Trying to Rustle Up Twists, But It’s Simple Laughter and Puns That’s the Gist

The Hustle Poster

            Buddy comedies are fun, and sometimes turn out to be the movies that become the cultural icons of the generation.  Often a bunch of one liners and aggressive comedy that becomes meme worthy and quotable, these movies vary across the spectrum in terms of quality.  Nevertheless, these movies do have a place in the mainstream as those fun films that entertain people.  So will it achieve its goal and be entertaining, or so aggressively silly that it robs you of your money?  That’s where I come in for a little movie review to give my opinions and maybe help guide your viewing pleasures.  Let us take a look at:

 

Movie: The Hustle (2019)

 

Director:

Chris Addison

Writers:

Stanley Shapiro (screenplay by), Paul Henning (screenplay by)

Stars:

Anne HathawayRebel WilsonAlex Sharp

 

LIKES:

 

The Chemistry

Alex Sharp’s Character

Attempt At A Story

Short Run Time

Some Humor

Music

 

SUMMARY:

A buddy comedy requires good chemistry for the actors to utilize, being able to play off one another and maximize the relationship between the characters.  Fortunately Rebel and Anne have achieved this dynamic, establishing the dynamic that the trailers suggested which helps maximize the delivery of the plethora of jokes to come.  They looked to have had fun and that I believe sells the dynamic between the two.  Once Alex Sharp’s character came in, his characteristics and direction fit well into the movie, but also helped curb some of the extreme qualities that the movie had the leading ladies pursuing.  His delivery and innocence his character contained, made for a character to grab onto by those not a fan of the two leads, and can help get through the tale at hand.

Speaking of that, The Hustle’s story from the trailers looks to be a very thread thin, shallow plot about taking advantage of condescending men.  Instead, there were some attempts to mix it up a bit and progress it towards new directions that put our characters into uncomfortable zones.  A few twists were nicely added, and the push past that simplistic story gets applause in my book.  But if the story is not up your alley then two things will grant you some berth in the storm of things this movie holds.  First, it’s a short run time, so you won’t have too long to fend off against the onslaught of jokes and stupidity that is crammed into the film. Your second saving grace is some of the humor actually hits home as well, perfectly timed or expertly delivered to maximize the laughs.  Much of this had to do with the comedy that was not too forced, but there are some subtle nods at humor that my dorky humor appreciates.  As an added bonus, there are some fun musical tracks that get into the spirit of the scenes and add some edge to the movie or at least make you dance in your seat.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Victim of Trailers

Story Failure

Shallow Characters

Too political

Too Aggressive/Forceful for Humor

 

SUMMARY:

 

Despite some of the good this movie did for me, there were some shortcomings that did not quite work for me as they may for other audiences.  It starts with the predictability of the tale, primarily in how hard the foreshadowing and attempt to surprise you came.  These twists would have probably been successfully executed had there not been such a blatant attempt to misdirect in dialogue and drowning plot elements with the cantankerous humor.  In addition, the fact that the trailers revealed so much did not help with hiding the surprises nor keeping the comedy fresh. 

In addition to giving away much of the surprise, the movie also failed to deliver the story to me that I was hoping to get out of it. For once, it might have been nice to actually do a mockery of the Ocean’s movies by making it all about conning corrupt villains and a central rival to their game. Sadly, their attempts to diverge from this story came out as pale attempts that did not gain the momentum needed to have the impact they needed.  Secondly, it’s always good for me to have some characters with a little more depth, then what I got here.  The Hustle’s protagonists have very little in terms of story, characteristics, or qualities outside of what you got from the trailer.  I get this is probably some symbolic presentation of con artists, but perhaps more into how they came into the lifestyle, and the driving force could have granted these talented actresses some better roles to bring to life. Perhaps this is why I like Alex Sharp’s character, because there is at least some attempts to bring his character some added layers, instead of just a comedic punching bag.

Still those components are not quite the force that took the most away from me in this movie.  The first is too political a statement for this film.  The writers and direction got a little too femme fatale and preachy for me, with much of the dialog driven down a road that takes away the fun for me.  I think it will hit the right audience members, but from a general standpoint some of the aggressive sexism jokes did not quite impress me.  Second, the humor is a little too slapstick and force for my tastes.  The trailer made some of these jokes stale, but there were times where overacting and pushing that joke over the line or on me just did not set well.  As such, I didn’t laugh as hard as I had hoped from the trailers and was a bit bored with some of the designed sequences.  Again, this comedy will hit its niche audience, but for guys like me, it’s not going to be the most clever or unique jokes that present themselves.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            If you are expecting the next masterpiece of comedy in this film, you will be disappointed with The Hustle.  Yet, if you go in there ready for simplistic comedy, filled with one liners and focused audience and you have got yourself the flick of the weekend. It’s got some good points and great chemistry, jamming it’s all its gimmicks into a short run time to entertain very quickly.  However, if you are looking for something like Bridesmaids with heart, cleverness, and entertainment, then reserve this one for a home viewing in my opinion.  My scores are:

 

Comedy:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

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Isn’t it Actually Clever!

Isn't It Romantic Poster

 

Rom Com’s, the genre that is all about establishing the hopes and dreams that love can be perfect, establishing the hope of a true happy ending. Yet, we all know that love is hard work, and that while a positive force, these movies can sometimes establish unrealistic dreams that can be distracting.  Last night, the movie of the holiday season hopes to put a little more realism into the love genre and bring with it some laughs to brighten up a potentially depressing season. Robbie K back with another review, this time on:

 

 

Movie:  Isn’t It Romantic (2019)

 

Director:

Todd Strauss-Schulson

Writers:

Erin Cardillo (screenplay by), Dana Fox (screenplay by)

Stars:

Rebel WilsonLiam HemsworthAdam Devine

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

– Short Run Time

– Fun Atmosphere

– Funny

– Clever Writing

– Good Message

 

Summary:  In a movie like this, length is not necessary, and I think that Isn’t it Romantic did a nice job of getting the holiday laughs out without taking away too much time from life.  It establishes a fun environment that is mindless humor, practically ripping apart the false themes of Valentine’s Day and romantic comedies to show you don’t have to be dating/in a relationship to have fun.  The fast-paced laughs, upbeat pace, and lack of care for telling a serious story, accomplishes the goal that the movies can do, which is to go out there and lose yourself into a fun movie, and I think it worked well.

For being a comedy though, you want laughs, and surprisingly this movie accomplished it by being able to make fun of itself and genre. While certainly ludicrous, Isn’t It Romantic has some clever design to the approach of making fun of love movies. Some of the things we either love or take for granted, such as the stereotypical montages and linear plot, they find a way to poke at as Rebel Wilson experiences them.  Off the side comments about how the locations change, the magical timing of a character appearing, even the time warp factor from those random scenes of transit are prey for the writing of this film.  In addition, Rebel Wilson’s usual style has been curbed to not be so raunchy and it works for me in allowing her comedic delivery/timing taking the load instead of just the random banter she is famous for.  That balance is what helped open up the fun factor for me and throw in the dance number(s) as well and you actually seal the deal.

Yet, the movie does manage to have a serious side, bring a few key messages alongside the comedic slew of one-liners.  Surprisingly, they are deeper than expected, managing to teach he audience some personality building traits, but keeping in tune with the fun atmosphere of the film.  Preachy at times?  Yes, but again it works in terms of not taking the movie seriously.

 

DISLIKES:

 

– Not original

– Corny at times

– The Hemsworth curse

– Trailer Syndrome, sort of

– Overdone at times

– Plot progressed a little too fast

 

Summary:  Despite how much fun I had at the film though, as a reviewer there are elements of the movie overall to comment on.  First off, the originality is not really there.  True, it was low expectations that it would be super original, but like the films it makes fun of, Isn’t it romantic does not have that dynamic originality that some scream for.  It’s predictable tale is very generic, with obvious plot components being set up minutes into the film, which could have used some deviation. And even funnier, I think that parts of the plot were pushed a little too hasty, which I get is the point of its movie, but still could have had a few extra minutes to offer some of the character building.

  In regards to the comedy, well as clever as it turned out to be there were still times where the usual, modern approach of trying too hard for a laugh came out.  For some of these moments it was the blatant corniness that was too much, less frequently than expected, but capitalizing on that cheese factor when it came out.  Like any Rebel Wilson comedy, there were also times where going too far with a joke or letting a running joke go too long happened again.  This was mainly in regards to the gay sidekick or the new rival (a plot point not really mapped out), which while still funny did at times go stale. Yet, the biggest aspect of the comedy was the Hemsworth curse as I call it, which involves taking the charming, eye candy for the population and turning him into a brainless idiot.  I get it, the genre can do this to people, recognizing again that’s the point of this film, but the Hemsworth character could have actually utilized the charm to have better comedic development than the blatant babbling that came from him. Most probably won’t have this dislike, but for me I would have liked the better character use of him like they did a few other of the counterparts.  And of course, the trailers have hit some key moments and bludgeoned them to death, so… don’t be surprised to remember a third of the movie depending on how much you watched it. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Despite all the predictability, cheesiness, and over the top acting though, Isn’t it Romantic may have been the movie I had the most fun with this week.  The movie makes fun of a series that is sometimes taken too seriously, and the fact that it has some respectable wit to it just proves that you can find some balance in the comedy genre.  That fun atmosphere was perfectly timed with the holiday, and really is a film that friends, couples, even singles can enjoy in the approach they took.  I’d say that while it lacks a lot of the theater quality effects (e.g. special effects, a booming soundtrack, and thunderous sound effect), it still accomplishes being able to get lost into the film and make for a fun time worthy of hitting the theater.  Therefore, I’d say to hit this one up in the week and have some fun like I did. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Fantasy/Romance: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Third Time is the Semi-Charm: Pitching A Final Shot

Pitch Perfect 3.jpg

 

It started with a song that roped a group together, and it has blown up into one of the most popular comedies to serenade the stage.  The movie is Pitch Perfect and the trilogy comes to a close tonight as the Bellas take center screen once more to sing their “potential” swan song.  After copious media advertisements, does the third installment have the vocal chords to shatter our ear drums in delight?  Or does it fall to bad singing in the shower.  Robbie K here to once again give you his thoughts on a movie.  Let’s go

 

LIKES:

 

Back to its comedic roots: Pitch Perfect has always been globally popular thanks to the comedic antics of the cast at hand (primarily Rebel Wilson). Pitch Perfect 3 returns to those roots and brings back clever writing, inappropriate remarks that are well-timed, and banter that somehow works despite how silly it is.  Much of the overacting from the second film is gone, and it proves that balance and timing go a lot farther than comedic meme stuffing.

 

The Character Development Story: The third installment has a lot going on to wrap up the show, but the story most endearing and true to the series is Beca’s development.  Like the first film, the plot is all about testing Beca again in the qualms of life, choosing which aspects of her life she is to pursue in her road to success and happiness.  While comedic, and a little rushed at times, her growth as a character is touching, blending the painful growing up moments with the emotional zing that hits you in the heart.  This component is by far the most solid ground of the film.

 

The Music: It wouldn’t be a Pitch Perfect without music and this movie comes back in spades with the remixes of a number of songs.  The acapella numbers certainly are the most impressive and energetic of the bunch, though they still lack in regards to choreography, shimmer, and comedy that we have seen in the past.  Additional songs with actual instruments also have a nice twist to the franchise, especially the new riff off scene that is sure to stick in your minds.  For me though, there needed to be more and I missed the competition component of the film, despite how much they made fun of it.

 

The Conclusion: What can I say, I’m a sucker for a solid conclusion, and Pitch Perfect 3 does not disappoint with the final sequence.  It captures the spirit of the girls, brings their relationship to life, and solidly wraps up this journey that has been progressing over seven years.  Does this mean the series has to be rebooted?  No, there are plenty of docks to launch from should, and probably most likely will, Hollywood want to pick it back up.  Nevertheless, count this reviewer happy with the ending of this film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Hosts:  I’ve always loved Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins banter in the films, as the writing is unique, the delivery exaggerated but fun, and the randomness just perfectly timed.  This film though really weakened their characters for me, turning them into annoying, unnecessary extras who seemed forced into the story.  I admit, I chuckled a few times, but the writing was much weaker for me with these characters and it might have been better left out to make room for other plots/characters.

 

The Dropped Characters: The hosts were just the start, as Pitch Perfect’s cast loses a couple of members at the start that I hadn’t expected to see… well dropped.  While I appreciate dropping the crappy romance tales of the second movie, and even seeing the girls grow up, some of the decisions in this movie I didn’t agree with.  Letting these characters fade into the background, started to become plot ploys, that were forced, simplified, detours to unite the gang or quickly fill in gaps.  I guess it’s better than having them just stand in the background, but it’s not much of an improvement to see fan favorites once again become background characters. 

 

The Weak Rivals: I mentioned this earlier, but Pitch Perfect 3 once again makes washed-out rival bands whose potential is sucked dry after one scene. Why? I can’t answer that question, but the three bands that we are introduced have an awesome riff-off and small partial numbers that are the only quality participation on their part.  The promise of combined tracks, duets, and heated rivalry was broken, again letting these characters dropped into annoying story ploys that are more bark than bite.  It does get points for creativity, but not many given what they were substituted for.

 

The Other Parts Of The Story: I love the character development in this arc, but the other plots…not so much.  Pitch Perfect 3 has a boat load of subplots trying to compete for attention.  Sadly, many of these are again rushed messes, trying to give the movie a little bit of everything to please the audiences.  Some cute romances, some “surprise” life events, and some backstories are the more positive of these, but the Fat Amy tale was out of place for me.  I liked learning about her history, but the crime element of it didn’t seem to fit into a music movie, though it certainly agrees with the comedy…primarily pitch perfect 2’s comedy.  These parts weren’t the worst thing mind you, it just felt like too much in one film for me that took up more time.  Time that could have been spent on more musical spunk.

 

The Verdict:

Overall, Pitch Perfect Three is still the fun, girl power film the dedicated fans will enjoy.  The humor has been toned back to Pitch Perfect One level, the numbers are still just as toe-tapping, and there are plots that work so well to wrap everything up in a honorable manner.  Yet, the movie still has trouble with its plot balance, and utilizing its characters to the fullest still eluded them in this film.  I like this one better than 2, but the original still rings the bell as the champion of this series.  Worth a trip to the theaters?  Yeah, I think it is, but there are other options that are probably better.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy/Music:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Aca-Awesome Laughs And Songs, Though Still Not As Good As the First

Pitch Perfect 2

            Hey there it’s Robbie K, back with another movie review to help you get some insight into the latest movies. Today I throw my hat into the ring of the latest singing movie Pitch Perfect 2, a sequel that has been most anticipated for quite some time. With it’s predecessor becoming an instant “classic” in the A capella world, going so far to inspire singing competitions, surely this sequel had some potential to rock the ear drum world. From the trailers, here is what you might expect:

  1. Comedy
  2. Toe Tapping Tunes
  3. A cute story

However, in the world of sequels you never know what will come out of the woodwork, so here is what you get:

  1. Comedy

In terms of Comedy, Pitch Perfect 2’s greatest strength is the ability to make you laugh. The trailer showing Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) showing off her lower anatomy is only the tip of the iceberg in this installment. You will be bombarded with one liners that are sure to be the next T-shirt or picture meme, including that famous use of Aca into vocabulary. The writers spared no expense to cram this movie with ridiculous quotes, often having our Barden Bellas go to extraordinary lengths to deliver their lines. What was the result? Most of the audience was rolling on the floor laughing, some even to tears at the comedy at hand. Wilson in particular takes the cake for the most laughs, using her weight and her blunt way of speaking to land well-timed, hilarious, dialogue. Even the slapstick comedy involving the setting is fun, especially when you see the responses of the other girls at what occurred. But perhaps the third factor that made the comedy so fun, was integrating some of the jokes into singing. Whether it was Fat Amy performing an act, or someone screwing up a lyric, Pitch Perfect 2 adds some quality comedy in their song numbers to give us a small break from the other comedy.

But for all the good of the comedy, there are some limitations. For one thing the jokes were thrown at me a little too much, and for this reviewer some of the one-liners got stale. I mean how many weight jokes or sex references do we need in a two hour time frame? The second mistake was not balancing the comedy between the Bellas. Oh sure each of them got at least one line into the phrase, but this sequel focused heavily on Fat Amy and left some of the others in the dust. I always used to enjoy Becca’s sarcasm as a joke, but even that got drowned by the simple slapstick of this movie. Finally the writers went a little too far with their racial/sexist jokes in both intensity and number. Some of the jokes are more insulting than funny, and the constant bashing throughout the movie had me shaking my heads and praying that no protests or boycotts would come underway.

  1. Songs:

So if you saw the first movie, you know that covers are the other life force of this series. Pitch Perfect 2 does a great job bringing their versions of popular songs into the mix, and making you want to sing and dance the night away. Songs are mashed together in a recipe of success that covered all genres, somehow being spun in a direction that made me like a Taylor Swift song. They even did a better job integrating our girls into the mix, helping to expand the track horizon. Best of all, I didn’t have to hear I Saw The Sign performed ten times in one movie, which was perhaps the most annoying part of Pitch Perfect 1. Throw in the filler songs that helped transition the scenes, and you have one soundtrack I’ll be looking to buy down the line. However… the music still pales compared to its predecessor. Despite Pitch Perfect 2 having some really good tunes, the numbers still weren’t as impressive as I had hoped. The final battle in particular was rather lackluster and simple, though the Bellas number did rock, and I found myself bored with the performances of the other groups.

  1. Story

We all know this movie isn’t about the story, but take a look back at what we had in the first movie. Pitch Perfect brought college life to the screen, helping introduce a new world for Becca that included getting involved, music, friends, and love. It was simple and predictable, but done well that tied the other aspects together. Not the case in Pitch Perfect 2. This sequel sacrificed a lot of plot for extra laughs, essentially shredding the foundation to which I enjoyed in the first. Sure there was the establishment of a rival team to help spur the plot, and there was even a moral filled tale of embracing change. Heck there were even a few cutesy love stories thrown into the mix. But this movie really diluted their character development down into a rather basic mashup of half baked plot lines. I didn’t feel quite as attached to the characters, my mind only wondering what the next stunt or joke would be.

So from my skewed review what can we take away? Pitch Perfect 2 is a really fun and enjoyable sequel that is sure to entertain a majority of the world. The comedy heavy theme and dialogue is going to make you laugh, and the soundtrack will have you tapping your toes away. Despite the lack of balance and weaker story, I have to recommend you go and see this film in theaters (like you actually wouldn’t).

My scores overall are:

Comedy/Music: 8.0

Movie Overall: 8.0