Posts Tagged ‘comedies’

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Good Boys (2019)

August 24, 2019

Good Boys (2019)

Director: Gene Stupnitsky (“The Office)

Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon

Anticipation Level: Strong

How Was It? I thought it was absolutely hilarious and the kids are wonderful in it. Jacob Tremblay crushed it in Room with Brie Larson a few years back and proves that he has some serious comedic chops also. It’s funny reading the user reviews on IMDb because almost all of the most recent ones are extremely low ratings saying that the content is absolutely appalling. Sure. Maybe it is. But how does someone watch the trailer for this movie, decide to go see it, and then get offended by it? I’m guessing most of them never even watched it and just wanted to dust off their pitchforks. I mean… I sort of get it – a solid amount of the film’s laughs come from the kids handling adult sex props without realizing what they are and some of the scenes cross the line. Would I let my own sixth grader watch Good Boys? Honestly, I don’t know. I think it depends on the kid, but I don’t envision myself as the kind of parent that is putting strict parameters on the content my offspring absorb.

Ignoring the fact that this movie is putting child actors in some questionable situations (and if their parents don’t care, then I don’t care), I thought Good Boys was one of the most thoroughly enjoyable films I’ve seen in 2019. I was laughing pretty hard from start to finish and it’s not like this movie is a one trick pony – there is some emotional weight here. Think back to the end of your elementary school days and recall how many of your best friends remained your best friends throughout junior high… and high school… and so on. Good Boys made me laugh my ass off and then it made me sadly nostalgic, thinking about all the strong friendships I had as a kid with people I almost never talk to now.

My initial thought after seeing Good Boys was that it was my favorite movie of the year, but I’m pretty sure that was an overreaction. Comedies tend to age poorly for me, as they are never nearly as funny over multiple viewings. They need a little extra oomph to make turn them into something special. I’m not sure yet if Good Boys has all the ingredients to turn it into a comedy classic, but I do know I’d be happy to watch it again.

Replay Value: Probably won’t be as funny, but it’s worth multiple viewings in my book.

Sequel Potential: Superbad never got one, but since these kids are 12, there’s plenty of school years left for them to work with if the movie is a box office success.

Oscar Potential: None.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Blockers (2018)

April 17, 2018


Director: Kay Cannon
Starring: John Cena, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, Geraldine Viswanathan, Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon

Wasn’t expecting much out of Blockers other than to laugh a bit and be entertained and it mostly delivered on those fronts. The premise here is three lifelong friends making a pact to all lose their virginity on prom night and their parents discover the pact and set out to stop them – and hopefully hilarity ensues. I laughed pretty consistently, but not uproariously. One of the worst things about comedies is they tend to get really stupid and outrageous but most of the stuff in Blockers was within the boundaries of reasonable, with one exception: the butt chug scene they hint at in the trailers. I mean… really?

John Cena definitely has some comedy acting chops. He’s the best thing about this movie, but the three main adults all have pretty good chemistry together. The kids are way less interesting, but Geraldine Viswanathan, Cena’s daughter in the movie, gives a confident and promising performance. She might be worth keeping an eye on. The other two girls were more or less forgettable in their roles.

I don’t have much else to say about Blockers. It’s a decent and entertaining comedy, with a touch of heart to it, but nothing anyone needs to see.

Replay Value: I can’t imagine wanting to see this again.

Sequel Potential: Blockers has basically doubled its budget, but it’s not exactly a huge hit either. There’s certainly no need for a sequel, but if this crushed at the box office they would obviously make one.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Dina Meter: I’m honestly not sure. I think it was entertaining enough that Dina would enjoy it, but it’s not like she’s missing out if she never watches it.

6/10 (Fun)

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The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

February 14, 2017

Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis
Director: Chris McKay

Bottom Line: The LEGO Batman Movie is a fun spin-off from the surprisingly touching and brilliant The LEGO Movie of 2014. This film takes Will Arnett’s Batman and plants him firmly in Gotham City, where the Caped Crusader is a celebrated vigilante that basks in his glory while in the limelight but returns to his lonely cave beneath Wayne manor where his loyal butler Alfred and The BatComputer are his only true friends in the world.

Most of the plot in this movie revolves around Batman’s longstanding rivalry with The Joker and how he downplays that relationship and makes The Joker feel unimportant, so Joker tries to unravel a scheme that will prove he is, in fact, Batman’s greatest rival.

The LEGO Batman Movie is definitely nonstop fun and will have most people laughing throughout its entire running time, but it’s not nearly as emotionally captivating as The LEGO Movie was, and probably not as funny either.

Still, it’s not going to disappoint true BatFans. There are plenty of callbacks to Batman’s previous film appearances and his rogues gallery is as well represented as it can possibly be, with all his most prominent enemies (and some totally obscure ones) getting a moment or two in the spotlight.

Will Arnett and Michael Cera are perfect casting as Batman and Robin, giving hysterical vocal performances. The rest of the cast is pretty good too, with one exception, and it’s a pretty critical one: Zach Galifianakis made for a surprisingly subdued and boring Joker. There were moments where I thought I liked the direction he was taking things, but ultimately, I found myself a little disappointed with how straight forward his portrayal was – this Joker is lacking in energy and flair.

As a huge Batman fan and a big fan of The Lego Movie, I had hefty expectations for this movie and it didn’t really disappoint. It’s definitely 90 minutes of fun, but it’s missing that extra layer of depth that turns a merely good movie into a special one. Still, The LEGO Batman Movie is a worthy spin-off and should make for a fun time for all ages.

Replay Value: Most things Batman are a must own for me.
Sequel Potential: The Lego Movie sequel is scheduled for 2019 and would likely feature Batman again. This movie made over $50 million its first weekend and should have some decent legs, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it gets its own sequel.
Oscar Potential: A Best Animated Feature contender only and it’s far too early to know how competitive that category will be.

Grade: 6.5/10 (recommended/highly enjoyable)

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Don’t Think Twice (2016)

February 6, 2017

Starring: Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia
Director: Mike Birbiglia

Bottom Line: Written, directed, and starring Mike Birbiglia, Don’t Think Twice takes a look at what life is like for a group of mid-level improv comedians in New York City trying to break through to the next level – in this case, a “Saturday Night Live” type show called “Weekend Live” – and what happens when one of them does exactly that.

As a poker player, I could actually relate to a lot of what was happening in this movie. Not everyone is created equally. Some people are just naturally gifted. Others work their butts off to become great at their craft. Some people can’t reach elite status no matter how hard they try and then there’s a type of person that just expects things to go their way despite a total lack of effort.

There’s a lot of this dynamic going on in Don’t Think Twice. Keegan-Michael Key plays Jack Mercer, the most naturally gifted in the improv group, and also the sole member to find himself cast in “Weekend Live.” Naturally, the rest of the group wants to piggyback on his success and Jack quickly discovers how difficult it is for the rookie to start asking for favors. And truly, the only group member he really wants to help out is his girlfriend (Jacobs).

It’s interesting watching this group of people that support one another so enthusiastically at the beginning of the film succumb to jealousy when one of their friends finally makes it. At least that’s the case with Mike Birbiglia’s character Miles, the group leader and Jack Mercer’s first improv teacher. As his former mentor, Miles naturally thinks he’s directly responsible for Jack’s success and can’t really wrap his head around why “Weekend Live” wouldn’t want him too.

Don’t Think Twice was my first time seeing Keegan-Michael Key (of “Key and Peele”) and Gillian Jacobs (of “Community”) act in a feature film and I was mostly pleased with their performances. Everybody gets some funny moments, but Key actually gets to show off some dramatic acting chops, while Jacobs isn’t given much to separate herself from the Britta character we already know and love.

One of the better scenes in the film finds the group watching Jack’s first appearance on “Weekend Live” and lamenting on how bad the show is now and wondering if it was ever good, or it just seemed that way because they were 12… which is pretty much how everyone in their mid-30s feels about “Saturday Night Live” now.

Don’t Think Twice is a satisfying dramedy that will make you laugh and possibly make you cry. I wish there were more improv scenes and that those scenes were more diverse, but alas, they are still pretty good. I appreciated the fact that Don’t Think Twice managed to be funny without relying on much low brow humor. If you’re expecting nonstop laughs, you might be disappointed. Instead, you’re just going to have to settle for a well-rounded film full of heart.

Replay Value: I liked it, but I’m not eager to see it again.
Sequel Potential: I would say zero.
Oscar Potential: No nominations.

Grade: 7/10 (highly enjoyable)

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The Edge Of Seventeen (2016)

December 17, 2016

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson,
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig

Bottom Line: The Edge Of Seventeen is one of the better coming-of-age films I’ve seen in years. Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine, a high school junior that feels like the whole world is against her, particularly after one of the few people that can relate to her, her father, passes away. Things are really turned upside down when her only friend begins dating her brother. While I can’t particularly relate to Nadine’s story, I do feel like the script paints an accurate picture of what it’s like to be a teenager – from feeling like your parents don’t understand you at all, to thinking of your sibling as your enemy, to making consistently poor decisions… basically, thinking of nobody but yourself. The Edge Of Seventeen features some amazing acting from the whole cast, but it’s no surprise that Hailee Steinfeld gives another performance worth of Oscar consideration. Having just turned 20, with multiple great performances under her belt already, Steinfeld has established herself as the number one actress 20 or younger. I found a lot of the situations in The Edge Of Seventeen to be quite authentic, like how Nadine swoons over the one dimensional guy she doesn’t know because she finds him attractive while putting the nerdy guy she actually relates to on the back burner. Even though I liked Woody Harrelson in his role as Nadine’s teacher, their relationship felt like a bit of a stretch. Do teenage girls ever share their pornographic text messages with their teachers and ask for advice? Especially when said teacher is a man? I’m thinking no.

There was very little not to like about The Edge Of Seventeen. It was interesting, frequently hilarious, and tells a complete story. Plus it features a ton of amazing acting. It’s not quite a must see film, but I found it very enjoyable.

Replay Value: I will enjoy watching it a second time.
Sequel Potential: I think that would be weird.
Oscar Potential: Steinfeld got a Golden Globe nom, but the Oscar buzz has been quieter. I think she’s deserving, but I haven’t seen all the best performances. A SAG snub is a bad sign.

Grade: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Ghostbusters (2016)

July 25, 2016

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
Director: Paul Feig (Spy, The Heat, Bridesmaids)

Bottom Line: Honestly, I thought this was going to be a huge bust and it wound up being a pleasant surprise. The casting in this movie wasn’t bad news to me, but I thought the trailer looked terrible. Fortunately, the team that was responsible for Bridesmaids – director Paul Feig and actresses Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy – once again find a successful blend of comedy and charm, reinvigorating a dormant franchise that has long been in need of a reboot. But an all female reboot? Why not! It works just fine, as Wiig and McCarthy are two of the strongest comedic actresses working today and they are as solid and funny as expected here, plus SNL’s Kate McKinnon absolutely steals the show in what I believe is her first major film role. She’s so funny we will probably all hate her in about 5 years due to overexposure. Chris Hemsworth is also a fun addition, hamming it up in the part of dimwitted secretary. Part of my concerns with the trailer were that the special effects looked overwhelming, ala Superman Vs. Batman, but all the supernatural hoopla fits in perfectly.

2016’s version of Ghostbusters isn’t going to blow anyone’s mind, but it’s a worthy successor to the – let’s be honest here – overrated original. That film is unfairly hailed as a classic when it probably tops out at slightly above enjoyable, which is pretty much what you can expect from this movie. The good news is we should all be looking forward to new adventures with this team of Ghostbusters.

Replay Value: Fun enough that I’d watch it at least one more time.
Sequel Potential: This reboot should reinvigorate the franchise for years to come.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 5.5/10 (Watchable/Recommended)

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21 Jump Street (2012)

August 11, 2012

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller (Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs)

Quick Thoughts: Through mid-August 21 Jump Street is still easily the funniest movie of 2012 with several laugh out loud moments, a refreshing and self-aware script, hilarious performances from Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Rob Riggle, and Ice Cube, and one of the all-time best surprise cameos. One of the more enjoyable and surprising films of the year.

Viewings: 2
Replay Value: Still hilarious the second time through.
Sequel Potential: It would honestly be bad business not to keep this franchise going. Update: Sequel is already being written and filming begins in September 2013.
Oscar Potential: None.
Nudity: Surprisingly… none.
Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 85% Audience: 86%
IMDB Rating: 7.3/10
Recommendation: As far as comedies go, this is pure gold. 21 Jump Street follows in the footsteps of 2009’s Star Trek and 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes as surprisingly excellent remakes.

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The Change-Up (2011)

December 19, 2011

Starring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde, Leslie Mann
Director: David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers)

Quick Thoughts: The Change-Up is really just a rehash of things Freaky Friday, Trading Places, and, to some extent, Big have all already done more successfully. In the film, family man Jason Bateman and womanizing, weed smoking, and soft-core porn star Ryan Reynolds switch bodies after urinating in a magical fountain together and wishing they had the life of the other. After the film opened with Bateman’s character getting a mouthful of diarrhea while changing diapers, I was fully expecting to hate this movie, but wound up finding it moderately endearing and somewhat watchable. We’re not breaking new ground here and the level of comedy doesn’t make up for that, but the film isn’t the train wreck I was anticipating. The best aspect of the movie is being able to see Bateman play against type when his body is possessed by Reynolds’ foul-mouthed, free living persona. The film has some funny and charming moments, and while it’s nothing I’d really recommend, it’s not a total waste of time either.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Questionably worth one viewing.
Sequel Potential: Shouldn’t have any.
Nudity: Leslie Mann gets naked. Oliva Wilde does not. Bad beat.
Grade: 3.5/10 (Skip It/Netflix It)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 24% Audience: 52%
IMDB Rating: 6.4/10
Recommendation: A decent comedy that is a little better than expected, but probably still not worth your time.

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Bridesmaids (2011)

June 6, 2011

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne
Director: Paul Feig (“The Office”, “Arrested Development”)

Quick Thoughts: It’s a shame people are mistaking Bridesmaids for a chick flick. Sure, the film has mostly female characters and the plot centers around a wedding, but this is a movie that continues the recent trend of really strong R-rated comedies, following in the footsteps of Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and I Love You, Man. And perhaps it’s the best of the bunch.

Kristen Wiig displays an acting range I didn’t think she was capable of. Between her small film roles and her current run on “Saturday Night Live,” I was a fan of her work, but she seemed to be a one-trick pony, often playing her characters with a holier-than-thou attitude coupled with a mixture of craziness and ditz. She didn’t seem to have much depth past that, but as Annie, an overwhelmed and self-destructive Maid-Of-Honor in Bridesmaids she gives a genuinely touching and hilarious performance. Wiig really hits all the marks in this movie, as her character suffers through the pressure of trying to organize her best friend’s wedding while her own life crumbles around her. The rivalry between Annie and the bride’s new, extremely wealthy and resourceful friend Helen (Rose Byrne) creates most of the film’s tension and also a lot of its laughs, as Helen’s success often challenges Annie’s self-esteem, providing lots of awkward moments for Wiig to display her patented one-upmanship. A lot of comedies add some sort of contrived conflict that its characters must overcome just because they’re supposed to, but in Bridesmaids Annie truly bottoms out and Wiig really goes through quite the range of emotions. It’s an impressive performance. One that will surely get the Golden Globes’ attention. Wiig has been a slowly rising talent the past half decade or so, but this is a breakout film for her and legitimate stardom may actually be in her future.

Wiig is supported in Bridesmaids by a pretty funny female cast. Fellow “SNL” alum Maya Rudolph and Elle Kemper of “The Office” aren’t given a whole lot to work with, but have some funny moments. Rose Byrne as Helen is a suitable antagonist: she’s gorgeous, rich, and mostly ignorant of her pretentious and snobbish behavior, giving her such a sense of naivety that you almost feel bad for her when she discovers that she’s the film’s villain. Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Reno 911”) is hilarious in a small role as one of the bridesmaids, providing most of her humor by constantly ragging harshly on her children and her retched life as a mother.

Obviously, this is Wiig’s movie, but if she’s Batman, then Melissa McCarthy is a worthy Robin. She plays Megan, the bride’s sister and a member of the bridal party. McCarthy has found some success on the CBS show “Mike & Molly” this year, a series that plays largely on the plus size bodies of its two main characters. As Molly on that show, McCarthy’s performance is pretty subdued, but she’s let loose in Bridesmaids and she’s much funnier than I expected. Megan teeters on the edge of sheer silliness but McCarthy manages to bring some heart to the role and makes a character that easily could have been annoying very enjoyable. She’s consistently hilarious throughout the film.

Bridesmaids is everything you want out of a quality comedy. Strong, funny performances from the important actresses and a pretty incredible script from Wiig and co-writer Annie Mumolo. It’s a shame that The Hangover Part II is cruising past $200 million in domestic revenue while this film has roughly half that gross in twice as many weeks of release because Bridesmaids is not only a far superior film, it’s also much, much funnier.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: A must own comedy with tons of replay value.
Sequel Potential: These characters would be worth seeing again, but it’s usually a mistake to make sequels to this kind of film since continuing the story will usually be forced and unbelievable. However, the film has performed well enough to warrant a sequel, economically speaking.
Oscar Potential: Through the first quarter of the year, Wiig has given 2011’s best performance I’ve seen, but comedies are mostly ignored come Oscar time. The script might have a shot at a nomination though.
Nudity: The movie opens with a pretty gratuitous sex scene, but no nudity.
Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 88% Audience: 88%
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
Recommendation: At the time of publishing this, Bridesmaids is easily the best movie I’ve seen this year. A very charming and funny comedy with breakout performances from Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy.

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The Hangover Part II (2011)

June 1, 2011

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zack Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong
Director: Todd Phillips (Due Date, The Hangover, Old School)

Quick Thoughts: I feel like I’ve seen this movie. Wait… I think it was called The Hangover and it came out in 2009. Sorry Todd Phillips, but no one roofied my Mountain Dew at the theater and I actually remember already seeing this same story. That’s essentially what The Hangover Part II is: a remake of a film that came out two years ago featuring the exact same actors. Sure, the setting is different–we’re in Bangkok this time–but the antics are only slight variations of what worked the first time around. Unfortunately, what made the original so good was how surprisingly funny the script was and the solid comedic performances from a breakthrough cast. Well, the element of surprise is gone for the sequel, giving the film a very bland flavor and a sense of “been there, done that.” Honestly, this film is such a rehash of the original that ninety minutes into it, I was shocked they hadn’t found a way to work Mike Tyson into the script yet… and then he “shocks” us by making an appearance at Stu’s wedding. Yawn.

Zack Galifianakis is still pretty funny as the sociopath Alan and Ken Jeong’s character is inexplicably written into a bigger role, but Bradley Cooper is stale and Ed Helms is basically reduced to jumping around like an idiot, although the film’s best sequence does involve Helms’ encounter with Thai hookers. I have to give credit to Jeong for his willingness to showcase what is possibly the smallest adult penis on the planet. That takes balls, and judging from his tiny package there’s not much physical evidence that he has any. Mason Lee plays Stu’s future brother-in-law Teddy, a 16 year academic prodigy that immediately becomes Alan’s enemy and a potential source of constant laughs, but he becomes this film’s Doug when he’s lost after the blackout and The Wolfpack spends the majority of the movie trying to locate him, wasting the film’s biggest opportunity for fresh humor.

If The Hangover was a laugh riot, its sequel is a mere chuckle fest. The first act drags quite a bit and the last two acts aren’t particular funny either. By a long shot, the funniest part of the movie is the end credits, when we again get to see the night in question play out through the various pictures taken. Phillips and co. struck pay dirt with The Hangover, but its sequel brings nothing new to the table.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Not much.
Sequel Potential: In 5 days, the film already surpassed the $100 million mark, but won’t benefit from the same great word-of-mouth that the original had so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it fall short of that film’s total gross. Regardless, it’s going to do well enough to warrant another sequel, which will probably be even more ridiculous and unoriginal than this one was.
Oscar Potential: None
Nudity: Tons… both female and male.
Grade: 4.5/10 (Netflix It/Worth Watching)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 35% Audience: 94%
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
Recommendation: There’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before. Guys looking for a good “bro” comedy are probably still better off going to see Bridesmaids, a film that has gotten the same unavoidable awesome word-of-mouth that the original Hangover received. Don’t take my word for it though, most people I’ve talked to loved this movie and the general public has rated it very favorably, so if you’re in the mood for a completely unimaginative and mindless comedy, this is probably right up your alley.