Monthly Archives: June 2016

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Mike and Dave are real-life brothers who trolled for wedding dates on Craigslist. Spoiler alert: the ad did not net them true love, but it did earn them fame and fortune, so I guess there’s a happy ending in there somewhere.

Now Hollywood’s got hold of this “true story” and they’ve raunched it up to 11. It’s rated R and believe me, that’s a hard R. There were some crude laughs, some I don’t even want to admit to, but there were dozens of scenes that went on for much too long. It’s a thin story mike-and-dave-need-wedding-dateswith paper cut-out dolls instead of characters, both of which provide the sparest of backdrops for a series of lewd sketches that aren’t so much plot-driven as rude one-upmanship.

The movie is determined to check all the boxes: swearing, sex, nudity, drugs. It uses prop genitalia, merkins (a pubic toupee), and cock socks (otherwise known as “modesty pouches”). And it also features the liberal use of butt doubles. Butt doubles for everyone! (well okay, not for Zac Efron, who has yet to see one that’s better than his own). How does one go about hiring said butt double? An agency will send over a big catalogue of butts for Anna Kendrick to look through and she might select several to peruse in person before selecting her butt’s representative. I assume the temptation to upgrade one’s assets would be enormous.

A body double working under Screen Actors Guild guidelines will be paid $795 for a full 8-hour shift, while part-specific models typically get a rate of $445.30. Of course, naked cheeks net double pay, and an “elite butt double” (whatever thKHekcf3at means) can command a much higher figure. And I’m sure Anna Kendrick springs for the premium butt. Wouldn’t you?

In case it’s not obvious, I found researching body double pay rates much more interesting
than Mike and Dave’s antics. And actually, they’re quite upstaged in the movie by their dates. Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza out-bro the bros. That’s not an endorsement, mind you, just a statement of fact: in a competition of who’s downest and dirtiest, the ladies take the crown. They’re like the love children of Amy Schumer and Danny McBride. So, um, score 1 for feminism (she says as she thrusts out her tits) but score 0 for the movie going public.

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The Fundamentals of Caring

I am having trouble sorting out my feelings for this movie: on the one hand, it’s plump with clichés like an overcooked wiener in a bun of unsubtlety. But that’s no ordinary mustard on this hot dog; it’s the fancy hand-pumped kind I got “on tap” from Maille in Paris, a beautiful mustard with Chablis and black truffles.

Okay, I took that metaphor too far. My point is (and I do have one): this movie the-fundamentals-of-caringhits a LOT of “road trip” clichés coupled with a lot of “my disabled buddy” clichés. And it has Selena Gomez. But it’s still offbeat and oddly charming and yes, this wiener won me over.

Ben (Paul Rudd) is a downtrodden man completing his training in caregiving, where the motto is, “Care, but not too much.” And that’s his plan. This is just a job. But he winds up working for an 18 year old young man named Trevor (Craig Roberts) with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. A progressive loss of muscle function means that Trevor’s in a wheel chair with limited use of his arms. The disease has NOT touched Trevor’s razor wit, his mean sense of humour, or his nasty predilection for pranks. This isn’t going to be an easy babysitting job after all – especially when the two hit the open road with a specially-equipped van full of drugs and life-sustaining equipment. Oh the fun they’ll have literally risking Trevor’s life to see some lousy American road side attractions.

Paul Rudd is the fancy mustard. I adore him. 60% of the time, I love him every time. I mean, let’s be serious for a moment. Is therefundamentalsofcaring-roberts-rudd-bovine-770x470 a single person on the planet who doesn’t love him? He might just be the most universally beloved actor that America has ever or will ever produce. He’s adorable. He’s still playing adorable and he’s middle aged!

Writer-director Rob Burnett manages to find a few new nuggets among the usual disability tropes. He’s not afraid of dark humour, but this movie still manages to be fairly lightweight. And I have to give him mad props for finding a way to use a Leonard Cohen song. I could hardly believe my little ears; they turned pink in utter delight.

This is the perfect little movie to accompany a glass of sangria at the end of a summer night – easy watching for easy sipping. Hot dogs are never easy eating for me but I rate this movie 4 gourmet all-beef wieners out of 5. It’s on Netflix right now.

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

I know exactly what is wrong with this movie: it deviates too much from Seth Grahame-Smith’s book – and for that matter, from Jane Austen’s.

Grahame-Smith’s novel was a clever and funny mash-up that clearly honoured its source material (credit to Quirk Books editor Jason Rekulak, who came up with the idea). Fans of Austen will follow along delightedly, finding all of their favourite bits suddenly transformed by the presence of the undead and the ninja Bennett sisters’ unparalleled fighting skills. It almost feels like untitledAusten left her novel wide open for a zombie attack, having an independent heroine spoiling for a fight and lots of solitary carriage rides through unpopulated areas.

Unfortunately, writer-director Burr Steers thought he knew better than both Grahame-Smith AND Austen, and departs from their material quite substantially. This from the esteemed writer of How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days.

The movie has glimpses of period drama and some real horror gore but has no idea how to unite the two. Instead, it drives toward an action flick, concocting very weird scenarios in which the zombies are not just a plague but a formidable, willful enemy. Lily James acquits herself well as the delightful maxresdefaultMiss Bennett, and seems to remember that she’s supposed to be having fun. The movie, however, takes itself too seriously and winds up being ludicrous. All the juicy bits of Austen’s writing are MIA and the zombies lack bite (it’s rated PG-13) so it rather fails on both counts. The zombies keep looking for brains, but they won’t find any here.

That Awkward Moment

Last night at the BET Awards, Michael B. Jordan won best actor for Creed. Last night during the BET Awards I watched a movie starring Michael B. Jordan called That Awkward Moment, a mistitled piece of cinema if I’ve ever seen one because at 1h34m, you can pack in hundreds of awkward moments, and they did.

That Awkward Moment stars two promising young actors, and Zac Efron. Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan have been in dozens of movies between them these past two or three years, some exceptional, some exceptionally bad. And I get it: you’re young, new to Hollywood, new to money. Make bank! Dolla dolla dolla bills, y’all. I get it. But there’s a limit, I think, to what an audience will tolerate before turning its back, and Miles Teller is dangerously close.

Miles Teller just starred in the Oscar-nominated Whiplash in 2014, so how can he have already wracked up so much ill-will? Well, besides this movie, he’s starred in 3 increasingly apathetic Brody-Whiplash-1200Divergent movies, the critically-panned Fantastic Four, and an embarrassingly poor attempt at comedy called Get A Job. He’s been in 8 films since Whiplash and not one of them reminds us that this kid had a good thing going. He’s got a new one coming out with Jonah Hill called War Dogs and we’re all hoping it’ll be a return to form, probably no one more so than his agent, because while they’re both earning money, Teller is decided not earning praise (or success at the box office), and Hollywood has a pretty short memory for little movies like Whiplash.

Michael B. Jordan, you may note, also has that Fantastic Four atrocity under his own belt. And he’s also got a really great indie movie to his name in Fruitvale Station. If you haven’t seen it, you really must. It was robbed at the Oscars and was nominated for nothing but it was one of fruitvale-station-main1the best in 2013, recounting the true story and final hours of a young man who is erroneously gunned down by police. Jordan, who’d mostly done TV up until then  (I knew him as a kid on The Wire but he was also in Friday Night Lights and Parenthood), really proved himself on screen but has had only a small handful of films since then, unlike his frequent co-star, Miles Teller. In fact, the only one  he did without him is the only one worth mentioning: Creed. Reunited with Fruitvale Station’s writer\director Ryan Coogler, Creed was an enormous success. It honoured the Rocky legacy while establishing its own dynasty. It had important champions in Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers but quickly won over audiences everywhere. It’s rumoured that Jordan will be joining the cast of Marvel’s Black Panther movie, but that’s all he’s got on the horizon. Besides War Dogs, Miles Teller has another one in the bank, something in post-production and 2 in pre-production. So tell me: what the hell is the difference? Two handsome young dudes with great roles in their back pockets. One is working back to back to back, and the other very little.

So I’ll ask again: what is the difference? Because I can see one glaring difference, and I hate how it sounds. I hate it.

Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star

Ms. Caron is the warm kind of story-teller that makes you fall under her spell. She on her sofa, you on yours, a pot of tea (and by tea I mean wine) between you, and you’ve got a lovely way to spend an hour catching up with an old friend.

Leslie Caron was a 17 year old ballerina in Paris where she’d just gotten her first solo, dancing in Oedipus and The Sphinx. Gene Kelly happened to be in the audience that night, and happened to think she was great. Hollywood was not on Ms. Caron’s radar and she had no ambitions to be a star, but agreed to a screen test “to be polite.” Two weeks later she was whisked away to L.A., signed to a 7-year contract with a major movie studio, and was starring opposite Kelly in An American In Paris.

In this documentary by venerable Canadian film maker Larry Weinstein, Ms. Caron is chatty, humble, engaging, and candid. As a young starlet, she rebelled against the Hollywood machine and bucked against the male-dominated industry. All these years later, you can still see the dancer in Ms. Caron, and the rebellious streak in her as well. Her posture is straight and proud, and her eyes positively dance recounting stories of all the men with whom she’s shared the screen: Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Warren Beatty, and even Johnny Depp. Her career has had longevity and reach well beyond a dancer’s, having proven Gene Kelly’s hunch by earning Oscar nominations and Emmy awards as an actor in her own right.

Ms. Caron notes “I have a great deal of trouble imagining myself as an old lady” and watching her, so will you. She is alive, sparkling with insight, still an artist wanting nothing more than to practice her craft. Documentarian Weinstein has kept the story lean with a running time well under an hour, but every moment is filled with vigour. You will fall in love with Ms. Caron, and her little dog too, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll suffer intense cravings for the immediate screening of some 1950s cinematic history.

 

Raiders!The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

In the summer of 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark hit theatres, impressing untold numbers of children, but three little boys in particular.

Chris, Jayson, and Eric collaborated in making a scene-for-scene recreation of the movie. Just 12 years old when they started, they spent every spring break, summer vacation, and Christmas holiday shooting scenes for the next 7 years. The next 7 years, guys! How many kids do you know with that kind of attention span? Or for that matter, how unusual to keep the same interests (and friends) all throughout puberty!

Filmed over 7 years, the kids get progressively bigger. The scenes, however, were shot out of order. It’s a real document of their childhood if not totally accurate to Spielberg’s vision. The stunts and effects were all kid-conceived and kid-supervised. They lit each other on fire, they leapt from moving vehicles. They kept their parents on the down-lo.

All these years later, they reunite (as adults, some of them with kids the age they were when they first started) to do the one scene that they never pulled off in their childhood: the airplane scene. Unwilling to compromise, they raise money to build an actual plane, and plan to actually blow it up. They’ve got 9 days to pull off 124 shots, and they’re already crazy over budget. Plus, their wives and bosses aren’t too happy with them. Is this the fulfillment of a childhood dream, or a case of you can’t go home again?

Either way, this is a cool movie. It puts you in touch with that joyful passion that maybe only kids can possess. This movie has champions in Eli Roth and Ernest Cline, author of Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One. It ignites the geeky fire in all of us, and angers the responsible adult in me. It might also make you a little weepy for the dreams you left behind.

 

 

 

Tell me: what weird thing did you spend a lot of time doing as a kid? I wrote plays, then directed them. I also devoted a lot of time to highly-produced lip-sync concerts where my friends and I covered Jem tunes.

 

 

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

I was a little torn about this one: it stars my beloved John Krasinski, but it’s directed by my arch enemy, Michael Bay. When I saw the trailers in theatres, it wasn’t possible to sit through the two minutes of footage without smirking – yet another opportunity for Bay to wave his proud American flag. Except it’s impossible to feel sympathy for anyone in this movie, since the Americans weren’t supposed to be there in the first place. They’re secret soldiers for a reason – as in, shhh, don’t tell the UN. I passed on the movie while it was in theatres but when I attempted to track it down now that it’s available to rent, images.jpgthe best I could describe it was “that stupid war movie with Chris Pratt.” Because in my mind I’d confused two of my most adored chubby funny guys on TV-turned ripped movie stars. Also: Chris Pratt starred in Zero Dark Thirty. Different war, same shit. And Michael Bay is not Kathryn Bigelow.

The first thing I noticed about this movie is that everybody has a beard. Everybody has a beard! Michael Bay has literally done his casting by watching whatever television shows were available on this in-flight menu (lazily casting a couple from The Office – both of Pam’s beaus!): 24, Orange is the New Black, Nurse Jackie. Then he told all his handsome-but-not-too-handsome TV stars to grow beards. Must be bearded.

John Krasinski plays a contractor – he’s not actually a soldier because of course the Americans aren’t really supposed to be there, it isn’t really an embassy, so they don’t rate real military. They’re hired guns, and they’re resented by the officials they’ve been hired to babysit.

It’s a Michael Bay movie, so you know it’s bloated. It’s bloated with glossy, whispery flashback scenes. It’s bloated with homoerotic, soft porn shots of sweaty muscles getting worked out. It’s exactly the kind of movie where a dude will fight a holy war in shorts and think nothing of it. Where all the characters in Krasinski’s periphery are cardboard cut-outs until Michael Bay brilliantly inserts one piddly little scene in which every single one of them krasinski2-xlargesimultaneously Skype their families so that we know they have loved ones at home and are not as expendable as they feel. They’re the same loved ones these guys abandoned to fight a war that isn’t theirs, that they don’t even understand, in a country they don’t care about, unable to distinguish bad guys from good, and won’t be rewarded for either way. It’s real uplifting!

It’s actually fairly mature and restrained for a Michael Bay movie. You would only get medium-belligerent drunk making a drinking game out of spotting crisp American flags waving around in a light breeze. Don’t worry, his patriotism is alive and erect as ever; he’s an apologist for this shitstorm if nothing else. And of course there’s no character development; its excessive 144 minutes are devoted to packing in as many explosions as possible – they still give Mikey a chubby after all this time. He never misses an opportunity to show us a dead body or a dangling limb. He lives for this stuff. Krasinski is woefully out of place, too good for his surroundings. Sticks out like a sore trigger finger. Hopefully he’s learned a lesson, and bought a ridiculously nice car with the pay cheque.

13 Hours is better than all the Transformers movies combined, which isn’t saying nearly enough. There’s still more merit in the first 5 minutes, or any 5 minutes of The Hurt Locker, than in the entire 2.5 hours of this piece of glorious war-porn Americana. God bless Michael Bay.