Archive for the ‘Comedy/Laffs’ Category

Mystery Train (and a visit to Memphis)

Monday, October 6th, 2014

tn_mysterytrainIn NASHVILLE, Robert Altman used the city to represent America in some way. In MYSTERY TRAIN Jim Jarmusch kinda does the same thing with Memphis, but the joke is that it’s three stories about Memphis through the eyes of foreigners. For all they know the whole country hangs Elvis portraits in their hotel rooms.

The first and favorite story is of two Japanese tourists, Jun (Masatoshi Nagase, THE HIDDEN BLADE) and Mitsuko (Yuki Kudo, RUSH HOUR 3) who arrive in Memphis on a train. I know, I thought this was gonna be a remake of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, or possibly a story about a talking train that solves mysteries, but most of it doesn’t have to do with the train at all. You just see the train going by every once in a while. What the “mystery” part of the title means is, well… an unanswered question.

I like this story because I like these two. Mitsuko is obsessed with Elvis, Jun never misses an opportunity to say that Carl Perkins is better. Fuckin show off. He has a carefully maintained rockabilly rebel persona with slicked back hair, a white undershirt tucked in under a big belt buckle, etc. He’s very stoic, almost never smiles or says something openly nice, but it rarely dampens her enthusiasm. In one great scene she tests his cool by making goofy faces, then putting on alot of lipstick and sloppily smearing it all over his mouth via kiss. He manages to stay completely deadpan with his clown makeup on, smoking a cigarette that she lights for him with her feet. But he gives a tiny smile when she walks away.

That’s mostly what this movie is about, goofy little character moments done very dry and quiet, in long takes. So it’s a Jim Jarmusch movie. (read the rest of this shit…)

Last Action Hero

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

tn_lastactionheroex3-arnoldDo you guys remember how LAST ACTION HERO was the big ticket for ’93?

Okay, probly not. That was the tagline on some of the posters though. See, they knew this was destined to be a huge event movie, the movie of the summer. Fuck JURASSIC PARK. But also the plot involved a magical ticket that transports people between the worlds of reality and fiction. It’s a double meaning. They put alot of thought into this thing, just not the right kind maybe.

This is at least the third time I’ve watched and attempted to truly like this movie. That’s a strike out, so it’s time to sit on the bench and accept it as a kinda interesting, kinda terrible movie. Not as good as HUDSON HAWK but a bit of that same clever/awkward cocktail. Unique enough to keep coming back to, not good enough to be 100% sure it was worth it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Money Train

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

tn_moneytrainex3-snipes“You know, we are not getting along.”

In MONEY TRAIN that legendary comedy duo of Wesley and Woody play John and Charlie, brothers who are both New York City transit cops who play by their own rules. They get into fist fights with other cops (for example over the fatal shooting of a guy who only snatched a chain), Woody has a gambling addiction, and when they chase a suspect onto the tracks it slows down the train that delivers the apparently millions of dollars of subway fare, getting them on the shit list of Captain Patterson (Robert Blake, Our Gang).

Then they get assigned a new partner. Somebody who’s uptight and doesn’t like their methods, right? No, actually she’s really cool, works well with them and even hangs out with them at the bar after work. The trouble is she’s Jennifer Lopez, so they fight over her.

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The Wolf of Wall Street

Monday, December 30th, 2013

tn_wolfofwallstreetTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET is the incredibly entertaining new movie from director Martin Scorsese (Michael Jackson’s BAD), based on the memoir of scumbag fraudulent stockbroker Jordan Belfort (executive producer of SANTA WITH MUSCLES), adapted by Terence Winter (writer of a 50 Cent video game and 2 episodes of The Cosby Mysteries). Leonardo DiCaprio (POISON IVY) plays Belfort in the saga of his meteoric rise from innocent Wall Street rookie to multi-millionaire cokehead innovator in greed and callous thievery. After THE GODFATHER and all these other classics that show how organized crime operates like a business, here Scorsese flips it around to show how business acts like gangsters.

Man, we take it for granted after so many big, showy movies with great directors – or we don’t want to admit it ’cause he’s still got kind of a baby face and we remember when he made the teenage girls faint in their pants – but jesus, DiCaprio sure has turned into a good actor. WOLF is Scorsese picture #5 for him, and it seems for a while like he’s mostly doing his usual moves. He’s got the intensity, the energy, the accent that’s old timey and not very naturalistic but he goes so all-in that I buy it, the face that teeters between boyish and Benicio Del Toro. Early in the movie he even crash-lands a small aircraft and stumbles away, as if he’s doing callbacks to THE AVIATOR. He should do that in all his movies, it could be his “I’ll be back.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Saving Mr. Banks

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

tn_savingmrbanksSAVING MR. BANKS is the story of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) flying out to Burbank to develop the movie of her book Mary Poppins with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks). I’m surprised it’s not called TRAVERS, following the last-name-of-character-to-indicate-this-is-a-biopic-and-this-small-story-is-representative-of-the-larger-story-of-their-life trend (CAPOTE, HITCHCOCK, LINCOLN, BLADE, E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, etc.). Maybe they were worried people would think it was about Peter Travers.

As a one-time film critic herself, P.L. would never be confused with Positive Pete. It’s not mentioned in the movie, but I’ve read that in ’37 this Travers reviewed Disney’s pioneering achievement SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS and trashed it. I wish I could read the whole thing, but all I can find is this quote that’s been floating around: “There is a profound cynicism at the root of his, as of all, sentimentality.” Lucky thing Rotten Tomatoes was only on index cards back then, so nobody cared that she was the Armond White of the ’30s, fuckin up its 100% fresh rating. (read the rest of this shit…)

House Party: Tonight’s The Night

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

tn_houseparty5You may remember my important review series Kid ‘n Play: 20 Years On Film: A Cinematic Legacy. Year end awards did not. But to be fair I think the Pulitzer has a print requirement. And I’m in for the long game anyway, I got my fingers crossed for best of the decade type awards.

Anyway it’s obvious that somebody read my series because they decided it was time to rebooten the HOUSE PARTY film franchise for a generation newer than the one that theoretically watched 2001’s HOUSE PARTY 4: DOWN TO THE LAST MINUTE starring Kid ‘n Play’s younger movie cousins Immature. HOUSE PARTY: TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT is kind of a modern rehash of the first one but done with actors and not music people like the original or the previous rebootal. In that sense it seems to be not really in the same spirit, it comes from the attitude that it’s easier for an actor to learn how to rap than the other way around. But it’s still the story of teenage rapper friends trying to get the girls they like and this time get a record contract at a party they aren’t supposed to be throwing. (read the rest of this shit…)

Kenny & Company

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

tn_kennyBefore he did PHANTASM, a 22 year old Don Coscarelli wasn’t even looking to be a horror director. He got together the people he knew and filmed in his neighborhood and made this sweet coming-of-age type comedy about growing up in the California suburbs of the ’70s. Kenny (Dan McCann) is a kid about 12 or 13, his company is Doug (PHANTASM star A. Michael Baldwin) and Sherman (Jeff Roth), a goofy younger kid from across the street who they pick on but start becoming real friends with when they see him getting beat up by Johnny Hoffman (Willy Masterson), the same neighborhood bully they live in terror of.
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Machete Kills

Monday, October 14th, 2013

tn_machetekillsThere are lots of funny things in MACHETE KILLS. For a while it coasts on enjoyably stupid jokes, like the ridiculous trailer for part 3 of the series that it opens with. Early on it has a little faux-serious melodrama, playing it almost straight when a clash with rogue soldiers, a Mexican drug cartel and an army in lucha libre masks leads to the death of Machete (Danny Trejo, DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN, MARKED FOR DEATH)’s partner. I like the setup, with a redneck Arizona sheriff (William Sadler, DIE HARD 2) failing to hang Machete before he gets called in by the president (Charlie Sheen, NAVY SEALS, credited as Carlos Estevez) who offers him citizenship in exchange for doing a dangerous mission. I thought the joke of casting him was to have a guy as crazy as Sheen as the president, like wasn’t Mickey Rourke the president in MASKED AND ANONYMOUS? It honestly didn’t occur to me until seeing him on a White House set that his dad played the president in The West Wing (not to mention playing Kennedy). Anyway, the best part is the idea that this unsavory slasher/wife-and-daughter-fucker/assassin gets to sit in the White House and hear his offer.

Trejo’s face is even more rugged than ever, if possible, and he doesn’t have to joke around. He’s fun to watch just being that same character, but now equipped with various high-tech variations on machetes to chop people up with. Robert Rodriguez (credited as sole director this time, and also with his name above the title, but only a co-story credit) once again fills the movie with a huge, unlikely cast, mostly playing colorful gimmicky characters: Mel Gibson (PAPARAZZI) as a weapon inventor/space cultist planning to blow up the world, Demian Bichir (2012 best actor nominee for A BETTER LIFE) as a revolutionary/terrorist/something, Amber Heard (DRIVE ANGRY) as a government agent undercover as a beauty queen, Walton Goggins/Cuba Gooding Jr./Lady Gaga/Antonio Banderas all playing the same assassin called El Camaleon, Vanessa Hudgens (SPRING BREAKERS) as a girl that’s in one part, Sofia Vergara allowing Salma Hayek some dignity by stepping in to play the deadly Madam character with army of killer prostitutes (see also Lucy Liu in THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS, Zoe Bell in BAYTOWN OUTLAWS, etc.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Summer Movie Flashback: Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

tn_mrandmrssmith

2005

2005

MR. & MRS. SMITH is an action comedy from Doug Liman, the director of THE BOURNE IDENTITY and JUMPER.  It has had a bigger imprint on pop culture than JUMPER because it caused Brad Pitt to ditch the lady he was with at the time and stick with his wife in the movie, LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER THE CRADLE OF LIFE star Angelina Jolie. The two play John and Jane Smith (of course), who have been married for “5 or 6 years” without knowing that each other are highly skilled assassins for rival secret organizations. It’s kind of like TRUE LIES I guess but less hateful, more equal (though also the action, like the movie in general, is not as huge).

John works out of a cluttered headquarters like a construction office, his partner a misogynist loser who lives in his Mom’s basement (Vince Vaughn, his shtick already pretty worn out by that point). John keeps his weapons in a secret bunker under the tool shed. Jane’s firm is a high tech MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE type joint in a high rise. She seems to be the boss, pampered by an all female, all model staff including Kerry Washington. At one point she tells two of them to make her coffee. Her weapons, of course, are in a secret compartment under the oven.
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Hit & Run

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

tn_hitandrunHere’s how I know marketing failed HIT & RUN: I was one of its test subjects. Some time last year I was at the multiplex picking up tickets for later in the day. In the lobby sometimes they have these survey people showing trailers on little monitors and asking focus group type questions. I always wondered what that was about, and I had some time to kill, so when they asked me to do it I said yes.

I saw other people being tested on THE EXPENDABLES 2, which at the time seemed exciting. But too my disappointment the survey focused on HIT & RUN, which I learned was a comedy starring Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Tom Arnold and Bradley Cooper as the bad guy. They showed me variations of different commercials, mainly consisting of Arnold yelling, Shepard getting hit in the face with a golf club, a car going off a jump, and the various actors in cars looking scared like they’re gonna crash. Some had a heavy emphasis on a scene where squeaky-voiced Kristen Chenoweth talks about taking Xanex. I struggled to answer questions like “What do you think the movie is about?” and “What is your favorite part?” (Answers: 1. “Well, they said he was a bank robber, so they’re after him? I don’t know.” 2. “I guess Bradley Cooper in dreadlocks looks funny.”) In the end I had to answer that no, I did not think there was any chance that I would see this movie, because it doesn’t look funny at all.
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