Tag Archives: John Cena

Dolittle

I suppose it might entertain very young children.

I have meditated on that single sentence above for minutes and even hours, wondering if I should leave it at that. Explaining the why and the how of this movie’s failure is baffling at best yet won’t even make for entertaining reading.

The story is weak yet convoluted. A physician/veterinarian (we have such a combo in our own family: Sean’s sister), Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) has sequestered himself behind the doors of his menagerie, gone full hermit since the death of his beloved wife. Luckily he has the unique ability to speak to animals in their native language, so he isn’t entirely alone, but his existence is notably and emphatically human-free. Until, that is, the day when not one but two children come calling.

The first is a boy who has accidentally shot a squirrel who needs immediate medical attention. The second is a girl sent from Queen Victoria’s palate where the Queen lays gravely ill, also requiring immediate medical attention. Dr. Dolittle, unhappy to be disturbed either way, treats the squirrel but needs convincing to attend to the Queen. In the Queen’s bedchambers he learns that she’s been poisoned and the antidote exists only on a faraway island. Dolittle, the boy Stubbins, and a bunch of animals of varying degrees of helpfulness, set sail on an epic adventure to find said cure.

They’re pursued by a villain with questionable motives, they subject us to a minutes-long fart joke (will small children even understand that Dolittle is rooting through a dragon’s anus with a leek, relieving it of all the undigested armor of the valiant knights she’s eaten for breakfast?).

I think the journey’s purpose is that Dolittle must learn he can grieve his wife without shutting himself off from the rest of humanity. They don’t exactly earn this, nor do they try very hard to express it.

The best and maybe only good part is an anxious ostrich voiced by Kumail Nanjiani. The worst part is, sadly, RDJ himself. He’s doing an indiscernible accent through which most of his dialogue is lost. He goes full nut when perhaps only half nut would have sufficed. His tone rarely matches that of the story. The poor guy has spent too many years acting in front of a green screen. I think for his first post-Ironman role he needed something a little more grounded but instead he went full fanciful and feels lost forever. Who can rescue his career now?

But Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t the only high-profile actor duped into signing on: Jim Broadbent, Michael Sheen, and Antonio Banderas all appear. Plus Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, Tom Holland, John Cena, Octavia Spencer, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Marion Cotillard, and Jason Mantzoukas all lend their voice. And yet even standing on all these famous and famously talented shoulders, the film still cannot keep its head above water. Like an ostrich learning the hard way that he can neither fly nor swim, the movie simply adopts a dead man’s float and hopes a film goer or two might take a poke at its bloated corpse.

Playing With Fire

Directors think John Cena is a bargain The Rock, but what they’re really getting is an overpriced tree stump. He has the personality of dry, slightly burnt toast.

It’s not entirely Cena’s fault. Director Andy Fickman clearly has no vision and no funny bone. He’s not sure whether he’s making a satire or a slapstick comedy. I mean, he’s not making a satire. Satire implies a basic level of intellect. Parody might be closer to what I mean but he’s not even doing that because parody implies you’re being bad on purpose. And the purpose is generally comedy. But nothing here is funny. The attempts at humour are such dismal misfires they suck the oxygen out of the room so fast it’ll flip your eyelids inside out. True story.

The slapstick, such as it is, is an even bigger problem. Physical comedy is the lowest form of humour. There’s such a high risk of failure it should only be attempted by a master. There are no masters in Playing With Fire. They aren’t even comedy interns. Not even comedy fetuses (feti?). They’re just monkeys flinging shit.

John Cena has the range of a rock. I can’t really blame him for eagerly shoveling up Dwayne Johnson’s leftovers. Hell, he’s probably pretty grateful for Dave Bautista’s scraps. But Keegan-Michael Key, I’m disappointed in you. Jordan Peele’s out here making the world a better/scarier place with his incisive social commentary and you’re…tasting farts. While playing second fiddle to JOHN FUCKING CENA.

The script is should have been flushed, and not because it’s a dead goldfish. It’s probably the worst offender in this huge steaming pile of donkey excrement. The script is to subtlety what Donald Trump is to modesty. Yeah, this review ain’t subtle either.

John Cena plays a fire fighter who prefers to be called a smoke jumper. He’s got a dweeb haircut and a complete absence of personality. He and his colleagues-in-flames (Key, and John Leguizamo) save a trio of runaways and end up pulling babysitting duty in their firehouse while the kids do more damage than a pack of wild dingos.

We have 3 categories here at Assholes Watching Movies – Kick Ass, Half-Assed, and Sucks Ass – and until now, that’s been enough. But I’m petitioning to add a fourth one because Playing With Fire EATS ass.

Can’t stop won’t stop ranting.

SXSW: Blockers

I have good news. Big news. Blockers comes out April 6 and it’s actually a super funny comedy. I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard since Bridesmaids.

It’s about 3 young women at the end of their high school career. Graduation and college await them, but for now: prom. And more importantly, prom sex.

This movie marches right past social expectation and allows three smart, strong girls to MV5BMTcwMTcxODQzMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODU3MDk4MzI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1667,1000_AL_assert themselves sexually. All the usual bullshit about female virginity is thrown into the gutter with other outdated notions like the earth is flat, and bloodletting as a cure-all. These ladies are real, raw, and raunchy when it comes to sex, which, sure, is refreshing, and that’s nice and all, but the truth is we wouldn’t give a damn about myth-busting if it wasn’t entertaining, and this movie captures that elusive comedy magic and makes its audience howl with laughter.

Now, the girls may be ready to shed their prom dresses and their hymens, but their parents are not quite as happy with this little sex pact. Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz play the parents on a mission to stop the sex from happening. On prom night they’re hoping to be cock blockers, and they’ll go to stunning and humiliating lengths to block those cocks, but maybe in their heart of hearts, it’s the growing up and saying goodbye they’re trying to block as well.

Of course the movie inevitably tackles our dear old friend the double standard, and actively wonders how we can ever hope to achieve equality for women when even their own parents don’t treat them that way. But this is no issues movie, it’s a goddamn comedy, and rated R, a strong R, because it’s rude, crude, and full of franks and beans.

Female sexuality, especially that of a teenage girl, is rarely if ever treated this way and it’ll make you stand up and cheer for how empowering it feels to watch this. Is this the female American Pie? Fuck no. It’s funnier and smarter and 1000% less juvenile. But this movie isn’t just about fierce females, it’s also about their feminist boyfriends/boy friends. Boys who are in to consent, who stop when asked, who take cues from their partners and respect them. And it manages to do this casually, no big deal, like this is just how it is BECAUSE IT’S DAMN WELL HOW IT SHOULD BE. And it never stops being funny. Disguised by vulgarity, this movie is actually showing us how to behave. Except for the butt-chugging. I’m pretty sure we should stay the hell away from that.

Ferdinand

Ferdinand is a big, beefy bull who accidentally destroys a village and gets branded a beast. The biggest, most monstrous bulls get chosen by the matador for bullfights, MV5BZWQ5ODZiMWMtYjM1Yy00ZDlhLTkwYzctNTQxNzE5MDRhNmIxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjA0MTc4OQ@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,738_AL_but Ferdinand has never aspired to such fame. He’s a gentle soul, really, a pacifist. The other bulls are quite judgmental about his lack of fight but Ferdinand stays true to himself.

And that’s all I really have to say about it. This is not Pixar; it’s not intended for adults, or particularly bright children. Ferdinand is forgettable. It doesn’t even try to surprise you. But John Cena as Ferdinand is pretty okay and Kate McKinnon as a “calming goat” is sometimes nearly funny, so I guess there’s that. It just feels lackluster, and lazy.

Trainwreck

Before watching Trainwreck, I did not know who Amy Schumer was (though Jay assures me I have watched some of her standup). Now, after watching Trainwreck on Saturday, we are binge watching all three seasons of Inside Amy Schumer, her Comedy Central show. I feel like the fact we wanted to see more is a ringing endorsement of Ms. Schumer’s brand of comedy, and thus an endorsement of this movie. Because she carries this movie and she is more than up to the task.

She’s not alone though.  There are lots of really good performances here.  Especially LeBron James.  Now as you may know, LeBron is on our shit list because he decided to skip last year’s Cleveland/OKC matchup that happened to be my birthday present (ironically because of a sore knee).  So this praise is very grudgingly given, but his portrayal of himself is probably the second funniest character in the movie.  I wish he had been given more screen time.

Also hilarious is John Cena as Amy’s sort-of boyfriend.  His movie theatre confrontation is probably the funniest scene in the movie.  There are certainly other funny parts but as Jay reminded me, Judd Apatow seems to focus on drawing out funny character stuff rather than trying to cram a scene full of laughs.  And I think that works here.

The only thing that doesn’t work is Amy’s love for Bill Hader’s sports doctor.  We never really see why he’s so awesome, which is a shame.  Especially because it seems the reason we don’t see/feel the connection between the leads is that Bill Hader is so restrained.  He seems to be actually acting, which I kind of feel bad criticizing him for.  It’s not that he’s bad, not at all, but it feels off when John Cena and LeBron James are making me laugh more than Bill Hader.

That’s really my only complaint about the movie.  Trainwreck is not quite great but it’s very good.  It’s been an excellent summer movie season and this is one of the best comedies so far (right up there for me with Spy and Inside Out).  That’s why Trainwreck gets a score of eight athlete cameos out of ten.