Tag Archives: Mark Wahlberg

Daddy’s Home 2: A Bad Dads Christmas

I made up the subtitle to this film, but the sentiment stands. Just like A Bad Moms Christmas, Daddy’s Home 2 takes a middling comedy and churns out a sequel that nobody wanted or deserved, and sets it during the holidays just to ruin one more thing while they’re at it.

MV5BZmZiNjE1YWMtNzZhNy00OTdkLTk4MWQtNTUxM2U5OWJhNjdhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjA4MDAzNTg@._V1_Brad and Dusty are in a pretty healthy place since we left them in the last movie. They’re successfully co-parenting their collective brood. But when the kids complain that two Christmases tend to halve the joy rather than double it, they plan a “together” Christmas that will likely be the death of them all – especially because their dads get in on it too.

Will Ferrell’s dad is played by John Lithgow and Mark Wahlberg’s dad is played by Mel Gibson and together they got one single laugh out of me, and spoiler alert: it’s the same exact laugh from the trailer. There’s just the one in the whole damn movie. The fact that the other audience members laughed at all made me wonder if they weren’t all ringers, plants Paramount to trick me into thinking this was a slightly better film than the piece of complete crap it is. I’d rather get coal in my stocking than this movie on Blu-Ray.

 

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Transformers: The Last Knight

why-critics-say-transformers-the-last-knight-is-2017s-most-toxic-movie (1)I wrote a whole other review of this horrible, awful, infuriating movie and then accidentally deleted it.  Honestly, my review was unremarkable for the most part so it’s not a huge loss.  This movie makes no sense, it’s the fifth movie in a tired franchise that was only ever enjoyable if you, like me, liked seeing robots decapitate other robots in slow motion (and which stopped being awesome four movies ago), and it’s got Mark Wahlberg doing his usual “acting” by which I mean that he talks really fast in a whiny voice when he is under pressure and otherwise just stands around flexing his biceps and looking confused.  In short, it is the worst Transformers movie yet, and the next one will probably be even worse.

But there was one part of my review worth saving, and it’s this: Mark Wahlberg was clearly born to be in Michael Bay movies.  It is the perfect match of all perfect matches.  These two eventually found each other, but there are so many Wahlberg-less Michael Bay movies, and isn’t that a shame?

So…what if Michael Bay made special editions of his back catalogue, George Lucas style, and digitally inserted Wahlberg into all his “classics” as a way to link all his movies together?

Think about it!  It would be the greatest shared universe of all time.  We could have Bad Boys fighting bad robots under the supervision of Wahlberg and his good friend Joe Pantoliano, the space shuttle in Armageddon could be a robot who owes a favour to Wahlberg and who figures out a way to save Bruce Willis as payback, and Wahlberg could help bring Sean Connery and his estranged daughter Claire Forlani together while at the same time helping Nicholas Cage foil Ed Harris’ plot to steal that face-meltingly-deadly VX gas, this time without losing Michael Biehn’s whole SEAL team.  And then Wahlberg could assemble a team of one million Ewan MacGregor clones along with the time travelling pilot duo of Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett to destroy the Transformers once and for all, saving us all from ever having to see Transformers 6: Shia’s Revenge.

This needs to happen.

 

The Gambler

Have you ever found yourself wondering: can Mark Wahlberg play a professor? Wonder no more: of course he can’t. Even if he’s got a blazer and a slightly overgrown haircut? Not even then, I’m afraid. The part where he’s a total degenerate gambler, that I believed. He has said that this was the hardest role of his career, and you’d better believe it. The fact that it’s a terrible stretch for him is evident all over this thing.

As a cereal-loving, self-loathing professor of literature and a crazed gambler who has the-gambler-4.pngliterally gambled his whole life away, Jim is in a tough spot. He has enormous debts and borrows from one low-life money lender to pay another – although he then pays neither, and loses that money at the casino too. His bottoming out is made even more embarrassing because his most promising student (Brie Larson) happens to witness it.

But the truth is, it’s exceedingly hard to care about this guy. Even if you cut him some slack in light of his compulsive disease, we also see that he’s not terribly good at his job, or at being a son, or at being a person. He’s a self-destructive guy who just stopped caring a long time ago and there are no redeeming qualities to be discovered, even if a young blonde somehow finds him alluring.

[Sidebar: young women always think they can save the bad guys they’re attracted to. They can’t. Give her 6 years and she’ll be throwing houseplants at his head while she furiously packs her bags, accusing him of stealing her youth.]

This film is watchable but it’s derivative and never justifies its own existence. The original is still king. This one flubbed the minute Wahlberg came on board and just flopped about like a balloon with a slow leak.

 

Patriots Day

patriotsday-markwahlberg-marathonbannerTerrorists are despicable. They take lives or limbs and create chaos and fear, sometimes in support of twisted ideology, sometimes just for kicks, and always demonstrate a complete lack of humanity. Sensational as their actions are, what deserves recognition are not the acts themselves, but the responses by the terrorists’ targets.

Patriots Day revisits Boston’s response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. It is a difficult watch but it has to be. We have to feel the weight of the loss in order to appreciate Bostonians’ courage in the face of a homegrown terrorist attack by two brothers who, from outward appearances, were just a couple of millenials trying to find their way (bizarrely, at least one apparently was a 9/11 truther).

Patriots Day provides a behind-the-scenes look at the events leading up to the bombings and then the hunt for these monsters who intended to strike Times Square next. They killed three people with their bombs and killed two more cops in the aftermath. Amidst the carnage, the police remain focused on bringing these suspects in alive, and it seems they might have succeeded in that endeavour but for the brothers’ lunacy.

Peter Berg and Mark Walhberg have turned these real life disaster movies (tragopics?) into big business for themselves, and Patriots Day improves on their formula from Deepwater Horizon.  Both movies take an arms’ length approach and do a good job of sticking to the facts. These characters are not perfect because they don’t need to be. Some, like Mark Wahlberg’s character, are composites. That is a bit weird when we are introduced to the real people at the end of the movie and the main character is missing, but in the middle of the crisis the character feels real and that’s what matters most. This movie feels real as well and is definitely worth watching.

I suspect even if Wahlberg’s character were real, he would not have given such a perfect off-the-cuff speech at the climax, but again, it works. It works because it captures how the people of Boston responded to this terrible event: not with hate or fear, but with determination, resolve, and strength. In the immortal words of David Ortiz (who appears in the film):

 

Deepwater Horizon

07Disoriented. I walked out of the theatre disoriented. Was it the strobe light effect while the power failed? Was it the glass shards being pulled by Kurt Russell out of his own foot? Was it the bone sticking out of a redshirt’s leg? Was it that 11 people died and I wondered how the other 115 on the rig survived?

Yes.

Deepwater Horizon is a war movie where the good guys don’t have a chance in hell, the bad guys are greedy bastards who were supposed to be on the good guys’ side, and the real enemy is an almost unstoppable 130 million gallons of oil spewing from the sea floor. Deepwater Horizon makes it perfectly clear where the blame for the worst oil spill in history rests: with the money-grubbing assholes who tried to cut corners and lost their gamble. The film is not subtle. It finds ten different ways to show us the choices that led to the disaster. It works.

image1-3Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) gets bloody. Jimmy Harrell (Russell) gets bloodier. The stand-in for greedy BP, Donald Vidrine (John Malkovitch), does not get as bloody as you’d hope. They are some of the lucky ones. Deepwater Horizon takes us into the heart of the mess. Tons of mud, oil, fire, explosions, and rag dolls flying all over the screen. It is hard to watch but not too hard to follow. We are provided with title cards and a grade school explanation of the Deepwater Horizon’s mission. They help the exposition fly by so we can get to the destruction faster.

By the end you will have been appropriately beaten down by the disaster. It is a suitably somber end. The survivors are consumed with grief. The restraint shown, especially in the closing minutes, elevates this movie above the Michael-Bay-esque fire show I thought we would see.

Deepwater Horizon is not a great movie but it’s far better than expected. By the time the credits roll your head may be spinning like mine was, especially if you remember that beyond the immediate devastation depicted in the film lies the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, one that ended up costing BP $54 billion in cleanup costs and penalties. Deepwater Horizon makes clear that BP in general and Vidrine in particular got off too easy, but it puts itself in an awkward position by barely mentioning the environmental effects of the disaster, which left me feeling that the movie entirely missed the point.

 

 

 

Daddy’s Home

One of the things that made Will Ferrell so great on Saturday Night Live was his versatility. For every out-there cheerleader, there was a guy who drove a Dodge Stratus (for the record, the Dodge Stratus guy is one of my all-time favourites, the cheerleaders, not so much). But even the Dodge Stratus guy ended up being over-the-top, you just didn’t know it at first. The one thing we never really saw was low-key Will Ferrell.

His movie roles continued that trend with only one or two exceptions (like Stranger than Fiction and judging from the trailer, Bewitched). Of course, with those low-key movies being flops, in almost everything else we have gotten from Ferrell he’s a cartoon (Anchorman, Zoolander, Blades of Glory), a cliche (Get Hard, The Other Guys, A Deadly Adoption), or both (Semi-Pro, Talladega Nights).  And more often than not, those movies have disappointed.

With all that in mind, and especially in light of the awfulness that was Get Hard, my expectations for Daddy’s Home could not have been lower, because a half-assed Will Ferrell riff on a loser step-dad is one of the least-funny characters I could picture.

But you know what?  Will Ferrell’s step-dad in Daddy’s Home isn’t a cartoon or a cliche.  Maybe he’s a bit of a loser but he’s also a sweet and genuine guy that is loved by everyone around him (even his step-kids are warming up to him).  And then the kids’ sleazy, deadbeat biological dad (Mark Wahlberg) appears and throws everything into chaos.

For the first time in years, we finally get something fresh from Ferrell.  He is clearly using his whole ass in Daddy’s Home and it’s glorious.
With Ferrell bringing his A-game, everyone else steps up as well.  Mark Wahlberg plays (or is?) a fantastic charming asshole, and I also thoroughly enjoyed Thomas Haden Church as Ferrell’s boss and Hannibal Burress as Ferrell’s contractor/unwanted houseguest.

Daddy’s Home deserves praise as well for a script that avoids the easy way out and sets up something greater.  It is wonderful to see jokes come together the way they do in Daddy’s Home.  A perfect example is the daddy-daughter dance sequence, which has to be seen to be believed.  It’s set up so well that in hindsight it’s obvious but I didn’t see it coming until it happened.  Daddy’s Home delivers these types of scenes again and again, right until the credits roll, and will keep you laughing the whole time.

Daddy’s Home gets a score of nine long and shiny broadswords out of ten.  Be sure to catch it when it opens on December 25.

 

 

Mark Wahlberg, Hollywood Pinup

Sure he’s got a slew of forgettable films, interchangeable even (do you know the difference between 2 Guns and Shooter?) but you have to admit, he’s also got some interesting blips.

Ted 2 is not an interesting blip, by the way. It’s pointlessly unamusing with all the same inane cameos as Entourage.

Palette cleanser!

markymark

Mark Wahlberg is a pretty straight-forward guy. He’s often not so much acting as working. You know, just showing up, gettin er done, home in time for spaghetti. He doesn’t always pick his projects with much judiciousness, he gets as many wrong as he gets right, but the stuff he gets right is actually pretty great. Like, two Oscar nominations great. Who would have guessed?

calvins
boogieBlip: Boogie Nights – He was pretty good in Basketball Diaries and I suppose even in Renaissance Man, but Paul Thomas Anderson put Marky Mark on the map with this ode to the porn industry. Wahlberg’s portrayal is fearless and unassuming and no one saw it coming. The entire cast is stunning but few could have anticipated how well Wahlberg would hold his own against heavyweights like Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Blip: I Heart Huckabees – I heart this movie right to death. David O. Russell gave Wahlberg a  huckabeesjuicy part in Three Kings but this movie really hits it out of the park for me. His character is such an interestingly layered mix of macho and whimsical, fevered and confused. He’s a man on the cusp but manages to play his existential crisis with sincerity and commitment.

departedBlip: The Departed – Mark Wahlberg nearly steals the whole show for me in this one. The ensemble is crazy packed with exceedingly good performances, but his angry, explosive detective really takes the cake. He stole scenes not easily stolen. He clearly relished the role of Sgt. Dignam and you’ll find yourself not able, or willing, to take your eyes off him.

Blip: The Fighter – Christian Bale is probably the acting antithesis of Mark Wahlberg, being all fightermethod and shit. Bale took home an Oscar for his part but Wahlberg gave a captivating performance as well, throwing himself into the role and taking a pay cut just to get the thing made.

Is it weird that the guy who did the worst Transformers and talks to a vulgar teddy bear is neck in neck with Damon and DiCaprio for best actor of his generation? Of course it is. But his grosses are consistent and these flares that he keeps sending up, these blips of excellent roles, well, they’re coming regularly enough that you have to wonder if they’re not just blips. What if Marky Mark is the real deal?

 

Entourage

Sean

Matt and I took in a screening of Entourage on Monday. Full disclosure: I’ve never watched the show, not even once. So I went in basically cold, knowing just the basic premise. Fortunately, the writers had anticipated people like me (or possibly the premise was also the entire plot for the eight seasons the show ran). Either way, the movie jumped right into things and didn’t leave me behind.

it seems very fun to be a celebrity, and possibly even more fun to be in a celebrity’s inner circle. The four guys are inseparable and each of them gets about equal screen time as far as I can figure it. Vince, the actual star, certainly doesn’t get more screen time than his bros, both semi-biological and adopted, which is surprising in a way since the plot revolves around a movie that Vince is both starring in and directing. But it makes sense after I realized that the whole point of the movie, and presumably the show, is the relationship between these guys. That they are on this ride together even though only one is driving the car (which is a poor metaphor because apparently Turtle started out as Vince’s driver and seems to still fill that role despite also being a tequila baron).

By the looks of things, the boys had a fun time making this movie. It may just have been a good excuse to drive expensive cars and rent expensive houses and party with naked women on expensive boats, but isn’t that what being a celebrity is all about? Fortunately, their fun is infectious and I enjoyed tagging along. Entourage is a very entertaining movie and is the next best thing to having a famous friend. It gets a rating of eight extremely brief celebrity cameos out of ten.

Matt

This being his introduction to the glamorous world of Entourage, I was looking forward to hearing Sean’s take on the movie. It mostly hit the ground running but worked in a Piers Morgan segment early on that cleverly brought new recruits up to speed while dropping in-jokes for the fans.

This may not have been my initiation but I can hardly call myself a fan. I only binge-watched until the end of the third season. Lucky for me, not much seems to have changed in the last five seasons except that Ari is now somehow the head of a major studio and Turtle has lost a lot of weight.

How you feel about Entourage the movie probably depends on how you feel about Entourage the series. Watching the film at the screening last night was a lot like watching three back-to-back episodes of the show with a roomful of fans and Sean. They didn’t even skip the theme song. I will say that I laughed more consistently last night than I did watching the first three seasons of the show and that I can’t imagine a fan being disappointed. They’ll definitely get their money’s worth with a couple dozen or more celebrity cameos, even if only about half of them are used as effectively as they could be.

Mostly though, i couldn’t have said it any better than Sean. It’s the bond between these four guys and the agent that bet everything on them that makes this franchise work. It ties together all the otherwise seemingly random gags, cameos, and subplots into a coherent story and a very enjoyable movie.