A Shot In The Rom Com Dark: Cute and Fun, but Predictable

Long Shot Poster

 

In the day of comedy, the name Seth Rogen is a champion for many types of roles and writing.  Often the king of stoner comedy, Mr. Rogen somehow takes his dorky looking self to new heights as he makes us laugh our heads off with his similar stories. Today, another piece to his collection is released in the form of a new spin on political comedy, as he teams up with another gorgeous beauty to tell his own Cinderella story.  Will this film hold a new form of comedy, or are we just writing another check to a mediocre film?  Robbie K back with another review on the film:

 

Long Shot: (2019)

 

Director:

Jonathan Levine

Writers:

Dan Sterling (screenplay by), Liz Hannah (screenplay by)

Stars:

Charlize TheronSeth RogenJune Diane Raphael

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Good Chemistry
  • Funny At Times
  • Cute
  • Moves At A Good Pace
  • Good Music

 

SUMMARY:  Despite the looks of Rogen, the guy manages to find some stellar cast mates to work with. Theron and Rogen have a great chemistry that brings the relationship to life, making for an interesting pairing that is fun to watch.  Long Shot’s central actors bring with it a dynamic spectrum that ranges from awkward crushes to stoned moments and the two really play off each other’s energies well.  The result is some sensationally dynamic comedy antics that work to inspire and drive the entertainment factor.  Clever references, slapstick relief, and even the well-timed simplistic one-liners all work to make a diverse palette for most audience members to enjoy.  Long Shot knows how to cater to a wide variety of the audiences.

Yet the comedy is only part of the magic and Long Shot holds a cute atmosphere to it that was promised in the trailer.  A love tale graces this film and has that classic nerd and gorgeous woman motif that is both inspirational and just sensational to watch.  While it’s not the most unique or magical, there is a very cute atmosphere about it and that will draw fans into the mix as well.  Making for a good date movie, the love story here is very cute, with some endearing motifs brought in to inspire and chop up the aggressive comedy.  With these stories mixed in, it actually puts this tale at a good pace, dropping the mundane circular banter for something with a little more pacing and fun.  And finally, the music that is played throughout the movie sort of bridges a good number of decades, with fantastic utilization to bring nostalgia and character to the scene. If you are forced to go to this movie, then hopefully the tracks will keep you interested in the nearly 2 hour run time.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • A little preachy
  • Stoner Comedy going overboard
  • The Villain character
  • The Other Love Interest
  • Predictable
  • Lazy Writing

 

SUMMARY:

 

When you try to put in good messages, especially ones about changing the world and the social hierarchy, you sometimes run into the world of preachy cinema.  Long Shot does those moments in quite a number of scenes going out of their way to put in these moments to be the inspirational piece the story is going for. Not awful, but sometimes a bit much these moments are just the small imbalances that stack up in this movie.

Instead the movies sometimes runs away with its comedy, relying too much on jokes to offset the story for Rogen’s usual brand of comedy. Some of the drug humor managed to get caught in the whirlwind of mindless banter, our “heroes” stuck in roundabout wonder, in their throngs of substance induced bliss.  It is funny at times, but sometimes a bit too deep for me leading to some stale tactics by the tent minute of the scene.

Other imbalances for me were the “rivals” of Theron’s groups that acted as potential story plots.  The Villain character by legendary Andy Serkis was a parody of makeup and villains, an antagonist who is there only for a few plot devices, but never serious enough to pose a threat outside of showing off stylized makeup.  Also an offset was the potential love interest in the form of pretty Canadian prime ministers.  A few mindless laughs and some rapid character introduction, this character held some potential that was lost in the grand scheme of comedy.  These unnecessary characters just made for threadbare plots that further endorsed the predictable plot that this movie held.

  Yet it’s the lazy writing that gets me as the biggest limitation.  I’m not talking about the story or the clever comedy, that’s actually good for me.  No, it’s the monotonous cursing that is famous in Rogen’s arsenal of films.  Long Shot suffers from focusing too much on the slander, replacing much of the human vocabulary with genitalia descriptions that are laced with consistent swear words. If you can’t get enough of the F bombs, you’ve come back to the familiar watering hole, but Long Shot still needs some unique flavor added to the punch to escape this weakness for me.  By not expanding up on the vernacular some of the scenes were missing their true potential due to again stale verbiage.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Long Shot is fun and surprisingly cute, making for a fun film that holds some story and laughs to behold.  It’s a generational movie that will speak to many, and the broad audiences it will appease too makes for a promising movie night out with the group.  Yet, the factor that holds it back is some unnecessary plot devices, some wasted characters, and the fact that once again lazy writing seethes in to the clever jokes at hand. It makes for a generic comedy, but sometimes those are the fun films to share with friends and family, so long as they can handle the crude humor.  So therefore, grab your friends and hit this delightful film up as a group, but otherwise stick to streaming for this for it lacks much of the theater worthy quality.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Romance:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

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Tully, Or Not Tully? That Is The Question

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The artistic movie is one that makes one think, makes a bold statement, and often pushes the boundaries on the normal cinematography.  Some of the movies that fall in this category are Juno and Young Adult, two movies that are all about pushing one to address morale and social issues that are becoming ever abundant in this world. This weekend, the studio continues its trend, with another film that looks to address some social quirk in hopes of shedding the light on the topic.  Robbie K is back with a written review on the latest movie called:

 

Movie: Tully

 

Director:

Jason Reitman

Writer:

Diablo Cody

Stars:

Charlize Theron,  Mackenzie Davis,  Mark Duplass

 

 

LIKES:

The Acting:  Charlize Theron continues the fantastic work of bringing characters to life, curbing her usual sullen mood and silky-smooth voice and transforming it to something truly wonderful.  She brings the suffering of postpartum depression out in full fold and crushes it with her amazing talent, and for once the extreme characters she normally plays are gone, replaced with someone you can grip on to.  Then bring in Mackenzie Davis as Tully, who brings vibrant energy, rational thought, and a new outlook to mix things up and brighten the mood.  The chemistry between the two leads is a defining strength of this movie, which keeps the conversation going and the pace moving.

 

Good Pace:  Most of the movies by this directing/writing combo is often slow and too drawn out for me.  This was the opposite case for me in this film, as Tully managed to tell the tale in a very concise manner, at a speed that was engaging to watch.  A nice crafted story to make things work, this movie shouldn’t induce any sleep for most.

 

Beautiful Makeup:  I don’t know if Theron had to put on weight, or a there were good prosthetics, but the work-up is beautiful in this movie. Theron looks pregnant for the whole 20 minutes she is carrying her baby, and the after body goes through a metamorphosis reflecting the post-partum body.  It’s impressive, accurate, and quite well done to immerse you further into the character’s life. 

 

Realism: The thing about these movies, is that they tend to be on the more realistic side than most blockbusters. Tully continues this trend and does a swell job of crafting a tale related around a serious disease, collecting various struggles, hazards, and emotional torrents of this delicate time.  While there are still some movie magic moments, the film I think hits the highlights to exemplify the suffering these women have after birth, and more so in the valuable lessons life has to offer.

 

Morals:  There are plenty of scenes to entertain and show off Theron’s talent.  However, this reviewer loves the three powerful moments where lessons are taught. Tully’s story drops some beautiful dialogue down to address the imbalances that modern society manages to look over.  Keeping your ears open, Tully will attempt to break your glass ceilings on issue such as parenting, happiness, and marriage, providing some sound advice to help balance the numerous responsibilities involved in these parts of life.  I for one loved how casual it felt and hope to see such natural dialogue in the future installments of this universe.

 

Twist:  The movie has a nice “twist” to help get some responses out of the audience.  While this reviewer called it at about forty-five minutes into the film, most will like what Cody’s writing has in store.  Get ready for a nice symbolic mix-up that mostly fits into the film, because you’re going to appreciate the integration it has to offer.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Hasty Conclusions: Tully is filled with analytical moments in an attempt to dissect all aspects of motherhood.  While these components are relative and essential, the film fails to decently tie up some of the problems her family has.  True, it’s about her growth and taking steps to improve on herself and family, there were a few solutions that came too easily or were left as only a glimmer of hope.  I’ll agree the ending is wrapped up, but it’s just not as wrapped up as I had hoped.

 

Limited Audience: These movies may be artistic, but they are also very limited in who will get the most out of this movie.  Tully’s audience is going to be for those who have experienced the hardships of motherhood, battled the grasp of post-partum depression, or have lost their way in marriage/life.  Outside of that, the general audience is going to close themselves off to the artistic approach of this movie

 

Twist Offsets Energy: For once, Cody’s writing managed to actually excite me in its education about life and unique approach to tackling it head on.  As Tully and Theron go on their adventures to clear the clouds of distress, I started to feel better and enjoyed watching the nanny piece life back together.  Then the twist comes in and offsets that journey, an accurate representation of life, the surprise disheveled the great pace and approach for a predictable tangent that hastily wraps it up.  I applaud creativity, but after enjoying such a good pace, it stunk to see it ripped out and offset the vibes it put out.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Tully turned out to be better than I had expected. The script is strong, pushing for change in a natural way and fostering growth along a number of important life lesson battlegrounds.  A great chemistry makes for engaging characters and the twist is there to mix things up.  However, Tully still suffers from hitting a limited audience group and outside of still being an exhausting movie, the ray of hope in the gradual solving of problems gets offset by the twist and leads to a rather hasty conclusion.  Still, the movie is much better than expected, though you might be better off waiting for this movie to hit home viewing unless you are going as a focus group. 

 

My scores are

 

Comedy/Drama:  7.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

This Gringo Was Not The Heffe

Gringo.jpg

 

Dark-Comedies are an acquired taste, but once you develop it you have the ability to appreciate more satirical comedy.  David Oyelowo attempts to bring this genre to life this weekend in the movie Gringo, a film that has some bite I didn’t expect from a movie this early in the year.  But what zany adventures will unfold when a black man is stuck between the high stakes world of pharmaceutical development and the cartels?  Well that is what this film attempts to answer, and it is my job to give you the 411 on the latest movies to storm the screen.  Let’s go!

 

LIKES:

 

-David Oyelowo Acting

-Morale dilemma

-Funny at times

-Fast-Paced

 

Gringo is a movie that likes to go over the top, with characters that are all about going to one extreme or the other. However David Oyelowo is the character that has a little more dynamic than the other.  Oyelowo is fun to watch, for me being the funniest character with his loud, rambunctious delivery of lines that are loaded with high-pitched panicking screams. Yet he is able to turn that energy around, and focus it to give a character that is worth looking into as he tries to navigate the hostile world he wound up in.  Like his character Harold, Oyelowo keeps things very relatable and invests his time to making a good adventure.

But what is an adventure without a little ethics debate to come into the light.  Gringo does this just right as the conversation of doing the right thing vs. the selfish thing constantly rears its ugly head in the cartel wastelands that this film takes place in. Harold’s journey not only tests his own morals, but inspires others to address their own life choices, from settling on abusive boyfriends to what one will do to get money to accomplish their personal goals.  It fits okay into the movie, but there are some hard hitting dialogue moments to help reassure that the best stuff doesn’t mean the best life.

As stated earlier, dark comedies are a little dryer than other, more modern comedies so you have to be ready for more delivery and timing to do the lifting.  Gringo has some legit comedic moments, really taking an awkward situation and turning it into a tear inducing riot of laughs.  These moments often have a nice, clever zing to them, that Oyelowo maximizes using his natural accent and mannerisms.

And all of these components are able to be placed in a decently paced run time that minimizes the slow and maximizes the thrills.

 

DISLIKES:

 

-Curse heavy dialogue

-Not as funny as I had hoped

-Much ruined by trailers

-A little chaotic at the end

 

You’ve read my reviews, but you know that lazy writing that relies of cursing doesn’t get my stamp of approval.  Gringo has extreme characters that don’t use the most advanced language, relying once more on F-bombs and sleazy pick up lines to do the talking.  While pertinent to the story, for once, and sometimes entertaining, Gringo utilized these tactics too much for my tastes.  Even the yelling of Oyelowo got old, with many of his pleas soon running dry like the desert he ran through.  As such, this movie didn’t really have the comedic punch I wanted, but more a thrill seeking, dark adventure with a little comedic buff thrown in.  Perhaps this is also due to the fact that a lot of the funny parts had been advertised to death in the trailers, resulting in the overplayed scene being boring by show time. And once the last scene started to end and all the stories came together, things sort of wrapped up in a chaotic package that wasn’t in time with the movie.  Not the worst mind you, but not what I quite expected from the trailers.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Gringo is okay, and designed for a select audience that wants the darker things in life to be ridiculed.  This film is a legitimate mixture of drama, crime, adventure and comedy, taking these aspects and twisting it into a semi-entertaining story with some moral obligations to address.  While I enjoyed Oyelowo and the well-timed zingers, I still can’t say this was the best, most unique comedy to hit the screen.  The extreme characters, mundane dialog, and chaotic organization (ruined by the trailers), didn’t deliver the expected feel I got from the advertising and as such left more to be desired.  So I recommend skipping this one and hitting something else in the month of March.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

 

Fate Smiles On Eight!

Fate of the furious

 

A couple of years ago, we had what we thought was the final chapter of the Fast and Furious legacy, ending with the montage of the fallen hero Paul Walker.  Sadly, it seems that the cinema world can’t let it go, and thus comes the subject of my latest review Fate of The Furious (or Fast 8 for short). After the fake, ridiculous of number 7 (minus the ending), I can’t say I was happy from the trailers for this film and how it looked even cheesier.  What is my verdict?  Read on to find out my friends.

 

LIKES:

  • Action more controlled
  • Comedy stays strong
  • Soundtrack
  • Story Is Much Better

 

Summary:  If you remember Furious 7, you remember how over the top the stunts were and the sheer ridiculous factor they had (e.g. superhuman feats, near invincibility, invulnerable cars). Fortunately, Fast 8 toned the action back to the baseline ridiculous of this action franchise, keeping things reeled in to a point of somewhat believability.  While this may tone down the action somewhat, this installment still packs plenty of punch with diverse sequences including: drag racing, gun play, martial arts, and of course car combat.  It’s suspenseful, it’s fun, and at times it is really funny, providing that popcorn flick entertainment value you like.  In addition, the stellar soundtrack contains both musical scores and music that fit well with the movie, (I myself enjoyed a few original R&B/rap songs near the end of the film).

Speaking of funny, Fast 8 doesn’t hold back on the comedic antics that the second film brought. Dwayne Johnson interjects his brand of corny insults and tough talk, establishing a banter rivalry with Jason Statham, who not only has a few clever quips, but finally redeems his pitiful character in this film.  Yet the main source of laughs comes from Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris. This comedic duo performs plenty of stunts, deliver plenty of well-written insults, and put their foots in their mouths so many times to keep you chuckling through the entire film. All of the laughs keep things light and relieve the tension to help ground the film into a PG-13 environment.

            Hands down though, is the improvement over the story.  Fast 8 reaches back into its roots for our plot, bringing back the character development and crime element of the film that started it all.  Dom’s tale of deceit throws plenty of nostalgic shade at our leading hero, including some unexpected twists that help tie together SOME of the loose ends. Fans will find plenty of emotion in this film, and hopefully will enjoy the action built around the plot (instead of the other way around). In addition, the fact that Statham’s character is released in this film (making the plot of seven almost useless) was a good thing for all the redemption they brought with his character.  I give the group applause for the improved story element, despite how bad it looked in the trailers (guess you can’t judge a movie by its trailer…sometimes).

 

DISLIKES:

  • Still ridiculous at times
  • Some Cameos not worth it
  • Editing Still needs some work
  • There is going to be a number 9

Summary: Let’s face it, this installment is famous for how ridiculous Hollywood special effects teams want to push the limits of cars.  Fast 8 does not escape this curse, for it is still filled with absolutely hilarious (though somewhat impressive) stunts.  I don’t wish to reveal too much, but let’s just say the submarine racing them isn’t the most ludicrous thing you’ll see, nor the biggest stretch (bad guys can’t seem to aim) of the imagination. Still it is an improvement over 7.

As I said earlier, Fast 8 has some twists you might not see coming, which leads to some unexpected cameos (unless you look at the cast list cheaters!). Some these moments are impressively, or spot on timed to maximize their appearance.  Yet there are others that were wasted and could have greatly been expanded upon to further amplify their involvement. I can’t say much, but I will admit that almost all the guest appearances held pertinence to the story, they just needed more time.

Yet the biggest flaw is still the editing of the films. Fast 8 may have lots of excitement to keep the movie going, but there are plenty of moments that could have been left for the directors’ cut.  A random cousin at the beginning for an almost pointless race, an overdramatic taunt that gets lost in the scheme of the movie, and even a few punch fests just weren’t needed.  In addition, some of the characters felt a little robbed, until that one factor comes in where they are needed.  These sloppy moments feel disjointed, unnecessary, and dilute the story into those eye-rolling moments that could have been so much better.  Perhaps these moments will be strengthened in the next movie, which is a strong hint to come (a shame compared to how well this movie could have tied things up).

 

The Verdict:

 

      Overall, this reviewer liked Fast 8 much better than Furious 7.  With a much better story (strengthening the limitations of its predecessor), toned down stunts, and an atmosphere that feels much like the earlier installments, this movie is a step in the right direction for the impending sequels to come.  Yet, it still doesn’t reach the balance some of the previous films have.  The editing and character balance still needs some work so that all the characters feel absolutely necessary instead of convenient.  Still, it is a worthy theater film, and will provide the aisle stomping entertainment you are looking for. Let’s hope “Fate” smiles on the next sequels to come from this series…and hope they can keep the momentum going.

 

Action/Crime/Thriller:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

 

 

A Beautiful World Of Drama, Great Acting, and Underutilized Characters

Winter's War

 

Snow white, a tale that has been beaten to death over the last five decades. From cute cartoon masterpieces to cheap knockoffs you can get the classic Grimm’s tale in a variety of forms that you can deem the “fairest” of them all. This weekend, we get the sequel that drops Snow White and substitutes with her handsome, axe wielding sidekick Eric entitled The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Can this tale succeed without the beautiful, raven-haired beauty, or will it fail like its predecessor? As always I’m Robbie K and this is my report on the latest movie.

 

The GOOD:

 

  • Beautiful visuals
  • Fantastic Acting
  • A nice portrayal of love
  • Decent comedic relief

 

If you remember the first movie Snow White and The Huntsman, you remember that the world was beautifully designed. Winter’s War takes that trend and runs with it, filling the screen with a beautiful fantasy world that brings you into the fairy tale. Breathtaking shots of gorgeous countryside are intermingled with CGI creatures that are a blend of flora and fauna that reflect their very environment. The kingdoms that surround this wilderness are also well designed, the houses, temples, and palaces mirroring the personalities of their rulers, who themselves are in stunning costumes.

But seldom do visuals make the movie by itself and fortunately Winter’s War has a great cast to further bring the world to life. Chris Hemsworth leads the cast, playing the same role he always plays…the hot guy. Girls swooned in my showing over the smoldering grin and strong chin as he battled fictional enemies and argued with just about everyone. Fortunately he brings a balanced performance that contains fun, honor, love, and some choreography. The lovely Emily Blunt also brings her A game as the ice queen Freya. Her ability to play such an emotional and detailed role never ceases to amaze me and other than the ugly (guttural) crying she won my heart for favorite character. Jessica Chastain revisits her role of strong woman kicking lots of ass and being pissed off at everything, only this time with a strong (and comical) Scottish accent. While certainly not the most unique role, she still manages to pull the performance off with two thumbs up. Charlize Theron reprises her role once more as well, an arrogant , power hungry, ruthless queen who is a good example of the B word. And Theron plays it so well that you can’t help but hate her for it.

Actors aside the story is another generic plot about Snow White’s kingdom. Once more we get a tale all about love and the twisted game it plays with us all. Despite the annoying broken record of its power, the movie does a nice job at capturing the magic of infatuation in more ways than one. While it can be preachy and overdramatic at times, it does hit home and the actor’s portrayal of love is very well received. Throw in a comedic portrayal with the dwarves and you have an entertaining love story.

 

THE BAD:

  • Very rushed story and a little underdeveloped
  • Dulled down action with the other Huntsmen
  • Character imbalance

 

Hard to believe I’m saying this, but the love component was the best part of the whole movie. The rest of the plot was rather simplistic/rushed for me. Winter’s War is shown as a prequel in the trailers, but it is actually a prequel and sequel, which I think was the problem. Our story team could not decide where it wanted to take the movie and as such tried to cover everything it could. The background of the huntsman was a montage of punching, only to quickly transition to the love component. This motive carries for all of the characters, leaving much of the cast underdeveloped and relying on superficial qualities (like looks) to latch on to. In addition, this uncoordinated plot was boring at times that I wanted to take a nap to make them pass faster.

While the rushed story is a large hurdle to jump, the underutilization of characters is the bigger crime. Theron and Chastain have a much more dilute role than I thought and I was very disappointed that the former’s role was pretty much portrayed in the commercial. This disproportional use of characters dropped wrenches in the cast dynamic and their conventional reentry into the world only made me laugh or shake my head. You would think that with big price tags they would get their money’s worth, but sadly balance seems to remain an issue in Hollywood.

Finally the action component. Good news is that the action is a step above the cataclysmic failure of the first installment. Bad news is it is still simple and kind of corny at parts. The Huntsmen are supposed to be elite warriors, but this movie downplayed this component and made them rather pathetic. Many battles were very corny bouts of extras standing in a circle, stern looks filling their faces before getting pummeled by the only warriors with skills. The special effects helped a little, but the excitement quickly waned as the momentum was starting to build. However, it does fit well with the theme of the movie and the world crafted by our studio.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Winter’s War is a decent love story with a blockbuster cast and gorgeous visual prowess. Unfortunately, it still feels like an underdeveloped story whose characters still haven’t reached their potential yet. Should there be a third movie, I hope that we get more character development and some more bite to give the world some edge. Is it worth a trip to the theater? For a visual standpoint yes, but this reviewer thinks Winter’s War should be reserved for a RedBox rent.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Drama: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0