May 20, 2016, - 5:44 pm

Wknd Box Office: The Nice Guys, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, The Meddler, A Bigger Splash

By Debbie Schlussel



Only one good movie new movie in theaters this weekend, and it’s a smaller movie starring the politically-loathsome Susan Saranwrap. I did not see “The Angry Birds Movie” as the screening was on the Jewish Sabbath.

* The Nice Guys – R: Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe (who has savagely attacked Jewish circumcision but refused to do the same on Muslim circumcision) star as two rival private investigators in 1970s Hollywood, who eventually team up to solve a couple of intertwined mysteries. The movie is very high on style and is slightly, occasionally funny. But it’s overall stupid and ridiculous and filled with gratuitous topless shots of women and dumb sexual references. In short, the story is dumb, but I loved the costumes, the cars, and the soundtrack.

Gosling is a investigator who has a 13-year-old daughter that is the typical kid in many of today’s movies: smart and sagacious beyond her years and well beyond her clumsy, screw-up dad. Crowe is a former cop who often gets paid to beat up and threaten people. Gosling is hired to find a woman named Emilia. Crowe is hired by Emilia to beat Gosling up and tell him to stop looking for Emilia. But eventually the two men realize that Emilia is in danger because it is somehow tied to the death of a porn star, Misty Mountains. They never really explain it, and, frankly, I didn’t really care ‘cuz it was stupid.

Eventually, all of this, including Emilia’s disappearance, is somehow later tied to some silly plot by the Justice Department, which is headed by–Heaven help us–Kim Basinger. Basinger is supposed to be investigating the Detroit auto industry, which is covering up something with catalytic converters, but she’s really in cahoots with them. See, I told you it was stupid. But that’s what happens to movies without tight plots or story lines. They have to keep reaching and adding to try to make it interesting.

Most of the movie is spent with the two men looking for Emilia, including extensive scenes where they chase her down at an elaborate party at the uber-modern home of a dead porn movie producer and then at a hotel, where the Mafia has taken over and is somehow involved (again, never explained, but explanations aren’t the hallmark of this shaggy dog tale of a movie). One of the final scenes involves a dramatic action and stunt filled confrontation at an auto show preview at another hotel. And there’s a scene of a Justice Department hit man seeking to kill the two men and Emilia.

It’s a disconnected, high-on-style, low-on-sensical-details “comedy” that is slightly funny, but mostly forgettable. Sometimes remaking the ’70s isn’t enough to carry a movie or entertain. And this is Exhibit A.


Watch the trailer . . .

* Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising – R: I hated the original “Neighbors” (read my review), but this makes that look like a masterpiece in comparison. This is essentially a repeat of the original, only raunchier and far more depraved. You gotta wonder what kind of sick minds come up with scenes of sorority girls throwing bloody tampons at the window of a family living next door. Or what kind of sickos and lowlifes think it’s “cute” to make a running “gag” out of kids and babies playing with sex toys, including simulated, synthetic penises. Haha, hilarious. Not. I laughed maybe 5 times, if that, during this dumb, lowlife crap they told me was a movie. Shame on Chloe Grace Moretz, who I thought was better than this (but clearly isn’t). In addition to the stuff I mentioned, there’s also unnecessary nudity and an overall tone that kills your brain cells after torturing them. And they say waterboarding is bad. This is worse.

The story: the highly overrated Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne return as the married couple next door to what was a fraternity. In the first movie, the frat was so unbearable that the couple perpetrated pranks on the frat boys to get them out. This time, same thing, only with a sorority. The couple, with a daughter and expecting a second one soon, has sold their house to another family. But there’s a catch: the house is in escrow for 30 days, and the buyers can cancel at any time. And during those 30 days, a ragtag bunch of loser girls moves in. The loser girls, headed by Moretz, don’t like regular sororities because they are too perky, pretty, and sexual, and because regular sororities aren’t allowed to have parties. Only fraternities can have parties in their houses. So, this is billed as some sort of equal rights or feminism fight, as this new independent sorority will have parties in their house. Uh, sorry, not buyin’ it.

The sorority girls are advised by Zac Efron, who was in the original frat savaged by neighbors Rogen and Byrne, and this is his revenge of sorts. Since the neighbor couple are worried the buyers of their home will see the heavy-partying sorority and pull out of the deal, they plot to play all kinds of pranks on the sorority girls to put them out of business. Yes, again, it’s the same plot at the first movie, only even dumber.

Leaving the screening of this movie, I feared (and still do) for this country. The Millennials (the target audience for this) walking out of the movie raved about it. Congrats, America, we’re no different from Europe, just a few years “behind.” Who needs ISIS, when we’ve got low-life, warped crap like this defining deviance ever downward.


Watch the trailer . . .

* The Meddler – PG-13: Even though I loathe whack job Susan Sarandon and her far-left, off-the-deep-end politics, I would be lying if I trashed this movie. It was very funny and entertaining and slightly endearing, though I definitely could have done without its tad of political correctness (the lesbian wedding – no thanks).

Sarandon is Marnie, a New Jersey Italian woman and widow. She’s followed her daughter (Rose Byrne, who seems to be in every movie these days–see Neighbors 2, above) to Los Angeles, where the daughter is a successful, busy screenwriter. Marnie has plenty of money and time on her hands and seeks to be heavily involved in her daughter’s life. But her daughter is too busy and finds her mom a little overbearing.

But Marnie doesn’t get insulted by this. Instead, she involves herself in her daughter’s friends’ lives and the lives of mere acquaintances whom she barely knows. Marnie invests far too heavily in them and provides them with what seems to be excessive effort and assistance, all in an effort to buy the love she seeks and can’t get from her daughter. Marnie pays for the fancy wedding her daughter’s lesbian friend never had and she participates extensively in the planning. Marnie also volunteers to become the chauffeur for the guy who helps her at the Apple store. But these things don’t really get her the love she seeks, as these people are taking advantage of her.

Ultimately, Marnie finds the love she seeks in the possibility of romance with retired cop J.K. Simmons. But–perhaps because she is obsessed with inserting herself into the lives of others–she can’t see this love, even though it is staring her in the face.

There are lots of things to laugh about in this movie, including the guy who asks Marnie out on a first date to the Holocaust museum (the guy is played by Michael McKean – Lenny from “Laverne and Shirley,” who got really old and looks it). And Marnie’s efforts to hover over her daughter’s life are endlessly laughable. This is a comedy and a cute love story between a needy, lonely mother and her adult daughter who needs her space. But it’s also one of the more bearable chick flicks. Guys, keep that in mind the next time your woman wants to drag you to the movies.


Watch the trailer . . .

* A Bigger Splash – R: As a general rule, whenever mainstream (liberal) movie critics rave in unison over a movie, it’s absolute trash. That’s the case here . . . in spades. I like weird and different movies. And this is definitely that, but not in a good way. It’s too weird, too different, and just all over the place. It’s also sick and warped and never really admits to anything it implies is going on. On top of that, it seems obsessed with nudity and sex. There are lots of topless scenes for the women here, and both the male leads have frontal nudity scenes, too. Not my cup of tea. Plus, this stars the ever-weird, androgynous oddity of whom I’ve never ever been–and am definitely still not–a fan: actress Tilda Swinton who recently modeled in a Chanel fashion show in Havana (while the Castros are still locking up Cubans for speaking out against the horrors of that country). The scenery and cinematography are beautiful. The plot and story, not so much.

The story: Swinton is an aging rock star with fans worldwide. She’s recently had surgery on her vocal cords and cannot talk until they heal. She and her much younger boyfriend of five years (Matthias Schoenaerts) are staying at her seaside estate on an Italian island while she recuperates. Swinton’s inability to talk (she can whisper, but hides it from all except her boyfriend) is a plot point. Soon, Swinton’s ex-lover, Ralph Fiennes, is on the island, too. He and his newly-discovered, young daughter (the constantly sullen, highly overrated Dakota Johnson) are there for a vacation and find that there are no hotel rooms left. Soon, they are staying with Swinton and her boytoy, and it’s an uncomfortable crowd. Fiennes spends the rest of the movie speaking loudly and flamboyantly and trying to seduce win back his ex, Swinton. His endless braggadocio and bloviating fill the void of Swinton’s silence.

And then there is the issue of Fiennes’ daughter, who is highly “sexual” in her behavior and is often cavorting around in see-through bras. What is her story and is she hitting on Swinton’s boyfriend? What is it between them? I didn’t really care because none of the characters in this movie are likable. Not even close. There are two scenes with whip snakes, who invade the estate. And though you wonder what the relevance is, it seemed to me the snakes were more likable than the rest of the players in this flick. On top of that, this movie tries to be all things: a romantic drama, a thriller complete with a killing, and a relaxing travelogue of an Italian island with a mild plot going on in the midst. It fails at all three. I like ambiguity–of which this is filled–when it’s done well in a movie. Here, it’s underwhelming and overwhelming. And ill-fitted.

I wasn’t sure what the point or purpose was of this pretentious, long, slow, boring, and seemingly endless movie . . . other than the purport to make high art (but fail miserably) and maybe show me Ralph Fiennes’ schlong (which I really didn’t need to see–TMI, TMI, TMI). I just know that I wasted two hours and five minutes of my life on it that I’ll never get back.

The only splash here–bigger or otherwise–is the one you see and hear as you throw your ten-bucks-plus down the toilet.


Watch the trailer . . .

10 Responses

That’s right, Debbie, remaking the 70’s isn’t always a reason to do anything. I went from age 13.2 to 23.2 during that time. People need to stop the crap already, get over it, and stop remaking things that were fine the way they were.

And Hollywood becoming an industry is what fouled it up to begin with. Mass production doesn’t necessarily go along with quality control. It’s just part of the equation. Mass production leaves out the factors of human caring and craftsmanship.

Just get the product on the shelves and get the cash in the door. By the time word gets around that the product sucks, we’ll be on to the next project, and already have all the sales units (money) we need. Hollywood’s way of kicking the can down the road.

And if you question why people like Gwyneth Paltrow or Russell Crowe even have jobs in this world, you’re accused of wanting to put movie studio mail clerks out of work. It’s like recommending abstinence, it’s just not done. Asking Hollywood to reduce their production lines to ONLY that which is wholesome, edifying entertainment is like asking a crocodile to eat alfalfa sprouts.

Oh, by the way, I know that part about the crocodile is going to happen, but in The World To Come, not now, LOL!!!

Loved Debbie’s comment about Susan Saranwrap. Here we have this 338 year old actress constant flashing her boobs, especially for political causes. God bless America!!!

Only read the first movie review because I have a constant nagging curiosity about Eva Mendes’ husband, not a fan though, at all. Don’t really know who he is, other than he seems to have been everywhere for a while now.

I’m REALLY sorry Debbie didn’t see the Angry Birds movie. I don’t know anything about them, but they, like Ryan Gosling, are constant trending, and they look really cute.

Now back to America’s Dead, What’s Next and What Are YOU Doing Tonight?

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on May 21, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    “Asking Hollywood to reduce their production lines to ONLY that which is wholesome, edifying entertainment is like asking a crocodile to eat alfalfa sprouts.”

    No longer holding to the erroneous assumption that Crocodilia are STRICTLY meat eaters [ ] [fruit consumption confirmed by Wikipedia] I think we can all agree that the possibility exists ONLY of the latter.

    YCHtT on May 22, 2016 at 12:29 am


      Alfredo from Puerto Rico on May 22, 2016 at 12:40 am

I suspect that these movies will only be getting worse.

Worry on May 21, 2016 at 8:29 pm

Worry, is that even possible? LOL!!!

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on May 21, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Speaking of movies, you’ll love this story, Deb. Guess which religion probably won’t even be mentioned in her class?–nfl.html

Abu Lahab on May 23, 2016 at 12:42 pm

When I picture a New Jersey Italian mom,Susan Sarandon comes to mind…good lord

ebayer on May 24, 2016 at 2:49 pm

We stopped going to movies many years ago when Hollywood starting making trash. We just watch Turner Classic Movies now. Why support the enemy?

Fred on May 25, 2016 at 12:44 am

The Angry Birds movie – the trailer alone was enough to turn me off. It showed 2 birds gargling into each others’ mouths, and then an implicit scene of an eagle urinating/defecating into the pool that they drank from

If that was the trailer, that movie seemed like a must-miss, despite being a ‘kids’ movie’. Anyone saw it who disagrees?

Infidel on May 27, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Wow Infidel, that’s disgusting. If that’s what these Angry Birds are about, you can count me out. That’s NOT cute.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on May 27, 2016 at 6:46 pm

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