Category Archives: Sucks ass

Jay says; seriously, don’t even bother.

TIFF: Downrange

A group of 20-something kids are driving through some deserted part of California when they experience a tire blowout. They’re carpool strangers but the sniper\serial killer hiding in a tree doesn’t care about that. He’s going to ruthlessly pick them off one by one whether they’re going to die in the arms of strangers or not.

Welcome to Midnight Madness at TIFF, folks! Director Ryuhei Kitamura is back with another offering and he promises that this one is buckets and buckets of a bloody good time.

Anyway, what more can I even say? 6 actors, an untold number of bullets, and a sadistic MV5BYzgwM2Q2YzAtM2M0ZS00MGNiLTkzNWYtNDg3ZmI5MTJhODBlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjEwNTM2Mzc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,801_AL_director who loves to really probe each and every gaping wound. It’s not enough to kill them, we must make them suffer, and the audience along with them. Every hole blown into every body must be explored. Former body parts hang like meat curtains. Quick deaths are verboten. Noisy, sucking, death rattles are preferred. And even dead bodies are not safe: there are still plenty of ways to disrespect them, hard.

That said, I felt like the director oversold the insanity of this piece. It takes a while for the killing to start but once it does, there’s absolutely no tension in this film. The onslaught is relentless but it’s so consistent you’ve really got nothing to worry about. It’s hard to be properly scared of something so unequivocal. There is, however, plenty of syrupy prop blood to soothe your black soul, and all the bugs to go along with it. Plus, a score actually derived from the rhythmic firing of a rifle. If you don’t like gore, you won’t like this film. If you don’t like bad acting, you won’t like this film. But if you’re the kind of person who just wants to pass the day watching strangers get brutally slaughtered, Downrange is an obvious choice.

 

Advertisements

The Outcasts

Jodi and Mindy are a couple of … nerds? geeks? kids who just don’t fit in? But they do have each other, which is not quite enough when their high school’s resident Mean Girl pulls a nasty prank. They vow to get even, and their brilliant plan involves uniting all the school’s Great Unwashed – every band geek, gamer, stoner, and whoever else resides on the outskirts of the Popular Clique. The popular gang only exists because the rest of the outsiders are fractured. Put them all on the same team and suddenly they’re the dominant group. Whoa, reversal! Will high school ever be the same again?

5x3tw-Y6XMQG2KXH5-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1490285390734._RI_SX940_Jodi (Victoria Justice) and Mindy (Eden Sher) are our bike-helmet wearing heroes, but that doesn’t mean we know much about them. Even in a movie that champions the outcasts, we still relegate them to the thing that labels them: Mindy is the supersmart, MIT-bound nerd, Jodi is the aimless dreamer, there’s the guy who wears a cape to school, the guy who exists just to dance, the girl who’s obsessed with Paris, the girl scout…lots and lots of one dimensions.

The Outcasts can best be described as “harmless” – it adds nothing to the high school movie genre and is light on its message of inclusivity. The only mild amusement I derived from the movie was in reading the slogans on everyone’s tshirts. I was forgetting it before it was even done, and that’s probably for the best.

The Dinner

As a book, I very much enjoyed The Dinner. It’s fascinating and controversial but hard to talk about without giving everything away. Same goes for the movie I suppose, but the most important takeaway is that the movie is very, very bad. Read the book. It’s a gut punch page-turner. The movie fucks it all up.

First, the book is Dutch. The movie of course makes the characters and setting American (even though half its stars are Brits). It’s about two couples who meet at a very fancy schmancy restaurant to discuss their problematic children. Paul (Steve Coogan) is a history teacher with some mental health problems; his wife Claire (Laura Linney) is a cancer survivor. It’s hard to say who is more protective of whom. Paul’s older brother hero_Dinner-2017Stan (Richard Gere) is a politician poised to become an even more powerful politician, as evidenced by the aides who can’t quite allow him a moment of peace or privacy during the dinner (not that he objects); his wife, aka, his second wife, Katelyn (Rebecca Hall) raises his kids so that he can govern unencumbered and expects to be rewarded. Their sons have recently been involved in a crime that is making its way around Youtube. They are thus far unidentified but now the parents must decide how to handle things should they found out – or should they remain undiscovered.

The dinner is filled with tension, not just because of what their boys have done, but because of the strained family dynamic between Paul and Stan. And because Paul is uncomfortable with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the haute cuisine. The dinner is constantly interrupted by flashbacks, many of which actually detract from the story. The book is really about morality and the thin veneers we hide behind in “civilized” society, and the tension ratchets up as more and more secrets explode like bombs dropped among the gold-rimmed china. The movie doesn’t manage to retain much of what makes the novel great. The characters are repugnant because they’re stripped bare of any pretense. The worst has happened, their primal, parental instincts have been activated – anything can happen.

But the movie just drops the ball. It’s a complete waste of time that doesn’t even know what to do with itself. It has maybe the worst, most abrupt ending that I’ve ever encountered, and it made me want to interrupt their dinner by swinging an angry cat around by its tail. Fuck y’all.

West of Sunshine

A deadbeat dad picks up his son to spend the day. Scratch that: the deadbeat dad forgets to pick up the son, gets an irate phone call from his ex, and son reluctantly goes with him with dad finally shows up.

Of course, this day which must now be spent with his young son is also the day on which Jim has promised to pay back a loan shark. Jim has problems with dogs and casinos and gambling all his family’s money away. He’s not a great guy. And now he’s got to watch 35654-west_of_sunshine_1____photo_credit_thom_neal-h_2017Alex while also evading violent criminals. Instead of getting his son to safety, he drags him into all kinds of terrible scenarios which they often escape by the skin of their teeth. The thing about crazy loan sharks is that they don’t really allow for excuses. They don’t make special allowances for a child. It’s pretty clear that Jim doesn’t really rearrange his life for his son either. So that’s awesome.

Things don’t go well, and Jim gets increasingly desperate. Of course, I believed that things still went better than he had any right for them to. I wanted to see this guy crushed. The script seems to believe Jim is undergoing some sort of growth but I was just so steaming mad at the risk he took with his kid, the constant harm he dangled him in front of, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t forgive the guy.

Little Alex seems to lean toward forgiveness, and that made me mad too. Mad on behalf of all the single mothers who work so hard to provide a loving and stable life for their kids only to have their deadbeat exes waltz in when it’s convenient for them and fuck shit up. Not all dads are crap, but far too many are. They act like they can also divorce their kids. And the kids will still want to adore their fathers, because he’s dad, and isn’t he awesome? Meanwhile mom gets all the flack. Because life isn’t fair. This movie doesn’t bother to really point any of this out, but it’s my honest reaction to it and I never warmed to the film, or to the dad who never redeemed himself in my eyes. I am slightly endeared by the fact that Jim is played by Damian Hill and Alex is played by his real-life stepson, Ty Perham, a really cute kid with apparently no prior acting experience. I hope they had more fun making the film than I did watching it.

Kidnap

If you’ve ever seen the film Taken and thought: this is cool and all, but I wish Liam Neeson was a soccer mom. Or, if you’ve ever seen Tom Hardy in Locke and thought: I like movies about people driving, but couldn’t there also be a child’s life at stake? Well, stop yer yammering, I’ve got something really exciting for you. Mind you, Kidnap is only exciting for those very specific individuals who put their hands up earlier. For everyone else, this is a generic movie at best.

Halle Berry plays the soccer mom who takes her eyes off her son for just one itty bitty minute and POOF! – he disappears. Only his kidnappers are just barely proficient so Halle Berry actually sees her son being stuffed into the back of a stranger’s car, and like Kidnap-movie-Halle-Berryany angry mama bear she takes off on a parking lot tear, totally prepared to outrun the car if only she can, but of course she can’t. So she hops behind the wheel of her trusty mini van and the world’s slowest, most meandering, and good lord most repetitive chase begins.

Halle Berry doesn’t have her cell phone so her only means of contacting the outside world for help is to drive erratically and hope that a cop will notice that something’s amiss. She’s pretty sure that every other missing child just wasn’t loved enough by his or her parents so she’s going to break the mold by putting the law into her own hands, which are white-knuckled on the steering wheel for a good 80% of the movie.

Halle Berry is good, even when she’s spouting cringe-worthy lines from a tired, uninterested script, she’s nothing short of panicky, breathless, desperate.  Her character goes through quite an ordeal as you can imagine, but the film’s 84 minutes feel like an ordeal for the audience as well. We must endure hardships together. But since you have a choice, let me help you make the informed decision: Kidnap is derivative, predictable, and horribly cliched. The only positive thing I have to say is I was grateful not to find the story encumbered by secondary roles, subplots, or a character development. The movie stays true to its one-word title. And then they beat you over the head with it.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Long before I saw this movie, I was annoyed with its title. The trailer gave the impression of a crime-fighting intergalactic duo, and yet for some reason only the boy seemed to get credit. It’s based on the graphic novel Valerian and Laureline, which means the author himself thought of them as equal partners, it’s only Hollywood that’s decided to downgrade the woman’s presence while also prancing her about in a bikini at every opportunity.

Having seen it, I see there are way bigger problems. The casting, for instance, made no thumbnail_25961sense at all. Supposedly, Valerian and Laureline are capable, dependable galaxy-savers, but nothing about either of these two gives the impression of a even the remotest shred of competency. I wouldn’t trust them to house sit for me; if they were in charge of saving my world, I’d be biting down on my cyanide tooth. But this movie wants me to believe that not only are they upstanding employees, but ready for marriage, even though they look like perhaps they’re only just now discovering the growth of hair over various private body parts.

Cara Delevingne has only ever managed to be convincing as an underwear model, which is what she was before stumbling into “acting.” When a director casts her in a movie, it’s like they are putting a disclaimer on their movie “Yeah that’s right, this is going to suck. Style over substance!” Her acting technique consists of walking into a room eyebrows-first and saying the line, usually in the direction of the camera. She has the emotional range of a robot but none of a robot’s grace or fluidity. Dane DeHaan, on the other hand, looks like he should be bagging groceries at the Piggly Wiggly. Put these two chuckleheads together and what do you get? Just two dumb rocks in a potato sack. Or, in the case of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, two dumb rocks in a tin can (aka, space ship). If that wasn’t enough to convince me of its utter superficiality, I guess the sight of Rihanna pole dancing would have pushed me over the edge. Though to be fair, I would have gladly watched her dance for a thousand days rather than see Ethan Hawke play a pimp with a nose ring.

The whole thing was so uncharismatic, the movie almost killed me of boredom. I was so numb I could barely follow the “plot” which, like too much sci-fi fare, consisted of: something’s in danger, someone has to save it, fight, fight, fight, special effects, special effects, the end.

Person To Person

the Best Western

the blue collar town where I grew up

guys who want to go dutch

tap water

prison-issued eyewear

hold music

vodka soda

 

You get it, right? What are: things that are completely & utterly devoid of charm or personality. Such as this movie.

Person To Person almost killed me with boredom. How to summarize a film totally bankrupt in plot? Well, see, there’s these people. Some of them know each other, some of MV5BOTVlZGRiN2QtZTJkMi00NjcxLWIzYTItMTY1MzQzMTBhYWVkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU2NTMxOTg@._V1_them don’t. And they have these lives. And they spend the day going about them, just generally moping about, doing a lot of whining and talking. The end.

Person to Person is that balding guy in your office who wears khakis and polo shirts like they’re his uniform, who eats the same sandwich and celery every day for lunch, who has nothing to talk about except the weather, and who you once caught reading the phone book.  I see that Rotten Tomatoes got drunk, brought that guy home, and gave him a pity fuck (that’s my way of saying its score of 45%, while still rotten, is also completely unjustified – an overshot of at least 43%, I’d say). This movie was so dull I had to invent an all-new category for it on Assholes Watching Movies: Boring as Hell. But unlike Person to Person, at least hell is warm and peppered with interesting characters.

 

 

 

Girls Trip

Ugh. This kind of movie is just demeaning.

There’s a good idea in there somewhere: four friends reconnecting. That’s the dream, right? That for one weekend you can all make your schedules obey your will, find sitters for the kids, money for the trip, time off from work. And everything converges on one magical weekend during which you can let your hair down and party like you did when you first met your crew, back when you were single and carefree.

The four friends in Girls Trip haven’t gotten together in 5 years.  Ryan (Regina Hall) is an aspiring self-help guru\daytime TV star and she and her husband are about to get their big break – too bad she can’t stand his cheating ass. Sasha (Queen Latifah) is on the verge girlstrip0004.jpgof bankruptcy and the only thing that might save her is a whole bunch of hits to her celebrity gossip site…and it’s awfully tempting when your best friend is poised to become the next Oprah just as her marriage is imploding. Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a less important friend so we don’t know much about her except she’s a caring single mother who wears scrubs at work and is pretty high strung. And Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is hardly a character at all, she’s just there to provide the kind of lewd laughs the other ladies are too famous for, contractually. It’s hard to believe they were ever friends, or that a weekend away together wouldn’t result in murder since in the film’s exceedingly long but comparatively short running time (2 hours), I had the panicky urge to start stuffing people in dumpsters.

Anyway. The script is atrocious. It’s Hallmark-grade MAYBE, heavy-handed as hell. It wants to be a females in New Orleans version of The Hangover, and it even steals a lot of their jokes (substitute roofies for absinthe, for example), but it’s weak. Very, very weak. But there are a few things that Girls Trip provides that you are unlikely to find elsewhere: 1. A “grapefruiting” demo (it’s a sex thing, duh – basically a grapefruit turtleneck for excessively large penises to aid in the blow-jobbing of). 2. You’re not seriously going to insist on a second item after that first one, are you? 3. Okay, fine: Kate Walsh as the token white lady who can’t stop talking in Ebonics. 4. As the movie is set at the Essence Festival, the film bloats itself with clips from performing artists such as Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, Maxwell, Babyface, and Mariah Carey. And about two dozen more. 5. Someone urinates like they’re legit trying to put out a forest fire with it, only instead of trees they drench people. And this happens twice.

But wait! There’s more: the power of female friendships, never leaving your unfaithful husband until you’ve got another prospect lined up, drugging the people you love, sexually harassing people like there’s no tomorrow, and white people using words they have no earthy business thinking let alone saying. So much fun. Girls Trip is a low-budget movie that looks low budget and feels even worse. But it put up some big numbers at the box office because there’s a dearth of actually funny movies these days – too bad this one’s no exception.

Naked

Naked is Groundhog Day for people who hate themselves.

Rob  (Marlon Wayans) is about to get married to a woman (Regina Hall) who’s maybe a little out of his league and maybe he’s a little nervous about it. Her dad (Dennis Haysbert, aka, the Allstate Guy) is a vocal skeptic and would rather see his baby girl marry someone a little more worthy – like her ex-boyfriend Cody (Scott Foley) who is inexplicably invited to this wedding.

One small wrinkle: he keeps waking up naked in an elevator and he’s got an hour to make it to the wedding. But he keeps not quite getting there, so when the church bells MV5BOTIyYjBhYjMtYzgzYy00NWQ4LWI3ZDUtOTU1M2NmMGQ2ZmQ3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDQ0MTYzMDA@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_ring without him exchanging vows, the day resets and he has to do it all over again. It’s the premise of Groundhog Day, only without self-respect or any laughter whatsoever. Bill Murray had to learn to be a better person, and while the script eventually decides that Rob’s goal is be a worthy husband, his real daily achievement is just covering up his nudity in a series of wacky outfits. Oh, and sometimes chilling with Brian McKnight – because that’s totally how I’d prioritize my time if I had an hour to escape a horrifying time loop: 90s slow jams.

This is a Netflix original movie that will make you question whether movies should be made at all. If you’ve seen it, I’m sorry. Take some time. Pet a dog. Drink some tea out of an inordinately cute cup. Maybe make a dent in your reading stack. But do come back. For every bad movie on Netflix, there’s a good one. One day I will crack the exact ratio, but until I do, know this: on our site, the category ‘Netflix and chill’ simply means the movie is found on Netflix, it is not an endorsement; good movies are categorized as ‘what to watch on Netflix.’ Netflix is a black hole of movies and finding something watchable takes some mining, but don’t despair, they do exist.

Naked tries to be Groundhog’s twin and winds up its antithesis. Hard pass.

 

Land of the Lost

Sean came across this on Netflix and was kind of astounded that it existed. What was Sean up to in 2009 that this one passed him by? Well, he made a giant move to a new city in search of a new job, and was dating new and exciting women, unaware that he’d meet his future wife in just a few days. But even if life was a little calmer for you in June 2009, this film may still have avoided your radar because basically it didn’t make anyone’s. It was a huge flop, and even the president of Universal (Ronald Meyer) disavowed the movie, calling it “crap.”

I’ve never seen the TV show upon which it is loosely-and-not-really based and now I MV5BODU5MGZlYTAtZmM3OS00MjFlLWEzNzAtZmY3YjU4ZjY1NzhjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjgzNDQyMjE@._V1_hope I never do, its legacy forever tarnished by this steaming piece of dung. Land of the Lost is intentionally camp. The effects are deliberately horrible. This doesn’t make it okay. I guess “camp” implies that you’ll be having fun, and I most decidedly was not. I was just sitting there with a pout on my face and a game of phone-Boggle in hand, just to stave off complete boredom.

The script was lazy, the characters confounding. Will Ferrell, who stars as paleontologist Dr. Rick Marshall, does little to endear us. For me, Ferrell’s pretty hit or miss, and in this movie he can’t land a damn thing. Paired with Danny McBride, it’s suicide city. It’s just inexcusable and I’m glad it was an embarrassment to the studio because they deserve to sit on the throne of shame wearing the hat of dunces while enduring finger pointing and aggressive sniggering for this sin. I can’t imagine who the target audience was – it’s too crude for a family movie but too tame for anyone else, and too unfunny to even become passable fare on late-night cable. This movie feels like Will Ferrell’s caution flag: his career has only slumped since this vulgarity was released. Has he been funny at all since? Frankly, he was only sporadically funny before. This is where his career jumps the shark. May it rest in peace.