Fist Fight

Fist Fight is an interesting term, because well, most people when they think of the word “fight” they assume fists were already involved. Fists are the default in a fight. That is why we have to specify other types of fights, like gun fights, sword fights, or cat fights. So fist fight doesn’t even need to exist as a term, a little bit of an unnecessary word play here.

Although, at the same time, would you watch a movie called just Fight? Would you assume a movie called Fight is actually a comedy film? No way a film just called Fight could work. After all, we already had the movie Fighting and it didn’t work either.

Either way, in this movie we get two main things. We get Charlie Day getting some leading man role time, which just…never happens. And we have Ice Cube, trying to get rid of the family friendly nature that has come upon him and turn himself more into a badass again.

Point
Oh shit, did Cube turn his fist into a gun? What kind of fight is this again? Man, what a badass.

Mr. Campbell (Day) is an English teacher at a school in Los Angeles and the students are pretty damn wild. He teaches seniors, it is the last day, and no fucks are given. The kids rarely respect their teachers in this school, especially not today. The only teacher they sort of respect is Mr. Strickland (Cube), but because they are afraid of him. But even today some kids want to mess with him.

While Campbell is in his classroom to fix an issue, Strickland ends up threatening a student with an Ax, destroying his desk, due to his prank. That is a big deal, even at this school. Turns out the school is also looking to take cuts out of every department due to low scores. Campbell has a wife and kid (JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Alexa Nisenson), and the wife is pregnant with number two. Even if his job sucks, he cannot lose it right now. So when pressured by the principal (Dean Norris), Campbell caves and admits that Strickland did the deed. This angers Strickland. So Strickland says he is going to kick Campbell’s ass. He is going to challenge him to a fight after school that day, and they are going to throw down. He spreads the word. He is pissed at the world and he doesn’t care about his actions.

Now Campbell has to spend the rest of his day worried. He was already panicking over his wife close to birth, and the possibility of losing his job. Now he also might get his ass kicked? I guess he has to try and fix all these issues during the course of a school day, or else he might die of a heart attack before it is through.

Also starring Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Christina Hendricks, Kumail Nanjiani, and Dennis Haysbert.

Bat
Shit. Now there is a bat involved. Just what kind of fight is this!?

Fist Fight is one of those films that doesn’t make sense to have been made in this day and age. It is just so slapstick in a bad way, negative, and bland it is a wonder it got made. Well, it is obvious how it got made. It would have been cheap as fuck to make, outside of actor salaries. Probably didn’t even take many days to shoot.

A quick no risk comedy film, that can earn its money back at least through the DVD sales.

The whole time I am wondering “Well, will this film end in a fight?” Because if it just ends in a fight, then it just feels childish. I hate that with animated or kids films, and there really isn’t a reason for this film not really in the action genre. But on the other hand, what if there is no fist fight? Then this movie is titled poorly and it would anger people.

So there has to be a fight, but a movie psyched up over a fictional brawl in a parking lot? Hard pass. It isn’t funny, it isn’t original, and it isn’t worthy of your time.

0 out of 4.

Ride Along 2

Two years ago, I was facing another hoard of January movies and afraid of what might come out. But I had seen a trailer for Ride Along months before and was a bit excited about it. Kevin Hart can amuse me and the concept seemed funny enough. It was going to be the movie to save January for me. I was so ready for it.

And then it was average. It being average made me feel even more disappointed since I had such high hopes for it. That Awkward Moment ended up being my good January movie.

That’s right, with fucking Zac Efron.

And now two Januaries later, we have Ride Along 2. Kevin Hart also had The Wedding Ringer last January, making it three years in a row he has had a film come out that month. That is never a good sign for an actor. I hope he is getting some other roles out there somehow.

Munn
This time with new hilarious side characters who are from the finest of films before this one!

The sequel takes place only a few months later, I think. Ben Barber (Hart) is now a police officer, but he is in the mentoring stage and not a full time cop just yet. So he gets to shadow other cops, lieutenants and detectives, like James (Ice Cube)!

After a drug bust gone bad, James finds a mysterious USB drive with a crazy hard to beat encryption. Thankfully the hacker who did it left a calling sign and they are able to track it to A.J. (Ken Jeong) out of Miami. James only agrees to take Ben along with him as part of his training as a wedding present to his sister (Tika Sumpter). Oh yeah, the wedding is in a week, so hopefully they get back in time.

Oh no! It turns out A.J. is involved in a murder plot. And maybe someone out to murder him as well. This turns their quick Miami trip into working with Detective Maya (Olivia Munn) to solve the whole thing before they get dead. And not a spoiler, as it is the first scene, it is clearly the nice rich ship dude, Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt) behind everything. They just have to figure that out using their smarts first.

Also featuring Michael Rose, Sherri Shepherd, Carlos Gómez, Bruce McGill, and even smaller roles by Arturo del Puerto, Tyrese Gibson, and Glen Powell.

Jeong
As I said and I shall repeat again, the finest of films I tell you!

Ride Along 2 was worse than the first film. It is an Action Comedy that has barely any laughs and non exciting action. It is a bore, which is definitely not an emotion you ever expect from either of those genres. You can totally expect that from Dramas.

In terms of humor, I did find one part near the plot finale did make me laugh. I laughed out loud and a lot, it was a nice shake up. But one great joke doesn’t save the film. Maybe I am getting immune to Kevin Hart’s ranting. Ice Cube had to play a serious guy, but 98% of his jokes fell completely flat. As for the action, it seemed almost like a parody without it being a parody. It had so many action cliches it was like watching something that came out of the 90’s but it never was aware of that fact. Explosions for every minor thing (which can be funny if intentional, like in 21 Jump Street), terrible shoot outs, and never any real fear or worry behind it.

There was one car chase scene where, in order to explain why Ben was a great driver during it, the film became to morph into a pretty bad looking video game. It was supposed to be similar to Grand Theft Auto, but the constant shifting of the game in his mind and in reality was only a major annoyance and took away from what could have been one of the more exciting parts of the film. In that sense, it is another example of what some movie in the 90’s might have done, but nowadays only a straight to DVD film would think that is a good idea.

On a final note, do you know the last time a movie decided to place its sequel in Miami? Do you? It was fucking 2 Fast 2 Furious, a travesty of a movie, and it is a surprise the franchise didn’t die on the spot. I don’t see this franchise lasting 7 movies, because at least The Fast and the Furious was decent. This is two weak films in a row.

1 out of 4.

The Book Of Life

When I first saw a trailer for The Book Of Life, I was taken aback with the animation styling. And the story line. And everything about it. Well, everything but one thing.

Guillermo del Toro‘s name was attached to the picture. Really? I like del Toro, so I found that surprising because it didn’t seem like something that he heavily influenced. Outside of the Mexican influence, it just didn’t seem like his work. But I decided to give it a benefit of the doubt. There is reasoning behind the animation style, there is some cultural significance to the whole picture, and damn it. It might be excellent.

If you didn’t know, this movie has something to do with the Day of the Dead, which takes place from Halloween to Nov 2. In particular, they call Nov 2 the Day of the Dead, as that is the day that they celebrate the gravestones of their family members and party in their remembrance, the central theme to the story.

The non central theme hopefully is searching for this mythical Book of Life that gives everyone super powers. I hope.

Books
Oh shit, those kids found it! Run! Chaos everywhere! Ahh!

Mexico in this case is the center of the universe, not only that, but the center of Mexico is a place that looks like a guitar surrounded by water, in San Angel. That is where a lot of shenanigans take place, given its central location. I guess I should explain the afterlife. Get ready for some facts. Everyone knows that once people die, their spirits go to a really sexy place where they party all day and all night and live with their families and friends! La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) rules the Land of the Remembered and it is totally fetch. But there is another afterlife place. The Land of the Forgotten, ruled by Xibalba (Ron Perlman). That is not a fun place. You see, if people in the Land of the Forgotten ever forget about someone that has died, the spirit gets moved to the Land of the Forgotten for the rest of eternity. Not a fun time at all. 🙁 🙁 🙁

Xibalba of course doesn’t like his job and wants to rule the cool place, so they make bets and wages all the time over the lives of humans to determine who rules what.

So they see these three kids running around. Manolo (Diego Luga) with his guitar and sensitivity, Joaquin (Channing Tatum) who likes to sword fight and wants to be a soldier, and of course, sweet sweet Maria (Zoe Saldana) the object of their affection and daughter of the general.

Bets! They place them. Xibalba picks Joaquin to eventually marry Maria, and La Muerte picks Manolo. If Xibalba wins, he gets to rule the Land of the Remembered, but if La Muete wins, Xibalba has to stop interfering with the lives of humans. Oh golly.

The fate of so much on such a little arrangement. And who is to say the girl will marry either boy? Pfft. Gods.

Also featuring the voice acting talent of Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Carlos Alazraqui, Danny Trejo, and Hector Elizondo.

Hair
Not to be weird, but that is the sexiest hair I have seen on a CGI wooden puppet ever.

Turns out, del Toro didn’t have a lot to do with this movie. Sure, he was involved on some level as a producer, but he wasn’t even the executive producer. He probably provided some nice funding and helped design the Land of the Remembered, because it was vibrant and unique, but not sure what else he might have done.

A lot of music in this movie, and about half of it (or more) were actual songs but with a lot more mariachi feel to them. We got Creep and I Will Wait and much more. I think there is also unique music, but I just might not be hip enough on the music scene to get the references.

I think this is a hard movies for kids to follow. A lot is going on, a lot of characters are good and just misunderstood. After all, Xibalba isn’t a bad guy, just looks bad. Joaquin isn’t a bad guy either. The only bad guy is a bandito who doesn’t show up til the end, and I will say, he had very entertaining fight scenes.

The movie has a lot of spirit and energy, but I just found it hard to really relate to anyone. Or the story itself. It just ended up on the “okay” spectrum, which was disappointing, as I figured this one would be one of the best films of the year. Maybe I made a mistake in picking The Book Of Life over The Boxtrolls. I hope not!

2 out of 4.

22 Jump Street

If I told you four years ago that not only would a 21 Jump Street comedy be made, but that Jonah Hill would be involved, and they’d have a sequel called 22 Jump Street, you would have kicked me in the nuts. Then publicly shamed me for being a terrible person. You also may have been slightly confused at the oddly specific-ness of that foretelling.

For all intents and purposes, 21 Jump Street should not have done as well as it did. But it ended up being funny, making a lot of money, and here we are. And this time, they don’t care what you think.

Fuck You
Picture speaks for itself.

College! That is where our heroes, Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are going. Same aliases. There is a new new drug that has its own list of side effects that killed a girl. So they are going to infiltrate the dealer, find the supplier and take them down. Hmm, same plot too.

But this time it is different. Because in College, people can be free thinkers. You also don’t need a hall pass.

This time, Jenko is going to try out for football looking for dealers, where he meets the quarterback Zook (Wyatt Russell), who is basically Jenko’s clone and instant best friend.

Schmidt is going the art kids route, looking for drama and poetry geeks who might be hitting the WHYPHY up hard. That is where he meets Maya (Amber Stevens) and gets a girlfriend out of it. It isn’t creepy like the last movie, because she is of age.

But no! It is not just the same! After all, their bosses are still played by Ice Cube and Nick Offerman. Because that makes sense. But the new thug bad guy is Peter Stormare. That is different. Not to mention we have people from Workaholics, like Jillian Bell and uhh. That might be it.

Basically, what is important though is that they have the same blanket set as I do in real life.

Rocket Car

After viewing, I determine that 22 Jump Street was like one very long and elaborate inside joke. That would be annoying normally, but here is the good news. You are in on the joke, too. It all makes sense, because you are a person who saw the first film and understands that everything probably has an extra layer of meaning to it.

That’s right. This film is really aware of itself/meta/whatever you want to call it. And it will beat you over head with the jokes and at least for me, it didn’t get stale at all. Not only did it just keep building and building, along with an increase in action, but they didn’t even stop when the movie ended. It had to be one of the more amazing/funny credits I have ever seen. And they didn’t even fill the credits with dumb outtakes or anything.

Tatum might just be a comedy guy. Hill’s character had its moments, mostly dealing with one fight scene near the end and his interactions with Ice Cube, but Tatum had so many laugh out loud lines and moments. Only a few were shown in the trailer. The “lightbulb” scene with Tatum might be the funniest thing I have seen in a movie in over a year. Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

I feel like I am giving out this rating far too much over the last few weeks, but seriously, movies are really earning their keep this summer. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are comedy gods and they should be worshiped as such.

4 out of 4.

Ride Along

Way back in July, I had to write a synopsis of the upcoming year of movies, from August to April. 2014 at that time barely had anything listed still, so it was mostly a crapshoot. Of the little that January had, I remember thinking that Ride Along had the most potential. Two actors who I tend to enjoy, a buddy cop (ish?) movie and it’s an action comedy. Buddy cop-ish, because only one of them is actually a cop in the film.

As January grew closer in closer, it was still one of the potential bright spots, because January itself is where they just tend to dump a lot of bad movies. So I hope Ride Along ends up being brilliant, or else I am just stuck relying on Zac Efron to save the month.

Ride Along
Relying on Zac Efron is a pretty common theme in my life.

In Ride Along, Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) is a short nobody. He is a security guard at a high school, but he really wants to be a cop someday and is trying really hard to get into the police academy. He thinks he needs to become a cop in order to finally marry his long term girlfriend, Angela (Tika Sumpter).

But really, all she wants is for him to stop being in a war with her brother, James (Ice Cube), who he might have accidentally set on fire. But hey, now that Ben has gotten accepted into the police academy, maybe James will like him and give him his blessing for marriage. Hah.

Turns out James still hates him, but he does agree to give Ben one day to try and change his mind. He will invite him on a ride along, see if he can make it on the streets, while making his life a living hell.

John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen play other cops on the street, and Bruce McGill as their Lieutenant. Oh, and Laurence Fishburne is in this movie. Yeah, Laurence Fishburne!

Blackhammer
I decided to include no pictures of anyone actually riding along.

You know what I like most about this movie? Ice Cube said that today was a good day. I get that reference. Well done Ice Cube.

I also laughed a couple times at Kevin Hart. More so later on near the end of the movie.

But not a lot, unfortunately.

For an Action/Comedy, the action was sub par, and the comedy felt extremely sparse. It is a huge shame that I found this movie so disappointing because I really tend to at least find their work enjoyable. Maybe Ice Cube was just too much of a hard ass, trying to pretend he was a BAMF, but really being a bit meh.

The acting wasn’t too great, and unfortunately all of the twists and turns you could see coming a mile away.

If About Last Night in February doesn’t end up being impressive for Kevin Hart, I might have to rethink actually liking him. Good at stand up, bad at movies.

1 out of 4.

Rampart

When doing my “What random shit should I review in between new releases?” run, I walked by Rampart and knew I had to watch it immediately. There is only one reason I know about this movie, and that is because of its horrible PR campaign to promote it.

Basically, on Reddit, Woody Harrelson did an ask me anything before this movie came out. Yes to promote it, but he apparently forgot it was an ask me anything. He only wanted to answer questions about the movie, ignored basically everything else, answer only a dozen or so questions, and most of them badly. One response he said “…i consider my time valuable.” So, the internet was scorned, lots of boycotts against seeing the film, and now no one really knows anything about it.

Don’t fuck with the internet?

Hobo Scorn
Basically, that hobo is the internet, and Woody Harrelson is Woody Harrelson.
This is based on the Rampart Scandal. What is that? Exactly. In the 1990s, the Rampart Scandal involved evidence of the LAPD having huge amounts of corruption and misconduct. Over 70 officers were found guilty of being dicks and abusing their power. Pretty serious deal.

Like Dave Brown (Harrelson). He hates everyone equally, so he feels like its okay for him to be a bigoted, racist, sexist, scumbag who beats his perps. I mean, he murdered a serial date rapist. That makes him a good guy right?

Well, he lives with his two ex wives (Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon). Both of them are sisters, both had a kid with him. Yep, very scumbag.

But a video surfaces of Dave beating up a person who got into a car accident with him. He says it was assault with a deadly weapon, the people think otherwise. This leads to a bigger investigation, and more potential bad stuff Dave has done. They want a forced retirement, he wants to fight it. Silly Dave.

Also featuring Ice Cube, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Foster.

Reminenses
Do you hear that? That silence? Yeah, those are the fans.
Good thing the internet chose to boycott this movie. After all, if they didn’t, we’d have all went and seen it, giving them money, then hating it afterwards. Better to hate it before hand, because an actor doesn’t know how to internet, I guess.

Woody actually did a lot for this role apparently (according to the AMA). Lost weight, had to get in a new psyche of a complete asshole. But I would say most of his recent roles have been assholes to some degree anyways. I can’t imagine it was that hard.

Basically, the movie is just kind of boring. Drama with some action elements. I like dramas! I understand their pacing. This one was not done well is all.

Unfortunately, it will be remembered for all of eternity, as that one movie that pissed people off, not by the content of its character, but by the way it advertised its colors.

1 out of 4.

21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street (the movie) is nothing like 21 Jump Street (the TV show). Have I seen the show? No. But I know “about it” enough so that I get it. That was more of a crime drama thing, not really a comedy. The movie is a straight up comedy, with tons of references to the show.

You can like both the show and the movie, because it is clearly not a “Remake” but its own thing, taking the basic premise of the show. You know, in case you were curious. But I should also note that when I first heard about it my reaction was a resounding “What The Fuck!?”

Knuckleheads
But are these two knuckleheads at all believable in these roles or as cops?

Movie begins in 2005, when Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum‘s characters were in school. Hill, nerdy and shy. Tatum, athlete and dumb. 7 years later, some how, they are both wanting to be cops. They remember each other, and agree to work together (helping study / train) and become great friends and partners!

And after a bad first arrest while being park patrol on bikes, they get re-sentenced to an undercover gig on Jump Street, because they are “young looking” to infiltrate a high school and try and stop this new drug from being spread. Could be lethal, but they know nothing about it! So they have to infiltrate the dealers, find the suppliers. So says Ice Cube, their sergeant.

They meet the “cool kids” Brie Larson and Dave Franco, and accidentally switch their identities. ROLE ROLE REVERSAL. They find the dealers, and work on befriending them in order to find the supplier, and you know. Hopefully save the day without getting fired or expelled.

This also features Rob Riggle as a PE teacher, Ellie Kemper as an AP Chemistry teacher, Jake M. Johnson as the principal, and Nick Offerman as their former boss. (This was my paragraph of “People you probably recognize from a TV show”).

Greg the soccer player
Yes, that is the younger brother of James Franco. And it would have bugged you the whole movie noting how similar they looked. He is formally known as “Greg the soccer player” in Superbad.

But outside of all of it, was it funny? Yeah, shit was funny.

It was a self aware comedy too, making obvious jabs at the idea of recreating an 80s drama show into a modern comedy movie. Very easy to catch jokes too. Not everything has to be very subtle.

The made up drug is great, and the moment when the characters were forced to use it? Some of the most funniest consecutive minutes of my life.

Ever joke I don’t think hit the mark, but a large percentage of them did. The action scenes they threw in got to be quite heavy (and slightly predictable) and at one point they actually made a claim that goes against the teachings of South Park, a very hard pill to swallow.

3 out of 4.