Archives for posts with tag: movie reviews

If someone had made a sequel to “Team America World Police,” it would have sucked. How about waiting 14 years and then doing a police procedural with pervy puppets and some human actors? That might not suck. And thus we have “The Happytime Murders” (2018). It’s terrible, awful, raunchy, funny, satirical – and oddly topical, if you catch the absurdist racial subtext – but it definitely doesn’t suck. If the premise doesn’t appeal to you, don’t watch it. If the hilarious shock of parody hardcore puppet sex hasn’t worn off in the years since “Team America,” come enjoy it all over again.


The special effects are so bad in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (1984), I don’t know whether to launch a withering criticism or complement the filmmakers for re-creating the lousy SFX from the original TV show. Animatronic spacedogs, burning tumbleweeds, fake snow, scientific fraudulence, it’s a tour de force. Not so much for the cast, which chases another fat paycheck by going through the same motions of overacting and heavy-handed symbolism we saw so many times before. Spock died in the previous flick, but Kirk forgot to retrieve the hard drive, so to speak. Hijinks (and Klingons) ensue.

I continue to believe true equality is not found in rare excellence, but in the above average and the mediocre. For example, if honkeys can make money churning out formulaic romantic comedies (cough, hallmarkchannel, cough), why can’t minorities? Of course they can! “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018) sometimes feels more engineered than created, but it hews to a tried-and-true rom-com storyline (working-class girl meets rich guy’s family), throws in a few twists, and manipulates in all the right places. Plus, you have the novelty of untrodden cinematic ground (Asians with British accents, exotic Singapore locations, etc.). Not great, not bad. See?

“The Big Chill” (1983) is an interesting setup and a great ending sandwiched around entirely too much tiresome baby boomer midlife crisis self-analysis. That’s why, as a film, this movie is no longer relevant to anyone other than those baby boomers who see themselves in the movie’s characters (with all due respect). However, it remains hugely significant in that its soundtrack of familiar hit songs helped change how music and movies interacted (and were marketed). And the incredibly positive audience response to said music helped inspire a radio format concept (classic rock) that remains popular 30 years after the film.

My dad – rest his soul – loved “action” movies like “211” (2018). I put “action” in quotations because the “action” consists of supposedly trained people aimlessly firing weapons and blowing shit up for 75 percent of a movie that has no plot and is simply a mishmash of cliche movie characters (old cop, new cop, troubled youth, concerned mom, paramilitary bad guys, etc.) thrown together to speak lines that seem to come from a random dialogue generator. Dad loved movies like this because he didn’t feel guilty about falling asleep during them. Sorry, Nicolas Cage. You’re a couple years too late.

In the 1980s, high school was actually more boring than we remember, but “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982) has been adopted as one of the definitive stories of my generation. So many scenes have been permanently absorbed into pop culture, they are too numerous to list (everyone my age has their favorites). The abortion and stoner subplots made it a controversial film at the time – and not worth an argument with my mom – so I didn’t see it in its entirety until several years after it came out. By then, I’d heard all the spoilers, but it didn’t matter.

We live in times when some take delight in exacting moral leverage over others by judging yesterday’s actions against today’s standards. Those of us who aren’t as self-certain in matters of virtue can ponder films like “Chappaquiddick,” the 2018 retelling of the 1969 car accident that killed a young lady and altered Ted Kennedy’s life. It’s fascinatingly ambiguous and will get you thinking – if you’re someone still inclined to do that. As the Kennedy machine tries to save his political career, we’re reminded that Ted isn’t the victim, the girl is. But are we really talking about the car wreck?