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.

Bad Times At The El Royale

I have never had a bad time at a place called an El Royale. Just saying, for some sort of context. I haven’t been to any El Royales as far as I know. So neither good nor bad times have been had at any El Royales. I am an El Royale virgin. Or at least, I was before I saw this movie, Bad Times At the El Royale.

Alright, now that the nonsensical first paragraph, overall this felt like a movie that would be really enjoyable. I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the cast of characters and thought it could have some really fun and interesting scenes.

After seeing so many duds lately, and great films, I needed something that would just be entertaining. I really wanted this to fill that genre gap in my movie watching schedule.

Dancing
It did fill a Hemsworth sized whole in my heart. And that is a very large whole.

At the El Royale? Well, it used to be a happening spot. Lively nights, plenty of guests, and a lot of raunchy shenanigans. This hotel is on the border of Nevada and California. So it has a more expensive and classy side and a gambling side. A side for all the types who may want to visit. Now the hotel is almost in rambles. The front desk is basically just one person (Lewis Pullman), who also is the cleaning man, the bartender, and everything. A one man show.

And tonight? There will be some guests. We have Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), a potential singing star who has a secret. We have Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who seems to be losing his mind, and a man with a secret. There is (Jon Hamm), someone who really wants the Honeymoon suite, because he has a secret. There is the vulgar and unfriendly (Dakota Johnson), who clearly has a secret.

A lot of secrets, and a lot of bad stuff coming together. How are Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, and Nick Offerman involved in the plot? Well, that’s a secret.

Raining
I’M SORRY. DID YOU THINK THIS PICTURE SPACE WOULD BE GIVEN TO SOMETHING THAT IS NOT SHIRTLESS?

Did you know that Bad Times at the El Royale is over 140 minutes long? Shit, this might as well be a Marvel movie at this point. Now of course if a movie is engaging and fantastic, the time doesn’t matter. BT at the ER is in fact entertaining with some cool scenes. It has nice songs/soundtracks to encompass the scenes. It is told out of order from multiple perspectives to help unravel the mysteries and keep things fresh. It is really impossible to guess where it is going and how it will end. And yet, it also feels way too long.

Sure, different perspectives is fun, but that does mean we have to see some scenes multiple times. And there is a lot of backstory at times that are cool for building characters, and at the same time, not always necessary.

I really enjoyed Hamm in this film. He was a combination of some of his previous roles and it was definitely a good fit for him. Potentially it can be used as an audition for an eventual super hero! Johnson was acting like someone completely different in this film and it was refreshing. Erivo knocked it out of the park for me in the film, she was the real star, in so many talented ways. And hey, Pullman was interesting as the, well, lobby boy. I actually thought it was maybe Tom Holland pushing some boundaries for most of the movie.

BT at the ER is a fun film, a different film, a Quentin Tarantino lite film, and one that will please a lot of fans. Especially those of Hemsworth. It just needed a lot more editing and maybe a more focused outcome by the end.

2 out of 4.

Majorie Prime

With a title like Majorie Prime, it in two words somehow perfectly describes the different aesthetics of this film. Despite prime really just being a math term, it also can conjure up Sci-Fi feelings, which is one of the two aspects. The other word, Majorie, is an old as fuck lady name. It hasn’t been used in forever. Old people aren’t in Sci-Fi movies, they are in dramas.

So we got ourselves an old person drama Sci-Fi. That means it is a Sci-Fi film about death, probably.

And yeah, knowing all of this, I figured it was an indie movie, and a Sci-Fi film, so it had the potential to be really great, without actually knowing anything about it.

Old
“Let’s talk about our feelings and count this as a Sci-Fi!”

Learning to let go of loved ones can be a difficult thing. Thankfully, at this point in my life, I really don’t know that. In the near distant future, technology has grown enough along with artificial intelligence to make the transition feel a bit smoother.

You see, you can make a robot that looks and smells like you past loved one after their live. You will fill them with memories that you want them to know, and then you can just talk to them. You can tell them more stories, they will learn from you, adapt and grow with you. And better yet, they will be nostalgic with you to tell you stories that will make you feel better, ones that you originally told them, but from their point of view. It will feel real, it is kind of real. And best of all, you can get things off your chest for closure reasons if you never had a chance.

This is usually reserved for spouses. Like Majorie (Lois Smith), who is getting old and losing her memory. So her daughter Tess (Geena Davis) sets her up with one of these prime bots of Majorie’s husband, Walter (Jon Hamm) except she chooses a much younger version of him. It helps her a bit, but the memory loss is still there, so much that she even starts to forget her husband isn’t real.

But is it helpful for real? Does having a prime unit in your house actually help you? What about more than one, assuming you lose a lot of loved ones? Will it turn people into isolated recluses, will they feel better, or will it just lead to more issues in the future?

Also featuring Tim Robbins, Hannah Gross, and Stephanie Andujar.

Youth
Basically, it is a more dramatized (if that is possible) Blade Runner.

I love a good movie that is 95% dialogue, I really do. Locke was one of my favorite movies in whatever year Locke came out, thanks to the wonderful Tom Hardy. I knew that this film would be dialogue heavy, but I didn’t know the real reason behind it. This film was actually based on a play of the same name, so it took some effort to get pictures from the movie version.

Knowing it was a play makes so much more sense. Literally most of the film is usually two people just talking and recalling events, events we are really only sometimes aware of and can have a real context for.

And although the ending had a really cool moment, and this film featured at times some intense acting, it didn’t feel like the time was worth the payoff. I ended up describing the entirety of the film to my wife, only because the ending moment was interesting, but I knew that her time was more valuable than taking the 90 minutes to get to that point.

It deal with a few good concepts, about aging and what it means to be human. But it never feels like it goes hard enough. Oh well, when the end of the world comes due to the AI take over, we will know now that the robots will have old people names, like Walter and Majorie.

2 out of 4.

Tour De Pharmacy

A couple years ago, I saw an ad for 7 Days in Hell while using HBO and I was instantly drawn in. I had to watch that movie RIGHT AWAY and review it ASAP. It looked magicial, and really, it was.

I didn’t know it was so short, only 40 minutes. I didn’t know it was to poke fun at the ESPN documentary series. But I went in, it was short, but I still called it a film and had an okay review.

And now years later, I saw an ad for Tour De Pharmacy. This time I was older, a bit wiser, a bit smarter, and a bit less repetitive. I knew what I was getting in to, and thus I was excited. Why can’t lightning hit twice?

Bikes
And look, we have more athletes now than a single tennis match!

Tour De Pharmacy tells the story of the 1982 Tour De France, and all of the bizarre happenings that occurred during the race. Including the first time that someone died on the race!

Due to plot reasons, a lot of bicyclists in the race ended up getting eliminated really early on, as it turned out they paid bribes in order to avoid being drug tested. Like, a lot, a lot. As in, only five bikers remained.

We had Slim Robinson (Daveed Diggs / Danny Glover), nephew of Jackie Robinson, who wanted to be the first black athlete in some sport, so he was the first black athlete to compete in the Tour De France! There was Adriana Baton (Freddie Highmore / Julia Ormond), the first woman to compete in the race, but no one knew it at the time, as she pretended to be a man in order to qualify. There is also Marty Hass (Andy Samberg / Jeff Goldbloom), who is actually the first African to compete in the race. Yes he is white, and was an aristocrat, and it pisses off a lot of people that he has taken that first away.

The other two members of the pack were Juju Pepe (Orlando Bloom), a native Frenchman and actual famous bike rider, and Gustav Ditters (John Cena / Dolph Lundgren), a giant muscle man who didn’t fit the normal physiques that one would expect from a bicyclist. Along for the ride is Rex Honeycut (James Marsden), a journalist who will bike alongside the pack, in order to give in person interviews as the race happens!

This also features a slew of other actors, some playing themselves, to tell the story of the 1982 Tour De France: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kevin Bacon, Lance Armstrong, Maya Rudolph, Mike Tyson, Will Forte, and narrated by Jon Hamm.

Cena
The more arm muscles have, the faster you go on a bike. It’s fucking science!

If you liked 7 Days in Hell, you will like this movie! If you didn’t, you won’t. Pretty simple. Of course, a whole mess of you might not have seen the first one, so I still have to talk.

Honestly, this is just an absurd parody movie, I love it. It is short, so some of their jokes and moments don’t ever get to go into depth, and that is probably where it excels. After all, there is only so much stupid stuff they can throw in it before a viewer might get tired of it all. I think it was just the right length and zany to amuse the shit out of me, possible amuse the shit out of me over multiple viewings.

Now, despite that? Yeah, there are still some dull parts as well. The film even comments on it, as there were long boring stretches in the actual race that caused viewership to drop tremendously, in the fictional recounting. Making it meta and commenting on the progressiveness however, still didn’t do it for me.

Also, well fucking done Lance Armstrong. His role as hidden informant was a joke that just kept on giving, it surprisingly never got stale. All of the cameos were pretty funny.

Tour De Pharmacy is a relatively smart and quick laugh thrill ride, with only a few moments of slowed traffic to catch your breath.

3 out of 4.

Baby Driver

At the time of writing this introduction, Baby Driver was listed on Wikipedia as a British-American action crime comedy jukebox musical film, and when I first read that my heart skipped several beats. I am now dead. [Editor’s note: I have gotten better, and the Wikipedia article has since been shortened.]

Those genre’s together just seemed too good to be true, and it was. Because a jukebox musical means, 1) It is a musical, and 2) That the songs that the character sing already exist and come from the charts. But I knew this wasn’t a musical, just a film that really, really, really, loved music. Music that yes, at different times, may have hit the charts. And even if the main character sings some of them, they still don’t qualify it as a musical.

Which is sad, but I am mostly certain no one will turn a plot like this one into an actual musical. Or at least, not for film, but you never know with Broadway turning out 2 or more “Movie title, the musical!” films a year.

Elevator
“Elevator, the musical!” is coming up and down this fall.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) loves music. It is a major part of his identity, there are always earbuds in his ears with an iPod playing a song to help the situation. When Baby was a kid, his parents got into a car accident with him in the back seat. They died, he survived, and he gained an ever persistent noise in his ears that won’t go away. The music helps dull it out.

Baby unfortunately got into some trouble. He became very good at cars, being one of the best drivers around despite his young age. But one day, he messed with the wrong man, Doc (Kevin Spacey), and lost a lot of his merchandise. And now, to pay Doc back, Baby has been the driver for several bank robberies in the greater Atlanta area, with his share always going towards his payment. But as soon as he pays off Doc, he wants out. He just wants to drive and be free, he definitely doesn’t want to hurt anyone.

Baby works with criminals, however. And criminals can be erratic and put his family in danger. His family being his foster dad (CJ Jones), who is now in a wheel chair, deaf, and needs a lot of attention. And Deborah (Lily James), a waitress at a diner he frequents who shares his passion of music and is generally a free spirit. So when the criminals start doing bad things, it is Baby’s duty to get out of it while protecting those he cares about.

We have quite a few criminals played by actors like Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González, Flea, and Lanny Joon. Also featuring Sky Ferreira and Hal Whiteside.

Diner
Everyone knows that diners are the best place to go for music and pie.

Baby Driver, from start to finish, will keep you on the edge of your seat and the edge of your car seat as well when you are heading home. Don’t watch this movie during the day, because you will want the roads empty so you can blast music and drive (responsibly) maybe a little bit faster. It will take over you, especially if you are a movie goer with varied music tastes.

Elgort has been in quite a few teenage romance / young adult films. The Fault in our Stars, Paper Towns, Divergent, even the Carrie remake. But Baby Driver is finally his jumping off point into something greater than all of his parts before combined. He is now part of a cinematic masterpiece, playing a role unlike his other characters, and hopefully will lead him to a lot of better roles in the future. Elgort might be a star, especially lucky after he didn’t get the Star Wars gig.

The cinematography, the action, the variety of characters, the dialogue, and of course, the music, make Baby Driver a must see film. I especially appreciate at how diverse the music ends up being, from all sorts of decades and genres. In addition to that, having the action FIT the music is an incredible achievement and allowed me to sit in my seat in awe.

I can’t talk enough about how wonderful an experience Baby Driver was. It is a film that I want to see again in theaters and will pick up on Blu-Ray day one of its release.

4 out of 4.

Keeping Up With The Joneses

In attempting to catch up to some of the bigger movies of the fall that I missed, I will note that I completely forgot about Keeping Up With The Joneses. It came and it went. It had advertising, I am mostly certain. Definitely.

Not many people went to see it either. It was a bomb on a relatively low budget, and now I am talking about it months later mostly because it has a short enough run time for me to fit it into my schedule last week.

Also, because I liked the actors involved.

Together
Look at them all together. Short. Tall. Hairy.

Jeff (Zach Galifianakis) and Karen Gaffney (Isla Fisher) live a quiet suburban life with their two kids. Jeff works as an HR rep at some tech company (and lives near a lot of his coworkers), Karen designs bathrooms, sometimes. Their kids are off to summer camp, so they have the house to themselves! That means sex very quickly and then mindlessly hanging out the rest of the night.

But then, they get some new neighbors. The Joneses. Tim (Jon Hamm) and Natalie (Gal Gadot). They are perfect, they are tall, they live amazing lives, and now they apparently want to settle down.

Karen, however, doesn’t trust them. Something seems off about them. They are a bit too friendly. She thinks they are spying on them!

And yeah, she ends up being right. They aren’t really friends. But what do they want? What do they need? Are they good spies or bad spies?

Also featuring Patton Oswalt, Ming Zhao, Matt Walsh, and Maribeth Monroe.

Spy
Spies get to wear fancy clothes and show off their assets.

To be fair to this film, which I don’t really want to type a lot, the idea for a comedy action film isn’t completely bad. It just didn’t have a lot extra going for it. I barely laughed at any thing. I would note in my head that a scene was potentially amusing, but it just never really pushed the funny bone like I had hoped.

Hamm is a wonderful comedic actor, given how serious his bigger roles have been. But he felt wasted. Gadot was given the entirely serious role plus sex appeal, so she wasn’t given any potentially funny moments, which is just poor writing. Fisher’s character was mostly one dimensional. They wrote her as a bored housewife, so she played a bored housewife. And Galifianakis at least had some sort of development, but again, he only had a few recurring joke stereotypes.

The ending was of course a mess, when they had to bring in the more action/spy elements. It weakens an already weak comedy film.

Two genres is hard, you have to be willing to go hard into both, not just a little bit into both. Because then you are just left with a dud, a master of none, and a film people will forget about in a few months time.

1 out of 4.

Minions

Me and Illumination Entertainment don’t get along. They had one of the most racist kid movies in recent history with Hop, a bad Lorax, and the Despicable Me series. I thought the first film was bad, but at least I liked the minions.

Then Despicable Me 2 came out. They heard we liked minions, so they gave us a bunch more minions. It ended up being bad as well, full of shitty humor and too much minions, not enough good story.

But that made Universal, the distributor, a shit ton of money. More money than any other film they had distributed, so of course we needed MORE. More what? More Minions of course! “Fuck Gru, give us Minions!” They are now super advertised, with tiny shorts before movies, awkward commercials, lunchboxes, pencils, everything. They are printing money by having tiny yellow creatures on them that speak gibberish and sing gibberish covers of famous songs.

This film was also pushed back, but not for delays. Originally scheduled for end of 2014 release, they went with the mid-summer release instead because it had been making them pretty dang good money.

Orlando
Enough money to take down Disney World? We will see…

Minions is a prequel to the Despicable Me movies, about how the large group of minions (Pierre Coffin, all of them) came into existence and how they eventually met Gru. Turns out they are basically large single celled organisms, and never really evolved into bigger and better things. Instead they were followers. Instead of looking for just the biggest and strongest creature to protect them, for whatever reason they looked for the most “despicable” person to follow, because the minions are apparently evil as fuck, despite never doing anything evil.

The minions went throughout time, following bad guys and always pissing them off or killing them from their ineptitude. Until they had to go into hiding where they made their own minion community! It was safe, but boring. It wasn’t until three minions, Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, set off to find a new big bad boss did anything change. Aka, the 1960’s. Their travels eventually introduce them to Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and her husband Herb (Jon Hamm), who are about to steal the crown from Queen Elizabeth (Jennifer Saunders) and take over the country.

But if the minions want in on being her slaves, they gotta prove themselves first. You know, doing evil stuff and doing the job for her. Easy peasy. And if they fail, well, eventually they will find Gru right?

Also using the voice talents of Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Geoffrey Rush as the narrator, and Hiroyuki Sanada as “Sumo Villain” because that is all they could give him, I guess.

giiiirl
If this was called Minion Pie, this scene could be the day that the minions died?

Watching the trailer for Minions, I had hope. It looked like it could actually be a funnier movie and maybe make me laugh. Not having to worry about the awkward bad guy + kids situation, we could focus on a better more interesting plot of shenanigans and tomfoolery. Tomfoolery we may have gotten, but not the kind of tomfoolery one would want.

The movie made me laugh just one time in 90 minutes, which is obviously a bad sign. The jokes weren’t clever. Their only attempt at appeasing the adult audience would be the several songs they included for the minions to gibberish sing, all of the songs older of course given when it takes place. But even that is incredibly lazy. That joke is more of a “Haha, do you get it? You know this song right? This is funny because it is something you know but minions singing!”

This is not to say that I am angry at the fact that they don’t speak any real language. That is part of their character design. But to have a movie focus so much on them talking to others and each other, feels terrible. We can assume everything they are saying, sure, due to the weird way their language works. But it feels more annoying than anything. They rely on side human characters and narrators to actually explain plot points, because for the most part their main characters cannot.

Additionally, having them focus on three random minions to give them some sort of personality just annoys me that the other dozens of characters are ignored. I would have rather seen them work as the cohesive group, going full on henchmen, not just a couple guys on a bad road trip.

I am surprised that it ended with them actually meeting young Gru. I figured it took place in the late 60’s so they could justifiably fit in 3-4 more Minion movies pre-Gru to milk the franchise more. A Minions 2 with young Gru would be annoying, because it gets rid of all of his character development (but maybe it would actually make him evil? That’d be a shocker). For now though, our next film with them would be Despicable Me 3 out in a few years, which promises more of the same, so it will probably suck.

I am a bit annoyed that this will probably make so much money, especially if it makes more than Inside Out, a superior film in almost every conceivable way. The success of the film just means that minions will still appear everywhere. Yes, that includes the strange memes going around that have the minions as the main picture, and then some random joke text, that has abso-fucking-lutely nothing to do with the franchise at all that old women and dumbasses share on your facebook page.

1 out of 4.

Million Dollar Arm

Brought to you by the people who gave us Invincible and Miracle? Well, Million Dollar Arm is breaking up the one word name scheme then.

The two movies above were interesting, I guess. But even as a hockey fan, I didn’t really care too much for Miracle. Too much marriage drama over nothing coupled with some awkward inaccuracies like mixing up Sweden and Finland’s flags at the end.

So, knowing that those movies were just okay, I guess that is what this movie is going to aim for? But since it is based on a real event, that is extremely recent, I already know how it ends up. Dudes get signed by the Pirates. They spend a lot of time in the minors, some time in the MLB, and do okay to bad at pitching.

Business
His big smile is due to the dollar signs that flash on the inside of his sunglasses.

This film takes back in the ancient time of like, 2008 or so. Just like the British Empire of yore, we have people hoping to exploit the rich untapped potential of a foreign nation. Err, also just like the British Empire, this land is India.

Things are going bad for JB (Jon Hamm) and his advertising firm. They wanted to branch out on their own, make their own mark in the world, and they are having trouble making money and signing any real clients. Once they fail for the thousandth time, JB decides fuck all this nonsense. Let’s create a gimmick, change some lives, and become famous that way!

He sees Cricket on TV and thinks he can turn cricket players into baseball pitchers in one year. The first Indian MLB player will bring in a ton of new fans to the sport and lots of advertising and endorsements. Bling bling, playa!

So he gets an investor, creates a reality show in India, eventually finds two young guys (Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal), and an Indian translator who likes baseball and will work for free (Pitobash) and begins the training to get them into the MLB. But can they do it in just a few months?! ?!!?!?!!? !!!!?

Lot of other people here of course. Alan Arkin, small role as a talent scout. Bill Paxton as a crazy method man for teaching pitching. Lake Bell as the tenant in JB’s guest house who is the romantic love interest. Aasif Mandvi is the Indian friend of JB to not make this whole thing super racist/imperial like. I guess it kind of works.

Pleasure
I think my two photos this time clearly represent business before pleasure.

Alright, first and easiest complaint about this movie is the length. The idea phase happens realitve quickly, so somewhere in the trip to India, finding of the boys and the training it just takes too long to get to the eventual end point. Too much of the movie is JB being an asshole, so it gets tiring. Maybe knowing the outcome doesn’t help this fact. But Lincoln kept up its entertaining aspects despite knowing how that finished too.

A lot of the characters are pretty good, but hats off mostly to our three characters from India. Sharma and Mittal aren’t similar in any way, both of their characters have personality and shine in different ways and excel for different reasons. Huh, kind of like the real life counter parts. But also Pitobash. Man was he amusing, probably made me laugh the most. I hope he is based on a real life person too, because that guy sounds like a cool guy to be friends with.

Hamm? Well, he played a dick sports agent who eventually found a heart to care for the kids he brought over and then they succeeded. But is it really a change of heart when it takes multiple people multiple times to tell him the same thing? JB is the type of character who will do almost anything to get ahead. He is desperate, that is why he went to India. Wouldn’t put it past him to fake the caring thing too, just because he knows it will make him that money.

So whatever, a pseudo inspiring tale I guess. It isn’t terrible, just is too long and again, is so recent we know that even though they came over and pitched, they didn’t revolutionize anything. They aren’t Jackie Robinson or anything.

Come on Disney. Find a sexier sports moment to make a movie out of next, please.

2 out of 4.

Friends With Kids

I instantly wanted to see Friends With Kids as soon as I saw the first trailer. Wait no, that’s not right. I wanted to see it as soon as I saw the cast list.

I was so excited to see all these people I liked in it, and then you know, one person I didn’t know. I also noticed that they didn’t really try to advertise this movie at all, outside the week before it came out. That sucks. Oh well, I am sure it isn’t entire cliche based.

Rest of the cast
Hey! I know these people. And none of them are the main people.

Alright, so we got a group of friends, two couples, and two single people. Adam Scott is a successful business man doing something, and Jennifer Westfeldt is also successful at something. They are just friends though. The couple friends at Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd, who are about to have a kid, and Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm who also are going to have a kid. Well that is weird.

Four years later, their friends are completely different, and also potentially having marital woes. But when you are married you cant just ask for a “break” without it being a big deal. With Jennifer’s biological clock going off and never finding a good guy, Adam thinks they should have a child together! BUt you know, no relationship, just have a baby, raise him separately and maintain their distance and friendship, and thus, no problems! Couldn’t go wrong.

A few years later, they even are seeing people. Well first Adam finds a girl walking a dog in the park, Megan Fox, despite her being way younger than him. This makes Jennifer upset (for some reason?) but she finds an older more experienced guy, Edward Burns, who has interesting stories and knows how to treat a woman and get shit done. As the kid gets older, I don’t expect him to find it weird about his parents situation. Sure their friends do, but come on, this is 2012. Babies probably have their shit together sooner now.

Main people
I was told it was good to acknowledge the main cast in the pictures too. Fineee.

You are probably wondering, “No really who the hell is that main actress? I know everyone else in the movie but her!?”. Well she is the writer and director damn it, and clearly the only woman she knows who can articulate the emotions she wants so she did it her self! That explains it. This is also supposed to be a bit more realistic than your standard RomComs, and I can say that it is. Parents having natural fights and getting through it, and some that don’t. Friends who are honest with each other, and some that drink too much.

But the dialogue between Adam and Jennifer is great and yet not the best part of the movie. Jon Hamm, as he tends to do, steals the show, and you find yourself paying attention to him more so whenever he is on screen, that sly dog.

Despite all this, and a decent plot, it just felt like it was both missing something and too long. The ending comes pretty abruptly, but I like that. Just the build up to it? I don’t like it. It takes a long time to get there (I guess that is a realistic approach?) and there is lots of filler that drags the film way down. More than one montage based scene as well. But it does do a nice job at getting to the point early on at least.

Ehh, its hard to describe. Should have been better than what was on screen.

2 out of 4.

Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch was a highly anticipated movie when I first saw the previews on TV. I mean, it just looked visually stunning. I knew absolutely nothing on the plot, I just knew that I wanted to see it.

And I did! In theaters. Leaving with mixed reviews. Despite that, I knew I still one day also wanted to see it on Blu-Ray. Because man was it pretty.

Samurai Punch
OMG SAMURAI BEASTS.

I won’t spend too much time with the plot, because it is up for interpretation technically how much of it is real, and how many layers of fantasy are involved. Why is it up for interpretation? Because I said so.

Movie begins with Babydoll (Emily Browning) fighting off her step dad, who wins and puts her in a mental institution, now that the mom is dead, so he can claim the inheritance. But right as she is about to get lobotomized by the doctor (Jon Hamm!) it switches to a brothel of some sorts, with young women dancers, recreating the exact scene. Because Lobotomies are hot. Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) is the star of the Brothel, but Babydoll is a new girl brought in from the Orphanage. She doesn’t talk much and seems upset.

Probably because she is in a brothel. The other main girls there are Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung), taught by the dance instructor (Carla Gugino). But when she is made to dance, she goes on a weird fantasy adventure, where the Wise Man (Scott Glenn) tells her how to escape, and the items she needs to collect, along with a secret item.

So Babydoll makes it her mission to go and collect these items, while every time she dances, she goes into one of these fantasy trances, whether it is versus the steampunk nazi federation, and robot trains, and etc. But what is really going on the whole time? And how the heck does she look when she dances? Also, Oscar Isaac plays the Brothel owner / main bad guy.

Nazi
Lot of action violence, all done by tiny women!

Some will say that the only reason this exists is for men to have things to oogle. But pfft, people don’t make movies like that. More specifically, to make nerd guys go crazy. But nerd guys realize they also want a good plot with their crazy action fantasy movies featuring a cast of mostly women. The plot is obviously the weakest part of this movie. It is incredibly nonsensical and hard to explain.

That isn’t the only problem. Some of the fantasy scenes are just WAY too long. I think the first one with the full group of women, I feel like it drags on forever. I was thinking we’d never go back to the main plot line of the movie, escape from the Brothel. These scenes could have been editted down a lot more, to make the pacing better and probably more enjoyable.

But also, this CGI fest is just…so pretty.

Prove that point
Just to prove a point, here is a third picture.

And it is so fucking stunning. Just think, if the plot was better and edited it down, this could have been the coolest experience ever!

2 out of 4.

1 2