September 19, 2014, - 6:01 pm

Wknd Box Office: The Guest, A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Maze Runner, This Is Where I Leave You, My Old Lady

By Debbie Schlussel

Two movies I liked among the new offerings in theaters today (I did not see “Tusk”–sorry):

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* “The Guest“: I very much enjoyed this movie until almost the end when it devolves into a little silliness and anti-government baloney. The movie is almost a parody of 1980s and late 1970s thrillers, complete with a 1980s soundtrack and background music reminiscent of the movies of that era. The movie is ironic, funny, and very kitschy and campy (for instance, the family in the movie has the world’s biggest collection of Halloween pumpkins). British actor Dan Stevens (of “Downton Abbey” fame) does a great American accent as the mysterious star of the film.

The story: Stevens arrives at the home of a family grieving the death of their son/brother, a soldier in Iraq who was killed there. Stevens says he was in the son’s unit, and that the son wanted him to tell the family how much he loved them. So he came to town to tell them. They believe the story because Stevens is in the photo of the son’s unit in Iraq. Soon, Stevens has insinuated himself into the family, beating up the football players who terrorize the younger son, and helping the family in other ways. But mysterious things begin happening, and people are found dead. Can’t say more, but that I enjoyed the ride, until we find out who he is and why he is doing these things. I didn’t like that anti-government aspect of it. But I did like the ending.







Especially if you grew up in the ’70s and ’80s–as I did–you’ll like this. Fun and entertaining (but probably not a good match for people over 50 or 55). For us chicks, Stevens looks very hot in this movie (nothing like in the staid “Downton Abbey”), and there is a retro-style, gratuitous shirtless scene in the movie that is spot-on ’80s cheesy. Sorry, guys.

TWO REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “A Walk Among the Tombstones“: Although I dislike Liam Neeson since he became an Islamo-pandering blithering idiot (and said he wanted to convert to this cult of death), I mostly liked this movie. I disliked and always abhor the torture porn aspect of it, although that isn’t shown so much as heard (in sound bites of descriptions and screaming). Still, the movie is suspenseful, full of action and surprises, and it’s definitely thrilling. It’s quite violent, and so I wouldn’t take kids to see it (plus the language). And I was surprised in this day and age of political uber-correctness that Hollywood allowed the plotline–of two gay lovers being the serial killer villains in this–to go forward. And, no, that needed no spoiler alert as it doesn’t take anything away from your suspense, surprise, and thrills.

Neeson is a retired New York cop who is also a recovering alcoholic. He quit the force after killing two murderers and wounding the third, all while he was drunk and on the job. He’s now a private investigator, and he’s hired by a drug dealer (Dan Stevens–yup, same guy as in “The Guest” in the review above), to find out who killed the drug dealer’s wife. During the course of his investigation, Neeson attends AA meetings and meets a smart Black homeless kid (stock magical Black friend character–check, check, check!) who helps him figure out the internet (as if a PI today wouldn’t know how to navigate it himself).

The movie is quite creepy, but in a thrilling, suspenseful creepitude. And that makes a movie like this work.

While there is stark evil in this movie (and some semi-good), Neeson doesn’t fantasize about for whom he’s working. He dislikes and at first refuses working for a drug dealer. But he pursues justice anyway. And the bad guys get theirs in the end–always the best part of a movie like this.

Neeson is successful as an aging action hero while Stallone and Schwarzenegger look well beyond retirement. This movie is Exhibit A of that.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “The Maze Runner“: I struggled to stay awake during this absolute bore. It’s yet another “dystopian youth struggle” brought to film from a successful Young Adult series of novels. Yaaaaawn. How many of these are they gonna make? Next!

The story: teens, whose memories of their lives on earth are erased, are shipped to a place in the middle of nowhere. They must survive on the land and avoid being caught at night in the maze that surrounds it. The teens designated to try to learn the maze are known as “The Runners.” But even they stay away from the maze at night because you get chased and killed by giant computerized spiders, and the maze changes and crushes you to death. The movie centers on one teen male sent to this place, who defies the odds and bests the maze, and how he uses this feat to fight off rivals and try to help everyone escape. Yup, boring (and very repetitive), but the stage is already set for the sequels. Mega-caffeine shots, please!

Snore-fest galore.

HALF A MARX
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “This is Where I Leave You“: Oy gevalt. This movie isn’t in 3D but it does have the Three Ds–dumb, dopey, and dimwitted.

I hated every single person in this absolutely awful waste of time, especially Hanoi Jane Fonda, who talks endlessly about sex and penises and has a prolongued lesbian kiss in this movie. Please, make it stop. All of the people in this movie, including the “rabbi,” remind me why I hate most Reformed Jews so much. They know zilch about Judaism, they smoke pot and sleep around, and they just make me sick. And that’s pretty much every spoiled, self-centered character in this movie. The Reformed synagogue (temple) scene is spot on. Nobody knows any prayers or Hebrew words, and they pretend to mouth the words of a Hebrew hippie song while a lesbian-looking “cantor”-ette in a yarmulke strums guitar. Then, a bunch of ’em sneak out to smoke pot and set off the smoke alarms sprinklers.

The story: four neurotic, annnoying siblings (none of whom looks anything alike or related in the least) and their equally neurotic, annoying spouses get together to “sit shiva” (Jewish mourning) for their late father, a Jewish atheist. Their mother, Fonda–an annoying, sex-obsessed therapist–is not Jewish and has new fake boobs. Yes, these kids really aren’t Jewish, but welcome to Reform “Judaism.” They sit, whine, smoke pot, get into dumb melodrama, sleep around, and otherwise fill two wasted hours of your time you’ll never ever get back. The thing is: they sit for seven days, when most Conservative and Reform Jews barely mourn a day or two, so the movie wasn’t accurate (only Orthodox Jews actually do the required seven days of “shiva”).

The main character is Jason Bateman, who discovers his wife cheated on him for a year with his boss. He’s the only “decent,” “normal” person in this movie. He reconnects with an old flame who is still in love with him. His sister fights with her husband and reconnects with her former flame who had a brain injury. Bateman’s other ex-girlfriend is married to one of his brothers, and she is hitting on Bateman and tries to sleep with him. Bateman’s younger brother is a spoiled brat who is engaged to an older, rich woman. Oh, and mom, Jane Fonda, is a lesbian.

Not that I cared about any of this. Again, I hated these people and wondered why I got stuck watching their stupid reality show. Don’t pay to repeat my mistake (and that’s aside from avoiding giving a penny to that America-hating plastic surgery victim hag, Hanoi Jane). Skip this like the plague. You know every crazy, excessively dysfuncational character in this crappy movie voted for Obama and so did the real-life actors who played them. Wish I could have sent a squad of ISIS terrorists in to take care of these people.

For you, “This Is Where I Leave You” should literally be the point far before you contemplate heading to the theater. Leave this before buying a ticket. Anyone who’d wanna see this is a sado-masochist. High-quality Gitmo torture material.

FOUR MARXES PLUS FOUR OBAMAS PLUS FOUR BIN LADENS PLUS FOUR ISIS BEHEADINGS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “My Old Lady“: Not sure what the point of this was. It was long, slow, and boring.

The story: Kevin Kline is a washed up thrice-divorced man in his ’60s with no money and nothing to show for his life. His father died and left him a valuable apartment in Paris, which he visits in the hopes of selling it and making some money to better his financial position and pay his debts. But he learns that the apartment was bought by his father in a weird arrangement in which the 90-something-year-old woman living in it gets to live there for life. And he can only sell it with that proviso, making it far less valuable. The woman allows him to move in and rent a room, and he bickers with the woman’s daughter who also lives there. But, then, predictably, they fall in love. However, at this point, he already knows that the 90-something chick was his father’s lover and he wonders if the woman he’s sleeping with is really his half-sister. Not that there’s much wonder in that, as the question is quickly answered right after it’s raised. Um, shouldn’t the DNA test come BEFORE you sleep with a woman who might be your sis? Just askin’.

Yup, “charming” story. Who cares? I didn’t.

ONE MARX
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Watch the trailer . . .

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29 Responses

I guess making good movies is a lost art. I do know that anything with Fonda would not be on my list. But I rarely go to the movies, anyway. I sense I’m not missing much. Thanks, Debbie for sitting through this dreck.

JeffT on September 19, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Are you kidding? I would rather die than suffer through a dozen of those badly-lit, badly-acted assembly-line movies from 60 or 70 years ago.

    Primetime on September 20, 2014 at 11:25 am

      Assembly line movies from years ago that were “terrible,” huh? Without underlining or putting in quotations, here we go: The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Casablanca, Stagecoach, Rebecca, Suspicion, The Grapes of Wrath, The Informer, Rope, Lifeboat, The Magnificent Ambersons, Notorious, The Third Man, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The African Queen (1951).

      My favorite foreign film? Kurosawa’s Stray Dog, 1949. I love noir detective novels.

      There’s 16, all before or during 1951 (60 years ago is your cut off). Essentially, ALL Of these movies are 64 years or older. The greatest mentioned, Casablanca, is from 1942. There’s not a single dang movie in the past 20 years that could touch one of them.

      I don’t go to most modern Hollywood films. The actors can’t act, the writers can’t write.

      Occam's Tool on September 22, 2014 at 4:26 pm

        Sorry, The African Queen is 63 years old.

        Occam's Tool on September 22, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      It is generally considered by a multitude of film critics that 1939 was the Golden Year of Hollywood. If something is Black & White, my kids won’t watch it. I do understand what you say.

      #1 Vato on September 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I saw “A Walk Among the Tombstones”and didn’t care for it. However, I agree with Debbie that at least there was no attempt to make the film politically correct, so that was in its favor.

There was very little realism or grittiness. Instead there was a long chain of loopy absurdities which heightened the emotion of the film but not the feeling of authenticity. It all reminded me of a Charlie’s Angels episode where the evildoers invariably turned out to be weird perverts rather than ruthless criminals. In other words, it was essentially a crime story geared mostly to women (to this end, casting Neeson didn’t hurt). Then there was this “cute” side story involving a Black kid with sickle cell anemia…

Burke on September 20, 2014 at 8:54 am

    A magical black kid who’s wise beyond his years and “there was no attempt to make the film politically correct”? Why was he in the film?

    rick on September 20, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Does Liam Neisen do only “retired, alcoholic and down in my luck former cop/CIA, called back to save the day”, movies now?

Pete on September 20, 2014 at 9:18 am

I haven’t been to the movies in years and I’m not going to start now.

Neeson gives me the creeps. Fonda is still denying she’s had plastic surgery. They have no value.

lexi on September 20, 2014 at 11:35 am

This is Where I Leave You.

An aptly named movie. It is hard to read your description without concluding that anti-semitism played a role in the creation of this movie.

Judaism is not the only religion with self-haters, and it is not the only religion which has adherents who have departed, sometimes drastically from the traditions on which the religion has been founded. Yet this is the religion that is featured in so many movies, including, at least historically, many of Woody Allen’s.

Especially with Hanoi Jane included in the cast, it is hard not to think that at least to some degree this movie is an implicit attack on Israel.

Little Al on September 20, 2014 at 11:48 am

We know better to stay away from any movie that has Jane Fonda in it! Can’t stand Marxist Hollywood idiot! Jan Fonda deserves to be taxed so heavily that she has to move into a double wide trailer in San Bernardino!

samatha on September 20, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Is that Adam Driver in that annoying, fake Jewish movie DS hated? I love how we’re supposed to think he’s good-looking. I’d need a crackpipe the size of Russia to be anywhere near that notion. I’m not blind yet! Sheesh!

Liam Neeson has definitely re-made his career. He’s the go-to film star to do these sorts of films. Too bad about the Islamo-Love. That’s all I think of when I see him now.

It’s a wonder I am such a movie fan with all the crapola they make these days.

That Brit dude in the 2 films…he must have been the one killed off in DA. I have never seen the show but really would like to. I love period pieces so I know I will like it…

Skunky on September 20, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Times like these, I appreciate my local AMC megaplex consistently having foreign movies in general, and Bollywood particularly. While other chains have been languishing with this year’s crapper product, AMC wisely used this downer season to expand their alternative product offerings. They’ve got three B-wood movies and the semi-charming Cantinflas this week,

And Skunky, Dan Stevens’s character was killed off, and in my opinion, the series went down after that season. His departure, and the departures of Siobhan Finneran and Jessica Brown Findlay, while initially led to some good material at the open of the next season, left the door open for too many Cousin Oliver/Scrappy Doo tropes.

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Line Cookie Run Cheat 2014 on September 20, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I saw “The Maze Runner” and recommend it to eight-year-old boys. It had scary monsters, walls that close up on you, and a lot of characters trying to make sense of unexplained circumstances.

However, unlike Swiss Family Robinson and Mysterious Island–other fantasies for boys which this film superficially resembles–the adults are shown here as corrupt, stupid and irrelevant. Notice the contrast to Lord of the Flies: at the very end of that classic, adults reenter to reintroduce reason and civilization; here they reenter at the end only to prove their complete worthlessness.

Compared to a string of other recent dystopian tales (which Debbie rightly condemns), this film has a couple advantages. The world is destroyed by an environmental catastrophe, yes, but it’s not due to too much fossil fuel consumption but rather because the sun suddenly got “too hot.” See, we told you the problem was sun spots, liberals! Also, in a story where the single female introduced is marginalized, made hysterical and brought in late in the story solely as window dressing, it can’t be complained this is another feminist parable.

Burke on September 21, 2014 at 11:03 am

skunky: Catch the first two seasons of Downton Abbey on DVD — think you’ll like them. Dan Stevens’ character, Matthew, is done very well; a bit “stiff and staid,” to paraphrase DS, but well done.
Thought “Tombstones” was okay, but agree with the poster who said it wasn’t “gritty” enough. Worth seeing, IMHO, and has a good story; especially liked that the bad guys “got it” in the end (most appropriately; would like to kill them myself, they’re such scumbags!). One hopes that Neeson will one day wake the hell up and recognize Islamonazism for what it really is, but he obviously is the “go-to” guy for these kinds of roles in the mid-twenty-teens, and normally does a good job in those roles, as he does here.
Didn’t even recognize Dan Stevens in the role he played in “Tombstones,” till the end of the flick! Also liked the very close, when the camera pulls back from Neeson’s Brooklyn apartment and shows Manhattan with the twin towers standing (most of the action occurs in 1999). Nicely done, and I suppose a comment on what life in NYC was like before 9-11.

jc15 on September 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

The Block novels are good. Won’t waste my time on any of these.

Hey, wouldn’t it be great some time if someone did a biopic of Ernst Boris Chain developing the process for mass synthesis of penicillin and saving countless lives as a result? Of course, that would mean having a Jew as a hero.

Or how about Salk, who ended up married to one of the Century’s outstanding women, and did not patent his polio vaccine. How about showing Haaaaaavard slamming the doors in his face because he was Jewish, eh?

No, all we get is antisemitic dreck from Fonda.

Occam's Tool on September 21, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I love the new rating system’s “FOUR ISIS BEHEADINGS.” I lol’ed.

DS_ROCKS! on September 21, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Me too, DSR. I posted something but it didn’t go thru’ (not this site’s problem, I lost my internet connection…)

Just looking at the rating makes me LOLOL! 😀

Skunky on September 21, 2014 at 4:18 pm

I saw the A Walk Among the Tombstones. I liked it and as Debbie says, it is creepy. Refreshing that gays can be presented as evil psychotic butchers who hate women. And the Hispanic robbers in the beginning of the movie – so un-PC. Our local movie reviewer, Bill Wine a/k/a Bill Whine, gave it a “D” on the grade scale and basically trashed it. This coming from a reviewer who loves crap movies that are PC and/or America-hating. Of course, Whine doesn’t like movies that present gays and minorities as bad.

Concerned Citizen on September 22, 2014 at 10:10 am

Haven’t been able to check out the guest yet so I don’t know if it’s a Hollywood visitor I’d welcome.

japple on September 22, 2014 at 5:14 pm

There was a time when gays on film always died tragically or were murderers (the classic book on this is The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies by Vito Russo). That time is long gone, so it’s hard to argue that gays are being negatively stereotyped nowadays.

I admit I am impatient, though, for some true stories about man-hating feminists, stupid females saved by intelligent men, felonious blacks and hispanics, and so forth. I will not even rent a video that has a heroic black or womon in the lead role. Most heroes in the West are white men. I expect films to take this into account.

skzion on September 22, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Excellent analysis and comments, as usual, skzion.

Burke on September 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I saw “My Old Lady” it was a decent film and Maggie Smith gave a very good performance and just about any film with Kristin Scott Thomas in it is worth seeing. Kevin Kline tends to overact in films.

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I would definitely recommend The Guest movie for all of the movie fans out here. It is the bestest movie of 2014. Amazing movie, amazing story and amazing characters. Bottom up for Adam Wingard.

Noelle on January 12, 2015 at 3:38 am

The chances are you want to watch this movie because of Liam Neeson, who’s popularity skyrocketed the last 4-5 years because of such movies as Taken and Taken 2.

Well, Neeson is the only reason that this movie doesn’t suck entirely.

In this movie he is a traumatized ex-cop who hunts down a couple of psychopath killers. The pace of the movie is pretty slow. Don’t expect Taken-like scenes in this one. No big surprises script-wise either. Pretty much standard stuff.

The music could be more suitable for a haunted house horror film, and although there are some scenes in a cemetery the title is misleading.

The narrative is somehow difficult to grasp. There aren’t constant flashbacks as in other movies but for the first half of the movie many viewers are confused about the timeline of some events.

Also the movie is rather long. This simple premise could have been resolved in far less time than its 1h:54m running time.

Check it out only if you are a hardcore Liam Neeson fan.

Poze on January 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm

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