Tag: Sam Rockwell

Trolls: World Tour

And now we can talk about the biggest release since the theaters went under! Not the first new release of a movie that was supposed to go to the theaters, but the biggest at least.

Trolls: World Tour was moved around a few times on the calendar, and it turns out that they probably should have kept that date in February for making that money.

At first saying they would go straight to digital instead was almost an inspiration. But then as more and more movies got pushed back, including to future years even, and all left but Trolls. That is a bit weird right? Some other theater films changed to VOD and a lot of them were movies that were expected to bomb.

Did they not actually think Trolls: World Tour would do well, or are they sacrificing profits to bring some happiness to those stuck inside? Hard to say. The first Trolls was okay, and in general, this plot of the sequel made me super weary, but that doesn’t mean I wanted it to fail either.

onward
Ooooh, they better not say Onward, that’d help the competition.
Ah, life is wonderful again. Until it isn’t.

Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is in charge of her people, every day has singing, dancing, and hugs because the Bergens are cool now and doing their own thing.  Branch (Justin Timberlake) probably wants to make Troll babies with her.

But Poppy gets an invite from a Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) to come to her World Tour. This is where we get to have the secret backstory of Trolls that never came up in the first film. You know. There are different troll kingdoms out there each with a magical string each that gives them the music to get by in life. One of Pop (our trolls). Of Funk, Classical, Country Techno, and of course, Hard Rock, where Queen Barb comes from.

So Poppy thinks that Queen Barb wants to unite all of the strings together to unite all the music genres and unite the trolls. But really, Queen Barb just wants to take all the strings to make them rock and make rock music the only music for everyone.

Oh no!

Also starring a whole lot of other voices, some new, some old: James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Anderson .Paak, Sam Rockwell, George Clinton, Mary J. Blige, Kenan Thompson, Kunal Nayyar, Flula Borg, Ester Dean, Jamie Dornan, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Ozzy Osbourne.

rock
Rock is evil. Satan is rock.
Lame new Trolls backstory aside, it turns out there is a little bit of good backstory in there as well, but it is a mid movie reveal. It turns out that the former bad guys aren’t necessarily who we thought, and I thought that would be a big turning point for the film.

I can’t wait to see where it goes from there, and from my point of view, basically nowhere. Poppy wanted to unite the Trolls together to let them experience all music. Barb wanted to unit the Trolls together to make them all listen to rock music. And despite revelations made, the ending is exactly as one would expect going into the film. Exactly.

And thus I am left disappointed.

The music is okay for the most part, we do get more genres, but I didn’t feel like were stiffed in the first one due to how diverse pop itself actually is. There is no original song like Get Back Up Again, and that is the real shame. I believe the only original song is at the end, and that is supposed to be our new Can’t Stop The Feeling. Which sure, is an original song, but no where close as exciting as Get Back Up Again. I am not counting songs where it is meant to a famous one with some changed lyrics as original, like Trolls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Overall, it is likely this movie would have done just fine in the theaters. It is better than the animated show, but relatively clunky and beyond simplistic with the plot, despite rays of deeper hope in the middle. I will call the original better despite the same grade, because this one did not make me cry.

2 out of 4.

Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi has quickly risen up the ranks of directors that if they make a film, I will want to see it. I don’t even have to realign my values at any point. He already makes films that sound interesting to me, and then I find out he directed it and can get double happy! You know, like those rainbows!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, his last movie before Thor: Ragnarok, made my top of the year list for 2016.

Now this title of Jojo Rabbit doesn’t scream out anything on its own. Knowing it is about Nazis in WW2 does…not also make anything clearer. Those people going into this movie with a blank slate are going to be quite shocked at what they have picked, but lets be honest, how many people do you think would go into a movie with this title without any advertising?

dinner
This screenshot really just raises more questions than it answers.

Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is 10 years old, it is 1945, and he loves Hitler! Oh, he is also blonde haired, blue eyed, and in Germany as a German. He has grown up entirely in the Nazi hype, and hasn’t known anything besides the Third Reich.

His mother (Scarlett Johansson) is basically raising him on her own, as his father was sent off for the war effort years ago and is somewhere in Italy. He hasn’t been heard from in a few years, so he might be dead, maybe he ran away, who knows. But with his mom working, Jojo is alone most of the time. Sure he has a sort of best friend, Yorki (Archie Yates), but his real best friend is Hitler (Taika Waititi). Or at least his imaginary friend version who tells him how to be a man and how to live his life so he can please his family and friends.

He joins the Hitler Youth war effort. He dons the uniform. He gets a job and volunteers the best he can do at home. And yet, is it enough? Is his mom pleased?

Oh, and eventually he finds that there is a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in his house, with his mom’s permission. What is he to do? Turn her in? That would get his mom in trouble. No, he should study her, and maybe publish a book on his Jew findings.

Also starring Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, and Stephen Merchant.

Jew!
Ah! Jew behind you!

Jojo Rabbit is an unapologetic look at German youth during the final year of WW2. Why is it unapologetic? Well, it has nothing to apologize for. It should be noted first and right away this movie is not trying to glorify Nazi culture or upbringing in anyways. It isn’t trying to say there are fine people on both sides.

It does however highlight that people who were involved could be involved because they know nothing else, which sure, is true. It wants us to know about the German resistance groups who were killed trying to protect others, even when the country was clearly about to lose. Those in power wanted to “win at all costs” even if it meant taking out its citizens and throwing them in the path of the bullets.

Now obviously this is not a historical non-fiction story, but it does tell a unique story. The Jewish girl isn’t a magical other force to make Jojo see the wrongness of the actions, but just a piece of his own growth.

Every scene between Davis and Johansson was wonderful, especially the dinner scene, and one of the scenes in the middle. There was so much sadness in Johnasson’s character over her inability as a single parent to raise her boy the way she knew was right for fear of death for her and her family.

It is a powerful story about overcoming everything you have ever believed in, in the face of overwhelming evidence that you are wrong. It is a movie that tells us that people can change for the better.

And let’s not forget, Waititi is himself part Jewish, and that is why he decided to play Hitler. He figured it was the biggest insult he could give to an evil man.

3 out of 4.

The Best of Enemies

True stories are sometimes fun. Sometimes they are true…ish and give us a topic like Green Book, which is barely about the actual Green Book and pretty damn disappointing.

Other times we get true stories that are like The Favourite, which are probably extremely fictionalized but based on real events and well acted so we let it pass.

And then we get something like The Best of Enemies. Another true story that seems to actually be based on real people and events, without making things offensive or skirting the issues that are important to the subject. Wait, this shows a Klansman in a favorable light? Alright, maybe not completely inoffensive.

Papers
And I got the tweets all ready to prove it.

Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) is a single mother and an activist living in Durham, NC. She runs Operation Breakthrough, which is to help poor black folks not get completely fucked over by the white man. And it is always a battle. Fighting for good homes to live in, fighting for decency, fighting for better schools. It is a full time job and one she will proudly take until it is fixed.

And then we have C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), a poor white man who also happens to be the leader of the Durham chapter of the KKK. I should probably mention that this takes place in 1971, after the Civil Rights Act was passed and desegregation occurred. It had not occurred everywhere. For example, Durham! They still had white schools and black schools. And shockingly to no one, the black schools were older, overcrowded, with old supplies and not enough money compared to the white schools.

Well, one of the main elementary schools gets damaged in a fire, with most of it being unusable except a few classes. Clearly now they need to segregate, it is only fair. Nope. Council says to use those 8 classes and make them go to schools in shifts instead of disrupt another school.

The cowards that be in charge above that, when a lawsuit from the NAACP appears, decide to organize a “charette”. A term made by Bill Riddick (Babou Ceesay), where he comes in to organize the community to discuss the issues for a few weeks and have a senate vote on resolutions. Anything they overall decide to do, Durham will do. Even if that means segregation. And Riddick wants to make sure this is real and worthwhile, so he decides that Ann and C.P. should be the co-chairs of this event, overhear everything and give each side equal ground. Surely, this will lead to peace and harmony.

Also starring Wes Bentley, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Anne Heche, Bruce McGill, John Gallagher Jr., and Nicholas Logan.

Convo
This could get nominated for costume given the body suit Henson had to put on for this look.

Ack. Where to begin.

Well, Rockwell is being typecasted as a racist turned racist we can not hate fully at this point. From Three Billboards, to this, to…Vice (Kanye West says so). That’s not something he should continue.

I was worried about this film because from the title and looks of it, it almost made it seem like it is going to imply that people of these people are important and should be heard. And uhh, one of them is a racist KKK leader. The other is fighting for survival. That is the sort of story that puts a bad taste in your mouth before it gets started, so it is a hard thing for people to just accept and want to see. But yes, by the end, [SPOILERS] the guy saw the light in real life and did the right thing and helped schools segregate, turning his back on the KKK. He should be celebrated for that, but most of the film is putting him in a slightly positive light before the moment, as the change occurs and again, it feel uncomfortable.

Technically, this movie has a white savior problem. And that is hard to avoid when given the real story, a white guy did save the situation. It is a hard thing to balance, when it has to fully embrace the white savior as part of the real narrative.

Honestly, trying to accept this film as a story is hard, and only works and can be acceptable because it is real. If this was fiction, it would be a complete shitshow of a plot. This makes it hard to talk about as a reviewer, from purely a movie standpoint.

So let’s just finish by comparing it to Green Book. The acting in Green Book is better. The camera work in Green Book is crisper. But the plot is so far from reality and insulting, it does not get a pass for its story and its actual true bits are not worthy of praise. While The Best of Enemies is rougher around the edges, it at least sticks to the facts and is pretty informative of a story on this topic. It is one that likely would have been better done as a documentary though, to really get the feel for these people and not put us in the middle of this awkward narrative.

2 out of 4.

Vice

Adam McKay shocked the world when in 2015 he moved away from his normal brand of movie directing, and instead gave us The Big Short. A true story, that is funny, terrifying, and well acted? What is this? The Big Short ended up being my favorite movie of the year when I made the list (but since then, I know for a fact that Steve Jobs is my real number one after a few years).

So the big question is, can he do it again?

This time his attempt is to go slightly further back in history and give us a movie about Dick Cheney. A hated, loved, and not fully understood politician who was Vice President under George W. Bush. Of course the title has a double meaning here, McKay is hoping to tell this story in a similar way. Narrator being a character, lot of various plot lines, and frankly, weird shit going on.

A funny movie, that is also maybe going to make you sad/angry/scared. Seems like a good idea for a slam dunk.

Watch
This is the face republicans will make watching this movie.

Dick (Christian Bale) grew up as the type of person who was going to go nowhere. He had a basic job, and spent most of his money getting drunk at night. This lead to some DUIs, barroom fights, the normal stuff. But his wife, Lynne (Amy Adams) wasn’t putting up with his basic bitch problems. She was still in her prime and could have any man. It was time for him to put up, or shut up, and save this marriage before it was too late.

And apparently, he still had some fight in him.

He eventually got himself a job as an intern in DC, where he met Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), who was a big Republican at the time, and who knew how to play the game. Cheney quietly learned the same tricks and I do mean quietly. He wanted to have the power, without showing it off. He wanted to do without saying and just become great. He wanted to maybe become president one day, and every little bit was just a step along the way.

And Cheney also didn’t care what he had to do to get it. He learned of many legal loopholes about what the president can and cannot do, along with the vice president job. He became CEO of Halliburton, raised a lesbian daughter, and shot a guy in the face who later apologized for getting shot. He clearly is a man with a story, even if that story makes him out to be a total shit bag.

Also starring Alison Pill, Bill Camp, Don McManus, Eddie Marsan, Jesse Plemons, Justin Kirk, Lily Rabe, LisaGay Hamilton, and Sam Rockwell as George W., with Tyler Perry as Colin Powell.

DIck
Somewhere in there is Christian Bale.

Vice is a polarizing film because it goes hard after Dick. This is not remotely a fluff piece. He is the bad guy of this story. Even if you think it is going to talk about how he is a go-getter, who works hard. No, he is bad. A mastermind. Explicitly working to gain power regardless of precedent. Now, whether all of this is factual is the question. What matters is that a lot of it IS factual, even if the motivations we have to more guess about.

It also is extremely unique in its story telling, so much that the message can get easily lost. After all, there is a lot going on, and if you don’t believe anything happening, you might just call it a silly movie.

The acting is what we really have to talk about here. Bale completely transformed himself. Outside of young Cheney, he looks completely like a different person and it is easy to forget he is even inside that body. His transformation is this year’s Darkest Hour. Adams and Perry are limited in their roles, but do outstanding jobs. Carell has done better in other roles, but still carries his own weight here. Rockwell is a natural fit for George W. and should play that character more often.

Vice, on its own, is basically an insane film. It definitely isn’t as good as The Big Short (I think…?), but it is a film I feel like I need to see 2 or 3 times overall before I fully can grasp its scope. I am annoyed at myself for having to write this while only seeing it once. It is definitely going to be deserved of acting praise from Bale, but I am not sure what else it might walk away with for rewards.

Either way, McKay, hats off to you for trying new and polarizing work.

3 out of 4.

Blaze

This is one of the many reviews that have come out of WorldFest in Houston. Check the WorldFest tag to see them all!

Opening the festival was Blaze. Now, last year the opening film was LBJ and about a famous person I actually heard about before, with bigger names attached, and a goddamn amazing director.

This one is about a vague country star who never reached his full famous potential, died pretty young, and is directed by Ethan Hawke, who has not done a lot of directing.

This is a good film for a biography, because I would rather learn a shit ton about someone who I haven´t heard everything before. Biographies should actually teach us about new people things. That is, assuming their story is actually worth hearing. I´m looking at you boring biographies about famous people that are just…well, shit.

Woods
Oh cute, matching outfits with no one around to say its cute.

Blaze Foley (Ben Dickey), or Michael if you knew him before he was trying to become a famous singer, had a soul that was built for telling stories. These stories were generally musical in nature, which made it a good thing that he also could play that guitar. He had a life of growing up with song, thanks to his family being part of a traveling family band.

The story that we hear about in Blaze is his whole adult life’s tale. About how he met his future wife, Sybil (Alia Shawkat), a Jewish actress who appreciated the woods as much as this large cowboy. In fact, they lived in a shack in the woods for several years rent free, living off the land and no electricity.

We get to see him moving to the big cities with the intention of selling his tunes and making it famous in the country music scene. Including leaving his wife behind to tour with a friend (Josh Hamilton) in an old truck down the south. And also their move to the bigger city of Chicago to tackle the blues crowd, since he figured his music was sort of country and the blues, given how sad they all were. We also get to see him get a record contract, and coincidentally, let that all go to shit as well.

This is all juxtaposed with his final concert, which was recorded life, the day before he was shot and killed protecting a friend.

Also starring Wyatt Russell, Sam Rockwell, Charlie Sexton, Steve Zahn, and Kris Kristofferson.

Truck
Life is like being on the back of a truck. You know, fast and no seat belts.

Blaze is a slow burn, which is not what the title implies. Blaze implies a film where everything happens quickly and maybe even burns out, well before it should have. Which is a good metaphor for Blaze the person. But is it a metaphor if its his name? I don´t know how hyperboles work.

The film telling the story interlaced among big moments, early moments, and still ending with the natural ending was a great choice. Getting to hear his ¨friends¨ tell stories about his life provided a great tool for exposition, and the fact that the rest was presumably based on his wife´s book of his life gave it a very personal touch.

As a music fan, I can say it was a bit of a low point for me. I never was really engaged in the many songs sung, as they were all so slow and soulful, and felt more akin to background music while the stories unfolded. Hard to change the music if it is based on a real source though.

Overall the story just felt okay to me. The reason it ended with such a high rating though was due to the acting, especially from Dickey and Shawkat. I don´t actually know Dickey from anything else, but he transformed into this Blaze character, along with all of his imperfections. It never felt like an actor, it just felt like this artist I was completely unaware of.

Blaze is well acted, and tells the story of someone you also likely don´t know. It is debatable if it is a story that needs to be told, but hey, they told it anyways.

3 out of 4.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I try my best to avoid most trailers for films, but I give myself some exceptions. I will watch a real teaser trailer occasionally, as they are the ones who don’t spoil the whole thing. Teaser trailers especially for superhero films or Pixar/Disney stuff, even though some of the teasers are downright terrible.

But sometimes a film comes along with such a unique name, that I just need to know what it is about, right away. I will watch it right away, intrigued, which is what a movie title should do. Unlike every other film I review this week after this movie, because all of their titles are shit, regardless of film quality.

Only some offense meant for the films this week that I won’t name. Back to this title. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri just grabs the viewer by the balls and tells them to get ready for a very fucking specific story.

Even better, despite being an original story, it might have been inspired by a true event. In Minnesota last year, a citizen took out a billboard calling out the sheriff with vulgar language. If you read a news article, it seems like a completely bull shit story, so who cares about that guy. But when I saw it in person I had my wife look it up on her phone (I was driving) because the gossip just had to be too good.

Again, a shit story, but it felt juicy, so I am glad to see this film do something much better with the concept.

Billboards
And I will only show you one of the billboards in this review, neener neener.

Mildred (Frances McDormand) has a problem. A problem letting go and moving on with her life, after her dad was found dead, burned alive, after being raped. A heinous, terrible crime, and honestly, it makes sense for her to not get over it. Her daughter was still a teenager and they are in such a small town, it is inexcusable and unprecedented for this to have happened.

But what is even worse, in her mind, is that the local police force seems to have given up on finding the killer. She hasn’t heard from them in 8 months and she is rightfully pissed off. So she spends most of her savings on renting out three billboards near her home, ones that have been seemingly forgotten about, to call out the local Sheriff (Woody Harrelson).

This causes quite a stir, more so than the rape/murder. The town likes the sheriff, he is a good guy, and he has goddamn cancer. Mildred doesn’t care, she just wants answers to her questions, even though she knows it will not bring her daughter back. Mildred is going to be burning several bridges to get what she needs, metaphorically and slightly literally (buildings are like bridges, right?). Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Also starring Caleb Landry Jones, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Amanda Warren, Malaya Rivera Drew, Peter Dinklage, Sandy Martin, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving, and Clarke Peters.

Cops
Two Cops near a billboard outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Three Billboards is a hard movie, with a hard topic, with, you guessed it, hard characters. It earned a hard R rating, when it comes to language, violence, and the occasional gore. No, not on any hardcore graphical porn level, sorry folks, just everything else.

McDormand carries the film on her poor fragile shoulders where the whole thing just feels incredibly realistic. Her grief and anger can only be described as real grief and anger. Harrelson as a supporting character still feels a bit like Harrelson, but from a different angle that I haven’t seen much before. Rockwell does one of the biggest changes, as he puts all of his charismatic roles in the past to play this disgusting, morally terrible individual. He is racist, xenophobic, crass, yet caring in strange ways. Oh, and he doesn’t even dance. Can Sam Rockwell be in a film where he doesn’t dance?

The story is an emotional and moving piece. After all, everyone deals with loss in their own ways, and McDormand’s character comes from the place of a woman who feels like she has nothing left to lose (except her son, which she admittedly forgets somewhat about). But again, it is more than just her story in this small town of individuals. At least four or five other characters get shining moments, even if just a little bit, as parts of their stories fortunately (or unfortunately) intersect with her own.

I would describe only one scene that I did not like at all, and it involved a flashback. The words used were too specific and forced, they instantly drew me out of the movie. Thankfully the strong story and characters were quick to draw me back in.

Living in a small town, like a real small town, will get quite annoying when everyone knows everyone’s business, including the law enforcers. I didn’t grow up in an environment like this personally, but based on what I have seen in other films and stories from others, it definitely seems to grasp that feeling.

Three Billboards is not a film for everyone, which is shame, given how likely it will end up on my end of the year list.

4 out of 4.

Mr. Right

Anna Kendrick is in six movies this year. Six! That is a crap ton for a single year.

Yes, one of them is animated, so just voice work for Trolls. And two of them I don’t know a thing about. And a wide release comedy. But then there were two films that had extremely limited release, basically straight to DVD.

Mr. Right, of course, and Get A Job. Now going into Mr. Right, I am super biased against it, because I accidentally watched the trailer and basically cringed through out it. Had I not known anything, I might have been a bit more optimistic. But factors working against it include a cringey trailer, a lame title, and a very big age gap between our two romantic leads. Arguably that last point should be put under cringey though.

Couple bitches
At least the fashion is bangin’.

Oh, Martha McKay (Anna Kendrick), why do you like such assholes? She is ready to surprised her boyfriend at his place, and he shows up with another lady. Great. So now she is drunk and sad and going to be miserable for ever. Not even playing with kittens seems to help.

Then she runs into Francis (Sam Rockwell). Literally. He does something impressive and invites her out on a date. Right then and there, not knowing anything about her, and she says sure. And aww, it is nice. He might be the one. Sure, she doesn’t know his name, but she will find it out eventually.

Francis also used to be a very high paid assassin. However, he grew some morals and didn’t want to do it anymore. Instead, he would go back and kill the people who paid him to kill someone else. Obviously the morals are shaky and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. So people are out to get him now, as he pissed off many groups of people. Hopper (Tim Roth) used to be a co-worker and is the main antagonist here.

Francis likes Martha and Martha likes Francis. And technically he doesn’t like to her when he says he just killed a person, but she thinks it is a joke. However, eventually she finds out, conflict, some action stuff, and then some more romance. Typical, you know?

Also featuring, as mostly bad people and hitmen, RZA, Michael Eklund, James Ransone, Jaiden Kaine, and Anson Mount.

Nose
Gotta have a killing trademark, I guess.

Mr. Right was written by Max Landis, that guy who did American Ultra and other writing things that people love. He is super active in Hollywood right now (not Anna Kendrick active, but high for a writer). American Ultra was weird and unique but still landed to be just okay. Mr. Right is average, kind of dumb, with the occassional great moments. That is not a good sign for Mr. Right.

Again, there are some amusing moments. Kendrick goes super adorkable at points, babbling, making funny noises, sure. But that is not a complete movie. Rockwell doesn’t feel charismatic and the couple together never feel great. I can’t see why Martha becomes so smitten by him so quickly. The only real reason we have is just because the writers say so, but they don’t show it in the film well.

As a comedy it is subpar. As a romance it is almost non-existant. And as an action, well, the action is okay. But it is romcom action, not straight up epic action that purely action movies provide. It is mostly just some hand to hand combat fight scenes with a few Rockwell and RZA jokes thrown in.

They should have made some element really stand out. And Rockwell talking to people in a fight is not enough. Mr. Right is overall very forgettable.

1 out of 4.

Don Verdean

Nacho Libre. Napoleon Dynamite. Gentlemen Broncos.

Two of these films are well known. Both of them are universally hated or loved, with barely any room for middle ground. And Gentlemen Broncos was unfortunately never widely known on the radar, despite it being the strongest movie of the three for me. I also hated Dynamite, and loved Libre.

Well, now Jared Hess the director is back after a six year directing absence. Don Verdean. Bringing back a few actors he directed in Broncos.

And honestly, this should be enough information to give it a shot regardless of what it is about. Just for the experience. Just for the really quotable lines.

Group
Surveillance does. I hate those

Don Verdean (Sam Rockwell) is a world famous Biblical archaeologist. He made his fame finding actual places and items from the Bible, helping Americans ignore faith and base their religion on facts! Like the scissors that cut Samson’s hair!

I should have said “was” instead of “is” because times are hard now. He is mostly now just selling books and touring churches around the US, with his assistant Carol (Amy Ryan). That is until Tony Lazarus (Danny McBride) a pastor self proclaimed back from the dead, with his reformed stripper wife (Leslie Bibb), want to finance Don Verdean!

You see, they are losing followers and they need something big and splashy in order to get people back into the faith. So they will pay for his next expedition, the wife of Lot! But that is just the tip of the ice berg.

Either way, Verdean has the right frame of mind. He wants to help people, even if it involves lying. Then he gets too involved in his lies, and one of his Israeli workers (Jemaine Clement) finds out the truth, extorting Verdean. At the same time, a local priest, who used to be a Satanist (Will Forte) and his scientist friend (Sky Elobar) don’t believe any of it. They want to prove he is a faker.

Also featuring Steve Park as a rich Chinese Christian man who also wants to get in on the action.

JesusDick
McBride seen here is of course discussing the size of Goliath’s dick.

This is the type of movie where you should know exactly what you are going to get. If you saw any of the last three, it is very similar in terms of exaggerated characters and ridiculous lines. And for the most part, I loved it.

I was cackling to myself as I watched it, both due to the “clever” lines and the “clever” situations. Just seeing McBride as a pastor makes me laugh, because the casting choice is that brilliant. I was surprised by Ryan’s character, because she did the timid/obedient Christian thing very well, and honestly, she rarely has big roles in what she works.

Clement made me laugh the most. It might be the first time a New Zealander has played an Israeli, taking his already strong accent and morphing it into an even stranger Israeli accent. It as so think, basically everything was comical. Rockwell did a fine job in the leading role, although I feel like his motivations were shaky throughout. I couldn’t tell if he was intentionally lying every time or not.

My biggest gripe with the movie is unfortunately the ending. When things became more chaotic and things began to unravel, it just didn’t feel like the same movie. It started to lose a bit of my interest and seemed to focus less on the funny characters and more on the “action.” Quotes of course, because there isn’t actually a lot of action, but it was still higher stakes and running and a couple of gun shots.

3 out of 4.

Poltergeist

Ah, horror remakes. We need at least one a year right? We’ve had Carrie, Evil Dead, Fright Night, and many more. It is easy and hip and cool to do. Hell, I know it sounds like I wrote that like a sarcastic asshat, but for those three films in particular I ended up liking them or thinking they were okay enough as a remake. I didn’t hate any of them.

Then Poltergeist flashed its way onto our screens like a lightning bolt. “Not so fast, mother fucker!” it clamored through the speaker box.

I may be jumping the gun with the review, but Poltergeist decided that instead of making a nice modern update with its remake, it would instead just…take more of the same elements from the original, cut out a lot of the horror bits, and instead turn it into more of a Sci-Fi Thriller. Yeah. Fuck the original, right?

Clown
And always fuck clowns, obviously. As long as its consensual and not Vulgar.

Big day for the Bowen family! They just got a new house. And hey, it is really low because of the stagnant market. Definitely not because no one would buy it. And it doesn’t have many neighbors. Who cares. They can afford it, which is the most important thing in this economy. They don’t have much of an income right now. The dad, Eric (Sam Rockwell), insists that his wife, Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) not have to go back to work, because they can totally get through this without that. So yeah, Eric is kind of a dick.

Either way, they have their three kids, Kendra (Saxon Sharbino), Griffin (Kyle Catlett), and Madison (Kennedi Clements), in order of oldest to youngest. Kendra is DGAF oldest sister, so you can ignore her. Madison is the one who starts saying things and talking to entities in her room alone. Griffin is the only one who believes that something weird is happening.

Either way, outside of funky static TV stuff, other electronics are also acting wonky. It turns out that this house used to be built on an Indian Burial site. That was decades ago (Oh man, is this technically a sequel!?). But weird stuff happened and people got angry, so they had to pay a settlment, I think, and agreed to move the graveyard to a different location. Well, then why the fuck are spirits still angry? Why are they somehow bring the barrier between worlds and stealing their youngest daughter?

Also featuring Jane Adams— and Jared Harris.

TV
Maybe this is a metaphor for letting the TV be your nanny?

Poltergeist has about three scary moments in it. Maybe. Calling it a horror film almost feels ludicrious. It has a lot of other things though!

It has a lot of zero character growth. Rockwell’s character is completely cardboard. A completely unrealistic person given anything that happens in the movie, and even more sadly, he doesn’t even dance. The mom and older daughter role are almost completely unimportant.

It is all about little boy and little girl. And occasionally some adult comes around and does something, but when the girl gets sucked away (for a majority of the film I guess), it is mostly up to Catlett to keep us entertained. He does an okay job, in terms of kid stuff. But he cannot save this boring mess of a film.

That’s right. The biggest shame of this remake is not that it isn’t scary, it is the boringness of it all. It honestly feels like they went so light and fluffy with the whole thing that they wanted it to actually be a PG horror film. It was hard to get through because of how uninteresting it became after only 15 or so minutes.

1 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)?

Lonely
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.