Feel Good Movie that Gets the Job Done

The Intern

            Robbie K back again with another movie review. This time I’ll be focusing on the latest Comedy entitled the Intern starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. These two actors are legends for bringing roles to life, and from the trailers promise to bring their talents back to the silver screen for a heartwarming adventure. Does this movie live up to that promise? As always please read on to find out.

The story of the Intern is a simple tale about two lost people in need of something to help get their lives back on track. It’s plot is very formulaic, lacking any twists or turns to offset the predictable path it follows. Both characters backgrounds are very typical of Nancy Meyers’ work involving some unbalanced, dramatic family dynamic that is in need of some tuning up. Despite the familiar plot dynamic, The Intern somehow stands out from the mire of comedies that currently flood the market. For one, the movie is very relatable and realistic, with characters you latch on to within twenty minutes of the film’s start. Ben (De Niro) and Jules (Hathaway) are characters who have morals and qualities fans of all ages will love, such as diligence, compassion, and rationality that many comedy/drama characters lack. And for once I wasn’t annoyed by characters in a comedy/drama, but rather interested in seeing where their stories would go. In addition, the story kept taking different avenues, mixing up the drama to provide different obstacles for our characters to overcome (much like life), keeping things fresh. The major flaws with this story are small gaps that arise in the plot, things conveniently being settled at a drop of the hat, and some transitions that were a bit to random for me.

But while the story is not the most unique, or exciting for that matter, The Intern does provide a handful of life lessons wrapped in a heart string tugging package. Ben’s morals are motivating, traditional values from a dying generation that are designed to motivate and inspire one to work hard and help others. Jules characteristics are meant to be empowering, breaking the traditional stay at home mom role and portraying women kicking modern day business in the can. While these morals may seem cheesy, and overdone, Meyers manages to deliver them in a very appropriate manner that bypasses the preachy, in your face lessons. Even the romantic dilemmas are professionally portrayed, bypassing the movie magic and instead giving a realistic approach as to how to handle problems. Perhaps the biggest, unrealistic component is the fact that everyone actually listened to them without much resistance, seeing as humans are so open for taking advice these days.

No matter how well a character is designed though, you need an actor to bring it to life, which this assembled cast more than accomplishes. De Niro continues his impressive track record, somehow playing epic characters, yet somehow playing himself. He brings that warm smile that brings confidence and wisdom, no matter the situation. Hathaway as well impressed me, as she wears the multiple hats of boss, friend, mother, and wife. She covers the emotional spectrum and manages to sell the pain and pressure that Jules suffers from. Separate these two are strong, but when acting together they are on an even higher level of quality. The supporting cast is fantastic as well, each well balanced into the grand story to play their parts and provide the laughs we so need.

Speaking of laughs, the Intern’s comedy was a nice break from the overacted and ridiculously stupid stunts many comedies take these days. Instead it is witty, loaded with clever dialogue that is well timed and simplistic and for once not over done or drawn out in length. It branches across the age generations covering topics like love, balancing life with career, morals between old and new generations and bridging the technology gap. Each of these topics was tastefully done, relying on the actor’s delivery to be funny instead of just some stupid catchphrase meant to be posted on memes.

The Intern is not the most unique movie to grace the theaters, and it feels very much like a typical Nancy Meyer’s work. However, this movie throws at a lot of the movie magic and melodramatic drama for a film that is fun, positive, and a good bridge across generation gaps. The little family established in this picture will pull you into movie, and the two hours will fly by as you become engrossed in the characters’ lives. For quality acting and a fun movie, The Intern is worth a trip to the theater, despite it’s lacking of special effects. I encourage many to check it out when it comes out on Netflix or RedBox in the future.

My scores for the Intern are:

Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Same Cute, Fun, Antics, but Not as Well Put Together

Hotel Trans 2

            It’s the end of September, and once more the beginning of pumpkin spice lattes, football, and the holiday transitional movie season. This weekend, another animated “blockbuster” sinks its fangs into the waiting juvenile masses. This vivid description is to serve as an opening for my latest review assignment: Hotel Transylvania 2. While Halloween is still a few weeks off, Adam Sandler and his buddies release their animated sequel in hopes of kicking off October right. Can this franchise keep the same “spirit” of fun and humorous, or does it join the list of unimpressive sequels. Read on to find out.

The first Hotel Transylvania was cute and family friendly, qualities that number two amplifies to the next level with Dracula’s grandson. Dennis is an adorable, big eyed, high-pitched toddler whose innocence leads our “heroes” to teach him the old monster ways. The kid himself is cute in both voice and looks, bringing energy to the old fogey monsters inhabiting the hotel. As for the film’s adventure, it is very simplistic, filled with half baked schemes, overused taglines, and some running gags that start out funny, but eventually get stale (a.k.a the blah blah blah thing). Sandler’s usual bag of tricks continue to be entertaining, especially with the younger audience members. I myself enjoyed Sandler’s wit as he pokes fun at a number of relevant modern day “conveniences”. Cell phones, social media, even the modern day television icons (i.e. cakey the monster) all are mocked by the lord of darkness at how ridiculous (and overused) these things are.

So the humor is the same, but what about the story? In truth the tale has a similar feeling to the first film’s tale, with many recycled plotlines filling the 90 minutes. Despite the events of the first movie, Dracula still has issues with the whole monster/human racial thing, especially in terms of letting Dennis grow up outside the hotel. The team must have run out of ideas, because a lot of scenes may seem familiar from the first film, especially in terms of Dracula’s obsession with keeping Mavis. Yet amidst of the sea of familiarity, the more “unique” elements maintain their charm and fit well with rehashed storyline. That is until you get to the grand finale. While the ending did introduce a barely needed set of characters to help bring the film to a close, it lacked the finesse that Hotel 1 had with it.

Animation wise the film lives up to the standards the first one set. Drac and the crew fluidly move about the scenes, the voices match the lips, with the exception of the invisible man whose glass just teeter, and visuals are fun and colorful. The lack of new features is a little disappointing, but it was to be expected when you limit yourself to a hotel and pull out all the stops on the first movie. Of course many of your little ones won’t care as long as they get to see Drac and the crew do their ridiculous stunts.

In terms of voice acting, again nothing new here. Sandler’s Transylvanian accent still makes me giggle, and his throaty, over exaggerated cries are still consistent over the last two decades. Gomez has managed to bring back Mavis’ modern woman charm, while also adding the emotional touch of an overprotective mother. Kevin James is well… Kevin James, a mixture of loud screaming and hushed talking that pales in comparison to how the monster looks. The problem with this movie is that the other characters really don’t get much voice time in this picture. Buschemi, Spade, even Samberg felt pushed on the backburner, with Sandler taking most of the dialog in this movie. Not only did this limit the character interactions we enjoyed, but also deprived us of some more diverse comedy. On the plus side, it meant limited time hearing Fran Drescher’s voice.

Hotel Transylvania 2 has the same fun, family friendly element that charmed many audience members long ago. Not much has changed over the past few years, which isn’t a bad thing in a movie like this. However, I would have liked to see a more cohesive and in depth story like the first one to round up the picture. Nevertheless, the younger members will scream in delight with this film, while the older crowd will enjoy the more subtle pokes at popular media. Worth a trip to theater? I’ll say yes, just because of the fun adventure, but there really isn’t anything “theater worthy” of it.

My scores are:

Animation/Comedy/Family: 8

Movie Overall: 7

Grim, Depressing, but Well Acted Biography on Bad Guys In Boston

black mass

            Icy Blue eyes stare at you, their cold, blue gaze promising fear and death with every blink. Who or what do these eyes belong too? None other than the notorious criminal Jimmy Whitey Bulger, one of the most notorious crime lords in history. Okay… so maybe it was Johnny Depp playing the mob legend, but regardless of the source, those eyes sum up the tone of the movie Black Mass. This film kind of snuck under the radar for most, but I’m here to help shed some light on what it beholds. Returning after a three-week hiatus, it’s Robbie K with another movie review.

As the title suggests, Black Mass is a tale that is perhaps one of the darkest movies I’ve seen in a long time. The visual portrayal of Bulger’s rise to power is one without filters, where violence, threats, and death rain in high definition splendor. Unlike older mob movies that resulted to gunfights and quick, clean kills, Black Mass gets its hands dirty with detailed torture and gore painting the silver screen a sickly red. Those with weak constitutions will need to avoid this picture, especially during the instances where Whitey results to other means to deal with the “rats” of Boston. I give props to Scott Cooper and his team for unfolding a portion of the mafia world, but like so many took it a little too far than was necessary. How many random characters being shot in the head does one really need to see to get the message?

The major component that I felt was the greatest aspect of this movie was the acting. Once more Johnny Depp has impressed me with his talent, temporarily chucking the whimsical and wacky for the dark and dismal. Depp brings a level of unease and terror I never thought possible in both looks (great makeup) and delivery of his lines. Like many of my fellow reviewers have stated, this could indeed be an Oscar worthy role for Depp and while he was the main pillar of this movie there were other supporting actors who need a little praise.  Joel Edgerton as the corrupt CIA officer packs a pretty mean punch, oozing with festering greed, as he feigns ignorance for Whitey’s services, while trying to cover his hide. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the role of a politician to the T, with the confidence, arrogance, and cheesy grin to sell the crowd. The movie could have been even better if Cumberbatch could have been more integrated in the film, but he made the most of his time. And of course Kevin Bacon uses his familiar tactics , which although not impressive, did help tie the story together.

Now what about the story? Whitey’s tale is very detailed, showing the life changing events that shaped him into the threat he became. Even more detailed is the corrupt deals Whitey makes, and the drama that unfolds with each shot. However, despite all the attention to detail, the tale isn’t all that exciting. Black Mass felt more like an upscale documentary, devoid of any movie magic or exciting choreographed scenes. The pace of the movie is slow; at times feeling like it’s going nowhere, primarily due to a lack of suspense. Maybe if there had been a rival in his history, or at least some glimmer of hope it could have had a little more thrill to it. The details also make things a bit convoluted as well and hard to follow until they literally state the purpose a few minutes later. What does this boil down to? A need for editing, to not only assist with the clarity, but also keep the depression to an absolute minimum. However, if you are one for the facts and wish to avoid the fluff that Hollywood thrives on, this movie’s dynamics will more than entertain you.

Black Mass certainly has some of the best mobster betrayal seen for some time, capturing the ruthless nature of the Boston underbelly. However, if you can’t stomach intense violence, and you are looking for some more exciting twists to a film you need to pick another option. This film has a lot of quality to it, but overall it wasn’t the most entertaining or impressive film to grace the silver screen. Being a biography, this movie probably would have been better suited for a TV special on the History channel. My suggestion is to wait for this one to come to Redbox to watch in the comfort of your own home, unless of course you are an avid mob movie fan, or Depp enthusiast.

My scores are:

Biography/Crime/Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5