February 12, 2017, - 10:29 pm

Last Weekend’s Box Office: The Comedian, Rings, The Space Between Us

By Debbie Schlussel


I missed posting these last week, but you didn’t miss much. Remember, you can always hear my movie reviews live, first thing every Friday on “The Pat Campbell Show” on KFAQ 1170 AM Tulsa at 7:35 a.m. Eastern, and on “The James Show,” on KWTX 1230 AM at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, on “The Mike Church Show” on the Veritas Radio Network/CRUSADE at 9:05 a.m. Eastern, and on “The Larry The Cable Guy Show” (sometimes on Thursdays) between 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Eastern on SiriusXM’s Jeff and Larry’s Comedy Roundup Channel 97. You can also hear me many Friday afternoons/evenings on “The Brett Winterble Show” on KFMB AM 760 San Diego between 5:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Eastern (we pre-tape if it coincides with the Jewish Sabbath). I do my movie reviews on all five shows, as well as some discussion of current political, news, and pop culture topics.



* The Comedian – Rated R: This started out promising enough, but quickly devolved into a crummy movie. The jokes weren’t that great. And the main character, played by Robert De Niro, isn’t all that likeable . . . nor is anyone else in the movie. So you don’t really want to root for anyone. I couldn’t care less what happened to any of these people and was annoyed that they wasted two hours of my life that I’ll never get back. It figures that this was co-written by comedian Jeffrey Ross, who is not that funny himself (though he thinks he’s the second coming of Rodney Dangerfield or Don Rickles; not even close). There is a gimmick in this movie that involves a lot of cameos by well-known comedians and comic actors, such as Billy Crystal, Jimmie Walker, and so on.

De Niro plays Jackie Burke, whose real name is Jack Berkowitz. He’s a has-been comedian who once was the star of a hit comedy show on TV. Everyone who meets him or goes to see his show asks him to do his old character from the TV sit-com, but he refuses. He’s struggling financially in part because of this refusal. People don’t really want to hear his new comedy bits.

Jackie gets into a fight with a couple of hecklers, who are trying to rile him up for their “gotcha” reality show on TV. He punches one of them out, and it’s all caught on film. So Jackie’s is charged with assault. He agrees to a plea deal but refuses to apologize to his victim, so he’s sentenced to 30 days in jail. When Jackie leaves jail, he’s totally broke and once again borrows money from his resentful and estranged brother and sister-in-law (Danny DeVito and Patty LuPone–yup, three Italian actors playing Jews, but they’re believable). He also tells gross jokes at this niece’s lesbian wedding. And he starts dating a much younger woman, Harmony (Leslie Mann), whom he meets at a soup kitchen where both Jackie and Harmony are doing their community service after being convicted of crimes. Harmony isn’t interested in a relationship, but Jackie falls in love with her. Their relationship angers Mac (Harvey Keitel), Harmony’s wealthy father, who is a contemporary of Jackie’s and was his super-fan (until he learned that Jackie was “dating”–euphemism–his daughter).

At first, I thought this would be a funny, relaxing movie. But instead, it turned out to be just another melodrama-laden re-hash of a single motherhood movie.

There were a couple of scenes that were mildly entertaining, all of which were when Jackie did his stand-up comedy routine. The most touching was when Jackie cheers up a group of senior citizens in Florida and gets them to participate in his act. But none of this was enough to rescue a movie that wasn’t that great.

On top of that, a number of radio hosts on whose shows I reviewed this, said it sounded like a substandard rehash of The King of Comedy, another De-Niro-as-Comedian flick that apparently has similar story and plot lines. (I haven’t seen King of Comedy, but soon will.)

Not my cup of tea.

ONE-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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Watch the trailer . . .

* Rings – Rated PG-13: This is supposed to be a “sequel” to the far superior 2002 movie, “The Ring,” which starred Naomi Watts. But it really has nothing to do with it, and the movies really aren’t connected. You don’t have to have seen the original to understand what’s going on in this. But you’d be doing yourself a favor skipping this one. It’s awful, long, boring, and not scary at all. A total waste of time. I found myself looking at my phone clock every fifteen, then every ten, and soon every five minutes. It was such a bore, it seemed like it went on forever.

The story: everyone who watches a VCR videotape–and later a video spread online–gets a cell phone call with a woman’s voice telling the viewer that he or show now has “seven days” to live. If the viewer then successfully recruits someone else to watch the video, then the original viewer gets to live and the curse is transferred to the newer viewer. It seems that the video is mostly watched by young college students (and one professor, played by Johnny Galecki, who has passed on the curse to his students so that he can live–Great guy!).

Soon, the video and death part of the plot gets old and boring, so the script-writers and filmmakers had to come up with something else to movie the plot along. One of the women who watches the video doesn’t die in seven days, and she also is constantly haunted. The haunting from demons and other beings doesn’t go away, and she also has a scar that won’t go away either. She learns that the demon woman depicted in the video was a real woman and she goes to a small town to find where the woman died and learn what happened to her.

Then, the movie devolves into your typical Hollywood anti-Catholic, anti-Christian movie. You see, it turns out a Catholic priest (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) imprisoned, tortured, raped, and impregnated the young woman who died, and he was responsible for her death. Please let me know when Hollywood makes a haunted, “scary” movie about a Muslim imam imprisoning, torturing, raping, impregnating, and killing one of his young female adherents. I mean, it happens all over the Muslim world every single day. Just check out ISIS. And, yet, Hollywood refuses to show that stuff in the movies. It’s all reserved for defaming Cathlics and other Christians.

Regardless, this movie is awful and a complete and total waste of your time and money. Skip it.

TWO MARXES
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Watch the trailer . . .

* The Space Between Us – Rated PG-13: This is not one of Gary Oldman’s best films (he of recent anti-Semitic “The Jews Control Hollywood” comments in defense of Mel Gibson). It’s also not one of the best science fiction films. In fact, I’d put it toward the bottom of that genre. And I’m a big science fiction fan, so I should have liked this. The problem is that the story is thin, the acting by the leads in this movie is amateurish and clunky, and it’s mostly a cheesy, stilted love story with the world’s corniest dialogue between the lovers. Plus, we have enough movies encouraging and glorifying sex between high-schoolers. We don’t need yet another. On top of that, this movie seems like it’s taken from another bad young adult novel. We have more than enough of those, too.

The story: it’s the future (2018–okay, so not that far into the future), and a female astronaut is sent by NASA to Mars along with some others. She’s sent there because NASA has a development on Mars, called “East Texas,” where NASA is attempting to explore and colonize the place. Because of the atmosphere on Mars, the astronaut dies when she gives birth. Her son, Gardner (Asa Butterfield), is stuck on Mars, where he’s raised by another female astronaut. Gardner’s existence is supposed to be a secret and unknown to most at NASA or the rest of the world because it would make NASA look bad that his mother died in childbirth.

But Gardner is bored and needs human contact with someone his own age. He wants to see the world and meet his relatives. He befriends a girl named Tulsa (Britt Robertson), whom he meets online, and she doesn’t know that he’s a “Martian.” Soon, Gardner is traveling to Earth. When he gets there, he’s being studied by NASA, but he escapes across the country and finds the girl. Soon Gardner and Tulsa are spending their time evading NASA, while stealing cars in order to find his father on the West Coast and let his father know he exists. Also, Gardner is getting sicker and sicker because his body cannot handle the Earth’s atmosphere.

Like I said, the love story and lines of dialogue between Gardner and Tulsa are extremely silly and cheesy. Overtly so. And the movie isn’t all that interesting. It moves slowly and is mostly repetitive and boring. This isn’t your typical sci-fi movie. The sci-fi element of it feels like just window dressing and a crutch to a boring, uneventful story that isn’t all that exciting. There isn’t really much suspense here, even when the music and lines are telling you that you should be on the edge of your seat.

The father-son stuff at the end is good, but it’s short and fleeting, and not enough to make this worth your time. Not even close.

This movie is flat and flat-footed. It didn’t do anything for me . . . except make me want to fall asleep. If I had, I wouldn’t have missed much.

The space is best kept between you and this movie.

HALF A MARX

Watch the trailer . . .

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2 Responses

” . . . the main character [of “The Comedian”], played by Robert De Niro, isn’t all that likeable . . . “

Nor is De Niro, himself. He is another one whose public threats of violence against Trump, if it were done by anyone else against, say, Obama, would have landed him a visit by Secret Service, or a jail term, or both. I remember during the Obama years, in 2012, when Ted Nugent (for whom Debbie, for reasons she’s given in other articles on this site, has no regard whatsoever) made charged comments about Obama that led almost immediately to his being questioned by Secret Service agents. But he didn’t call for burning down the White House as the increasingly execrable Madonna had at the recent “Women’s[sic]” March, and indeed compared to her his comments about either ending up in jail or dead under Obama, were quite mild. (And yet now, Nugent wants the Secret Service to go investigate Madonna and her hateful and inciteful remarks. Pot / kettle, anyone?)

Concerned Patriot on February 13, 2017 at 6:38 am

Thank you Debbie for watching these movies so we don’t have to! These movies sound aweful!

Karen on February 13, 2017 at 3:58 pm

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