July 25, 2014, - 6:07 pm

Wknd Box Office: And So It Goes, Lucy, Hercules, A Most Wanted Man

By Debbie Schlussel

I am not surprised that this has been the worst summer in terms of tickets sold and money made at the movies. The movies this summer have been the most underwhelming that I can remember, and this weekend is par for the course. I only really liked one new movie debuting at theaters this weekend.



* “And So It Goes“: This is the relative best of the bunch among the new releases this weekend. And it appears to be aimed primarily at older adults and senior citizens, though I think adults of any age above 25 will like it (and the story is timeless and ageless). Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star in this senior citizen chick flick that is very funny and which even guys will like and find entertaining. It’s cute, light, and airy–the kind of escapist movie I and many others enjoy going to the movies to see.

Douglas is an egomaniacal, rude, insensitive real estate agent who owns a set of duplex apartments in which he lives along with other tenants. He has developed a love-hate relationship with one of his tenant’s, Keaton, a nightclub singer who shares too much gloomy personal information with her audience. Douglas is trying to help clean up her act (with not so subtle constructive criticism) and also attempting to get her a higher paying gig. In the midst of all this, Douglas’ estranged son is sent to prison for nine months and the young granddaughter he never knew is dropped on him to take care of. He then pawns off the granddaughter on Keaton, who develops a loving relationship with Keaton. Eventually, they all become like a family, while Douglas and Keaton develop a romance.

As I said, this is very funny. I laughed a lot. I could have done without a scene of a dog having sex with a stuff animal (it was gross in the first of a gazillion movies I’ve seen this cheap shot in–now it’s beyond rotten). But everything else was hilarious and fun to watch. The best actor or actress in this movie is Frances Sternhagen, who cracks many of the jokes and smart alecky lines perfectly, as if she were 24 instead of 84 years old. (Eighty-year-old Frankie Valli makes a cameo in this, too.) But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is directed by uber-lefty Rob Reiner. The movie moves along at a fast clip and, at just over 1.5 hours, it’s the perfect length, too.

Enjoyable and with a happy, if predictable, ending. (This is one of the few movies that is actually far better than its trailer.)


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Lucy“: I expected better from this movie, and I’m usually a fan of Luc Besson. This isn’t a horrible movie, but it’s not a great one, either. It’s not tight and well-crafted, and below what I usually expect from Besson, who directed this. The first half of the movie is good, suspenseful, and action-packed. But the second half is a mess and bored me. The thing about science fiction movies of this ilk is that you can only suspend disbelief so much. My general rule of mental suspension of disbelief is this: only one thing can defy reality. Too many things, and I just don’t believe it or find it credible or enjoyable anymore. And that’s the case here: the one thing that would cause me to experience a credible suspension of disbelief is then topped by many others that simply aren’t credible or sensical.

In this movie, Scarlett Johansson is forcibly subjected to surgery in which a Korean mobster inserts a powerful, unusual drug into her body and then forces her to become a drug courier. But the pouch containing the drug leaks into her body, and the drug causes her to become supersmart and able to use up to 100% of her brain, which the movie tells us is far more then the proverbial 10-20% of the brain that some claim that we use (that, by the way, is a myth–we all already use 100% of our brains, according to brain surgeons and other medical professionals in the know). That Johansson becomes hypersmart and superstrong is something about which I could suspend my disbeliefs.

But, then, she starts controlling the internet, computers, phone lines, people and their guns, and all matter, and she’s able to go forward into the future, backward into the past, and able to stop time. At that point the movie becomes a silly mess I wasn’t buying. And that’s the point at which the movie begins borrowing heavily from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Transcendence” (read my review), which most other critics panned, but which I found semi-interesting and entertaining until it, too, became an all-controlling mess just like “Lucy” (and in which Morgan “Whites Are Racist” Freeman plays a similar role as in this–come on Hollywood, stop repeating yourself like a fart).

This movie is incredibly violent. But, as with most Besson movies, there is clear good and evil, and the violence is ultimately against the bad guys. Still, I just didn’t find the movie to be as good as I was expecting it to be. Moral of the story: don’t believe the hype. Johansson and this movie are getting a lot of that. But they don’t merit it here. Not so much, anyway.

The movie isn’t objectionable, but just isn’t up to snuff. At least not to my liking.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Hercules“: More like, “Not Hercules.” This silly “re-imagining” of the story about the Greek demigod really has nothing to do with anything. It’s like someone made a long, boring, silly flick so that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson could be half naked for 1.5 hours and get paid, and then stuck the name “Hercules” on the movie. And it’s funny that all of the Greek kings and minions–and everybody else–in the movie have English accents, while only Johnson has an American accent, and it’s never explained why (other than that he was too lazy to try one or the movie was too stupid to try to make sense).

I note that the other “Hercules” movie, “The Legend of Hercules,” which debuted early this year was panned by critics (though not by me–read my review). This makes that version look like a masterpiece.

This long bore made the 1.5 hours seem more like 15 hours. And it’s quite violent, with men being shown burned alive, lots of beheadings and dismemberments, and so on (which I’d hate to see in 3D–I saw this in 2D, but you can shell out extra bucks for the charming thrill of seeing limbs fly in your face). Lots of fighting in this “300”-wannabe, but not much in the story department. Also, a guy sticks his finger into a month-old rotting dismembered head and then eats what he digs out. Yuck.

The “story”: Hercules is a man who may or may not be the son of a god and a mortal. He may or may not have special powers. But he’s never proven any of this. He and his band of fighters doubt it and think he’s just a mighty con artist thug who can fight, just like them. And he’s a mercenary who fights for the highest bidding kings, doing their dirty work. He’s sent out to fight legions of troops who are harassing a king and his kingdom. But soon, Hercules learns he’s been set up and must discover and prove whether or not he has the powers of a demigod to fight off the evil king.

Who cares? I certainly didn’t. I couldn’t wait for this movie to end, and that was just a minute after it started (or maybe 30 seconds). Snooze-fest extraordinaire.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “A Most Wanted Man“: The only thing you need to know about this long, boring, waste-of-time movie is that it’s based on a John Le Carre novel. As I’ve noted before on this site, the far left Le Carre a/k/a David Cornwell hates Israel and Jews and loves Muslims and Arabs, whom he sees as innocent victims of the West. Oh, and he also hates America and loves Communists to the point that he proudly declared how he nearly became a double agent for the Soviets while a member of British intelligence. Almost all of those sentiments are sharply on display here in this incredibly unthrilling “thriller.”

In his last movie, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman looks every day of his 66 years, except for the fact that he died at 46. His role in this movie shows us yet again, why he was no loss to acting or movies. It’s a mess, and so is he.

The story: a Chechen Muslim comes illegally immigrates to Germany, and a German intelligence group run by Hoffman (with a really bad German accent that he uses only about 60% of the time) is trying to use him to unwittingly frame another Muslim who is the father of another Muslim who is an informant to Hoffman. Got that? Yeah, it’s confusing, and really kinda stupid when you get to the conclusion of the movie in which nothing really happens (other than evil Americans messing everything up). On top of that, Rachel McAdams plays a German lawyer for illegal aliens who is trying to protect the Chechen Muslim and coaches him on what to say so he can get asylum (sound familiar? Texas border, anyone?). McAdams, by the way, went to the same Crappy German Accent University at which Hoffman matriculated. She is then forced by Hoffman into getting the Chechen Muslim to unwittingly frame the father of the other guy, the Muslim informant.

Throughout this, an evil American female CIA agent (Sean “Spicoli” Penn’s former wife, Robin Wright) is hovering over Hoffman, annoying him and threatening to mess up his operation with the American “exuberance” to actually catch and lock up Islamic terrorists. But, of course, the “evil,” “bigoted,” “headstrong,” “anti-Muslim” Americans don’t get that this Chechen Muslim is not a terrorist, but just a peaceful, good, innocent guy who is legitimately escaping torture he experienced at the hands of non-Muslims. I mean, isn’t that the case with all Muslim illegal aliens and immigrants to America?

Yeah, that’s the ticket. . . in John Le Carre’s warped mind. Which this movie reflects.

Alhamdulilah [praise allah] and Hollywood. And Mr. Al-Carre.


Watch the trailer . . .

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22 Responses

I would say anti-Semites and Israel haters are going to boycott Luc Besson’s movie because of its lead star.

They won’t show it in the Muslim World. Oh no great loss.

NormanF on July 25, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Watched “Lucy”. All of it. Fortunately, for free. It ranks with “Divergent” as one of the worst sci-fi movies of this year. Morgan Freeman is completely wasted – his role required no particular set of acting skills so why did he do it? There is no character development. And the plot holes are huge. Others say it may be the worse movie of all time, but that would be a large brush to check out. Awful, awful film.

    Ron on August 1, 2014 at 9:28 pm

“uber-lefty Rob Reiner”

Deal breaker for me. I despise “meathead” so deeply, that I wouldn’t spit on him if he were on fire.

“Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson”

A moron.

“Philip Seymour Hoffman looks every day of his 66 years, except for the fact that he died at 46.”


DS_ROCKS! on July 25, 2014 at 9:39 pm


donnied on July 25, 2014 at 10:32 pm

[LSD acid power trip returns from the sixties] sounds like a rehash of “Limitless” released not that long ago

donnied on July 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Johnson, for a former wrestler, will one day become a huge star with the right vehicle. Reminds me of an early Hercules movie with Arnold in the lead. His accent as so thick, they were forced to add a Don Pardo-like voice to re-speak his dialogue. Absolutely hilarious. I don’t think we have had a decent Hercules since Steve Reeves honestly.

#1 Vato on July 25, 2014 at 10:46 pm

I agree with Debbie that this has been the worst summer ever for movies. In particular, I’ve hated the Marvel sequels. The other films have been bad, too. Again, agreeing with Debbie, “Transcendence” was the one exception.

The funny thing is that if you look at the Rotten Tomatoes scores for movies this summer, you’d think there had never been a better time for movies! The critics are just loving what’s being made and released. Gee, I wonder what that signifies. (As if I didn’t know.)

As for “Lucy,” I liked this film a little better than Debbie did. It was definitely unrealistic to the point of being silly and campy. I didn’t mind all that much, though. I figured Besson wanted to create something light and diverting rather than realistic and involving, and that’s what he did. Johansson plays the role with deadpan seriousness as if everything that’s happening is natural, and that was part of the sly humor.

The first part of the movie was particularly good (as Debbie points out). In particular, the first twenty minutes were done in realistic style and the characters (of the boyfriend and drug kingpin) were made so evil all I could think was how much I wanted Johansson to develop super powers quickly so she could beat them all up. Then the story became increasingly ridiculous and I began to realize that Luc Besson was trying less for “Taken” and more for “The Sixth Element” (the latter being Besson’s most commercially successful film, by the way).

Besson is a reliable conservative, but he sneaks in bits of economic populism here and there: Morgan Freeman states sadly that “the world is still too in love with profit” to deal wisely with Johansson’s new power–a sop to mainstream prejudice against free enterprise and business.

Burke on July 26, 2014 at 9:01 am

“Lucy” seems to me a cousin of the great John Woo’s “Face/Off” (1997). But I’ll have to go see for myself. I found Besson’s recent “Brick Mansions” to be a fine action flick — very underrated. God bless the French.

Primetime on July 26, 2014 at 10:55 am

Just watching the trailer I was distracted by Michael Douglas’ obvious face lift. Good grief! The guy used to be all craggy, and suddenly his face looks like a baby’s behind. Diane Keaton appears to have had some work done as well – or else they used some REALLY good lens filters on the cameras. Oh well, at least they used some age-appropriate actors in this film instead of pairing 70-year-old Douglas with a 35 year old actress.

Based on the trailers, I won’t be seeing any of these movies. I’d consider the Douglas/Keaton movie, but I hate Rob Reiner and refuse to enrich him.

MIGirl on July 26, 2014 at 10:57 am

Rob Reiner is indeed an uber lefty. but he make a very good light comedy. Dog sex and masturbation jokes are simply passe, more for the dull-witted than for family entertainment. They are not funny now, and were not funny in 1970 when they first flooded the comedy scene. They show a distinct lack of maturity in the writers, directors and editors and the audience knows it.

pat on July 26, 2014 at 4:25 pm

I will add that I love Scarlett Johahannsen as Natasha Ramanov. SJ has made a determined decision to play action heroines and I think it a most interesting choice. She may not win awards for such features, but she participates in films with big audiences.

pat on July 26, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Sorry Debbie, but not everyone uses 100% of his or her brain. For instance, liberals, progressives, leftists, atheists, Muslims and college/university professors use 50% or less of their brains.

Concerned Citizen on July 26, 2014 at 6:24 pm

The Rock looks like a sissy compared to Clint Walker who used to play Cheyenne on TV in the 50’s. Here is Clint Walker
as Cheyenne:


Shame Clint is older now. Much better than Rock, John Wayne and others.

Fred on July 26, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Heard the Douglas movie was way too cutesy, which I feared. The Scarlett movie had a very false premise (we only use 10% of our brain) which sounded like a plug for man-made global warming.

NormCBS on July 28, 2014 at 8:25 am

After seeing “Behind the Candelabra,” I can never look at Michael Douglas the same way again. {{{{shivering}}}}

SomeDame on July 28, 2014 at 4:23 pm

The next movie up: The Green Prince.

burt on July 30, 2014 at 7:49 am

Great job. I always know which movies to stay away from by reading your comments, Deborah.

Mats on July 31, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Boy, I couldn’t disagree with you more about “A Most Wanted Man.” The prism you saw it through is decidedly different than mine. I have been a sucker for good spy movies since “The Ipcress File.” I’m probably the only person alive who knows that “Funeral In Berlin” was made into a movie. Issa is a sad-sack dope, and Rachel McAdams’ character is a dupe. Hoffman’s character just eviserates her with his observation that all her activism is just a sophomoric attempt to get back at her well-positioned father. There is nothing in this movie which honors Islam or attempts to explain its practices away. Its major identity in the movie is nothing more than a money launderer, who knows exactly that he is directing funds to terrorists. Hoffman drinks and smokes excessively and it’s a little ham-fisted on the part of the director to show that his character is essentially burnt out; that this operation is the last flicker of Hoffman’s dying flame. But what is the most aggravating, and most frustrating because it trips up the movie, is the presence of Robin Wright as an actress, and her CIA character as a role. I deliberately did not read anything about this movie, but from the moment she appeared I had two thoughts, 1) That’s Claire Underwood from House of Cards, and 2) Don’t trust a damn thing she says or does. So much for shading your story or shading your character. It was a subtle movie with little ripples and then SPLASH we drop into the pond THE BIG BAD, SIMPLE AMERICAN. So much for subtlety. The ending just killed the movie for me, as much as I enjoyed it right up to that moment. I appreciated the fact that I did not know if the target was going to sign the final document or not. But there was no reason for the Americans to do what they did; Hoffman’s character had perfectly laid out what the goal was; the Americans could have intervened later. Issa was a nothing; he could have been followed, rather than taken. If the point was that the Hamburg police officer wanted Hoffman put in his place, they could have done that by pulling him off the case. I shouldn’t care about this as much as I do, but the ending was a cheat, a lie, and ruined what was for me, a really good spy movie.

gmartinz on August 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm

This is a late follow-up on Debbie’s review of “And So It Goes.” I recently selected this movie on a flight from the east coast to the west coast, after a couple of relaxing hours reading. I found Debbie’s review to be a balanced one, and if you’re seeking some funny, light, quality entertainment, this movie would be a good selection. Although the core of the story concerns a second chance at love between seniors who have lost their spouses, I’d agree that you don’t have to be a senior to appreciate this movie. The script by Mark Andrus (who also wrote “As Good As It Gets”) is smartly written, the characters are well developed, and the payoff is sweet and tender. Sure, you’ll know exactly where the story is ultimately going from virtually the start of the movie, but the journey along that plot line has enough twists and changes
to keep the proceedings interesting, funny, and heart-warming.

The script seems like it was written with Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas in mind for the roles they play, with Keaton drawing on her role as Annie in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” (with a similar hat and her performance as a night club singer), and with Douglas drawing on a older, comical, lighter version of the Gordon Gekko character from “Wall Street” (at least at the start of movie, before he mellows further as the story develops).

As for director Rob Reiner, I wouldn’t hold his politics against him here. The Reiners have been a very talented family (starting with Rob’s father, the legendary comic Carl Reiner), and Rob Reiner’s decades of experience in comedy performing, writing, and producing. Rob Reiner does a cameo performance in the movie as the pianist for Diane Keaton’s musical act, and he makes fun of himself in his brief role. Most directors who appear in their movies don’t ever make fun of themselves, except the exceptional ones, like Alfred Hitchcock. And Reiner, to his credit, does not typically work his politics into the movies he’s directing.

Ralph Adamo on January 23, 2015 at 6:38 pm

I have been using your reviews as a guide for many years now–I agree with you about 80%. this is one I disagree on. Hercules is not boring and has a great twist on the story. maybe its a male female thing- I put off watching this movie cuz of you- wish I had not. its not an emmy its exactly what I wanted it to be.

mark on August 22, 2015 at 12:18 am

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