Tag Archives: buddy movies

Bon Cop, Bad Cop

Good-Cop-Bon-CopAs someone who grew up in Ontario (mostly) and now lives in Quebec, I can say with authority that Bon Cop, Bad Cop is a fantastic send up of the occasionally pained relationship between the two provinces.  There’s a lot of history and a lot of angst to be found in that relationship, and somehow we now seem more distant from each other than do the English and French, whose historic animus is the basis for our long-standing conflict.

When I go shopping in Quebec, I do not speak French and neither does Jay even though she’s totally bilingual.  I am not bilingual but I know enough to order a Happy Meal in French if I wanted.  But I DON’T want to – I want Quebec McDonald’s to speak English to me.

That stubbornness goes both ways.  Not only do many frontline retail staff refuse to speak English back to me (especially older ones), Quebecers are consistently terrible drivers who poke along well below the speed limit in the fast lane and refuse to move over for my bright orange racecar no matter how close I get to their bumper.

And yet, we consistently have each other’s back when push comes to shove.  When it rained for what seemed like a month straight in April and May and the Ottawa River started overflowing its banks to the point that it came onto our backyard, those same French bastards from McDonald’s and the highway banded together to deliver sandbags to us (and thousands of other English speakers in our border city) at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday and then helped us put those sandbags in place, with smiles on their faces as they asked in English whether they could do anything else to help.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop nails that dynamic at every step, as two cops (Ontarian Colm Feore and Quebecer Patrick Huard) are forced to work together to solve a murder in which a body was found straddling the Ontario-Quebec border.  Of course they’re going to try to one-up the other, of course they’re going to set stupid and arbitrary rules about who does what and which language gets used when, and of course their petty squabbles are going to put everything in jeopardy.  Because that’s what we do.  But in the end, we accomplish what needs doing, and we share a grudging respect that binds us closer than geography alone ever could.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop captures our relationship perfectly and pokes fun at it at every opportunity.  That made Bon Cop, Bad Cop enjoyable in spite of its cliches, nonsensical plot, and cheap shots at Gary Bettman (okay, the last bit was enjoyable on its own).   But if you’re not from either province, you probably won’t get it, and truthfully we kind of like that you don’t.   We may argue over which of Ontario and Quebec is better but we agree that both are way better than wherever the hell you live.

Advertisements

Mr. Pig

Ambrose’s farm is failing. He and his daughter are estranged. He doesn’t have anywhere else to be, so he and his friend Howard take a road trip down to Mexico. We get some solid, buddy-road-trip stuff out of Ambrose and Howard: questionable roadside food cards, cold beers, 000070-26554-16618_mrpig_still1_dannyglover__bydamingarca_-_h_2016reminiscences. It’s only a little wonky that Howard is Ambrose’s prized pig.

Howard is the last of a hallowed pig lineage, and Ambrose (Danny Glover) is making this illegal road trip to drop him off where he’ll be treasured and treated right, with the son of his old partner. It doesn’t hurt that the son is willing to pay what only Ambrose thinks Howard is worth. But when the incredibly porcine duo arrive, Ambrose finds his old partner’s farm to be thoroughly modernized, and that’s no compliment. It’s a factory farm that treats live animals like end products, so of course Ambrose balks. The deal is off: he and Howard hit the road once again.

This is when Ambrose’s very concerned daughter Eunice (Maya Rudolph) appears on the scene, but she cannot simply drive Ambrose and Howard back home because US customs just won’t allow it (well duh, they make you throw out orange slices for the love of god). So now it’s a father-mr-pig-moviedaughter-hog road trip movie, only there won’t be any touching redemption in this minivan. Ambrose just isn’t the type.

Mr. Pig wallows. It’s slow going. Diego Luna directs, and he’s got a fine eye for the beauty of Mexico, I’ll give him that. We see a side of it that we don’t usually glimpse in movies, the less cliched part of Mexico. The character study, however, is extremely low key. Too low key, you might be forgiven for thinking. Both Glover and Rudolph do their damnedest, but there’s just not enough bacon to go around.

 

The Fundamentals of Caring

I am having trouble sorting out my feelings for this movie: on the one hand, it’s plump with clichés like an overcooked wiener in a bun of unsubtlety. But that’s no ordinary mustard on this hot dog; it’s the fancy hand-pumped kind I got “on tap” from Maille in Paris, a beautiful mustard with Chablis and black truffles.

Okay, I took that metaphor too far. My point is (and I do have one): this movie the-fundamentals-of-caringhits a LOT of “road trip” clichés coupled with a lot of “my disabled buddy” clichés. And it has Selena Gomez. But it’s still offbeat and oddly charming and yes, this wiener won me over.

Ben (Paul Rudd) is a downtrodden man completing his training in caregiving, where the motto is, “Care, but not too much.” And that’s his plan. This is just a job. But he winds up working for an 18 year old young man named Trevor (Craig Roberts) with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. A progressive loss of muscle function means that Trevor’s in a wheel chair with limited use of his arms. The disease has NOT touched Trevor’s razor wit, his mean sense of humour, or his nasty predilection for pranks. This isn’t going to be an easy babysitting job after all – especially when the two hit the open road with a specially-equipped van full of drugs and life-sustaining equipment. Oh the fun they’ll have literally risking Trevor’s life to see some lousy American road side attractions.

Paul Rudd is the fancy mustard. I adore him. 60% of the time, I love him every time. I mean, let’s be serious for a moment. Is therefundamentalsofcaring-roberts-rudd-bovine-770x470 a single person on the planet who doesn’t love him? He might just be the most universally beloved actor that America has ever or will ever produce. He’s adorable. He’s still playing adorable and he’s middle aged!

Writer-director Rob Burnett manages to find a few new nuggets among the usual disability tropes. He’s not afraid of dark humour, but this movie still manages to be fairly lightweight. And I have to give him mad props for finding a way to use a Leonard Cohen song. I could hardly believe my little ears; they turned pink in utter delight.

This is the perfect little movie to accompany a glass of sangria at the end of a summer night – easy watching for easy sipping. Hot dogs are never easy eating for me but I rate this movie 4 gourmet all-beef wieners out of 5. It’s on Netflix right now.

Ride Along 2

Don’t worry, guys, Kevin Hart is now a legitimate cop (he was just a security guard wannabe the first time around) but he’s still fucking things up hilariously for his “partner” and soon-to-be brother-in-law, Ice Cube. Detective Cube is just as reticent as ever and has no patience for a lowly ride-along-60beat cop, but fate (or convenient scripting) intervenes to make sure they’re back in the same care for yet another ride – this time all the time to Miami.

There’s nothing overtly wrong with this movie, it’s just an attempt to squeeze more money out of the same damn stone. Buddy-cop formula? Regurgitation to the max. And you know what regurgitation is right? It’s like when the mama bird eats a worm but instead of swallowing all the way, she saves it in her throat to later barf up into her baby’s mouth. That’s what this movie is to us. They sloughed off the basic idea of the first, chewed it up a bit, and vomited the mushy mess onto the big screen.

This doesn’t sound like much of an endorsement, does it? But I have to give this movie the props it deserves: it stars two black dudes (“blentlemen”) in the title roles and STILL has a cast full of people of colour. It’s an exercise in diversity that looks and feels effortless and yet is rarely achieved in Hollywood these days.

I like Cube and I like Hart but if there was anything fresh to add to this genre, they used it all up the first time around. Cube seems to play a cop in 80% of his films, which I suppose is a little karmic retribution for his NWA hit, Fuck Tha Police. Life is funny like that. Kevin Hart’s an interesting dude, though. He’s an ace stand-up comic and is a great choice for adding some manic, amped-up energy to any scenario, but he hasn’t found his break out role yet. Come to think of it, I know some people that are gambling it’ll be later this week with Central Intelligence, another entry into arguably the very same genre, this time alongside The Rock. Any bets? Will Kevin Hart finally get his due?

Keanu

keanuoscarsthemartianmasterjpg-0d82f7_765wKeanu is not just a dark haired, sunglasses wearing Canadian. He’s also a kitten with a rare disease: cuteness. Or so we are led to believe by Comedy Central duo Key and Peele, playing cousins who would do anything to get Keanu back after he’s kitten-napped by a gang of street toughs led by the one and only Method Man. And so goes Keanu, a film that takes the two cousins from one life-threatening situation to the next, in pursuit of a cat.

Being a dog owner, I am duty bound to object to the whole premise. This movie would have been a million times more believable if Keanu was a dog. Cats are too cold and cranky for you to want to chase one all over Los Angeles. Deep down you know that cat doesn’t care about you at all. So if you lose a cat1399355_532978063457666_1736393886_o in real life, you just put up a poster and call it a day. But for a dog, that’s different. If your dog gets lost you don’t look for an hour and then call it quits. You get your ass out there and you find that fucking dog!792421_532978346790971_1133090003_o

Poor pet choice aside, Key and Peele’s adventure is an entertaining one. While there are not a ton of belly laughs, there are a lot of memorable scenes, including a fantastic George Michael singalong and some hilarious movie-themed cat pictures.

There is also something refreshing about seeing these normal guys (who happen to be black) play with stereotypes, not only with their choice of music but also with their attempts to fit in with a plethora of cat-loving gang members.  That element of satire is a welcome improvement on Hollywood’s usual reliance on racial tropes.

Writers Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens deserve a ton of credit for departing from that formula. Keanu successfully subverts the usual tropes and shows that the stereotypes we cling to are an unconscious attempt to fit into a role rather than being innate characteristics. And that’s why this dog-lover enjoyed a movie about a kitten, because it’s not really about a kitten at all.

Dirty Grandpa

Robert De Niro clearly relishes his role in Dirty Grandpa as, you guessed it, the dirty grandpa. He cusses lots and spikes drinks with Zanex and flirts with Aubrey Plaza and takes his shirt off a lot and clearly is having a ton of fun all the way through.  Zac Efron also takes his shirt off a lot but throughout this movie Zac Efron & Robert De Niro Go Shirtless For Flex Off On Set Of "Dirty Grandpa"he looks as uncomfortable as the middle aged, flip-phone owning couple sitting directly in front of us at last night’s screening. Maybe, as Jay observed, Efron is coming to the sobering realization that being shirtless is his thing and the best he can hope for is to be brought back as the shirtless grandpa if this movie is the start of a Rocky-like franchise.

My money’s on there being no sequel. Dirty Grandpa has a lot of laughs and an abundance of dick jokes, but it also seemed unnecessarily long and unnecessarily concerned with plot. I didn’t need to see everyone learn a lesson. I certainly did not need three generations of lessons being taught to De Niro, Efron, and Dermot Mulroney. And we see stereotypes of hippies, lacrosse jocks, and gang members learn something too. The only ones exempt from this rule seem to be the very funny Jason Mantzoukas (a.k.a. Rafi from the League!) as a Daytona dirty_grandpa_jc_151029_16x9_992Beach drug dealer, and Adam Pally as Efron’s cousin.  At least the writers had the good sense to allow those two to do their crazy guy routines the whole way through Dirty Grandpa.  I wish they had given everyone such free reign.  I was just there to laugh and didn’t need everything to be wrapped up perfectly, or at all.

I thought all the lessons really took away from Dirty Grandpa’s momentum, mainly by taking the focus off dirty De Niro.  That hurt this movie a lot because De Niro as the dirty old guy is by far the best part.  He’s really, really funny, but all too often he’s jolted out of that role when sad Efron calls him the worst grandpa ever (which happens every ten minutes or so).  Take out all the grandpa-grandson make-up sessions and Dirty Grandpa would have been far more enjoyable.

Dirty Grandpa is a decent comedy, much better than I expected, but since the story seriously impedes these characters’ escapades, it seems like an opportunity missed.  I give it a score of seven horny octogenarians out of ten.

Slow West

Slow West tells the story of a young Scot named Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee doing his best Jay Baruchel impression) travelling across Colorado in search of his lost love Rose (Caren Pistorius).  Almost immediately, Jay is saved from bandits by Silas (Michael Fassbender) and from then on, it’s a western version of The Odd Couple, except writer/director John Maclean replaces much of the comedy with despair.  The wild west depicted in Slow West (which incidentally is New Zealand standing in for the midwestern plains) is the saddest, loneliest place imaginable.  Still, in spite of its melancholy, Slow West manages to be a very enjoyable movie, and even a surprisingly funny one at times.

Going into Slow West, I had one expectation: that the title would have some deep meaning to be revealed during the course of the movie.  I was let down in that regard but that was really the only disappointment I had coming out – I still don’t understand the title and feel like there’s something there to get.

Anyway, as far as the movie itself, Fassbender and Smit-McPhee make a very goo
d pair, and that’s fortunate because we spend a lot of time with them as they make their way to Rose.  Fassbender gives us a convincing tough guy with a heart of gold silver tin.  Smit-McPhee is well cast as the naive, good-hearted foreigner.  Ben Mendelsohn, who really impressed me in Mississippi Grind, makes a quick appearance as a scummy outlaw and looks the part.  And yes, everything in this paragraph reads like a back-handed compliment, but it’s coming from a good place, I swear.

Slow West climaxes in a shootout.  I don’t
think I have to tag that as a spoiler,  do I?  You knew it was going to happen.  The way the shootout plays out, though, is well done and is much different than I expected.   It even includes a few surreal moments that worked really well (especially one involving a jar of salt).

Overall, Slow West is a solid, though sad, tale from the wild west.  Much like the story told by an old gang member, it entertained me throughout its 85 minute run time with its unusual mix of sadness and death with a hint of offbeat comedy.  It’s definitely worth tracking down, and I give it a score of eight wanted posters out of ten.

 

Whistler, Day 3

Amerika: A documentary about a Canadian grad student who goes over to the Czech Republic (where her parents immigrated from) to Amerika_Poster_A1_Final_ENGdiscover “tramping” and have an adventure. The film fails to introduce us to our two main characters. She, we come to know, is the Canadian, and he…well, he’s just there. No word on how they hooked up or how they came to be travelling together. Tramping is an alternative way of life for Czechs. It’s leaving everything behind and hitting the road, living on the land, sleeping in the open air. Some live like that permanently, off the grid and housed in a forest that feeds them. Others tramp on weekends and go back to their white-collar jobs during the week. It’s an idealized but dying culture, and interesting enough I suppose, but I felt pretty disconnected from the film, and not just because I really loathed the Canadian, applauding silently in my heart when she got dunked into a river. Of course the Canadian was on hand at the screening to answer all of our burning questions (I did not ask “Why couldn’t you have gotten eat by a bear?” or even “Does the Czech Republic even have man-eating animals in its eyoGykp0yNvBPvn587DGIXxXoAML9rVgvLqVvqjdtdkwilderness?”) and it was revealed that the random travelling partner was in fact the film’s director. We didn’t notice that ourselves because he uses a “character” name in the movie. He recruited her for this film and set up all of their itinerary, and arranged for the tramps to be met along the way, the “cast” and crew sleeping in hotels at night while pretending to hike during the day. The whole thing was contrived and while I struggle to call it a documentary, I have no qualms at all about calling it bad.

Angry Indian Goddesses: This one won runner-up for People’s 31190-Angry%20Indian%20Goddesses%20(2015)Choice at TIFF this year (Room nabbed the title) but we didn’t get to see it then and are happy to take it in now. Billed as India’s first female buddy movie, it’s a comedy-drama about the wild, bachelorette-style female bonding rituals enacted after one woman announces her engagement…and then it gets turned on its ear. Actually, that’s putting it too mildly. The shifts in tone in this movie are JARRING. On the whole I really liked this movie. It’s a lot more grown up than what Bollywood usually offers. The women are all compelling and we get to see a side of India not normally presented to us. But when the movie goes dark – and it goes DARK – there’s little warning. It’s pretty abrupt after the hijinks and singing and dancing. So steel yourself. But do see it. There’s not a lot out there like it.

Chasing Banksy: After Katrina, street artist Banksy arrives surreptitiously in New Orleans and leaves behind some mysterious pieces of art on the city’s abandoned, derelict buildings. Anthony, a starving artist in New York, knows that Banksy’s work goes for chasingbanksy_2501upwards of a million, so he plots to track down the artwork and retrieve it. He and a couple of buddies take the road trip of a lifetime to see if they can become rich stealing art. This movie appealed to me because its concept is really interesting. Is art that’s made for the public allowed to be taken by the public? Is it meant to be transitory? Should it be allowed to rot or be demolished? Or should it be preserved, even if preserving it means stealing it? Can you steal something that doesn’t belong to anyone? Does it belong to everyone? And should you monetize art that’s meant to be free? So many interesting questions and this movie just killed me because it failed to really wonder about any of them. It’s not a good movie no matter how you define the terms, and that’s a real wonder since the star and co-writer actually went to New Orleans to steal some Banksy art. Why, then, is he so bad at pretending to be himself?  I’m not sure, but this movie really let me down.

Creed

This is shaping up to be a rough movie season for Jay.  First, she got dragged to SPECTRE (which by all accounts is a spectacular movie).   Second, she’s been dreading Star Wars: The Force Awakens since it was a twinkle in J.J. Abrams’ eye.  And third, a whole other Sean-approved franchise makes a return and potentially gets rebooted into a whole new series of movies.  Dun Na NAAAAAA, Dun Na NAAAAAA!

That’s right, Rocky is back again, for the seventh time.  It seemed over after IV, V, and VI, but some studio exec decided we could handle more!  And it was clearly the right decision because I think MGM/Warner Brothers now has a whole new franchise on its hands, featuring Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed (Apollo Creed’s son).

I have always loved this franchise.  From the moment I saw Rocky III, I was hooked (yes, I started with III and have never regretted it – as recently discussed in my defence of SPECTRE, plot and character are pretty much unnecessary in franchises and here’s more proof that’s a good thing).  Based on my love for the franchise, I had high hopes for this movie but I was also nervous at how this would all turn out.  After seeing Creed, I am happy to report that this franchise’s record is still unblemished as long as we agree that Rocky V never happened.

One of my favourite things about Rocky VI (a.k.a. Rocky Balboa) was how much love it showed to the franchise as a whole.  Creed takes the same approach.  There are a number of nods to the past and they’re great to see.  The best part is that Rocky, as trainer, takes all that history and imbues Adonis with the style of boxing we’ve grown to love in these movies, namely trading head shots until both boxers’ faces look like ground beef.  Head trauma be damned, these boxers just have so much heart that they have to leave it all in the ring.  And do they ever!

As for the cast, Michael B. Jordan is great as Creed and Stallone is better than ever as Rocky.  The two characters come together naturally and it’s a great relationship to see play out, as uncle and nephew take on the world together and give us some classic Rocky moments along the way.  Especially Stallone, who really plays the old man well the whole way through (although at this point he’s almost 70 so it may not even be acting).  Either way there are some very funny moments to be found as the two leads interact with each other.
CARL

Overall, the only way this movie could have been any better is if they had worked in some Carl Weathers flashbacks where he got his stew on. I can see how that was tricky to work in to Creed since Apollo died before Adonis was born, but still, it would have been a nice touch.

Apollo v. Rocky

Want to find out who won this fight? Creed has the answer!

Other than that one shortcoming, Creed is perfect.  It delivers a great story, feels like a natural extension of the Rocky franchise, gives us a ton of nice call-backs to past events, and even answers some burning questions (including who wins the fight at the end of Rocky III).  Those fan-service moments were definitely my favourite aspect of the movie and they added so much to it.  They’re not just winks and nods, they are tools used successfully to remind us of Rocky’s mindset as he tries to pass on his winning ways to a new contender.

As the credits rolled, I reminisced about all the other great Rocky moments (see my list HERE but be warned, it contains tons of spoilers) and at the same time was excited for Creed II.  And mark it down, there will be a Creed II.  The seeds are sown here for at least two more movies and I hope they come to pass, because Creed is not just a great addition to the Rocky franchise, it is an excellent movie in its own right.

Creed scores a knockout: ten triumphant underdogs out of ten.

 

Intouchables

I can’t tell if this movie is Cinderella or Driving Miss Daisy or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I suppose it’s most accurate to call it some fairy tale hybrid of all three.

It’s about a black dude from “the street” who goes to work for a stuffy white one, who happens to be paralyzed from the neck down. A super tough situation for even a trained personal support worker, which of course he isn’t. But Driss and Philippe form the obligatory bridging-theThe-Intouchables1-race-gap friendship, and white guy comes back to life, as it were, thanks to, you know, watching the black guy dance to Earth, Wind & Fire and stuff.

I actually like this movie. I should have said that first, because reading the above has probably given you the wrong impression. Everyone will like this movie because you’re supposed to. It’s feel-good, dammit. I dare you NOT to have your goods felt after this. I’m all felt up.

Basically, the two actors are pretty great. Omar Sy as Driss and  Francois Cluzet as Philippe are an excellent pair. They play off each other well and have great on-screen chemistry that makes their friendship seem real. Their “unlikely” friendship, I should say, because I have a feeling that’s what the blurb on the back of the DVD would say if I had it here in front of me. It’s probably a little insulting that in 2015 we still think of an interracial friendship as unlikely. Even thinking of it as interracial is unnatural. But the film keeps reminding us that it is, because all of Philippe’s uptight (white) friends keep stage-whispering it to him, as if quadriplegia has also affected his eyes.

In fact, Philippe hired the likes of Driss because he’s tired of being pitied. Driss doesn’t have a pitying bone in his body, but apparently he’s got a lot of tender ones because very quickly he’s intouchables-carthe best little nursemaid in town. Never has looking after a severely disabled individual for money seemed so fun! Plus, there’s the Pretty Woman aspect – he gets exposed to (white) culture – you know, museums, expensive cars, classical music. And yes, Philippe even buys him a new suit so he can look pretty at a party. But don’t you worry. Driss contributes too. He buys the weed.

Okay, now this review is making ME think I didn’t like the movie. And I did! It’s just a little facile, I suppose, compared to the Diving Bell. It’s sugary and sweet and avoids the sticky spots by a wide margin. It’s really just a buddy movie with pretensions. The acting saves it from slipping into maudlin and the two make an irresistible (interracial) pair.