Category Archives: Sucks ass

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 A blind date rejects her after about 10 seconds, and an extended job offer is rescinded after she runs her mouth for a bit.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.

 

 

Capone

Be careful what you wish for. Over on our Youtube channel (won’t you kindly hit our subscribe button?), Sean and I have very diligently reported on all the movies as one by one they were cancelled by corona, and have continued to update folks on new release dates, some delayed as much as a year, and others headed straight for VOD. Such as the case for Capone: it was to be available for rent as of May 12; we searched but we did not find…until now. And to be honest, I would have had more fun had I taken my 5 dollar bill, torn it up into chunks, surreptitiously inserted them into hamburger patties, and bet on Sean never noticing (cheese covers all manner of sin).

We knew going in that this wasn’t your typical gangster movie. Al Capone (Tom Hardy, hiding his good looks behind distracting prosthetics) spent a hard 10 years in prison…for tax evasion. Syphillitic singe the age of 13, the disease had begun to rot his brain, and though only 47, he had full-blown dementia. Don’t go thinking this was some sort of compassionate release: the Feds watched his every move, hoping to recover the rumoured $10M that he’d buried. But if that buried treasure does exist, its location has long since evaporated from Capone’s head. He rambles about his lavish Florida estate while “doctors” try to unlock the secret and family members try to make sense of his thoughts. If the movie is to be believed, his memories are as scrambled as his slurred speech (seriously? ANOTHER mumbly Tom Hardy role?). He may be haunted by his past but his wife Mae (Linda Cardellini) is haunted by his present, which is marred by incontinence. If your vision of a mob movie includes an addled-brained patient, his trademark cigar replaced with a carrot (for his “health”), a droopy diaper instead of pants, the only pin-stripes the one on his pajamas, carrying around a gold-plated tommy gun with half a mind (literally) to shoot someone or something, then you’re one lucky weirdo. Capone is the movie for you.

Hardy’s giving it his all but the movie’s just too aimless and disjointed to give anything back. The truth is, writer-director Josh Trank might also giving it his all, and his all just isn’t any good. He’s tanked a few movies with potential now. Maybe it’s time to start believing him. He isn’t ready.

Neither is this movie. I think there’s an interesting story in there somewhere, but Trank does his damnedest to obscure it. The result is an uncomfortable watch, and ultimately an unrewarding one.

The Wrong Missy

Adam Sandler’s recent filmography has largely been an excuse to write off travel as a business expense. How many of his films have been unnecessarily set in Hawaii? Many. Here’s one more!

First, let me be upfront: for better or worse, this film does NOT star Adam Sandler. Actually (not to mention improbably), that is most definitely for the worse. He does produce it, and it does star each and every one of his homies, plus many of his non-actor family members (wife, kids, nephew, and brother-in-law, and those are just the ones I can spot unassisted). The Wrong Missy stars David Spade, because the universe needed reminding there are worse things than Adam Sandler.

David Spade plays “Tim,” a super cool guy. Haha, just kidding obviously. Tim is a wiener with a bad haircut. When we first meet him, he’s on a blind date with an unarguably batshit woman – honestly and completely insane. And yet we don’t really feel sorry for Tim because who is he to want more? This is probably the best he can do. And yet not only does he feels entitled to sneak out a bathroom window, he dares to look an attractive woman (Molly Sims) in the eye as if they are equals. In the Adam Sandler Cinematic Universe, dorky guys are always landing impossible women way out of their leagues. This feels plausible to Adam Sandler because in real life, he is rich and he is funny and he married a model. In real life, David Spade is…comfortable and, um, Adam Sandler’s friend, which at the very least guarantees steady employment and lavish, write-offable travel. But Tim? Tim is not funny. Tim is not successful. Tim does not have any rich best friends. But Tim is off to a Hawaiian corporate retreat, so he plays the best card he has and invites her along.

Except while he thinks he’s inviting the exceptional Melissa (Molly Sims), he’s actually texting his crazy blind date Missy (Lauren Lapkus), who is nuts enough to follow a guy who fled their first date all the way to Hawaii on a second. And when she starts to bleed her insanity all over his helpless coworkers, threatening his outside chance at a promotion, we once again fail to feel the least bit sorry for him. He is miles away from being a sympathetic character. And Missy’s zany antics are miles away from funny. They’re so over the top she’s not a believable character, but more unforgivably, she’s not an entertaining one. It doesn’t make you laugh, it makes you feel uncomfortable, makes you pray for the end. There’s no one to root for, no relationship to endorse. It’s painful, it’s distasteful, and the only reason to watch this movie is if a certified doctor has given you only 89 minutes left to live, and you want those 89 minutes to feel like 3 years.

Arkansas

Kyle (Liam Hemsworth) and Swin (Clark Duke, who also directs) are bottom-tier drug dealers who are glad to be promoted to wholesale distribution by their kingpin (a man they’ve never met).  They are on their way to their first wholesale dropoff when they’re suddenly rerouted by Ranger Bright (John Malkovich) to his trailer park in Arkansas.  Bright also works for the same kingpin, who apparently has reconsidered Kyle and Swin’s promotions.  Kyle and Swin try to settle into the Arkansas chapter of this drug ring, but things soon go sideways when a rival lowlife follows them back to the trailer park after their first drop-off, and his robbery attempt leaves two people dead.

arkansasVince Vaughn and Vivica A. Fox also make appearances in Arkansas as Kyle and Swin make enemies at every turn.  The saddest part is that their attempts to lay low end up creating, then escalating, a conflict between them and Frog, who can’t figure out whether the two are trying to steal from him or whether they are completely inept.  As with most things, the answer ends up being a bit of both.

For the most part, Arkansas is a character study, which is highly problematic when the lesser Hemsworth is your lead.  Liam’s brother Chris clearly got all the family’s charisma, and Kyle’s only observable character trait is an unexplained limp.  All in all, there’s really nothing coming from Hemsworth to keep the viewer interested.  Swin is not worse but he’s hardly better, as he remains a complete mystery through to the end, leaving Hemsworth to carry most of the load.

Casting better lead actors may not have saved this one, because the film’s ending is a jumbled mess as all those left standing must fight for control of Frog’s drug ring.  But with better leads, Arkansas would at least have been a more interesting journey.  As it stands, Arkansas is a boring film with no real payoff.  I would much rather have followed the supporting characters’  stories (especially Ranger Bright) than have to spend so much (or really, any) time with Kyle and Swin.

John Henry

John Henry is an African American folk hero. He is said to have worked as a “steel-driving man”—a man tasked with hammering a steel drill into rock to make holes for explosives to blast the rock in constructing a railroad tunnel. According to legend, John Henry’s prowess was measured in a race against a steam-powered rock drilling machine, a race that he won only to die in victory with hammer in hand as his heart gave out from stress. 

The new film recently released on Netflix stars Terry Crews as Henry, and drags this legend into the 21st century. This John Henry lives a quiet and peaceable life after an accident with a gun convinces him to retire from gang life and loaded weapons forever. Now it’s just him, his sweet dog, and his disabled dad (Ken Foree). Until two immigrant kids on the run from his former South Los Angeles gang leader stumble into his life, that is. That kind of puts a bit of a crimp in the old laying low lifestyle. Plus his honour code pretty much forces him to jump back into the fray on their behalf but because of his no gun policy, he’ll have to face off against an entire gang armed only with his big hammer. Yeesh.

I very much enjoyed watching Terry Crews flex his acting muscles for a change but the actors are pretty much the only thing that works in this movie. Director Will Forbes relies too heavily on violence to cover up his uncertainty. His shifts in tone are pretty wild and disorienting, and the editing makes it feel like large chunks of the movie were left on the cutting room floor. This movie is about as subtle as the sledgehammer John Henry carries.

In 2018, Netflix announced that Dwayne Johnson would portray the character in a film intended to be the first installment in a shared universe that centers around heroes of legend and folklore, from various ethnic groups and cultures. This is NOT that movie: it’s a different script and a different director. But that one, titled John Henry and the Statesmen, even had a teaser trailer. In 2018 they claimed it was “coming soon” but no word since on where it’s ended up (to be fair, Johnson and director Jake Kasdan have been making a lot of Jumanjis), but whether or not their Avengers-style folk legend shared universe takes off, it’s probably safe to say that Will Forbes’ is dead in the water.