August 1, 2014, - 8:14 pm

Wknd Box Office: Guardians of the Galaxy, Get On Up, Magic in the Moonlight, Boyhood, Third Person

By Debbie Schlussel

One movie I really enjoyed and another that was okay among this weekend’s new movie releases at theaters:




* “Guardians of the Galaxy“: I enjoyed this funny, light, fast-paced, futuristic science fiction movie that reminds you of a ragtag version of “Star Wars.” Star Chris Pratt’s lead role character, Peter Quill, is no Han Solo, but I like him. He’s funny, dopey, and self-deprecating. And a swash-buckler of his own sort . . . with a six-pack of the non-beer kind. The cast of characters also reminds of the “Star Wars” bar scene with the various aliens and monsters.

Pratt’s Quill is an American pilot and “junker”–a guy who ravages distant planets to find junk to sell. After his mother died from cancer in the ’70s, Quill was kidnapped from Earth by a group of junkers who raised him. The only reminder of and connection to his late mother that he has is a casette tape mix of ’70s tunes that she made for him. The ’70s soundtrack plays throughout the movie and is part of the story.

As the movie opens, we find him on a dark planet searching for and obtaining (after some battle) a mysterious orb. The orb, we soon learn, has powers that would enable whoever holds it to rule the galaxy. A number of characters–a green alien (Zoe Saldana), a talking raccoon with a New York accent (Bradley Cooper) and his humanoid tree sidekick (Vin Diesel)–are chasing after Quill and the orb because they, too, have buyers for it. But–after they all find themselves in jail, along with a giant brute (Dave Bautista)–they team up (calling themselves “The Guardians of the Galaxy”) and vow to keep the orb from the evil villain Ronan (who seeks to rule the galaxy) and get it to the good guys in “Nova Corps” (headed by Glenn Close).

As I noted, the movie is very funny and, while it’s no “Star Wars,” it has some hints of it. I enjoyed the soundtrack and the humor, and while the movie is definitely not boring, certain points of it are confusing and/or messy, especially toward the end. It’s based on a lesser known Marvel Comics property and was shot–at least the version I saw–in a less crisp, Instagram kind of filter, making it look semi-vintage as if it were shot in the 1970s or ’80s. While I saw it in 3D, it would be fine in regular 2D if you do not want to shell out the extra bucks in the 3D ticket price.

This is definitely the kind of escapist movie I’d go to the movies to see in the summertime. But I’m a Gen-Xer. Those who are older might not enjoy it as much or find it as funny. In a summer of good movies, I would probably give it TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS. But in a summer of very bad movies, all things are relative, and this is one of the best, so I give it . . .


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Get On Up“: This is yet another in the endless “biopics” of famous Black Americans meant to lecture us about how raaaaaaaaycist! we Americans are and serve as a justification for endless Obamaphones, ObamaCare, affirmative action, minority set-asides, and other tax-funded reparations. I felt like I’d seen this movie over and over and over–poor Black kid whose father or parents left him is subject to constant racism by all evil Whites (almost every single one of whom is the devil), and then he shows da Whitey Crackaz whoz da boss. And in another hint that Hollywood can’t come up with anything new, they can’t even come up with new lead actors. Chadwick Boseman, who played the far more heroic Jackie Robinson in “42” (read my review), plays James Brown here.

Like most of the other Black biopics I’ve seen in the last several years, there are more than enough anti-White racist scenes in this to fill a whole afternoon of BET airtime. Whites are portrayed as racist, money-grubbing, stiff, and square. Even the one “nice” guy–Brown’s manager (Dan Ackroyd)–is a stereotypical admittedly money-driven, greedy Jew.

But this biopic is slightly different because it deliberately whitewashes James Brown’s life of violence, thuggery, and wife-beating (and babymama-beating). The movie’s director, Tate Taylor (who previously directed the equally racist and uppity, “The Help”–read my review), has openly said in interviews with tabloid TV shows that he deliberately minimized Brown’s incidents of violence because he wanted to emphasize Brown’s “greatness” and because “there is already so much out there about that.” Um, that’s another way of admitting revisionism. Oh, sure, there are one or two scenes of Brown decking a woman, and another scene of his threatening people with a shotgun and fleeing a menacing-looking group of all-White group of police in South Carolina. But that’s about it. And throughout the herky-jerky, jarring flashbacks and flashforwards of this movie, we are essentially being lectured that James Brown was entitled to be a violent jerk and criminal because his parents abandoned him (his mother left him and his violent, mean father had “no choice” but to give him up) and he was raised in a brothel. Boo hoo.

Other than erasing most of Brown’s violent and criminal nature, Boseman captures Brown’s mannerisms and speech well. The way he talks is so “ghetto,” it’s often difficult to understand what he’s saying. I needed a translator. But, yes, he did sound like James Brown, except in the completely ridiculous scenes in which Brown is made to look like a financial and business genius, which is funny since, in real life, he was the exact opposite–a financial mess, constantly in debt to everyone and owning gazillions to the feds.

I really couldn’t care less about James Brown’s life, but I came with an open mind and left with a very bored and annoyed one. This movie goes on and on and on and on. It is very long, very slow, and very boring at nearly 2.5 hours. I kept thinking it was finally going to end, but each time it kept on going. I wasn’t surprised that the largely Black audience at the screening I attended clapped at the end of this mega-bore. For them, as with all of such movies, it served as a rallying cry for all the wrongs they feel we must continue to pay them for.

And I, for one, am done with that. I am not responsible for James Brown’s parents abandoning him and sending him to live in his aunt’s brothel. They are. And I’m not responsible for his violent life and the debts he owed everyone, not just the government. He is.

I am, however, responsible for the nearly 2.5 hours of life I wasted on this crap. Take my advice and stay away, so you don’t repeat this mistake.

Don’t Get On Up and see this. Remain seated and stay home.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Magic in the Moonlight“: This latest Woody Allen movie, while not bad and only 1.5 hours, seemed a little slow and boring. It just didn’t move along like his movies usually do. Set in 1920s France, it’s about an English magician (Colin Firth) who is a skeptic and seeks to debunk an American psychic (Emma Stone).

The movie begins with an unrecognizable Firth performing his magic show as a Chinese man, Wei Ling Soo. After his act, he’s told by a fellow magician friend about an American psychic, who the friend believes is finally “the real thing.” Firth travels to the French countryside to meet the psychic and debunk her. But he comes off as a bitter misanthrope to the gullible, wealthy American family who has bought into her psychic “powers” and is financing her. Firth, while at first very skeptical, falls for Stone romantically and is soon fooled into believing she is the real thing.

While the movie is somewhat predictable and I figured out what was actually going on and who was behind it well before you are supposed to, it was mildly entertaining, and there is nothing objectionable in it. It is also a nice study into the con artistry of others and how there is no shortage of suckers willing to be easily fooled (see shrieking Palestinian Muslim con artist Hanan Qahwaji Tudor a/k/a “Brigitte Gabriel” and the many idiots on the right who rush to buy into her obvious fakery and many phony stories that are easily disproven–this week, FOX News and Megyn Kelly laughably proclaimed her a “human shield,” which she never ever was). The movie is full of great lines and there is some very light humor.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Boyhood“: Mainstream liberal movie critics are raving over this gimmicky movie, but not me. While a gimmick is cute, there has to actually be an interesting plot behind it, or it fails. In this case, the gimmick is that Director Richard Linklater picked a cast and shot them for a week or two each year for 12 years, showing the lives of a boy and his family from his age of five through age 18. While that’s interesting and eliminates the need for bad Hollywood make-up, I felt like I was watching a waste-of-time, three hour long reality show of some average American family I couldn’t care less about.

Is there some reason I need to watch some unscrupulous woman (Patricia Arquette) marry and divorce three men (including Ethan Hawke)–two of whom are drunks, one of whom beats her–and see her son grow up and drink, do drugs, wear long hair, work at a fast food restaurant, and have sex with his girlfriend, who then dumps him? Unless a study in average, broken, trashy American families is entertaining to you (and it ain’t for me), this was just a pointless, meaningless movie. Yes, the acting was good. Yes, the boy was cute as a kid and nice when he grew up. No, it wasn’t boring. And, yes, it might be mildly entertaining, in an empty-calories, reality-show kind of way. But I don’t enjoy consuming reality shows. I don’t have time for it. If you do, then this is for you.

For everyone else, don’t believe the hype. The gimmick isn’t backed by a worthy story. It certainly isn’t worth ten-bucks-plus of your money and three hours of your life you’ll never get back.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Third Person“: The feel-good incest movie of the year, complete with scenes of a character (Olivia Wilde) having sex with her father. Paul Haggis brings you quality cinema!

This is yet another one of the long, boring, “interlocking plots” movies brought to you by Director Haggis. This one is long, boring, and depressing throughout. And pointless. An ensemble cast of stars, including Mila Kunis, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Wilde, Adrien Brody, and Kim Basinger, are in interlocking stories about heartbreak and loss, all of ’em sad, depressing, and worse. And they are supposed to take place in Paris, Rome, and New York, though the Paris and New York stories seem to take place in the same city, as the hotel maid who lives in New York cleans in the Paris hotel. Yes, it’s supposed to be that way because in the end, all of these pointless stories are supposed to be the same story . . . or something. I didn’t care, and if you waste your time and money at this bore, you won’t either. This was so stupid and so overwrought with hyperbolic melodrama, it was enough for a lifetime of soap operas (and a lot more boring).

The stories: Neeson is a washed up author who left his wife Basinger for his mistress Wilde, who is also having an affair with her father. Neeson is trying to finish his next “big” novel and Wilde is a fashion writer who also wants to become a successful fiction writer. Kunis is a former soap opera star who now has no money and is a hotel maid. She’s fighting to see her son with Franco, a rich and famous artist, after she allegedly hurt her child. And she is struggling to make a meeting with her lawyer and a social worker to get to see her son. Brody is a mysterious American businessman in Rome who rips off men’s fashion designs. He meets a Roma woman in a bar who has “lost” a large amount of money she’s saved up to buy her daughter back from some slave trade thugs. He tries to help her but soon wonders if he’s a patsy in a con.

Again, who cares? So what? Save your time and money and skip this.


Watch the trailer . . .

18 Responses

So.. Debbie, I’m guessing this last review means it’s no “Grand Hotel”.

John Collignon on August 2, 2014 at 11:52 am

It is a pretty barren season for cinema. When a Woody Allen movie seems to be relatively good, things are really amiss.

Worry01 on August 2, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I have not seen Get On Up, but just commenting from superficial knowledge of it, it appears the sexual aspect of Brown’s music is over-emphasized at the expense of the gospel roots of his style.

“Get On UP” (like a sex machine) tells it all. Go to Youtube, and listen to his live performance of Lost Someone (1962 performance at the Apollo), possibly his best recording ever, to see the clear influence of gospel on his style. But, of course, religion is bad unless it reinforces hatred and disdain for the Western tradition.

Little Al on August 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I have depended on your weekly reviews for years now and you consistently do not disappoint!

Nancy B on August 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm

You are quite tthe racist bitch girl

elizabeth on August 2, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Why thank you for participating, Lizard. My question: are you a Mooooslim or a fellow traveler Jew hating and America hating type like the pancaked Rachel Corrie?

    skzion on August 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      I think she’s a fellow traveller Stockholm syndrome abeed from Saudi Arabia Sk.

      donnied on August 3, 2014 at 11:35 am

James Brown also recorded “America is my Home” in 1966. ONe of the lines said that “America is Still the Greatest Country in the World.” I wonder if that song is featured in this movie. Duuuuhhhhh.

Little Al on August 3, 2014 at 7:07 am

Haven’t been able to see Guardians yet but trailer as well as the possible reference to the UK newspaper put me off.
Might still try to take a look at it though.

donnied on August 3, 2014 at 11:32 am

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy and liked it maybe a little less than Debbie did. It certainly wasn’t as bad as the other Marvel movies that have come out this summer.

It’s light fantasy adventure in the same vein as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone and maybe the Sinbad movies from the fifties (except of course in the latter case, men were still men and not so insistently boyish and dopey like the Chris Pratt persona).

The film had a lot of action and some effective if superficial humor, but here’s what the film didn’t have: wonder, mystery, three-dimensional characters, challenging ideas, suspense (except of a very limited type), or any expression of traditional moral virtue except the “Gee whiz! Let’s save the universe now!” kind which I personally don’t hold to be sufficient.

The tone of the film reminded me of the eighties when we as a country were young and naïve and believed anything was possible if we just willed it. Now that we live in a corrupt, tragic, sorrowful, ugly age, this kind of irrelevant escapism just makes me personally wince.

Actually I think there is good escapism (which includes wonder and supports traditional virtue) and bad escapism (which plugs into progressive mythology and eats away at the brain). This might be a third category: irrelevant escapism. So I give it 2 ½ stars because it was half-way amusing and didn’t make me mad.

Burke on August 3, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I’ve been a big fan of James Brown for some time–the music, not the man. And in his prime, he was the second hardest working man in show business. (Sorry, James, but Frank Sinatra was the hardest working man in show business at that time–and most unbiased experts in pop music would agree.) I knew that this movie was going to be a disappointment because based on all of the buzz, the screenwriters weren’t going to focus on the most important thing: his music and how it came to be. (Note: This is not the same thing as just mimicking his shows. I’m talking about how the music was created.)

As expected, if they were, instead, going to focus primarily on the man apart from his music, they would soft-peddle or avoid altogether most of his sins.

Although I’m not going to the theater to see “Get on Up,” I’m curious, how does the movie treat Syd Nathan, the found of King records, and the man who put James Brown on the map?

Syd Nathan was a Jewish entrepreneur who, like many, started very small and built his music enterprise into one of the great ones in pop music history. Yes, Syd Nathan was interested in making money–as all entrepreneurs want to do–but couldn’t the exact same thing be said about Berry Gordy? The real message here isn’t about Jews and money, but about opportunity–and how entrepreneurship creates that opportunity. Syd Nathan gave James Brown his opportunity.

So did “Get On Up” turn a blind eye to this reality? As Brown told writer Gerri Hirshey decades later, “I would be telling a lie if I said I would be a world star without the help of men like Mr. Nathan. He was the first one willing to take a chance on me.”

See this excerpt below from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Sydney Nathan was born on April 27, 1904, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He suffered from poor eyesight and asthma and spent his early adult years working in real estate, property development, photo finishing, pawn shops and jewelry stores. He then began running a radio and phonograph store with his sister and brother-in-law, Dorothy and Saul Halper. He began selling records there and wound up opening Syd’s Record Shop, which became Cincinnati’s most successful record store.

In 1943, with financial assistance from his family and friend, Nathan started King Records in an old icehouse on Brewster Avenue in Cincinnati. The first records on the King label appeared that year. He aimed to reach otherwise untapped niche markets, providing country-music records to whites who’d relocated to the Midwest from Appalachia and rhythm & blues records to black urban dwellers who’d moved up from the South. In the process of working with black R&B and white country artists, Nathan helped effect a cross-pollination of the two worlds, thereby helping lay the groundwork for the musical hybrid known as rock and roll. The record labels launched or acquired by Nathan included King, Queen, DeLuxe, Federal, Glory, Bethlehem, Audio Lab and Beltone.

Nathan’s talent scouts scoured the industrial North and rural South for blues, R&B, jazz and country musicians. In addition to Hank Ballard, whose R&B smash “Work with Me Annie” helped give the Cincinnati-based enterprise a national profile, the roster of artists who recorded for King and its affiliates included Little Willie John, Billy Ward and the Dominos, Bill Doggett, Earl Bostic, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Wynonie Harris, Bullmoose Jackson, the Delmore Brothers, Moon Mullican, Grandpa Jones and Cowboy Copas. The biggest star of all was James Brown, who was brought to King by A&R man Ralph Bass in early 1956. As Brown told writer Gerri Hirshey decades later, “I would be telling a lie if I said I would be a world star without the help of men like Mr. Nathan. He was the first one willing to take a chance on me.” King hit its commercial peak in 1963, when Brown’s Live at the Apollo, Vol. I rose to Number Two on the album charts.

Unfortunately, Nathan suffered from heart problems, and he died on March 5, 1968. Syd Nathan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Ralph Adamo on August 3, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Magic in the Moonlight reminds me of Harry Houdini’s true life story.

ebayer on August 3, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Next summer: The heroic story of Oranthal J. Simpson, played by Chad Bozeman. Tate Taylor directs a script which traces the road of adoration, wealth and opportunity forced upon him by vile racist white people — a road of which leads him to naturally kill and play golf.

Ron on August 4, 2014 at 1:37 am


    ebayer on August 4, 2014 at 2:03 am

Spot on about “Magic In the Moonlight.” Towards the end I expected Colin Firth to suddenly bark out, “Marry Freddy?!?” and burst into “I’ve Grown Accostomed To Her Face.” However, I could easily sit for 90 minute and stare at Emma Stone’s wonderous blue eyes.

gmartinz on August 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm

See…. they should not have cancelled Firefly… Sheldon is right.

Panhandle on August 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm

“As the movie opens, we find him on a dark planet searching for and obtaining (after some battle) a mysterious orb.”

No. The opening scene is of a child witnessing his mother die from cancer in a hospital. Had I known I would not have taken my son to the movie since his mother died that way two years ago.

W. Wagner on August 21, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Saw it this weekend.

Also a little Big Bang Theory and Marx Brothers type Humor too.

Even us old guys and gals like to see a humorous pic.

Panhandle on August 25, 2014 at 2:06 pm

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