July 12, 2013, - 6:35 pm

Wknd Box Office: The Way, Way Back, Pacific Rim, Grown Ups 2, 20 Feet From Stardom, The Attack, Byzantium

By Debbie Schlussel

We are at the halfway point of the summer movies and a couple of weeks past the halfway point of 2013. And so far, I haven’t seen a lot of great movies. Most of them, in fact, stink. But I saw a particularly good movie among those which debut in theaters today, so I’ll begin with that one.




* “The Way, Way Back“: I really enjoyed this cute, charming coming of age movie about a 14-year-old boy who finds a cool father figure. This movie shows how important that is in a country populated by selfish single mothers whose desire to have sex is more important than their kids’ welfare. Fourteen-year-old Duncan (Liam James) is the son of a divorced, single mother with a creep of a boyfriend. Unfortunately, he’s stuck for summer with his mom, her jerk of a boyfriend (Steve Carell), and the boyfriend’s vapid daughter at the boyfriend’s summer cottage in a seaside town. The mom’s boyfriend is a cheating, selfish, conceited lout who tells Duncan that he considers Duncan a three on a scale of one to ten. Who tells that to a young teen boy, Duncan wants to know? And it’s a good rhetorical question.

Ignored and discarded by his mother and her mean boyfriend, Duncan wanders the town and meets a cool owner of a local water park, played by the always excellent Sam Rockwell. Rockwell treats Duncan with respect, gives him a job, recognition, and fatherly advice about girls, work, and life in general. Duncan also becomes friendly with the neighbor’s attractive but nice daughter, and they become close.

I could have done without one melodramatic scene, which was too much drama for such a fun movie, but other than that, I had fun seeing this. It was funny, and the kid is very, very likeable. Again, the importance of a strong father figure in a kid’s life is the lesson in this movie, and it’s a good one. For those who are wondering, there aren’t any sex scenes or anything inappropriate in this movie, but there is some brief idle chatter between the “adult” characters in this movie that isn’t a big deal.

Worth seeing.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Pacific Rim“: I don’t understand how a movie this crappy makes it into prime summer blockbuster season. It’s just awful and incredibly boring. The story and plot are just dumb and tired. The Cliff’s Notes version of this movie: Transformers Versus Godzilla.

The story: it’s the future and giant aliens, called Kaijus, have taken over the earth and destroyed a lot of it. Humans fight back with giant mechanical robots, called Jaegers. The Jaegers have to be pedaled from within with humans, which seems really weird since this is supposed to be the future, and we have remote control operated drones right now in 2013. Also, the Jaegers have nuclear weapons and yet they use them and nothing gets destroyed from it. Much of the movie takes place at night because it’s cheaper and easier for animators to do night scenes. There is a lot of action, but it’s just boring repeats of the same thing. There is a subplot of a washed up pilot who makes a comeback and an Asian woman who wants to be his co-pilot and finally succeeds after repeatedly being passed over. But that subplot is boring, too. It also has this annoying multi-cultural, “We are the World,” humanity unites against aliens theme that is long past stale and moldy.

There’s nothing offensive in this movie. It’s just a waste of time and pointless. Oh, and by the way, there’s a reason there are no big names in this movie. This will be–or at least should be–another summer box office bomb.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Grown Ups 2“: Absolutely juvenile, immature, and utterly disgusting. It’s absolutely awful, just like the first “Grown Ups” (read my review). All I need to say here is this: two words–Adam Sandler. That tells you this movie is crap. And it is.

As I said about the first installment of the non-Grown Up movies, this is just Sandler and his Hollywood buddies getting together at some vacation spot and shooting a haphazard movie during the vacation so they can write it off. Same thing here, except that more of Sandler’s famous buddies have roles in this version. The move consists of mostly disgusting jokes that aren’t funny, most of them involving bathroom humor or sex with animals and transvestites or hermaphrodites (hard to tell what gender a certain character in the movie was). I laughed maybe three times. And you won’t laugh either, unless, a guy making out with an animal is funny to you. Me, I don’t find bestiality hilarious.

I wasn’t sure what the story was here. There didn’t seem to be much of one, except a bunch of stereotypically racist and bigoted stupid White frat boys against the local multicultural rainbow of weirdos and oddballs whose hijinks aren’t funny.

The end. Skip this incredibly painful-to-watch display of the sickening. It’s a national IQ test. If you liked it, you failed. And you aren’t a grown up. Not even close.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “20 Feet From Stardom“: This documentary would have been a lot more interesting, had it not focused only on Black backup singers and laughed along with their racist comments (particularly Darlene Love’s comments) about White backup singers’ allegedly “singing White” and not being able to sing as well as the Black singers. Not buying it. On the other hand, it was interesting enough and the racist singers did get their comeuppance because they never made it as big-time stars, as they had hoped for. The best and most interesting backup singer in the movie, though, is Lisa Fischer, who was not among those who uttered the racist comments.

Fischer won a Grammy during her short-lived solo career and has a range that is unusually broad for any singer. She can reach such a range of notes, and her voice is terrific. She’s the backup singer for the Rolling Stones and has been on every one of their tours for the last decade or two. She’s the one (see video below) who sings about rape and murder, etc. in “Gimme Shelter.”

Lisa Fischer Rolling Stones video . . .

And speaking of the Stones, Mick Jagger, Sting, and other well known singers make appearances in this movie and talk about their backup singers, some of whom are featured in the movie. Ironically, the two women who previously did backup for the Stones (before Fischer), particularly on “Gimme Shelter,” had the least solo success and are mostly outta the biz. One of them, who hints at a brief affair with Jagger, is now teaching English to Hispanic immigrants in Los Angeles.

While some of the stories were interesting–such as Love hearing her song on the radio when she briefly gave up and worked as a maid or how many of the backup singers sang songs that were then stolen from them and presented as the work of other singers (something often done to me with my work on this site and elsewhere being stolen by and presented as the work of others)–I’m not sure I would pay ten bucks to see this. But I would watch it on Netflix or movies on demand.

You should note that the movie is kind of depressing because these were people who wanted to make it, tried real hard, and–for the most part–failed. They either remain 20 feet from stardom or are so far removed they will probably never even be that close again. It’s sad to watch, knowing that, even though it is interesting and entertaining.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “The Attack“: This is yet another anti-Israel movie which the Israelis foolishly allowed to be shot in Israel. It’s a moral equivalence film parading as something else. And despite the fact that Ziad Doueiri, the Lebanese director who made this ,claims that the many Arab backers in Qatar and Egypt who financed it don’t want their names on it because it “humanizes” Israelis, don’t believe the hype. The movie is still anti-Israel.

In fact, a Palestinian homicide bomber’s murder of 17 Israeli kids is justified by the “massacre” at Jenin, when, in fact, even the anti-Israel U.N. found that there was no such massacre and that most of the handful of Palestinians who died there were terrorists, died of natural causes or were killed by the Palestinians. And, at the beginning of the movie, we are told that a Jewish Israeli policeman is a victim of violence brought into the hospital, and that he is basically a victim of his own violence. We’re told that the police officer harassed and physically attacked a Muslim and prevented him from praying at the mosque, which resulted in the Muslim stabbing him. Ah, you see, the Israelis instigate the violence and they are morally equivalent or worse–they deserve it. Also of note is the fact that the lead actor, Ali Suliman, was one of the lead actors in the pro-HAMAS homicide bombers in the reprehensible anti-Israel, pro-Islamic-terrorism movie, “Paradise Now.”

The story: an Israeli Arab has all the trappings of the good life in Israel. He is a doctor–a successful surgeon–at a major hospital, and its first Arab doctor to win the hospital’s yearly major award/honor. He is loved and treated with respect by his Jewish Israeli colleagues. He’s been given every opportunity by them. Then, one day, victims of a homicide bombing come in. It turns out that one of them is his Palestinian Christian wife who said she was in Nazareth visiting her father. Because only her torso and head are left, the Israelis conclude she was the homicide bomber. At first, the doctor refuses to face this, but he soon confirms she did it. Then, he goes to the so-called “West Bank” to investigate why she did it. Soon, he begins to sympathize with the cause, because of the Jenin BS, and so on. We’re supposed to sympathize with him, too.

No thanks.

One other thing: the movie shows the doctor driving from the hospital in Tel Aviv to his home in Herzliya and how he has to go through the hassle of a checkpoint. There are checkpoints with Israeli soldiers in Israel between Israeli cities–especially between Tel Aviv and Herzliya (which is seven miles from Tel Aviv and well inside Israel’s green zone)? Uh, no. So much for accuracy.

The only good–and accurate–thing about this movie is that it shows the common support of and involvement in Arab terrorism against Israel by Christians, something far too many ignore and don’t know about. I’ve written about it on this site. Christian Arabs are no angels. They are Arabs first, last, and always. And in this movie, a Palestinian Catholic priest is one of the terrorist organizers and a Palestinian Christian woman is the homicide bomber.

Subtle HAMAS propaganda, produced by Jew-haters, distributed, per usual, by Jews–in this case the Cohen Media Group of France, which recently released another similarly propagandistic moral equivalency movie about Israel and the Palestinians, “The Other Son” (read my review).


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Byzantium“: I definitely could have done without this gory, but unentertaining vampire movie. I’ve had enough of vampires, but that wasn’t what made this movie horrible. It was that it was pointless, very bloody, and just disgusting for no reason. A mother and daughter (Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan) vampire team go through modern life being chased by the male vampire club that doesn’t want to accept female vampires and wants to kill them. Ah, the fight for feminism. So, the mother and daughter are constantly on the run, while the daughter yearns to make a human connection without drinking the guy’s blood and killing him. Meanwhile, the mother works as a stripper and two-bit hooker to make money. Woven in between are scenes from hundreds of years ago, showing how they became vampires, which was also dreadful. I didn’t care about their background, and you won’t either. Also, included in this movie: a few beheadings and quite a few gory blood-puncturing-and-drinking scenes. Nope, not fun. Not interesting. Slow, boring, and a waste of time. Skip this trash.


Watch the trailer . . .

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28 Responses

I used to hate Adam Sandler from his SNL schtick – didn’t think his guitar bits were funny, but when I actually saw a movie with him in it – the ex-Mossad hairdresser in Queens one, I think was the first I saw- I became a fan.

DS_ROCKS! on July 12, 2013 at 7:01 pm

The modern vampire movies and shows substitute gore and porn for suspense, acting and atmosphere. Some say it’s dated, but Bela Lugosi’s Dracula still is the best. Lugosi is menacing even when he’s pretending to be a gentleman. Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman is decent and its Christian ending takes the cake. And an underrated movie was the TV movie from 1973 with Jack Palance as Dracula. And the English version with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee is not bad. Although Oldman’s movie had sex, nudity and gore, I don’t consider it as gore porn like you have today.

Concerned Citizen on July 12, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Pacific Rim is a must see for me as I’m a huge Kaiju / Godzilla and Gammera fan. As for Adam Sandler , they should use his movies to torture the prisoners @ gitmo.

squirbells on July 12, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I remember Lisa Fischer. She had real talent, was beautiful and was a decent person. Which of course is why Hollywood had no interest in her. Not a big enough fan of her to watch that movie though.

Gemma Arterton: from feminist queen in Prince of Persia to feminist leader in Clash of the Titans to feminist action hero witch in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters to feminist vampire in this movie. I know that it is hard for women who actually look like women instead of little girls (or little boys) to get work in Hollywood these days, but it is becoming harder and harder to avoid the notion that Arterton is choosing these roles because she likes them. Which is regrettable because she is attractive and actually can act (although she was horrible in Hansel and Gretel, though at least part of the blame lied with the script).

As far as Pacific Rim goes, maybe this will finally force Hollywood to stop pretending that Guillermo del Toro is this great director (or writer or producer). Unlike Richard Rodriguez, who actually does make entertaining movies every now and then (Spy Kids) or M. Night Shyamalan who actually was a good director once and just lost his touch, none of del Toro’s projects ever have been any good.

The funny thing about Grown Ups 1 is that it was the biggest hit of Sandler’s career. And Grown Ups 2 will make money also. Thanks for pointing out “The Way Way Back”. I will check it out on your recommendation.

Gerald on July 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Actually, you mean Robert Rodriguez. And while I’m not a fan of much of Guillermo Del Toro’s Hollywood product (no thanks to all Hell Boy installments) and have no desire to see PacRim, Pan’s Labyrinth was visually excellent and enjoyable, and I think a better representation of what the man can do artistically. He should follow Pedro Almodovar’s lead and just leave the Hollywood machine behind.

    Robert on July 12, 2013 at 10:01 pm

When I first saw the movie title ‘Byzantium’, I thought that it was a movie celebrating the fall of Byzantium from the Christian Byzantines to the Muslim Ottoman Turks. Then I remembered that the city was by then Constantinople.

‘The Attack’ looks like a movie where the Arab Christian director wanted to malign the Israelis, but ended up maligning his own group – the Arab Christians themselves. Pali Christians are amongst the worst Islamo-Christians that are there (Islamo-Christian being a term that describes Arab Christians who defend Islam due to Islam being central to Arab supremacy beliefs)

I’ll try & watch ‘The way, way back’

Infidel on July 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Ahhh; Happy I am that I can sit back this weekend and watch the entire 3rd season of “Justified” on DVD. No money to the studios for me. I’ll be watching library fare for free.

Kent on July 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Deb –

..yet real life is stranger than movie fiction, I guess:


Nick Fury on July 13, 2013 at 12:34 am

Well. Looks like Satan is still fully in charge of Hollywood.

Jack on July 13, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Interesting point Jack. Once again I note that the Hebrew Scriptures tell us “Jehovah himself examines the righteous one as well as the wicked one,And anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates.” Psalm 11:5

    Is Hollywood training us to be entertained by violence – by something that our Creator hates?

    I try to leave its product well alone.

    sue on July 13, 2013 at 3:29 am

Well, hell, I’m a 34 year old chef with 14 years in restaurants, where the humor is on par with that of an infantry barracks. I’m also the son of a hard swearin naval officer. I’ve got just as crass sense of humor as anyone can have. So I dug the 1st “Grownups.” I’ll probably see the 2nd, but, as usual, NEVER in the theater. I’ll see it on PayPerView, if I wanna see it THAT badly. I’m sure there’ll be stuff out by that time I’d much rather see anyways.

I’m picky about comedy, & scenes with dudes making out with animals are the kinds of things that I also find infantile & gross. Tell all the jokes you want. I get it. I don’t need to SEE it. Funny movies in MY book are the “Beverly Hills Cop” movies, both “48 Hours” movies & the “Die Hard” movies. I also think “Cop Out” ranks up there as one of the FUNNIEST movies I’ve seen in a while.

Cicero's Ghost (NB) on July 13, 2013 at 12:44 am

Actually, I’m looking forward to Pacific Rim. It looks like an homage to the giant mecha found in Japanese anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion in particular…

Alan on July 13, 2013 at 2:25 am

If it doesn’t say in either the Tanach or New Testament Revelations (to the Christian folk out there) that the success of Adam Sandler films are one of the symbolic horsemen of the apocalypse, well it should. If anything is symptomatic of the fact that Western ‘civilization’ and America cannot survive, never mind thrive, it is the success of the nadir that is Adam Sandler, the anti-comic. Chris Rock once had so much potential, like Eddie Murphy, he appears to be taking the same road to nowhere. And what is Salma Hayek doing in this crap? Like she needs the money, she is married to a gazillionaire! I used to be such a fan of Hayek, bummer. How did you get through the whole movie Debbie? I would never have managed it, not five minutes of this Sandler garbage.

As far as Pacific Rim goes, I don’t fancy it and yet I admit to being a huge fan of the Hellboy films. They are pretty much the only and I repeat only superhero films I have liked from the last two decades. I can’t even be bothered with juvenile superhero flicks, but I thought Hellboy 1 and 2 were clever, humorous, great stories, cast, direction, pacing, CGI. Just loved ’em.

As far as anti-Israel films go, I always just assume that liberal Jews are at the helm there, and usually I am right. And the obverse is I assume often the case. Namely if there are any films out there with a pro-Israel subtext or some such (made today, not twenty or thirty years ago), I assume that Jews had nothing to do with the script, directing etc. The small Israeli film community is overwhelmingly far Left, it’s all so odious. And depressing.

Larry in Tel Aviv on July 13, 2013 at 4:48 am

I ought to add that Hellboy is of course not a classic superhero by any means, maybe that’s why I enjoyed the films so much. Does nobody else out there like the Hellboy films?

Just on the subject of Israeli filmmakers and film production people (and TV, in Israel given how small it is, they usually out of necessity work in both mediums), I have met and know a number of these people here in TA, and let me tell you they are often enough very far Left. Utterly crackers.

Larry in Tel Aviv on July 13, 2013 at 4:56 am

“It’s a national IQ test. If you liked it, you failed. And you aren’t a grown up.”

I felt that way about Idiocracy. There came a point in this film when it “transcended its own satire”. You had to be an idiot to see the funny side of the situations in which the “idiocrats” were putting the protagonist.

Kevin on July 13, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Kevin: read “The Marching Morons,” which is one of the 4 masterworks by CM Kornbluth, an American hero (medal winner at the Battle of the Bulge, whose overexertion there lead to the malignant hypertension which killed him) to get a feel for what “idiocracy” should have been like. The other three pieces to definitely read by this man who died at the age of 35 from an heart attack are “the Little Black Bag” (yes, the story behind the Twilight Zone episode) plus “The Space Merchants,” and “The Meeting,”both co-written with Fred Pohl. Debbie would love “Not This August,” herself, although not of the literary standard of the other 4 masterworks. I have them all.

    Occam's Tool on July 13, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Hey Deb –

Adam Sandler has FINALLY made a good film:


Nick Fury on July 13, 2013 at 11:32 am

It’s always funny when a movie that is absolutely juvenile, immature, and utterly disgusting has “Grown Ups” in the title. Puh-leeze. This is anything but grown up.
I think its meant to be ironic.

Laura on July 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I saw “Pacific Rim.” Good review, Debbie. Nailed it as usual. It’s directed by Guillermo del Toro, a world-renowned director. I’m not a particular fan of his (though I did kind of like “Hellboy” as you did, Larry in Tel Aviv). Del Toro’s most admired work, “Pan’s Labyrinth,” is considered an art film by many, perhaps because the heroes of the story are all passionate Communists (fighting the Fascists in Spain). I don’t find communists in general appealing, Spanish or otherwise, and I didn’t particularly care for the movie.

One thing del Toro can do, though, is create amazingly imaginative monsters, and I thought that was true in “Pacific Rim.” The monsters were by far the best part of the film, and considering that monster fights went on for 2/3 the running time, that might have been enough for many.

The human characters, though, were flat and boring, the story was thin, and there was no attempt at realism. The best way to view it, I think, is an elaborate and expensive homage to the Japanese Godzilla and Mothra movies.

The movie was long and, because it was so repetitious, it seemed even longer, so after a couple hours in the theater, I got up and left. As a result, I missed the climax, and for all I know, that might have been the best part of the film.

Burke on July 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I have no interest in the 20 Feet from Stardom film, but seeing that video featuring Lisa Fischer….WOW!!!!!!

How is she not a major star? She’s awesome!!! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of her before. What a voice, besides being very sexy, too. She needs to hire a better manager because I can’t think of anyone with a better voice right now.

Jeff_W on July 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Pacific Rim was great, IMHO, but I can understand why Debbie didn’t like it. The target audience is people like myself, who are big anime fans and enjoy the occasional old Toho monster flick. Luckily for del Toro, we tend to throw money at these kinds of movies (sorry, Debbie!).

The nods to Neon Genesis Evangelion are sprinkled liberally throughout the film, to the point that I believe Evangelion was actually the movie del Toro wanted to make, but the studios probably told him that Evangelion would be “too cerebral” for today’s movie audiences. They might be right.

Still, Pacific Rim is a good, brain-in-the-box summer popcorn movie. I would take a tween or teenaged kid to it–there’s some mild cursing but no nudity or toilet humor. The plot is pretty thin and the acting is meh, but I’ve seen worse. At least there’s no attempt to shoehorn in a political subtext.

As an anime fan, I recommend Evangelion, but it’s rather weird and tough to get into. Not sure what Debbie would think of the mishmash of Jewish Kabbalism, Buddhist theology, and Christian millenialism, mixed in with teenagers fighting their hormones and giant monsters with giant robots, though.

sentinel28a on July 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm

I want to see Pacific Rim. With Guillemo del toro, Ron Perlman and the English guy in it makes me want I see it. The latter two star in ons of Anarchy and are very good.

Glen benjamin on July 13, 2013 at 5:25 pm

the only adam sandler movie I liked was Spanglish because paz vaga was in it.

BRUCE on July 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm

I cannot comment on Lisa Fischer as I do not know her work, but as an old sailor, I am fond of the vocal work of Nadirah Shakoor.

Nick Fury on July 13, 2013 at 8:55 pm

P.S. This isn’t about politics, just good old-fashioned vocals….

Nick Fury on July 13, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I’m not a fan of much of Sandler’s work, but Wedding Singer and Waterboy were awesome.

I’ve been looking up more Lisa Fischer Youtubes and she’s awesome. What a voice….was very hot at the time, too.

Jeff_W on July 14, 2013 at 1:24 am

It sounds like ‘…way,way back’ is of the same vein as a movie I saw 10-15 yrs ago, “Dutch” with Ed O’Neil. I liked it and I have a feeling I’ll like this.

Not Ovenready on July 14, 2013 at 1:29 am

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