December 25, 2016, - 3:11 pm

Christmas Box Office #2: Why Him?, Fences

By Debbie Schlussel

These are the rest of the Christmas weekend movies, in addition to those I reviewed on Wednesday. These debuted on Friday and today, and neither are worth seeing. Not even close.

* Why Him? – Rated R: This is supposed to be a comedy, but I laughed only about a handful of times. It’s mostly gross, depraved, disgusting, and just flat-out stupid. Like “Office Christmas Party” (read my review), this is one of those “comedies” in which the joke is on mainstream Americans who work hard and have decent values (a/k/a conservatives and Republicans and Trump voters, etc.). They’re “backwards” and to be looked upon with derision. Instead, the slacker jerks are the heroes. Oh, and did I mention that this co-stars the talentless hack Megan Mullally, a vehement real-life gun-control advocate? Support her and her movies at your own risk (and risk to your Second Amendment rights). Yes, there are some instances in which left-wing New-Ageism is mocked here, but the laughs at that expense are few and far in between.

Zoey Deutch, mini-me lookalike daughter of actress Lea Thompson, plays the daughter of a Midwestern couple (Bryan Cranston and Mullally). Deutch is a Stanford student, and her father is the owner of a struggling printing business. Deutch and her parents stay at Deutch’s new boyfriend’s mansion for Christmas. The thing is that the new boyfriend (James Franco) is a crazy young internet billionaire with a crazy “estate manager” (Keegan-Michael Key). The billionaire boyfriend has a very wacky set of values, beliefs, activities, and lifestyle. His home is “paperless,” which means there is no toilet paper, just a malfunctioning toilet that does all kinds of sexual things to its occupant, in addition to, um, cleaning. Franco has a ton of stupid tattoos and equally stupid so-called “art” (including a moose encased in a tank of its own urine).

Needless to say, Deutch’s father is appalled by his daughter’s new boyfriend’s lifestyle and persona and is even more chagrined to find out that he wants to pop the question. You know what happens here because it’s sooooo predictable and formulaic: Deutch’s father (Cranston) ends up learning a lot from this dimwitted, rudderless billionaire, and the billionaire ends up with a father figure and a new family. The billionaire also ends up rescuing the father’s business.

Oh, and also, a bunch of B-list celebs–including Elon Musk, some celebrity chef (whose name I forgot and just don’t care to look up), members of KISS (Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley)–make dumb, pointless, and unnecessary cameos to fill up space in a very bad script (written by actor Jonah Hill).

There’s absolutely no point to this waste of time, other than money transfer: taking yours and giving it to some rich lowlifes in Hollywood in exchange for crap. You were forewarned.


Watch the trailer . . .

* Fences – Rated PG-13: The Feel-Good-Philandering-Jerk-Who-Dies Christmas Movie of the Year! This long, slow, boring, unnecessary movie clocks in at nearly 2.5 hours. Denzel Washington both directs and stars in this waste of time, as Troy Maxson, an angry Black bus driver with a giant chip–no, a meteor–on his shoulder.

Troy is mad that he is a terrific baseball player but can’t play in the pros because of racism (which is interesting because the movie apparently takes place in the early 1950s, and Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut in 1947). He is also mad that he is a garbage man and has to pick up and empty the garbage, but there are no Black men driving trucks. He complains about that and is soon driving a truck.

But that doesn’t assuage his anger and wayward behavior. He’s been serially cheating on his devoted wife (the always bitter and angry Viola Davis) with another woman. He has a brother who was brain-damaged in World War II, and collects his payments from the government. He has a son with whom he does not get along. And so on. Not sure why we need to see this and, on top of that, why anyone thought this cheerless, depressing bore was just GUH-REAT! for the holidays.

This is a dark, depressing, and pointless movie (which is why the empty, mind-addled lot that dominate mainstream movie criticism is gushing over this and calling for all kinds of Academy Award nominations for this unworthy garbage). I fell asleep 2-3 times and didn’t miss a thing. This was a play transformed into a movie, and it shows in spades. It doesn’t translate well to the silver screen, as it’s very one-dimensional and low-budget-looking with very few set changes. The movie is mostly dialogue–most of that ranting and overwrought melodrama. This whole thing is waaaay overacted.

Moreover, the movie is confusing. Although Troy has a son, it’s hard to decipher whether or not he is the son of Troy’s current wife or a previous one. There are lines of dialogue that indicate each way. Not that this is important. The movie really doesn’t have anything important in it. There’s no suspense and nothing unique or thought-provoking. It’s just a stale, hackneyed, low-rent rip-off of perhaps Death of a Salesman (with apologies to Willy Loman and Death for the comparison).

I just don’t know why anyone would enjoy seeing this and losing valuable hours of life you’ll never get back to boot. You were forewarned.


Watch the trailer . . .

5 Responses

Thanks for the movie reviews and Happy Chanukah, Debbie. That’s two must-skip movies.

JeffE on December 25, 2016 at 11:00 pm

Happy Chanukah! The movies that you just reviewed sound like septic sludge. I am sorry that you have to sit through them. It sounds like a form of Purgatory.

Worry01 on December 25, 2016 at 11:21 pm

Thanks for the Fences review. Being from Pittsburgh and raised in the same neighborhood in the 50,s im obligated by social pressure to see the movie. I will now bring my airplane pillow and sleep more comfortably.

Larry on December 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm

The movie Fences is as excellent as the August Wilson play. That is an opinion not fact, which we are all entitled. However, Debbie’s analysis of the movie with its irrational deduction in logic is not based on fact. Firstly, the review suggests Troy has unsubstantiated bitterness about racism impeding his baseball career, yet the movie takes place in the early 1950s and Jackie Robinson entered the major league in 1947. However, her analysis clearly missed the movie’s symbolism and facts which substantiate what she is trying to refute: 1) At the time, despite Jackie Robinson, blacks were not allowed to be garbage truck drivers and 2) Troy is 53! In 1947 he would be in his mid to late 40s!!! The integration of baseball would need to happen long before 1947 for him to play in the major league. The opportunity to play major league baseball eluded him for a couple of reasons which is discussed. Furthermore, her analogy is equivalent to saying women today have unsubstantiated complaints regarding not receiving equal opportunity and pay in comparison to their male counterparts because of the rise of a few women CEOs. Additionally, you missed the fact he has two sons and it is quite clear which son is his wife’s. My suggestion, if interested, compelled or whatever, go see the movie and decide for yourself.

L: I did not miss the fact that he has two sons. I just don’t care. The other son–the moocher–is obviously not the one I’m talking about here and also he is a character who doesn’t matter and is a waste of my time, adding to the unnecessary length and boredom that afflicts this movie. The movie never really makes clear if the younger son is his or not. It goes both ways in terms of what is said about that, and it’s contradictory. Again, who cares? The movie is a boring waste of time. DS

Lisa on December 29, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Just from the trailer it looks like the director wanted to cast Tina Fey as the mother, but ended up with the cheaper Megan Mullaly instead. Overall, the movie has been done many times before, and this version is not an improvement in the slightest.

MIGirl on January 2, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Leave a Reply

* denotes required field