Tag: Alan Arkin


The first of the three Disney remakes this year, Dumbo has always felt like an odd choice for several reasons.

First, the original Dumbo doesn’t have a whole lot of plot going on for it. It is a simple story, so they will have to expand a lot of it in order to be worth a revisit.

Second, it was going to be directed by Tim Burton. For the most part, everything he has touched lately has been pretty shit. It has been five years since Big Eyes and 12 years since Sweeney Todd. A lot of forgettable things in between. Could he reimagine it, or will he just make it his basic Burton brand?

And thirdly, like…who the hell cares about Dumbo? Honestly? I can honestly understand most of the remakes, but I can’t imagine Dumbo was high on the list of the average viewer of something they wanted new and updated.

That doesn’t include the people who say no to every remake.

Our main-est adult character is Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell), an amputee from World War I (not called that during the movie) has returned home for work, and well, is going to work for the circus. His old boss (Danny DeVito) gives him the job to take care of the pregnant elephant, and Ms. Jumbo gives birth under his watch to a strange, large ear having elephant baby.

What a weirdo! And when they show him off eventually, the crowd makes fun of him, calls him Dumbo, and that makes his mom so mad, she gets angry and causes a ruckus, so they have to get rid of her. Damn.

Well, Holt’s kids are with him, and Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) take a liking to Dumbo. Shit, they find out he can fly if he has a feather. That sounds fun. That sounds like something that can be exploitable!

And exploit the circus does! More and more stunts, bigger and bigger audiences, more and more money!

Also featuring Michael Keaton, Eva Green, and Alan Arkin.

This frame went on to inspire the film Joker.

The original Dumbo came out in 1941, so that means two things. Honestly, a lot of people have probably never seen it. And sure, 78 years is probably long enough to wait for a remake. Much longer wait for more films. I won’t hurt them for that.

For those that saw the original, there is not a lot of film after Dumbo both learns to fly and learns to do it whenever he feels like it. So a lot of this film takes place after that, which is great. I need expanded stories.

However, they sure picked a dull way to expand his story. Just more exploitation and sadness, and corporations taking over corporations as some weird meta explaining what Disney is doing to everything.

The cast of characters are completely ones that no one will care about. Our lead girl to help inspire the youth of the world has the personality of “liking science” and apparently that is good enough.

And honestly, this whole thing was unappealing to look at. It felt too dark physically at times.The animation never grappled with me, and yes, this film oozes Burton.

I would say this is the biggest live action mistake Disney has done, but I would watch this film a dozen more times before I ever watch either of the Alice films again. Which are directed or produced by Burton too. Ah, now we know where the major problem lies.

0 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.

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.

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.

Grudge Match

Every year on the Christmas releases, there tries to be that who gives a fuck “family”-ish film. Last year it was Parental Guidance. A movie that everyone can enjoy without thinking much.

Unfortunately for this year, two movies tend to fit the family genre, with one of them clearly leagues above the other. Sure, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty requires some thought, but all the families are going to flock to it over Grudge Match.

I mean, sure, take the guys from Raging Bull and Rocky and make them box. Sounds like a good idea, but oh man, the execution.

Green Men
Why do movies have to show montages whenever a video goes viral? That shit is dumb.

Basic premise: Razor (Sylvester Stallone) and Kid (Robert De Niro) were both Pittsburgh area boxers, who used to be a big deal in the 1980s. Their first match against each other went 15 rounds, with Kid coming up on top. They battled again a few years later, when Razor knocked out Kid in only 4 rounds. Before a rematch could be made to give them the best 2 out of 3, Razor mysteriously retired from boxing, and left Kid without a chance to redeem himself.

Now, many years later, they are both hurting. Razor financially, and Kid with his ego. They agree to pose for a video game from business man Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart), but once they meet, their feelings take over and they fight it out on the spot. The video goes viral, and there becomes a demand for them to finally have their rematch, 30 years later, despite their age and condition.

Their rivalry goes deeper than just a few boxing matches, when it is found out that Kid also slept with Razor’s girlfriend at the time (Kim Basinger), knocking her up. So Razor wanted to get back at him by never giving him the chance to fight him again. The reason this matters so much is because their son, B.J. (Jon Bernthal) finally learns the identity of his real father, and wants to help Kid train to get in shape for the big game, and introduce him to his grandson.

So who is going to win? A man fighting for the love of his life and money, or the man fighting for redemption and his new family?

Alan Arkin plays Razor’s old and trusty trainer, while LL Cool J plays a very successful trainer.

Supporting Cast
The supporting cast deserve their own video, for saving this accidental disaster flick.

During the very cliche and simplistic ending, the entire theater was booing at the screen, almost in anger at how much it felt like a cop out. It didn’t give us a real ending, is how it felt. Of course, I was the only one in the theater, so I can say things like “everyone there agreed with me” and it be correct.

Let’s compare it to another recent fighting rivalry movie…Warrior! Warrior was an incredible movie, one of the best of its year, great acting, and had more than one fight to watch. Both people had reasons they needed to win, like in “Grudge Match”, but they didn’t sugar coat the ending. They fought and a winner was chosen without either side backing down or doing anything but fighting to win. It was emotional and great, and fuck, I really want to watch Warrior now.

Grudge Match went the safe and boring route, and it should be judged as such.

Alan Arkin and Kevin Hart were pretty funny at their roles, but the ending of the movie sickens me enough to not care about any of that.

Get out of here wannabe emotional fighting movie. Just, just go away.

1 out of 4.

Stand Up Guys

Oh, it must be summer now. That is the only way to explain that my local theaters are finally getting some limited release films over the last few months. All the college students have gone home, so they have to cater to old people now. Which is why I got to see Stand Up Guys, a few weeks before its DVD release, a few months after it came out. Heck, I get to see Mud for next week too. Color me ecstatic. (But where are you Stoker?!).

Speaking of “Stoking,” this image has been edited from the movie version. Want to guess where?

Life sucks for retired gangsters. After all, it is hard to retire as one. You have to first not die. You also have to be released out of your gang. Even when you are, you might be later charged for crimes if you slip up, and people still might want you dead. Jeez. No on thinks of the consequences!

For Val (Al Pacino), he just spent 27 or so years in Jail, taking the blame for a crime that went bad, keeping his accomplishes secret. Yeah, what a stand up guy. Unfortunately, in that accident, he accidentally shot and killed the only son of their boss, Claphands (Mark Margolis). So Claphands is mad, but he is a vengeful fucker. He has made Val serve his entire sentence looking over his back, with plans to have him assassinated within a day of him getting back.

Claphands is so vengeful, he is making his best friend, Doc (Christopher Walken) take him out. The only assignment over the last 30 years, to kill his friend within his first release. Sucks. But Doc is going to make sure his last night with Val is a special one before he commits the deed. You know, or else they will go after his other loved ones!

Alan Arkin plays the third member of their gang, reduced to nursing home life. Lucy Punch plays a Madam, Addison Timlin a waitress, and Julianna Margulies a rape victim.

Now guess which of those woman was found in the trunk!

Meh. The first 20 minutes of the film, I was feeling pretty dead inside. It was moving slow, and it looked like it was going no where. Neither Al nor Christopher seemed to really be in to it. I mean, they are old, and they have played gangster before, so they should be old hats at this. But neither felt comfortable, and that felt true the whole movie.

It did get a bit better, there were some fun moments, but it is surprising how much of the movie ended up just being dick jokes. A lot of the gags / adventures for them felt a bit forced too. They threw away any sort of realism for a couple quick jokes or moments that weren’t really funny. Not to mention the end is a total cop out, and kind of bullshit.

I will tell you, what got me the most was the lack of respect for continuity in a movie, or at least no sense of time management. They eat at the same restaurant in a span of six hours three times. Each time with full meals for Al Pacino! They find a nice car a block away from the restaurant. Later, at the same restaurant, they have to go back to where they found the car, and talk about street names and then have a long drive over to it. Come on, don’t lie to me like that movie makers.

Shit like that bugs me.

But one scene made me tear up. I am such a softie.

1 out of 4.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

If you missed it, my site wasn’t updated for about a week. I had to go on a big trip into the New Mexico desert, and had no one else working on it, so updates didn’t happen. What did happen was I was left without movies for a good 10 days. I was freaking out. My dreams all involved movies. I was in them, looking for them, or just watching them. Strange, but addictions do strange things.

Either way. The last movie I saw before this adventure was The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and I am saddened to say that I didn’t think about it at all over these 10 days.

Dat Hair
The incredible hair, on the other hand…

Burt (Steve Carell) grew up bullied and unloved. Sad times for Burt. But his mom got him a birthday present of a magic kit, by the great and wonderful Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin)! Great, now no one will think he is lame when he knows magic!

Just kidding of course. The only person who cares is Anton (Steve Buscemi) who also has no friends, and they put on an act together, with lots of ideas for future tricks.

Now, 20 years later, they are still a hot Vegas act, with their story of magic and friendship. But their show hasn’t changed in 10 years. They aren’t really friends anymore, and they are generally unlikable my many people who know them, like their dozens of assistant girls. Their boss (James Gandolfini) is looking to shut them down for being so stagnant. There are better magicians out there now, crazy street magicians, who just do completely ridiculous “illusions” to surprise and aww their audiences. Like Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) the mind raper!

Can they restore their friendship, redefine their magic act, and end up on top again? Who knows. But will Olivia Wilde help them? Probably.

Dat Chest
Alright everyone. Mr. Jim here is 51. I wonder if they CGI’d his body? Or. Maybe. Magic?

Huh, Jay Mohr had a cameo in this and he made me laugh. Uncomfortable comedic magician. He was one of my favorite characters despite only having one real great scene. That sucks.

Jim Carrey had an interesting role, but his character came off as more annoying than mysterious. Most of the tricks he had to do were just bizarre versus interesting (“That’s the point!” well yeah, but it got annoying. Annoying is never good). Steve Carell is just a very unlikeable character as well, which is okay, but it makes it hard to root for him really ever in the movie, or care if he succeeds or not. I did like Steve Buscemi’s character, he just needed a bigger role overall though.

Honestly, I think it was an average movie until the end. The final stunt, the last act, it just didn’t do it for me at all. Way too over the top (and stupid? That is a strong opinion, I will calm down) to really find acceptable as the end of this movie.

I guess if I want a good movie about magicians, I should stick to the dramas. Maybe Penn will make one later?

1 out of 4.

Thin Ice

I have about three movies that I have been putting off, all with ice in the title. No idea why I have been waiting. Especially during this horrible heat wave. Maybe watching more movies about snow would be a good thing?

Thin Ice at least sounds like it will have some sort of scary element. No one wants to skate on Thin Ice. Shit can break man, and then what? You are in cold water.

I take sayings seriously.

Not a Scam
I would now like to go over the paperwork assigned to this honey theory of yours.

Liability insurance agent Mickey Prohaska (Greg Kinnear) is a hot shot in the sales world. He even teaches seminars to people around the state of Minnesota on how to initiate conversations with strangers at bars and other public outings. Everyone is a potential customer. Everyone should be taken for as much money as possible, no exceptions.

After a rough night, where a con artist woman had stolen his wallet, he just wants to get the heck out of this small town. He re meets Bob Egan (David Harbour), a promising new sales man, and gives him a job from his company to sell in his town. On a routine visit, he joins Bob to an older mans cain to show him how to extort people for the most money. Screw this friendly bull shit. Gorvy Hauer (Alan Arkin) is extremely absent minded, wants to pay in change, keeps forgetting what is going on. After a small deal is made, Mickey finds out that Gorvy holds a potential very rare violin, from a local music shop owner (Bob Balaban). Its initial appraisal puts it a $25,000, but eventually they find out its actual rarity puts it at over a million.

Mickey freaks out, in huge money trouble, and potential divorce from his wife (Lea Thompson), so he sets about on a scheme to take the violin and sell it on his own. But at the same time, thanks to nice Bob, Gorvy gets a security system set up in his house. Shit. Mickey then begins to try and convince Randy (Billy Crudup) to work with him on stealing the violin, splitting some profits potential. But then things get out of hand. Someone dies. Cover up. Bad mojo. Escalation. Everything potentially going wrong. And an ever suspicious office assistant (Michelle Arthur).

Thin Ice No Spoils
No wood chipper? No problem. Can always hide bodies in a frozen lake.

Turns out when this movie was hitting the film festivals, it was called The Convincer. Not the best title, but people thought it was decent. It was sold to a studio, fine print wasn’t read, and bam, lots of things changed. Apparently over 20 minutes of scenes were cut, multiple scenes with the main actors had to be re shot, and other changes. The director was so distraught she wanted her name off of the movie.

But I obviously saw the Thin Ice version, and reserve my right to change my mind should I see The Convincer, but I loved this one.

Why? Well for one, it is basically the sequel to Fargo. People die, its up north, snow, Midwest accents, etc. Involves schemes to make money by screwing other people, and quirky natives. It features no one from Fargo, but who cares? This film was clearly inspired by it.

I thought the ending was pretty great, didn’t really see it coming, and loved the escalation of events. Sucks that the director got wronged, but man, I doubt the other version was that much better or different.

3 out of 4.

Sunshine Cleaning

Definitely another movie I bought, just on the cover.

Sunshine Cleaning shows two women, carrying…the title of the movie, behind some caution tape.

Oooh, how mysterious. And possibly illegal? Here’s hoping for some dead bodies.

Blue suits
Oooh, definitely going to have some dead bodies.

Amy Adams is a single mother working as a maid in a cleaning service. But hey, at least she has a job. Her sister, Emily Blunt, is a slacker and fails at a lot of things she does.

Only real job is that she gets to occasionally babysit Amy’s son (Jason Spevack), while Amy goes to her “class”. And by class, we of course mean having sex with her former high school sweetheart, Steve Zahn. He is a cop and married with kids, but hey, affairs are fun. And he will totally probably leave his wife for her someday, right?


Well thanks to her inside connection, she hears that crime scene cleaning can be a pretty nice business, monetarily speaking. She is going to need new money for her kids private schooling, since he has a lot of behavioral problems at public and is getting kicked. But until then, the grandpa, Alan Arkin, will be able to look after him and teach him real world smarts.

Enlisting her sister as an employee, and figuring out the right paper work, they open up Sunshine Cleaning! You know, to clean up dead people blood and stuff. They also get the help of Clifton Collins Jr., a one armed man with a cleaning supplies shop. The film however makes the main characters recollect a lot on their own mothers suicide, and go on their own miniature journeys to self discovery.

Emily Blunt also starts a lesbian relationship with Mary Lynn Rajskub…because she saw her in a picture at one of the houses they were cleaning. Yeah, definitely weird.

Sunshine Cleaning
Needless to say their methods improved throughout the movie.

This film was definitely a lot more dramatic and sobering than I had thought. With such a colorful and sunny cover, it all kinds of come out of no where. There are some amusing moments, mostly between the grandfather and the son. Well, the grandfather and everyone really. Alan Arkin is the hidden star of this film, and is a nice surprise to watch.

I personally didn’t like a lot of the moments with Emily Blunt’s character, not because she is a screw up, but just…weird slow motion falling and sad time parts. There was this weird montage moment in the middle that just felt way overly dramatic and kind of stupid. In my mind at least.

The ending was a good one though, and most of the characters ended up pretty well. Some plot lines I don’t think they answered as well as they should have though.

2 out of 4.