Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Quick and Dirties: All is Lost, Need for Speed, Neighbors, Think Like a Man Too




It's time for another edition of "The Quick and Dirties." This is where I give you a few short reviews of movies I couldn't be bothered to think about too long. Some I like, some I don't. Here they are:


All is Lost
(2014)
Robert Redford is lost at sea all alone. Even worse than just being lost, his boat is falling apart. We watch as he frantically tries and fails miserably to repair his vessel. Even though our hero is the only animate object on the screen for nearly all of the running time, it's a captivating experience. It starts with Redford himself giving a truly great performance. It's also a spectacular looking movie using the wide angle shots to emphasize the protagonist's isolation and tight shots to emphasize the conditions under which he tries to survive. It all comes together to be a deeply metaphoric film about faith. All that said, I still don't know how I feel about this movie. My problem is that it's a thoroughly depressing film for all but a few seconds of its run-time. Your heart breaks repeatedly for this guy until all really is lost. Not sure if that few seconds saves it for me. Understandably, I hope, I'm not sure I want to go through with it again, either.


Need for Speed
(2014)
This should've been called Fast and Furious For Dummies. Or Vrooooom, Vrooooom, Ch-Chk, Vrooooom! Or Car Porn. By the way, ch-chk, is the switching of gears...never mind. What's it about? Some dude driving cross country for some odd...you know what? Who cares? Every second of it is rotten to the core. Am I complaining? Nope. I loved every second of it. Why? Because it's so bad, it's awesome!


Neighbors
(2014)
What do you do when a hard partying fraternity rents a house in your quiet suburb? If you're Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) you party with them, at first. Seeing how you have a baby to care for and other adult things to do, you can't make it a habit. In fact, you need them to quiet down most nights. Of course, they have no intentions of doing so. This means war. Hilarity ensues. In this case, I'm not being sarcastic when I say that. Many of the bits are genuinely funny. I know that Seth Rogen is a polarizing actor, but here I think he's more likable than usual. He's still giving us the Rogen persona, but he's in a position deserving of audience sympathy. As his opposite, Zac Efron also impresses, showing more comedic chops than I thought he possessed. Holding it all together is a wonderful turn by Rose Byrne. She gives one of 2014's best comedic performances. I wasn't expecting much going into this raunch-fest, but I actually laughed most of the way through.


Think Like a Man Too
(2014)
The crew from the first Think Like a Man realign for another battle of the sexes. Thankfully gone are the constant plugs for comedian Steve Harvey's self-help book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" which inspired the original. Also gone is much of the charm that made that one an enjoyable, if flawed, outing. In its place, we get pointless and seemingly constant narration by Kevin Hart, mostly punctuated by him saying his "in person" lines in the same heightened manner. It gets annoying fast. The biggest problem is that it tries to give us the same plot when it doesn't fit the people our heroes were at the end of the first film. For all of its shortcomings, the original is a movie all about the growth of each individual within this circle of friends. These are people deserving of a plot that starts with them at the point in their development with which the prior film ends. Instead, we get a lazy rehash. It's the same group of folks having the same exact issues. Only the couple played by Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson seem to have moved forward at all and, thus, they are the most enjoyable part of the picture. The only other thing that's changed is the setting. We're now in Las Vegas because the momma's boy (Terence J.) and the single mom (Regina Hall) are getting married. Giving the audience the same exact thing is an approach that works brilliantly in 22 Jump Street because it's right up front about it and its predecessor doesn't stress the growing maturity of its characters. This one lies to us by practically refusing to acknowledge the existence of the first movie, or at least pretends these people did not change as we were led to believe. Instead of coming off self-aware and skewering itself like the Jump Street sequel, this feels disingenuous and lazy. Really lazy. Did I mention lazy? And you wanna know what's worse than any of this? You see that pic above? The trailer promised me this and I didn't f'ing get it. Marketing assholes.


10 comments:

  1. Kevin Hart sucks. All he does is scream loud and acts like a little baby. I wanna slap that little midget.

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    1. I'm not a fan of his acting, either. Di like his stand up though. Here, he was at his most annoying. Easy on the midget jokes. I'm about the same height, sadly.

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    2. Yeah I wouldn't say that about you. If I was making short jokes at you, it's only because I like you.

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  2. Great feature! :) Your review of Need for Speed is hilarious.

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    1. Thanks. I just had a fun time watching a bad movie.

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  3. I'm with you all the way on the two I've seen, Neighbors and All is Lost. Neighbors is the funniest movie I've seen in YEARS.

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    1. Thanks. I'm not quite there on Neighbors, but it was very funny.

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  4. Hmmm, nothing here I'm remotely inclined to see. Maybe All is Lost but not really excited about watching Redford being lost at sea for 2+ hours though.

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    1. Understandable, though I will say that many hail "All is Lost" and Redford's performance as one of the year's best.

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