July 19, 2013, - 8:09 pm

Wknd Box Office: The Conjuring, RIPD, Girl Most Likely, Red 2

By Debbie Schlussel

We are past the midway point of the summer, the season when Hollywood is supposed to dazzle us with big blockbuster hits. And, so far, all I’ve seen is underwhelming. And, this weekend, we’re frustratingly served up more of it. None of the new movies in theaters today is particularly good. I’ll start with the relative “best” first, though I doubt I’d pay ten bucks to see any of these, and other than “The Conjuring,” I’d probably quit watching by the middle of these movies if I Netflixed them. (I did not see “Turbo.”)



* “The Conjuring“: This horror/thriller is somewhat scary and suspenseful. It’s also “based on a true story” and focuses somewhat on the real-life couple who are connected to the Catholic Church, perform exorcisms, and were involved in investigating the Amityville Horror home.

Ed and Lorraine Warren (in this movie, they are played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) exist in real life. Ed is the only non-priest and non-Vatican official recognized by the Church to do exorcisms. This movie explores his and Mrs. Warren’s 1971 investigation into a farmhouse that is possessed by Demons. Ron Livingston plays a trucker and father of five daughters. He and his wife (Lili Taylor) move into the dumpy, dirty, old farmhouse and, soon, strange things happen. Their dog won’t go inside, and something very disturbing happens to the dog. Then things are moved, clocks operate weirdly, people go missing and/or possessed, and so on. The Warrens are brought in to get rid of the horror and explore the home’s tragic past.

This was definitely entertaining, and while it is a pretty formulaic horror thriller, there were moments of surprise and suspense throughout. It wasn’t the greatest scary movie I’ve seen, but it wasn’t the worst. It wasn’t bad. My favorite thing about this movie is the accurate period costumes, haircuts, accoutrements, and cars. The movie got those spot on, and that shines through in its dull, dark sepia tones. There’s nothing objectionable about this movie. And, all things considered, I liked it better than this weekend’s other choices.

Since I respect religion and resent Hollywood’s frequent attacks on it (other than Islam, which is never attacked and is in fact promoted and gushed over), I liked how this movie showed religious Catholics and people of faith in a positive light. They helped save this family from evil. You’ll rarely see that coming out of Tinseltown.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “R.I.P.D.“: This movie had an interesting premise, but it’s just awful in execution. And incredibly stupid, to boot. Just a mess. Ryan Reynolds is a Boston cop who is partnered with the corrupt Kevin Bacon. They took gold from drug dealers they busted, when they should have booked it into evidence. When Reynolds tells Bacon he has second thoughts about that, Bacon kills Reynolds in another bust.

Upon death, Reynolds gets sent to the R.I.P.D.–the Rest In Peace Department–a mid-way point for somewhat corrupt cops killed in the line of duty who are given an offer of working 100 years to track down “Dead-os” in the modern day world. Yes, the writers of this movie were soooo damned creative that “Dead-os” is the only name they could come up with for weird demon-like criminals seeking to create a tunnel back from R.I.P.D. jail to modern-day earth to create havoc.

Reynolds is partnered up with Jeff Bridges, who is a Civil War-era marshal, and they are sent back to Boston to investigate and find Dead-os and discover that Bacon is involved with them. On earth, no one sees them as the two former cops, and instead, they look like an old Chinese man and a supermodel (Marisa Miller). Their boss at RIPD is Mary-Louise Parker. Oh, and by the way, they save the world. I didn’t care.

The movie isn’t funny, and, yet, it’s supposed to be a comedy. I thought the sci-fi/after-life/law-enforcement combination might make for a good movie. Boy, was I wrong. For a movie that’s only 1.5 hours long, it was a total bore. And the plot was just silly, as was its execution. It’s as if this were written by a sophomoric teen. It looks like a lot of money was spent on special effects for this movie. And for what? Why? I’m amazed they screened this for us. It’s that bad. There’s nothing politically objectionable here. It’s just that the movie’s incredibly dumb and pointless (other than the point to fill Ryan Reynolds’ and Jeff Bridges’ bank accounts and get you to subsidize their mansions–no thanks).

Just awful.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Girl Most Likely“: The first thing you need to know about this Kristen Wiig “comedy” is that it’s not funny. I laughed like five times at the most. And that was forced laughter. It’s not nearly as funny as her other stuff. Not even close. Mostly, it’s painful. And it has the usual Hollywood memes of class warfare (“rich people are BAD!”) and fathers as creeps who abandon their kids (“men are SCUMBAGS! Yay, slutty feminists!”). Um, no thanks.

In this mildly entertaining, extremely forgettable movie, Wiig plays an aspiring playwright who was once “the next big thing” in the New York theater scene. She won a fellowship to write a play, but instead spent the money shopping with friends and became a big failure. She fakes a suicide attempt to get her boyfriend to propose, and is instead abandoned by the rich crowd of friends who used her talents to advance themselves.

Wiig gets sent to the custody of her estranged, tacky, low-class, working-class mother, Annette Bening, who lives on the Jersey Shore and has a much younger, weird, secret agent boyfriend, who goes by the name “George Bousche” (Matt Dillon). Hmmm . . . when will a movie have a secret agent character who goes by the name “Barack Okaka?” Probably never.

Wiig hates being back in Jersey and hates having to stay with her tacky mother, crazy brother (who has an obsession with crabs–the animal, not the STD), her mother’s tenant (who has taken over Wiig’s childhood bedroom), and the questionable, alleged CIA agent. She develops a romance with the tenant, a Yale grad who works in an Atlantic City casino as a Backstreet Boys impersonator. Wearing her old ’80s clothes that are left at the house, Wiig tries to get her life back, and soon discovers that her father–whom her mother had said was dead–is alive. He’s written several books and is an expert on “the myth of Thanksgiving”–tripe that Hollywood believes in, too (that Thanksgiving is a myth, that America is bad, etc.) When she goes to meet her father, he’s stereotypically Jewish-looking (and played by Jewish and stereotypically Jewish-looking nebbish actor Bob Balaban), incredibly rich, incredibly snobby and class-ist, and a complete scumbag, and she realizes that her tacky mother is the good parent. OY.

The movie is formulaic and predictable. And incredibly pointless.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “RED 2“: I liked the first RED (read my review), but this was just a mess, with a cockamamie, confusing plot. And incredibly silly. Yes, it’s full of action and spy moves, but is that really believable when the actors are all senior citizens (or close enough to it)? Nope.

The story: the semi-retired secret agents–Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren–are brought back together, when the CIA and the Pentagon have put a hit out on Willis. Why? They never really explain, except that it has something to do with an operation he once worked on in which rogue nuclear weapons found their way into Russia. The agents work to free the designer of the nukes, Anthony Hopkins, because they believe it will help them, but soon, they see that he’s crazy like a fox and wants his nukes set off in the world, which will obviously kill a lot of people. So their mission–while Willis is evading being killed by a hitman/former CIA agent hired by the U.S. government–is to stop the nukes from being set off on earth.

Lots of chases, lots of action, lots of stupidity, and a giant waste of time, even if there is some mild entertainment to it. Adding Catherine Zeta-Jones to the mix doesn’t add much to the movie, other than more silliness and stupidity. Mary-Louise Parker also stars. Who cares?


Watch the trailer . . .

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15 Responses

Debbie, I love the new way you grade the movies. Pictures of Marx, Obama, Reagan. And I must thank you for saving me money because you are usually right.

bonnie loranger on July 20, 2013 at 9:43 am

hmm R.I.P.D looks like a slightly different spin on a “Men in Black” theme.
Guess that’s what they’re going for there…
Jeff Bridges looks like he probably had fun with the role.

ty for the abedin i been missing db on July 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Ty, I saw “R.I.P.D.,” and although Jeff Bridges was widely criticized for his performance, my take was the same as yours, that he seemed to be having fun with the role.

    Burke on July 21, 2013 at 1:41 am

Don’t waste your time and money seeing these movies. Pure trash. Hollywood lost the art of good movie making years ago. Also there are not longer any attractive actors or actresses anymore.

They are all from the left. Also notice how the leftist reporters look. Not as attractive as the reporters on the right. Wonder why?

Fred on July 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm

The Conjuring seems interesting. As for the other flicks, they seem to be entirely uninteresting.

Worry01 on July 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Government out to kill Frank Moses…Hmmm
Where have I seen that before?

Oh yeah…RED

ebayer on July 20, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Turbo was pretty good. My kids – and all the other kids in the theatre that I attended – absolutely loved it and enjoyed it more than I did. So Turbo was likely better than any of the movies that Ms. Schlussel reviewed this week.

Despicable Me 2 is outstanding by the way. Not as funny as the first, but more substantial.

Gerald on July 20, 2013 at 10:48 pm

I am so sick and tired of Hollywood’s nasty remarks about Jews. Many people say, “Wait, Hollywood can’t be anti-Semitic. Hollywood is filled with Jews.”

Well first, at least three of the four major studios are owned by foreign entities (Sony, 20th Century Fox (Okay, Rupert is now an American, and one other studio).

Second, many movies in Hollywood are funded by Arabs. Look closely at the credits. Even those movies not listing the Arab countries have Arab venture capitalists or Arab angel investors.

Three, most “Jews” in Hollywood stopped being Jewish the day they got their schmeckles circumcised. They married non-Jews, cheated on those wives, never go to synagogue, raise their children with no values, never obey the laws of the Torah, etc.
Hence, they mock real Jews. They are the worst sort of court Jews who attack other Jews to “fit in” with the likes of Mel Gibson, Barack Obama, and Jodie Foster, who wanted to do a glowing movie about Hitler’s cinematographer, Leni Riefenstahl.

Jonathan E. Grant on July 20, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Leni Riefenstahl’s body of Nazi propaganda is cinematically and technically very impressive for its time. But its also a classic reminder of the fact that art and morality have nothing whatsoever in common. Talented people can put their skills to work in the service of absolute evil. These films don’t show the brutal, sadistic and inhuman face of Nazi Germany. They show us a highly distorted and idealistic depiction of the regime. In fact, this kind of perverted glorification remains very much with us today. Its not like we told the truth about Islam. Riefenstahl’s sinister influences lives on in Hollywood’s portrayal or rather the lack of it, of the evil that has taken the place of Nazism and Communism in our age.

    NormanF on July 22, 2013 at 12:57 am

Ryan Reynolds always seemed like such wasted potential. He would have made a perfect Deadpool. The five minutes he had in Wolverine were excellent. Then, at the end of the movie, they…sew his mouth shut? Non-stop wisecracking is Deadpool’s signature. WTH? Might see Red 2 when it gets to Redbox. Doubt I’ll ever see the rest of these.

DavidJ on July 20, 2013 at 11:35 pm

I saw “The Conjuring” and liked it for the reasons Debbie did. It was spooky, it was wholesome, and it had good 1970s period detail. The family being attacked is a very wholesome, conservative family. The children are spontaneous and adorable, reminding me of Linda Blair’s role in “The Exorcist.” The family watches “The Brady Bunch” for entertainment, a good choice. Finally, although the victim family admittedly doesn’t go to church, the paranormal team, as Debbie points out, is deeply religious. I genuinely liked everyone in this story, and that was the film’s main appeal for me.

On the other hand, as Debbie pointed out, the film was formulaic. I’m sorry to say that, for me, that lessened the movie’s value. There was really nothing new here, and I mean nothing. I’ve seen everything in this film a hundred times.

I also have a slight criticism of the genre blending. Call me picky, but ghost stories are supposed to have a terrible crime that occurred at some point in the past (which is why spirits can’t get to heaven, because they’re not at peace). In contrast, demons do NOT come with a terrible crime from the past, but they’re still scary because they can possess you. This writer threw a demon story together with a ghost story and added a witch for good measure. That’s cheating.

Burke on July 21, 2013 at 1:22 am

Well I saw Girl Most Likely yesterday and I found it pretty much entertaining ..you’re being too hard on it …I’m going too see it tomorrow for the second time…

sidra on July 21, 2013 at 3:50 am

Speaking of performances.

Apparently Weiner is now accepting cash endorsements from Al Jazeera for his efforts…

“Anthony Weiner should know better than to accept contributions from friends [at] Al Jazeera, which has been a voice for terrorists and spewed hatred against Jews and the state of Israel,” Maisel said. “They have echoed and attempted to legitimize hate speech about wiping Israel off the map. It’s disgraceful.

“While I respect Anthony, he has done wrong by accepting this terror-tainted money. Now he should do the right thing: return it.”


Do they actually think Weiner’s being Jewish makes one bit of difference?

Why don’t you just jump into the fire?
OMG yes OK why don’t I do that? I mean I really have great respect for you and your wife. I’m sure you’ll see it would be silly to stoke the fire that they’ll eventually throw you into.

Excuse me while I find some place secluded to go barf.

ty for the abedin i been missing db on July 21, 2013 at 9:33 am

It’s looking like another Redbox evening.

Ken b on July 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm

How does Ryan Reynolds keep getting movie roles? I don’t think he’s ever been involved with a successful movie, but he gets 10 movies a year. He’s one of the worst actors.

Jeff_W on July 21, 2013 at 11:44 pm

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