July 19, 2013, - 8:09 pm
We are past the midway point of the summer, the season when Hollywood is supposed to dazzle us with big blockbuster hits. And, so far, all I’ve seen is underwhelming. And, this weekend, we’re frustratingly served up more of it. None of the new movies in theaters today is particularly good. I’ll start with the relative “best” first, though I doubt I’d pay ten bucks to see any of these, and other than “The Conjuring,” I’d probably quit watching by the middle of these movies if I Netflixed them. (I did not see “Turbo.”)
* “The Conjuring“: This horror/thriller is somewhat scary and suspenseful. It’s also “based on a true story” and focuses somewhat on the real-life couple who are connected to the Catholic Church, perform exorcisms, and were involved in investigating the Amityville Horror home.
Ed and Lorraine Warren (in this movie, they are played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) exist in real life. Ed is the only non-priest and non-Vatican official recognized by the Church to do exorcisms. This movie explores his and Mrs. Warren’s 1971 investigation into a farmhouse that is possessed by Demons. Ron Livingston plays a trucker and father of five daughters. He and his wife (Lili Taylor) move into the dumpy, dirty, old farmhouse and, soon, strange things happen. Their dog won’t go inside, and something very disturbing happens to the dog. Then things are moved, clocks operate weirdly, people go missing and/or possessed, and so on. The Warrens are brought in to get rid of the horror and explore the home’s tragic past.
This was definitely entertaining, and while it is a pretty formulaic horror thriller, there were moments of surprise and suspense throughout. It wasn’t the greatest scary movie I’ve seen, but it wasn’t the worst. It wasn’t bad. My favorite thing about this movie is the accurate period costumes, haircuts, accoutrements, and cars. The movie got those spot on, and that shines through in its dull, dark sepia tones. There’s nothing objectionable about this movie. And, all things considered, I liked it better than this weekend’s other choices.
Since I respect religion and resent Hollywood’s frequent attacks on it (other than Islam, which is never attacked and is in fact promoted and gushed over), I liked how this movie showed religious Catholics and people of faith in a positive light. They helped save this family from evil. You’ll rarely see that coming out of Tinseltown.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “R.I.P.D.“: This movie had an interesting premise, but it’s just awful in execution. And incredibly stupid, to boot. Just a mess. Ryan Reynolds is a Boston cop who is partnered with the corrupt Kevin Bacon. They took gold from drug dealers they busted, when they should have booked it into evidence. When Reynolds tells Bacon he has second thoughts about that, Bacon kills Reynolds in another bust.
Upon death, Reynolds gets sent to the R.I.P.D.–the Rest In Peace Department–a mid-way point for somewhat corrupt cops killed in the line of duty who are given an offer of working 100 years to track down “Dead-os” in the modern day world. Yes, the writers of this movie were soooo damned creative that “Dead-os” is the only name they could come up with for weird demon-like criminals seeking to create a tunnel back from R.I.P.D. jail to modern-day earth to create havoc.
Reynolds is partnered up with Jeff Bridges, who is a Civil War-era marshal, and they are sent back to Boston to investigate and find Dead-os and discover that Bacon is involved with them. On earth, no one sees them as the two former cops, and instead, they look like an old Chinese man and a supermodel (Marisa Miller). Their boss at RIPD is Mary-Louise Parker. Oh, and by the way, they save the world. I didn’t care.
The movie isn’t funny, and, yet, it’s supposed to be a comedy. I thought the sci-fi/after-life/law-enforcement combination might make for a good movie. Boy, was I wrong. For a movie that’s only 1.5 hours long, it was a total bore. And the plot was just silly, as was its execution. It’s as if this were written by a sophomoric teen. It looks like a lot of money was spent on special effects for this movie. And for what? Why? I’m amazed they screened this for us. It’s that bad. There’s nothing politically objectionable here. It’s just that the movie’s incredibly dumb and pointless (other than the point to fill Ryan Reynolds’ and Jeff Bridges’ bank accounts and get you to subsidize their mansions–no thanks).
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Girl Most Likely“: The first thing you need to know about this Kristen Wiig “comedy” is that it’s not funny. I laughed like five times at the most. And that was forced laughter. It’s not nearly as funny as her other stuff. Not even close. Mostly, it’s painful. And it has the usual Hollywood memes of class warfare (“rich people are BAD!”) and fathers as creeps who abandon their kids (“men are SCUMBAGS! Yay, slutty feminists!”). Um, no thanks.
In this mildly entertaining, extremely forgettable movie, Wiig plays an aspiring playwright who was once “the next big thing” in the New York theater scene. She won a fellowship to write a play, but instead spent the money shopping with friends and became a big failure. She fakes a suicide attempt to get her boyfriend to propose, and is instead abandoned by the rich crowd of friends who used her talents to advance themselves.
Wiig gets sent to the custody of her estranged, tacky, low-class, working-class mother, Annette Bening, who lives on the Jersey Shore and has a much younger, weird, secret agent boyfriend, who goes by the name “George Bousche” (Matt Dillon). Hmmm . . . when will a movie have a secret agent character who goes by the name “Barack Okaka?” Probably never.
Wiig hates being back in Jersey and hates having to stay with her tacky mother, crazy brother (who has an obsession with crabs–the animal, not the STD), her mother’s tenant (who has taken over Wiig’s childhood bedroom), and the questionable, alleged CIA agent. She develops a romance with the tenant, a Yale grad who works in an Atlantic City casino as a Backstreet Boys impersonator. Wearing her old ’80s clothes that are left at the house, Wiig tries to get her life back, and soon discovers that her father–whom her mother had said was dead–is alive. He’s written several books and is an expert on “the myth of Thanksgiving”–tripe that Hollywood believes in, too (that Thanksgiving is a myth, that America is bad, etc.) When she goes to meet her father, he’s stereotypically Jewish-looking (and played by Jewish and stereotypically Jewish-looking nebbish actor Bob Balaban), incredibly rich, incredibly snobby and class-ist, and a complete scumbag, and she realizes that her tacky mother is the good parent. OY.
The movie is formulaic and predictable. And incredibly pointless.
TWO MARXES PLUS TWO OBAMAS
Watch the trailer . . .
* “RED 2“: I liked the first RED (read my review), but this was just a mess, with a cockamamie, confusing plot. And incredibly silly. Yes, it’s full of action and spy moves, but is that really believable when the actors are all senior citizens (or close enough to it)? Nope.
The story: the semi-retired secret agents–Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren–are brought back together, when the CIA and the Pentagon have put a hit out on Willis. Why? They never really explain, except that it has something to do with an operation he once worked on in which rogue nuclear weapons found their way into Russia. The agents work to free the designer of the nukes, Anthony Hopkins, because they believe it will help them, but soon, they see that he’s crazy like a fox and wants his nukes set off in the world, which will obviously kill a lot of people. So their mission–while Willis is evading being killed by a hitman/former CIA agent hired by the U.S. government–is to stop the nukes from being set off on earth.
Lots of chases, lots of action, lots of stupidity, and a giant waste of time, even if there is some mild entertainment to it. Adding Catherine Zeta-Jones to the mix doesn’t add much to the movie, other than more silliness and stupidity. Mary-Louise Parker also stars. Who cares?
Watch the trailer . . .
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