Category Archives: Sucks ass

Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave

So apparently Malibu Rescue is a show that people watch and is popular (cheap) enough to have already spawned a “movie.” This is its second, but we’re just jumping in here totally blind, literally never having heard of it before and yet somehow trusting that we’ll “get it.”

We didn’t get it. I mean, we followed the plot, such as it was. It’s basically Cool Runnings meets Baywatch where not only do you wish you were watching Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson instead, you’d even take Doug E. Doug and be grateful for it.

First, we’re going to need to swallow our pride for a minute and realize we’re not getting the Malibu Rescue team but the Junior Malibu Rescue team. The real team is busy competing in an apparently very serious international beach obstacle course that they treat with the reverence of the lifeguard Olympics.

But oh no! Tyler (Ricardo Hurtado) accidentally/on purpose poisons the A team so the Junior squad has to sub in. Luckily Gina (Breanna Yde) has a natural drill sergeant inclination but she’s got just 3 days to whip her team into shape. Dylan (Jackie R. Jacobson) and Lizzie (Abby Donnelly) break poor Eric (Alkoya Brunson) out of summer school (resorting to animal abuse and an uninspired not to mention insultingly bad mannequin ruse to get the job done). Cue up the obligatory training montage featuring a lot of sand eating and nobody’s washboard abs glistening in the sunshine (Zac!).

This is the kind of kid show that has such over-the-top acting that you start to feel bad for the adult actors. It can’t have been anyone’s dream to play a bus driver named Vooch who routinely gets overshadowed by diarrhea pranks. It really makes Pamela Anderson’s slow-mo running look dignified by comparison.

Is this a good movie? Not remotely. But I suspect if you like the show, you’ll like the movie. I mean, not only does the movie play like an extended episode of the show, it’s a barely extended episode at just 68 minutes, which sounds like a light commitment but I assure you it does feel like a hard 5 hours. However, if you’re in the market for some Malibu rescue with very little actual rescue and a side of obnoxious American patriotism and just a smidge of G-rated flirtation, wow, that’s an oddly specific fetish, but you’re in luck! And I’ll be relieved not to be alone on the watch list this movie is obviously bait for. Trust me: nothing can be unintentionally this bad.

Jexi

Phil is a cliche who probably doesn’t exist in real life: he’s obsessed with his phone, he writes listicles for a living, he’s incapable of human interaction and would rather spend the night watching videos online than spending time with (or heck even making) friends.

Do Phils really exist? I suppose there’s a grain of truth in there somewhere: some people are overly attached to their phones, and overly desperate for likes on social media. But most people manage to have phones AND human friends. Our phones give us directions to where we want to go, they tell us who’s celebrating a birthday, and what bill needs to be paid. They help us call a car, and order lunch, and share a recipe. They remind us how to spell ‘accommodate’ and when our period is due, or overdue. They connect us to our adorable nephews who haven’t stopped growing just because they’re in quarantine. They keep us entertained on planes, they keep us up to date on elections, and they provide a near infinite supply of puppy pictures. All on one pocket sized device! So yeah, I’m not down on phones, or on young people for using them. I’m not sure who benefits for perpetuating the myth that only young people are obnoxious about their phones, but it’s patently untrue. Moms were the first to adopt cell phones, so they could stay in constant contact with their children. Moms are basically the only people who still use phones for calling people (ew!). Dads invented the belt holster so you could show off your love of wearable electronics (before they were technically wearable) while also accidentally broadcasting what a huge douche you are. When someone is blocking your view of the Mona Lisa by taking pictures with their iPad, 9 out of 10 times it’s a baby boomer. Elbowed in the eye by someone ineptly using a selfie stick? Boomer. Someone talking on their cell in the public bathroom stall next to yours? Most likely a boomer. Cell phone ringing during a Broadway performance? Definitely a boomer. And yet: Phil. Phil (Adam Devine) just can’t be separated from his phone. So yeah, he’s totally panicked when he literally runs into Cate (Alexandra Shipp) one day, destroying his phone in the process. Without a thought for the woman who may also be injured, he races his broken phone to the nearest ER cell phone store where employee Denice (Wanda Sykes) breaks the bad news: it’s not going to make it. You’d think that by the speed with which he rushed the thing to urgent care he’d be quite upset, but not only are cell phones replaceable, constant upgrades are a way to signal status. Behold the new phone!

This phone is unlike other phones. Its operating system is feisty. Call her Jexi. She sounds suspiciously like Rose Byrne, and she knows everything there is to know about Phil, since he’s documented it obsessively in the cloud. Not only does Jexi know everything, she has opinions about it. And she starts steering his life in the direction she believes is best.

Imagine if HAL from  2001: A Space Odyssey and Sam (Scarlett Johansson) from Her had an AI baby and named her Jexi. Jexi is strangely alluring for someone who doesn’t have a body. She’s no Ava (Alicia Vikander) from Ex Machina. She’s more like your craziest, most jealous, most stalkery ex, only Jexi has access to your dating profiles, your porn collection, your work contacts, and your dick pics.

Even though the 2020 movie season is experiencing extreme drought, I scrolled right by this rental for many months. I’m not much of an Adam Devine fan and though desperate times call for desperate measures, I held out hope that I’d not hit my bottom quite yet. But don’t despair. This viewing wasn’t motivated by desperation so much as it now being able to stream on Amazon Prime (so, free for me, since I have an account). But even free was too high of a cost – what’s worse than an unfunny comedy? An unfunny comedy that makes you wish you’d just watched Her instead. Or Ex Machina. An unfunny comedy that makes you wish you’d watched any other AI movie, or even any other unfunny comedy that didn’t get your hopes up just as you resigned yourself to it. Because while it was Adam Devine’s smug pug face keeping me away this whole time, actually clicking on it revealed castmates like Sykes, Byrne, and Michael Pena, all of whom led me to believe this might not have been as bad as I’d feared and then it was WORSE. Arghghghghg.

This movie is for a very, very small demographic: baby boomers lacking in senses of both humour and irony who will suffer through unfunny comedies just to feel superior to young people as they scroll through Facebook, clicking on all the COVID clickbait conspiracies planted by Russia as if they aren’t the ones who used screens as babysitters in the first place. Ahem.

The F**k-It List

Brett Blackmore (Eli Brown) is a high school senior whose academic resume is spotless. Much like the ladies in the much better film Booksmart, Brett has spent his high school career studying and achieving but never really socializing or experimenting. He hasn’t had the time to stop and consider this lack of balance until the senior class prank goes wrong. Very, very wrong. And Brett, who was there but barely involved, falls on his sword and ends up taking the blame. His parents, who threw themselves a party to celebrate his acceptance to 7 out of 8 Ivies (Harvard merely wait-listed him), watch his brilliant future get yanked away as one by one, every one of those 7 Ivies back out of their offers. Brett is despondent, but this bleak turn of events does have him reflecting on whether this was the path he’d want for himself anyway.

Spending time with childhood crush Kayla (Madison Iseman), Brett feels empowered to send his friends a ranting video where he proposes a F**k-It List, a list of all the things he wishes he’d done but never had the courage. Item #1 is of course to kiss Kayla, and having done that, his blood is coursing with teenage hormones and adrenaline, he’s both free-falling and emboldened, and ready for whatever comes next. Except for what actually comes next, which is that his video goes viral, and instead of heading off for Yale, he’s instead become the most Gen Z of all things: an Influencer.

This movie believes that it’s putting the educational-industrial complex on trial. It also believes that it’s about an obedient teenager gone wild. Really, the movie is about Brett’s parents, Jeffrey (Jerry O’Connell) and Kristen (Natalie Zea), or it should have been anyway. They’re the ones who have bought into this machine, they’re the dictator parents who have structured their kid’s whole childhood around building the ultimate college application and then taking all the credit when their son actually succeeds despite this enormous pressure. A better script might have seen that, but then again, a better script may not have constantly confused the F**k-It List, which it both invented and defined, with the Bucket List, which is in fact a whole other thing. And better writers (not to mention better human beings) might have seen that Brett is neither a victim nor a hero – he’s a perfect and rather blatant example of privilege, and the only person who accidentally calls him on it is love interest Kayla who intends to pay for college by modelling her way through Europe (which turns out to be a euphemism for sex trafficking).

This kid’s “problem” is that his parents’ money and his cushy lifestyle have netted him literally every advantage in the world and now he wants to reject it, with no apparent irony or self-awareness, while continuing to spend their money unapologetically, and whining about it every step of the way – which only makes him more rich and more popular. It’s actually a super sad commentary on how toxic youth culture has become, and an even sadder example of how out-of-touch the rich white man (I’m guessing) directing this film is to not even realize it.

Every character in this movie is a bland personification of plain, fat-free yogurt; not one of them the least bit interesting or distinctive, so they’re absolutely painful to watch. Luckily, actual young people have never been half as dumb as Boomers make them out to be, and I bet most will be sharp enough to stay clear of this.

Look Again

Amit is a terrible judge of character, and also a terrible problem solver. But anyway: his girlfriend cheated on him and his business partner stole from him so now he’s going to commit suicide by lying dramatically across train tracks. Which…are not in service. Two guardian angels fly down from heaven to tell him to stop embarrassing himself and they give him a pair of magical miraculous glasses that allow him to see a person’s true aura. Well, frankly, aura’s a little generous. The glasses operate on a strictly binary system: good or bad. Which is obviously not the most ridiculous part of this paragraph, but it’s up there.

I’ll admit there’s something to this premise. Not so much the judgy eye wear as the possibility that we may learn more from failure than from success. Anyway, Amit (Anand Rajaram) isn’t interested in learning from his mistakes, or honing his own instincts, or taking responsibility for his own poor choices. He’s all about using the glasses to fast-track himself to love and money. Which is pretty stupid, because if god went to the trouble of sending you some fabulous frames, you’d better make damn sure you use them for good and not evil.

Writer-director Daniel O’Connor makes some pretty severe misjudgments. Making Amit our protagonist just makes me wish an errant train had put us all out of our misery before the movie even really began. This guy deserves to be naturally de-selected, and instead he gets a leg up from the big man himself? Boo. Amit steadfastly waves away concerns and objections from people who care about his moral fabric, he refuses to learn a lesson, and his button-down shirts are atrocious. O’Connor’s second misstep is casting Rajaram, who is nowhere near as charming as either man thinks. He plays Amit as fairly dodgy, which leaves a funny taste in the mouth considering he’s “the chosen one.” His character never deserves the good things in his life, nor is he grateful for them. And he’s so frickin obvious! He doesn’t wear the glasses, he rather suspiciously slips them on, looks at a person, takes them off, and then either nods or shakes his head. SO FRICKIN OBVIOUS! Have a little respect for the game, dude! God doesn’t want you flaunting your superpower! You may as well erect a sign that says “Isn’t it curious how well I can suddenly predict whether a temp will fit in to our office culture?” Um, yes, yes it is, Amit! It’s a little goddamned suspicious! Might it have anything to do with those hideous white glasses you keep whipping on and off like they can, I don’t know, reveal a person’s true nature somehow in a very black and white way that dangerously categorizes people as either one thing or the other, with no context or nuance or chance at redemption?

Rajaram isn’t the only problem in the cast. In fact, it would be simpler and shorter to list all the not-horrendous actors: Darryl Dinn. He plays one of the guardian angels and he has enough personality and pizzazz to brighten the screen, although with O’Connor’s script, it’s still an uphill battle, if the hill was Mount Everest and the battle was 10 000 murder hornets with a taste for angel blood. It is clearly only with a very high degree of difficulty that someone in this film can unlock the achievement of not adding to the general suckage of this film, and so I award Darryl Dinn with the Didn’t Suck Award, which I’m sure is more meaningful to him than a personalized concierge team from GOD was to Amit. I can’t be too hard on these poor actors. Judging by the film, they were likely working for a slice of soggy pizza at the end of a 16 hour day, and you know what they say: you get what you pay for.

Desperados

Wesley (that’s a woman’s name now) is just beginning to realize that all of her failed relationships and all of her failed careers have one thing in common: her. A blind date rejects her after about 10 seconds, and an extended job offer is rescinded after she runs her mouth for a bit. Wesley (Nasim Pedrad) resolves that her personality is “an acquired taste” and vows to suppress it, and thanks to a head wound on her first date with Jared (Robbie Amell), she’s actually able to follow through, and Jared takes the bait!

After a blissful month together, Jared ghosts her out of the blue. Five days go by and not a single word. She and her friends hit the rose a little hard, and one thing leads to a rambling, raging email telling him what he’s missed out on, and shaming him for his ultra thin dick. So it’s a little awkward when he finally reaches her from Mexico, where he’s had an accident and been in a coma these past several days. I think by now we’ve established that Wesley isn’t the best decision maker, so she begs pals Brooke (Anna Camp) and Kaylie (Sarah Burns) to accompany her to Cabo so she can delete the offending email before he gets discharged from the hospital. It’s a fool proof plan!

Obviously the unfoolproofness of the plan is supposed to be the source of comedy, but you’d have to be pretty generous to give it even a chuckle (pedophilia is a recurring theme). But even if Desperados had what you might call traditional jokes (ie, funny ones), this movie still wouldn’t work because Wesley isn’t just a flawed character, she’s a terrible human being. I don’t want to saddle anyone with this woman, not even Jared, who, to be honest, kind of deserves her. He’s not exactly a great guy himself; he falls for “blank slate” Wesley and actually praises her for being the last “normal woman” in L.A. Exsqueeze me? Jared wants a woman with the personality of a potato, and we’re supposed to like him? And then there’s the problem of her two weird friends. Both are in their 30s and yet somehow have so little going on in their own lives that they can, at a moment’s notice, fly to Mexico on any given day of the week, for something as lame as one wonky email sent to a dude Wesley’s been seeing for less than a month, and who we already know has a disappointing dick. And yet they can also easily afford to do it. We don’t know how because each woman only has one trait that she’s known for: Brooke is going through a divorce, and Kaylie is desperate for a baby.

This movie was disappointing even for a Netflix movie I’d never heard of before starring decidedly second-tier (third tier?) actors. I wish I had the temerity of Wesley’s first blind date, who’d had the courage to walk away after just 10 seconds. No matter how desperate, Desperados isn’t fit for anyone.

Trauma Center

Madison Taylor (Nicky Whelan) is having a heck of a day. First she has the misfortune of walking in on a murder in progress, and then she takes a bullet to the leg in the crossfire. She wakes up in the hospital with dependable Lt. Steve Wakes (Bruce Willis) assigned to her protection; she is a key witness to the crime. But Wakes leaves almost immediately, and sure he’s doing his job “solving the murder” but he’s kind of “a really shitty protector” since he LEAVES HER ALL ALONE. So of course the murderers seize their opportunity, and now poor Madison is limping away through the halls of a locked down hospital, desperately trying to evade some very bad guys who, ironically, would very much like to shoot her dead. I’m calling it ironic because the reason they want her dead is because the bullet in her leg is evidence of their crime, so they want to plug her with a few new ones, but scoop that first bad boy out, because some dirty cop went and pulled his service revolver during a crime and that shit is traceable.

Three things to know:

He doesn’t look half as baffled as I feel. Believe me.
  1. The hospital is on “lockdown” which basically just means that the exits have been sealed off. It is still a functioning hospital, at least upstairs, where Madison’s little sister is a patient (panic attack? asthma attack? something like that). Madison and her stalkers are mostly in the basement, which has an abandoned, horror movie feel.
  2. Lt. Steve Wakes has abandoned his post, and the basement obviously gets very poor cell service. But can he even be trusted? The criminals are cops and trusting one of them, especially a flake, is a lot to ask of a woman who’s got police force ammunition buried in her flesh.
  3. Steve Guttenberg plays a doctor. That’s actually not at all important, it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part. You’d call it a cameo if he was at all famous anymore, but in his case it’s probably better called a “bit part.” But still: Steve Guttenberg! If you’re at all prone to pity spirals or second hand shame, do NOT read his IMDB page.

Anyway, the killer cops just basically hunt her in some creepy medical settings, unsuccessfully enough to really stretch the bounds of credibility, while Whelan does her best to look sexy in a hospital gown.

Bruce Willis is…not good. His character is MIA for a good chunk of the movie and he’s still remarkably bad. I blame Die Hard, really. It convinced Sean to always bet on Bruce, and he always does, and somehow I’m the one who always loses. Does anyone even remember the last time he was good? Please get back to me ASAP – my Netflix queue depends on it.

Feel The Beat

Not only did I fail to feel the beat, I couldn’t even find a pulse.

But that’s me, discerning movie viewer, critic without a cause. I won’t deny that it may hold some cachet as a family-friendly offering for the tween set. For the rest of us, it’s exceedingly missable.

April (Sofia Carson) is a hometown success story, having left for stardom on the Broad Way. She didn’t find it, of course, and slinks back home, tail between her legs. Luckily the small town where she’s from is sufficiently square that their twitter feeds have sme sort of hillbilly 3 day delay (a mild scandal brews on social media). To them, she’s still Impressive April, and the (very) humble dance studio where she got her start fawns over her terse, uninterested, one-word replies to their burning questions. This they call a “master class.” But when April gets a whiff of redemption (ie, a national dance competition with a handy dandy “teacher feature” which could put her in front of a judge’s panel including a top Broadway producer), suddenly she’s interested. Sure her interest is self-serving and mostly takes the form of verbally abusing an eager if unskilled dance troupe. They’re a bunch of misfits, as dictated by the trope, with a lineup including a deaf girl, a chubby girl, a poor girl, and a boy.

As you might venture to guess, the road to nationals is predictably paved with teachable moments and personal growth for our girl April, who never quite got to likable with me, which is just fine since I also found her unwatchable. Absolutely nothing personal with any of the cast, who were dancing their little tushies off. This is merely a trite script and a small budget and a green, though not necessarily untalented, crew. Which adds up to a harmless but ultimately subpar, forgettable movie that I did not need to see.

The Courier

Ezekiel Mannings (Gary Oldman) is a very bad man. His job title is literally “crime lord” on his business cards (okay, the business cards are unseen in his wallet but I’m SURE they’re there) and he’s awaiting trial for what I’m also certain is just a small fraction of his many crimes. Or perhaps I should say he is not awaiting trial so much as the trial is waiting to hear from one key witness – Nick Murch (Amit Shah) – whom a federal task force has been protecting so he can deliver his crucial testimony, ie, he saw Ezekiel Mannings murder someone right in the head.

You don’t need to see Mannings’ business card to know he’s a bad guy: he wears an eye patch. Which is a statement. Of Evil. I’ve known a few people without a full set of eyes and they’ve never elected to go with the patch. Glass eyes look surprisingly good if you’ve got a socket that wants filling. The only eye patch I’ve ever seen in real life is the little band-aid coloured ones that kids sometimes wear to help correct a lazy eye, and those are quite adorable and definitely don’t count. I’m talking all-black, special ordered from the pirate store, cover of Evil Monthly magazine, doubling down with a goatee, eye patch.

Nor do you need to see Nick Murch’s business card to know that he’s a nerd. Probably an IT guy. He’s nervous and jittery, and his outfit has definitely not been approved by a woman. I mean, he’s got reason to be nervous and jittery. He IS about to testify against a really bad dude, and the whole case basically hinges on him as a witness. But before he can video conference in (from an unspecified European location), a courier (Olga Kurylenko) arrives at the safe house to deliver a package. Spoiler alert: it’s a bomb. A lot of people die, and someone’s even trying to kill her, but instead of fleeing for her life, she volunteers as Nick’s defacto bodyguard and personal protector. Basically, she and Nick end up fighting for their lives in an underground parking structure, and they’ll have to do it for an hour before the cops arrive (why an hour? who knows. but it’s a great little conceit to put some real-time pressure on the situation). Agent Bryant (William Moseley) and his sniper (Greg Orvis) are particularly persistent.

Is this a good movie? No. We never get a satisfying explanation for why this nameless bike courier would stick around to fight a fight that isn’t hers. Or why she’s so darn good at it; “military” hardly covers it.

The violence is…extensive. As in face caved in. As in literal terminal velocity when a body hits a brick wall so hard the skull cracks open like an egg. As in any foreign object with a somewhat pointed end will soon be lodged in someone’s body cavity. And the victim will always agonizingly pull it out, with a flourish of spurting blood. This became such an odd pattern I started chanting “pull it out!” pull it out!” and they always did, even when it was a 3 foot metal rod through the throat.

And to even out the odds, the bad guys were of course prone to soliloquizing, always pausing for one last smug speech just long enough for the heroes to once again narrowly escape certain death. The brutality was so unending that I didn’t really care which side won as long as everyone just stopped getting up. And also: what’s up with this parking garage where a gun battle to the death can be staged for over an hour and not a single person even ran to their car for a stick of gum? I’m suspicious.

Now there is some merit to a movie with mindless violence, I suppose. A time and a place for it, at any rate. But this wasn’t so much mindless as mind boggling. Turns out the eye patch was the least of my worries.

Dying to know more?

365 Dni (365 Days)

Laura is kidnapped on her 29th birthday by a criminal who saw her in a vision after being shot. The criminal’s plan is to hold Laura captive for one year and wait for her to fall in love with him. And in the meantime, force himself on her at every turn. Essentially, this is a Beauty and the Beast situation, if Beast was a sex offender.

msemail_days__5_jpg-JS575478900The worst part is this guy clearly believes Laura will love him despite his abuse, or possibly because of it. Has he been watching too much Disney, too much porn, or both?

The second worst part is the English, the low quality of which seems like it’s dubbed, but it’s not. This is a Polish film that uses three languages, Polish for Laura, Italian for the criminal, and “English” for when they talk to each other. I’m almost positive you will recognize many of the phrases in this film, such as:

“Who the fuck you are?”

Or, “I’m not a bag of potatoes.”

Or, “If you feel like running you should wear a different pair of shoes.”

Or, “Why are you looking at it? Do you want to touch it?”

And that’s just a small sample of the prose that’s on offer. Naturally, the “it” in that last one is the rapist’s penis. And naturally, we shut off this movie at that point, much later than we should have. Here’s hoping I can save you from making a similar mistake.

The Last Days of American Crime

Welcome to near future Detroit, just a few days before a new mind-control signal will be broadcast across the U.S.A. to end crime.  In the lead-up to turning on the mind-control switch, anyone trying to cross the border to Canada is shot on sight by the fine, upstanding members of the U.S. Border Patrol.  Also, all police officers are being laid off, which puts an awful lot of faith in this new system to be in good working order as it comes online. Oh, and for some reason you have to trade in your old money for new money as part of this switchover. Last_Days_Of_American_Crime

Anyway, a few idiots decide to stage the last great heist in American history (hence the title) by hacking the mind-control system, stealing a billion dollars’ worth of the old money, driving to Canada, and living free for the rest of their lives. That is literally their plan, word for word.

Why do they want to steal money that the U.S. government has marked for destruction? Well, that’s why I called them idiots in the previous paragraph. Their plan doesn’t make sense. And that’s just the heist. Don’t even try to reconcile the implementation of the mind-control system with little things like the U.S. Constitution or self-defence, or make sense of why people are lining up to kill themselves before this system comes into effect, or figure out why there are numerous large protests IN FAVOUR OF the mind-control system.

This movie is absolutely intolerable for many reasons but is absolutely unforgivable right now since police officers and FBI agents abuse incapacitated subjects ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS. All the stupidity in the script pales in comparison to Netflix’s decision to release this in the same week as George Floyd was laid to rest.

Avoid this film at all costs.