Tag Archives: jonah hill

Monsters Vs Aliens Vs Megamind

Susan (Reese Witherspoon) is a blushing bride-to-be until she’s struck down by a meteorite on her wedding day and mutates into a “monster” – a giant who’ll be called Ginormica. She’s transferred to a government “hotel,” the kind with bars on the windows, where she’ll be kept locked away along with other monsters like her – namely, BOB, a gelatinous type who eats\absorbs everything in his path (voiced by Seth Rogen); Doctor Cockroach, now an actual cockroach after unfortunate experimentation (voiced by Hugh Laurie); The Missing Link (Will Arnett); and Insectosaurus, who’s, yes, a giant bug.

Susan is adamant that she will get better and return home, to her “normal” life, but it seems like life has already moved on without her (I of course refer to her scuzzy, self-sMonsters-vs-alienserving prick of a fiance, Paul Rudd). So the monsters basically sit around playing cards until Doom arrives. Planet Earth is threatened by an evil alien by the name of Gallaxahr (Rainn Wilson), so the government reluctantly calls on the very monsters they’ve imprisoned to save them from certain death. This being a kids’ movie, you can be pretty sure that Good will triumph over Evil, and even better, Susan will start to feel empowered in Ginormica’s skin. It’s colourful and rapid-fire so kids will  be entertained. For adults, though this Dreamworks effort lacks the depth of better animated movies of late, it’s got some great satirical references and a stellar voice cast, including Stephen Colbert, John Krasinski, Ed Helms, Kiefer Sutherland, Julie White, Jeffrey Tambor, Amy Poehler, and Renee Zellweger, in addition to those already named.

If the monsters feel familiar to you, they are indeed inspired by classic monster movies: Ginormica and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman; BOB and The Blob; The Missing Link and Creature From The Black Lagoon; Dr. Cockroach and The Fly; Insectosaurus and… Godzilla? Mothra? The T-rex from Jurassic Park? Some delicious hybrid, is my guess.

Megamind is another Dreamworks animated film with its own references, this time to Superman. The whole movie seems predicated on the question: what would happen if Lex Luthor defeated Superman? Not stepping on any toes, the hero in question is here called Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt), and he’s been keeping Metro City safe from inept villain 960MegaMind (Will Ferrell) since they were kids. With an undeniably familiar origin story and a beautiful ace reporter on the scene (Roxanne Richie, voiced by Tina Fey) and a bumbling camera guy (Jonah Hill), you’ll find a whole new appreciate for Superman and his plight.

On a day when the entirety of Metro City is gathered in adulation of Metro Man, Megamind is finally (surprisingly) victorious. Metro Man is dead. The city belongs to Megamind! Everything goes to hell – Metro City is in ruins, but so is, curiously, Megamind’s mental health. Why? Because a villain isn’t a villain without a hero as his counterpoint. In his infinite wisdom, Megamind thus decides to take awkward camera guy and turn him into Metro City’s new superhero, Tighten.

There is no new ground tread in this film, and it’s not as funny as the excellent voice cast will have you believe – Ben Stiller, David Cross, Justin Theroux, and JK Simmons included. Benignly diverting is the best I can say about it – supposedly Guillermo del Toro lent a hand in editing to make it more exciting, and it is that, but for most, I think it will end up being a little forgettable.

 

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Heartbroken over a breakup with his TV star girlfriend, Peter takes his tears on vacation to Hawaii only to find that his ex is there too – with her new boyfriend!

You’ll find a theme here over the next 2 weeks: Hawaii. And that’s because Sean and I are Hawaiing it up ourselves. I made up that word, but I couldn’t have made up the great state of Hawaii because it’s just too beautiful and magical for normal people to process. That’s why they put it way out in the middle of nowhere, so that you’d have to really want it, you’d have to earn it in the getting there. The travel is so arduous that by the time you debark, you’re in deep need of a vacation, and as luck would have it, you’re in paradise.

forgetting-sarah-marshallForgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed on Oahu, which is the island we happen to be flying into today, and from which we will embark on our cruise in a few days (near the beach where the plane’s fuselage from Lost was filmed, which I like to believe is not an omen).

It’s a romantic comedy for guys. Peter (Jason Segel) is messed up and fsm-pinavbewildered, but why not be bewildered with an orchid in your hair, right? Segel wrote the movie based on many of his real-life breakups, like from his own TV-star (ex)girlfriend, Linda Cardellini (they starred in Freaks and Geeks together). He wrote the part of Aldous Snow with  his Undeclared costar, Charlie Hunnam, in mind but it was Russell Brand who brought Aldous to life and then kept the character alive in Get Him To the Greek.

I wonder if the movie theatre on our ship will be playing Hawaiian selections. I also wonder if, on one of our multi-island destinations, we’ll find out whether or not the rumour Sarah Marhsall shares is true: is one of them really filled with lepers? Stay tuned to find out!

 

War Dogs

I like to picture Jared Leto and Jonah Hill sitting in a dark hookah bar, one-upping each other with weird, deranged laughs. Jared Leto was playing the Joker but even so, I think Jonah Hill won.

In War Dogs, Jonah Hill plays Efraim, a young 20-something high school drop out who casually becomes a multi-million-dollar arms dealer. No big deal. He brings grateful high maxresdefaultschool bud David in on the deal and soon the two of them are rolling around naked on crisp 100 dollar bills (I assume: this wasn’t in the movie, it just seems intuitive).

Do they get in over their heads? You betcha. As soon as they meet Shady Henry (They don’t call him that to his face. Or call him that ever, come to think of it) (You can tell Bradley Cooper’s shady because of the beard. And the shades) it all goes to pot. But they’re such knuckleheads they actually pound fists over surviving The Triangle Of Death just by blind luck.

Todd Phillips, director of The Hangover trilogy, is driving the bus. The first thing you’ll notice is that this movie isn’t nearly as funny as you’d expect from him. And it’s not even trying to be. Sure there are laughs (Matt felt that lots were misplaced) but it’s a pretty muddy, ethically gray situation and pretty soon we’re sweating at least half as much as Hill (he sweats A LOT).  But you have to hand it to the sly dog – that Jonah Hill is getting mighty good at creating characters we love to hate. He’s a Scarface-quoting, two-faced, super-slick (nearly as slick as his hair) dude who isn’t willing to sell his soul for money because that’s a deal done long ago – he is, however, willing to sell yours. Willing to sell his “best friend’s”. Pretty crafty. Miles Teller as David is marginally more likeable but goddammit neither of them are displaying one iota of charisma (Matt described Bradley Cooper as “wooden” so I guess that’s three of a kind).

Phillips divides the work, based on a true story, by the way – did I forget to mention that? True story all the way. Worrying. Very worryingly. God bless Dick Cheney’s America as Efraim might say. These two chuckleheads were actually granted an American military contract worth tens of millions of dollars. Your actual tax dollars lined their greasy war-dogs-3pockets. But as I was saying, Phillips divides the film into chapters, which is kind of a neat trick, except he forgets to have a point of view. So this movie, which should have a lot to say, actually says nothing. Take a fucking stance! Two uneducated, inexperienced kids, got their grubby hands on a) crazy amounts of money and b) crazy amounts of weapons and the United States government didn’t just let it happen, it made it happen. War is about money. We all know this, rationally, no matter George W.’s stated reason. It’s about economy. But it’s still painful that there’s no context. There are no good guys, no bad guys, no victims, no soldiers, no dead or dying or shot or bleeding. There’s just greedy little fucks making bank.

And here’s the other problem: with Efraim being a soulless sociopath and David being hapless and bland, you don’t really care about either of them. Even David’s narration starts to sound a little impatient. It’s cynical as fuck but it’s also just kind of dead. And maybe that’s why even the comedy falls flat: this movie doesn’t feel like a living thing. There’s no bite, no moral compass. It’s entertaining and occasionally offers up some galling guffaws. Just don’t expect it to own its own horribleness.  War Dogs is just as careless as its characters.

Sausage Party

This movie is surprisingly well-reviewed for something based on a pun gone wrong, and is poised to usurp Suicide Squad’s tenuous hold on the box office’s top spot.  But it’s probably the summer’s biggest disappointment for me.

It comes as a surprise to absolutely no one that Sausage Party is peppered with f-bombs and exploding with offensive material. The surprise is that I didn’t buy into it. I’m generally a cusser extraordinaire and have a tongue so salty it makes sailors blush and mumble “aw shucks.” But swearing should be unselfconscious whereas Sausage Party just feels so darn deliberate. Like it’s a 19 million dollar excuse to pack in every bad word Seth Rogen knows, and a few he just made up.

sausage party cabageThe basic premise is: what if your food had feelings? Like, every night when the grocery store closes, the food comes alive in almost exactly the same way the toys do in Toy Story. But in Toy Story, the worst thing we do is neglect our old toys. Worst case play with them too roughly. But we flipping eat food! And before we eat it, we torture it: we cut it, mash it, boil it up, set it on fire. At first the food is blissfully unaware of its weird relationship with us, but when they eventually find out it’s supermarket anarchy.

There are mostly two types of jokes in this movie:

  1. Racial stereotypes. Kosher food, halal food, ethnic food. The Canadian beer that apologizes constantly. The bagel and the lavash are sworn enemies. A little homophobia on the side just to keep things fresh.
  2. Graphic sex. As graphic as a juice box can get, anyway. I mean, the whole plot revolves around a bun (Kristen Wiig) and a sausage (Seth Rogen) who can’t wait to couple. There’s a character who is literally a douche (Nick Kroll). Did you ever want to see a sausage penetrate 3 types of bread products at once? I mean, this is the kind of thing that only comes around once, maybe twice in your life. So get it while it’s hot.

The problem with rude comedy is that if it’s all rude all the time, then rude is the new normal and it all becomes dull pretty quick. I prefer my food orgies to be me at an all you can eat buffet in Vegas, with unlimited mimosas, is what I’m saying.

But even critics, who found Suicide Squad so joyless, are on board for this profanity-filled49033034.cached sausage fest. And of course I cracked a few laughs. I absolutely did. But mostly I didn’t enjoy myself much. I feel too guilty to laugh at something so obvious and offensive as a bottle of “fire water” with a Native American accent (provided by white guy Bill Hader). And while that might be the most culturally inappropriate, it’s not the hardest to watch. Not with a used condom sloppily lamenting its fate, or toilet paper experiencing PTSD.

This should have been a movie right up my bum. Er, alley. Right up my alley. But I guess I’m just too much of an old prude to appreciate it. For me it’s a rare miss from Seth Rogen but I guess my tolerance for glutinous cunnilingus just isn’t what it used to be.

True Story with Matt and Jay

Both James Franco and Jonah Hill play against type in True Story, a dark true crime drama about the relationship between accused murderer Christian Longo (Franco) and journalist Mike Finkel (Hill). Franco has done his fair share of serious roles in the past (is there anything he HASN’T dabbled in?) and Hill has even been nominated for two Oscars but seeing them in a movie together primes me for gay jokes and arguments over who’s giving off more rapey vibes. They both did a fine job, Hill in particular, with Franco a little too self-consciously creepy, but I found the casting distracting.

truestoryfrancoWell, you hope that Franco is playing against type, but I guess we never really know what lurks beneath the pubic-hair beard. It was a bad casting choice; one or the other may have worked, but not both together. In fact, I’m not even sure I would keep Franco on my short list. He did the dead eyes thing a lot, and at first I thought, okay, that wouldn’t have been my choice, but at least he’s committing…but the more I knew about the character, the more I felt I needed to see grief or deviousness or SOMETHING. And yet I still enjoyed our little outing, dinner and a movie, trying Lansdowne Cineplex VIP’s new spring menu (though hasn’t it been spring for all of our visits?), indulging in a delicious lobster grilled cheese sandwich and a couple of raspberry-watermelon gin spritzes.

Poor Mike Finkel. One minute a Pulitzer feels like it’s right around the corner, the next he can’t even get hired to write a snowboarding piece. Maybe I’m a little jaded but I found the way he adjusted the details in order to tell a more powerful story easy to forgive. The film even tries clumsily to draw parallels between the stories of Finkel and Longo, the latter of whom strangled his wife and three children and stuffed them into suitcases. Not sure I see the connection.

Yeah, that was a weird angle. It’s like the writers felt they had an interesting story but had no idea how to present it. But Finkel’s indiscretion did feel relatively minor, having attributed a TRUE STORYfew extra details to a profile about African children. Did all of those things happen to the one kid? No. But he was telling a bigger story, and I suppose you and I could see that while his superiors valued cold facts over a story that moves. Either way, the rest of us would call those white lies at best – in a generous mood, maybe even “fudging” or “embellishing”, you know, the way I fudged the truth up there where a) I claimed we had dinner and a movie when in actuality we saw a movie, and then had dinner and b) I characterized the grilled cheese as delicious although in reality I found it to be ambitious movie food but ultimately soggy in the middle and overly crispy around the edges – so much so that I feared you were about to shush me at any  moment.

Longo accuses Finkel of being more like him than he’d like to admit. After all, Finkel did profit financially from telling this story. Is it a fair comparison? Not only did Longo murder his family, he shows no remorse and lies compulsively to protect himself. Was his a story that needed to be told- by Finkel or by the filmmakers- or is this more attention than he deserved?

I didn’t see them as being very similar at all. Multiple homicide is not equal to getting paid to write. I think Finkel was a bit motivated by career-redemption – it certainly kept him from following up on some serious red flags, and I think he may have been more guilty of journalistic negligence here than in his kerfuffle with the New York Times. He was a weak man but I don’t think he was a bad one. As for your last question, I’ve been thinking on that so much that I wrote a whole post about it – watch for it soon.

True-Story-phone-call-flippedThere may have been a good movie in here somewhere. Maybe if it really focused on the somewhat bizarre relationship between these two men instead of the maturation of these two actors. Or if it asked the right questions. It’s revealed at the end that the two men still speak semi-regularly. WHY?! There may be a much more interesting story there than the one told in True Story.

Agreed. There was nothing in the movie that suggested that these two would or could remain friends. One of the last scenes has Longo asking Finkel what he has personally lost by befriending him  – seems like a friendship-ending thought to me. I also felt that they didn’t properly address the whole stolen identity aspect, and the verdict feels a little…out of the blue. But the part that I find myself dwelling on the most is that end title card that read something like – Christian Longo went on to write for many publications, including The New York Times, from death row. Finkel never wrote for them again. It really made me feel like our social priorities are horribly fucked up. 

22 Jump Street

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are just so fun together.22_Jump_Street_3

There’s nothing ground-breaking going on here but the good news is, here’s a sequel that won’t make you hate the original. It brings back almost exactly what you loved about the first movie, capitalizing on the bromantic chemistry between the two leads, and not confusing the audience with fresh writing, original scenarios, or new jokes.

Tatum has a big, innocent smile that make stupid look good. Hill milks the socially awkward thing for all it’s worth, usually taking it a step beyond what most people would find reasonable or comfortable and pulling it off because no one flounders quite as endearingly as he does. These two are making interesting career choices but they know what’s bankable and this franchise certainly is.

Just as self-referential as the first was (the directors risk nothing, replicate everything), you still can’t help but fall for it all, needless as it may be. It’s zany and implausible but if you’re not laughing, something’s wrong with you.