Tag: Elizabeth Banks

The Beanie Bubble

Holy shit, why are there so many brand movies this year?

Air Jordan, the movie. Tetris, the movie. Barbie, the movie. Blackberry, the movie. And now a movie about Beanie Babies?

More importantly, why are so many of those movies on that list like, really, really good movies? Is it nostalgia and brand awareness? Or is it something greater. Each great one is great for different reasons. But let’s see about The Beanie Bubble, and watch it burst in real time.

I would burst with excitement if I got to look so stylish. 

This movie is so specifically about the characters, that I need to describe the plot through their lens.
We have Ty Warner (Zach Galifianakis), CEO of this TY Warner company, who made toys, and would eventually make beanie babies, and make a shit ton of money!

But then we have the women who helped him get there.

Robbie (Elizabeth Banks), one of Ty’s girlfriends, who helped him get sales on other products, increasing the wealth of his company, and helping expand it overseas.

Sheila (Sarah Snook), a later girlfriend and single mother, whose kids and her helped come up with backstories and names for very popular beanie babies at the start.

And Maya (Geraldine Viswanathan), an hourly employee who helped connect their company to the internet, the first corporation to do so with their product, and track ebay sales, and figure out how to work with the secondary market, instead of against it.

The women who made the Beanie Babies take off, and the man, who treated them like shit along the way.

“What the fuck is the internet?”

Unfortunately for my list of brands above, The Beanie Bubble is the only one I didn’t feel deserved a 3 or 4! Just an okay 2. And that is a shame, because the story of how Beanie Babies got popular, got super popular, and then became worthless, is an interesting one. A nice microcosm of society and wealth in that story, on artificial supply and demand, and on how you can get too much of a good thing (one that is ruined by greed).

Its just the story is told sloppily, and I hate when it really takes to get to the point. The goal of the movie is to talk about these three women and hype them up, so we get three different stories. And it keeps transferring between the stories. But we got things taking places in the 80’s, and the 90’s. Despite the fact that this movie has a large YEAR shown on the screen and shows it changing when we switch, it still isn’t inherently helpful. Generally, one would see the year and assume its just going forward in time, not backwards, and forward, by a decade, back and forth.

Sure, we can see that Ty is being a sleazeball, but he isn’t the biggest sleazeball in all three stories until around the same time in the movie. So we get an avalanche of sleaze, with a confusing time span because of it. I wouldn’t say this is the sort of movie that needs to be told chronologically, but it would have probably been better.

For example, Ty continually gets mad about Great Britain and sales at many points throughout the film, but we don’t know why in particular, until the end of Banks’ plotline. And that is not the sort of thing that needed to be a “ah ha!” moment in the story. I don’t feel like the movie was better by keeping that a secret for so long, it didn’t have to keep hyping her ending of the storyline for a payoff.

I do think Galifianakis was unrecognizable on the promotions for this film. Something was done with his face, a fake nose? I am not sure. But you can tell it in the voice. I loved in particular Viswanathan’s plot in this movie. It is the easiest to follow, the easiest to see why she was screwed over, and the only one who has her own Wikipedia page to see what she did after the fact. Unfortunately, the other two involve relationships, and a lot of time is spent focusing on that aspect, with less on the actual company commitments, it just makes him feel more like a bad boyfriend than the scummy businessman he happens to also be.

2 out of 4.

The Happytime Murders

Muppets. Saying. Fuck.

That could have been the original pitch for this movie. Or maybe just Muppets dying and being killed. Or Muppets smoking. Basically, Muppets being adults and corrupt and crime.

Incorporating Muppets into the real world with real humans has not been an issue. Hell, that is how the show has always worked and movies. It is fine, people accept it, all good.

But with this movie, The Happytime Murders, they want to put Muppets in new situations! More action, violence, and whatever it takes to get an R rating so little Johnny doesn’t accidentally have his childhood ruined, or something. This is probably Deadpool‘s fault. Superheroes got to be edgy, so now Muppets get to be edgy.

Edgy Muppets doesn’t have to be a bad thing. They just have to be smart about it.

This picture is a metaphor for Joel McHale’s new show going up in smoke. But also literally.

Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) is not your normal private eye. You see, he is a Muppet. Or a puppet officially, I don’t care about the nomenclature. He certainly does not have bones in his body (unless you count the human hand…). He used to be a cop. He was the first ever puppet cop, but for whatever reason, he was kicked off the force and there is some bad blood between the two sides. And Phil doesn’t even have blood.

During an investigation of a ransom, Phil finds himself at the scene of a murder, where one of the victims is from the first ever TV show starring mainly puppets! Phil is worried about this killing, as it seems like a hit job. Phil’s brother was on the show, so he doesn’t want his brother to get offed as well from some unknown assailant.

But yet, more cast members start dying. And the clues aren’t leading closer to a suspect. Can Phil solve the murder mystery? Or will his stuffing just get all over the place by the end?

Also starring Kevin Clash, Dorien Davies, Drew Massey, Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale, Maya Rudolph, and Leslie David Baker.

I am sorry I am showing something so graphic in a review.

Going into this movie, I expected that they would do some gross stuff with Muppets, but overall, it would try to be your normal, run of the mill, buddy cop crime comedy entity. Boy was I wrong. This movie wanted to do “gross” stuff with puppets, and that is it. It is almost entirely void of humor in this regard. The first 2-3 times having a Muppet swear or do something adult like can constitute an original joke. But then to just repeat that same punch line 100 times and call it a film is not what anyone would define as a good time.

In fact, we only get really one sex Muppet joke. Their version of adult is just drugs, alcohol, smoking, swears, and murder. But we all really know that to be an adult, you gotta do the sexy stuff. There is just one sex scene and it is extremely regular. If I have two Muppets having sex, I don’t want them to just be loud screaming while people are uncomfortable. That is normal ass lazy joke humor right there. There needs to be something Muppet centric really about it. They do one act that makes it apparently unique to Muppets, something that would put Aziz Ansari to shame. But you know what we didn’t get? We didn’t get Muppet Dick. We didn’t even get Muppet Nipples. Technically, we got Muppet Vagina, but that joke was quick and a common throwback, still making it unoriginal.

Don’t gloss over that last point. If I am going to watch an adult Muppet movie, there better be Muppet titties. That is all I am saying.

Another non subtle feature is that Muppets are shit upon by the humans of society. And a lot of them are prejudice against them. Oh, okay, this is another metaphor for racism. Except it feels incredibly tacky, never super relevant, and maybe sort of belittles civil rights things in general? Hard to say, but their goal of adding it to the film felt extremely shallow.

To try and add on to a different point, let’s point out two glaring things that happened in succession. One, several cop characters claim a character was found at the scene of ALL of the murders. But at that point, he was never seen at one crime scene when it happened, and had never interacted with the character for years. So it was a bit confusing to hear that multiple times.

And two. They have an FBI character suspend a Lieutenant cop. At what fucking point can an FBI agent do anything like that to a cop? Is this movie assuming that the FBI are just bosses to cops? It goes Sergeant, Captain, then FBI field agent? It isn’t even an accident, because they made several attempts at jokes to make sure you knew that character was in the FBI.

Minor nitpicking? Maybe. But that was just two nonsensical errors I remember specifically for happening right after one another. This film is probably even more full of shit like this. The Happytime Murders isn’t original, clever, or fun. It is lazy. They spent all their time on designing sets instead of designing something worth being watched.

0 out of 4.

Pitch Perfect 3

In 1992, The Mighty Ducks came out, introducing a lot of youth to hockey and bringing an okay film to the world. It had a team of irregulars come together to win a competition. Standard story. Two years later, we were given D2: The Mighty Ducks, a much superior film, funnier, stronger, better. We got more exciting characters, the stakes were raised as they now had to compete and win in an international tournament. It gave us the knuckle puck!

Then another two years later, Disney had reached too close to the sun and tried for a third film. But where do you go after your group of kids have won a world championship? There is no intergalactic hockey (barring the Mighty Ducks TV Show). So they instead just made them go to a school, and play the varsity team of older players. It was a terrible idea, it was boring, no one cared.

That is what my concerns are for Pitch Perfect 3. In the first film they won the US, in the second film they won the world, and in the third film they are just…singing for the troops. What’s the point? The only real difference I could see is that at least in Mighty Ducks the second film improved upon the first, while in Pitch Perfect 2 it lowered in quality due to lesser plot lines.

Oh well, let’s see how it manages to justify its existence. And that is coming from a fan!

Group shot
Well at least they are patriotic, so they can

Our third film is taking place probably around 3 years after the events of Pitch Perfect 2. Our heroes (?) now have all moved on with their lives, in graduate school, or with jobs, or no jobs at all. Who knows.

Becca (Anna Kendrick) is officially a music producer, but dealing with shithead artists who have bad tastes makes her quit and question her future in the business. Thankfully, the Bellas are having a reunion show at an aquarium, so she has that to look forward to since her life is falling apart.

All the girls are there (Alexis Knapp, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Chrissie Fit, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Kelley Jakle, Rebel Wilson, Shelley Regner) and even their protege Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) is there. At this show, everyone realizes that their lives suck, they are sad, and they just want to sing and be happy. Thanks to plot magic, they are able to quickly agree and get invited to a USO show to entertain the troops.

And lo and behold, this is secretly a competition. They are performing alongside three bands with instruments and sound systems, but apparently DJ Khaled is there sponsoring it all, and his favorite band will get to open for him on tour. I learned after the fact that this is a real famous DJ playing himself in this movie, not another character.

Oh joy, a competition, in order to really bring out their best. Also, John Lithgow is in this movie to play Fat Amy’s elusive father who was apparently a criminal in the past. Starring Elizabeth Banks, Ruby Rose, John Michael Higgins, Matt Lanter, and Guy Burnet, who is playing our Jesse replacement. Because Jesse/Benji/Bumper were written out of these stories, with only two of them getting a line to explain what happened.

0-3 on Riff Offs because these people used instruments.

Let’s start this analysis with another franchise comparison. I don’t like Cars. Some people do like Cars. No one liked Cars 2. Cars 2 had the main character change and a terrible no good very bad spy theme.

Pitch Perfect 3 starts off with the group actually on a boat performing, then danger guns explosion. “Oh gods,” you wonder, “Did they change this to a spy series and not put it in the trailers. Oh no no no.” And then you forget about it. You hope it is just a movie in the movie scene, maybe they become fake stars. Sure.

And then the terrible Fat Amy father plot continues, with Lithgow acting quite terribly at being a thief or whatever. It was such a bizarre aspect to add to a very lackluster film. When they finally were back up to that boat scene I started falling asleep in the theater. Oh it was so bad and unnecessary.

As for the main plot, it was so bad and unnecessary. Banks and Higgins were trash in this movie, their quips less good and they felt so useless. The competition aspect was forced, with an extremely long into and “riff off.” They spent all this energy into setting up their first USO show and raining down shit upon the group and their antics to be loved. After that? We were given a montage over the other performance, and hey, apparently now everyone loves them and all that strife was just filler. They fixed their goddamn problems and got popular again after two bad events magically through montage.

The second film did really well monetarily so they probably felt like they had to make this one. But with forgettable performances, less mashing up, forgettable and enraging plot points, this is not a movie that needed to be made at all. But sure, some side characters had good one off jokes. That’s the plus.

1 out of 4.

Power Rangers

Like most people, I too was a big Power Rangers fan. Not only did I see Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie in theaters when I was a wee lad, but I watched basically every episode. I kept up with the evolving story line over the various versions. I was still super into the show when it was Power Rangers In Space, because it was all connected. That is when I was able to get a lot of the toys as well.

Power Rangers Lost Galaxies is where I started to lose interest, and now of course, watching the newer versions make me cringe. But technically, watching the older shows also make me cringe. Power Rangers is NOT a good show. It is creative as fuck, piecing together the Japanese TV shows and some American actors to make something somewhat coherent. Good on them for trying. But it is of course repetitive, silly, and a bit shitty.

And that is okay. Not everything nostalgic needs to actually be great. We just have to admit it to ourselves.

Now? Let’s get back to now. Now we have a reboot. A grittier version, of course. Power Rangers. New teenagers with more attitude, because they are going to use swear words. And as it is a reboot we are going to get a few references or meta jokes, because film is dead and meaningless in the year 2017.

Hey, space man!

The film starts with the end of the dinosaurs! And also aliens, fighting. One of those Aliens is Zordon (Bryan Cranston), who dies covering up some interesting looking coins, from some repulsive looking alien lady. And after a meteor hits, we switch to modern day. Our hero, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), just got arrested for vandalizing school property, and private property, and operating a motor vehicle like an asshat.

So that means he gets to have Saturday detention forever. And that is where he meets Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Billy (RJ Cyler), who we all know later also become rangers. Long story short, those three and two other people, Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G). Blah blah blah, coins, Zordon, Alpha-5 (Bill Hader), and more!

(Record scratch)! But if these kids think being Power Rangers is going to be easy, they don’t know what they are getting into. They can’t even morph! And Rita (Elizabeth Banks) is going to take over everything in just a little over a week! Uh oh!

Also starring David Denman as Jason’s dad.

It’s a bold idea, to do this review and not show any power ranger.

Let’s get straight to the point. This reboot tried to do everything, and thus fell short at everything. It wanted gritty and serious. It also wanted nostalgic references. It also wanted elements of corny, but those were few and far between. The original show was very corny, and a bit self aware. I am not saying this remake has to be exactly like the show to be successful. I have already said that the show is kind of terrible. But it needs to make an identity and stick with it.

Making references and quotes from the original series is cheap and easy. But they break us out of the movie. The one time they say “It’s morphin’ time!” feels incredibly lackluster. The Alpha-5 “Aye-aye-aye” isn’t terrible. The new version of the old theme plays over the zoid entrance really quick, but it feels like an amateur just pasted it on top of the film and feels out of place.

And the references can get really distracting too! There was a scene between Zordon and Alpha-5, sort of freaking out about the fact that the new rangers were just teenagers. It was just begging for him to say something about how they had attitude as well, and it didn’t, so it was just an awkward moment in the theater.

This is a lot of detail on technically a small aspect, but it frames the entire film. The only entertaining Ranger is of course Billy, because they made him nice, caring, and interesting. RJ Cyler is still killing it, just like when he played Earl in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The camera work felt too teenage angsty and HD. It reminded me of I Am Number Four and other similar tone movies, where the whole thing just feels fake and rushed. And the megazord moment just is overly long and…well, awkward.

Despite all the complaints, the movie is still at least okay. The plot isn’t the worst, they add a lot of mythology to the story and give us storylines to work on in the future. Zordon was a huge dick, so it was just nice to see him with a personality. And how they connected Rita to the Rangers made some sense as well. Although, Banks didn’t feel right for the role. She looked like she was trying to act like Parker Posey, and now, I really just want the role to magically have been given to her instead.

This is not a movie you have to GoGo to see right away. It will be on Netflix before the end of the year, guaranteed.

2 out of 4.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Hooray another franchise is over! After Harry Potter, I am grateful book series are still afraid to break from the trilogy format. Or else we’d get these yearly movies that drive up the box office and everyone freaks out about and so on.

You know, like Marvel movies. Or the upcoming Star Wars films. One a year. Fuck.

Of course, this time it is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. The studios will say over and over again it is because the last story needs all that time to tell the story, but it is just for money grabbing purposes. It is putting a pause in the plot, usually meaning neither half are a complete film and overdrawn.

Part 1 was the worst film of the franchise. It had about 30 minutes of plot spread out over two hours. And because of that, Part 2 is almost definitely going to suffer for similar reasons. Even if Part 2 is great, the fact that Part 1 exists and is bad, instead of one coherent picture, means both are weaker than they should be. Happened with the final two Twilights, happened with the final two Harry Potters, and will probably happen again here.

You know, Katniss, this is the last time I might get to dress you.” – Creepy Effie

Katniss Katniss Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence). Katniss found herself choked up over the fact that they saved Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the Capital, her emotions all over the place. She knows one thing now. She will help Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and the rebels in any way she knows how. The Capital and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) must fall! And die!

Got it? Good. I’m done with that point of view. Lets change it up.

My man, Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) is still a bad ass mother fucker, cool spear trident weapon thing. No one can take him one on one. Except one girl. That’s right, Finnick is getting married. They will have ginger babies. Apparently they are all Irish, and Irish is a thing in this world, because their wedding has Irish violin music and jigs and shit. But that won’t stop him from putting his life on the line to take down the bad guys, YEAH!

Okay okay one more. Caesar Flickerman (StanleY Tucci) is the best host in all of the districts. He has flair, hair, and style. Unfortunately in this movie, he only has one scene as a shitty news anchor person. We don’t delve more into his life. Sad news.

Alright, everyone else in this movie are played by the same people you have seen before. Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Willow Shields, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Patina Miller, and of course, Elden Henson as the best video camera man in the world. Formally best at shooting the puck really hard.

“What are you going to do, just walk up to the door stop and kill him?”

I felt a bit silly typing up the plot outline for this film, as you may have guessed. They are finally doing that fight thing. No longer is this about the hunger games, it is about a revolution, damn it. They should really assume the viewers are smarter and just call it Mockingjay without THG.

Part 2 ended up being a lot better than Part 1, but not as good as the first movie or Catching Fire. The ending wasn’t full of epic moments, but just a slow fuse that slowly ran out of steam. And then a couple more scenes, and an epilogue. Hell, the ending was very confusing just in terms of time. I can’t be more specific without bigger spoilers, but the events being shown and that were talked shouldn’t have overlapped as such.

There were some decent action scenes in the middle though. The best was the sewer scene, although it was also confusing. Dark places means they don’t have to make coherent action, which might just be an allusion to the first film where they just changed the camera angles a lot and shook the camera. They threw in zombies out of no where, which is I guess the cool thing to do in a teen book franchises (see Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials). I am sure technically they are not zombies, but they came out of no where and never were really explained, so that is all I can really call them.

When I think back on the Hunger Games franchise in the future, I will just think about the first two movies. As long as you accept that Catching Fire ends with a crappy cliff hanger and doesn’t resolve anything, it will save you from the extremely mediocre two film filler after the fact. With only a handful amount of Finnick scenes to get you by.

2 out of 4.

Love & Mercy

For the most part, I tend to avoid films that begin with the word Love. I did a theme week a few years ago watching a whole lot of films that began with Love, and for the most part I was disappointed. Here’s a snapshot of those films and review ratings as simple reminder. Basically, since I watched Love and Other Drugs, no other Love film got close. A few strange ones did a good job, but for the most part, they were all meh, bad, or shit.

But new movies keep coming out, and occasionally they start with love. I still don’t mean that in a story telling sense. As I review new movies, I will of course still watch them, but I won’t actively seek out a film with this strange specification. Regardless, I was slightly interested to see Love & Mercy.

That is because this bad boy is about the “greatest rock album” of the 20th century, Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys Brian Wilson!

Less surfing, more strange sounds and a journey through one’s mind.
So… mind surfing.

In the mid-1960’s, The Beach Boys were everywhere. In 4 years they had already released 10 albums, a lot of them about surfing. They were world famous, tours, money, all that fun stuff. But Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) wanted something more. None of them actually ever surfed, it all felt fake. He was a composer at heart and had a sound in his head that he needed to record and let the world hear!

So he didn’t tour with the group to focus on their next album. He pulled out all the strings, getting great orchaestra players to figure out the tunes and sounds without any words for most of the music yet. And he did what he always wanted to do, to make what would become the Pet Sounds album, despite all the naysayers.

Also, it is the mid-1980’s. Brian Wilson (John Cusack) is mostly alone, on a lot of drugs, and under the guidance of a caregiver Dr. Landy (Paul Giamatti). He cannot see his kids, he is under constant watch and other people make all of his main decisions in life.

His life sucks. His life might have always sucked. But there is some hope, in Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), a cars saleswoman he meets one day. They start to date and she starts to see how bad his situation is. She wants to get him help because she is starting to like Wilson, who seems to only be a shell of a person at this time.

Oh and I guess some other Beach Boys are in this movie. Played by Kenny Wormald, Graham Rogers, Jake Abel and Brett Davern. They have various speaking parts in this movie and some of them butt heads with Brian when they hear his album concept. And of course, Bill Camp gets to play the dad of the Wilson kids and former manager and not former mean person.

Sometimes you just wake up in the morning and think, “Fuck, even my art is beach themed.”

What is this, the year of the musical biopic? A lot of them tend to be terrible VH1 Behind the Music level films that tell a story we have all heard before with some sweet tunes. But 2015 has given us Love & Mercy, which you know I will call amazing, and Straight Outta Compton, which was definitely amazing. I would like to thank Get On Up from August 2014 for this. It was a good musical biopic, not on the level of the above films, but better than average. It seems like the genre can do no wrong!

Why is this one fantastic? Thankfully it is for multiple reasons. First off, the acting from Dano and Cusack is incredible, yet very very different. Yes, they play the same man about twenty years apart, but they are very different times in his life where he has a very different psyche. In Dano, you can see the artistic genius at show but also see how he starts to crack and fall apart despite the currently good events in his life. For Cusack, he plays a more typical drugged up/mentally ill person trying to make his way in the world. While a good performance, from an acting stand point it didn’t seem to be breaking new ground like it did for Dano.

Again, Cusack was actually really good in this, but to me he was overshadowed by Dano who was really really good in this. And besides, it was a bit hard to imagine Cusack as anyone other than just a bit more out of touch Cusack.

But that is just the first reason! The other reason comes from the plot and accuracy. I, like a lot of people, would love it if the bio films were more all encompassing instead of focusing on a few events. But they picked great (read: sad) times in Wilson’s life to really tell the story of what he has overcome and what he has accomplished. But to tell a coherent parallel story always takes some gusto. This is the first major movie directed by Bill Pohlad, who has produced a lot of great films. It is a very impressive first outing, an incredible work for him and the writers who pieced together this movie.

God Only Knows what we would have done without the Pet Sounds album and eventually this film.

4 out of 4.

Magic Mike XXL

There comes a time in every reviewers life when they have to watch a movie about Male Strippers. It isn’t a common topic. We got The Full Monty in the 90s, and then Magic Mike a few years ago, so we all just assumed it would be another decade and a half before a new one came along.

But Magic Mike was certainly popular and certainly made a lot of bank. And for good reason! It was the beginning of the Matthew McConaughey road to greatness. And it was directed by Steven Soderbergh! And yes, sure, some good dancing.

That doesn’t mean I am not worried about the sequel, a continuation that is loosely inspired by Channing Tatum‘s real life story. No McConaughey for one. And instead of having the director of Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen, we are instead stuck with the ASSISTANT DIRECTOR of Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen.

And to top it all off, Soderbergh is only the Executive Producer, Cinematographer, and Editor of this movie.

Yep, clearly Magic Mike XXL is going to be a wildly different film.

This scene is like an even more male focused erotic 80’s metal music video.

Three years have passed since the dangerous and deadly events of the first film. Mike (Tatum) is no longer magical, after leaving the world of Male Entertainment behind and focusing on starting his own business, making things with wood. After these few years, he has one employee and times are still tough. But at least he gets to keep his clothes on, and only has to dance in his workhouse, alone, late at night.

But then the gang is stopping by the city. I’m talking Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias), and of course Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello). No, not Dallas or the other guy. They apparently closed shop and moved over seas for that foreign money, leaving the rest of the gang jobless and forced to find new passions in life.

However, before reality sets in, they are going to the Male Entertainment competition conference thing in Myrtle Beach, where groups of men dance and strip for hundreds of ladies. It is a big event and they want to go out with a bang. And you know, tons of dollar bills.

They just have to get there first. And this road trip will have them stop at a few different types of clubs, meeting new people for their crew/team, and maybe even having the men discover what they want to do after they are done male entertaining.

Also featuring Stephen Boss, Donald Glover, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith, Andie MacDowell, and Elizabeth Banks.

I didn’t actively avoid shirtless pics, but the one group shot the internet has sans shirts is terrible!

Let me start this out by saying that Magic Mike XXL is a better movie than Magic Mike. And I have quite a few reasons too!

1) The sequel has more dancing. That is fantastic news, because that is one of the main focuses of the film. The worse Step Up movies are the ones that try to have too much plot and not enough booty shaking. I want to see awesome dances to hot beats, damn it, and there is a whole lot of that in this movie.

2) There is no Cody Horn in this movie. None. Not even a picture. Just a few references. She is out of the picture and was by far the worst part of the first film. And the film elevates because of it.

3) The other dancers have personality. This could be partially true about the first film, but I don’t remember that much at all about our other male dancers. It was all about Magic Mike and that new guy. The other dancers all feel like real people, and it was fascinating seeing them all get their moments, have their own unique dances at the end, and really bond with them. The male bondage in this film is extraordinary. They all feel like real friends and they have great chemistry.

And really, that is all I need. Sure, some parts of the movie get really awkward, and maybe some of the dancers are far far too sexual for my tastes, but I am able to forgive most of that. The romance in this film was bad, but not as bad as the first.

This film actually left me wanting more from these dudes, seeing how their lives turn out since they are more than just background characters now. Especially Big Dick Richie, who had the best subplots in the film.

3 out of 4.

Pitch Perfect 2

What up Pitches!!

First of all, I accidentally themed this week. I present to you, Yay Women Week. It should be self explanatory.

I was excited for Pitch Perfect, for like, the year before it came out when I first heard about it. I love it when people make music with their mouths. And I liked a lot of the people in it.

So of course I was excited about Pitch Perfect 2. Well, assuming they had a plot that made sense. I was excited about the additions to the cast and the fact that Elizabeth Banks was directing. But I didn’t understand why certain cast members, who should be gone and out of the picture, have returned.

Rawr. Don’t make a nonsensical movie for familiarity sake! It is a big problem with high school and college movies or shows. I am looking at you Glee. You needed to let your members move on not take it away from high school.

But again, I will forgive it if the plot makes sense. But only then.

Or if I really like the music. That trumps a lot of potential bad other things.

The Bellas are back, Bitches! Like literally, most of them are still on the team (Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Alexis Knapp, Shelley Regner, Kelley Jakle) and even Chloe (Brittany Snow) who refuses to graduate. The only newish member is Flo (Chrissie Fit), who is an immigrant and thus fulfills a lot of new joke material, offensive or otherwise.

Three years later, this is their senior year, and they totally won the next two years of competition too. However, while doing a nationally televised performance, some bad things happen, and the Acapella committee is going to disband their group to make sure everyone knows that things are bad. They can’t recruit, they can’t compete in the national title, nada.

Well, apparently every four years, there is a world competition though. And the winner of the American National always gets to go the next year, so they at least get that right. And sure, if they win, they can keep their team. If you follow the film time line, that means the Treble Makers would have competed in it the year Aubrey (Anna Camp) blew chucks, but you know, continuity things. They do get a new member in Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), because her mom was a Bella. She likes to sing her own music.

So there you go, a very simple plot. Beat all the other countries at singing, especially those very sexy, very well choreographed and amazing German singers in Das Sound Machine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Flula Borg). Oh, but maybe there is more? Maybe Beca also has to worry about her life after college and actually becoming a music producer with intense internships? Yeah, jobs are still important!

And you know, this movie features a shit ton of people. Of course John Michael Higgins, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt and Adam DeVine. But also Katey Sagal and Keegan-Michael Key! And some of the Tonehangers with new people! And other cameos I don’t want to spoil or tag! And that Pentatonix group! And the Green Bay Packers!

I assume everyone in this picture is Aaron Rodgers.

I am officially flooded with actors, I think I can avoid tagging anyone in my next two.

Let me start off by saying that I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to give this a 4 out of 4. So when I talk about negatives, remember I still enjoyed the movie overall. It is hilarious. For the most part the songs are good. Sure, a few songs features I might absolutely hate in real life, but I got over it. I mean, fuck, the final song out of no where made me all teary eyed, just like the first time. I am actually mad I can’t get the soundtrack immediately to see if they messed up a few songs like he first movie. The friendship chemistry is fantastic. They “Expanded” on the Riff Off game from the last movie, in a new and probably better way. I laughed a ton. The analysts got even more dicey!

But my issues. Ugh. Most of my problems come from a misuse of the cast. Skylar, my favorite part of the movie, felt like he was barely in it. He got one main song, and was in the pseudo-Riff Off. But that was about it. He was so pointless, and he didn’t even talk about movies. Other Bellas, namely Cynthia-Rose, Lilly, and Stacie, felt like they barely had any lines or reason to be in the movie. The former got to sing a bunch, but their jokes went way way down and felt wasted. Even Ben Platt technically got less screen time. So many individuals who were there but didn’t seem to matter. THey tried to fit too much in the movie.

Hailee was wonderful though. Sure, they tried to force this weird Flashlight song down our throats. The original I kind of hate, but by the end of the movie, the few different versions seemed to grow on me. I am probably still going to grab this movie day one on Blu-Ray and watch it again and again, although arguably it is of some lesser quality than the first film.

3 out of 4.

Walk Of Shame

For those of you who don’t know what a Walk Of Shame is, what, have you never seen a movie/tv show set in college?

A Walk Of Shame happens after a one night stand. Usually the sex takes place at the man’s place and then the women is left walking back to her apartment or dorm early in the morning wearing the same outfit she had on the night before. This becomes even more apparent when the outfit is a dress or something one might wear to the clubs.

I know absolutely nothing about this movie besides who it stars, but the title probably explains about half of the events in the movie.

Yep, looks like the title nailed it perfectly.

Before we get to the shame walking, we can talk about the day before. Meghan (Elizabeth Banks) is a TV Anchorwoman. She had a few misshaps in her early reporter days, becoming one of those youtube bloopers because a cat attacked her, but now she is on top. On top of a dinky station.

She is applying to work at a much bigger station looking for a new anchor, but they want someone who is squeaky clean. No scandals, no sex tapes, no awkward tweets. So of course Meghan wants it bad.

But she doesn’t get it. And her boyfriend breaks up with her. What a shitty day. So her friends (Gillian Jacobs, Sarah Wright) decide to take her out to the clubs, make her put on a “slutty” dress, to get drunk and meet men.

This is a success, she has an enjoyable night with the bartender/writer (James Marsden). But she wakes up really early. She has a voicemail from the night before. The person they chose for the job won’t work, so the big fish are coming to see her show that afternoon. If she nails it, she gets the job!

But she is slightly hungover! And her car just got towed! And her purse was in the car! And she left her phone in that apartment!

Oh golly, will Meaghan be able to make it in time without ruining her public image?

Also featuring a few other people as gang members, cops, taxi drivers, and news team helicopter pilots. But I won’t tell you who is who. Bill Burr, Ken Davitian, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Alphonso McAuley, Da’Vone McDonald, Ethan Suplee and Kevin Nealon.

These guys are all helicopter pilots.

So what is the main point of this movie? A series of unfortunate events to put a upper middle class person onto the streets, dealing with people and situations she never considered possible? Yeah, but more so is the focus on the dress. Because she is wearing the dress in the middle of the night / early morning, people assume she is a prostitute and treat her as such.

That means that Walk Of Shame has, for the most part, one joke, just told in a different way over and over again. Not only that, but every situation is because of terrible communication. Every time Meghan starts to talk, she does it in the slowest most awkward way possible (nothing like her actual character, someone paid to talk well) and decides to do whatever it takes word wise to make sure that people will not realize she isn’t a prostitute. It was pretty dang annoying after the fifth or sixth time.

Walk of Shame does some have some amusing moments in it, and even the premise isn’t too terrible. The execution however felt incredibly lazy and the ending was a bit disappointment. I mean, James Marsden isn’t supposed to get the girl. He is supposed to have a girl and that girl leave him for another.

The very end, a small speech is given about how her outfit shouldn’t determine the way people treat her, which is great, but it is really quick and I don’t think the movie really conveys the point that well.

1 out of 4.

The Lego Movie

When I first heard of The Lego Movie, sometime mid 2013, I will admit I thought it was stupid. I know Lego has been revamping itself pretty intensely for the last decade, being more than just a child’s toy. With so many themes, and now video games based on movies, it is no surprise they are making a movie based on a game.

When I first saw the trailer? I was immediately hooked. This became one of my most looking forward to movies in the first half of 2014. Shit, it was even done by the guys who did Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and Clone High. Those guys know comedy and they also know their pop culture references. Combined with an idea that has stuck its fingers in most pop culture references over the last few decades, and you have the potential for a storm of success.

Go Team
See! One of these guys is excited about the storm of success!

In this story, our hero is one Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt), who lives in the city and does the same thing each and every day. He follows the instructions on the box, lives his happy life, and builds things. There is absolutely nothing unique or special about him. That is, until he meets Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), who is about to turn his reality upside down and change his life forever!

She introduces him to the Master Builders, other Lego people who can see from the world around them and build creations quickly and without instructions. Like Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman). He also learns that President/Lord Business (Will Ferrell) is going to unleash some power called “The KRAGLE” on the population in a few days, destroying everyone’s way of life forever!

From a series of accidental circumstances, Emmet is being labeled the “Special” and all of their hopes to saving the day are coming down to him. He will also have the help of other Master Builders like…Batman! (Will Arnett), Benny the 1980s space guy (Charlie Day), Metal Beard a strange huge pirate (Nick Offerman), and Unikitty (Alison Brie). Also, a Good Cop / Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) is working for Lord Business to capture the builders on the war front.

Shit, there is a ton of cameos too, which I won’t tag on the bottom, but might as well mention here. They also have Channing Tatum as Superman and Jonah Hill as Green Lantern (because, 21 Jump Street), Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman, Shaq as Shaq, Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels reprising their roles as Lando Calrissian and C3P0, and Will Forte as Abraham Lincoln again. His first time as Abe was of course, Clone High.

But you don’t care about them. You all just care about Batman. Don’t you?

Wow. Just wow.

Easily, the first thing that should be talked about is the animation style. They went full out wild with this, wanting to insure that everything always A) looked like Legos, and B) looked like how Legos moved. [Editor’s note: Some contention as to whether or not LEGO is supposed to be pluralized by an S, given it’s company name. They might prefer ‘LEGO Bricks’ if you do multiple ones. Well, I say fuck that, we call them Legos in America]. So yes, the movie could be considered a bit choppy to get all the movements right, but that gave it charm and personality and made me giddy the entire time. Watching waves or an explosion, but noticing they are all still lego pieces is incredibly exciting.

It was also pretty hilarious. I love pop culture as much as the next guy, but I do think their humor relied far too heavily on the fact that they were using major properties, such as Batman. Batman was in this movie way longer than I would have imagined (longer than any other already existing property). Although he was funny too, they were all specifically Batman jokes, and rarely just joke jokes. Most of the main team had their quirks, but none were as trademarked as Batman.

I also feel like parts of the ending were a bit…forced. Shit went real different at the end, kind of ruining the pace for me. All of the sudden, bam, we got a lesson to learn from this movie. I think it went far too long and took away from the film a bit.

I still really like this movie though, just the slowed down ending and over reliance on specific characters is what disappointed me. It was hilarious, creative, and shit, the animation itself is almost worthy of 4 out of 4. Honestly, I have a hard time believing there might be an overall better animated film the rest of the year. But it still had some faults for me. Even if Everything Was Awesome.

3 out of 4.