Yup, we're going with The Quick & Dirties twice in the same week...and with the same theme. That's fitting since we're starting this post in pretty similar place as the previous post. Let's do it.
(2016)Just before their 20-year high school reunion, Robbie (Dwayne Johnson) reaches out to Calvin (Kevin Hart) and the two hook up for some drinks. It's a bit awkward since the two weren't really friends back in school. Calvin was All-Everything in school, athletically and academically, while Robbie was the fat kid everyone picked on. Now, Calvin is a successful accountant, but not really happy with his career while Robbie is The Rock. Oh, and he joined the CIA. There's just one little problem. Robbie is on the run because he is wanted for treason. Before he knows it, Calvin is dragged into this mess and can't escape. Not surprisingly, he finds out there's much more to the story, and away we go. Basically, it's the inverse of the Ride Along movies. That said, Central Intelligence is solidly entertaining and far better than RA2. The action is pretty decent and The Rock lights up the screen. It's he, not Hart, that has most of the movie's funniest moments. Chemistry between the two is a little weird. They don't so much share the screen, they take turns giving solos in the spotlight. The issue is that neither guy is playing the "straight" role. Both are in clown mode all the way through, save for The Rock going The Rock during action scenes. There's no inventing the wheel, here. It's a fun, but disposable action-comedy that gives us a few laughs and a few eye-rolls as it breezes by and quickly disappears into the ether.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
(2015)Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) is a pathologist with more degrees than a thermometer. He takes his job so seriously the autopsies he performs are likened to art dedicated to helping the dead reveal their secrets to him. One day, the boy of Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Webster lands on Dr. Omalu's table after Webster commits suicide. When the autopsy reveals nothing that matches what's known about Webster Omalu decides to dig deeper, much to the chagrin of his co-workers. What he discovers, and later names, is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE for short, a brain disease only detectable after someone's death that affects people who suffer repeated head trauma, such as football players. He publishes his findings and then the NFL tries to shut him up. This is based on a true story. It's an intriguing film about an intriguing subject, especially for (American) football fans. Omalu's discovery and the subsequent legitimization of it have become the single biggest threat to the and very existence of the game. Will Smith gives a fin performance in the lead role. Alec Baldwin aids him with an excellent supporting turn. Unfortunately, like the profession of our hero, the film is cold and clinical. We're never drawn in enough to gain real empathy beyond a brief moment involving his pregnant wife Prema (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). It doesn't help that shortly after this, she disappears from the movie for quite some time. The talented Mbatha-Raw is wasted in the role. Another part of the problem is that once her big moment has slipped by, the personal stakes don't really seem that high for our hero, regardless of whatever threats and legal tactics the NFL employs. Other opportunities to get us emotionally involved are lost by making caricatures of all the football players by limiting our interactions with them to the moments just before their unfortunate suicides. In some cases, these scenes play like they were spliced in from a horror flick. When it's all said and done, it's not a bad movie. It's just one that fails to get us to invest in the well-being of its characters.
(2015)Brad (Will Ferrell) is a happy-go-lucky guy with a brand new wife. He has taken on the responsibility of being stepdad to her two kids and is perfectly fine being ever-so-slowly accepted by them. That process threatens to grind to a halt when their real dad calls them out of the blue and it's decided he's coming by tomorrow morning. His name is Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and he is the exact of opposite of Brad. While Brad is the sensitive type into emotional bonding and smooth jazz, Dusty is pure machismo. Since Dusty is determined to get his spot back, the battle for the family's love is on. Ferrell and Wahlberg have really good chemistry. The movie wisely plays off it and is better for it. The endless stream of gags are hit-or-miss. What works does so because of our two stars. Story-wise, it's straight-forward and predictable. Thanks to the aforementioned stars, it never gets to the point of being a turnoff. There are a few more funny moments largely due to a riff on the wise Magical Negro in the form of Griff (Hannibal Burress), who is also quick to play the race card. Toss in a few more laughs involving Dylan (Owen Wilder Vaccaro), the socially awkward son. There are a couple stretches where the jokes aren't funny which makes it drag in a few places. It's also a bit odd Sara (Linda Cardellini), the woman Brad is married to and Dusty wants back, is essentially a third tier character with nothing to do but be pissed at both guys. All in all, it adds up to a solid, but not great bromance/rom-com that breezes by and doesn't overstay it's welcome.
(2015)Peter (Levi Miller), not yet called Peter Pan lives in an orphanage that would scare the crap out of Annie and can't help noticing that kids seem to vanishing from the place with no explanation. Soon enough, he finds out why that is as some peculiar characters swoop in from above, snatching up him and a number of the other orphans. They find themselves on a flying pirate ship and in a magical place called Neverland. Of course, this ship and seemingly everything else in this strange land is run by the tyrannical