Archives for category: movie reviews

When you bring home a war movie that stars a professional wrestler, you’re prepared to watch a meathead special. Not so with “The Wall” (2017). About two minutes in, I got the sense this was going to be some kind of throwback drama, like a teleplay from 50 years ago or a short story from even longer ago. (The fact the wrestler doesn’t have a lot of dialogue helps.) An Army Ranger and an Iraqi jihadist square off physically, technologically and psychologically, but the story could have just as easily been set in World War II or the Civil War.

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Oh, I’m gonna punch somebody at the Hallmark Channel. I thought I had picked up a copy of “Wedding Daze,” the 2006 comedy with Isla Fisher (which actually didn’t appear in the U.S. until 2008, when it went straight to DVD). Afterward, I realized it was “Wedding Daze,” a 2004 made-for-TV movie about a bunch of John Larroquette’s daughters getting married on the same day (made-for-TV hijinks ensue, trust me). The only enjoyable thing about this movie was my anticipation of seeing Isla Fisher at any moment. The “Isla Fisher Defense” will henceforth be my method of enduring chick flicks.

Terminally ill old grump played by Frank Langella wants assisted suicide, but his dysfunctional family guilts him into a drawn-out, painful death. Forgive the spoiler alert, but you really have no reason to watch “Youth in Oregon” (2017). Not unless your one of those chronic empathy junkies who draws energy from experiencing the misery of others. None of the main characters are worth cheering for, the comedy isn’t comic enough and there’s too much damn yelling. Meanwhile, I’m getting the sense Christina Applegate (Langella’s control-freak daughter) is getting all the roles Jennifer Aniston has the good sense to turn down.

I presume Alejandro González Iñárritu was trying to make an artistic statement about the randomness of life by scrambling the timeline in “21 Grams” (2003), but it just didn’t work for me. Maybe it was punishment for my habit of trying to guess what’s going to happen next – it’s hard when next isn’t really next. Usually these kinds of movies sort themselves out and you can catch on. But in this unsatisfying rendition, where three families cross paths at a tragically metaphorical intersection, I was still stuck at the stoplight, blinker on, trying to figure out which way to turn.

I watched “The Founder” (2017) during the week that Tropical Storm Harvey devastated Houston and for some reason, I connected the two. From a distance, way up high, hurricanes are truly a thing of beauty to behold, both in design and power. Down at the surface, however, things can get ugly and downright inhumane. My understanding of the McDonald’s restaurant story has mostly been lofty – a quintessential American success (with vague undercurrents of controversy). This beautifully filmed, superbly acted adaptation provides a street-level (gutter-level?) version, a rat-eat-rat, greed-is-good, coffee-is-for-closers version that only a Lomanesque salesman like Ray Kroc could love.

The other day, I was wondering if Mike Myers was ever going to make a third Austin Powers picture. Then I realized I had totally forgotten about “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (2002). And this was Beyonce’s first big movie role! Forgettable!?! It’s not terrible, it’s just overkill. Too much of everything. Too many characters being played by Myers (You’re talented. We get it. Enough already.). Too many cameos (Ozzy Osbourne). Too many jokes ripping off jokes from the previous two films (to the point they felt the need to make fun of the fact they were doing it). It’s tiresome.

I’m old enough to have seen the original “Going in Style” in the early 1980s, back when Hollywood movies would show up on network TV a year later. The original old-men-rob-a-bank flick, with George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg, was more poignant. The 2017 remake, with Alan Arkin, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, is more polished for a modern audience. They’re both good. As usual, Arkin inhabits his grumpy-old-man character like none other. I wanted someone to explain to me why Caine, with his English accent, worked in a Queens (New York, not THE queen) steel mill for 30 years.