Blogathon: Movie Jail Relay Race

Nostra, the King of Blogathons, has teamed up with Terrence from The Focused Filmographer to deliver one of the most entertaining blogathons yet:

Movie Jail Relay Race

The Rules:
It’s time to put some movie people in jail. The object is to give a prosecutor’s argument as to why these movie people belong in “Movie Jail” whether it be for violating the integrity of the content source of one their films, or being a sell-out, just making bad movies overall, getting worse as time goes on or not being in a good movie for many years. The baton will be passed to another blogger who will have to do the following:

In order to free someone from Movie Jail they have to do 2 things:

1 – Give a defense attorney argument defending the plaintiff
2 – Pay bail: the cost of which is another case for the court and a prosecutor’s argument against the actor/director of their choice that will replace the one set free.

There must always be 10 people in Movie Jail.

The Participants:
1. My Filmviews/The Focused Filmographer
2. Cinematic Corner
3. And So It Begins…
4. Surrender to the Void
5. Cinematic Paradox
6. The Cinematic Spectacle
7. Being Norma Jean
8. Defiant Success
9. …let’s be splendid about this
10. Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions
11. Aziza’s Picks
12. Flixchatter
13. i luv cinema
14. Public Transportation Snob

The Inmates:
Michael Bay

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer

Raja Gosnell

Katherine Heigl

Todd Phillips

Eddie Murphy

Adam Sandler

Kristen Stewart

Jennifer Lopez

Gerard Butler

Who I’m Setting Free:
Todd Phillips
Honestly, it’s hard to make a case for any of these inmates, but Todd Phillips has at least made a few solid comedies over the years. Although I haven’t seen either in many years, I did enjoy Road Trip and Old School, and I even liked *both* of The Hangover films. Blasphemy, I know. Yeah, he has had some missteps along the way, and he doesn’t have a particularly positive reputation, but I think he has served enough time in our jail.

Who I’m Putting in Jail:
Val Kilmer
How did the man best known for playing Jim Morrison, Doc Holliday and freakin’ Batman end up like this?? Kilmer has resorted to almost exclusively putting out direct-to-video fodder. Just take a look at his seven (!) films from 2012 alone: Deep in the Heart, Lotus Community Workshop, Breathless, Wyatt Earp’s Revenge, Seven Below, The Fourth Dimension, Standing Up. Do any of those ring a bell? For his poor recent output, Val Kilmer deserves a stint in movie jail.

Next up in the relay race: 3 Guys, 1 Movie

Movie Review: The Hangover Part II [2011]

The Hangover Part II

The Hangover Part II [2011]
Director: Todd Phillips
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Country: USA

By all accounts, 2009’s The Hangover was a rousing success. It grossed a stunning $467 million worldwide and received generally positive acclaim from both critics (78% on Rotten Tomatoes) and casual moviegoers alike. Therefore, a sequel was inevitable. Two years later, here we are with The Hangover: Part II, a second effort that follows the original formula right down to a T.

Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha are back playing the same group of guys in the original Wolfpack. This time around Stu Price (Helms) is getting married in Thailand. Stu’s planned “Bachelor Brunch” is laughed at by his bros, and he is persuaded later that evening to go out for a beer. Of course, one beer turns into god-knows-how-many, and the fellas wake up with massive hangovers with similar predicaments as the last film.

The Hangover Part II

In lieu of a missing tooth (as in the first), Stu now has a face tattoo identical to Mike Tyson’s. Alan (Galifianakis) has a shaved head. Doug (Bartha) wisely abandoned the group after the aforementioned one beer, and he is resting peacefully at the resort. While Doug went missing in the first one, that honor goes to 16-year-old Teddy (Mason Lee), Stu’s future brother-in-law who joined in on the debauchery. His disappearance is even more frenzied because one of his fingers was found on the coffee table. Throw in a monkey in place of the first movie’s baby, and swap Las Vegas for Bangkok, and you essentially have the same comedy with a different coat of paint.

While the lack of originality is somewhat disconcerting, this comedy formula still works. Raunch is piled on to the point of excess, but that is what these type of comedies are all about. As one might expect with a movie set in Bangkok, more emphasis is put on the seedy underbelly of the city. Sex and drugs are heavily on display, and there is one extended scene at a strip club where Stu gets a little too friendly with a ladyboy. There is so much lewd behavior on hand that Zach Galifianakis swore never to show this movie to his mother. If you’re offended easily, you will want to skip out on this.

The Hangover Part II

There are some obvious issues with the movie. The acting is lackluster at times, especially when the group is actually at the wedding resort. Stu and his future wife Lauren (Jamie Chung) have no chemistry, and her performance is about as bad as they come. Ken Jeong is back as Mr. Chow and is as annoying as ever. I still don’t get the appeal for that guy, and I’m not sure why his micro-penis needs to be shown in both movies. Also, the ending wraps things up a bit too neatly, with huge problems being dismissed far too easily.

As it stands, The Hangover Part II is a darker, even raunchier version of the original, and it stays true to the form. Chances are if you liked the first one, you will like this as well. The movie has lost some of its charm, but it still provides enough laughs to keep things entertaining throughout. I’m not sure a third sequel is necessary, however.


Movie Review: Due Date [2010]

Due Date [2010]

Due Date [2010]
Director: Todd Phillips
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Country: USA

Due Date is a haphazard road comedy starring two unlikeable characters, a film that could have been far greater than its outcome. Robert Downey Jr. is Peter Highman, a high strung businessman who is trying to make it from Atlanta to Los Angeles in order to be there for the birth of his first child. At the Atlanta airport, he runs into Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), an annoying aspiring actor who inadvertantly causes a scene and causes both men to be put on the no-fly list. The moment that allows this to happen is not as funny as you would expect. With his bags (and wallet) still on the plane, Peter has no way to rent a car and drive to LA so he begrudgingly rides along with Ethan. Yes, this is a road trip movie.

I had fairly high expectations for this film, especially considering director Todd Phillips had a major comedy hit immediately before this in the form of The Hangover. I like Downey and Galifianakis, and the trailer made this look pretty funny. While Due Date has a handful of laugh-out-loud moments, it tends to rely too heavily on its weak script and trying-too-hard-to-be-funny scenes. It doesn’t help that both of the main characters are just so unlikeable. Zach G. is a very funny guy, but he isn’t given anything to work with here. His character, Ethan, is an annoying little twat who has nary a likeable trait. Downey’s character isn’t much better due to his holier-than-thou asshole tendencies, although he does provide the “best” moment in the movie when he knocks out a child.

Due Date [2010]

A big problem is that the obligatory “gross out” scenes are stupid and unnecessary. Who thought including a random segment with a masturbating dog would be funny? Apparently the dog learned this from Ethan, who has to masturbate at night in order for him to be able to fall asleep. WTF? I don’t get how someone thought this was a good idea.

What helps keep the movie watchable is its assortment of random cameos. RZA, Danny McBride, Juliette Lewis and Jamie Foxx all have bit roles in the movie, and they do their best to keep things fresh at crucial times in the movie.

It’s unfortunate that such a talented cast was given a poor script to work with. This is a fairly simple concept — two guys with opposite personalities taking a cross country road trip — and it is a premise that could easily provide hilarious obstacles along the way. Yet it is hard to get behind the unlikeable main characters that Due Date throws at us. Still, this isn’t a terrible movie, or even a bad one. It’s just that it could have been so much more.