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The Week Of

Have you ever been 23 and so deeply in love that getting married is the only answer? The only answer even if your family thinks you’re a little young, and a little crazy? And doesn’t love always make you a little crazy, no matter how old you are?

Sarah and Tyler are indeed getting married, and if they’re a little crazy, their family is a LOT crazy. His father is a wealthy heart surgeon (Chris Rock) who spent more time in the operating room than in the family room, and her father is a humble contractor (Adam Sandler) willing to spend money he doesn’t have to give his baby girl her special day.

Sandler is quickly surrounded by all manner of family, and you know how family is. And if you’ve ever been married, you know how weddings are. You spend a huge chunk of MV5BMjMyNjU4NDIzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzUyMzE3NDM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1499,1000_AL_money in order to assemble the biggest nuts in your family just to see which ones will crack under the pressure. And oh  my god they crack in such spectacular fashion. I bet your own wedding was not without disaster: tell us about it in the comments! But every wedding has its own brand of chaos, and with Sandler co-penning the script, you know you’re in for some moans and groans, if perhaps not of particularly imaginative variety.

Sandler and Rock are not at their best here, and it seems they’ve decided they don’t really have to be. There’s an extensive cast on hand, including Rachel Dratch and Steve Buscemi, everyone contributing some nonsense on a sliding scale. The bits I liked best are when the whole family is assembled, everyone talking over one another, the old biddies with their insistent ignorance and the younguns there against their will. It felt like a real family, like my family almost, except we’d have fewer deli sandwiches and a lot more beer nuts (not to mention beer). Both Sandler and Rock get drowned out in those scenes, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those are the ones that work best.

Anyway, The Week Of has a few forced laughs but it’s in no way a good movie – just a tolerable one if you’re flipping through Netflix in the need of something light and brainless.



The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

The Meyerowitz family is fractured. Danny (Adam Sandler) is a self-described ‘extremely good parker’ with little else on the horizon. A loving dad and devoted house husband, his life is in transition now that he and his wife are separating and his only daughter is off to college. Moving in with his estranged father Harold (Dustin Hoffman) seems like an opportunity to get to know him, except it turns out that feeling’s not mutual.

Harold abandoned Danny and daughter Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) in favour of a new family when they were quite young. He’s never acted as a real father to them and even now he’s mostly only interested in what they can do for him. Not to mention the complicating factor of his alcoholic wife Maureen (Emma Thompson) who MV5BN2M5YzA2ODAtOTNmMi00MGYyLWIxYWYtY2M2NmE4ZGE1ODQ1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjAwODA4Mw@@._V1_inserts herself into cramped dynamics like she’s determined to put the Wicked back into Step Mother. Both throw out the red carpet when favoured son Matthew (Ben Stiller) makes a reluctant appearance. Harold has fostered a competitive streak between his children by different mothers but they otherwise aren’t close. So when their father’s life and career necessitate them pulling together, it’s a little awkward. Actually, it’s extremely awkward and kind of heart breaking. Because they aren’t bad people, they’ve just been starved of their father’s love and have no idea how to act like a family now that there’s no real chance that things will ever be different.

This being a Noah Baumbach work, the comedy isn’t broad, but it is damn funny. When I finished it (a Netflix original) I immediately wanted to restart it, just to catch all the amazing little asides and offhand jokes that are so casually but expertly tossed out.

Although Harold is a self-absorbed contrarian, he’s not quite despicable in the hands of Dustin Hoffman and his grizzled white beard. Adam Sandler gives a nuanced performance that’ll make you believe in him as an actor once again – and it’s been a good long while since that’s been true. Actually, there are loads of big names, some in pretty small roles, but everyone is kind of spectacular in this. Having recently had no patience for Golden Exits at the New Hampshire Film Festival, I wondered if the our film lexicon was finally full to bursting with movies about privileged white people whining about their lives. But the family dysfunction in The Meyerowitz Stories feels relatable and authentic and the characters are trying too hard to be decent people in the face of it all: I kind of loved it. It’s amazing how many years later childhood resentments and jealousies can bubble to the surface, but this is the kind of movie that makes us all feel “Same” in one way or another, and it just feels good and cathartic that we aren’t alone.



Sandy Wexler

Sandy Wexler is the latest Adam Sandler comedy to hit Netflix; it’s the third in his ground-breaking four-movie deal with them, and in fact, it has just been announced that he’s re-upped his contract for four more: eight movies total. Like him or not, Adam Sandler’s movies have been consistent money makers. His first two tries on Netflix were absolute garbage so it’s weird to me that Netflix was so eager to extend him. It can only mean one thing: people are watching.

sandy-wexler-teaser-still-510x0And here’s the thing: Sandy Wexler isn’t awful. It’s not great, but it’s way more watchable than his previous Netflix efforts. He plays a 1990s-era show business talent who has a bunch of misfits for clients: a vantriloquist, a contortionist, an actress who never gets hired, a third-rate stand-up comedian who only got one star on Star Search. But then he discovers a woman singing her heart out as the ugly duckling\beautiful swan in a children’s play. Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson plays Courtney, a singer so talented that even her weirdo manager Sandy can’t hamper her rocket to stardom.

Sandler does an annoying Sandler voice for Sandy, but he’s otherwise an interesting character. Socially awkward? Too mild: more like socially clueless. Socially backwards. Adam Sandler has a LOT of famous friends in Hollywood, and they all gather in this movie to say crap things about Sandy Wexler, and it’s kind of hilarious. But as we get to know him, we understand that it’s all true. We laugh at his misfires, and we laugh at the easy, time-period-related jokes (example: Arsenio Hall pops up, quite confident that he’ll be famous forever). There are fantastic 90s-era cameos in this film, and if you have any love for the decade, you’ll no doubt have some appreciate for this. The comedy is cheap though. Bargain bin. If you aren’t a fan of Adam, this is NOT the movie that’s going to change your mind. But if you have a soft spot for his trademark juvenile humour, this is a step in the right direction.


Punch-Drunk Love

Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) leads a solitary existence in order to hide his self-hatred, and his violent outbursts. Constantly harangued by his 7 sisters and too insecure to ever stand up for himself, Barry has no coping mechanisms PDL_BAM.jpgand no healthy relationships. But then he starts collecting pudding. It’s only half as strange as it sounds: he discovers a contest loophole where if he buys an enormous amount of pudding, he gets to fly for free. This is the only bright spot in his world of self-loathing until two people pull his life in different directions.

The first is Lena (Emily Watson), a quiet but sweet woman who seems to genuinely like him despite his obliviousness, and let’s be honest, his weirdness. Her tenacity entices him outside of his shell and things are actually  looking up until “Georgia”, a phone sex operator, begins extorting him for all he’s worth.

When Paul Thomas Anderson announced that his follow-up to Magnolia would be “an Adam Sandler comedy”, it was greeted with laughter. When Punch-Drunk Love premiered at Cannes, however, Anderson won the Palm d’Or for imagesr0pkepkodirecting, and Sandler would go on to be nominated for a Golden Globe. Anderson had become somewhat known for his multi-character films and wanted his next work to subvert expectations, and boy did he. He was the first director to cast Adam Sandler and expect great things from him. He gave him real material to work with and Sandler rose to the occasion.

Punch-Drunk Love is a strange little film, even among PTA cannon. It’s gorgeous to look at, completely saturated in brilliant colour schemes emphasized by director of photography Robert Elswit’s use of film stock that allowed him to shoot in underexposed conditions, giving greater depth to the film’s shadowy look.

The sound of the film is distinguished too: Jon Brian composed the music Punch Drunk Love handshake.pngduring the film’s music. The score’s unusual tones and sounds would then be played on set, influencing the atmospheric tone of the film. Anderson brought it Gary Rydstrom on sound mixing, an atypical move as Rydstrom, the chief sound editor for Pixar, normally works on big special effects movies, like Spielberg’s Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan. All of these abnormal pieces form a whole that’s off-kilter and intoxicating.

And while I could go on all day about my love for PTA, you’ve probably noticed by now that this series is about one thing: Hawaii. Sean and I are in Hawaii, so I’m writing about movies who shot there, and earlier when I said that Barry punch-drunklove_bestbought a lot of pudding in order to see the world? The first place he goes is to Hawaii. His Hawaiian trip, inspired by love, is the first self-actualized thing he does for himself. The framing and composition open up as Barry steps outside of his comfort zone, and the confines of his loneliness. Barry is often shown wearing blue, a blue boy wearing his depression, but in Hawaii, pink becomes the colour of prominence, the colour of sweetness, empowerment, and romance. It literally chases the blues away. Although, to be fair, I think Hawaii has the tendency to do that for everyone.



Just Go With It

While I don’t always admire Adam Sandler movies, I do admire his work ethic. Every movie is just an opportunity for him to take another glamourous vacation with his family and friends, and call it a tax write-off. He seems to have a soft spot for Hawaii, and who can blame him?

maxresdefaultJust Go With It was worth another trip to the islands – Maui, to be specific. Well, the movie is deliberately vague, because sometimes they’ll start out on the island of Maui and then magically end up in Kauai: the magic of Hollywood, folks!

The title pleads for you to “just go with it” and you’ll have to in order to enjoy this thing even a modicum. It’s a sad little premise, in that Adam Sandler is a player who wears a fake wedding ring in order to pick up empathetic dates who he never has to commit to.  Until he meets his dream girl, played by bikini  model Brooklyn Decker, and now he has to orchestrate a fake divorce in order to be available to her. He blackmails  his assistant (Jennifer Aniston) into posing as his soon to be ex-wife, and her son cleverly milks it for a trip to Hawaii.

After some allusions to Pretty Woman, the movie is pretty much just a tropical setting and some classic Sandler shenanigans. Jennifer Aniston is a stand-out:nicole_kidman_just_go_with_it_pto5zmo_sized she really makes you remember what fine comedic timing she has. So while this in no way is a good movie, it’s kind of enjoyable if you squint hard enough. Actually, my favourite part is when Aniston and her college arch-nemesis played by Nicole Kidman do a hula-off. You could watch that scene, have a laugh, and not feel too bad about yourself.

Jennifer and Adam were friends for more than 20 years before they got around to making a movie together. They met before either was famous, and she’d go watch him do his stand-up before sharing a cheap meal. Now they’ve each had their mega-success, so why not take their respective crews to the most beautiful place on earth? Nicole Kidman maintains that she loved the experience of making this film no matter what the critics said. Her kids and even her parents were with her. Adam’s wife and kids appear in the movie, and so does Brooklyn’s hubby. Who wouldn’t want to work from Hawaii? This week, though, I’m not working. In fact, right about now I should be hiking up a volcano on Maui. Aloha!

The Do-Over

I contemplated going with a one-word review here: sophomoric. Sophomoronic. It’s another piece of shit put together too-quickly by Adam Sandler and friends as part of his Netflix package deal where they gave him millions and he gave them movies he seems to invent as he goes in about 3 days flat. Although I doubt this one’s as bad as as his previous abortion, The Ridiculous Six, it’s also not much better. These are way below the bar of Adam’s regular movies, so you know it’s a low, low standard of fare being offered here. Low. Super low.

Like here’s Adam Sandler’s last theatre-released movie, Pixels. Pretty shit movie actually, but not the worst thing ever made.

And lower than that: a romance that makes you barf in your mouth it’s so damned cheesy and stereotypical.

And underneath that: movies where people are battling sharks, or sharks are battling nature, or nature is battling some other super scary sea creature.

Even lower: films where foreign characters are played with racist enthusiasm by white people.

Even lower: movies starring Johnny Depp made this century.

Lower: super hero movies ruined by Josh Trank.

Lower still: found-footage films made by 8th graders.

And then: the footage from any 3 random colonoscopies.

Finally: Adam Sandler’s Netflix movies.

So there. You’ve been warned. But instead of just telling you to stay away, I’m going to fulfill some of my community service obligations by giving you a short list of stuff that’s way more worthy, and available on Netflix right now.

Requiem For The American Dream: Four years worth of discourse with Noam Chomsky on the defining characteristic of our time – the deliberate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few.

Autism In Love: A documentary that follows the love-lives of 4 people, complicated (and sometimes not) by their autism.
Dope: Life changes for Malcolm, a musically-inclined geek who’s surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a scary Los Angeles adventure.
A Single Man: An English professor is barely coping with life a year after the sudden loss of his boyfriend. Colin Firth at his melancholic best.
Eagle vs Shark: New Zealand’s sense of humour is among the best, and Taika Waititi is one of my favourite film makers. This one is astoundingly funny, about a woman who falls in love with a loser.
Short Term 12: Brie Larson before the Oscar, but just as Oscar-worthy, about a young woman who works in a group home. Tough fucking job.
Force Majeure: A real conversation piece. When a family on a ski vacation suffers a near-death experience and the father doesn’t quite live up to expectations, everyone’s disillusioned.
Two Days One Night: Marion Cotillard has not very long (guess HOW long!) to try to save her job before it throws her family into a desperate situation.
Philomena: Brilliantly acted by both Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, an elderly woman tries to locate the baby she gave up to adoption many years ago.
The Boxtrolls: Lovely stop-motion animation. A young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator.
Fruitvale Station: Cops killing black people for no damn reason. Deeply emotional. Michael B. Jordon establishes himself as a star.
Beginners:A youngish man (Ewan McGregor) is shocked by two announcements from his elderly father (Christopher Plummer): that he has terminal cancer, and that he’s gay.
Amelie: You’ve probably already seen it, and should probably see it again. Total whimsy. Amelie is an innocent who decides to help those around her and, even if she herself may need help too.
Boy: Another one by Taika Waititi because I couldn’t resisit and really, why should I? Boy is an 11 year old Michael Jackson fan who gets to know his criminal father when he returns home to retrieve buried treasure.
The Queen of Versailles: One of my favourite documentaries about the 1% – specifically a couple trying to build the biggest single-family home ever but then the recession hits and things get awkward.
What are your favourite Netflix recommendations? Feel free to leave relevant links in the comments! Let’s work together, film community, to make sure nobody has to sit through this movie. We can do it!
Some other great recommendations:
Europa Report
New on Netflix: Grandma, and Infinitely Polar Bear

Adam & Drew

Adam Sandler is not everyone’s cup of tea. His movies tend toward the juvenile and so lots of people give him a wide berth at the box office. But to know Adam Sandler is to love him; in actors’ circles, he’s known as the nicest guy in Hollywood.

A little shy, Sandler does as little press as he can get away with, almost no print, and only very occasional talk show appearances, which he usually does in character. As the head of his production company, Happy Madison, things are a little different. He’s the affable and humble centre of an awful lot of industry, loyally employing friends and family on projects skewered by critics but beloved by audiences. Sandler’s movies haven’t been box office juggernauts in years, but they are consistent earners, and his name has continually if quietly stayed among the top earners of Hollywood for the past two decades.

Sandler’s early success meant he could start doing things his way, and he’s surrounded himself with the same cast of characters, working with the directors and writers he trusts, to say nothing of the famous faces appearing in his movies. Always grateful to Saturday Night Live as his diving board to fame (he was discovered by Dennis Miller), he employs not just the SNL alums he worked with (David Spade, Rob Schneider, Chris Rock, Norm MacDonald) but many besides (Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Dan Aykroyd, Kevin Nealon, Rachel Dratch). He attracts big names to his movies (Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel), but always finds room for old friends (Allen Covert, Peter Dante), Sandler mainstays (Henry Winkler, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi), and his own wife and daughters.

drew sandlerOne such person who can never get enough is Drew Barrymore. In her 2015 memoir Wildflower, Barrymore describes begging for a chance to meet him after her good friend Tamra Davis (director of Billy Madison) raved about him. Barrymore was certain of his “goodness” and felt they should pair up despite them being complete opposites in their early 20s, “like a preppy and a punk set up on a bad blind date.” Her pitch worked: pretty soon he came calling with a little movie called drew-barrymore-and-adam-sandler_2The Wedding Singer in his pocket. Written by Sandler groupie Tim Herlihy, it was given an uncredited polish by Sandler’s friend and former roommate, Judd Apatow (another guy famous for working with a loyal crew, including Sandler himself of course, most notably on Funny People) and Carrie Fisher, to give equal weight to the feminine side. The movie was a hit, with Drew certifiably falling in love with the Sandler crew, calling them “real, no-bullshit friends” which I take is a high compliment in Hollywood.

People loved The Wedding Singer for many reasons – the 80s nostalgia, the cheesy music, but above all, the incredible chemistry between Adam and Drew (she refers to him as her “cinematic soulmate”).

Always intending to work with Sandler again, Barrymore knew they couldn’t settle for anything less than the greatness they’d already achieved. But life drewadammoved on. Drew worked intensely on a Penny Marshall movie called Riding in Cars with Boys, and it was around that time that she came across a romantic script that she thought was a great fit for her production company, Flower Films. Unfortunately that script was a hot commodity, and it kept changing hands, with big directors and stars attached, never becoming available to her, despite numerous attempts. Until one day she heard that it had landed at Adam’s studio, Happy Madison. By this time they each had an office just a few hundred feet apart on the Sony lot (she was doing Charlie’s Angels), so he was easy to hound. Sandler was already turningdrewbarrymore it into a comedy but welcomed Drew on board not only as a co-star but also as co-producer, and she’s responsible for keeping the important elements of the love story, the parts that turned us all to mush.

Adam and Drew took the Seattle drama and laid it out in Hawaii instead, each bringing their production families to paradise and basically turning the island into a happy party (so happy that her Angels co-star Cameron Diaz came to visit and never left). 50 First Dates opened on Valentine’s day, and I was there, butt in the seat, and actually watched it twice (the projector broke down half way through, and we had to star the thing over from the beginning). They CinemaCon 2014 - The CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards Brought To You By The Coca-Cola Companybroke records that opening weekend; I’m not the only one who finds these two irresistible.

It would be another decade before they reunited on-screen again, with The Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci back at the helm for a movie about modern families called Blended. This movie would be proof of how far they each had come, personally and professionally, since first meeting as successful, hard-partying kids in the 90s. Sandler, once a “bad boy of SNL” now has a reputation for being a family man. He has always been quick to attribute credit to his parents (his highest-grossing comedy album named for them, Stan & Judy’s kid, and even one of Chris Rock’s albums a tribute to Sandler’s late father). By this time Adam and Drew had 3 daughters between them and the whole crew headed to Africa, families in tow. Barrymore has downshifted on her acting career since becoming a mother, finding it hard to strike the balance, but an Adam Sandler film “celebrates Drew-Barrymore-Adam-Sandler-reunited-promote-new-filmwives and kids” and she was able to make a family adventure out of it, even discovering on her last day of shooting that she was pregnant with a second daughter.

Still the best of friends, Adam and Drew now attend each other’s kids’ birthday parties (2 daughters apiece – Sadie and Sunnie for him, Olive and Frankie for her) and talk about their next project, whatever that may be, joking that they’ll still be making romantic comedies when they’re old and gray. (In fact, during press for the movie Blended, Adam made a very pregnant Drew cry when he sang the precious The Wedding Singer song to her “I Want to Grow Old With You”).

No matter what it is, I know I’ll be in line to see it. These two are cute as can be when they’re together, and Drew knows why: “I once knew a boy named Adam. And I hoped that we could be a team, but what I found was a true partner. I now know a man named Adam, and trust me when I say, he is as great as you want him to be.”

Hotel Transylvania 2

hotelphoneI’ll take Phoning It In for 500, Alex.

We’ve been spoiled by Pixar into thinking that animated films aren’t just for kids anymore but Adam Sandler wants to remind you that, indeed, some of them are.

Hotel Transylvania 2 isn’t offensive, it’s just a throwback to that old style animation where a cartoon is just a babysitter for the kiddos. It’s full of monsters so colourful and appealing they could advertise sugary breakfast cereal. The movie relies on sight gags and corny jokes that just don’t cut it for the over-10 crowd.

hoteltDracula is back, the proprietor of a high-end hotel catering exclusively to monster guests. His daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) has just married her human sweetheart Jonathan (Adam Samberg) and they’ve got a sweet little baby boy, the apple of Dracula’s eye. The only thing is, nobody knows yet whether the baby will turn out to be vampire or human. There’s a slight allegory here, something about “mixed families” but it’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff.

Sandler brings along all his old buddies to flesh-out the awesome voice cast: SNL alums, Chris Parnell, David Spade, Molly Shannon, Dana Carvey, Chris Hotel-Transylvania-2-Monsters-Frank-Wayne-Griffin-MurrayKattan, and Jon Lovitz; Sandler mainstays Kevin James, Steve Buscemi,  Nick Swardson, and Allen Covert; and a rather inspired addition – Mel Brooks as Vlad, grumpy great-grandpa who doesn’t approve of vampire-human relations. My favourite of course, are Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly, who together voice Jonathan’s super-square parents who get thrown into a crash-course in monsterdom when their son introduces them to vampiric in-laws and a “half-blood” grandson.

hotelOfferman and Mullaly are a real-life couple who met while doing a play. He was a lowly carpenter, and she was a TV star still in the throes of her Will & Grace fame. Over the course of their relationship, she’s seen his star rise as well due to a similarly iconic role on Parks & Recreation. We Assholes were lucky enough to catch them doing another play togetannapurnaher, this time on Broadway, called Annapurna. It was a simple, 2-person play, deeply intense and emotional, and a real joy to watch two master thespians up close and personal. It’s clear that they love working together, even if it’s on a shitty kids’ movie.

Well, I’m saying shitty because I was bored by it. But the producers of Hotel Transylvania don’t care what I think. They didn’t make it for me. And if you hoteltrannsask a kid, chances are they loved it. The sequel was a veritable monster at the box office, if you’ll forgive the pun, setting records as the biggest September opening, the biggest Sandler opening, and the biggest for Sony Pictures Animation as well. It grossed $469 million worldwide, and it just beat out Inside Out at the Kids’ Choice Awards this weekend. So hell yes there’s a #3 coming down the pipes.

Bottom line: if you run out of Paw Patrol, this movie will make a nice substitute for your single-digit-aged kids. If you hope for more than just fart jokes in your animated movies, maybe Zootopia is your better choice – though I’m not guaranteeing it’s fart-free….in fact, I distinctly remember a certain “play on words” if you can still call it that when the word in question is duty.

The Ridiculous 6

For some reason, I like Adam Sandler. Even though his movies are atrocious. For every funny scene, there are three times as many that just don’t work. Despite his efforts to appeal to the shortest of attention spans, his movies are usually ironic culprits of the worst crime any film can commit. They’re boring.

Still, I like him. Maybe I’m biased by my fond memories of 90s Saturday Night Live or the first ridiculous 62time I saw Happy Gilmore. Or maybe he just seems like a nice guy. Everyone around him seems to be having so much fun. And as juvenile and offensive as his humour can sometimes be, that classic Sandler grin can’t help but make us feel like he means us no harm. Besides, he’s a funny guy who throws so much at you that some of it is bound to stick. I don’t think there’s a single Adam Sandler movie that hasn’t made me laugh out loud at least a few times.

Until now. This week I watched Sandler’s Netflix Original The Ridiculous 6, which has to be a new low for him both as an actor and as a writer. Sandler, Rob Schneider, Taylor Lautner, Jorge Garcia, Luke Wilson, and Terry Crews all play brothers from other mothers who Sandler meets one by one while on a mission to rescue their father from a gang of thieves. They’re a ridiculously diverse group of brothers; Sandler was adopted and raised by Native Americans so naturally knows how to do all kinds of mystical shit, Schneider is half-Mexican with a horse that sprays you with shit to let you know that it likes you, Lautner is a simple-minded redneck with a missing tooth, Garcia doesn’t speak English and is good at strangling people, Wilson was Abe Lincoln’s bodyguard, and Crews is a piano-playing black guy and of course has a huge penis.

ridiculous 6So, obviously it all feels dated, desperately banking on the hope that the stereotypes from Adam’s SNL days are still funny 20 years later. The injustices suffered by First Nations people have been a hot and controversial topic in Canada lately, making Sandler’s performance and the film’s depiction of the culture in general just seem wrong. I believe that a gifted comedian can get away with joking about almost anything but firmly believe that, if you’re going to take on such a sensitive subject, you’d better make damn sure at the very least that you’re funny. There’s nothing funny going on here.

Thank God we’ve got Taylor Lautner. Sandler going Native was a bad idea but he can’t help ridiculous 63being at least a little likeable and, thanks to Lautner, he does not come close to giving the worst performance of The Ridiculous 6. Lautner’s hillbilly feels less offensive since southern white guys have been fair game for so long now but rarely have they been portrayed by an actor with so little charisma and sense of comic timing. It’s hard to watch him without wondering how no one close to him was ever able to talk him out of this.

If you still want to watch it, the good news is that The Ridiculous 6 is not all bad. While it never made me laugh, I might have managed a chuckle or too had I not been so irritated by the rest of the movie. John Turturro’s cameo featuring an early version of baseball nearly got a “nice job with that” from me and the usual cast of Sandler cameos show up as real-life historical figures occasionally made me smile despite myself. I hate to name specific actors or characters here because I wouldn’t want to spoil what little fun this movie has to offer.

Escapism (Or Why I’m Not At Work Right Now)

There’s a heat wave in Ottawa, folks. The humidex says 40 bloody degrees. Is it hot where you are too? Our local art house theatre, the estimable Bytowne on Rideau street, helpfully suggests that their cinema is in fact air-conditioned, and even better, they sell ice cream at their concession stand. So there’s always that.

But today Sean and I are playing heat wave hookie. There’s a water park down the road so we’re slathering on the sunscreen (Sean says: smells like vacation sex!) and hitting the (fake) waves.

Now, one thing to consider when you’re off to the local water park is all those news stories you’ve read about it recently, and in particular, its “dismal safety record.” The good news is: it was only found guilty on 6 of 11 charges, and the 9 others were withdrawn. So that’s not bad, right? I feel like I can beat the 50\50 odds at least half the time.

The truth is, you have to remember that these parks are staffed by the same kids in adventurelandAdventureland. I mean, would you literally trust Jesse Eisenberg or Kristen Stewart with your life? Those two asshats, plus a gang of their ne’ever do well friends, run the games section of a run down amusement park while dreaming of being ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD and having these deep and meaningful conversations while completely ignoring their customers. Have you seen this movie? Did it remind you of any of your own after school jobs? It’s pretty scary when teenagers run the world,

In The Way, Way Back, a kid named Duncan gets hired to work at a water park called Water Wizz, which is an awful name for a park. It reminds you too much of what you’re floating in. I mean, realistically, we know it’s 40% urine. Those kids over there haven’t gone to the washroom WayWayBackONCE since arriving but they’re throwing back juice boxes like it’s happy hour. Water parks probably don’t even HAVE bathroom facilities for kids. Why waste the space? (This reminds of a scene in Grown Ups where Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider are all floating around at a water park, not coincidentally also called Water Wizz since it was filmed in the same park, and suddenly the water around them all 20100614_poolpee_190x190turns dark blue – apparently there’s a chemical that can notify us that someone has peed, and I can’t decide if that’s brilliant or just tmi. The point being: I guess grown ups (if you can really call David Spade a grown up) do it too.) Anyway, back to the movie I meant to be talking about. Duncan seeks refuge at this pissy water park because his mom (Toni Colette) is neglecting him on their summer vacation, and her boyfriend (Steve Carrell) is emotionally abusive toward him. So a pool full of pee starts to seem not so bad.

Me? I happen to like my Mom’s boyfriend, despite his constant cracking of sex jokes, which – hello – are about my Mom. So I’m not fleeing step-parent abuse. But I am avoiding work. And the weird thing about work is, I (and likely lots of you too) have this weird thing about skipping work just to laze around watching Netflix. I mean, that’s what Sundays are for. If you miss work, you need a Reason. See what I did there? Capital R Reason. A good one. Like going out-of-town with my hunny to get an irresponsible sunburn and possibly also athlete’s foot.

Anyway, this was a good movie review, wasn’t it? To recap:

Adventureland: high on nostalgia; has some great supporting characters.

Grown Ups: funny to people who like pee jokes.

The Way, Way Back: quietly charming and sweet and funny.

What’s your favourite summer movie? How are you staying cool? What do you skip work to do?