, so they had to be friends. Their daughters (respectively) are Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), Julie (Kathryn Newton), and Sam (Gideon Adlon), who are all dealing with their own issues, both in terms of their relationships with their parents and their relationships with boys.

But like all movies, prom is set up to be this big special night, so they are determined to make it special. They make a sex pact. They are all going to lose their virginity that night and it will make them closer together, so what when college happens, they don´t lose their friendship or anything.

The parents find out after they have left and aren´t sure what to do. Just kidding, they are going to find their daughters and put a stop to this madness before their daughters lives are ruined.

Also starring Jimmy Bellinger, Sarayu Blue, Gary Cole, Gina Gershon, Ramona Young, Miles Robbins, Hannibal Buress, and Graham Phillips.

Kids
Fuck that fedora is cool.

The most apparent thing about this movie is that it was directed by a woman. Kay Cannon has worked on some pretty woman based shows you would have heard about, and directed this film to make sure the woman’s voice was key. If this was directed by a dude, the parents would have been more egregious, the daughters would have had no real point of view scenes to speak their minds, and it would have been entirely forgettable.

Surprisingly, there was a wonderful amount of great arguments and feminist ideals presented by the daughters and other adults throughout the film. It was clear that our three leads were being shit heads and not thinking in a way that was beneficial to their daughters. Hell, even one of our leads for some time had great intentions as well. The message hits over and over again, without feeling like a lecture, and wanting to make a point as obvious as possible for those watching at home. Because this is just a comedic work of fiction, but it seems like its goal might be really to reach the audience, to help them learn how to better and more fairly treat their daughters.

Moving on.

Also I laughed a bunch. The acting wasn’t amazing. Cena was probably one of the lower points for me. The daughters and other teenagers really carried the film, and yes, surprisingly, Barinholtz’s character. I can’t say this is a movie I would want to watch over and over again, but it did the trick and was way better than it should have been.

3 out of 4.

The Disaster Artist

When you claim to watch bad movies so others don’t have to, you often get asked if you have seen certain bad movies. I would say the film I have been asked about the most by a landslide would be Cube. Because I like shit like that, and math. Didn’t see that coming did you? Well I’ve seen Cube now and the first sequel.

The movie most requested after that would easily be The Room, something I didn’t rush out to see. I saw the “best scenes” compilation on YouTube and just put that in a “one day” bucket. Then The Disaster Artist has to go and not only come out but receive awards nominations. shit. That meant I HAD to watch The Room finally. I couldn’t go in blind. What’s the point?

So I saw it still slightly reluctantly. Powered through. I get the appeal but I still won’t see it again. And hey now I can watch others talk about it!

viewing
Just not in the goddamn theater, that’d be rude.

Sometime in the late 1990’s, Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) was a struggling young adult. He thought about being a famous actor one day, and he was even taking acting lessons. He just wasn’t any good. At all. At. All. Nothing helped, he didn’t display any emotion, it was a lost cause. But in those same classes, he found a dark and mysterious man named Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). Now this is a man who knew how to channel his emotions and really bring that raw talent to the stage.

So Greg wanted to work with Tommy, and Tommy agreed. He was a bit weird, but he really brought it out of Greg and Greg started to feel confident. After years of friendship, they moved to LA, with Tommy financing everything, to become real actors. After it didn’t work out well, especially not for Tommy, Tommy started to write and figure out his own movie. This piece became The Room, a film that is iconic today, and the rest of this movie is how it was made, the trials they faced, and the hurdles that were overcome. Also how Greg began to move on by getting a girlfriend (Alison Brie) and trying to separate from the Tommy umbrella.

And only some talk about being a vampire.

Given the people who made this, it is no surprise how many famous actors are in this film: Seth Rogen, Paul Scheer, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, Charlyne Yi, Bob Odenkirk, Hannibal Buress, Joe Mande, Nathan Fielder, Andrew Santino, Jason Mantzoukas, Megan Mullally, June Diane Raphael, Jackie Weaver and Ari Graynor. I could have also swore a minor character was Margot Robbie, but the credits won’t let me confirm that.

Football
As we learned in The Room there is never a bad time for football.

I wonder how much your perceptions of this film changes based on your opinions of The Room. If you have seen The Room many times since it came out, were totally in that cult movie aspect, I think you will enjoy The Disaster Artist a whole lot more than someone new to the topic. Obviously this is a film where you sort of need to see The Room before seeing it to really get it at all, but there is a huge difference between me watching it a week before The Disaster Artist and years prior.

Because hey, The Disaster Artist is a pretty funny film. The Francos do a good job of setting the stage, building up the Wiseau mythos and so on. And sure, I can agree that James acted well, only because we obviously have a real person/character to compare him to. But if this was just a movie about a bad production, this is the type of thing that would be panned for unnecessarily ridiculous director guy.

So it is a very hard thing to judge. Was it actually well acted only because he acted like Wiseau accurately? Or does well acted need to be something more than accuracy to a subject? It is a hard subject to answer, and not one that I will go into real detail here. But it is something on my mind and something that certainly would tell me that it certainly shouldn’t be winning awards for its acting.

The Disaster Artist was a film that made me laugh and remind me of a shitty film at the same time. It is a very strange genre of movie, very meta, and it will gain its own cult status I am sure. Double features for the next 20 years! However, in reality, I really just want to read the book to get the full story and won’t bother too much with the film version many times in the future.

3 out of 4.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Third times the charm?

Well, that is a weird phrase to apply to this situation. But it is one I have heard quite a lot.

After all, this is our third Spider-Man actor in 18 years. The problem with that phrase is that it implies the other times were not charming. But damn it, most people still talk highly about Spider-Man 1 and Spider-Man 2, especially the sequel. Just because the third one was a dud doesn’t taint the whole.

And for The Amazing Spider-Man? Shit, I liked the first one, and the sequel was disappointing, but Andrew Garfield was still pretty good as a Spider-Man.

People have just really wanted Spider-Man to go back under some amount of control to Marvel, so that we can see him interact with other heroes. Which is fair. But I want Spider-Man: Homecoming to be just a great movie on its own right, not flashy with in universe references.

Boat
I also hope this Spider-Man can just hold everything together.

This film begins with the events of Captain America: Civil War, from Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) perspective. To see how he got to Europe, his sweet suit, and his life afterwards. His life is to be put on hold, waiting for a new “assignment” from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) as his go to man to report any issues or problems.

And this keeps Peter busy. He patrols the streets of Queens in the afternoon/evenings after school, under the guise of a Stark Internship, so that his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) doesn’t get too concerned. This does put a strain on his social life however. He cancels most of his extracurricular activites, hangs out with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) less, and he is even about to miss parts of the Academic Decathlon! Besides being smart and enjoying it, it annoys him more because it is run by Liz (Laura Harrier). But don’t worry, Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) still picks on him.

Speaking of busy, eventually he runs into some thugs who are selling alien technology weapons they made! Turns out when NYC was fucked over by aliens those 8 years ago, a lot of alien tech was lying about the city. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) was in the salvage business, but Tony Stark in an effort to help the city made his own special Damage Control division that won a government contract to clean up any superhero mess. This puts Toomes out of business and enraged about the rich getting richer. So he decides to keep some of the tech, and with his small band of workers and tinkerer friend Phineas Mason (Michael Chernus), they decide to take salvage and turn it into cash in the form of new, high tech weapons. Hooray for capitalism!

Spider-Man cannot let this happen on his streets, as innocents will get hurt, and apparently this is not a problem that the avengers have to worry about. Oh well, I am sure he can handle some thugs and alien weapon technology and gear no sweat!

Also, unsurprisingly, starring a whole lot of other people! We got a whole lot of classmates (Zendaya, Abraham Attah, Angourie Rice, Tiffany Espensen, Michael Barbieri, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), Thugs (Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Mando), and others (Donald Glover, Kenneth Choi, Hannibal Buress, Martin Starr, Jennifer Connelly).

Keaton
If you think that list is big, wait til you see Keaton’s personal trainer list!

There are a lot of praises I could sing for Spider-Man, and a lot of them come from story and plot decisions. It isn’t an origin story, because he already exists and we already know it. It does not mean that we don’t get Spider-Man doing things for the first time.

For instance, his first real villain in The Vulture, outside of just petty criminal stuff. We find out that he is not the wall crawler swinging through Manhattan like previous films, but mostly in the much smaller building complexes of Queens. So we have his first time at extreme heights, and we get to see how he handles fighting crime in a suburb, without the ability to swing around with ease.

Speaking of villains, they knocked it out of the park with The Vulture. We get a backstory for Toomes, reasons for his life of crime, reasons for why he feels he is in the right, morally gray shit, we got it all. They gave us what we have been wanting, and it is an excellent villain.

Holland is still good as Spider-Man, but we already knew that from Civil War. The large swaths of side characters fill their niches and no one really feels wasted.

And finally this Spider-Man tries to be very different from the previous iterations. No Gwen Stacy or MJ right away to get you all romantically fluttered, we get LIZ. We get a diverse looking school. We get nerds and a neighborhood that feels like a goddamn neighborhood. And a lot of the characters are new just for this film, with plans to take this film in its own direction, regardless of comics. I give it props.

But strangely enough, I barely laughed in the film. I did a few times, but I was alone. The movie theater was silent, it was no where close to being as wise cracking as I’d imagine a Spider-Man movie to be. I also think it relied too heavily on Iron Man/Happy characters to make sure everyone knew it was fitting in.

And Spider-Man’s suit? Well, it was a bit annoying. Turns out it is super high tech, and most of the known Spider-Man powers aren’t actually his, but suit based. Like Spider-Senses. I am not sure what powers he actually got. Some super strength and acrobatics skills, with some sticking to walls?

It is a decent film, just again, not as great as I had hoped it would be.

3 out of 4.

Nerdland

Nerdland on initial glance looks like some late night show on Adult Swim or Comedy Central. Looking at its concept history, I am sure that at some point that was the goal as well. It definitely features people who have worked with these networks in the past, and an art style that is detailed and…well it is hard to describe. Rough around the edges? Chaotic?

Maybe even grotesque. Yeah, grotesque. That is how this film looks, and it has an adult tone. Sort of a Heavy Metal crudeness to the whole thing. So I am expecting, ass and titties, hard language, maybe even hard violence, despite a simple nice sounding title.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in Nerdland?

Apartment
Well, Nerdland doesn’t look to clean, which I guess I should have expected.

John (Paul Rudd) and Elliot (Patton Oswalt) are best friends, living together in an apartment in Hollywood hoping to make it big. John is an aspiring actor, kicked out of an acting class, and taking that as a sign he had nothing to learn and was ready to star. Elliot is an aspiring screenwriter, who had a pedophile teacher who hung out with him a LOT, so he figures he is great at writing.

And they are not famous. They have side jobs that they keep losing, an apartment they cannot clean, and strong dreams of success when they both are complete sex craved losers. They think they have pseudo-girlfriends in Sally (Kate Micucci) and Linda (Riki Lindhome), but really they are just creepy and talk to them while they are at work.

After another unsuccessful attempt at reaching the big leagues and getting embarrassed, the two decide to put their fates in their own hands and get famous in a day. No matter the cost. No matter the effort. No matter the depths. And they will use their friend The Nerd King (Hannibal Buress), who runs a comic emporium, to get some help.

Also starring the voice work of Mike Judge, Charlene Yi, and Paul Scheer.

Nerd King
The Nerd King is not the ruler we need, but he is the ruler we deserve.

Grotesque is my word to best describe the film, but crude would be a high number two. A lot of this film seems to want to go to extremes, not for great reasons, but just because they wanted an extreme animated film. Not as bad as The Human Centipede levels, but high enough to realize that you are just going to get some fucked up shit.

And yet it all seems to make sense coming from the minds of our two losers heroes. They are typical beta males who feel friendzoned and think the world is out to get them for their intellect, not for the fact that they are complete assholes. It is almost like a character study, just taken to extremes so that maybe some similar people out there in the world and on the internet can see themselves in John and Elliot and maybe grow the fuck up.

At the same time, in their attempts to become famous, the film stalls out and becomes a bit of a drag. Watching them try a few different schemes to get famous all peter out isn’t as interesting as it seems. It does garner more interest in the end, as it starts to piece together a better narrative, but really, this film is just so extreme it is hard to derive a real message out of it.

Well, don’t be a fucker. That is one of them.

2 out of 4.

Baywatch

Never watched Baywatch, never watched Baywatch Nights, but I understand the appeal of it all. Womens, womens, and David Hasselhoff. Sure, good.

And then they said they would do a movie reboot of Baywatch, decades later. My initial thoughts: FUCK YES!

But why? Well, history has shown to me that taking a serious show and putting it in a comedic modern reboot leads to extreme laughs. Sure, I only have 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street to base that opinion off of, but what if Baywatch is as good as those two films? It has the actors, it has a lot it can work with, it should be a sure sign of success!

Then I will eventually realize that it is just Phil Lord and Christopher Miller being an insanely funny directing duo, and not anyone else pulling the strings.

Team
I didn’t want this generic photo, but it was one of the few that actually was decent.

Over somewhere in California, I guess, is a bay that totally needs to be watched. The lifeguard team is led by Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson), his second-in-command Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera), and CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach). There are other people on the team too, apparently, but they are background characters with no names or words. Normally they only add a single member to their team a year, but this year they have spots for three people!

Spoilers, the spots go to Matt Brody (Zac Efron), an Olympic swimmer who needs community service and sort of just gets the spot against the wishes of Mitch, Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario), a girl who just likes life guarding I guess, and Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass), a guy who doesn’t give up, is basically a tech person and lusts after CJ.

Anyways, Mitch likes to go above and beyond his duty, trying to solve crimes outside of his jurisdiction. Because he has no jurisdiction, because he is a lifeguard. This gets him into problems, with the above people and all of that.

Starring Priyanka Chopra as the villain, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a cop, Amin Joseph and Jack Kesy as Chopra’s bodyguards, Rob Heubel as the boss, along with Hannibal Buress, Oscar Nuñez, David Hasselhoff, and Pamela Anderson.

rock
The sexiest shot in the film.

Goddamnit, Baywatch. You could have been something special, but all of the worst components were overplayed, and they didn’t try to make it better.

First of all, the humor, sure jokes were made, but it wasn’t a laugh a minute riot fest like I had hoped (again, comparing to 21 Jump Street). They decided to feature a lot more action and serious moments that weren’t really impressive, nor did they really bring the viewer in on any emotional level.

Secondly, there are only six~ characters in the Baywatch team they decide to highlight, 3 guys, 3 gals. And guess who gets all of the plot, character development, and good scenes? Yep, the guys only. Hadera as “second-in-command” has absolutely nothing memorable happen, she is basically a background character. Daddario is brought in to have someone else famous hang out with Efron and Johnson, but she is the third wheel. And Parker exists only to be a sexualized object to Bass’ character, an ideal woman in her looks and kindness. And yes, they hook up by the end.

Yes, when people think of Baywatch, they think of slow motion women running and bouncing, sure. But that show also had a lot of woman characters with a lot of backgrounds and plots. This movie somehow decided to be WORSE for women than the 11 seasons of a show for people to get their jollies off. That is unacceptable for a modern remake. It is not hard to give six people real characterization throughout a film, but they didn’t even try.

Those are the main two points of contention. If the film was at least funnier on many levels then I might have been able to get around the weaker characters. But because it isn’t that funny, the problems stand out a lot more. The plot was also weak, the “bad guy plot” felt pointless, and everything was just so obvious.

Apparently this movie is bombing, so we won’t a Baywatch 2. But if it does, it should go the Baywatch Nights route, just get it over with.

1 out of 4.

The Angry Birds Movie

When they first announced The Angry Birds Movie, you couldn’t have paid me to see the prescreening of it. That is because I was steadily employed when it was first announced. Now, when the actually prescreening occurred, I would have gladly accepted money to go to it. Alas, if I went I would have had to go for free and that still wasn’t good enough.

Now I played Angry Birds before. Yeah, like, in 2010, really early after it came out. I had an Android phone and it was 100% free, with a lot of components to it, so yeah, I played the shit out of it. Then I eventually stopped caring. I hated the space game, hated the star wars one, and well, just stopped caring, and never looked back.

At the same time I was annoyed by all the clothing and merchandising that was suddenly existing. It was just a small phone game, why would someone want a backpack with them on it? Oh well, I ignored it and then hey, six years after the game, a movie appeared.

Needless to say, waiting for it on DVD was always a safe bet for me.

Red anger grrr
Oh yeah, they really captured his anger there.

Red (Jason Sudeikis), is a bird, and he is angry. Everyone else on this island is happy, but not him. He is pissed off. All the minor things really piss him off. And after a series of incidents, he has found himself face first in an egg, so now the chick thinks he is its daddy. So the family goes to court over the incident and the judge (Keegan-Michael Key) sentences him to Anger Management class, the harshest sentence!

At the class, it is run by a white bird named Matilda (Maya Rudolph). He also meets a yellow bird who is incredibly fast, Chuck (Josh Gad), a big black bird who explodes sometimes, Bomb (Danny McBride), and a very, very large red bird who doesn’t talk a whole lot, Terence (Sean Penn).

But wait! A ship appears over the ocean. On it, a large pig named Leonard (Bill Hader), bringing gifts and technology to their small area. Everyone loves them, except for Red, because his house gets damaged in their arrival and he doesn’t let it go. All of the other birds get annoyed at Red’s anger and basically make him leave. Red decides that something must be up, as more and more pigs are arriving every day. He decides to bring Chuck and Bomb with him on a quest to find the Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), famed super bird who can FLY to help save the day.

And if that doesn’t work, well, then maybe they will have to fix things on their own before everything goes sour.

Also featuring voice work from Kate McKinnon, Tituss Burgess, Hannibal Buress, Tony Hale, and Ike Barinholtz.

Pig
Oh, that pig is a king too. Royalty. King Leonard, the majestically hammy.

If you couldn’t tell, I went into this movie expecting to hate it. A franchise that has become both forgettable and annoying, about a game with not a lot of plot. It seemed like a cash grab (and regardless of quality, it is still that). Judging from the animation style, I expected it to be just as annoying as most of the Minions movies have been.

And then I laughed. I laughed quite a few times. I was surprised at how much humor they actually smushed into the film. It has a pretty standard 90 minute-ish run time, but there are so many things going on, almost at all times. It was made for the ADHD crowd. Background jokes, frontground jokes, puns, double meanings, and more. And of course globs of reference humor. The last time I saw this many jokes in an animated film was Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2.

Despite how quick everything went, it still also took its time, surprisingly. It took almost a whole hour into the film before the pigs finally went bad and did the bad stuff, leaving just the last act to chase them down and tear down their city in retaliation, aka, the angry birds game part. Normally that would be an issue but time surprisingly flew by.

Heh, like the birds when you sling them.

The Angry Birds Movie has a shitty title and a shitty franchise, but damn it, it was a pretty funny film and a decent experience. It won’t change the animated world, but it will make you giggle.

3 out of 4.

The Secret Life Of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets is just one of those animated movies coming out this year that I gave absolutely, positively, no fucks about. There are animated movies all the time and all of them are competing to be the best.

I wasn’t apathetic because it wasn’t Disney or Pixar. I like a lot of other studios, I am not some weird populist. No, I am apathetic because it is being made by Illumination Entertainment. Before this film, they have made 5 movies and they are all objectively bad. Despicable Me, its sequel and Minions were bad, The Lorax was bad, and Hop was racist and bad.

I only saw the original trailer for The Secret Life Of Pets a few months ago. Outside of the awkward title, it just didn’t look like it would be an original movie. Oh, talking pets? That hasn’t been done before. (Cough)

Viper
Now a 25 minute scene on venom drugs in a kids movie? That is new.

The movie takes place in NYC, big place, lot of people, lot of animals. And pets can talk and understand each other. Not just pets, all animals. They have some universal language despite not having the same noises.

Max (Louis C.K.) is a loyal house pet, taken as a puppy from a box for free by his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper). He is greatful for her and waits almost all day in front of the door when she leaves. He has a ton of friends in the apartment complex and across the way who like to hang out while the owners are away. There is Chloe (Lake Bell), a fat cat, Mel (Bobby Moynihan), a pug, Buddy (Hannibal Buress), a dachshund, and a bird Sweet Pea who I guess doesn’t talk, just chirps.

But then Katie comes home with a surprise. She comes home with Duke (Eric Stonestreet). He is big, he is wild, and he is taking over the alpha dog status from Max. So Max wants to get rid of him. He wants to destroy the place so Katie will take him back to the pound. They begin to fight with each other more and more, and sure, yeah, somehow it ends up with them both now out of the apartment, collars lost, just trying to get back home.

And they are in New York City. Everyone knows it is a rough and tumble place for strays. You all saw Oliver & Company. On the streets they have to deal with animal control, the League of Flushed Pets (run by a bunny voiced by Kevin Hart), and shit like water.

Also featuring Jenny Slate as the puffy Gidget who lived across the street and was in love with Max, Albert Brooks as Tiberius, a hawk, and Steve Coogan, Dana Carvey, Tara Strong, and Michael Beattie.

New Dog
Duke could straight up eat Max. And Katie. And me.

Like I had feared, The Secret Life of Pets doesn’t offer a whole lot to the animation genre. The animation isn’t state of the art, with the quality looking more or less the same as the first Despicable Me film. This time there are only four or five important human characters, so their awkward proportional bodies isn’t super distracting like it is for other films. We just get slightly exaggerated pet bodies, which is a bit easier to accept.

About half of the film reminded me of Toy Story, the first one, the one that came out 21 years ago! New pet (toy), they argue and fight, both pets (toys) get lost from home and face near death to get back. Hell, there are a couple of scenes where they even have to chase a car where one or the other is trapped.

Nothing was surprising about this movie. It is incredibly simplistic and places where they could have added conflict and a bit of emotional connection are just nothing. Duke had an older owner and they attempt to find them during their time in the city. Without spoilers, things don’t go the right way. Perfect time for a nice emotional scene, but it is rushed through and another bullshit conflict is added. Bullshit conflict to move the plot is lazy, and this film is full of it.

One more complaint paragraph before some pros, don’t worry. The ending was a complete mess too. From the quickest phone call animal control response ever, to the unnecessary all out brawl between pets, to a no real stakes rescue, to the third or fourth time of the animals driving crazily vehicles, it just ended on so many bad notes. And yes, a brawl to solve a big issue is shit. Grown Ups 2 did it, and this movie did it just for a quick joke. Especially when an easy explanation could have fixed everything and taught some better morals.

Cat Face
Unrelated fun fact: An Andrew WK song appears in this movie. Party, party, party!

“But why with all these issues did you give it an average rating?” Well, surprisingly the voice acting saved the shit out of this movie. Kevin Hart as a bunny? I didn’t know I needed that in my life. His voice works great in animated films and his antics get less annoying when he isn’t the lead. Jenny Slate has been annoying to me in her last few films, but her as the Gidget was also pretty great. Albert Brooks as a hawk is the final amazing aspect of the voice acting. All three brought their A-game and brought it on hard.

The animation wasn’t completely average in every area either. The scenes with the snake, both seen above and as a sort of password felt really cool. They worked the 3D really well to make these animals pop out in unique ways. And shit, there was a dream sequence about sausage featuring the finale song from Grease, and it was a visual explosion of wonder.

The Secret Life of Pets won’t win awards for story, visuals, or make a lot of money. But the cast do the best with what they are given and technically make the best film Illumination Entertainment has ever made (in my eyes).

I still don’t want a sequel, because the entire idea behind all of this is just so uninspired. It feels like a straight to DVD animated film, just with some top tier celebrities to voice the animals.

2 out of 4.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Comedy sequels have gotten a bad rep lately. Like Zoolander 2 and Dumb and Dumber To. Okay, those had many years between sequels, but like…The Hangover Part III and Horrible Bosses 2.

So I went into Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising with a skeptical face. I enjoyed Neighbors and rewatched it the morning of the screening, still holds up decently.

But the problem with comedy sequels is the direction you take it. Do you give them more of the same? If so, then it isn’t original any more. If you give them something completely unrelated, then why even make it a sequel and not an original movie?

Neighbors 2 might just be Neighbors with more women.

Ughhh
But you know, regular, chill, want to kill you women.

After Neighbors, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) returned quiet to their neighborhood. But now, Kelly is pregnant again, so they want to move to a new house with more rooms and with less neighbors. They put an offer on a house and they were accepted! However, their current home isn’t sold yet. It is on escrow. So the buying couple has 30 days to check it out and do tests and can back out at any time.

And at that moment is of course when some new people move in. Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons), and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) want to start their own sorority, that can party and smoke weed and promote their own feminist values of sisterhood. They just have issues getting enough money to rent the place for their dreams to come true.

That is where Teddy (Zac Efron) comes in. He is feeling pretty pathetic, everyone in his life is becoming successful except for him. And Pete (Dave Franco) is now totally gay and about to get married to Darren (John Early), which means Teddy needs a place to stay. He decides to become a sort of sorority consultant to the girls in order to find value, and maybe screw over the people who gave him a criminal record and all.

Woo, prank wars!

Some smaller roles are played by Selena Gomez, Clara Mamet, and someone called Awkwafina. Also returning, albeit briefly include Hannibal Buress, Chistopher Mintz-Plasse, Jerrod Carmichael and the best friends Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo.

Hween
This is how I dress up when I want to look young.

Neighbors 2 actually does a good balance of keeping things original with appropriate call backs. The picture used right above ended up being one of the funniest scenes in the film and was entirely new and fresh material. My second and third favorite moments were both call backs to airbags. There are several great humorous scenes that really carry the film and overall make this film a good time while watching it.

But when comparing it to its predecessor, it doesn’t hold up as well. My main faults lie with the chemistry between Moretz, Clemons, and Feldstein, the leaders of the new sorority. It is practically non-existence. Yes, before the events of the film, they didn’t know each other, but most of their comedic scenes together never really feel too funny. Their logic and reasoning for wanting to create their own sorority is actually a good one. The film delivers a real message about sorority culture and the need for change. They just failed to make it funny.

Most of our humor is reserved for our old people roles and Efron, while the sorority side remains mostly serious in their own goals. It is a strange dichotomy in this movie.

And honestly, the ending tried to tie everything in a nice bow, but the solutions that were found don’t make a lot of sense when you examine it for just a few seconds.

Again, some great funny scenes in this movie, and strangely enough, some character growth, but they are unable to deliver their message while maintaining the funny throughout.

2 out of 4.