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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sex Tape

While you are at it, erase this whole movie too.
 Unless you are Woody Allen, it’s hard to make a funny movie that is based soley on sex. An image of 1988’s Casual Sex featuring Lea Thompson, Victoria Jackson and glowing condoms comes to mind, as do countless movies that show up on late night TV.

Social media, modern anxieties, “the cloud” and current Internet culture have opened the way to make a movie that turns our 2014 behaviors into the surprise comedy of the year. And loveable Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz seem like just the two people who could do that.

But they didn’t. The stars should be more embarrassed about this film than their characters were about their sex tape. Rob Lowe, the original sex tape victim and a supporting actor in this flick, will surely be more embarrassed about everyone’s performance in this movie.

Simply put: This movie is not funny. And it’s not sexy. The only one getting  f’d is the ticket-goer.

Award potential: In the running for a Razzie.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Best Sound Best Effects Oscar Best Makeup nomination wins Where is James Franco nude
Surprise. This series has evolved.

In this second chapter of this series, a team of humans set to the jungle and find themselves in a hairy situation when they run into a pack of apes.
But James Franco is not with them. His character in Rise of The Planet of the Apes was not one of the survivors of a virus that wiped out most of the humans. So you’d think this superstar-less sequel would be a cheaper film, right?

Unlike many sequels, the studio invested more money into this film than its predessesor. I suspect that the number crunchers realized they had everything: a though-provoking story that contained action and potential for a long-term franchise.

Simply put: This is the series’ Terminator 2, not Matrix 2.

Award potential: Noms for Best Effects, Makeup, Sound and Sound Mixing seem very likely at this point in the year. Expect conversation, but not nominations, around Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor Andy Serkis (Gollum in Lord of the Rings), who does the motion-capture prometheus ape.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jersey Boys

is franki valli alive?
Jersey Boys, 2014 (Oh, What A Fright)

The story of The Four Seasons is a stellar one, which is one of the reasons why the Tony award-winning musical Jersey Boys was such a pleasant surprise and why the film version is ultimately engaging, despite its frighteningly lackluster production.

The other reason is, of course, the music. In both cases, Frankie Valli is played by talented sound-alike John Lloyd Young. And he’s great.

When director Clint Eastwood just lets the music play, it works. But the full film looks dark, is filled with stereotypes and at times, very flat. Why make a movie version when the sets look like a stage and the characters talk to camera?

Simply put: I can fully recommend the play, but I can only give this a mild recommendation.

Award potential: Nothing.

The ten buck review: Stay for the credits and it’s worth ten bucks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chef/Begin Again: Two Reviews In One

return of the indie film
This summer’s feel-good film, (Chef/Begin Again) from indie film favorite director John (Favreau/ Carney) is hardly an indie; the cast includes Hollywood A-listers (John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara/Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley), and the storyline is implausibly perfect.

I enjoyed this film but couldn’t help escape the feeling that the team was trying to recapture the spirit of their great (1990s/2000s) low budget gem (Swingers/Once). The tone just feels odd for 2014. And it doesn’t help that they chose the tired (food/music) genre.

Although the movie seems to be about (food/music), it’s really a casual film about estranged relationships and nothing deeper than that. Casting probably kept this film from going there. While I enjoyed every scene with (Vergara, Knightley), she was just too Hollywood-famous and gorgeous for the grit we needed. For a story that preached about authenticity, this film is ironically too slick to go there.

(Chef’s/Begin Again’s) soundtrack is the redeeming grace. You’ll smile a lot in the theater as the story plays out and the music plays on. It’s a fun (1 hour 40 minutes/1 hour 55 minutes). I just don’t think they’ll make this one again in (ten/twenty) years. 

Simply put: (Movie comfort food/A pop hit) that the whole family will enjoy. 

Award potential: It’s a stellar cast with everyone performing just right for a light film, but nothing more. 

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks (between the two).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Melissa McCarthy films
A road trip comedy that doesn’t go anywhere

Melissa McCarthy sure knows how to surround herself with talent. But she still hasn’t figured out how to surround herself with good scripts.

She is effortlessly appealing and her physical comedy is superbly funny, but it’s obviously tough to build a satisfying two-hour movie around that — even when you add a stellar cast.

Tammy starts out as a wildly funny rebellion movie as McCarthy’s wheels-off character takes on her world. That tone might have been a better movie than what follows.

As the story proceeds, Melissa McCarthy (Tammy) and Susan Sarandon (Grandma) pair up and pack their bags for a road-trip comedy that really doesn’t go anywhere.

The comedy also features Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Dan Aykroyd, Mark Duplass, Toni Collette, Allison Janney and Nat Faxon.

By the time those last three co-stars appear onscreen, I wished that I was watching them in last summer’s charming The Way, Way Back instead of this unsatisfying summer film.

Simply put: McCarthy is always the best thing about her movies. That’s not a compliment.

Award potential: None, of course.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.