Category Archives: Sucks ass

Sextuplets

Skkrrrrrrrpppppt. Skkkkrrrrrrrppppppptt. Ssskkkkkkrrrrrrrrrrpppppppppptttt.

That’s the sound of Netflix scraping the bottom of the barrel. When they’re borrowing the very worst ideas from the 1990s, you know we’ve hit peak terrible. Insert: Marlon Wayans. Not to shit on Marlon Wayans exactly, but has anyone wondered what he’s been up to? No. Has anyone been clamoring to bring this dude back? Certainly not. But ever since Tyler Perry retired Medea, there’s been a hole left in cinema, a hole that perhaps should have been filled in quickly and never again spoken of, but Netflix has instead decided to jump right into it without consulting anyone. Marlon Wayans, aka, the poor man’s Tyler Perry, didn’t need to be asked twice.

And that’s how you get a movie like Sextuplets, a movie that makes you wish for Adam Sandler’s quality programming. It’s just Marlon Wayans playing 6 roles, each one nastier and more cliched than the last.

Alan (Wayans) is expecting a baby with his wife. She comes from a good family who are concerned that he brings little to the table, “generationally” since he grew up in the foster system. It seems a weird thing to get uppity about, an indefensible thing, but the whole movie hinges on Alan really taking it to heart, so he does. And even though his wife is 8.75 months pregnant, he goes off on a road trip to find his birth mother.

And you might want to sit down for this, but *spoiler alert* he instead finds 5 siblings. And each sibling is just Marlon Wayans doing an uncomfortable caricature. Lots of fat suits involved, which are of course cringe-worthy, but even when he runs out of fat suits (male AND female), he only gets more offensive. So brace yourself. And even though his White Chicks self must have been yearning for a little white face, the closest he gets is with a “ninger” and you know I am NOT going to define that for you, but I will let your wildest imagination scold him for even thinking it up. Ugh.

Sextuplets is like a black hole of laughter. I was mad less than 90 seconds in, and he hadn’t donned a single derogatory costume yet. His performances get more and more wild as he desperately searches for a laugh but the truth is, all he hits are sour notes. It’s ugly.

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UglyDolls

Uglyville is home to some fairly upbeat if misshapen dolls – they’re missing eyes or teeth or limbs – but most seem content. All but one doll, Moxy (Kelly Clarkson), who dreams of going to the “big world” and living with a child who will love her. She gets together a band of misfits (truly the only kind of band that CAN be assembled on this island of misfit toys by any other name), including Lucky Bat (Leehom Wang), Wage (Wanda Sykes), Babo (Gabriel Iglesias) and Uglydog (Pitbull), and together they stumble upon the Institute of Perfection, the last stop between the best dolls and their forever homes.

The Institute of Perfection is run by Lou (Nick Jonas), an alarmingly blonde-haired, blue eyed bastion of excellence. He gets all the beautiful dolls ready to run the gauntlet, the final hurdle to be cleared before being placed in a home. Moxy and gang find these perfect dolls to be outwardly pretty but inwardly ugly – they soundly and definitively and in many cases quite cruelly reject Moxy and friends for looking different.

From the very first frame, you know where this film is headed. We’re teaching kids to embrace differences and to accept imperfections. Sounds nice. But this movie takes an uncomfortably long time getting there and goes through too many catchy songs about the importance of beauty on the way. It makes you really start to sweat all the Hitler references.

In the end, the Uglydolls meet a perfect doll named Mandy (Janelle Monae) who (you may want to sit down for this) wears glasses. And through that hideous physical defect they’re able to bond and together they realize that not only is being weird okay, maybe it’s even possible for a kid to love you that way, in all your freaky glory.

UglyDolls plays like a watered down Toy Story, appealing to only the very youngest of children (my 5 year old and 7 year old nephews preferred to pick up live-action Dumbo over this for a recent car trip, but it was Sean’s recommendation of Shazam that really impressed, which meant we just spent 10 days sequestered in a cottage with kids who couldn’t go more than 5 minutes without singing “Lightning with my hands! Lightning with my hands!” and requesting this new band they’ve just been introduced to through the movie – Queen). Its fuzzy feltness and bouquet of primary colours should serve as a warning that this movie is nothing but saccharine and if you have any other requirements from a film then this one is not for you.

 

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel has robots, cyborgs, martians, floating cities, subterranean caves, hyperviolent arena sports, space battles, and an all-seeing immortal dictator pulling the strings behind the scenes.  And somehow, it manages to make all that stuff boring.  Like a three-handed guitar player (and make no mistake, Alita includes a three handed guitar player), Alita: Battle Angel is far less than the sum of its parts.

MV5BODMzMjlmZTYtOGU2NS00NGM2LWI4ZDItNzQzYTYwNDA2ZmU4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXRzdGFzaWVr._V1_CR21,0,939,528_AL_UY268_CR10,0,477,268_AL_The titular Alita (the Battle Angel, as it were) is found by Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz) in an Iron City garbage heap. Well, Alita’s head and shoulders are, but the rest of her body is missing. Turns out, Alita is a 300 year old cyborg from before the “Fall” and Dr. Ido really easily brings her back to “life”. Like, it’s no trouble whatsoever for him to reboot her, and you might wonder why no one else has tried for the last 300 years.  But don’t, because if you start asking questions like that about this movie, you will never be able to stop.  Trust me.

We come to learn that in Alita the “Fall”  was a war between martians and Earth’s floating cities, rather than a name for the second worst season (anyone who thinks fall is worse than winter has never lived through a real winter), or an elevator between Australia and post-Brexit London (doesn’t it seem like Boris Johnson’s plan for Brexit might be to build that stupid elevator from the worse Total Recall? But I guess that makes sense when Donald Trump seems to have already ripped off the Mars colony part from the also-not-great original).

The only floating city that didn’t fall happens to be the one directly over Iron City, and oh yeah, Alita was found in the garbage falling from that floating city, and oh yeah, somehow after 300 years she still is in great condition without her body even though if any other cyborgs in this movie lose a finger they instantly die (except where screaming would add dramatic effect). Also, the only way to get to the floating city, obviously the home of the immortal dictator guy (Edward Norton!?! I had no idea he was even in this but of course Jay spotted him right away), is to win the Motorball championship (like a White House visit, I guess), but there is infinitely more political commentary in the previous two paragraphs of this review than in the whole of Alita. That’s probably for the better, considering how brainless this James Cameron script is. This was the best he could do after working on it for TWO DECADES?

There’s more back story and then some Matrix-lite fight scenes with a lot of cyborg spines and blue goo, but at this point I hope you are realizing that it doesn’t matter because it is all really stupid and you should avoid this movie at all costs. Some of the cyborgs might be kind of cool I guess but when Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali and Edward Norton clearly can’t be bothered with this movie, why should you?

Better Off Dead

Random thoughts while watching the 1985 John Cusack film, Better Off Dead

  1. How fragile was glass in the 80s that a single newspaper issue could punch a hole right through it?
  2. Lane (Cusack) showers with his (mismatched) tube socks on. And then he blow dries them. Because why?
  3. How is it that, in a very normal suburban home, a teenage boy has been granted an entire room to use as his personal closet? Especially considering said boy is the same one who showers with his socks on. Not exactly the height of sophistication.
  4. Clearly the dad is supposed to be the bad guy. He’s so grumpy! But really: his garage door is full of holes, one kid is systematically ruining his breakfast while the other has left an eyesore dragging in the driveway for months. I must be old, because now I’m feeling sorry for the dad!
  5. Lane and his girlfriend Beth have 8×10 framed photos of each other in their bedrooms. But why do the teenagers all have large, black and white head shots of themselves?
  6. Did he just attempt to street race someone blindfolded??? OF COURSE the guy he hit was mad! We’re supposed to excuse him or something? Lane is a horrible human being! I don’t know if HE’s better off dead, but I’m starting to suspect that everyone else would be (better off without him, that is).

7. Why does everything the mom makes turn out green?

8. I’m not sure which is more disturbing: that the almost 8 year old, cereal loving little brother has leopard print loungewear, or that he seems to be retrofitting toys into real weapons.

9. The script is so bad, Lane has to constantly narrate his stream of consciousness out loud so we know how deeply saddened by his girlfriend of 6 whole months (the aforementioned Beth) dumping him for the hunky new ski fiend. As if the suicide attempts weren’t doing it for us.

10. The paperboy is such a little punk. But do you remember paper boys? And the little card that you’d keep track of, that they’d hole punch each week that you paid. But they’d ring the bell at random times, and always claimed you owed for 5 weeks, which somehow came up to $2.60, but of course you never had it? What a weird time in human history that that was how we got our news.

11. You know how you get up in class to solve an algebra problem at the board but then just stand there fantasizing about the night you lost your virginity in a station wagon (which is only slightly better than losing it TO a station wagon)? Yeah. No.

12. So Lane attempts to take up roller skating to impress a girl (white guys, amirite?) and somehow manages to accidentally tear all the clothes off a cheerleader, who just happens to be wearing a matching set of lingerie under her uniform. As teenager girls do. Obviously.

13. Lane skis in a variety of Bill Cosby sweaters which makes no sense. But still makes slightly more sense than his buddy who complains about not being able to get real drugs in this small town, and yet he somehow procured a top hat in which to ski.

14. Three suicide attempts later, the movie has made 0 mentions of mental health, and Lane’s parents address the situation by a) telling him to “mellow off” and b) forcing him to go on a date with a girl of their choosing against his will. Yes, I’m as surprised as you are that this method of treatment seems to have not really caught on.

15. Did any of your high school dances have live bands?

16. There’s a claymation interlude of a hamburger singing Van Halen’s Everybody Wants Some. It is very bad but still a welcome break in the actual movie.

17. I can’t believe that a French teenager came all the way to America for an exchange semester, and in her 2 allotted suitcases for 6 months, she packed a coverall. Suspicious.

18. Oh he’s legit going to try to seduce her with a saxophone? A SAXOPHONE IS NOT AND WILL NEVER BE AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR, LANE.

19. They take turns skiing under each other’s crotches. Can this possibly be interpreted as romantic?

20. In what I can assure you is an extremely lame showdown, Lane proposes a ski-off to his bully. And despite being the vastly inferior skier, AND having only one ski, AND being relentlessly pursued by the paperboy, he somehow wins. Somehow.

21. But that’s not even half as lame as when he uses the poles to duel his loser neighbour, and then throws the french exchange student over his shoulder when he wins her. Ahem.

22. And then he parks his Camaro on a baseball diamond and makes out with her??? Ladies and gentlemen: peak American obnoxiousness.

23. John Cusack has only ever seen the first 20 minutes of this movie because he walked out, embarrassed and furious at the director. I watched all 97, but can assure you that even 20 is too many.

The Beach Bum

so, interesting story: a couple of weeks ago, Sean and I were at a wedding that got hit by a tornado. Don’t worry, everyone was fine. The same cannot be said for tents and glassware and flowers and cake, but those are but details with hefty deposits. They were already legally wed, and that’s the main thing. Anyway, Sean and I cleared out before we even got fed, but Sean had certainly been watered. With lots and lots of beer. Which means I was driving. I always volunteer to be the DD, though I don’t usually count on having to navigate roads blocked by fallen trees. Anyway, it was a long-ish drive back home, during which time Sean’s jobs were to keep Spotify thumping, and to read my sisters’ Snapchat updates aloud. Even with hindsight, it’s impossible to say how we got on to the topic of 90s music, but we eventually landed on Creed (believe it or not), which I’d forgotten was a thing. And even with the reminder, I couldn’t quite name a song, though I knew that knowledge must be buried deep. So Sean took it upon himself to sing (remember all the beers). Anyway, you do not need to remember that Creed exists because this movie is here to remind you, if briefly. And that’s about all I have to say about the movie The Beach Bum.

Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) has a very rich and very beautiful wife, Minnie (Isla Fisher), with whom he does not live, and a newlywed daughter whose life he flits in and out of. Moondog lives by no rules. He barely lives in this world. “He’s from another dimension,” explains his indulgent wife, who finds his spotty record very convenient for doing what she wants with whom she wants – mostly, a man named Lingerie (Snoop Dogg).

With straggly, unwashed hair, and volcano-orange thongs, Moondog isn’t just a beach bum, he looks and lives like a bum, period. Except for some reason fake-titted women still line up to be with him. It makes no sense and is exactly the kind of nonsense that completely derails a movie for me. Not that this movie was ever on the rails. Or even has rails.

Anyway, Moondog is apparently a talented poet, which is also completely unbelievable, and his wife figures out how to give him a little motivation to do some writing.

In some ways this is the role Matthew McConaughey was born to play: a merry, aimless stoner. It’s not that hard to imagine that this might have been his fate had he not caught some lucky breaks in Hollywood. Jonah Hill, however, turns in a performance I find nonredeemable; it’s not that hard to imagine that to be MY fate were I being punished in hell for some hella unforgivable sin. Still, it’s mostly writer-director Harmony Karine with whom I take issue. While it may not be unusual to be forgiving of one’s anti-hero, Moondog is undeniably reckless and Karine is infuriatingly nonjudgmental. There’s an outside chance that the message he’s intending is that the pursuit of happiness is attained through pure and selfish hedonism. At the end of the day, its worst crime is that it is boring. Had I not paid to rent it, I would have turned it off. Spare yourself Zac Efron’s douchy beard.

Henry’s Crime

We are sitting smack dab in the golden days of the Summer of Keanu – John Wick 3, Always Be My Maybe, Toy Story 4 – a real career renaissance for Hollywood’s nicest leading man, a Keanussance if you will, though it doesn’t roll of the tongue quite as convincingly as McConaissance did.

Henry Torne (Keanu Reeves) is a toll booth operator and chronically nice guy in that passive way that drives his wife (Judy Greer) kind of crazy. He’s so nice, in fact, that he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Accused of bank robbery, he protects a friend (Fisher Stevens) and takes the sentence, losing his wife in the process. His cellie is a crazy man named Max (James Caan), away for life. Henry does his time and eventually leaves prison with one important lesson imparted by criminals more hardened than he: you did the time, you may as well have done the crime.

And that thought just niggles at him. So much so that he springs Max out of prison and they befriend a Buffalo actress (Vera Farmiga) who just happens to be doing a play in an old theatre that has a prohibition-era tunnel running from its basement straight to the bank’s vault. Convenient! Love and money, all in one fell swoop.

Of course, Henry is not exactly a professional thief. He got caught – and remember, he got caught for a crime he DIDN’T commit. How much of a disaster is he going to be with the real thing?

Safe to say this film (released in 2011) is NOT part of the Keanussance. Reeves suffers from the coolest of detachments while the rest ham things up. Farmiga in particular is several degrees north of TOO DAMN MUCH. Henry’s Crime is entertaining at times, merely watchable at others, and sometimes it’s just slow and not building to much. Sometimes I’m startled to come across titles featuring several prominent actors that I’ve simply never heard of before, but the reason why usually becomes quite clear, quite quickly. While there are worse crimes than Henry’s, a misdemeanor rather than a felony, it’s still not worth doing time for.

Swiped

You should swipe left HARD on this movie. HARD.

James (Kendall Ryan Sanders) is a nerd at college where he is immediately bullied by his roommate Lance (Noah Centineo) and his mean boy cronies. They force him to code a new hookup app called Jungle that will allow them to sleep with women, no strings attached. Jungle has a whole bunch of stipulations: girls must post photos of themselves in underwear; no names are to be exchanged; no date or activity or expenditure of money is necessary; one night stands only. And for some reason, every single man in the entire world feels entitled to these conditions, and for fear of being alone, all the women go along with it.

This movie is an anti-feminist pukefest. I could barely stand to hate-watch this. The writing is bad, and with the exception of Noah, the delivery is terrible. If you cast this from a sign-up sheet in any high school, you could not do worse that this assemblage of blatant first-timers. But let’s focus on the writing, because it is truly among the worst and the most offensive I’ve ever come across. Imagine in 2019 green-lighting a movie that has an 18 year old virgin mansplaining romance to a roomful of women. Clearly the only reason this movie got made is because it was lucky enough (or early enough) to attach teen heartthrob Noah Centineo in a lead role. Sure he plays a douchebag, but then again, 100% of the males in this film are complete and utter pigs. He just gets the most screen time.

I’m disgusted on behalf of all women of their portrayal in this film as weak, meek, and totally clueless. But I’m also disgusted on behalf of a good 40-60% of men who in fact would not be so shallow, short-sighted and slimy. If this movie is supposed to be satire, and believe me, that’s a big IF, it has completely missed the mark. It doesn’t have any of the insight or intelligence required to pull of satire. Instead it just reads as a reckless endorsement of a dating app gone wrong. It makes the folks at Ashley Madison look like angels. In fact, Ashley Madison, morals aside, is a site that offers people a choice. IF you’re married and you’d still like a side piece, sign up. But Jungle’s mission statement acknowledges that women won’t consent to this under normal conditions, so the goal is to make it so they don’t have a choice. Which is a much higher level of sleaze than anyone really wants to admit.

But the good news is: no one can force you to watch. This movie is a dumpster fire and a black hole of entertainment. Keep swiping. Netflix is the purest embodiment of ‘there are plenty of fish in the sea’ – they’re not all winners, but there are occasional gems, and frankly, it would be nearly impossible to do worse than Swiped.