November 25, 2014

Sex Tape (2014)

Cameron Diaz, Jason Segal, Rob Lowe

Can I take a second and point out how crazy our culture has become in that the pervasiveness and commonality of watching Internet porn is such that movies like Zach and Miri Make a Porno and Sex Tape can even be made for mass consumption? Don Jon was genius because it took an almost satirical look at it and combined it with good ol' make-fun-of-New-Jersey humor. This movie, on the other hand, feels like, well, a Jason Segal movie. Like every other Jason Segal movie.

Speaking of Jason Segal movies, is it necessary that he sing in absolutely every single goddamn one? It's like, you can automatically tell if he helped write the script based on whether or not he sings in it. It's ridiculous. It's not like a situation where we pretend Christina Aguilera is an actress in Burlesque but compensate for it by having her sing. Jason Segal can neither act not sing. So why add insult to injury?

In case you think I'm biased against Jason Segal, the answer is I am. But I tried, people. I really tried. I even binge-watched five full seasons of How I Met Your Mother, despite my contempt for CBS, in an attempt to understand why he keeps getting cast in things. I thought perhaps he showed some range in the show that doesn't appear when he plays the same "lovable loser" over and over and over again. Surprise! He doesn't.

I could go on and on about my dislike of Jason Segal and his naked body, but this movie rested equally on the [giant] mouth of Cameron Diaz. No, but seriously, her mouth frightens me. If they ever bring the feminist revolution to re-casting Batman, Cameron Diaz should be first choice to play The Joker. Her mouth might otherwise be a minor problem, except that this is a movie about sex and there are a lot of close-ups on her kissing. And frankly, she looks like a bad kisser. I don't blame her, considering she's having to kiss Jason Segal, but it's unpleasant to watch.

You know what else is unpleasant? Having flashbacks in the movie that require the audience to pretend that Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz are 20 years old. This wouldn't be quite so offensive, except that they're nude in these scenes too. So we're just supposed to act like it's not weird that their bodies look exactly the same 10 years later. Oh, and that they're both 30 years old for the rest of the movie. (News flash: Cameron Diaz is 42 in real life.) Add to that the complete implausibility that Jason Segal lands anyone who looks like Cameron Diaz in real life...

Ok, beyond that seemingly insurmountable challenge of casting the wrong people in the movie, the plot reads like a bad version of Horrible Bosses with its over-the-top frenetic pace and wacky side characters. I'm not sure why Rob Lowe leaves every single television show because of his ego but is ok playing a hybrid of "super creepy Rob Lowe" and "painfully awkward Rob Lowe" in this movie.

Yet again, this is a movie with a funny premise that fails to deliver all the humor that could have been. Instead, we're left with the awkward nudity of Jason Segal, whom no one wants to see naked, and some crazy storyline that makes you feel less sorry for the characters and more like you want to sit them down for a lesson in how to use technology. I never thought I'd utter these words, but they could have taken a cue from Judd Apatow and made this is a little more like This is 40 and a little less like they were trying to appeal to 20-somethings. 20-somethings would know how not to upload their sex tape onto the Internet.

Final word: I might actually rather sit through a friends' actual sex tape rather than watch this again.

November 18, 2014

Ride Along (2014)

Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, John Leguizamo, Laurence Fishburn

Remember when Ice Cube used to be cool? You know what I mean, before he made Are We There Yet?--both the movie and the TV show. Well, this movie is not signaling his return to that former status.

This movie almost felt like one of those SNL commercials. You know, where it looks and feels like a real commercial, but it seems to be a parody of of something? (Side note: the recent SNL parody of Mathew McConaughy's Lincoln commercial might be one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.) This movie felt like one long parody of Training Day, which I suppose is sort of funny in and of itself, since Denzel is really just begging to be spoofed with his over-the-top intensity in every role. But honestly, after Ice Cube had a show on TBS (a network whose current line-up includes reruns of The Big Bang Theory and Cougar Town), it's hard to take him seriously again as a street tough guy.

And Kevin Hart is... well, Kevin Hart. You either like him or you don't, since his humor varies little from movie to movie. I tend to prefer him in supporting roles because he can become a bit much after a couple of house, but he managed to play a more sympathetic and relatable character here instead of just providing a steady (and sometimes overbearing) amount of comic relief. What I'm trying to say is, he's not the annoying one in this movie.

The plot is fine and predictable--nothing really noteworthy here, other than maybe seeing Laurence Fishburn in a movie again. (Seriously, where has he been?) At best, the movie is sporadically funny. Then again, so was Ted. Just about anything can have it's funny moments. And in the realm of cop comedies, not everything can be Beverly Hills Cop. I mean, hey, this was still better 21 Jump Street. (Which I guess means this will get its own sequel too.) 

Final word: For the viewer, more aptly titled "stuck and unable to escape."

November 14, 2014

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Uh....... this guy. And Damon Wayans. And a bunch of randoms.

First things first: I wish I had known this movie was loosely based on a Marvel Comic book. That would have saved me a lot of confusion over the title. As it was, it really wasn't explained until the end of the movie. Not that big of a deal, I realize, but if you're going to make a trailer as vague as this, at least the title should tell you what the movie is about.

Now, let's talk about how happy I am Disney did another movie with Asian characters. Considering 60% (yes, you read that correctly) of the world's population lives in Asia (so not even counting those of Asian descent who live elsewhere), you'd think they would have more than just Mulan and The Jungle Book to show for it. Oh right, and Russell from Up.

But disregarding its penchant for movies about white girls, Disney knows how to make a movie feel authentic. Set in the fictional city of San Fransoyko, the movie take pains to mix the architecture and skyline of both San Francisco and Tokyo. And though Hiro and Tadashi could have looked more Asian (I love Hapas, but why make them mixed at all?)), Disney at least made sure to omit the famous Caucasian "eyelid crease" and casted actual Asian people to voice the Asian characters.

This might be the teacher in me, but I absolutely love the focus on science and technology and making it cool. It reminded me of Meet the Robinsons in that way (both movies also excelled at awkward humor), except that no one watched Meet the Robinsons and Big Hero 6 managed to debut at #1 at the box office. It managed to capitalize on the current superhero craze without making everyone in the audience think, "oh f*ck, it's the Avengers, but Japanese!"

But honestly, that's really what the movie is--it's an action movie with a group of people with varying talents.  Of course, these are man-made talents and not divine powers, but it's basically the same idea. And it's about as predictable as the average action movie.
Where this movie distinguishes itself is the fact that there is a plot beyond "beat the bad guys." And of course, Baymax (seen left) is an awesome addition. He's a bit un-PC because, you know, he's fat and there are plenty of jokes surrounding that fact, but I suppose it's less offensive because he's a robot and not a real person. But still, the connotation is there.

In the end, the movie manages to be both exciting (minus a flight sequence that goes on for far too long) and heart-warming throughout. As always, Disney balances the attention spans and humor level of both children and adults seamlessly. And of course, having one of their cute little animated shorts before the movie makes it even better.

Final word: Disney. Asians. Robots. Superheroes. There is just no going wrong.

November 5, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender

Let me start by saying I cannot in good conscience endorse a movie in which Michael Fassbender is hotter than James McAvoy. Why the hell does Professor X have that hideous hair for his younger days? Are they trying to compensate for the fact that he spends his entire adult life bald? James McAvoy is already has that Johnny Depp dirty-hot thing going--he doesn't need scraggly hair and a 5 day stubble to push him over the edge into just dirty.

I also have an issue with prequels - I think everyone does. It's tricky to keep a movie interesting in which everyone already knows the ending. It can occasionally be successful, but for every Monsters University, there is a Oz the Great and Powerful. Or Dumb and Dumberer. But a prequel's sequel? What is this, Star Wars?

Despite these shortcomings, the movie does a number of things well. The visual effects are excellent, the premise is actually pretty interesting, and Ellen Page doesn't annoy me for once. And this is probably the first movie I've ever watched that used time travel in a way that made sense. That's no small thing, since movies love to use the time travel angle to make them seem smarter, but don't generally pass muster with anyone who's brighter than a third grader.

Where the movie loses me, however, is with its pace. I found it to be excruciatingly slow for an action movie. I hate to even say it, since it's actually a "smart" action movie and not just a movie that blows sh*t up. But I fell asleep watching this. A couple of times. And guess what? I woke up a few minutes later and nothing had happened! Again, isn't this supposed to be an action movie?

I don't know, maybe the stars weren't in alignment for me or something while watching this movie, but I really don't see what everyone was hyping here. Maybe other people are able to overlook the bizarre casting choices in which all that was required was a British accent. And good for the casting agent for looking past the fact that Peter Dinklage is an unattractive little person and making him a character in which his height plays no role, but like Jennifer Lawrence, can he not be in everything? I guess I just don't love comic books enough to watch anything and everything that features a Marvel character, which doesn't bode well for me for the coming months...

Final word: Please stop making these.