Friday, August 21, 2015

The Quick and the Dirties: Lovable Losers


Every now and again we like to do things quick and dirty around these parts. That's exactly what we're gonna do today. I'm going to give a quick once-over to a bunch of movies. The theme for this edition is lovable losers. In other words, these are all comedies about underdog type guys. We've got a lot of ground to cover so let's just get right to it.


Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
(2015)
Six years after single-handedly saving the mall in the first film, Paul Blart (Kevin James) is going through some tough times. His wife has left him and his mom was killed when she gets hit by a truck. Things seem to be looking up when he gets invited to a swanky mall cop convention. There's some bad guys, something about his daughter going to college, and a love interest thrown in for good measure. I think. I dunno. I hated this shit.


Cuban Fury
(2014)
As a youngster, Bruce (Nick Frost) was a champion salsa dancer. When the other boys in his neighborhood catch wind of this they beat him up because, well, male dance. He promptly gives up on his passion, vowing to never dance again. Fast-forward twenty-five years. Bruce is an office drone. His new boss Julia (Rashida Jones) is a beautiful woman so, of course, he falls instantly in love with her and starts sizing up his chances to go out with her. He has two things working against him. He's not any good with the ladies and the resident party dude, Drew (Chris O'Dowd), is and also has eyes for Julia. When our hero finds out she loves salsa dancing, Bruce sets out to get his groove back in order to impress her. Hilarity ensues. Sorta. It's all pretty standard rom-com stuff, but it does include a few minutes that are downright knee-slapping funny. Most of these revolve around Bruce re-learning to dance and are aided greatly by a perfect Ian McShane as his coach. Occasionally, the competition between Bruce and the obnoxious Drew also pays dividends. It's not a bad movie, at all. It's actually pretty good. You just might not remember a ton of it.


School Dance
(2014)
Jason (Bobb'e J. Thompson) is the resident school nobody. To become somebody, he starts hanging out with the cool kids who happen to also be an aspiring rap group called The Ranger$. They're even the odds-on favorites to win the talent competition portion of the school dance later tonight. They do have some competition in the form of the Sweet Girls, an all-girl singing group. The Sweet Girls happen to be led by Anastacia (Kristinia DeBarge), the girl of Jason's dreams. Add in a subplot about some Mexican drug dealers trying to kill one of The Ranger$, and almost random bit parts for Kevin Hart, George Lopez, Mike Epps, Patrick Warburton, Katt Williams, Luenell, and Amber fucking Rose and we're ready to roll. Or not. Sigh. Seriously, I deserve some sort of medal for watching this one. Either that, or I should seek professional help. I mean, the opening credits makes it clear that this film was written, directed, and produced by Nick Cannon. And I didn't cut it off.


Teacher of the Year
(2014)
Mitch Carter (Matt Letscher) just won the Teacher of the Year award for the state of California. This brings him to the attention of a national teaching organization. They offer him a high paying job as a lobbyist in Washington D.C. What to do? What to do? While he mulls it over, we follow him and some of other school faculty around school for a few day, This is a cute movie, with some fun performances. Keegan-Michael Key as the incompetent principal and Jamie Kaler as the uber-competitive robotics teacher fare best. For those of us who work in education, there is a well of truth, making it that much more enjoyable. We can bump it up a notch. For the rest of us, it's not the greatest movie in the world, but not a bad way to spend eighty minutes.


Stretch
(2014)
If you've ever had a mortgage or a car loan, you know that the company we have to make payments to occasionally changes without our knowledge. We get a letter in the mail after the fact informing us that the loan once held by All Up In Yo' Pockets Financial is now owned by Eff You Pay Me, LLC. Usually, things stay the same for us, but every once in a while the new company does things differently. this is where Stretch (Patrick Wilson) finds himself. Kinda. His change becomes a life or death situation because his debt is a gambling one which changed hands from one loan shark to a much more ruthless one. He had been making regular payments on it and has gotten it down to $6000. The problem is that the new guy wants it all now. Right now, or our hero will die at the end. Stretch has until midnight to come up with the cash. Luckily for him, he works as a limo driver. Not that he normally makes enough money for this not to be an issue. It just so happens that he picks up a well known billionaire known to leave exorbitant tips to drivers who perform well. Of course, things aren't easy because the rich dude is very Eccentric, capital E for emphasis. A really wild night ensues. Some of it is really funny, some isn't. All of it is carried by a perfectly over the top (and uncredited) Chris Pine in the billionaire role. Imagine if his version of Captain Kirk were completely unhinged having been relieved of all duties, grew out a long, scraggly beard, and had goo gobs of money lying around. It's a fun and crazy flick with some excellent cameos from David Hasselhoff and Ray Liotta. This is the rare movie I actually want a prequel for. Ed Helms plays a guy who was a co-worker of Stretch's before blowing his own brains out. Why that is dominates the opening sequence. When you see that, you'll understand where I'm coming from.


Hot Tub Time Machine 2
(2015)
Following the events of the first Hot Tub Time Machine, the guys have used their knowledge of pop culture to become rich and famous. Nick (Craig Robinson) has become a music superstar and Lou (Rob Corddry) started out as that, but has become a multi-media mogul. He still a jerk who torments everyone around him, especially his son Jacob (Clark Duke). At one of Lou's lavish parties, someone shoots him square in the dick because this is the type of movie that would make a joke out of that sort of thing. Anyhoo, rather than going to the hospital even though Lou is bleeding to death, our three heroes decide to jump back in the hot tub. The plan is to go back in time and stop the guilty party, whom they still have to find, from firing the fatal shot. However, they wind up going forward to the year 2025 where they are joined by Adam (Adam Scott). Trying to find Lou's killer ensues. This is a hit and mostly miss endeavor. There are a few hilarious moments mixed into long stretches of flat jokes and plot holes. John Cusack, who was roped into the first one, decided to skip this one. If you do the same, you won't be missing anything.


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10 comments:

  1. I saw the first 10 minutes of Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 (I have U-verse and they do these things) and.... it was fucking pathetic. I liked the first one but man, that was awful.

    I want to see Cuban Fury because of Nick Frost. I heard awful things about Hot Tub Time Machine 2 so yeah, I'll skip that. As for School Dance... yeah. I'll skip that too as anything involving Kevin Hart is a fuckin' NO!!!!

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    1. I'd say give Cuban Fury a chance. It's not bad. I know School Dance isn't for you. That goes double since he's bad, but hardly the worst thing about it.

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  2. I heard Cuban Fury was better than it looks, so I'll have to check it out. I like Rashida Jones, so that helps. Teacher of the Year also looked good - both my parents were in education so I've heard all the background stuff. If Chris Pine is really fun in Stretch I might have to see it. I just wish Patrick Wilson would get better parts/films. He's so freaking talented. And gorgeous.

    School Dance looks cut... HOLD. THE. PHONE. Written, produced, and DIRECTED by Nick freaking Cannon? NO. Definitely no. Positively no. Decidedly no. Uh uh.

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    1. CF was decent. Nice, light-hearted rom-com if you're looking for one. Pine is fun in Stretch.

      School Dance...yeah, skip that.

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  3. Cuban Fury was pleasant but you're right I don't remember a great deal of it. Teacher of the Year and Stretch sound worth checking out but I didn't like the first Hot Tub Time Machine, it was just too stupid. The commercials for the first Paul Blart annoyed me so I never saw it, I can't imagine I'd feel differently about the sequel.

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  4. I love Frost in Cuban Fury, he's just a lovable dude. Fun cameo too by his BFF Pegg at one point.

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    1. He is lovable. The only thing I hated about the Pegg is that it made me realize he wasn't in the rest of the movie.

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  5. Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 were both horrible. When are filmmakers going to get it through their heads that the same jokes that may have worked for their first movies AREN'T guaranteed to work for a sequel. Teacher of the Year looks intriguing, I'm going to have to check that one out one of these days.

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    1. Sigh. You know how it goes. Anything that makes money is a prime candidate for a sequel in which the first film is just rehashed. Teacher of the Year is now streaming on Netflix.

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