Tag Archives: zac efron

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is one of those movies that has half a hundred characters and fourteen dozen plot lines and they all “intersect”, the story like a patchwork quilt, but a really ugly quilt where the squares don’t match and some of them aren’t even square.

A random sampling:

Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) has just quit her job, and hires bike messenger Paul (Zac Efron) to help her check off as many of her old resolutions as possible before the clock strikes midnight.

Laura (Katherine Heigl) is catering a huge New Year’s Eve party and is under a lot of stress when her ex, a rock star named Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), who disappeared on New Year’s last year, shows up wanting a commitment.

Claire (Hilary Swank) is producing the Times Square ball drop.

Randy (Ashton Kutcher) and Elise (Lea Michele) are trapped in an elevator together.

MV5BMTc3MzgyMzg3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTM1MzAxNw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1503,1000_AL_Hailey (Abigail Breslin) desperately wants to go downtown with a boy, but her mother Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) insists that she stay home with her.

Tess (Jessica Biel) is really hoping to induce labour so she can give birth to the first new year’s baby and claim the 25K in prize money – but Grace (Sarah Paulson) is also in the running.

Stan (Robert De Niro) is dying, though he’d like to delay until midnight if possible, and his nurse  Aimee (Halle Berry) is prepared to stick it out with him.

Sam (Josh Duhamel) is trying desperately to get back into the city after pulling best man duty at a wedding. He’s hitching a ride with with a family in an RV, hoping to meet up with the mysterious women he met and fell for last year.

In a movie so overstuffed, of course some of the segments are undercooked. Nay, they’re all undercooked. Some of them are downright raw. But lots of them are not even interesting enough that I wished I knew more.

The best, and saddest part, is when Penny Marshall briefly plays herself. But 3 seconds out of 113 long minutes is an agonizing success rate. New Year’s Eve is overly sentimental and oh so shallow. If you don’t have any auld acquaintances to forget this New Year’s Eve, I know where you can make over 100 new acquaintances, and they’re all perfectly forgettable – guaranteed. Random acquaitances may include New Kids on the Block’s Joey McIntyre, voice of Lisa Simpson Yeardley Smith, Cary Elwes,  Common, Hector Elizando, Russell Peters, Sofia Vergara, Matthew Broderick, and more flash-in-the-pan stunt casting than you can shake shake one of those New Year’s Eve noisemakers that you blow in and the little ribbon inflates and unrolls at.

Having just returned from Mexico, Sean and I might be housebound (and by housebound I inevitably mean hot-tub-bound) tonight, and I’m not a bit sad about it. What are your plans? Do they include this movie and its exhausting cast of characters?

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The Greatest Showman

Phineas Taylor Barnum was a showman first and foremost. His legacy includes a best-selling memoir, museums, philanthropy, and a circus who just closed its doors earlier this year, after something in the neighbourhood of 175 years of success. The Greatest Showman is the story of his life, only not: it’s the fictionalized, glamourized, told-in-an-entertaining-and-succinct-105-minutes version that somewhat resembles his life, or at least a rags-to-riches edition of it. It’s not historically or personally accurate but it IS beautiful and breath taking and fun. In fact, it’s the most excited I’ve felt at the movies all year.

Hugh Jackman has already established himself as a versatile actor: he makes Logan, a veritable man of steel, seem both tough and vulnerable. Here he straddles Barnum’s pursuit of fame, money, and success with his more modest but fulfilling tumblr_os9fxwinjy1qd4rf5o2_500.gifgoals of happiness and family. Ultimately we see Barnum find both fame and family in the circus. He collects ‘freaks’ and ‘sideshows’ and gives them purpose and a platform. People pay the price of admission to look on in sensational horror.

The film is glossy, a glory to look at, and a wonder to hear. It’s a musical, with lyrics by Tony-winning (Dear Evan Hansen) and Oscar-winning (La La Land) duo, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. A mashup of modern-sounding, toe-tapping, pop and hip hop, the music reflects an aesthetic that isn’t so much true to the time period, but more a tribute to Barnum’s constantly being ahead of his time. With dazzling, daring cinematography by Seamus McGarvey (Life, Nocturnal Animals, Atonement) and buoyant, irrepressible, vibrant production design by Nathan Crowley (Dunkirk, Interstellar, The Dark Knight trilogy), The Greatest Showman is a work of art by veteran professionals – except for its director. Michael Gracey had in fact never directed any movie at all before – why, then, did 20th Century Fox trust him with 80 million dollars and a promising script, co-written by Bill Condon, Oscar nominee for best adapted screenplay for Chicago, and winner for Gods and Monsters?

Hugh Jackman met Michael Gracey 8 years ago when Gracey directed him in a TV commercial in Rio de Janiero. The two hit it off creatively, and within months Jackman was suggesting him as the director a passion project of his, and with Jackman on board as star and producer, it only took about a hundred pitches or so before someone finally said yes. Yes! And true to the Barnum name, the movie wouldn’t just be a musical, it would be over the top, larger than life, bursting at the seems with spectacle.

In addition to Jackman, the cast boasts the likes of Michelle Williams as his long-tumblr_os9no4BmGt1qk2b83o5_r1_540.gifsuffering wife, Charity, Zac Efron as his business partner, Zendaya as a talented trapeze artist, and Rebecca Ferguson as the songstress who legitimizes his success (though credit for her amazing voice goes to Loren Allred, who dubs her in the film).

The Greatest Showman is like the best parts of Big Fish and Moulin Rouge smooshed together. It lit my heart aglow. If you’re looking for a true account of PT Barnum’s life, read a book. What The Greatest Showman offers is a damn good time at the movies, so see it in theatres, on the big screen, the way it was meant to be seen. Hugh Jackman will thank you for it.

Baywatch

So bad.

Baywatch the movie doesn’t know what to do with itself. Based on a TV show that mysteriously combined crime-fighting lifeguards with slow-motion running, the movie struggles to find a leg to stand on. 21 Jump Street was able to successfully satirize the show it was based on while also paying it homage. It was funny. Baywatch just flounders about in shallow water.

I don’t think any of the actors knew if they were in a drama or a comedy either. They would sometimes recite lines that sounded self-aware, only in a deadpan way that made baywatch-cast-shot.jpgme certain they weren’t aware at all. The thing is, lifeguards save people who are struggling in the water. They have no business fighting crime. They shouldn’t touch dead bodies in a crime scene let alone attempt to solve the murders themselves. These lifeguards, however, take it upon themselves to impersonate doctors, take down drug lords, go undercover, break into morgues, confiscate evidence, and they do it all while on the clock, abandoning their actual jobs on the beach in order to do the jobs of police officers who don’t take the intrusion too kindly – although, in actuality, not unkindly enough. Because, you know, the lifeguards, instead of guarding lives, are actually putting them at risk, constantly, by doing this work.

But that’s the LEAST of Baywatch’s problems. I remember thinking how strange it was in the commercials that The Rock was playing Mitch Buchannon, which is the character David Hasselhoff played in the original series. It seemed to me easy enough to update it by just having a new set of lifeguards in the Baywatch tradition, but no. Old Mitch is still pounding the waves, looking a little more tan (though not a lot more – David Hasselhoff was always pretty wizened) and a lot more buff. But then David Hasselhoff pops up in the movie and he’s playing his character Mitch Buchannon too. So there are two Mitches, which no calls bullshit on, and two CJs now that you mention it, and a lot more problems besides.

Sean and I gave it the old college try, we really did, but there is genuinely no way in which to enjoy the movie. It’s never intentionally funny, and the mistakes aren’t even laughable they just make you want to tear your hair out. But it’s also way, way too ridiculous to be taken seriously, but none of the campiness that made the television series a guilty pleasure. The jiggly boob factor is alive and well, but there’s also a lot more penis in the movie than is strictly advisable.

SXSW: The Disaster Artist

Before we talk about this movie, we have to talk about another: The Room. Not Room, the Brie Larson kidnap drama, but The Room, the worst movie ever made. Even better: the BEST bad tumblr_megxu99K4x1ry10fwo1_500movie ever made, the Citizen Kane of bad movies, a movie so bad it’s achieved cult status. Tommy Wiseau was obsessed with movies and had enough cash to get one made, so he did. And he did it with such earnestness and such a complete lack of talent that people love to watch it. Ottawa’s own Mayfair Theatre, one of Canada’s oldest surviving independent movie houses, an official heritage building in our fair city, champion of 35mm film, screener of indies and classics, has been showing it for 92 consecutive months now. Each midnight screening is a riot; this cult film draws fans that know the drill. Matt wrote a great review of it a while back, almost nothing about the movie itself, which defies reviewing, but about the experience of seeing, the rituals that go along with it, the things you yell at the screen, hell, the things you chuck at the screen, it’s all a wild ball of fun.

Greg Sestero, co-star in The Room and Tommy Wiseau BFF wrote a book about making this weird movie with its even weirder director. It’s called The Disaster Artist. Ever a sucker for a great Hollywood story, James Franco read this book one day and immediately got a boner. He brought the script to Seth Rogen on the set of their ill-fated movie The Interview, and the rest is history. Well, future history. I saw the one and only screening of The Disaster Artist at SXSW where it was still billed as a “work in progress.” Tommy Wiseau was in the house, and also seeing it for the first time. Big gulp.

Two things struck me about The Disaster Artist: 1. This film was made with love. It could easily mock The Room, as many have, but it doesn’t. This is a loving ode to The Room, and to the friendship that gave birth to it. 2. This film is fucking hilarious.

Even having never seen The Room, The Disaster Artist is still accessible and relevant. Tommy Wiseau is a goddamned character and James Franco is just the man to play him (although Wiseau pushed for Johnny Depp). Franco got into the part so deeply that he directed while in character too. He was in deep enough to fool Seth Rogen’s grandmother when she visited the set, and in more than deep enough to constantly annoy his little brother “Davey” who co-stars MV5BMjA4ZDZkNjEtNTFkZi00YjhjLWFjZTctNDZlOWVmYzZmZjhhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTM2Mzg4MA@@._V1_with him.  James and Seth debuted Sausage Party at SXSW last year, and for me it was a disappointment. The Disaster Artist, however, gave me continuous giggles. They’ve amassed an impressive cast, some with just bitty walk-on parts, which only proves the love Hollywood has for underdog Tommy Wiseau. Or perhaps for James “I’ll try anything once” Franco. Or maybe James Franco as Tommy Wiseau. In any case, I laughed until I cried, and then I slammed some Diet Pepsi just so I could cry-laugh some more. And I did! This movie will make you rabid for The Room but it stands on its own, a complete movie that probably benefits from NOT being written by Franco or Rogen. It’s an affectionate behind the scenes look at Hollywood gone wrong, but it’s also a kind of heart-warming tale about outsiders who can’t break in so they plow their own field, and even if it’s bad, at least they have potatoes. Know what I’m saying? Oh, hi Mark.

 

 

 

p.s. Check out the comments section for a delightful Q&A with James, Dave & Seth.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Mike and Dave are real-life brothers who trolled for wedding dates on Craigslist. Spoiler alert: the ad did not net them true love, but it did earn them fame and fortune, so I guess there’s a happy ending in there somewhere.

Now Hollywood’s got hold of this “true story” and they’ve raunched it up to 11. It’s rated R and believe me, that’s a hard R. There were some crude laughs, some I don’t even want to admit to, but there were dozens of scenes that went on for much too long. It’s a thin story mike-and-dave-need-wedding-dateswith paper cut-out dolls instead of characters, both of which provide the sparest of backdrops for a series of lewd sketches that aren’t so much plot-driven as rude one-upmanship.

The movie is determined to check all the boxes: swearing, sex, nudity, drugs. It uses prop genitalia, merkins (a pubic toupee), and cock socks (otherwise known as “modesty pouches”). And it also features the liberal use of butt doubles. Butt doubles for everyone! (well okay, not for Zac Efron, who has yet to see one that’s better than his own). How does one go about hiring said butt double? An agency will send over a big catalogue of butts for Anna Kendrick to look through and she might select several to peruse in person before selecting her butt’s representative. I assume the temptation to upgrade one’s assets would be enormous.

A body double working under Screen Actors Guild guidelines will be paid $795 for a full 8-hour shift, while part-specific models typically get a rate of $445.30. Of course, naked cheeks net double pay, and an “elite butt double” (whatever thKHekcf3at means) can command a much higher figure. And I’m sure Anna Kendrick springs for the premium butt. Wouldn’t you?

In case it’s not obvious, I found researching body double pay rates much more interesting
than Mike and Dave’s antics. And actually, they’re quite upstaged in the movie by their dates. Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza out-bro the bros. That’s not an endorsement, mind you, just a statement of fact: in a competition of who’s downest and dirtiest, the ladies take the crown. They’re like the love children of Amy Schumer and Danny McBride. So, um, score 1 for feminism (she says as she thrusts out her tits) but score 0 for the movie going public.

That Awkward Moment

Last night at the BET Awards, Michael B. Jordan won best actor for Creed. Last night during the BET Awards I watched a movie starring Michael B. Jordan called That Awkward Moment, a mistitled piece of cinema if I’ve ever seen one because at 1h34m, you can pack in hundreds of awkward moments, and they did.

That Awkward Moment stars two promising young actors, and Zac Efron. Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan have been in dozens of movies between them these past two or three years, some exceptional, some exceptionally bad. And I get it: you’re young, new to Hollywood, new to money. Make bank! Dolla dolla dolla bills, y’all. I get it. But there’s a limit, I think, to what an audience will tolerate before turning its back, and Miles Teller is dangerously close.

Miles Teller just starred in the Oscar-nominated Whiplash in 2014, so how can he have already wracked up so much ill-will? Well, besides this movie, he’s starred in 3 increasingly apathetic Brody-Whiplash-1200Divergent movies, the critically-panned Fantastic Four, and an embarrassingly poor attempt at comedy called Get A Job. He’s been in 8 films since Whiplash and not one of them reminds us that this kid had a good thing going. He’s got a new one coming out with Jonah Hill called War Dogs and we’re all hoping it’ll be a return to form, probably no one more so than his agent, because while they’re both earning money, Teller is decided not earning praise (or success at the box office), and Hollywood has a pretty short memory for little movies like Whiplash.

Michael B. Jordan, you may note, also has that Fantastic Four atrocity under his own belt. And he’s also got a really great indie movie to his name in Fruitvale Station. If you haven’t seen it, you really must. It was robbed at the Oscars and was nominated for nothing but it was one of fruitvale-station-main1the best in 2013, recounting the true story and final hours of a young man who is erroneously gunned down by police. Jordan, who’d mostly done TV up until then  (I knew him as a kid on The Wire but he was also in Friday Night Lights and Parenthood), really proved himself on screen but has had only a small handful of films since then, unlike his frequent co-star, Miles Teller. In fact, the only one  he did without him is the only one worth mentioning: Creed. Reunited with Fruitvale Station’s writer\director Ryan Coogler, Creed was an enormous success. It honoured the Rocky legacy while establishing its own dynasty. It had important champions in Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers but quickly won over audiences everywhere. It’s rumoured that Jordan will be joining the cast of Marvel’s Black Panther movie, but that’s all he’s got on the horizon. Besides War Dogs, Miles Teller has another one in the bank, something in post-production and 2 in pre-production. So tell me: what the hell is the difference? Two handsome young dudes with great roles in their back pockets. One is working back to back to back, and the other very little.

So I’ll ask again: what is the difference? Because I can see one glaring difference, and I hate how it sounds. I hate it.

Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising

I’m not going to lie: the first 3 times I saw the trailer for this movie in theatres, I believed it was a car commercial for at least 20 seconds. Each time. But then it would dawn on me that this was a sequel to a movie I thought was okay. I could hardly remember it but was sure I’d seen it. And probably didn’t hate it because vitriol lingers longer than indifference (and if you’re doing it right, love).

So on Saturday night, Sean and I went to the drive-in, where we were forced to Untitled-1-xlargewatch 2 shit movies called X-Men Apocalypse and whatever Divergent one is most recent. And across the lawn, in my peripheral vision, the French screen was playing Neighbours 2. Only I didn’t know what they were playing, I just knew that I’d just seen some chick throw up on some dude’s face (I generously warned Sean not to look). Since I’d already survived what had to have been the worst scene in the movie, I figured, why not give the rest a gander.

If you’re susceptible to vomit scenes, squish your eyes shut for the first 130 seconds. Fight through that and you’ll be won over by a cock’n’dildo joke.

The premise: the old people next door, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, are pregnant with their second child and moving on up. Their house is in escrow, so they’re 30 days away from escape. The bad news? Just when they’ve gotten rid of last movie’s Zac Efron-led fraternity, in comes a Zac Efron-led sorority. And is it possible that sororities are WORSE than frats?

The writing on this is wonky. The jokes are pretty solid and I laughed throughout but the script that connects the jokes is a lot weaker. They’re trying like mad to make this the “feminist” raunchy comedy. Did you know that in the U.S., sororities aren’t allowed to party in their own houses? They have to go to frats for that, which is a pretty rapey solution to a shitty, sexist problem. But that’s mostly just lip service. The meat is in the millennials vs. old people situation, even though technically, Seth Rogen is a still grazing millennial status himself (gross!) and Rose Byrne has maybe a baby toe in Generation X. But laughing at millennials is hilarious. The dumb, neighbors-2-2016_sbsysocial media-fixated, instagram-obsessed, teenaged millennials who don’t know anything about the world yet. So the old folks are doing what parents do best: stopping young people from having fun.

Sure it’s tired material. But Rogen & Byrne have the kind of chops that make this thing enjoyable. Are the best parts in the trailer? Of COURSE they are. Isn’t that par for the course these days? Somebody needs to tell movie trailer makers that nobody buys the cow if you’re giving the milk away for free. Except me. I love buying livestock. I practically hoard it. I didn’t even mean to see this one, remember? I just got roped into it when I was paying to see two other movies I had no interest in seeing. Wait – am I single-handedly saving Hollywood by compulsively buying movie tickets?

Anyway. Brainless, harmless. Funny in spots. Excellent use of a Beastie Boys song (but I mean, you can never go wrong with the Beastie Boys). And Zac Efron refuses to take Sean’s advice to keep his shirt on once in a while, if that floats your pontoon. But probably not theatre-worthy. You can afford to rent this one later. Baby oil optional.