August 7, 2015, - 1:39 pm

Wknd Box Office: The Gift, Ricki and the Flash, Fantastic Four, Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary

By Debbie Schlussel

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This weekend’s new movie releases includes one of the most clever and tight thrillers I’ve seen in a while and one of the most torturous, left-wing PC movies I’ve seen in the last several years. Remember, this is August, the Pet Cemetery of movies, where Hollywood sends bad movies to die a quick, painless death.

















* “The Gift“: This is the clever, tight psychological thriller I told you about. It deserves better placement than August. The more I thought about this movie after seeing it, the better I liked it. It’s smart, suspenseful, and well-written. One of the my favorite actors, Joel Edgerton, wrote, directed, and stars in this. It’s entertaining and quickly moves along. At this point, it’s in my top ten movies for the year, maybe even top five.

It’s difficult to properly review this movie without giving it away. But the movie is a lot of things, all packed effectively into one. It’s about how sometimes the person who appears to be the bully is really the bullied and vice versa. And it’s about how sometimes the behavior and evil tactics of kids lasts a lifetime. It’s also a revenge fantasy.

Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall are a young couple who’ve just returned to his native Southern California after he’s received a job promotion. They run into Joel Edgerton a/k/a “Gordo,” with whom Bateman went to school as a kid. Bateman is weirded out by Gordo. And the weirding out continues as Gordo starts to pop by the couple’s very cool mid-century modern home. A bottle of wine from him mysteriously appears inside their home, and, soon, fish appear in their previously empty koi pond. Then, he gets himself invited to dinner by Bateman’s “naive” wife (Hall). All of this annoys Bateman, who feels he’s being stalked in an ever escalating way and wants it to stop.

But things aren’t always as they seem. And, as with any good thriller, there are many hints as to what is really going on. Bateman seems to be rude and arrogant. Gordo–whom Bateman says they called, “Gordo the Weirdo,” in school–is somewhat sympathetic as a stalker because he is seemingly well-meaning and socially needy loser. And you never really know a person, even the one you are married to.

My one minor issue with this movie is that Rebecca Hall, with short hair, resembled and kept reminding me of K.D. Lang or Rachel Maddow, which was kind of distracting. I didn’t think she had chemistry with Jason Bateman and never thought a character of her caliber would have ended up with Bateman in the first place, but often that does happen in real life.

Another thing: I predicted some of the things that would happen, but that’s only because I’ve seen so many movies, you learn to think based on clues and prompts. Most of this isn’t predictable at all, and that’s part of what makes it a well-honed film. Also, the cinematography in this movie is beautiful, from the home–which is almost a character in and of itself in the film–to the shots of the scenery and city lights at night.

This movie really struck a nerve with me because it reminded me of a bully who used to attack me relentlessly in middle school. A classmate of mine at Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit, Erik Klein (or maybe it’s Eric Klein), not only attacked me non-stop for no reason, but he did it repeatedly years and years later when I’d have these strange coincidences of running into him at various places over the years. He was the bully who never grew up, never became an adult, and never ceased his cruel behavior. (I’ll put up some more about that later.)

But even if this movie hadn’t struck a chord with me personally, I’d still rave about this film because it is well done, carefully crafted, and has a subtly bad character type with whom I think we’ve all had a run-in sometime in life.

Go see this.

FOUR REAGANS
reagancowboyreagancowboyreagancowboyreagancowboy

Watch the trailer . . .

* “Ricki and the Flash“: This heavily pimped and promoted waste of time was painful to watch. And so laden with left-wing hatred of conservatives, it was basically unwatchable. Not surprising, given that the movie was written by tattoo-covered former stripper Diablo Cody.

If I told you about a woman who abandoned her husband and young children to move to Los Angeles and try to become a rock star; if I told you that woman was a loser who never made it, worked as a cashier at Whole Foods, smoked pot and drank too much, lived in a flea bag apartment complex, was completely broke, played in her crappy cover band at a trashy bar at night, and still dressed like a Grace Slick/Cher wannabe into her 60s complete with nasty, ratty hair, and trashy, dark, Goth eye make-up–would you assume this woman was a liberal Democrat or a “racist, bigoted” conservative Republican?

If you guessed the former, you would be dead wrong. Everyone knows that loser, druggie, never-been wannabe rock stars who abandon their families are conservative Republican racist! Oh, and did I mention that the abandoned family is a politically correct set of cliched narratives who have the moral high ground over the mother/wife who abandoned them?

Meryl Streep is “Ricki Randazzo”–the fake name and character she has assumed since she left for L.A. years ago. But she’s really Linda, a cashier at “Total Foods” (which is certainly supposed to be Whole Foods, complete with rip-off jokes about spending your “Total Paycheck”–real life: “Whole Paycheck”–at the place; and, by the way, a better reason not to shop at Whole Foods is that it supports HAMAS terrorists and is Islamophiliac). Ricki left her rich husband, Kevin Kline, and their three young kids so that she could pursue her dream of becoming the next Joan Jett. But she failed in that conquest.

And, while Ricki chasing her ambitions, a hot, saintly Black woman took her place and raised those troublesome, evil White kids in Ricki’s place. Oh, and did I mention that unlike Ricki, the hot, saintly Black chick is a terrific cook, fabulous mother, terrific home decor maven, and devoted, drug-free nurse? Ricki is, as I’ve said, a pot smoking alcoholic, plus she can’t cook.

But, one day, Ricki gets a call from Kevin Kline to let her know that their daughter, Streep’s real-life, mini-me daughter, Mamie Gummer, has attempted suicide and is a hot mess after her husband left her. Streep is asked to come to Indianapolis to help heal her daughter and talk her back to normalcy.

While Ricki does manage to thaw her relationship with her estranged daughter and nurse her back to mental health, there is a problem: Ricki is a conservative Republican who voted for George W. Bush twice, engages in “racist” anti-Obama needling of her one Black band member, and is “intolerant” of her gay son’s homosexuality because she heretofore thought he was bisexual and would choose to become straight. And, also, her son rants that because she twice voted for Bush, she kept him from having a gay marriage to his boyfriend. The movie is instantly dated and anachronistic, given that the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, and you haven’t heard a peep from Republicans since the week of the decision. We’ve accepted that we’ve lost and moved on. But not Hollywood.

Ricki soon leaves Indianapolis in a huff after she sees that he kids mostly resent her for abandoning them and they have little in common. Plus she was basically kicked out by the saintly, beautiful Black chick for doing drugs and encouraging her suicidal daughter to skip therapy and go shopping and primping, instead.

But, soon, Ricki is invited to her straight son’s wedding by the saintly Black chick (Ricki’s son didn’t invite her and doesn’t want her there). This is the only good part of the movie: the invitation is so PC that there are only two meal options: Vegan and Vegan/Gluten-Free. And the invitation asks the recipient to “do the right thing”: be environmentally-friendly and plant the invitation into the ground, as it has been embedded with sunflower seeds. “That’s some bougie sh-t!” laughs the bartender at the dive bar where Ricki and her band play.

So, Ricki and her boyfriend, Rick Springfield (who looks good for age 65 in real life but looks nasty and grimy here), travel to Indianapolis for the wedding. And when they are there, they are dressed like aging, trashy rock stars–to the repeated looks of consternation of all the evil, pale-faced, stiff, fuddy-duddy, rich White people at the wedding. Ricki doesn’t have any money to buy a gift for her son and his new wife, so, instead, she and Rick Springfield and their band play Bruce Springsteen and other rock songs at the wedding. This, again, draws the repeated looks of consternation of all the evil, pale-faced, stiff, fuddy-duddy, rich White people who are guests at the wedding and comprise the family of the bride. Because, after all, in the year 2015, White people would never ever ever ever enjoy and dance to rock music being played by a band at a wedding. Never happens. Ever. Including at my cousin’s wedding a month ago (at which a band played rock music and all of us evil, stiff White people danced to it).

I should probably also mention that all of the servers and others working the wedding are quirky butch lesbians with strange haircuts and obtrusive hipster hair colorings. Is that a thing at straight weddings? Who knew?

I should also definitely mention that Ricki, the conservative Republican bigot who abandoned her kids to try to be a rock star, says this when she meets her gay son’s Asian boy friend: “Do you know Bruce Lee?” Yes, all conservative Republicans are so bigoted, so sheltered, so out of touch, that they believe that all Asians know Bruce Lee (and Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu and Olivia Munn and Margaret Cho). Especially conservative Republicans who live in Los Angeles, where there are absolutely no Asians at all.

This movie was painful to watch, but definitely high-quality Gitmo torture material the Obamas would love.

FOUR MARXES PLUS FOUR MICHELLE LAVAUGHN ROBINSON HUSSEIN OBAMA IDI AMIN DADAS PLUS FOUR OBAMAS PLUS TWO ISIS BEHEADINGS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “Fantastic Four“: Fantastic Snore. Or Bore. In a sheer money-grab, Hollywoodites remade a movie that we just saw a decade ago. And they made it worse. The original wasn’t a “great” movie, but it’s a masterpiece compared to this. The 2005 version at east had a tight script and an understandable story. This one meanders and is kinda confusing.

Plus this is so long, slow, and boring, I struggled to stay awake . . . and lost the fight. But I still didn’t miss a thing. The whole movie is a long, slow, pointless slog to barely any action, almost all of which takes place in essentially the last four minutes of the movie. And the pay-off–if you can call it that–wasn’t worth it. The actors in this movie are incredibly dull and lifeless, to boot.

The story: various individuals are recruited to be in some high-tech, super-secret school. One of them is the son of the place’s lead scientist and founder. They are teleported to Planet X, a planet that mirrors earth in many ways. But when they get there, an accident happens with the energy and atmosphere of the planet, transforming one of them into a villain (Dr. Doom), and the others into superheroes with various powers.

Miles Teller, on whom the movie focuses, is a scientific genius and child prodigy, whose limbs now stretch incredible lengths. He is Mr. Fantastic (though this name isn’t uttered in the movie). Michael B. Jordan becomes “The Human Torch” because he can turn himself on fire and spread fire to other entities, parties. Much has been made that he is now Black. That part didn’t bother me because race wasn’t important in this. The lack of any interesting story or plot to speak of, is the problem. Then, there is The Thing and the woman (Kate Mara) who becomes the Invisible Woman after the spaceship returns to the lab while teleporting and causes an accident to which she’s been exposed.

You really don’t get to see much of these characters’ superpowers on display because, as I noted, there is very little action, and most of it is toward the end of the movie. But I didn’t care. Because it was that godawful boring. And because the story and characters were so dull and uninteresting.

I was slightly annoyed, however, that there is a brief plot narrative–the usual for many of these superhero movies–that the “evil” U.S. military wants to (and does) use The Thing to defeat terrorists. Yup, if we had a superhero to save American men’s lives, is it really unethical and evil to use it? Nope. But that’s the attitude of many of these superhero flicks. It’s irritating and oh so stale and tired.

Not much objectionable about this movie, other than what I just mentioned and that it was made in the first place. There was absolutely no reason to redo a movie just ten years old . . . other than more obscene, capitalist profits for Hollywood scum that purport to loathe capitalism and laugh all the way to the bank while doing so.

HALF A REAGAN
halfreagan

Watch the trailer . . .

* “Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary“: Even though this is essentially a 1.5 hour paid commercial for Lego (the company produced it and put up the money), it is interesting. Jason Bateman narrates this (yup, it’s Jason Bateman week at the movies), posing as a Lego character. The movie covers various aspects of the Lego world, from its fans to the history of the company and its products. I loved and played with Lego as a kid (and still sometimes make cool jewelry out of it and I have an incomplete Lego clutch purse I started a while ago–maybe I’ll post some pics in the future), so this was up my alley.

While some of this movie is repetitive and becomes kinda tedious, most of it is very cool eye candy. The coolest part of the “documentary” is the artwork of “Lego artist” Nathan Sawaya. A former corporate lawyer, he quit the legal rat race to create very cool lifelike sculptures and artwork for clients. He said he spends at least six figures a year on Lego bricks (he doesn’t work for the company, though Lego has hired or partnered with him for some artwork and exhibitions). See his stuff, below.

I learned (though I’m not sure I needed to) the name of Lego Trekkies–“AFOLs,” or Adult Fans of Lego. Trust me, their convention is even more nerd-infested than Star Trek conventions. “NLSO” is Non-Lego Significant Other. But even the NLSOs will like this movie. But some of the Lego jargon got ridiculous: a “1 x 5” is a “hot girl” at a Lego convention. And then there are words for various types of rare pieces of Lego and shapes of bricks that are undesirable. And I didn’t need to see the professor whose life’s mission is concocting formulas to discover the possible number of combinations of Lego bricks. Dude, you spent your whole life on that? True, it is a step up from studying overweight lesbian culture and why they’re fat, but just a step. And speaking of fat . . . . A zaftig woman who spends her life building Lego cities and buildings says that girls come up to her and thank her for being a role model. Role model for what? Um, American chicks aim high! Well, at least she’s not a Kardashian.

One scene shows an expert in autism therapy demonstrating how playing with Legos has helped kids with autism tremendously. The movie ignores the utter irony that his name is Dr. Legoff. Coincidence?

Another scene shows a European Lego artist who wants to commemorate the Holocaust by “Lego bombing” a train station from which Jews were shipped to death camps. Lego bombing is the concept of putting rows and rows of Lego into gaps in bricks of buildings. Not sure how this helps remember that Nazis cooked Jews in ovens. In fact, it seemed kind of trivial and blasphemous of their memories, at least to me. But the sentiment and intention is good.

Apparently, NASA uses Lego bricks to help design models for space robots, including the Mars Rover. That’s cool.

Not cool: Lego refuses to produce Lego guns because the company is ensconced in the lefty, socialist, Scandinavian, let-our-countries-be-raped-by-Islam, surrender culture. What is cool: a red-blooded capitalist American who believes in the Second Amendment, started his own company, Brickarms, which makes Lego guns. It’s weird that Lego has commissioned and encouraged the creation of lifelike Lego scenes of the battles at Normandy and Fallujah. Um, what does Lego think they fought these battles with–Q-tips?

The movie spends a good amount of time on the making of Lego movies, many of which are posted on YouTube. The people who make these have incredible patience, as the filming is shot with repeated still shots after a single brick is moved just so slightly. But, then, we’re told that there is Lego porn. Um, no thanks. Glad they only mentioned it in passing.

Like I said, eventually, the movie got a little long and told me stuff I didn’t need to know. Overall, though, a very cool and entertaining documentary . . . even if it is really a paid commercial.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
reagancowboyhalfreagan

Watch the trailer . . .

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18 Responses

I will probably see ‘The Gift’ this weekend!

Karen on August 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Poor Debbie! First, she gets hit by a texting driver. Then, she had to sit through ” “Ricki and the Flash.”

OT: I wrote to my Senator, Chuck Schumer, and he just came out against Obama’s Iran deal. I was wondering about Debbie’s thoughts.

Barry Popik on August 7, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Meryl Streep is unwatchable. Period.

    lexi on August 10, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Debbie I recommend you purchase a large Chev Suburban or similar type vehicle. They are heavy, strong, have a truck frame and will give you much more protection in an accident. I have been reading your web site for about 10 years. I have not written a comment before. I am a Jewish political conservative. I am a constitutional federalist. So almost all of the executive agencies of the US Gov’t are unconstitutional and they should be abolished, all funding cut off, every employee rusticated, every rule, law, regulation, program ended, repealed, terminated. In this sense, I am far to the right of the Tea Party and I know these things will never happen.

man from laramie on August 7, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Oh dear lord, Ricki and the flash sounds awful, Streep is talented, why she would make such crap is beyond me. The gift sounds like a movie I would enjoy. I am glad you are ok and feeling better.

mindy on August 7, 2015 at 5:25 pm

In answer to ‘mindy’s’ question as to why Ms. Streep would make such movies: She’s as much a doctrinaire leftist as the film’s writer Diablo Cody is, and thus would agree with all the premises pushed in that flick. Remember, in the 1990’s she was among those who supported the leftist fearmongering over alar sprayed on apples – just as one example among many.

ConcernedPatriot on August 8, 2015 at 1:30 am

“Because, after all, in the year 2015, White people would never ever ever ever enjoy and dance to rock music being played by a band at a wedding.”
Please, Leftists revel in Bruce Springsteen’s political antics, and happily dance to his tune.
I’m glad to see you’re back. Best wishes to you, and I hope you’re well soon.

nadie on August 8, 2015 at 10:14 am

Thank you for the excellent movie reviews Debbie, and for warning people where needed.

Phil Lipofsky on August 8, 2015 at 1:03 pm

As thoroughly despicable and “Gitmo-torture-material-worthy” “Ricki and the Flash” is, reading what passes for the plot I was reminded in some ways of one allegedly “conservative” rocker whom Debbie has raked over the coals over the years, and with good reason: Ted Nugent.

ConcernedPatriot on August 8, 2015 at 2:35 pm

It’s nice to read Debbie’s reviews just to keep up with the movies coming out of Hollyweird. However, we refuse to go see any of the movies that the leftists in Hollywood dish out.

samantha on August 8, 2015 at 5:02 pm

i love reading your movie reviews debbie. you are
so uncompromising it is great. your sense of humor
is a black art ..
might wanna increase (MAX) your limits of personal injury,
uninsured motorist, & med pay on your personal
auto insurance policy.
they are reasonably priced & you can’t have to much
medical coverage these days with with 50 million
illegals who really don’t care who they kill or how they drive.

again i just love your stuff ..

bob e on August 9, 2015 at 12:51 am

So, The Gift is worth looking at? Cool.

Occam's Tool on August 9, 2015 at 4:08 am

I had a feeling Rikki would be a steaming pile of hack leftism.

Thx for taking one for the team. You watch so we don’t have to.

Gary Starr on August 9, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Debbie,

Welcome back!

For Ricki and the Flash, all you had to do was say “Meryl Streep” and that would have been enough to describe the movie. In other words, it’s bad.

Hillel on August 9, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Thanks Debbie for the great reviews. I heard that The Fantastic Four has turned into a fantastic flopperusky. It’s a shame that Hollyweird can’t seem to get the number 3 Marvel superhero team right. I mean The Avengers and The X-Men are rolling the dough in but the FF keeps tanking. Oh well maybe DC will do good next year with Ben(I sucked at playing Daredevil)Affleck playing Batman. I’m crossing my fingers on that one. Ricky and the Flash looks and sounds like pure torture. I wouldn’t wish that on ISIS or any other scumbag terrorist group. Oh who am I kidding I would make those nut jobs watch every Meryl Streep film that’s been made. This dowdy looking leftist moon bat has been called the Audrey Hepburn of our time. Yeah right she ain’t even Katherine Hepburn in the looks department. I still LOL at the rating that you gave her movie. The First Couple, Marx and ISIS indeed. I’ll probably go see The Gift and wait for the movie about LEGOS to come out at Red box. I played with them as a kid and my kids love them but a movie about would seem boring. Stay safe Debbie and once again thanks for the reviews.

Ken B on August 11, 2015 at 11:40 am

Hey Debbie! Way to go from making fun of an old man with cancer! That really makes you seem like a good person who I would totally want to support! You’re a piece of garbage.

Erin on August 17, 2015 at 6:50 pm

About the whole abandonment thing, I guessed that she was a “liberal”. I mean she’s the stereotypical package, good for nothing, irresponsible, and she works at WHOLE FOODS and smokes pot. I’m shocked the woman got a job at all. I’m liberal, people like that, along with people like the Author of the help give all of us a bad name.

Robyn on October 22, 2017 at 12:30 pm

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