The LEGO Batman Movie

If you are new here, I have rallied against animated films so far this year. We just had a summer with Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3, both incredibly bad to super bad films. And these are our tent pole films for the year more or less!

There is very little hope of animated films saving it by the end of the year, but I openly acknowledge that I had not yet seen The LEGO Batman Movie. I know a lot of people enjoyed it, our first LEGO movie since The LEGO Movie.

But I am one of the people who only gave The LEGO Movie a 3 out of 4, it was no where close to being my favorite animated movie of the year, but it was quality and hilarious, I give you that. Despite that, I was never looking forward to this movie. I was disappointed to hear it as a sequel.

I want some new original LEGO content, not relying specifically (mostly?) on pop culture content from a single established franchise. I also acknowledge that the previous LEGO film was FULL of pop culture content, but it wasn’t entirely. This just feels…well, unoriginal.

Robin
Now that brightly colored chap, he seems like a great way to take any brooding franchise.

Ah yes, Gotham, city of villains and crime and 1 super rich dude and some vigilantism. Batman (Will Arnett) is the best and everyone loves him! But he lives a life alone, mostly hanging out in his house, sometimes interacting with Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). But you know, just being a lone with all his money, cool gadgets, and lobsters.

He is still really good at fighting crime though, and even when the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) gets a shit ton of villains to work together to blow up the city, Batman still stops them. Even worse, Batman refuses to acknowledge the Joker as his greatest villain, his foil, his reason for Batmanning. So now the Joker feels bad. Batman just shuts the door on everyone!

However, with a new commissioner in Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), they are going to focus less on Batman and more on actually catching these bad guys who still terrorize the streets. And you know, maybe focus on getting them fixed instead of just imprisoned. And shit, it starts to work, so Batman has even less to do and no one to hang out with in his increased downtime. Except for Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), whom he accidentally adopted.

Of course eventually some stuff happens and things get really bad, but Batman has to learn to work with others if he is going to defeat this new threat!

Featuring an incredible slew of famous people doing extremely minor voices, because YOLO. Seriously, most of these people have like, 1-2 lines, or grunts, or one scene.Again most, there are like two people thrown in here who have slightly more lines. Totally pointless for the most part still, so, whatever. We got Adam DeVine, Billy Dee Williams, Channing Tatum, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Eddie Izzard, Ellie Kemper, Hector Elizondo, Jason Mantzoukas, Jemaine Clement, Jenny Slate, Jonah Hill, Kate Micucci, Mariah Carey, Riki Lindhome, Seth Green, and Zoe Kravitz.

Joker
And just think, that wall of text is just the famous people you know who did voices.

Right away in the film, we get introduced to the Joker and his plans to take over Gotham once and for all, with a giant team of villains on his side, which are all presumably real Batman villains. Action, fighting extreme. I was shocked it happened so early, but since this film mostly deals with Batman’s loneliness, we needed to just get him doing Batman stuff, so we could see him existing waiting to do more Batman stuff.

And that part was just…okay. It didn’t connect with me on an emotional level or anything, because this is a film focused on comedy, so it went for quick jokes instead. And to contrast the opening, the ending is long and even more action packed. Even more villains, many more than you’d expect in a Batman movie, and explosions, and action and…

Being overwhelmed. That is what this movie felt like. It went to the extremes early on, then it went to the extremes in the end. In the middle, it is mostly lowkey, plot stuff. My body didn’t enjoy the “rollercoaster”. It failed to find a middle ground, and frankly, basically all of the action felt so excessive that it was not enjoyable from my point of view.

The best parts of the film were just Batman interacting with Robin and Barbara, regular dialogue for regular jokes. But the majority of the plot was off, along with my earlier complaint. It was an okay film when it comes to entertainment, but not one I am rushing off to buy and talk about over and over, like The LEGO Movie.

And now, also this year, we have The LEGO Ninjago Movie? This is based on their own IP, so hopefully they stick to their own stories to give a good film and don’t rely so heavily on other franchises pop culture references.

2 out of 4.

The Little Hours

Finally the talk of the summer is here. People have had 7/7/17 circled on their calendar, just waiting for the movie that everyone everywhere has wanted.

No not goddamn Spider-man. I’m talking about The Little Hours?

Oh you haven’t heard about The Little Hours? My bad! Surprisingly very little advertising, but it was directed by Jeff Baena who gave us Life After Beth. Which was decent, and also had very little advertising. Guess that is his indie theme.

Either way, the number of people you would recognize in this film is actually quite staggering, so that alone one would have warranted an advertising budget, but what do I know.

Girls
Oh, and I know every single girl in this picture too.

Picture this! A nice quaint nunnery, the medieval ages, pious and chaste women just doing their thing, trying to love Jesus.

This nunnery is run by Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) and the head nun is Sister Marea (Molly Shannon). At this point, this nunnery might seem a bit more odd already.

Our main nuns that we are looking at are all relatively young and unsure about their lives. Sister Alessandra (Alison Brie) is just there temporarily, waiting for her father to set her up with a husband, and she does cross stitch to help make some cash for the convent. Sister Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) is quick to temper and often misses events looking for animals that keep breaking out. Sister Genevra (Kate Micucci) wants to be a good nun, but is getting caught up in other nun-anigans and also questioning her sexuality.

And they are all mean to this one poor gardener. So eventually, he is fed up and leaves, putting the convent in a pickle. But no worries, a young chap Massetto (Dave Franco) is on the run from his kingdom, for being a little shithead, and he can take the place. He just has to pretend to be deaf and mute so he doesn’t get on the nerves of the nuns.

But he is young and cute and that causes even more issues.

Also starring Lauren Weedman, Nick Offerman, Jemima Kirke, Fred Armisen, and Adam Pally.

Scream
Yelling “Hey Fuckface!” at deaf people is the only way to know if they are really deaf.

I had no idea what to expect of this movie going into it. I wondered if it would be a serious film, with comedic actors, just to be weird. But as soon as Plaza started laying down the f-bombs, it became obvious that this was just going to be a very odd period piece film. I quickly then switched my mind to Your Highness, which was mostly improv and also quite strange.

And then something else happened. It got sexy. Not sexy like Natalie Portman in a medieval thong, but sexy erotic. Because those girls are young and curious, Franco is young and desperate, and there is a lot of sexual activity in the movie. Like, a whole lot. And the scenes aren’t super quick jokes, they kind of go on for a bit, and include sexy music.

What I am saying is, this movie sort of turns into a softcore porno. Or at least a skinamax-esque picture. And it came out of nowhere and kept happening. Add on the very naked ending bit, with lots of floppy bits, this is just a surprise from start to finish.

And most of the points come from being a surprise. I laughed a few times, but it was never a film that really captured my interest. It was also intentionally slow (and brooding?), but at least it is original. And for some people out there, this might be the type of film they have been waiting for, for a long time.

2 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.

Don’t Think Twice

Don’t Think Twice. Does that mean to live in the moment (and don’t over think things) or is it actually cautionary. Don’t think just two times man, think about stuff a lot.

Sorry, this intro is already bad, let’s assume I know that and move on.

I tried stand up comedy before. Just once. I attempted to turn stories I have told my friends for laughs into jokes, but unfortunately I just came across as pathetic. With that, my foray into stand up comedy was over, but it was still a good experience. Those stereotypically awkward people have to have some amount of courage and respect, to bare their souls on stage and hope people like what they have, dragging their bodies through hecklers and smelly back stages to rise to the stop.

It is a hard life and one I wouldn’t wish upon most people.

Love
Especially those who make strange faces when pointing.

Being a stand up comic is hard, yeah, I know this because movie and television shows tell me all the time. You have to be funny, deal with dicks, you have to balance the creep/pathetic/fun line, and you get bad knees. You know, from all the standing.

The Commune is an improv group in NYC, made by Miles (Mike Birbiglia) a few years ago, and has moderate success. He also teaches improv classes, because he has bills to pay. Thankfully he also has a few roommates. The roommates being the entire rest of the group! There is Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) and Samantha (Gillian Jacobs), a couple romantically. Jack sometimes shows off, and Samantha is the emcee of the group. Allison (Kate Micucci) is a great artist, working on a graphic novel. Lindsay (Tami Sagher) has rich parents and thus doesn’t have to worry as much about survival. Finally, Bill (Chris Gethard) is our stereotypical comic looking guy who just exists and has bad things happen to him.

Things are going okay for the group, a bunch of funny people. They all want to get on the show called Weekend Live, basically Saturday Night Live.

And of course, one or more of them might actually get interviewed and make it on the cast. Regardless of perceived talent, experience, or anything.

How that fame changes the dynamic of their house and the group, who all want to reach their own goals is the real story here.

Maybe a little bit of improv as well.

Group
Oh my god, look at all the improv!

Don’t Think Twice features an impressive line up of comedians who probably all had experience with imrpov or being a stand up comic. And hey, as far as I can tell, none of them have actually been on Saturday Night Live, to give some more authenticity to it all. Unfortunately, a movie about improv also strangely acts like a film with mostly no improv at all. Outside of some hang out scenes, it feels very structured, having to get to the point it needs to make.

What points are that? Well, improv is hard, comedy is hard, and the world can be a cruel mistress that never lets you get a chance to succeed at just because of luck or timing. Yeah, real life sucks, which is why we go to movies for escapism. But it is important for these sorts of movies to exist as well, to give us an inside look at different ways of life and learn a little bit about the world.

I know, I know, if your goal was to learn about the world, you probably weren’t talking about improv comics in NYC. It becomes a more welcoming topic when you realize these are the type of people who eventually become our favorite entertainers. People wonder why comedians kill themselves, suffer from depression or just are simple pessimists. But the road to success is full of trouble and knowing that can help one understand why people become hard or distant.

Don’t Think Twice is real (and realistic), decently funny, and a bit sad. I was a bit disappointed with the chemistry between our improv troupe, they didn’t always feel like a group of friends who lived and worked together. For those who like comedian though, this sort of film is a must watch and help put a little piece of the world into perspective.

3 out of 4.

Rudderless

It feels good to be out of my weeks of Oscar/award related movies. Now I can watch anything I want! Shitty comedies, shitty sex comedies, shitty sex romance movies, shitty dramas. Literally, the sky is wide open.

So many shitty movies I had to ignore for weeks!

But instead I watch Rudderless because it was requested of me. Sure, I saw the cover once and wanted to watch it. Why not do that before the shit storm.

Band
The only thing that can scream out “indie” more than this scene would be a couple of gay cowboys.

Sam (Billy Crudup) has hit rock bottom. He has been living on a boat, a drunken mess, for the last two years. You see, his son (Miles Heizer) died as a result of a campus shooting, and his life kind of crumbled.

But things change a little bit, just a bit, when he is given a lot of his son’s journals and cds. Turns out he was writing songs and recording demos of his feelings. The material was really good, emotional, dark, and all sorts of just real.

Looking to get over his death, or honor it in some way, Sam plays one of his songs at an opec mic night. It is met with mixed reviews. But Quentin (Anton Yelchin) loved it. He worshiped Sam and his song writing playing and wanted him to do even more and put more out there. He kind of wanted him to start a band.

But that is weird. Sam is old and living on a boat. He can’t start a band with young kids. His life is a wreck. Even if he has a full notebook of material. I am uncomfortable.

Also with Selena Gomez, Kate Micucci, William H. Macy, Laurence Fishburne, and Ryan Dean.

Gomez
Don’t worry, she only has like, two scenes max. Completely forgettable.

Another movie I can’t describe well without giving it all away or making it sound like shit. My bad.

Because in all honesty, I friggan loved it. All of the music, all of it (except maybe the last song) was enjoyable. The bringing together of the band and creating a sound, it was great as well.

I can’t say normally I am a fan of Crudup’s work, but he was tolerable as the lead in this film. Yelchin was really good, but I always enjoy him. Also, this might be Fishburne’s best role in years and he was just a side character.

William H. Macy did a fantastic job his first time directing a film. He told a powerful story, full of good music and good conflict, about a hard to discuss subject. Reminds me a bit of Beautiful Boy, but of course more music.

4 out of 4.