Last Flag Flying

Last Flag Flying is, unfortunately, a film that came and went without a lot of fanfare. Everything that Richard Linklater touches should be given a goddamn parade, especially true given his last three films being Everybody Wants Some!!, Boyhood, and Before Midnight. There should be 76 bloody trombones to announce his films at this point.

And somehow I missed this one. I didn’t even know he had a film coming out. I saw the poster, thought it looked interesting, and didn’t jump right on it not knowing who was really involved.

Speaking of that, check out the main poster/DVD cover right here. If you only glance at it quickly, you might make the same mistake as I did. I actually assumed Colin Farrell was standing in the middle, with a nice moustache. I was very surprised to watch this movie and see absolutely no Farrell.

This picture still does not have me convinced.

The film brings us way back to the year of 2003 in the month of October. A bartender, Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) is doing his thing, when in walks a weirder fellow, Larry Shepherd (Steve Carell) walks in and continues to try to talk to him. After a bit it turns out they know each other, from way back. From ‘Nam, except Larry was called Doc then.

Ah yes, war buddies, reuniting after over 30 years, because the internet lets people find each other. After a night of drinking, they also go see a different war buddy, Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), who yes, found Jesus, got himself a real family with grandkids at this point.

The real reason Doc has found these two gentlemen is unfortunately sad news. Doc had a son who joined the military as well, but he has returned from Afghanistan dead and is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetary. A big honor, but with no one left in his life, Doc needs a few of his friends to come with him on this moment. This moment that they all feared in their own lives, but in a later generation.

It is time for a reunion, to see how they have changed, and how they can still grow together.

Also starring J. Quinton Johnson, Deanna Reed-Foster, and Yul Vazquez.

Okay, Farrell can totally be the type of person to method act as Carell acting right?

On any given day, depending on my mood, this might have been a 4 out of 4 film. Certainly more likely if I saw it in theaters without a baby running around. Because this film has a lot going on for it.

We have a relatively simple plot line, one dealing with burying a child so it easily gains some powerful moments. We have a small number of characters and a long backstory and place to connect them. It is clearly this is going to be a film about growth, despite three men in their late ages. About friendship. And a little bit about forgiveness.

A lot of powerful themes, especially with the war background behind them all. How three different veterans have had their lives unfold since the war. I will admit, I cried at one point in the film, and I practically cried writing the plot description, which is a strange sensation that I have never done before.

And yet, at times it did seem to drag a little bit. Or maybe they relied too much on Cranston’s potty mouth. Or the fact that it seems to be about Carell’s character, but there is a lot more focus/story given to the side characters. It is really hard to say why it never went into the love territory. However, it is a film that I would watch again and rexamine over time, and honestly, I hope it grows on me more.

3 out of 4.

Battle of the Sexes

The phrase “battle of the sexes” always feels cringey nowadays, and it has for years. There was a board game with that name recently, and it is just one that is based on poor stereotypes and no one should really ever want to play. And yeah, that is the point of the phrase. To talk about the differences between the most common genders and fuel masculine and feminine behaviors.

But the movie Battle of the Sexes is beyond all of that. First of all, the title is given due to the real event that announcers decided to call it at the time. So they are just highlighting history here, not their fault.

And second, it is a sports film that is also about gender equality and sameness, not stereotypical differences. This is the clincher here, this is why I want to see the movie.

Maybe the actors involved was another important factor, but don’t tell them. They have big egos.

In the early 1970’s, Billy Jean King (Emma Stone) was on top of the female tennis players world. She was the first female player to ever each $100,000 in a year from prizes, and people really made a big deal about it. Things were on the up and up for the women’s movement too! Except when it came time to sign a new contract with her fellow ladies for the main American tournament. The prize support for the women’s players was significantly lower than the men players, despite sharing the same arenas, drawing the same crowds and all of that. So they decided to just up and leave. They started the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), had Virginia Slim cigarettes as their sponsor, and now had funding to play for real money!

This pissed off a lot of people. But King and a lot of her fellow players were riding high. King also started a relationship with her hairdressed (Andrea Riseborough) while on tour with a husband (Austin Stowell) at home!

This story is also about Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), an older retired tennis pro who used to be number 1. He is a bit of a dick and likes to parade around like a fool to earn money. And he is a gambler. At the lowest points of his life, he decides to challenge Margarat Court (Jessica McNamee) to a tennis match, really playing up the male chauvinist angle. It seems like he is around just to ruin the modern women’s rights movement! The prize amount gets even bigger when he is finally able to challenge King, and it becomes one of the biggest spectacles of the decade, where apparently the question would be settled by the end of who is greater, man or woman.

Also starring Sarah Silverman, Natalie Morales, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Martha MacIsaac, and John C. McGinley.

Courting in this film holds two different definitions.

Battle of the Sexes is one of those movie trailers you will see and you just know you will have a good time during the film. It is a period piece, so we get to see people we recognize fondly looking, from our current standards, ridiculous. Always a plus.

Stone and Carell have been in films together before, namely Crazy, Stupid, Love, where they played daughter and father, and now they get to play pseudo rivals! Because the reality of this situation is they are not, at all, in any way, real rivals. They would never play each other in a tournament, they both were not at their primes at the same time, they only played the one game together. But their lives are now forever entwined in history due to this moment, this festival, this, well, publicity stunt.

Because in all reality, it seems like it was just all about the money. King may have had other reasons for agreeing to the game (women’s rights in sports and all), but all the people pulling the strings from behind the scenes just wanted to get rich. The events of this film are almost unbelievable, this is a time when reality if it was written as a screenplay would be lauded as ridiculous. But hey, what’s the point of life if not to get really ridiculous every once in awhile?

I like that this story told much more than the game. A lot of the film is NOT tennis, but about tennis players. Finding out about King’s husband and other relationships felt realistic and sad. Riggs himself was in a sad state in his life and he wasn’t even a bad guy, he just played it up for publicity. And in all honesty, I didn’t know who won going into the movie, so I am glad I never looked it up. It is interesting that the game was held in Houston though, in the now defunct Astrodome.

That last sentence is meant to appeal to the locals.

3 out of 4

Despicable Me 3

Oh my damn. Here we go. A continuation of a bad franchise, hitting its trilogy mark after an equally bad spinoff. Does that sound familiar? This summer is Deja Vu-ing.

I will be honest when I went in with the lowest of expectations with Despicable Me 3. I mean, how could it get worse? It really couldn’t. It would just be more of the same, probably.

But it was announced over a year ago that Trey Parker, of BASEketball, Cannibal! The Musical, and yes, South Park fame would be voicing the villain. Parker! Crude humorist! Apparently it is something a lot of R rated people do, voice a kids movie so that their kids can finally see something that they have done.

At first I thought it was just another rando-celebrity signing instead of a nice voice actor. But then I remembered that Parker is a voice actor, he voices a shit ton of characters. So it won’t just be his regular talking voice, but an actual character! Hooray!

And that character ends up sounding up mostly like Randy Marsh.

And if you look closely, it should look a bit like a Randy too.

For whatever reason, this franchise still exists with the title of Despicable Me, because as we all know, Gru (Steve Carell) is now a “good guy” taking care of his girls and his wife, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), who needs no taking care of. They are both members of the Anti-Villain League, and you know, trying to stop the bad guys.

After a failed encounter with Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), an 80’s kid TV star whose show was cancelled due to puberty, and now world villain playing his character as an adult and relying on 80’s themed reference weapons, Gru and Lucy are fired from the AVL! Boo new director (Jenny Slate).

Sad times, being fired and jobless. But he promises to not resort back to villainy, for his girls (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel. Note: the last one is new, Agnes used to be Elsie Fisher but I guess she got too old). Also, hey look at the timing, he gets a notice that his long lost twin brother is looking for him. Apparently his parents got divorced when they were babies and they decided to break up the twins. The fuck, right?

Blah blah blah, his brother is Dru (Steve Carell), super rich and lives in a land that is like Denmark, or Northern Europe. It is time for Gru to learn about the family business…being a bad guy! His dad was a famous bad guy, and now Dru wants Gru to teach him how to be bad. Oh no.

Also featuring the voices of Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, and Adrian Ciscato.

Don’t worry, Dru also speaks in a high pitched voice to help tell them apart.

Despicable Me 3 is basically as bad as I had imagined, but not worse. For those keeping track, I am saying that Despicable Me 3 is a better movie than Cars 3. It had issues, but not as many. It had some better moments, but not too many.

It is another franchise that decides to keep adding permanent characters to keep things interesting, instead of just making an interesting story with the characters we have. Last one we got Lucy, now we have a now twin brother Dru. However, having Gru’s father being a very famous villain/criminal who was super successful, is shit. They show photos of him in the new lair, and yes, he looks like Gru. So somehow Gru, master villain himself, has never heard of another bad guy who is older than him but looks almost identical? Unheard of. It is such a cheap cop out to introduce sudden new family members, and quite lazy.

Speaking of characters, there are too many and therefore not enough plot for all of them. Like poor Edith, I think that is the middle kid. She just exists in this film. She has a handful of lines, but doesn’t have her own story like the other two girls. Their stories Margo and Agnes, are incredibly minor though and just feel like filler because of too many characters.

The movie has the minions leave Gru, because they need to be bad things and need a villain, but he doesn’t want to. Hooray less minions right? Nope. Two of them stay behind so we get to have them with Gru still, and we get to see their minion adventures as they wander the town and prison.

I guess I don’t have a lot more else to say. With Despicable Me 3, you get a lot more of the same. The plot is weak, the sideplots are weak, some catchphrases to get people quoting the film, the animation is kind of shit (where the characters are all extremes, like too thin, too fat, etc), but that has been the norm. Just another bad animated film in the year with a lot of bad animated films.

1 out of 4.

The Big Short

Did you see Margin Call? No? Well, it had a pretty big cast of actors! I mean, Stanley Tucci was in it, so you should see it. That is why I wanted to watch all the Hunger Games movies, but he only had one damn scene in the last one, and it wasn’t even good.

I ended up really enjoying it and found it informative. I didn’t think I was an expert on the financial collapse that America had experienced, but I got the vibe behind it all and understood that something like that could happen.

Needless to say, I didn’t expect more movies about the collapse. Then The Big Short came along. And I didn’t know what to expect. But here is a hint.

Anchorman. Anchorman 2. The Other Guys. Talladega Nights. Step Brothers. Sure, all of these have Will Ferrell in common, but they are also directed by Adam McKay.

Sure, he has directed some TV shows and shorts and random things, but that list was literally every movie he has ever directed. Up til The Big Short. Can a guy who is BFF’s with Ferrell, make a movie serious enough about the economic collapse, easy to understand, and good, without any Ferrell at all?

The Gos
Don’t worry, we have mature Gosling to make the women and men swoon instead.

Back to the crisis. Our story starts in 2005, with one man. Michael Burry (Christian Bale). He is a socially awkward guy, with a fake eye. He had a wealthy inheritance, so he took it to wall street to make his own small investment firm. And you know what he wants to put over a billion of dollars? Into the mortgage market.

Mortgages are safe, everyone pays them, and only people who can pay them end up getting them. That idea has made bankers rich since the 1970s, thanks to something called Mortgage Backed Securities, MBS. The banks loan out hundreds of mortgages in one lump sum to many homes, and when they are that big, they can make some sweet interest and that gets them rich. More or less. But banks got greedy. They started renting to riskier and riskier people. So the chance of these large funds crashing, creating very bad scenarios, is actually getting higher but no one seems to notice.

Except for Burry. He wants to “short” the MBS funds. More or less, that means he is betting against them. He is loaning money to banks, like Goldman Sachs, and paying a monthly premium on it. He is letting them have that money, until these MBS’s break and he will get his money back multiplied many times over. He is the first guy to do something like this and most people think he is insane, but he looked at the numbers.

But there were more players. Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) is our narrator, and actually works for Deutsche Bank. He finds out about the Burry deal and tries to get more people to follow suit, believing in him and working to get some profit on the side as well. He ends up talking to Mark Baum (Steve Carell), operator of a hedge fund, who crusades against all the bull shit on wall street, and sets out to find just how corrupt this whole thing is.

Also, Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock), two Denver boys who grew their own money to 30 million, who see this as an opportunity to finally make it to the big leagues.

We have a ton of people in this movie, including Marisa Tomei, Brad Pitt, Adepero Oduye, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, Rafe Spall, Jeffry Griffin, Max Greenfield, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain.

The man who drums at his desk and doesn’t wear a suit, predicted the downfall of American economy.
This is why I choose to wear shorts as well.

I honestly didn’t think much about this movie before seeing it. I saw the trailer once before Steve Jobs, was intrigued by the cast, but then forgot about it. And hey, I like some of McKay’s films a lot. I just didn’t have any faith with this topic.

Well, fuck me, I was wrong, and this movie was really fucking good. Star to finish, it captivated me about wall street fucking over America.

The acting was on point from all points, especially with Carrell and Bale as power houses. Pitt was very subtle in this film, similar to his role in 12 Years A Slave. But even better about these roles is that no single person was really the main character. The main character was the housing bubble and banks lying to America.

Were these people bad for profiting off the downfall of the World Economy? Sure, kind of. That is morally grey. Because it shows that some of them tried to tell everyone the problem with the numbers, tried to do something about the collusion, but were laughed right in their faces. Even if they wanted to warn everyone, no one would listen because the vast majority of people didn’t understand how any of it worked and were lied too constantly.

This movie made me ANGRY. I felt rage at what was going on, only eight years ago. I am mad that nothing has really changed. I am mad that no one got punished for it and that so many people got fucked over. I am mad that this movie is also a comedy, and that I gained so much amusement at something that ended up being so terrible.

And that is what a great movie can do. It can make you feel things. The Big Short is funny and anger inducing, while also taking a very complicated subject and making one feel like they understand it. I feel like I totally understand everything that happened now and it was something I never really thought about before. The Big Short is good enough that I feel like I could watch it every few months and still enjoy it and still feel those same emotions.

The Big Short wants me to almost get political and start shouting at rich people. One of the years best.

4 out of 4.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

When I heard they were making a movie version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, I didn’t have a good or bad impression. I was more indifferent about how the quality might be. Instead, I was worried about typing out the title, or getting the adjectives all out of order accidentally.

These are the fears that I run into most often in my daily lives. And getting imprisoned incorrectly. Just those two things.

But hey, technically I have read this book before. Technically I own it. But I think, for the most part, I won’t let the book plot line bias my thoughts on the movie version. There should be differences. Should be TONS of differences. The book is just a kid, maybe 8, complaining about his day, then it getting better. I think. Sounds correct, but it has been awhile. Very simple plot. The only difference is, it looks like everyone in Alexander’s family is about to get royally fucked up by a day. So if anything more slapstick shenanigans than the book.

But maybe also a few more life lessons on how to not be an asshat?

Lesson #1: Do not drug the peter pan cast member into believing the kids in the play are actually teddy bears.

Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) is about to turn 12 years old. He has a lot of shitty days. He is generally grumpy and complains a lot too, so it is a wonder no one wants to be around him. To make matters more Terrible for Alexander, his family is perfect. His dad (Steve Carell) is an Astophysicist or something, PhD and all, but currently being a stay at home dad. His mom (Jennifer Garner) is heading out to be VP of her publishing company if this new baby book launch goes well. His brother (Dylan Minnette) is a popular junior in High School, dating a babe (Bella Thorne) and heading to prom! And his sister (Kerris Dorsey) is the lead in the Peter Pan play and just generally successful.

So Alexander is grumpy. He also found out some dick kid is throwing a birthday party the same night as his, but better with blackjack and hookers, so no one will show up to his. And there his family stands. Perfect and happy. So at midnight, he has a tiny cake with a candle and wishes his disease upon his blood.

Seemingly, the little twat has devil magic in him or something, because sure enough the family have a Horrible Day. Car problems. Oversleeping. Very Bad. Sickness. Typos. Animals. Flames. Babies. Destruction of property. No Good.

But Alexander doesn’t have a bad day. So I guess he has that going for him!

And of course there are other people! Donald Glover, Megan Mullally and Jennifer Coolidge!

What a smug as fuck look Alexander has, despite wishing he could be his brother.


Just kidding. But on a related note, there was one big huge problem with this movie. Alexander. Not just the actor, who I could ignore for the most part. He was completely average, bland and annoying. Probably an actual 11/12 year old. The more annoying fact is that in this movie, he doens’t have the bad day. Just his family. Does this make the title wrong? No. But he should be having a shitty day too. Instead of having a shitty day, he becomes a weird silent observer throughout the day, every once in awhile giving a shocked face, while the rest of the movie deal with their problems and have zany adventures.

In this way, it feels like Alexander is the 5th or 6th most important person in a movie about him, allegedly. So the family? They are all pretty good. There are some good amusing parts, good clean fun for the family. Well thought out disasters for them to conquer. And Alex is a smug motherfucker just existing. Unfortunately, it ends with the birthday, which is a good experience for everyone, the bad day basically over. So it also ends with a lame feel good fest and kind of a boring note.

I am just saying. This movie already barely features Alexander. Might as well cut his role out entirely. Makes the title shorter too. Instead, we get to see a movie about rich as fuck people having a bad day. Which I am pretty sure is the plot line for lots of films anyways.

2 out of 4.



It is really hard to find a time to properly use the exclamation Tally-ho, so when I find an appropriate time, I kind of go all out. For those not in the cool kids club, tally-ho was a cheer for Fox hunting, a noble British sport about sitting on a horse while a dog finds a fox and you kill it.

Err yeah, not as popular nowadays I guess, but a sign of someone who has a lot of money back in the day.

Foxcatcher, taking a similar approach, is about rich people and men’s wrestling. Yeah, that makes sense.

I do believe that shirt is NSFW.

Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum). Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). Brothers, both of them gold medal winning Olympic wrestlers. That is pretty good, especially since they almost kicked wrestling out of the Olympics for 2020 games and on, but those guys fought hard to keep it in, so we are still good. They both won gold in the 1984 Olympics, and they also won medals at World Competitions, World Championship games, and Pan American games. They were the cream of the crop.

Dave actually won a bit more than his younger brother Mark, so Mark usually felt like he was the lesser of the two, even if technically he was a bigger and stronger guy.

They were also living paycheck to paycheck, wherever they could make money at. Inspirational speeches, teaching camps, whatever. So when John du Pont (Steve Carell) invites Mark over to his mansion, of course he goes. du Pont is loaded, from a rich family of horse breeders, and for whatever reason really likes Olympic wrestling. Namely, he would love it if American could whoop Soviet Russia. So he wants to invite Mark down and a whole lot of other hopefuls for the Olympics to train at his facilities, live rent and utility free, AND earn a bi-weekly pay check at the same time. They can train for qualifiers and then hopefully the Olympics.

He wants Dave too, but Dave doesn’t want to uproot his family and move from his home. Other than that though, seems sweet.

But du Pont has a lot of secrets. He is already a very eccentric and strange guy and he acts like he is maybe fulfilling some weird fantasy that he never got to experience as a youth. Or maybe something even darker! Who knows!

Goodness gracious I think his nose can be used to literally catch foxes in!

So, this story is based on a story written by Mark Schultz of his life with du Pont. It was taken by another guy, written better, and the movie was based on that book. Originally, Mark Schultz was all about this movie. Loved how much of it was based on his notes and scenes he saw were based off of things he directly wrote about.

But now? Mark Schultz really really really hates this movie. He went crazy on facebook and twitter, click the link if you want some spoilers. He is all sorts of pissed about how it made him look and implied scenes that went on the film.

Despite this, he still wants to make sure the actors win some stuff though. And that is because the acting was definitely the best part of this movie.

Steve Carell is not Steve Carell in this movie. He also isn’t Michael Scott, and he definitely isn’t Brick. He is a completely different person, with a prosthetic nose, mannerisms, walk, voice, everything. I LOVE it when comedic actors go serious, and it is definitely an incredible performance.

It is a good story, but I feel like too much of it is focused on the not so important aspects of du Pont, and not the really really bad stuff. The really really bad stuff seems rushed and time wise, it makes it seem like in real life they happen quickly after the rest of the movie, when in real life, it is many years difference.

And you know, not knowing the real life stories of the Schultz and the du Pont brothers, it took a long time for me to realize just what the point of telling this story all was. It could have definitely been improved by some telling out of order, I think I would have had a deeper emotional level connection to the film.

But despite the issues, it is still a very well acted movie, and an interesting black spot on the sport of Olympic Wrestling.

3 out of 4.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

The boys are back in town.

The legend of Ron Burgundy continues, with Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy came out in 2004, and from what I can tell, the first draft was horrible. So horrible that they had to rewrite and shoot the entire movie. The leftover original footage and other B rolls created another movie, Wake Up Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, but people wanted a real sequel, because it quickly became a cult success after its initial success.

The sequel came quite easily! Just kidding, it took a lot of work, and lots of convincing. But eventually the money numbers worked, so they did it because people like money.

Money can literally elevate any person.

At the beginning of the film, Ron (Will Ferrell) and Veronica (Christina Applegate) are married and cohosting a news program in New York. Living the life! That is, until Ron gets fired and Veronica gets upgraded to hosting the prime time show on her own, a first of her kind in New York! This upsets Ron a lot, so they separate, and he starts living a shitty life again.

That is until he gets an offer he can’t refuse. Someone wants to invent a 24 hour news network channel, and they want Ron to fill in a time slot. What? How ridiculous. However, it pays well, so sure. He just has to reassemble the news team (Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner) and he is good to go. And win back his woman from the psychologist (Greg Kinnear). And get excellent ratings at the 2am spot to make Jack Lime (James Marsden) look bad. And survive his incredibly aggressive boss (Meagan Good).

And in the search for ratings, will he accidentally change the face of national new forever, for the worse?

Dylan Baker and Kristen Wiig and Josh Lawson are also in this movie. BUT SO ARE SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE. Oh my goodness, the cameos! I didn’t tag the cameos, but if you want to not know who to expect, skip the next part.

We have cameos from: John C. Reilly, Marion Cotillard, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sacha Baron Cohen, Harrison Ford, Kanye West, Kirsten Dunst, Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey, and Will fucking Smith.

And lets not forget this Shark based cameo.

I am a big fan of ridiculous comedies, and this one had me laughing a lot from start to finish. There was a part after the halfway point where I did find it a bit dull, one joke going to the extremes and lasting a lot longer than I would have liked. But overall, many jokes, much laughs, and a good continuation of the characters.

So here is my one real complaint. I am worried that this movie won’t be as hilarious for a long tim after watching, like the first movie. I was worried the sequel would be nothing more than a carbon copy of the first film, rehashing the same jokes but in different ways, playing off that nostalgia humor. I hate nostalgia/reference humor. To a certain extent, as expected, there was a lot of that. The film ended very similarly to the first one. There was a gang news fight. There was a singing scene. A sex panther joke. And there are more examples. Although I laughed during the watch, I would have preferred probably less references, and more original material.

But outside of that, this movie will make all of its production back and then some. Will hasn’t had the best movies lately, so hopefully this puts him back on the right track.

I don’t accept this as an end to the Mediocre Man Trilogy. Anchorman and Talladega Nights were the first two, with the third one rumored to be about a guy who works on porn, named Rusty Butte or something. The title themes should give it away, and the RB characters. I want that movie, damn it. Get to work, Will.

3 out of 4.

The Way, Way Back

Jim Rash and Nat Faxon wrote The Descendants, and graced our screens with its presence in 2011. It was nominated for Best Picture and eventually won Best Adapted Screenplay. It basically made these writers pretty hot commodities.

That is why I was excited to see The Way, Way Back, their next film. No George Clooney this time, but they have plenty of other actors to fill his void.

Sam Rockwell
Look, here are three now!

Summer can suck. Especially if you are Duncan (Liam James). Your parents are divorced, your dad just moved from NY to CA, and your mom (Toni Collette) is dating the biggest douche in the universe, Trent (Steve Carell). Unfortunately for Duncan, he has to head out to Trent’s summer beach house to pretend to give this new family idea a chance.

Did I mention Trent is a douche? He talks down to Duncan, constantly goes off with his friends (Rob CorddryAmanda Peet) to get drunk or high or both. It is basically his personal summer vacation, where Duncan and his mom are afterthoughts.

But eventually, Duncan finds friendship in the local Water Park. Slacker manager Owen (Sam Rockwell) has decided to take pity on Duncan, give him a job and help him find a purpose in this long dreadful summer. With the help of Owen and the other workers (Maya Rudolph, Faxon, Rash), Duncan learns that there are non sucky things out there in life.

That is great, sure, but will this new found joy in life at all help him with his horrible home situation? Will it help him woo over the neighbor girl (AnnaSophia Robb), who has to deal with her constantly drunk mother (Allison Janney)?

Oh god. He is staring into my soul. What do I do!? Just act natural. Ho hum…AHHH!

Comedy/Drama movies are actually quite hard to pull off successfully. After all, even the strictest of dramas tend to have some minor elements in comedy, and vice versa. But most movies labeled in this category are clearly still one genre over the other, or even worse, weak in both areas to try and find a balance. One of the best examples I could list of a real comedy/drama would be 50/50, a film that made me both laugh and cry.

Nat Faxon and Jim Rash wrote a decent comedy/drama with The Descendants, very enjoyable, but it could have been more dramatic. For The Way, Way Back, they decided to amp up their game, and created a much better film. Not going to lie, I cried three times during it. I can’t say I relate specifically to the scenes in this film, but thanks to an excellent build up with terrific acting from everyone on the cast, the emotions quickly took over.

Steve Carell had to play the biggest jerk in the world, and he pulled it off well. It was quite surprising. Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney carried the comedy for me, while at the same time their characters felt real. Everyone felt real. I love real, even though real characters lead to uncomfortable moments.

Major props as well to Liam James. I can’t say I recognized him in anything before, however he pulled off the awkward/lonely teenager role really well. But hey, apparently he was Young Shawn in the Psych flashbacks, so that is kind of cool.


4 out of 4.

Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 might make the most money out of any CGI movie this summer, so it is kind of a big deal. But does it deserve that money?

Kids yo
The kid vote does not count, damn it.
Despicable Me 2 starts us off soon after the first film. Gru (Steve Carell) is no longer a big bad villain because he has three kid to take care of, and he has had a change of heart. In fact, he has turned his whole secret laboratory into a secret jelly making factory, complete with free minion workers. With overheads that low, he can really make a splash in the market.

Unfortunately, the change in operation has left Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) with no joy in his life, so he leaves Gru to pursue other opportunities. Speaking of pursuing other opportunities, Gru gets kidnapped by the Anti-Villain League. Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan) wants Gru to lead an investigation on a disappearing arctic base that is researching chemicals that can cause ordinary creatures to become terrible beasts.

He would also get a new partner on the case, young and bubbly Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig). Oh yeah, she totally has the hots for him, too. This movie is mostly about Gru as a single dad and afraid to date. This provides many scenes of him avoiding the neighbors and awkwardly flirting with Lucy. Sure, maybe the world is threatened if this formula gets in the wrong hands, but love is also important.

Benjamin Bratt leads his vocals for El Macho / the mysterious Salsa Dancing restaurant owner who looks like El Macho, Ken Jeong as a mysteriously short wig salesman, and Kristen Schaal as a mysteriously well endowed blind date for Gru.

Spoiler, he does not choose the well endowed blind date by the end.
Illumination Entertainment made the original Despicable Me in 2010, and is what they are most known for. That is because before Despicable Me 2, they have only made two other films, The Lorax and Hop, both ridiculous flops (and a bit terrible). So it makes sense they are already doing a sequel, and are releasing a spin-off titled just Minions in December 2014. What doesn’t make sense is how they have the rights to so many Dr. Seuss based movies down the pipe line, when they did so badly with their first chance.

Speaking of the Minions, did you love them from the first movie? They were arguably the best part of the first film, and quite cute. They have made sure that they advertise the fuck out of these minions for the sequel and eventual spinoff.

Basically, everywhere I look, there is a Minion based toy, gizmo, commercial, because “Hey, they are cute!” They recognize the best part, gave us a movie with potential for rich new characters, but then threw minions at our faces until we had to get new 3D Glasses. There is an overabundance of minions in this movie. They are in every scene, part of every plot point, and potentially in this movie more than Gru. It turns the entire movie into mostly slapstick based humor instead of witty jokes, which doesn’t help rewatchability or entertainment.

Basically I believe the main character is pushed out of the spotlight, similar to how Cars 2 was handled. At no point in the movie is he even considered despicable. In fact, he is rather admired and chased by women, loved by his family, and just a good guy. The plot is really straightforward, and you will figure out the main bad guy well before the reveal. The bad chemical itself was inconsistent with how it works, where it could have been fixed with a sentence of dialogue.

Long story short, Despicable Me 2 is not really about Gru trying to save the world from a threat (although he does that as well) it is more about Gru the single dad finding love. With minions. So many minions.


1 out of 4.

Despicable Me

I am proud to say that I actually saw Despicable Me in theaters. Yes, now I see everything in theaters, but in 2010, it was rare as shit. But I was like hey, those yellow things look cute. Let’s watch the movie!

I figured I should probably write a review on it now, with the sequel coming out later this summer. Did you know know about Despicable Me 2? I find that impossible. Their ads have been everywhere since January at least. Open your eyes people.

Fun? What is this?
Yeah, your eyes like you were on a roller coaster.

Gru (Steve Carell) is an evil genius mastermind! Trust me, he is wicked evil. The best at being a villain of all time. How do you know? Because he says so, and he has minions! Little tiny yellow minions, that are awesome. They speak inaudibly and they are the main selling point of this movie, really.

Either way, he isn’t so cool anymore. Some young upshot villain named Vector (Jason Segel) (because he has magnitude AND direction) has stolen the great pyramids. Yeah, what a dick. Now Gru feels inadequate and has to one up them by stealing the moon. Jeez. But he can’t get a loan from the Bank Of Evil / Mr. Perkins (Will Arnett) without a shrink ray in development, so he steals one! Success! Vector steals it from him though. Damn.

So Gru gets the idea to adopt three little girls, make them go to Vector’s house to sell cookies, so he can sneak in and grab the gun back. Then he can dump the kids off later. But they are rambunctious individuals. Ballet. School. Amusement parks. They are hard to take care of, especially when he isn’t cut out to be a parent. But then he learns…to love. Russell Brand plays Dr. Nefario, the scientist that works for Gru.

Aw shit yeah, I forgot I can have gifs on here. Look at how cute those fuckfaces are.

Did I mention I love the yellow minions? Yeah. Most people do. But that is about all I liked from the movie. The plot was a bit forced for me, and not at all exciting. Obviously it was all about him and the little girls, and obviously the girls were there to mostly be a thorn in his side, but actually learning to care for them in like, a day? How the heck did that work?

I just. I just can’t explain it. I re-watched it and was bored the entire time. Maybe the kids were all too young and that bugged me? Why can’t one of them have been more teenager-y? The oldest is close. But not too close. This was the first feature of Illumination Entertainment, who later gave us the bad Hop and the disappointing Lorax. I in general prefer these awesome sexy CGI animated movies to give us more realistic people, instead of the overextended ones (like Dreamworks tends to do).

Yeah. I know. I think people like this movie just for the minions and I am an old curmudgeon.

1 out of 4.

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