Tag Archives: Nick Offerman

The Founder

the-founder-movie-2016-trailer-michael-keatonI suppose it was to be expected that Ray Kroc, the “founder” of McDonald’s, was an asshole. But, wow, was he ever an asshole. He died well before this movie was made but it seems he would have agreed with that assessment and been fine with it since it got him where he wanted to be – it made him rich, eventually.

But not without some struggles. You see, he didn’t “create” McDonald’s until he was 52 years old, and the reason for the quotation marks is because he didn’t actually create it. But as we know, history is written by the victors, and that’s Ray Kroc.

Michael Keaton is extremely good as Kroc. Good to the point that he makes Kroc seem like almost a decent guy even though he’d take your last McNugget whether or not he was hungry. The great Nick Offerman and the familiar John Carroll Lynch are excellent as well as Kroc’s former partners, the McDonald brothers. Other familiar faces will pop up for a scene or two, but this movie is mainly about Kroc and the McDonalds.

The Founder’s story is an interesting and engaging one from start to finish. It skips around noticably at parts and I felt a bit disconnected from the movie as a result, but the core tale remained crisp, clear, and entertaining throughout, to the point that the lawyer side of me wanted to yell at the screen as one particularly bad decision was made.

So bring your notepad and find out how an empire can be built from practically nothing on someone else’s idea, as long as you don’t mind being an asshole about it. The Founder gets a score of seven “fries with that” out of ten.

TIFF: Sing

What do Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, and Matthew McConaughey all have in common? They’ve all got pipes. And boy do they use them in the new animated movie, Sing.

Picture this: a cute and cuddly koala, fuzzy in all the right places, adorably attired in a bowtie and sounding an awful lot like Matthew McConaughey. His name is Buster and his theatre is his passion. It is not, however, much of a sing-animation-movie-wallpaper-02living. The theatre’s bankrupt. He hasn’t had a successful show in – well, maybe ever. The bank’s about to swoop in and take it from him, so in a last ditch effort to save it, he plans a singing competition.

Because his secretary is a bit of a dunce, the $1000 prize is advertised as much more, so people desperate for money as well as those desperate for fame all show up to auditions. From a talented pool he selects a chosen few: Ash, a punk porcupine with a penchant for writing her own tunes (Johansson); Johnny, a gentle gorilla trying to escape his dad’s gang (Taron Egerton); 300773_m1455639411Gunther, a flamboyant dancing pig (Nick Kroll) partnered with Rosita, a shy momma pig with a big voice (Reese Witherspoon); an arrogant crooner of a mouse (Seth McFarlane); and a timid teenaged elephant with stage fright (Tori Kelly).

We saw an “unfinished” version at TIFF, as a sneak peak, but to my eye Garth Jennings’s oeuvre looked pretty near polished. The truth is this film is generic and formulaic. The animation is nothing to write home about. But the songs are catchy as hell, and the talent backs it up. It’s fun. It’s fluff but it’s fun. Your kids will like it. And you may resist, but your toes will be tapping too. It’s that kind of infectious.

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 Lego Movie

The only thing anyone needs to be special is to believe that you can be. I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true. -Vitruvius

Sometimes movies try too hard. Sometimes the effort to be meaningful or say something important is so obvious that it overwhelms the entertaining parts of the movie. That did not happen here.

This movie is gleefully insane but in the smartest possible way. It strikes a very difficult balance – it makes me laugh at the same silly things as my nieces and nephews. It feels made for all of us at once. And it makes me feel good about watching it with them, not only because it makes them laugh, but also because it has something really good to say. It has a great heart, and I think I want them to grow up to be like Emmet. Except not plastic.

Everything this movie tries, works. I just love this movie. And if you read my Big Hero 6 review, you know how much I loved that movie. But Matt was right. This is the best animated movie of 2014. Hands down. Everything truly is awesome here. You can see the love put into this in every single glorious frame. Everything is little bricks, everything looks like Lego and feels like Lego. It is unique and wonderful. See this movie and you are sure to find something to love too.

In a World…

Carol Solomon (Lake Bell) makes a living (more or less) doing voice work and teaching celebrities to perfect their accents. She’d like to break into her father’s business doing voice-over work for movie trailers, but the industry doesn’t want a female voice. But a huge gap has been left by the death of Don LaFontaine (the real-life king of voice-overs) so she finds herself competing against her childish and jealous father, an industry giant, who champions his smug protegé, up-and-comer Gustav, to revive the “In a world…” work.

This film does a lot of things well, but I really enjoyed watching a woman try to break into a male-dominated industry, and witnessing the different things that need to fall into place in order for it to happen.  Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of back-stabbing and sabotage that goes on as well, some of it by Carol’s own father, a man who believes that there is no place for women in his workplace (and that things were better off when there weren’t women in any workplace, period). world

But this is not some heavy drama about sexism. I mean, first of all, there’s Eva Longoria, as herself, learning how not to sound like “a retarded pirate” (this is her attempt at a Cockney accent). Longoria seems pleasantly game and wins some major not-taking-herself-too-seriously points. Then there’s this: (are you sitting down? you may want to sit down.) DEMITRI MARTIN and NICK OFFERMAN in the same movie. In the same scene! In the same several scenes! I nearly fainted from the awesomeness. They play the good dudes who actually believe in Carol and want to help her succeed.

This movie is Lake Bell’s baby – she wrote it and directed it. She casts this movie like it is her baby, like she knows she has to get everything perfect, and does. She surrounds herself with talent and milks it for every ounce, but she’s no slouch: listen carefully and you’ll hear her own voice-over work sprinkled throughout the film. Girl’s got chops. The script is a lot of fun, there’s a lot of great lines, and great opportunities to showcase herself from every angle.

Watch out for Lake Bell – she’s been popping up in random places over the past few years, but with this effort, she’s truly made herself known.