Archives for posts with tag: movie reviews

I often refer to movies such as “War on Everyone” (2017) as an “odd duck.” It’s a modern, buddy-cop action flick with a corrupt-cop twist. Simple enough. But it’s strewn with so many unexplained 1970s callbacks (cars, hair, underwear, interior decorating), I was waiting for Starsky to jump out of the hutch. And then there’s all the superfluous philosophical references and surprisingly sharp dialogue that’s around 50 IQ points above the characters speaking those lines. And the over-the-top violence is so stylized, I was sure the script was based on a graphic novel. Yet it all works, somehow. Odd duck.

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A Vietnam-era PTSD victim drifts into a small town, the cops pull a “vet lives matter” on him and all hell breaks loose. Voila! Sylvester Stallone has a second franchise. “First Blood” (1982) is a landmark in macho film history, opening a door that guys like Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal walked through (after they closed it back shut so they could kick it down or blow it up). It’s so macho, David Caruso plays a wimpy guy. Hell, it’s so macho, testosterone-spouting Richard Crenna doesn’t need to show up in his Green Beret outfit until we’re 45 minutes in.

It doesn’t take an effing genius to figure out “Bad Santa 2” (2016) wouldn’t be as good as the original because Bernie Mac is effing dead, so is John Ritter, and Heather Graham must have been too effing busy to answer the phone. Half the main characters (Santa-suited safe cracker Billy Bob Thornton, elf Tony Cox, clueless Brett Kelly) are back, but that’s just not enough. There was something about the original that made its degenerate nature a guilty pleasure. This one has too much dirty and not enough whimsy. Like a 21-year-old Thurman Merman, the effing innocence is gone.

Holiday movies always make me a little nostalgic. Take “Bad Santa” (2003), where Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox are a felonious Kris Kringle and elfin accessory. I miss the comedic talents of the late Bernie Mac and John Ritter, who ably played supporting roles. It’s also where I first met Lauren Graham. I’m not the target demographic for “Gilmore Girls,” so witnessing her sweet flakiness as a kinky bartender was like a partially unwrapped present just for me. Memories. If you’re not smitten by her, the film’s subversively sharp writing will suffice. You’ll have a hilariously blue (language) Christmas.

Sam Elliott isn’t allowed to act anymore. He can’t show up as a stunt-casting gimmick on “Will and Grace,” or in some throwaway action flick. He can’t even voice-over a barbecue sauce commercial. No, he made “The Hero” (2017), which is one of those magnum-opus-type star turns that aging actors suddenly summon when they still haven’t won a major award. Sam plays a pot-smoking actor who made a great cowboy film long ago, but he’s dying now, and he’s trying to figure out how to die, and still live, and it’s pretty impressive. So no more acting, Sam. We’re good.

“Burn After Reading” (2008) is a not-very-good espionage movie with George Clooney. It’s kinda stupid, actually. But it does have a lot of people I like in it (Brad Pitt, the dude from the movie about the guy who plays the drum, Frances what’s-her-face, John Malkovich), and there are some characters that made me laugh. It wasn’t like I thought two hours of my life had been stolen. But when it was over, I was like: “What was up with that?” Then I reminded myself it was a Coen brothers movie, which means that probably nothing was up with anything.

You know the annoying guy who sits next to you on the airplane/bus/subway and won’t shut up, and then gets all weird when you try to end the one-way conversation? Woody Harrelson made an entire movie about him. “Wilson” (2017) is fascinatingly entertaining, in that I was fascinated that I found it entertaining. I have always held that it’s impossible to cure America of mass murderers because there are so many weird, middle-aged-loner white guys that don’t become mass murderers. They just stay weird. And lonely. And (mostly) harmless. And possibly misunderstood. And now they have movies made about them.