It’s Miller Time!!!!

Millers

 

Robbie K is back with another movie review and boy what a fun movie it is.  This time I share my thoughts on the latest comedy, We’re The Millers, a movie that seems to have fans raving.  With a cast of NBC veterans like Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, the funny factor for this movie seems potentially high, well that and the ridiculous plot the trailer hints at.  Yet many comedies prove to be rather stupid or so vulgar that they become garbage polluting the movie pool, yet still seem to be so popular.  What’s my verdict on this film?  Find out below.

 

In case you haven’t seen the trailers, We’re The Millers centers on dysfunctional family situations, which have been beaten to death in various media.  Yet the creative minds behind this movie managed to salvage this overused concept and instead give it a modern twist to make it enjoyable for the masses, while at the same time crossing into uncomfortable territory for some.  What is this twist?  Essentially a ridiculous adventure of a drug dealer named David Clark (Sudeikis) being sent to Mexico to pick up an obscene amount of drugs for his supplier (Ed Helms).  To achieve this rather risky operation, he decides to make a fake family consisting of a stripper (Anniston), an abandoned virgin (Will Poulter), and a runaway (Emma Roberts) to assist him crossing the border.  Sounds hilarious doesn’t it?

 

Well in truth I indeed laughed my head off at this movie that had a bit of comedy for all to enjoy and relish in.  While most comedies I prefer to watch are kiddier, involve bathroom humor, or clever uses of geekiness, We’re the Millers somehow had me laughing at the more mature and drug centered themes.  The sexual innuendos, awkward situations, and crossing into uncomfortable territory were gradually increased in intensity as the journey continued, instead of cranking the awkward level up to max at the very beginning.  Perhaps what I liked even more was the fact that all these situations were cleverly integrated into the façade of the dysfunctional family, instead of just having idiotic characters mouth of and randomly spouting out disgusting and awkward phrases.  Unlike many modern stoner/alcoholic comedies, this movie also broadens its humor to not just focus on sex and masturbation, but again cross into uncomfortable subjects without turning into an R rated light porno.  Was I the only one who enjoyed this?  Not even close, the entire audience laughed the night away at the constant insults, references, and reactions of the faux family and their surrounding cast.  Of course what also helps bring laughs is the stupidity of just about every cast member on set that allows the insanity to occur.  I’ll admit many of these things are jabs to humanity and the government, but it’s still fun and one hast to let go of how ridiculous the concept is.  Those who can’t, well take a break and look for another movie, as well as those who hate sexual and drug based comedy.

 

Of course no good comedy can be done without a good dialog and acting.  We’re the Millers definitely isn’t the best when it comes to these things, but it’s certainly built for the fun adventure to be had.  Sudeikis for once isn’t a complete pervert or idiot as I’ve found him to play in previous roles, and somehow curses his way past my low tolerance level to be funny, yet sometimes annoying.  I guess it’s the time limit David has keeping him grounded, as well as the predictable “story” forcing him to be a little more balanced and less stupid.  Roberts is enjoyable as well, not only very beautiful, but brings some edge to her insults that remind me of my roommate’s quips.  Yet for me, it has to be Poulter and Aniston who got me to laugh the hardest.  Poulter’s character Kenny is like a white Urkel, geeky, innocent, and big hearted, whose qualities counter the selfishness of the other three.  While some will find this annoying, this good Samaritan attitude keeps the comedy balanced and adapting as Kenny’s experiences, and in some cases inexperience, leads to the family having to shove their morals aside and do something funny to save the day.  Kenny also has a few embarrassing moments that will speak to geeks and 90’s pop junkies to have tears rolling down their eyes.  Aniston is just as good as she always does, using her beauty and talents to create a believable, and often-loveable character.  The actress uses her body, words, and reactions to drive every scene, often stealing the show and causing the most laughs for me.  Her ability to use sarcasm is fantastic; the way she slings her curses sparingly and well timed to get the most laughs and not be annoying.  The awkward moments I have mentioned often involve her in some way, and her character (Rose) does a great job adapting to the situation, while still requiring assistance to help her out.  Of course alone these characters are good, but together they really shine, and when combined with the extras, makes for a fun, albeit crude adventure.  As for the cursing, well this summer must have helped me develop a tolerance, but We’re the Millers dialog is full of many F bombs and other words I try not to say, though the dialog is not solely the foul mouthed slang.

 

            While definitely not a masterpiece in terms of story, character development, or really fantastic editing, We’re the Millers is very fun and enjoyable.  Many will love the ridiculous adventure, the stupid laughs, and the cheap blows Hollywood has prepared for us.  Go see it if you are looking for something fun, but avoid if you have lower tolerances for any of the things I’ve mentioned.  My scores for this movie are:

 

Comedy/Crime:  8.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

 

 

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Sea of Humor and Kid Fun,

Percy

            Another week, another movie, or movies I should say as four big projects release into the cinematic world.  My first review opens up with the latest book based adventure Percy Jackson and The Seas of Monster.  After the last film, I didn’t expect to see a sequel follow as fans were not impressed with their rendition, as well as the actors were outgrowing the ages they were supposed to play.  Thus, when I saw this announced I wondered what was in store.  What were the results?  Please read on to find out.

 

I’ll start this review by saying fans of the series need to do their best to either wipe the book from their memory temporarily or accept that they won’t follow Riordan’s timeline.  Sea of Monsters has once diverged and become a tale of its own, altering the course Jackson very drastically.  The tale of Thalia (Paloma Kwiatkowski) being revealed at the very beginning before we ever see Percy and the crew.  This didn’t bother me so much, but movie magic was only getting started as they turned a book that had many obstacle side trips into something much more linear.  Rather than overcoming obstacles to get to the destination, which sometimes as well contains hindrances to his quest, the movie decides to only have obstacles at the destination.  Where Riordan comes up with creative means to solve these problems with some suspense, the movie decides to use simplistic maneuvers (hack and slash) to solve most problems.  For kids they’ll love it, because it it’s exciting but not too intense, while others will be like that’s all to mighty terror.  Other unfortunate rewrites take key aspects of the story out that developed the characters and merely combines these ploys or merely references it in a side-glance.  I’m sure this is for time and budget purposes, but the purse strings need to come off a little more to get the balance right.  As for the endgame, well it’s very anticlimactic in my opinion, lacking intensity and merely hobbled together to get a conclusion, which hints at a third movie.

 

Despite the plot rewrite for kids and wavering attention though, the comedy is where this movie shines.  Director Thor Freudenthal and his team has injected humor into all of the characters, reflecting what the author of the series expertly did.  Every character has some type of funny quality to them that made me laugh, and blended together worked well to keep the tale fun and lighthearted.  Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) had the sidekick humor, making a fool of himself, shouting out an insult or two set up for jokes, and then somehow pull out a move that is impressive and yet humorous.  Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) while a bit out of balance, has a few quips that are timed well to lighten the mood, though usually it’s in response to Clarisse (Leven Rambin) the over competitive Ares heir.  This girl again has arrogant responses, but her humor comes in her shortcomings, where other characters have to pull her out of the fire.  Percy (Logan Lerman) our noble warrior even has a few well-timed lines thrown in to the mix, often a subtle phrase to sum up the feelings.  Yet the humor really shines in Tyson (Douglas Smith) and Mr. D (Stanley Tucci).  Tyson is sweet, big hearted, and loveable, but the team really altered his character to play a fool that somehow screws up in the funniest way.  While no Steve Urkle, the sunglass wearing fool has plenty of dialog that will have you laughing, yet not cross over into the clumsy mess of annoyance that often happens in the movie.  As for Mr. D., well Tucci’s humor has always tickled my funny bone, as he naturally adapts into this character and puts his charm into again well-timed lines.

 

Yet the humor could not cover up some of the other mistakes this movie has.  Acting wise it’s okay, but many of the characters are often too emotionally spoken out to be respected.  Most of the reactions involve simply screaming, or calling for an item, and when it comes time to share inner feelings, only Smith seems to have the means to deliver it.  Of course the acting/design of Luke has to be the worst, as Jake Abel seems to be an emotionless drone that just stares at the camera looking like Tom Petty.  When I saw Luke in this movie, I was like oh great it’s a male Bella, which doesn’t make for a great character when compared to other villains.

 

Acting isn’t the only thing to take a hit, as the CGI has been sacrificed to some other plot device, most likely the 3-D editing.  Many mythological forces are obviously fake, lacking any real detail, or depth to imaginary object.  While some creatures that lurk in the sea do has some nice polish and glow, there are a few big story characters that look cheap, fake, and yes kiddie.  I can’t elaborate more for fear of ruining, but let’s just say making every movie in 3-D where things pop out of you is getting old and cheesier with every attempt. 

 

Percy Jackson and The Sea of Monsters is a fun movie, and most likely will bring joy to the children it’s designed for.  Yet cheap tricks and creative laughs cannot save this movie from falling into the alright pile of the summer movies.  Purists of the book need to avoid this like the plague, because from the very beginning you’ll be screaming What the heck is this crap, from the beginning.  Those with an open mind can give it a shot, but I think this film is well worth the wait of Redbox or movie channels.  My scores for this film are:

 

Adventure/Family/Fantasy:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0-5.5

2 Guys make up 95% of 2 Guns

Denzel Washington an actor whose name can easily crowd a theater within minutes.  Mark Wahlberg another man whose popularity is skyrocketing in the countless roles he has landed.  What happens when you make a movie that pulls these two together?  You get five consecutive sold out shows, at least in the town I’m in at the moment.  Robbie K here with the latest review for you, this time focusing on the latest Comedy/Action/Crime film simply dubbed 2 Guns.  Can this dynamic duo of popular stars open the month with a good film, or have we got another mindless comedy to occupy an already saturated market.

 

You may have seen the trailer a number of times, 2 Guns opens awkwardly with the stars at a doughnut shop before robbing a bank.  After what looks to be a simple heist, the two get in a fight over the newly stolen money, revealing their secret jobs and leading to a whole lot of confusion and the promise of an interesting story.  Well guess what, the film opens up pretty much like that only a lot slower at first.  2 Guns takes quite a bit to set up the operation, surprisingly introducing some big key players in a sluggish pace.  When the robbery occurs thirty minutes later, the pace picks up and the story finally starts to kick off… until it once again hits a wall and starts to drag.  Soon the movie is about an hour in and the mystery behind the crime starts to set into place, (something I figured out about twenty minutes early), into a surprisingly shallow and lackluster explanation that for me was disappointing in so many ways.  With a crime movie I expect more motive, more suspense, and more mystery, but this movie removed a lot of that and gave a thin skeleton of a plot.  Some may say it’s real, and too the point, but reality doesn’t mean it has to be simple, since many government agent roles rarely are.

 

Oh well, perhaps the action that has become associated with Denzel and guns will carry the story’s lacking edge and twist.  In a way this movie stays true to the star’s usual action in the more strategic and less trigger-happy sense.  His character’s resourcefulness and smarts are his best weapon, and the gun is more of a backup to not only add more bite, but also create more “suspense” to keep you on edge.  Wahlberg has bit more of the itching finger in this movie, his character ready to unleash a world of hurt (or death) upon an emotionless extra as they walk among the arid desert towns and plains.  The big strength of this approach is the action is built in as a support to the story and renew our attention in the film.  A car chase here, a small exchange of fire there, and you get some brief distractions that get you excited and build up anticipation for the ending.  The last ten-fifteen minutes are where the safeties come off and the bullets go flying as the excitement you’ve been waiting for unleashes.  Though very ridiculous, the action fits with the characters and allows fans of our team to release their tension as they cheer, or laugh, at modernized cowboy fight.  Unfortunately it ends so quickly and you might sit there wondering what just happened, and perhaps like me wishing that scene had arrived thirty minutes earlier.

 

What is the saving grace of this film for me is the teamwork, character, and dialog between Wahlberg and Washington.  The character developing team nailed these parts down; making two icons that will appeal to a lot of fans and then casting the duo to bring them life.  Washington’s rugged attitude, serious nature, prestige atmosphere and sarcastic delivery are beautifully blended into one heck of an agent.  His response to the various tragedies is hysterical, his face clearly mirroring the surprise at the awkward situations he is put in.  Despite the countless threats, blackmails, and hostage situations, Washington’s character is still as calm and collected as ever, often bluntly stating some witty remark that makes you laugh and ticks off the villains.  Then they throw in some highly skilled, DEA moves and make him not only funny, but deadly as well, rounding out the character in the process.  All of this makes for a great character to guide you through the movie.

 

Denzel is only half the chemistry that works though, as Wahlberg’s character is the yang to his yen.  The navy seal agent tends to rush into things, often with excitement of an attention challenged kid, hopped up on sugar, and playing a video game.  Wahlberg throws out jokes left and right, his dialogue is jammed with so many quotes that will have fans referencing it for weeks to come.  I felt that the timing for the jokes was well done, and these insults were not only diverse, but also spaced out enough to allow for it to remain funny and not be annoying.  Also Wahlberg says some off the wall things that are so far out you can’t help but wonder where the inspiration came from.   Yet what makes him even funnier is the fact that he is partnered with a very collected Denzel whose calm nature contradicts him so well and sets up Wahlberg for a lot of zings.  The interaction between the two also felt natural as well, as if the two’s partnership had been present ever since their career started, though that’s not the case.  Regardless, these two were well casted for the roles and perhaps 95% of the reason to go see this movie.

 

The only other thing to warn you about is some torture/hostage scenes.  2 Guns is loaded with bullets into the body, guns held at the temple, and a little inhumane action towards animals.  Now this is nothing compared to some horror movies, Hostel and the Human Centipede to name a few, but still those with weak constitutions should hold out.  Exercise caution when taking your family, in particular little kids, as there is some choice insults that involve the reproductive areas being either taken off or shoved into particular places.

 

This movie is fun and funny in many ways, but don’t expect it to be a masterpiece of action and story.  As I’ve mentioned plenty of times Washington and Wahlberg were a huge asset, not only for getting the crowd, but also for designing fun characters that go back to classic comedy styles.  If you’re looking for a good entertainment movie, this is a good choice I feel, but if those looking for a bit more plot and action skip it for now and gear up for Elysium.  My scores are the following:

 

Action/Crime/Comedy:  7.0 (more for comedy)

 

Movie Overall:  6.0

Cute, Upbeat, and Good For Kids

Smurfs 2

 

La la la, la la la la, sing a happy song.  It’s the famous line that makes some happy and others cringe in pain at the annoying melody that has played for years.  Why is it relevant?  The answer is my review is on the latest modernized version of the little blue sprites, The Smurfs 2.  We all know critics destroyed the last installment, but I found the kids film to be fun, peppy, and one that just makes you happy.  Thus when a second installment was announced a while ago, I didn’t expect a masterpiece, but hopefully something along the lines of the first film.  Robbie K is here to give you his thoughts on Sony’s latest project, so if you’re interested read on to see if this film is worth your time.

 

In Smurfs 2, the plot focuses on the sole female smurf Smurfette (Katy Perry) who is starting to doubt her place among her fellow blue kind.  Her contemplation of self-worth makes her the perfect target for the evil Gargamel (Hank Azaria) who once again desires Smurf essence to fuel his elaborate magical schemes.  Thus, after a quick visit from her sister and leading Naughty Vexy (Christina Ricci), Smurfette is brought back to the real world and a rescue operation lea by Papa (Jonathan Winters) begins.

 

The plot doesn’t sound too deep, but for little kids its more than enough to promise the kooky action and laughs that seem to mesmerize the younger population.  Smurfs 2 does deliver on this promise, filling the nearly two hours with juvenile pranks, over the top injuries, and goofy faces that filled the theater with high pitched giggles.  This reviewer once again feels that your kids, nephews, nieces, or little cousins will find this to be one of the best movies of the summers with the zany, and cute things they do.  As for parents though, well it all depends on how young at heart you are. Those that still have the ability to tap into their inner child are going to enjoy it more than those who can’t, as they will enjoy some of the jokes and stunts they pulled.  Most older audience members I think will find it cute, but how far does cuteness really go in the movie world without something else to support it?  In my experience, the answer is not much.  Yet amidst all the youthful energy and humor there are a few quips embedded in the dialog that might make you laugh.  A few uses of the word Smurf got me to laugh, due to a combination of timing and voice work, and a couple of other references are cleverly made in this movie.  Aside from that, there isn’t much more that will capture the older audiences attention, in the form of humor.

 

Instead those that are looking for good animation and appreciate well-edited scenes will enjoy this aspect of the movie.  Technology’s improvement has once again allowed Sony to bring the two dimensional cartoons to life.  The Smurfs movements are smooth and flowing, mimicking the actions of the humans who help them in their adventure.  Yet what’s more impressive for me was how in sync the mouth work was with the voices, as the animators once again kept the two in line with one another.  The team also did a nice job designing the characters faces to mimic the emotion they represented, i.e. grumpy having a smirk on his face, or vanity’s primped and polished face.  Of course when other emotions creep into the woodwork, such as sadness or happiness, these qualities fade away into a carbon copy of big eyes and thin-lipped smiles.  Regardless the Smurfs have been integrated into the live shots well, a combination of fantastic editing and rehearsed acting motions.  Whether it be running through the forest of human legs, flying digitally made birds, or navigating the torrential sewers, the animating team has worked magic again.

 

Past that though what else does this movie have to offer.  Voice acting wise the team does a nice job with Winters still bringing that wise and caring voice to the elder Smurf.  Perry’s voice plays well for the damsel Smurfette, though her character is a bit whineier and to some more annoying to the crew.  George Lopez doing the voice of Grouchy is mot likely what got the angry Smurf a leading role in this movie, and his rough and gruff voice not only matches the emotion but provides some extra laughs as well.  Past the voice work the live acting is a bit cheesy and silly, the live actors taking a major back seat to the fictional characters.  Azaria plays the maniacal wizard well, and does a good job imitating the evil voice the cartoon made famous. Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and former Mad Eye Moody Brendan Gleeson however have taken a hit on their roles.  Yes they still act well, but their characters have less complexity and more silliness then anything else.  Yes two of them have issues, which are addressed in a cheesy 90’s sitcom style, but there is little complexity to their characters.  The same goes for the story of Smurfette; the solution to her problem again preached to us, most likely so little kids can get something out of.  Yet the biggest positive is the catch soundtrack, full of high-energy pop music that had my toes tapping.

 

Smurfs 2 is not as well done as the first movie, but little kids will still enjoy the comedy it has to offer.  Music, animation, and voice work are the best qualities of these films for me, but there are a lot of gaps in the other areas that might make it hard for adults to swallow.  If you are looking for a family friendly film, this one is your mark, otherwise skip it and wait for Netflix.  My scores are:

 

Animation/Comedy/Family: 7.0

Movie Overall:  4.5-5.0