May 23, 2014, - 8:59 am
I highly recommend only one of the new movies out in theaters today for the start of the Memorial Day weekend. As for the rest, it ranges from “eh” to total crapola. On Monday, remember all the American troops who gave their lives so Hollywood could continue to make this garbage.
* “X-Men: Days of the Future Past“: While I’m sure this will do mega-bucks in ticket sales at the box office, I found this movie to be extremely confusing, though mildly entertaining. And don’t waste your money springing for the 3D glasses, as the 3D special effects in this movie are dull. The 2D version will be just fine. While I liked the ’70s period clothing, references, and soundtrack, the movie is basically an attack on President Nixon, the “evil” U.S. government, and the “evil” defense contractors–you know, the lazy Hollywood liberal stock narrative. Also, is it really necessary to have Hugh Jackman’s naked butt front and center in a superhero heavily marketed to kids? Uh, no. At nearly 2.5 hours, the movie is a little long and repetitive and needs more editing.
The story: Wolverine (Jackman) is sent back in time to fix history and stop Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from taking actions that could ruin everything and doom both mutants (X-Men) and humans. They learn that an evil defense contractor, Trask (Peter Dinklage) will get ahold of Raven/Mystique’s blood and use it to create government-run mutants to rule the world and doom it forever. Yup, America’s always the bad guy, right?! To change this dangerous history, he contacts the younger versions of several X-Men to convince them of what is going to happen in the future and why they must help him in his quest to change the events of the future. At the same time, Wolverine must be cognizant than any action he takes will alter the world forever in the future.
After reconnecting with the initial players, Wolverine and the others follow Raven/Mystique to France, where the Paris Peace Accords regarding the Vietnam War was about to be signed, and Raven is trying to disrupt events by impersonating a Vietnamese official. They must stop her and keep the government from getting her blood to make its mutants. At the same time, the X-Men must also fight their fellow mutant, the “evil” Erik (Michael Fassbender). Ultimately, it takes them to a scene in which a caricature of President Nixon is showing the world the mutant fighters created by Trask using some molecules of Raven/Mystique’s blood found on the scene in Paris. Erik, Raven/Mystique, and the X-Men fight each other to try to save the world. The end.
While the movie was mildly entertaining (and the plot was far more entertaining than recent messy X-Men movies), it wasn’t great. Like I said, it’s confusing, and it’s also messy and muddled. If there wasn’t the “evil American goverment/defense contractor” baloney running through this, I would probably give it at least a full ONE REAGAN (or more). But since it does have that as a running theme, I’m being generous when I give it . . .
HALF A REAGAN
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Blended“: I absolutely hate-hate-hated this movie. So bad, so stupid, so gross, it’s Grade A Gitmo torture material. There are few movies that I want to walk out of every single second from beginning to end. This was one of ’em. I put it in my Top Twenty worst movies of the decade. It’s that bad. When you see the logo for “Happy Madison” (Adam Sandler’s production company) come on the screen, you know that it’s slang for “run like hell.” This is being billed as another version of “The Wedding Singer” or “50 First Dates”–Sandler’s and Drew Barrymore’s other two movies together. Don’t believe the hype. This is nothing like those. Not even close.
Oh, and I don’t understand why the Black actors in this movie, including Terry Crews, willingly took these blatantly racist, modern-day-minstrel-show roles. I guess Hollywood’s open racism is willingly embraced while private conversations of Donald Sterling aren’t.
The story: Sandler and Barrymore (looking extremely horrible throughout the movie) are both single parents. She is divorced with two very weird boys, and he is a widower with two very weird daughters that he dresses like lesbians or guys. Right there, you already know this movie stinks. Sandler and Barrymore go out on a date at Hooters, where he treats her horribly and food gets spilled all over her. Later on, Barrymore’s co-worker’s engagement is off and so is their pre-paid African safari vacation, so Barrymore offers money to go on the trip with her sons instead. When she gets to Africa, she learns that Sandler and his kids are there, too, and that both of them were offered the same trip–and they are stuck in the same suite, same table for meals, and on the same activities each day. Predictably, Barrymore and Sandler, who hate each other, eventually fall in love. Throughout this movie, a Black butler and Terry Crews and a Black choir, sing and dance and make incredibly dumb cracks and jokes, Mr. Bojangles-style. Also throughout, Kevin Nealon and his bimbo new wife (Sandler’s annoying wife, Jacqueline) are in a constant make-out session, when they are not making overtly sexual and other dopey comments.
Just so awful. You were forewarned. It’s yet another national IQ test. If you liked it, you’re a moron.
FOUR MARXES PLUS FOUR OBAMAS PLUS FOUR BIN LADENS
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Chef“: This is the only new movie I really liked and recommend (with a few minor reservations). I really enjoyed this very funny, highly entertaining movie, written, directed, and starring John Favreau as a chef and divorced dad of a son. It was a great study on what happens when your tirade is caught on social media, and how Twitter and Facebook can make or break someone. It is also a great display of a father’s love for his young son, as he struggles to also make a career and earn a living.
Favreau is Chef Carl Casper, who was THE hot gourmet chef in the food world ten years ago. But, now, he’s overweight, divorced, working very hard, and forced to cook boring, dull food at the restaurant owned by his boss Dustin Hoffman. He wants to serve interesting and creative food when the internet’s most influential food blogger and restaurant critic is scheduled to visit his restaurant. But the restaurant owner won’t let him and forces him to continue with the boring, stale, old menu. Predictably, the critic gives him a horrible review, which goes viral on social media like Twitter. The chef doesn’t understand social media and gets into a public online argument with the critic on Twitter, which culminates in an angry confrontation between chef and critic at the restaurant.
The video of the chef’s meltdown goes viral on the internet and soon Carl is out of a job and looking for a way to salvage his career. In the meantime, he also has a chance to reconnect with his ten-year-old son, whom he loves a lot but only gets to see about once a week and rarely has much time to hang out with. Soon, Carl, his son, and another chef (John Leguizamo) are traveling around the country in a food truck, and his son is using social media to promote it, bringing large crowds of customers every step of the way. This way, Carl gets to be the boss, own his own business, make the food he wants to make, and teach his son life lessons (while his son teaches him the marketing power of social media to build their business). It was refreshing to see such a loving father and son relationship, the kind you rarely see from Hollywood.
I could have done without the father and another chef singing “Sexual Healing” in front of a ten-year-old kid, and I could have also lived without the scene where all three “connect” when they pour corn starch down their pants and talk about how it makes their testicles feel better in the humidity. Then, a joke is told about how they can be fried into hush puppies. Ugh. TMI! But other than that, I found this funny, engaging movie very entertaining and enjoyable. One warning, though: there are more close-ups of food and cooking and eating than in any movie I’ve seen. Don’t come see this on any empty stomach or you’ll be incredibly hungry. Also co-stars Sofia Vergara, looking even more beautiful than ever . . . but if only she came equipped with a mute button. Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. have minor roles.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Belle“: Critics are raving over this British movie about a woman, whose mother was a Black slave and whose father was a White English nobleman and Royal Navy Admiral. Belle is rescued from a life of slavery by her father (Matthew Goode), who implores his uncle and aunt to raise her as their own along with their White niece whose parents also died. The movie shows the difficulties of being half-Black in those times and also follows the case of a slave ship, “The Zong,” and the slaves that were thrown overboard. The ship’s owners are seeking insurance payments for the lost slaves, and Belle’s great-uncle, a Supreme Court Justice, is deciding the case.
The movie says it is “inspired by a true story” and is based on a 1779 painting of Belle a/k/a Dido Elizabeth Belle. In the movie, Belle is not allowed to eat at the family table when guests come for dinner. But she inherits her White father’s estate and finds White suitors when she is of marriageable age (while her White cousin cannot find suitors because she is penniless, and men of higher rank in society are looking for money and land in a marriage, according to this movie). But Belle does not really want to be with the racist White suitor she agrees to marry. She longs, instead, for the vicar’s son who was a law clerk to her uncle and who wants slavery abolished via the Zong case. The movie follows Belle’s attempts to influence her great-uncle’s decision in the Zong case, her consorting with the Vicar’s son to help influence the decision, and her uncomfortable position in a racist world.
While the actresses playing Belle and her cousin are beautiful as are the period costumes and sets, the movie was long, slow, and boring. In a word, plodding. I guess you could call it “24 Years a Non-Slave Bi-Racial Chick.” At least, it seemed like that’s how many years I sat through this in the theater.
Watch the trailer . . .
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