"If victory favors me, I will protect your child with my life."

"I ask you not to worry about that possibility. Because my son and I live on the Demon Way in Hell, we're prepared to descend into Hell through the Six Realms and Four Lives."

Archive for the ‘Comedy/Laffs’ Category

Happy Death Day 2U

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

HAPPY DEATH DAY was a well-executed take on a fun premise: a slasher GROUNDHOG DAY where mean sorority girl Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe, LA LA LAND) has to keep reliving her birthday until she figures out who the fuck keeps stabbing. As she investigates everybody around her she starts to understand their lives better and be nicer to them. Except the one who killed her, who she kicks out a window. I wished it had been Rated-R to take gory advantage of the “heroine dies repeatedly” gimmick, but they made it work, largely because Tree is such a compelling character. Like Bill Murray in that other time loop movie she gets to be a fun asshole, which is so rare for a female lead.

In the sequel we get to see a little bit of the creepy baby mask, but the mystery of who’s stalking her is pretty much irrelevant. Sure, they revisit it in alternate timelines where it’s different people behind the mask, but there’s not as much suspense to be wrung out of it, so it shifts a little away from the horror comedy and more into sci-fi comedy, again made fun by the character of Tree and the performance of Rothe. If anything she’s even a little better in this one. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vice

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

When I heard writer/director Adam McKay was doing a movie with Christian Bale (TERMINATOR SALVATION) playing Dick Cheney, I couldn’t picture what that would be, but I assumed I would love it. The former Saturday Night Live writer has much more experience in beloved Will Ferrell comedies than in Serious Important Movies, but I enjoyed THE BIG SHORT‘s novel and audacious attempt to make entertainment out of explaining the early 2000s housing bubble. Many worship ANCHORMAN or STEP BROTHERS, but for me it’s TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY that makes me laugh no matter which part I rewatch for the one-thousandth time on cable. Maybe people don’t think of it this, way, but to me it’s the best pop culture portrait of what was going on in our country during the Bush years. So I figured McKay had good instincts about this stuff. (read the rest of this shit…)

Green Book

Monday, January 28th, 2019

I was excited when I first heard of GREEN BOOK – a two-hander teaming two actors I love, Viggo Mortensen (AMERICAN YAKUZA) and Mahershala Ali (PREDATORS). I wanted to see that. And a true story drama but directed by Peter THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY Farrelly? That’s interesting. It wasn’t until I saw the second trailer that I had a sinking feeling of oh shit, is this some kind of respectability-politics-cures-racism bullshit? Oh no Viggo, what did you do? And then I started seeing really harsh reviews supporting those fears.

It was only after I saw the movie and tried to read up on it that I found out some relatives of Dr. Don Shirley, the classical pianist who Ali plays, strongly object to the movie. I’ve been struggling with this review since before the movie won the Best Comedy or Musical Golden Globe, which is when the good pitchforks were taken out of the china cabinet and sharpened. Now it’s also nominated for the best picture Oscar, taking up that bad guy slot as the movie that all cynical people assume will win and show how out of touch Hollywood is about race. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bad Santa 2

Friday, December 21st, 2018

We’re mostly agreed these days that BAD SANTA is a timeless Christmas classic, right? I have friends and loved ones who it’s too mean for, and it got brutal critical reception at the time, done no favors by Miramax insisting on more ball punching and shit so the theatrical and “BADDER SANTA” cuts could fit some lowbrow comedy marketing strategy that must’ve worked for them on SCARY MOVIE or something. The superior director’s cut has been available for years now, and now I watch that and mourn the loss of one dumb joke from the theatrical ending:

But in any of its incarnations, BAD SANTA makes me laugh so much and channels so much of my most negative thoughts that it’s one of the few movies I can watch once a year without getting tired of it. Willie (Billy Bob Thornton, THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE) is a funny asshole for the ages, a burnt out piece of shit full of self-loathing and even more full of loathing-others. His caustic wit and self-destructive behavior died for our sins, transforming humanity’s worst tendencies into wise ass Yuletide fuck yous both deserved and undeserved, but in a forum where no one can be hurt. He uses his asshole powers for good in his dealings with treacherous Marcus (who can dish it out too) or Bernie Mac’s quietly scheming “store dick.”

After so many viewings I sometimes find myself teary-eyed at Willie’s realization that Thurman (Brett Kelly, TRICK ‘R TREAT) cut himself while carving his weird Christmas gift, and at his attempt to return the favor before being gunned down by police. The smallness of the gesture to me makes it more authentic and in turn puts this jerk in line with more severe holiday transformations like Scrooge‘s or The Grinch’s. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jack Frost

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

I don’t know why it took me more than 20 years, but I’ve finally seen JACK FROST, “not the Michael Keaton one, the other one,” as writer/director Michael Cooney says in his introduction to the (surprisingly) lovingly remastered Blu-Ray from Vinegar Syndrome. “The Michael Keaton one” (1998) is about a guy who tries to be a better father after dying and coming back as a snow man. “The other one” (1997) is the DTV horror movie about a serial killer who tries to continue serial killing after becoming a snowman.

He’s a crazy asshole on death row who actually does have the name Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald, LAST ACTION HERO). He tries to escape while being transported through Snowmonton, the small town where a small town sheriff (Christopher Allport, SAVAGE WEEKEND, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., INVADERS FROM MARS) ended his cross country murder spree. But a truck full of some chemical from a super secret experiment – I don’t know, some Marvel Comics shit – explodes onto Jack and melts him into shriveled meat and his soul is transformed into liquid form or something so he is able to reconstitute himself into snow. And then, while coming after Sheriff Tiler for revenge, he ends up with coal eyes, a carrot nose, a scarf, stick eyebrows and sometimes a pipe. No magic hat required. (read the rest of this shit…)

Blindspotting

Monday, December 10th, 2018

BLINDSPOTTING follows BLACK PANTHER and SORRY TO BOTHER YOU to complete 2018’s Oakland cinema trilogy. The home of Too Short, MC Hammer and Digital Underground has been making big moves on screen this year with these three unrelated groups of artists. This is the one written by and starring two life long friends and spoken word/poet/rapper type guys, Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, who (among other things) were in a group called The Getback together.

Diggs and Casal play Collin and Miles, best friends and life long Oakland residents. Collin has recently been released after an at-first-not-specified felony. The days left on his probation are used as a countdown and we watch in constant dread of some dumb thing putting him back in. The problem is perfectly illustrated in the early scene where he’s in the back seat of a friend’s car and Miles, riding shotgun, finds an actual gun between the seats and thinks it’s funny to start waving it around. Collin wants no part of it and wants out but it’s a two-seater and they ignore his pleas. He should be furious but he has a bleak sense of humor about it because Miles is as funny and charming as he is a total fuckin dumbass. But he’s kind of the Bishop in JUICE of this movie, the ticking time bomb of bad influence. And I’m sure he would take that as a compliment. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dead Man On Campus

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

August 21, 1998

is when BLADE came out and changed both cinema and humanity forever. But I already wrote the definitive review of that so here I am reviewing DEAD MAN ON CAMPUS.

It turns out maybe the comedies that come out in August are not essential to a summer movie retrospective. That’s a lesson I’m learning. I actually saw DEAD MAN ON CAMPUS at the time, but I realize now that I was conflating my memory of it with IDLE HANDS. I knew it was a different movie, but I thought it was another supernatural teen horror comedy. It was about half an hour in before I realized oh shit, he’s not gonna turn into a zombie. This is that movie where they find out their college has an obscure rule that if your roommate commits suicide then they have to give you straight As (just go with it) so they try to find an unstable roommate and push him to the brink. The kind of movie that should just have a disclaimer and a 1-800 number running across the screen throughout like a watermark on a critic’s screener. (read the rest of this shit…)

Baseketball

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Okay, I’m not gonna look up who it was, and I forgive you, but somebody asked me to include BASEKETBALL in this series, and I’m a people pleaser, so I watched it. I hope you’re happy.

You see, the idea of BASEKETBALL is that it’s like baseball, and yet also it’s like basketball. That’s why it’s called baseketball. The first syllable is the first syllable of the word “baseball” and the second and third syllables are the second and third syllables of the word “basketball.” But the thing is those are usually two totally different sports. That’s why combining them into one is silly silly laughs for everyone. It makes no sense!

Okay, to be fair, this was not originally intended as a topic for a movie. Apparently director David Zucker and friends made up the sport and played it for ten years and it became a big thing in their neighborhood (“inspired by a true story” say the production notes), and maybe he looked into the abyss and the abyss looked back at him so he thought it was acceptable as an idea for a movie. Or maybe he just wanted a movie for his friends to watch. (read the rest of this shit…)

There’s Something About Mary

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

I forgot to mention in the SMALL SOLDIERS and PI reviews that LETHAL WEAPON 4 also came out that week. Then…

July 15, 1998

We all know the studios can be pretty cynical and obvious in the summer time. When you’re dumping millions upon millions of dollars into these cinematic behemoths that are gonna battle it out for supremacy of Blockbuster Island, you’re usually gonna lean toward easier bets – an old TV show or character people recognize, an easy to explain spectacle. Industrial light and mayhem. Disaster movies seemed like the thing after INDEPENDENCE DAY and TITANIC, so in Summer of ’98 we got the comet and the asteroid and the name brand giant monster, and it’s not that surprising that ARMAGEDDON would be the #1 grossing movie worldwide, or that GODZILLA would be #3. (That a war drama would be in between them was a little less predictable, but then again it was Steven Spielberg directing Tom Hanks.)

When an original comedy comes in at #4, though, that means something. That’s one that has to be earned. THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, the Farrelly Brothers’ followup to KINGPIN, was an R-rated comedy with dick and semen jokes that somehow seemed a little elevated by their audaciousness, and it fucked up the zeitgeist way harder than Godzilla did New York. Laughs do matter.

Ben Stiller (HIGHWAY TO HELL) plays the hapless male lead Ted Stroehmann, and I mean he is completely devoid of hap. Sure, in the 1985 prologue (adult Stiller playing a 16 year old with a wig and braces is a treat) he does hap into a prom date with radiant babe Mary Jensen (Cameron Diaz [THE COUNSELOR], previously seen in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS), but before they even leave her house a series of mishaps mishappen, and he misses the actual prom on account of public penis injury. (read the rest of this shit…)

Eighth Grade

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

EIGHTH GRADE is a beautifully true high definition close-up on the most awkward of ages. You don’t feel like a kid anymore, but the high schoolers you’re about to be tossed in with seem like adults, and you haven’t even caught up with the kids your own age. If you’re Kayla (Elsie Fisher, a voice in the DESPICABLE ME film saga) you pride yourself on knowing how to conquer life – in fact your hobby is creating Youtube videos giving friendly, positive advice – but really you feel like every single other person knows what they’re doing and you don’t.

The movie isn’t in first person, like I’m describing it here, but it’s almost that intimate. So much of it stays close on her face, the kids around her a little out of focus. From her terrified expressions you can feel her chest about to implode with tension, but you can also tell that nobody notices. They’re off in their own world. They don’t even look at her.

For my money this is an improved grade of WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE. It captures the nightmare of social awkwardness without having to exaggerate the ugliness of the world. It’s not mean. It’s real. Sure, there’s cringing, but it’s organic cringing, not pushed-to-the-limit cringing like we enjoy in Curb Your Enthusiasm and stuff. The events are mostly mundane – a birthday party where she doesn’t fit in, a trip to the mall with older kids – but they feel as heavy and monumental as they would at that age. (read the rest of this shit…)