Monthly Archives: May 2018

Super Troopers 2

In the 17 years between the first Super Troopers and its sequel, you’d think one of the guys from Broken Lizard would have written one half-decent joke. Even plagiarized one accidentally. And you’d definitely think that if, between the 5 of them, they hadn’t written any new material WHATSOEVER in 17 frickin years, they would agree that they did NOT have enough to make a movie and thus would not have made a movie – ha. You give them too much credit.

It is incomprehensible that any of these buffoons would be gainfully employed in any capacity, but it is no surprise that after being inexplicably handed back the very jobs they were so very deservedly fired from in the first movie, they would spend the whole of the sequel abusing their power in childish, unoriginal, and unamusing MV5BN2Y1YzM2YTMtNGViMy00NzYzLWJkYWUtZmZmNDkyYWEyNmEzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,948_AL_ways. I’m normally pretty hard on sequels that are content to ride on the laurels of their predecessors, but in this case, Super Troopers 2 only wishes it could attain the very attainable, very modest heights of the first movie, a movie that could only dream of laurels in the first place.

In this iteration, the boys are back in beige because the Vermont border is moving north, into territory that used to be Canadian. So this movie exists for the sole purpose of making fun of Canadian stereotypes made up by, and existing only in the minds of, stupid Americans. This movie feels so out of touch with 2018 that I almost felt sorry for it – in the way that you almost feel sorry for Roseanne, who was fired from the show that bears her name, for just being her on-brand, normal, ignorant, racist self, in a world that has evolved to no longer reward such puerile, unenlightened behaviour.

We saw this movie as the third in a triple feature at the drive-in two weeks ago and I’m still not over how offensively bad it was. Of course, I didn’t really like the first one either. Too juvenile for me, but I said that, Sean was quick to jump on me: “But you own it!” he said, sure he was catching me in some sort of lie. And he’s right in that it does reside in the DVD collection in my garage. Which is why, on the quiet 3am drive home from the triple feature at Port Elmsley, I had to have The Conversation with Sean. You know, the one in which I confess that he isn’t the first boy to force me to watch movies against my will. He is shook. Not that we needed another reason to vehemently dislike Super Troopers 2, but boy did we get one.

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What Happened to Monday

The world is overpopulated and we are consuming resources at an untenable rate – these are facts, not fiction. It’s kind of depressing that in a dystopian, sci-fi future, the architect of our demise is real, but our willingness to do something about it is the fiction.

In this particular 2078, a strict one-child policy has been made law and is brutally enforced. The GMOs in our food has led to unfathomable rates of multiple-births, so every human is braceleted and check-points are set up to monitor for siblings, who are then removed from the population in order to be cryogenically frozen for a time  when the earth may sustain them. But as Willem Dafoe watches his beautiful and beloved daughter die while giving birth to septuplets, he vows to keep the seven sisters secret. Named for each day of the week, they are raised behind closed doors to be smart and MV5BOGE5ZmVjOGUtZmQzOS00OGQyLWEwNDEtNjkyNDRiZTBhNDA1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDkzNTM2ODg@._V1_self-sufficient. Each one may only venture outside on the day of the week for which they are named – outside their home, they live as “Karen Settman”, a character that all 7 must be equally devoted to keeping sacred.

Of course, when Monday goes missing, the remaining 6 are going to have a heck of a time tracking her down since between them they only have the one avatar allowed to exist in the world. So the script basically forces itself into an anything-goes amalgam where we’re never sure if we’re watching a gritty crime thriller, or a family drama, or a murder mystery, or jagged social commentary. There are a couple of really great set pieces that may get your heart pumping quickly enough to sustain you during the more aimless scenes in between. It’s an uneven movie, overstuffed for sure, but an interesting premise even if its denouement is somewhat predictable.

Noomi Rapace gets to play all seven juicy roles, and she gives each Settman sister a twist of her own. It’s fun to watch her interact with herself, and it’s a trick pulled off rather deftly. But for me, personally, the  most interesting part of this movie is imaging myself and my sisters (there are “only” 4 of us, luckily – the world could not take a single one more) co-existing even nominally peacefully in an apartment for years, sharing one single identity. The four of us are nothing alike and I can’t even imagine what a compromise would begin to look like. One of  us lives and breathes hockey, and one of us cannot physically stand upright on skates. How do you even do that halfway? One of us is covered in tattoos and one of us refers to them as “prison ink” with a judgmental eye roll. Growing up, we couldn’t agree on a single television show to watch. How would we agree on a single hairstyle, job, boyfriend, drink preference? And let’s face it: whoever pulls the Saturday shift will never have to go to work or school, while poor Monday will forever be stuck without a single drop of fun.

Sean watched this movie and had a very different takeaway. He saw only potential: since we are childfree by choice, he thought our right to a child could be sold to the highest bidder, and he envisioned us living comfortably off the proceeds. So in summation: Jay can’t even imagine a fictional world in which she is capable of compromise, Sean is mercenary, and What Happened to Monday is an entertaining but not quite brilliant addition to Netflix’s sci-fi catalogue.

Outlaw King – again

I was in the audience when Outlaw King premiered at TIFF. I don’t feel bad admitting I didn’t care for it. Director David Mackenzie himself was unsatisfied; he likened the feeling of losing the audience’s interest at such a high-profile festival to the air being sucked out of a room. With Netflix’s blessing, Mackenzie made a beeline for the editing room. He shaved 23 minutes off the runtime, and tightened up the film’s pace. He feels much happier with the cut currently streaming on Netflix, the only cut the world will ever know, and because I like and respect Mackenzie so much, I decided I could find it within myself to give it another try.

If you read my first review from TIFF, then you know how big a sacrifice this was for me. I sound punch drunk in that one, and I was, dizzy with all the horse slaughter, for one. There were so many dead horses that I made a deal with Sean when we turned this on (he didn’t see it with me at TIFF): if he could accurately count all the murdered horses, I would murder him with a blow job. And that is not an empty promise. I once put the poor kid in a coma with an ordinary handie.

Anyway, is Outlaw Kind new & improved? It is. It is still an unapologetically brutal movie. Having seen 50 or so movies at TIFF and maybe twice that since, I didn’t expect to remember this 2.5 hour movie frame for frame, and indeed I did not, but I could point out several differences as we watched. Mackenzie launches us into the action much more quickly, almost directly after that impressive opening 8-minute shot that everyone’s talking about.

I still think it’s a little hokey that Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) is repeatedly shown to be a kind and considerate lover. In a movie where historical accuracy seems to be prized, it’s odd that Robert is so insistently shown to be a gentle husband, and his wife Elizabeth (Florence Pugh) to be so headstrong and plucky. Not exactly the hallmarks of a woman who has been given as chattel from the conquering king as to the defeated one, in appeasement. Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s still pretty great though, crazed and demented. I remember feeling bad for him the first time; Chris Pine is evidently this movie’s heartthrob as he is always clean and probably period-inappropriately hygienic whereas poor Taylor-Johnson is constantly covered in mud (god I hope it’s mud, especially given the number of dead horses) and his teeth, oh lord, his teeth, smeared in god knows what. Horse shit isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. And speaking of Johnsons, you have no doubt heard that Pine’s is on full display in this movie. True. It is also a true and turgid fact that Taylor-Johnson’s is a hell of a lot more visible in A Million Little Pieces, if you’re into that kind of thing. More visible in terms of length – both movie and cock wise. Not that anyone’s counting.

What else can I tell you about this movie? I noticed that this time, I chuckled in a couple of places. There is no hint of that in my first review; I was overwhelmed by the brutality and the unrelenting muck. This time I had a little more breathing room despite the fact that they’ve literally removed a lot of the breathing room. I am proud of myself for making it through this one twice. My brother-in-law Chris liked this movie. Sean liked this movie. And in the end, he’d totaled 71.

Ibiza

Harper gets sent to Barcelona on business, and I believe that her boss intended for her to do some actual work but instead her give-a-fuck meter is pointing to zero, which should have been evident the minute she invited her two best friends on her very important, very serious business trip.

Things that Harper (Gillian Jacobs) and besties Leah (Phoebe Robinson) and Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) do in Spain instead of work: sun tan, sun burn, rate nipples (Bilbo Baggins, Little Bo Peeps, Honeydews, Rhi-Rhis, and Daniel Craigs – which are you sporting?).

And that’s before they skip town entirely, chasing after a hunky DJ because Harper felt a “connection.” Hence, Ibiza.

This movie is almost entirely drugs, beats, black lights, confetti cannons, and naked sushi. Have you ever risked your career and future to get high and get dick, not necessarily in MV5BNjE3MDk1NTQ3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTMzODI0NTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1491,1000_AL_that order? Priorities, people! Now imagine, for a moment, being the HR lady back at Harper’s PR firm in New York. Imagine being Harper’s mother. Imagine being Harper’s urethra! Imagine being Harper: putting yourself in a series of really sketchy situations, and then having the privilege to call it “adventurous” and “risk-taking” because you had the good fortune not to get raped. Netflix wanted to dip its misshapen little toe into the raunchy comedy genre, and it did it EXACTLY as you’d expect it to.

To say this film is loosely structured is to loosely blaspheme structure. Twenty five minutes in, I still didn’t have the foggiest what this movie was going to be about. Ibiza puts a lot of faith in Gillian Jacobs’ ability to carry a film, to truly be its star, and as you can tell, I have absolutely no chill for this entitled character and her complete disregard for her colleagues, her clients, her dignity, her vaginal health, and worst of all, for me and my time and my vaginal health. Just kidding, about that last bit. My vagina is the only part about this with any genuine charisma or girl power, so go me, and also, don’t watch this movie.

Laggies

Megan panics when her boyfriend of 10 years proposes to her at a friend’s wedding, but really it’s what she’s been waiting for – not so much for the ring, but for someone to just decide for her. With her post-graduate studies complete, she’s still without a job, still waffling on her daddy’s couch when convenient. She’s lost. Which doesn’t excuse the following: when she flees her brand new fiance and her dear friend’s wedding reception to “get some air” she winds up at a grocery store, buying beer for some teenagers.

And then she ends up following one of them home. Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) is pretty interesting for a 16 year old, but the home she shares with her single father Craig (Sam Rockwell) is appealingly simple and cozy to Megan (Keira Knightley) and her quarter life crisis. Of course, the addition of Megan instantly complicates things for everyone and life is never simple. Megan should bloody well know that.

This film is apparently known as Say When in some countries, and I sort of think it MV5BNDhhM2FiMWUtYTBhNi00M2Q5LWI3ZTMtNWVmODcwMGU3ZTAwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTI3MDk3MzQ@._V1_should be in mine as well. Laggies? An expression I was unfamiliar with, but could kind of understand with context. Urban Dictionary, bless its lack of soul, provides several helpful definitions, including 1. dragging along (which I believe Megan is doing) 2. someone who is stalkerish (which Megan borderline is) 3. a combination of both large + saggy, referring to boobs, as in “she’s got a nice rack, but she’s laggy” (which Megan most assuredly is NOT) 4. “the laggies” is a disease (well, a pretend one) caused by chronic masturbation (I’ll let you watch the movie to find out which characters may suffer from it).

Keira Knightly is not entirely convincing in her part or in her accent, but director Lynn Shelton is working really hard to throw a little sympathy her way, which is hard to do when an overeducated, overprivileged white girl is whining about her own indecision. Chloe Grace Moretz and Sam Rockwell, though, are pretty fantastic additions to the cast. They bookend Megan’s 20-something ennui, and give it some perspective. I also appreciated pop-ups from Ellie Kemper and Jeff Garlin; Shelton has a knack for comedy that I can only wish was more present in the script by Andrea Seigel. This film puts a little too much faith in Knightley’s charm. She tries her best to be our plucky heroine but she’s not half as enchanting as she thinks she is, and she’s easily upstaged by her teenage counterpart. Possibly Megan should have locked that shit down while she still could. Instead she’s stuck in that crack between childhood and adulthood, and the only enticement of this film is the viewer’s desire to be the one to give her shove she needs to get the fuck out.

Red Sparrow

I read the book and didn’t really like it, and in true adaptation fashion, the movie sucks the book’s balls.

What you need to know: Russia is selecting beautiful women and turning them into spies who fuck. Like, they literally get secrets by giving blow jobs. And there might be something to that. Jennifer Lawrence plays a ballerina who can’t dance anymore, so her uncle sells her into this program, and she becomes a Red Sparrow, the spy who shags everyone. In this particular case, she’s going to shag Joel Edgerton because he’s an American spy who’s hiding a Russian mole but maybe he’ll turn intoMV5BNWRjN2E5NWYtNzNjNy00ZmI3LTgzOGEtMzBlZDdjMjkxZjI4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzk5NjEzOA@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_ a source himself or maybe he’ll turn her into a double agent, or better yet, a triple agent, or a quadruple agent, or just a woman who’s about to be assassinated by her own government, but not without blowing her way across the country first.

Does it sound sloppy? It is.

And the casting is confusing. I mean, first of all, Jennifer Lawrence couldn’t sell me a bottle of wine if I’d just found out Sean was my half-brother. Girl cannot carry a Russian accent. And in a movie where sex is everything, the sex was nothing. I mean, there was an abundance of sex scenes, and J-Law got straight down to bare hooch, but she and Joel have about as much chemistry as a couple of bologna sandwiches about to get in my grandpa’s belly. And then: the Russian characters are played by American, British, Belgian, Dutch, German, Ukrainian and Polish actors. The American guy is played by an Australian. This flaccid casting doesn’t exactly prop up a convoluted plot.

Like any good spy movie, the end is supposed to come as a surprise, but with such weak characterization, it’s hard to invest, and Red Sparrow attempts to write cheques it can’t cash. But for me the worst crime, you know, aside from the treason and murder and such, is the fake female empowerment. Just because she’s not getting paid doesn’t mean she’s not a prostitute.

Sherlock Gnomes

It was 2011 when we first met garden gnomes who come to life when no humans are watching. Back then, two rival yards, that of the Montagues, and the Capulets, were at war, except Gnomeo fell in love with the forbidden Juliet, and they all got a happier ending than the one Shakespeare wrote for them, set to a soundtrack of Elton John songs.

Cut to: the May long weekend, 2018. Jay and Sean are in the mood to kick off the summer in style, so they drive to the nearest open drive-in, which is playing a TRIPLE feature which we only realize in retrospect was a night of sequels: Sherlock Gnomes, Deadpool 2, and Super Troopers 2 (in order of how they played, and how much I enjoyed them).

As you may have gleaned from the title, instead of revisiting Shakespeare, this time the gnomes tackle Arthur Conan Doyle. London is being terrorized by a garden gnome thief, MV5BM2RhOTI1YjktOGYwMS00MDdkLTg0MWYtNGIxNmRkMWM4NDI5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODEyMzI2OTE@._V1_which may sound petty to you, but if all your friends and family are gnomes, you’d understand why Gnomeo and Juliet are so concerned. Luckily London is also home to the kind of taste-makers likely to have literary garden gnomes in their flower beds, so a ceramic version of Sherlock himself (and his ceramic sidekick Watson) show up to solve the crime and save the day.

I liked Gnomeo and Juliet in a “just fine” kind of way, and was surprised to find that a sequel, 7 years after the first, was to be released. I wasn’t even sure if it was a sequel. The first had big names as voice actors – Maggie Smith, Michael Caine, and Emily Blunt and James McAvoy in the titular roles. I assumed they couldn’t possibly be back for a sequel with little to no promotion, and yet they were, in addition to Johnny Depp as the master detective and Chiwetel Ejiofor as the beleaguered Doctor Watson.

The thing is, this movie is once again strictly fine. But it doesn’t have much raison d’etre. It doesn’t aim for much more than kid appeal, which makes its sporadic attempts at literary humour feel out of place. It’s hard to believe that a movie, and in fact two movies, were green-lit specially for the crowd (which I need to believe is pretty small) who find garden gnomes wearing thongs to be hilarious, and movies based on that one running joke to be oddly satisfying.

I didn’t really love this movie, but then I saw Super Troopers 2 and realized that I could probably find just a little bit of leniency for any movie that wasn’t it.