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comedy

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New Thor: Ragnarok Trailer teases Doctor Strange


I'm really glad this movie isn't boring
Aug 16
// Drew Stuart
If you saw our coverage of SDCC two months back, you may have seen this incredible trailer for the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok and thought to yourself, "Jeeeez that looks like a hell of a lot of fun!" I wouldn't blame you, it's w...
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Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler's next Netflix movie, The Meyerowitz Stories, has a trailer


Could Sandler actually act this time?
Aug 16
// Matthew Razak
Here's a dirty little secret Adam Sandler seems intent on keeping under wraps: the man can act. Back in the day he seemed to be on the verge of pulling his comedy career into something more with films like Punch Drunk Love, b...
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Your Bad Movie Night Guide, Vol. 4: Tango & Cash


The original shower buddy cop movie
Aug 11
// Rick Lash
Imagine a time when movie heroes were heroes not for being pretty, metrosexual types capable of playing a broad range of characters aptly displaying a broad spectrum of emotions, but because they had big muscles, or knew kung...

Review: The Emoji Movie

Jul 28 // Drew Stuart
The Emoji Movie tells the tale of Gene, a 'meh' emoji who unbeknownst to his fellow emoji's in Textopolis, can experience more than one emotion. Unfortunately, when he's called upon to make his 'meh' face at the users request, he freaks out and makes the wrong face. Gene is then forced out of Textopolis, and embarks on a quest with his buddy Hi-5 and hacker Jailbreak to become normal like all the other emoji's. The setup is trite from the very beginning, and becomes more mundane the further along the story progresses. You already know all of the beats; our characters form a plan to solve their problems, the villain sends a force to stop them, they clash, one of the characters gets separated from them, the main character decides to rescue them instead of heading straight for their goal, blah blah blah. I could go on, but it's honestly not necessary; if you've seen a kids movie in the last 20 years, then you've seen The Emoji Movie. I've heard some people say that The Emoji Movie borrows steals lot of ideas from Inside Out, and that's just not true. Emoji also rips several ideas from Toy Story, The Lego Movie, and even Shrek. Situations are recreated almost verbatim from these movies, only serving to bore and annoy the audience even further. And it's not like Emoji needs any help with that; the humor and is so atrocious that I almost feel guilty calling this film a comedy. Here's what the 'comedy' amounts to; emoji's simply calling each other by their emoji names, or acting slightly different to each other depending on what emoji they are. That's really it. There's no humor that's so bad it becomes funny, or dialogue that you can ridicule. I didn't hear a single laugh from any of the children in the theater. Nothing. This movie is shamelessly hackneyed and vapid; it cannot be laughed at because it can't understand that it's being made fun of. It is impervious to snide criticism and witty retorts. All you can do is embrace The Emoji Movie, before shoving a pillow into its face. Without comedy, and without plot, the element that is thrust into the forefront of the viewers minds is the concept. And if you'd like me to elaborate on that, now's the time where I'd like to inform all the passengers along for today's flight that, as the title entails, this is in fact a review for The Emoji Movie, and you should be well aware by now that the concept is, on it's face, a bad one. I understand the motive behind it; The Lego Movie made more dough than a Three-Star michelin bakery, and Sony wants a piece of that pie, but it isn't gonna happen with something like Emoji's. The reason being that kids and adults alike adore Legos for their inherent creativity and playful, easy design, which incidentally lends itself incredibly well to a kids movie based around the theme of creativity and being yourself. The other reason being that no one cares about emoji's. Trying to make an emoji movie is such a blatant consumerism-driven cash-grab that I'm astounded Sony had the balls to even try it. Hell, in the opening narration, the movie acknowledges that emoji's only exist because people suck, specifically because they're lazy and don't want to type out their complete thoughts in a text message. So why would anyone even consider making a movie like this? I don't know. The point is, the concept of an emoji-based movie sucks.  Now, here's a weird bit of criticism I never thought I would have to say aloud: Did the entire cast phone in their performances? Sure, you might know that T.J. Miller, Steven Wright and Patrick Stewart were coaxed into this movie, but did you know that, *ahem*, Anna Faris, James Corden, Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara and more lend their voices to this project? No? Neither did I, until I glimpsed the cast list as I sulked out of the theater. Why do none of these people sound like themselves? Why even hire them if their voices are that unrecognizable? I just don't know. On top of the terrible plot, the terrible concept, and the terrible acting, all of the sensory elements in this movie suck too. The animation lacks any style or visual flair, (as is to be expected) but worse is how little detail there is in the animation. There are points where characters look blurry or unfinished, and nearly all of the backgrounds are painfully copied and pasted as needed. You can see this quite plainly if you compare the trailers to the movie; there are scenes in the trailer that occur in other settings in the final cut of the movie. It feels borderline amateur. Even worse has got to be the music. You'd think that Sony with all of it's music rights would plug today's pop-radio garbage into The Emoji Movie, but that's not the case. Instead, they plugged 2012's pop-radio garbage into The Emoji Movie. Did Sony not believe in this movie either? Why does this exist? Why am I here? You don't need me to tell you this movie is terrible. Just look at it. Some asshole at Sony actually thought this would be a good idea, and somehow convinced a bunch of other assholes to make this putrid movie. The Emoji Movie was farted into existence for the express purpose of seeing if they could do it. And now we all have to sit in its stink. 
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To live is to suffer
You know, for the longest time I thought that this movie was a joke. Something invented by film producers to have a laugh. A prank that writers bounced around, but never dared to seriously consider, lest their career be stamp...


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Matt Groening's animated comedy Disenchantment greenlit by Netflix


With Blackjack! And Hookers!
Jul 25
// Drew Stuart
Matt Groening, you beautiful bastard. You've given us The Simpsons, Futurama (my favorite cartoon ever) and soon, a new animated comedy called Disenchantment. As of today, Netflix has green-lit 20 episodes of the new Mat...
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Your Bad Movie Night Guide, Vol. 2: Zombeavers


Can we please stop with the beaver jokes
Jul 22
// Rick Lash
Some movies are so bad they're good. Like last week's entry, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon; while it appears that it must have been somewhat selfaware (one would hope), at other times, it clearly took itself plenty seri...
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James Franco's The Room true story film The Disaster Artist has trailer


Lisa, you're tearing me apart!
Jul 18
// Rick Lash
In bad movie news, Tommy Wiseau's cult classic, and honorific title holder for world's worst movie ever, The Room is getting the Hollywood treatment with a movie about the movie and its odd writer-director-star. And...
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'The Incredibles 2' picks up where the first left off


I have no strong opinion either way
Jul 14
// Drew Stuart
The Incredibles ended on a high note, with the Parr family jumping into action to defeat The Underminer, and then a cut to black implying that their adventures would continue one day. Today we know that there is indeed a seco...
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Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 9 comes October 1


No good?
Jul 11
// Rick Lash
In snark-free news, HBO announced Curb Your Enthusiasm's oft-desired, long overdue, long-rumored return. There's a trailer of sorts, though it's more of just an announcement proving this is actually happening: it has been six years, after all. Are you excited for the return of the original George Constanza? Let us know in the comments.     [via Variety]
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The New Warriors announces its main cast


No word on who will play Tippy Toe
Jul 11
// Anthony Marzano
A few months ago Freeform formerly known as ABC Family announced that they had ordered a 10 episode season of Marvel's New Warriors sight unseen. At first it was exciting to me as I've heard nothing but great things about the...
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BoJack Horseman returns September 8th


What are you doing here?
Jul 10
// Drew Stuart
The last season of BoJack Horseman was by far the best yet. Each season has been good, but BoJack is the kind of show that only gets better as its concepts are explored further, and Season 3 was quite an achievement for this ...
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Dragonball: Evolution is one of the best-worst movies ever


A True Disasterpiece.
Jul 02
// Drew Stuart
It’s no secret that faithfully adapting any kind of property is a tall order. Adaption often results in an atrocious product, born from disinterested creators and corporate interests looking to make some quick bank. How...

Review: The Little Hours

Jun 30 // Rick Lash
[embed]221667:43644:0[/embed] The Little HoursDirectors: Jeff BaenaRelease Date: June 30th, 2017Rated: R There's not a ton for me to say about The Little Hours. As usual, good does accompany the bad, but here they don't add up to the sum of all parts. The cast does what they can when they can, but the script is terrible. I'm not sure how most of the powerhouse cast was convinced to do this movie, especially given director Jeff Baena's limited experience. I feel like he pitched them the same synopsis that we got, only ever shared limited parts of the script with the various cast, and kept them in the dark enough that they didn't catch on to exactly what they were shooting. The attempts at humor are there. The opening scene between Nick Offerman as a lord, his wife, and their servant, Dave Franco, is gold and seems to promise much. Offerman, in particular delivers a wonderful turn as an uber-dry medieval lord much beguiled by brutal descriptions of violence and by actual torture (it turns out). He's simply put, perfect for the role. After that, this masquerade of a medieval-set, modern comedy gives way to what is at times an incredibly vested portrayal of medieval nunnery in all authenticity possible. The detail that went in to many of the scenes is incredible. But then, this seriousness is chiseled down to a mere mockery of what it portrayed by the expected outburst of Aubrey Day emblazoned "Fuck yous!" There is horniness, a nunnery, substance abuse and a form of wicked revelry, but not like you'd expect, and it likely won't make you laugh--it certainly didn't make me break a smile. There's very serious, and embraced threeway rape scene where Sister Fernanda (Plaza) has a knife to Masseto's (Franco) throat for the duration, although, granted, he does seem to come to enjoy the moment. There are witches, and people shouting about witches, but it's not funny either. Yet, when they deal with witchcraft in the serious fashion it would have been dealt with (across medieval Europe, hundreds, if not thousands of people were killed as witches), they sort of make a joke of it, but don't. Yet it's definitely not done in full jest. The script doesn't pick either direction, and as such, suffers the worse for it. Which is sad: the cinematography is beautiful--there's real talent behind the lens from a visual standpoint. The team assembled a talented and capable cast. The historical accuracy, at times, is laudable. But it's all wasted due to a lack of identity and understanding of that identity--and a true comedic script. Or not--pick one, and embrace it. You can't have it pretend to be both from time to time. My best guess is that someone had an idea for a film that seemed like it could be fairly funny given a proper script and the right acting panache. They actually got the panache, but don't seem to have had the talent to deliver the necessary script. Halfway through, I was waiting for it to end.    
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I lost two of them.
You're probably as optimistic about The Little Hours as I was; hey, that's why you're here, waiting for me to tell you all about it. You saw the all-star comedic cast: it includes Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Dave Franco, John ...

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'Ricky and Morty' Season 3 drops July 30th, new trailer out


Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!
Jun 30
// Drew Stuart
Let's wind the clock back for just a moment. It's 2015. You're watching the Season 2 finale of Rick and Morty. There's a big cliffhanger that sets up the next season, and all of the sudden, you're face to face with an old fri...
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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has trailer, some Black guy, big Johnson, little Hart, and I'm not Karen


Now with motorcycles: hip
Jun 30
// Rick Lash
Someone, no I won't name names, wrote a damned fine article when the Jumanji sequel revealed a first look image back in September. All right! You caught me. It was me who wrote said inspiration. Let's cease with the accolades...
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'F is for Family' will get a Season 3


...or I will PUT YOU THROUGH THAT WALL!
Jun 29
// Drew Stuart
If you're at all like me, you're a bit wary of the Netflix original series that the company tries to shove down your throat. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of Netflix series that are great, but for every Stranger Things&n...
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Bad Moms Christmas has a trailer involving moms at Christmas


Another surprise?
Jun 28
// Matthew Razak
Bad Moms was probably one of the biggest surprises of my movie watching career. From what looked like a low-budget cash in on raunchy, female-led comedies came a smart, and funny story that played with movie gender trope...
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Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later trailer takes place ten years later


That is quite the list of cast members
Jun 22
// Matthew Razak
When Netflix first announced it was turning Wet Hot American Summer into a prequel TV series I popped some gum and made out like a bandit I was so excited. And then the show was just as weird and funny as the movie so I poppe...
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Daddy's Home 2 gets trailer, Mel Gibson, and hopefully not a single hot tub


Jun 16
// Rick Lash
A Flixist team member who shall remain anonymous perhaps said it best: "How did [Daddy's Home] get a sequel?" It's a question we imagine many of you have said on more than one occasion. Don't deny it. It's OK. We've all ...

Review: Rough Night

Jun 16 // Rick Lash
[embed]221612:43603:0[/embed] Rough NightDirector: Lucia AnielloRelease Date: June 16, 2016Rated: R Rough Night is the story of four college friends who promise to always be there for each other, and of how life sometimes has a way of getting in the way of the best laid plans. Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is a state politician of some sort (or on her way to becoming one) and is also getting married. Alice (Jillian Bell) is her overeager friend planning her bachelorette party. The gang is rounded out by Blair (Zoe Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer). Oh, and then there’s Pippa (Kate McKinnon), Jess’s college friend from semester abroad, and a convenient Aussie accent to add to the mix. The friends convene in Miami for shenanigans, but, after drinking, weed, coke, puking, and penis shaped paraphernalia, things go awry with the arrival of a male stripper. If you’ve seen the film’s marketing, you may be aware of what comes next. I was, and I’ll admit that I was quite curious about how writer / director Lucia Aniello intended to deal with this twist. SPOILER ALERT: the stripper is killed; another senseless victim of bachelorette party extravagance and overindulgence. It was obvious from the same marketing, that the film wasn’t going to hide from this plot point: it was going to own it. This movie might even revolve around the death of a stripper: it’s, at the very least, the major plot point development in the movie. Stripper-based humor and even dead stripper humor is nothing new, and yes, it’s refreshing that the tables are turned here, reversing what have become standard gender roles: all good—like I said, I was really curious how this would be dealt with, as it’s a bit dark for comedy dealing with a bachelor / bachelorette scenario. Unfortunately, the answer is, poorly. Going back to that fine line between a rough night and a my life is over night, this moment is clearly filmed as the later. Aniello never makes light of the seriousness of what’s happening, while it’s happening. The music shifts, the action plays out all to graphically and convincingly, and I, for one, found myself wondering if this was actually a comedy, or was going to reveal itself to be quite a dark drama disguised under opening volleys of laughter and comedic humor. Thankfully, mercifully, it is a comedy, and the seriousness given to a woman accidentally killing a man in a moment quite reminiscent of the defining murder from Unfaithful (in which Gere slams a snow globe over a man’s head, killing him). They’re visceral deaths, blood is not spared, and they’re not humorous, in any sense. It’s jarring, to go from jokes about swimming in a sea of dicks, to involuntary manslaughter, and back to dick jokes (putting dick-nose sunglasses on the corpse to cover its creepy, dead eyes). The theater became quite silent when it happened. People were groaning and turning away even. Like I say, we are not in the midst of a drama, it’s a comedy, and after Jess and gang make every wrong decision you might possibly make in their situation, we’re steered back towards comedy. But it’s always a little off from that moment on. It’s irreconcilable how the characters react to having taken a life, through that jarring transition, to how they deal with the body and crack light of it afterwards—not enough time has elapsed, consequences are still unfolding rather quickly in rather frightening, real terms (as Blair calls her criminal defense lawyer slash uncle and learns that by moving the body and altering the crime scene they’re commiting serious crimes—no shit—but they are all on drugs and booze, so understandable). It would be OK, if this were a dark comedy and this was just the moment where it goes dark--but it's clearly not. It’s not that there’s something wrong with characters forgetting what’s morally center, or committing crimes and laughing about it, it’s the inconsistency of mood from Act I (weekend away in Miami) to the Turning Point (Stripper’s head is cracked on fireplace hearth before he bleeds out) to Act II (disposing of the body and consequences). They just don’t gel. And, to be fair, if one of the Hangover films had dealt with the guys killing a stripper and then going through the emotional impact of what that really means immediately after, that wouldn’t have been funny either. Those characters do incredibly stupid things, highly illegal things, and do sometimes face unnervingly real consequences, but it never goes full dark comedy. It finds the line, hugs it, and then drunkenly walks it just well enough to pass the sobriety test (there’s a great scene in Rough Night dealing with one of these moments—more on that later). There's just something about cleaning a crime scene, and toweling up liters of blood, as a musical montage that didn't quite work. In another film sure to draw comparisons, Weekend at Bernie’s (and its eponymous sequel), we don’t get too real. The protagonists never deal with Bernie’s body voiding the contents of its bowels and how the guys deal with that while cops and potential witnesses linger nearby. Rough Night delivers laughs, don’t get me wrong. Act I is full of them. Bell and Glazer are at their usual best and do not disappoint. Clearly, pairing them with their known collaborator and director of Broad City was a win-win. It’s their standard best. Kate McKinnon is also great in her role as outsider, bringing just the right amount of wrong throughout. Johansson is more inhibited by her role as (maybe) uptight-wannabe-politician; she’s never able to fully break loose of her character role to sling banter with the comedic regulars. She does her best in whoo girl moments, but her biggest wins are born from clever writing that pokes fun at tiny everyday moments like a politician’s forced smile in a political TV spot and the difficulty in holding it naturally; or in great post-coke snorting tirades. In fairness, her character is a passive one, who’s more out there friends take actions that dictate her own; in American Pie terminology, she’s the Kevin of the group. One of her more genuine comedic moments may have been when the movie opens in full-on college flashback with the four friends gathered around a beer pong table. It’s a fun scene, one carefully reconstructed from a college frat house a decade passed as they even have J-Kwon’s Tipsy playing in the background. Let’s be clear, it was humorous, in of itself, to see Johansson, Glazer, Bell, and Kravitz pretending to be college-aged. Kravitz is great, perhaps seeming more natural than in other turns (the Divergent series, Fantastic Beasts), but isn’t able to flex true comedic muscles as her role is relegated to satiating an odd plotline with some hedonistic locals (and a random cameo from Demi Moore). Then too, there’s an unexpected parallel series of events unfolding as Jess’s fiancé, Peter (Paul Downs, co-writer) has an incredibly mild “bachelor party.”These asides to the men enjoying a quiet wine tasting, or Peter and co. buying adult diapers (for a reason I won’t spoil) are pleasantly interjected in a way as to add levity to the seriousness of unfolding events in Miami where people are literally dying. These deft touches, throwing convention on its head, or alluding to those things we all know to be true (a drunk girl bursting into the flashback college dorm room to pee on the floor--something she does on a weekly basis), are the bread and butter here and in earlier successes from this team--successes that have made Broad City and all associated with it so wildly popular. It’s a stellar cast being directed by a comedic powerhouse based off a script by that same powerhouse and her writing partner: it’s not unfair to expect great things, and they do deliver laughs, and a good number. There’s just one hell of a downer right in the middle of it; a downer that sours half the movie.    
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Dead Stripper > Dick Jokes
Maybe I should have taken a cue from the title. After all, Rough Night is fairly self-explanatory. I'm a fan of irreverent comedies where protagonists can behave the way less ideal versions of ourselves might, all with n...

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T2 Trainspotting

Choose life, watch the first 10 minutes of T2 Trainspotting


Them accents, luv
Jun 13
// Hubert Vigilla
I never got around to seeing T2 Trainspotting. In fact, I haven't seen the first Trainspotting since maybe the year 2000. Yet I've been meaning to rewatch the original and its sequel back to back to see how they complement on...
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Steven Spielberg is resurrecting Animaniacs for an unnamed platform


...which will probably be Netflix
May 30
// Drew Stuart
Animaniacs is getting new, original episodes according to a report by IndieWire. Warner Bros. Animation and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television are reportedly rebooting the show sometime in the the near future. However, what...
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Paddington 2 gets a trailer, is adorable


Warning: May contain whimsy
May 30
// Drew Stuart
Do you remember the first Paddington movie? Are you also British? If you answered 'yes' to both of these questions, strap in, because there's finally a trailer for Paddington 2. If you aren't familiar with the first film, it'...
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Madea Halloween getting a sequel


Or is it like a 20-quel?
May 26
// Matthew Razak
Word from Deadline is that Boo! A Madea Halloween is getting a sequel called Boo 2! A Madea Halloween. That's probably the most awkward movie title ever, and may not even be factually correct since every Madea ...
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Love Actually short film full of everyone and love


Blatant nostalgia grab for a good cause
May 26
// Matthew Razak
When we all heard there was a Love Actually short film sequel coming I think we got a little too excited. The film is here now, and while it is fun to see all these characters again, it's mostly just a promotional tool f...
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Full trailer for The Hitman's Bodyguard ditches Whitney Houston


Still looks funny as hell, though
May 26
// Matthew Razak
When the first trailer for The Hitman's Bodyguard landed I loved it. Not the movie. The trailer. It was clever and played with the classic The Bodyguard. However, I still wasn't sure about the movie itself. Often these k...

Review: Baywatch

May 24 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221553:43568:0[/embed] BaywatchDirector: Seth GordonRelease Date: May 26, 2017Rated: R Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) is a lifeguard everyone loves. He may take his job a bit too seriously, but in the world of Baywatch, his lifeguard post includes its own arm of the local government (complete with enough of a budget to afford things like ATVs). When confronted with the disgraced, former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron), he's forced to put his feelings about the new recruit aside when they uncover a larger drug plot at hand that's threatening the entire bay. But when the police won't investigate, Lt. Mitch and his lifeguard crew decide to take matters into their own hands and dicks and boobs.  Like most unfortunate comedies to fall in this category, Baywatch substitutes actual jokes with raunchy humor. Now I don't have a problem with raunch in practice, as dick jokes are as classic as apple pie, but they're only great when they don't disrupt the flow of the film. It's hard to explain, but I'll try and elaborate on my problem with Baywatch's genitalia humor by outlining one of its more problematic scenes. In the first fifteen minutes or so, Ronnie (Jon Bass), the archetypal loser of the bunch, has a crush on the lifeguard CJ (Kelly Rohrback) -- who's only purpose in this film is to be ogled -- and chokes on some food when she runs by. After CJ delivers the heimlich maneuver (complete with thrusting), Ronnie becomes erect. But to hide it from her, he nervously stumbles until he falls and gets stuck, dick first, in a beach chair. Thus resulting in a large crowd of people surrounding Ronnie as CJ and Mitch talk about setting him free. If it sounds like my summary made the scene seem devoid of charm, it was actually much worse experiencing it first hand. Sure it serves the purpose of introducing Ronnie and CJ's dynamic, but paints their friendship in an unpleasant, slog of a light.  It's a shame Baywatch relies so much on low hanging fruit humor, since it can be intelligent when it puts forth an effort. When the film allows itself to be made fun of, it actually makes for pretty fantastic sequences. The film's opening, for example, combines all that you'd expect to see (Johnson diving in slow motion, wide shots of the beach) but injects with a major nod to how ridiculous it all is once the title card shows up. There are even a few inspired raunchy bits (like the talking balls gag), and the fact that Mitch never refers to Brody by his real name. These occasional bright spots in the dialogue only make the rest of the script more disappointing by comparison.  But the major factor at play is how straight it plays the premise. Baywatch, while occasionally winking at itself, also takes things much more seriously than you'd hope. Long stretches are dedicated to plot exposition, or un-interestingly shot action sequences. Rather than laugh, or even question what I was watching, I often found myself having no reaction at all. And with a comedy that clocks in at two hours, that's pretty much the equivalent of drowning in shallow water. It's something that could've easily been avoided had you tried to kick around a bit.  Like the vapid characters of its source material, Baywatch is great to look at but once it opens its mouth you realize how hollow it is. It's almost as if the entire film plays in slow motion.  Baywatch is a bad watch. I know I should feel guilty about not ending this review on a better joke, but that'd mean putting in more effort than the film did. 
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So much emocean
Baywatch is another film in the same vein of nostalgic television reboots like The A-Team, CHiPs, and the crazily successful 21 Jump Street. A show known only for attractive people running in slow motion serving as a sor...

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The House

The House just became a "can't miss" comedy thanks to this red band trailer


May 19
// Nick Valdez
The House is just one of those comedies with a cast that could either pull it all together into something great or fail miserably. Either way, you know you're in for a good time. The House stars Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler a...

Review: Chuck

May 05 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221422:43548:0[/embed] ChuckDirector: Philippe FalardeauRating: RRelease Date: May 5, 2017 Chuck has an endearing center in its star Liev Schreiber, whose ease and affability keep the film watchable even when it's sluggish or middling. I was reminded how good and versatile Schreiber can be and how underrated he is as an actor. As Chuck Wepner, he's both pathetic and sympathetic, a legitimate hometown hero and a fame-chasing clown. I'm not sure how true to life these contradictions are to the real-life Wepner, but as a character in a film, there's promise there. One minute he's quoting Anthony Quinn from Requiem for a Heavyweight, the next minute he's trying to hump anything with boobs by mentioning Rocky. Many of Schreiber's co-stars also elevate the material. Jim Gaffigan's solid as Wepner's brother, a guy who loves to be a hanger-on so long as there's coke or women involved (and as long as he doesn't have to pay). Schreiber's former real-life partner Naomi Watts appears mid-film as Linda, who would eventually become Wepner's third wife. Watts isn't given much to do but flirt and support the pathetic palooka, but the genuine fondness she and Schreiber shared comes through on screen. Elizabeth Moss is especially good as Wepner's second wife, Phyllis, even though she mostly just has to put up with his BS. Despite that cast, Chuck falters because of its writing, and by extension its production. Writers often use the term "connective tissue" to describe the moments between the big scenes. In Chuck, the connective tissue feels more like biopic filler. The film is stitched together with on-and-off voiceover narration. It's too hand-holdy and on-the-nose. The movie also rushes itself, breezing along with its flutey, wah-wah kinda-disco stock score, which cheapens the overall feel. Some of the scenes may have been written too big for the budget or without much consideration for lighting and texture. Take the opening scene in which Chuck fights a grizzly bear in the ring. That's a godd set up, but it's lit like a coke-fueled disco party later in the film; it may have been shot in the exact same location. It feels small, but in a "Yeah, we couldn't quite afford all this" way rather than a seedy, "My god, what's become of my life" way. The parts of Chuck that work are the scenes in which the movie slows down, builds out a scene, and allows the awkward moments of these characters lives to unfold. When Wepner tries to hassle Sylvester Stallone about Rocky, there's something there. The same goes for a bad audition or a crummy parent teacher conference. These scenes are when Chuck feel less like a movie from "biopic trope land" and more like a movie about flawed people trying to screw up a little less (or a little more). So much of the movie feels like it's just checking off shaggy story beats rather than letting the moments come like they would but given a deliberate shape. Oddly, Chuck might have taken more cues from the original Rocky to be a better film. Rocky is a quiet, quirky, thoughtful love story about discarded people finding hope in each other. There's also boxing, but the connection between two misfits is so strong that it doesn't matter if Rocky wins or loses in the end, just that he endures. In Chuck, the whole arc of someone's rise, fall, and redemption feels like it's missing that human core. There are scenes that have it, but like fame or pseudo-celebrity, they're fleeting.
Review: Chuck photo
This coulda been a contender
Certain movies have the seeds of a much better movie sown through them. Usually these movies are a little bit of a mess, with a jumble of tones and scenes and characters, some working better than others. The stuff that works ...

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Snatched

See Snatched early and free


Washington DC and Baltimore screenings
May 04
// Matthew Razak
Looking for some comedy involving kidnapping and Goldie Hawn? Have we got just the movie for you. Snatched is opening soon, but we've got passes to see it early. I can't say I'm terribly excited for this one, but it is n...

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