Archives for posts with tag: movie reviews

Why is it I’m so happy “The Commuter” (2018) didn’t suck? Because I was afraid it’d be a lame, Taken-on-a-train knockoff? It kinda was (family in jeopardy, cellphones, ugh), but it also incorporated Hitchcock, “Duel” and every other halfway decent action movie involving trains. And the Noo Yawk accents were good enough. And I’ll overlook small violations of the laws of train physics and the Action Movie Concussion Protocol. Because when everything’s seemingly either a sucky sequel, sucky comic book movie, sucky horror movie, or combination of the above, there’s something nice about a slightly-above-average Liam Neeson movie. Noble, even.

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It’s one of those movies with a bunch of seemingly unrelated story lines that somehow are supposed to come together. It’s one of those movies with an eclectic ensemble of veteran stars (Jack Lemmon!), up-and-comers (Julianne Moore!) and WTFs (Huey Lewis?). It’s one of those Robert Altman movies. So you know all the critics and artsy-fartsy types loved “Short Cuts” (1993). I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Twenty-two major characters, and not a one of them is likeable. They’re all somewhere on a continuum from pathetic to despicable. I get it, Robert. Life in L.A. sucks. Your point?

The thing about spy movies is that the willing suspension of disbelief is often abused (She’s a double-agent! No, wait! A triple-agent! In a double cross! No, wait! A triple cross!). The thing about movies based on a comic book is that they’re more worried about setting up a franchise than telling a cohesive story. The confluence of these two dilemmas is “Atomic Blonde” (2017), a delicious piece of eye candy that turns out to be empty cinematic calories. Not that it isn’t interesting. It’s like a Charlize Theron action-hero highlight reel. But it’s not a real movie. Too bad.

At the beginning of “Housesitter” (1992), Steve Martin tells Dana Delany he’s had a crush on her since ninth grade. Given that he’s 10 years older than her in real life (and looks every minute of it), I immediately began to have issues with this film. But then the more age-appropriate Goldie Hawn came along in her tight jeans and fixed everything. Martin and Hawn are such pros, they took a hackneyed rom-com plot (little fib becomes big lie, hijinks ensue, people make speeches, mismatched couple finally realizes true love, gag, the end) and turn it into something entirely watchable.

You want to know about my rough night? It was the night I wasted watching “Rough Night” (2017). It’s a cross between “The Hangover” and “Weekend at Bernie’s,” but only combining the worst aspects of each. This story about a bachelorette weekend gone bad begins in medias res with physical comedy hijinks, so they even got the ensuing wrong. I never want to see Jillian Bell in a movie ever again. But in some ways, it’s a good thing, because when a female-dominated cast is allowed to produce worthless crap like this, you know we’re getting closer to gender equality.

If you ever want to understand the difference between a musician and a rock star, watch Gregg Allman as the saloon owner (who may or may not be a drug kingpin) in “Rush” (1991). Dude has only five lines of dialogue, but he owns the whole damn movie. Nobody ever said more by simply strutting through a doorway, hair and charisma flowing equally and in all directions. The movie itself is kind of bleak, as undercover cops get high on their own supply. It should have been the vehicle that catapulted Jason Patric into stardom. Instead, his career went undercover.

It’s unfortunate Tom Cruise’s personal life created so much baggage for filmgoers to carry into the theater (or keep them out of the theater altogether), because the dude can still make a good movie when given the proper material. As I’m watching “American Made” (2017), a film you could appropriately describe as rollicking in its portrayal of the early 1980s drug trade and CIA meddling in Central America, I was taken by how little Cruise did to his appearance and yet how totally I bought him as a swinging 1970s Cajun airline pilot. It looks easy, but it’s not easy.