Archives for category: movie reviews

You know all those black stand-up comedians over the years who had a bit about horror movies and black people? How the brother always gets killed first? How a real black dude would have been gone from that damn house after five minutes? How black people in the audience are screaming for the black dude to GET OUT of the damn house? Well, comedian Jordan Peele put his money where his mouth is. He placed all those horror movie conventions in a blender and mixed in some Rod Serling. He even called the movie “Get Out” (2017). And it’s fantastic.

Unpredictability is a key element of humor. Part of the problem with comedy sequels is that you know most of the jokes already. “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999) is like listening to a greatest hits album. It’s well crafted and true to the first installment of the spy-sendup franchise, but that’s also the problem. You want some new stuff, too. And that’s another problem. Heather Graham is great as Austin’s American counterpart but the Fat Bastard and Mini Me characters are so creepy and get so many scenes, it makes the whole thing predictable AND kinda gross.

I was really, really, really expecting “CHIPS” (2017) to suck, especially when I saw the same person (Dax Shepard) was directing, writing and co-starring (usually a bad sign). However, I was astonished at how fully formed it was. And funny. I mean, it’s overloaded with bro humor (facial-scrotal contact appears to be mandatory in all R-rated comedies these days) but that was to be expected. Still, the dialogue is great, even for secondary characters. Speaking of which, the secondary characters and extras are probably about as diverse a crew as I’ve ever seen in a movie without an ethnic/racial subtext.

“Radio Flyer” (1992) is a heartwarming tale of child abuse and a possible suicide. Even better, it’s narrated by a dad who is telling this heartwarming tale to his own kids. Even better still is that the dad is Tom Hanks. Who thought this was a good idea? The film is filtered through a wistful haze of sepia-toned memories, supported by a fanciful musical score. Ohhh, so it’s a fairytale story of child abuse and a possible suicide. That makes it OK. The only positive is the abused young boy who (maybe) commits suicide grows up to be Frodo Baggins.

So maybe the baby boomers and the millennials can get along. In “All Nighter” (2017), an old-school master of the universe is forced to team up with the snowflake ex-boyfriend of his daughter. Hijinks ensue and everyone learns a little about themselves in a tidy 86 minutes. Lest that description so too lame-o, well, actually, this movie is a little bit lame-o. You probably wouldn’t have needed trigger warnings or a safe room in order to watch it (Unless you recently broke up with a significant other. In that case, tough shit.). But there are a few laugh-out-loud funny moments.

Even after all these years, “He Got Game” (1998) might still do the best job of any movie when it comes to depicting the pressures and temptations of being a great athlete in the ghetto. It also has all the Spike Lee hallmarks: intelligent music choices, inventive editing and cinematography, and a strange mix of professional and amateur actors. The latter hurts the movie’s flow, because, frankly, some of the performances are awful. Ray Allen does OK as a high school basketball phenom. Among the pros, Denzel Washington is his usual amazing self and Jim Brown makes a welcome comeback.

For most of “Sleepless” (2017), I was on the edge of my seat. Partially because of the tense action surrounding crooked cops and a Vegas drug deal gone bad. Mostly because I couldn’t hear the clenched-jaw mumblings of Jamie Foxx and his cast of mush-mouthed costars. It wasn’t me. I’m old, but I don’t listen to Fox News all day with the sound turned up to 11. This was the worst dialogue sound of any movie I’ve seen recently. There are also way too many plot elements straight out of “How to Write a Modern Hollywood Action Script, Vol. I.”