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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Despicable Me 2

McDonalds Rare Minion Steve Carrell 2013 comedy

In Despicable Me 2, Steve Carell’s Gru is a changed man. No longer a dastardly villain, he’s now domesticated. Unfortunately, Gru has also domesticated his comedy edge. Shooting for the moon isn’t near as funny as stealing it.

Enter a complex plot to get him back in the action, and another complex family subplot that aims to recreate the charm of the first film. None of Gru’s stories come together. The original Despicable Me (2010) managed to juggle the belly laughs with action and a charming family story — this does not.

Enter the Minions, the silly yellow workers who had a sub role in the first film and prime roles in 3 mini DVD movies (2010). All of their zaniness works so well that Gru’s unfocused stories don’t even matter. They alone make this a winning film.

If you have small kids, time your bathroom breaks around the meandering Gru stories, not the Minion comedy breaks.

Simply put:  Gru and the girls (who I loved the first time around) are now despicably boring, but this is really a Minion spin off. And the Minions deliver a zany good time.

Award potential: Best Animated Film and (maybe) Best Original Song nominations. It won’t win either of them.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks. For adults and kids.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Heat

The Heat Bridesmaids Comedies of 2013
The plot of every buddy cop movie is simple: A pair of law enforcers is assigned together. One guy is a straight arrow and the other guy is a wheels off toughie. They clash at first but eventually become friends to get the bad guy (usually an insider). The twist in The Heat, is that the cops are both women.

So, hurray, it has been achieved: a formula buddy comedy with women can be just as underachieving, unoriginal and boorish as one with men.

Director Paul Feig explored contrasting issues like female camaraderie and female competitiveness so winningly funny in Bridesmaids. But this is just a throwaway. The good news is that the fearless duo of Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock are hilarious in all the small bits. The bad news is that the film is almost two hours long.

Simply put: Not so hot. A few laughs from McCarthy.

Award potential: Feig directed McCarthy to an Oscar nomination with Bridesmaids. No chance for a comic nod for this slight film. Not even at the Globes.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks. Unless you think it’s worth ten bucks to see Sandra Bullock shoot a peanut out of her nose.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing

The Bard can throw a good party — even in 2013. Shakespeare's timeless comedy is given a contemporary spin in Joss Whedon's (The Avenger, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly) film.

Shot in flat, uninspiring black and white, the familiar story takes place at a modern day Los Angeles home — but the dialogue is strict Shakespearean. This clash is jolting at first but the director makes it work quite naturally. 

And while the whole film feels effortless, that’s also the biggest problem. It just never went to the next level of hilarity. It needed a little spark. I blame the performances – perhaps they were too focused on making the premise work. Amy Acker (Angel) as Beatrice and Clark Gregg (The Avengers) as Leona came closest injecting that energy and interest.

Simply put: Not near as funny as it should be — but I protest too much — it will be an enjoyable rental.

Award potential: Some art house cred kudos to the director will be the only reward for this light comedy.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks. ‘Tis worth a $2 rental.

White House Down

Die Hard In White House

Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) attempts another “Die Hard In The White House” movie three months after Olympus Has Fallen. One would assume that a less serious take on this concept might be the better popcorn movie — not true.

Attempting to play Bruce Willis in a tank top is Channing Tatum in a tank top, who is neither as witty or charismatic. The backstory is a broken family drama that parallels the Die Hard movies, but Emmerich didn’t even attempt to create a villain as interesting as Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber.

The original element here is the White House. Jamie Foxx, an action hero himself, plays the anti-action hero POTUS. I suppose this is a misplaced attempt to do an impression of Barack Obama. By the time the Presidential state car is doing laps on the White House lawn, you realize this movie is doing laps on you.

This isn’t an assault on 1600 Pennsylvania, it’s an assault on moviegoers.

Simply put: Hardly Die Hard. Just plain White House dumb.

Award potential: None. Even the FX were dumb.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.