May 28, 2017, - 11:53 am

Last Wknd’s Box Office: Alien: Covenant; Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul; Chuck; Everything, Everything; The Lovers

By Debbie Schlussel

It’s not exactly rocket science, but I predict this will be the worst summer for movies ever–meaning that there will be more horrible movies than ever. We’re already into the summer movie season, and, so far, it’s really lackluster. There’s nothing to write home about here. The relative best is a gazillionth sequel to a movie from the late ’70s.

* Alien: Covenant – Rated R: This is the latest of many installments to the original 1979 “Alien” movie. This one is not a sequel. It’s yet another prequel. That’s what Hollywood does when it can’t come up with any more plausible sequels. It makes semi-plausible prequels. The last one was “Prometheus” (read my review). But it’s the same thing over and over again, as with this. I liked it, but only so much because there’s nothing new here. We’ve seen this all before. Aliens versus humans–we never win. Don’t whine that I told you that, because it’s not a spoiler. It’s a given.

A group of astronauts are on a ship, and they are asleep for several years while the ship travels to their planetary destination. But there’s a disturbance, and they are woken up. They realize they don’t have the juice to reach their original destination, and then they see a planet that has all the conditions apparently friendly to human life. It’s also the same planet to which a previous crew and ship traveled, and the ship is still there. What could go wrong? The same thing that goes wrong in every Alien movie: aliens. The aliens are the same kind as in the previous Alien movies and they are just as strong and powerful, just as deadly. And, per usual, the humans try to fight the aliens, but you know what happens. What always happens. Again, if that is a spoiler alert for you, you haven’t seen a movie in decades and just aren’t familiar enough with the material. Most of us are all too familiar, so, again, there’s nothing new here. Even the tough, skeptical woman who fights off aliens a la Sigourney Weaver, is repeated here with another actress (she warns the others that the planet is suspicious, and she doesn’t think they should go there). It’s the same formula over and over again . . . with a few tweaks.

While not new, there is, at least, one different thing: a robot (Michael Fassbender). We meet the robot at the beginning of the movie, as he’s being developed by his creator. Then, the robot is on the spaceship and, later, on the new planet. But he has a “twin”–actually, a previous model who looks just like him. Other differences are really “enhancements.” To wit, the special effects are far more advanced and developed than the original Alien movie 38 years ago. But, at some point, more developed special effects can only go so far and do so much if the story is basically the same.

This was okay and entertaining enough, but nothing new and unique. If you like the Alien movies, this’ll do.


Watch the trailer . . .

* Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul – Rated PG: I liked all three of the previous “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” movies (read my reviews here, here, and here). But I hated this one, the fourth installment. It’s nothing like the others. The first three Wimpy Kid movies were funny, charming, and all about the closeness of a nuclear family (despite disagreements between siblings and between kids and parents). I thought these movies were great for young boys (and girls, too). But this was none of those things. It was just gross. Very gross. As in “eeeeeeuuuuuuwwww, gross!” And it was mean-spirited and silly.

The first three Wimpy Kid movies were also hilariously funny. These movies are supposed to be comedies, after all. I laughed and laughed and laughed during the first three. This one just wasn’t funny, and I barely laughed. Maybe like five times, at best. Mostly, I just cringed during this installment. We’re talking a lot of bathroom humor, lots of mud, and mockery of small-town, middle American kinds of people. Liberals usually delight in that kind of stuff. But those of us with common sense and decency don’t find that funny. Not even a little.

On top of that, all of the roles in this movie are recast. Gone are the actors who played the protagonist Greg Heffley, his parents, and his mean, smart-alecky older brother in the previous three movies. The new people aren’t nearly as good. And the mom is played by the nutty Alicia Silverstone, who overacts and is just awful.

The story: Greg Heffley and his family are on a road trip to Indiana to see relatives, apparently grandparents. But Greg wants to meet his hero, an online video-gaming star who is popular on a YouTube-esque website. He and his older brother plot how to get away from their parents and sneak to a gaming convention where the video star is appearing. In the meantime, Greg is being stalked by an angry bearded man with whom he had a mishap at a motel where the family was staying during the road trip.

Overall, I thought this movie was boring. I kept looking at my cell phone to see how much longer I needed to sit through it. It just wasn’t entertaining. At all. And, with all the grossness and pointless family travel, it reminded me of a PG-rated version of the recent, horrible remake of “Vacation.” That movie was terrible. And this is, too.

From 2010 to 2012, there was a Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie each year. It’s now been five years since the last one, and they should have realized retirement was a good fit. It’s time for the Wimpy Kid movies to hang it up. But this is the way Hollywood is. They won’t stop making this crap. The author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books for boys keeps churning out best-sellers, so they will keep churning out sequels. And, sadly, I don’t think they will return to the funny, entertaining nature of the first three installments.

Skip this.


Watch the video . . .

* Chuck – Rated R: This is billed as the true story of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner. Wepner was a boxing champ (or near-champ) on whom Sylvester Stallone supposedly based the Rocky character that he wrote and whom he played in several movies over several decades, and which made him a star. The character of Stallone (played by a different actor) makes an appearance in this movie.

But this movie is everything Rocky is not. And that’s why I hated it. Whereas Rocky never cheated on Adrian, Chuck Wepner is a philandering creep. Rocky never became a criminal and a lowlife. But Chuck Wepner became an illegal drug dealer, was arrested for it, and served time. Rocky was devoted to family. Even in Rocky V–when he temporarily neglected his relationship with his young son in favor of one with budding boxer Tommy Gunn, Rocky realizes the value and importance of a tight-knit family and close bonds with his progeny. Chuck is a jerk who loses touch with his wife and children. The Rocky movies were uplifting and ended on happy, positive notes, even when Rocky lost. Chuck is a depressing movie that leaves you feeling empty–or at least an hour an 38 minutes emptier, since you wasted that much of your life watching it. (Or at least, I did so you won’t have to.) Maybe that’s real life versus the Hollywood version. But this is one of those (few) cases where I prefer the Hollywood version (Rocky). By the way, not shown in the movie is that Chuck sued Stallone over the Rocky movies, and they settled out of court. The movie does show Wepner auditioning for a role in the Rocky movies and totally blowing it.

And then there are the cliches. This movie is chock full of them. Every single bad cliche from every single boxing movie you’ve ever seen is in this. There is nothing new here. Not even close. I feel like I’ve seen the stuff in this, over and over and over again. It’s not enlightening. It’s not different. It’s just overcooked, stale, and underwhelming.

The story: Chuck Wepner is a New Jersey boxer in the ’70s. He is something of a heavyweight champion and boxes greats like Muhammad Ali. He is definitely a contender. In Ali’s case, Wepner lasted almost 15 full rounds before losing. He later boxed wrestler Andre the Giant (and also lost) and also “boxed” a live bear.

Liev Schreiber is a good actor and is his usual workmanlike self here. But the story just isn’t worth seeing. Like I said, you’ve seen it before . . . many times. And you’ve seen it done better and in a more uplifting manner.

Some posters promoting this, call it “the untold story of the real Rocky.” So sue me for preferring the far more likeable Hollywood version written by Stallone.


Watch the trailer . . .

* Everything Everything – Rated PG-13: This is yet another one of those “young adult movies” based on “young adult novels,” where parents are dark and evil and teens are fabulously perfect and the victims of those dark and evil parents. One of the protagonists in this movie has an abusive father and a co-dependent mother. The other–well, her sole surviving parent ain’t no great shakes either. Also, the movie is very saccharine and one-dimensional.

If you grew up in the ’70s, you might remember a TV movie starring John Travolta as “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.” This is sort of like that movie, with a twist. In this one, a teen girl has just turned 18. She’s not allowed to leave her house because she has an illness known as SCID. Any germs could kill her. The house has various mechanisms to sterilize and de-germify everyone and everything that comes into the house. And the girl has a pretty boring life. She doesn’t have friends, except the nurse/housekeeper and takes all of her courses online. She dreams of being an architect, and all of the building models she makes have an astronaut in them because she feels like the astronaut–away from everyone and everything and, perhaps, on a different planet. Her mother is a doctor who monitors her health and treats her. Her father and brother died in a car accident when she was young.

One day, a cute new boy moves in next door with his family. And the girl watches him. Soon, they are texting, e-mailing, and talking to each other on their cell phones. Eventually, the housekeeper/nurse agrees to sneak hiim into the house to meet the girl, and they fall in love. One day, the girl decides to sneak off to Hawaii with the boy next door. She wants to see if she can live outside without dying. And she wants to spend some time alone with the only boy she’s ever loved and one of only two friends her age she’s ever had. After they have a few hours of a good time on the island, bad stuff starts to happen. Of course, it does.

And eventually, we learn the dark, warped twist. It’s a twist I kinda saw coming because I wondered about a few things, and I never accept that what the movie implies is a given. Still, the whole thing is a twisted message to the young teens to which this overly syrupy movie is aimed.

Beyond that, the movie was kind of boring and repetitive until it finally gets moving in the last 20 percent of the whole thing. And then, like I said, I didn’t like the “moral of the story.”


Watch the trailer . . .

* The Lovers – Rated R: I hated this movie. It’s long. It’s slow. And it’s boring. And on top of that, it’s pointless and a complete waste of time. If that weren’t enough, it’s dark and depressing. This is not the escapist film to go see if you want to enjoy some time at the movies and forget about everyday humdrum life for a while. This movie is everyday humdrum life. And it’s not pretty.

Debra Winger is getting a lot of buzz for this–her biggest return to the movies in years and her first as the star. But, if this movie is any indication of what we can expect from her, she should have stayed retired. Winger plays a longtime wife who works some boring, average job in some boring, average city and lives in an average middle-class home. Her husband also works some boring, average job. And both of them are cheating on each other with serious significant others. That’s not of any interest either, since both Winger and her husband (Tracy Letts) are boring, sluggish, average-looking people who don’t have much to say and aren’t interesting in the least. That makes it very difficult to believe that far better looking, far younger individuals would have affairs with the two of them. Yet, that’s the case. Plus there’s no information regarding what either of the older marrieds see in these younger vapid bores, both of whom are incredibly annoying.

Both Winger and her husband are being pressured by their extra-marital lovers to leave the marriage. And both Winger and her husband tell the lovers that they will do it after their college-aged son’s visit with his new girlfriend. But, one day, Winger and her husband have a sudden moment of passion and suddenly cheat on their lovers with each other. This is supposed to be entertaining. But it just isn’t. It’s a bore. And not something you’d want to see. Yet, it’s in your face on the screen.

When their son finally arrives with his beautiful, polite girlfriend, drama ensues. And who wants to watch some average dysfunctional family’s melodrama? You wanna pay ten-bucks-plus to see that? Only if you’re insane. Or your life is too good and you have too much time on your hands and need to waste some of it on this.

There is nothing to care about here. Not the characters. Not the pretense of a plot.

It’s just an hour and 34 minutes of your life you’ll never get back.


Watch the trailer . . .

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6 Responses

Re: Alien:Covenant

Twin robots? Even that’s soooooo unoriginal. Think Data and Lor. Hollywood is about as creative and original as…

…as not being able to even think of one appropriate analogy.

Y: They aren’t exactly “twins.” But you’re right, it’s unoriginal, as is almost everything coming out of Hollywood. DS

YCHtT on May 28, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Given the political discourse of the movie performers in recent years, perhaps they threatened to go on strike if they were forced to make a decent, wholesome film.

Little Al on May 28, 2017 at 5:38 pm

If Chuck Wepner was a less than savory fellow in real life, then I think that the movie was right to depict him as such, Rocky or no Rocky.

Primetime on May 28, 2017 at 8:27 pm

I have to disagree. I enjoyed the other Alien movies, but this was boooring! Almost fell asleep and had to fight to stay awake for the first hour. You’re right about nothing new here. It was certainly not worth the price of admission. And BTW, incestuous homosexual robots! What?? Can we no longer watch anything from Hollywierd without seeing homosexuality somewhere within the TV show or movie? Sorry Debbie. You’re reviews are usually spot on, but one and a half Reagans? This movie should have no ratings, as it was 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

unholyone on May 29, 2017 at 9:56 am

I agree with Debbie, this summer’s movies really suck.

As far as Alien, I saw it and it was awful. One really has to wonder who cast the movie, they put Danny McBride in it, a fat guy that looks like he lives in his mom’s basement. Seriously, space travel necessitates light weight, what kind of interstellar expedition would crew a fat, out of shape, hipster??? And true to form, the lard ass could not even drive a space ship and crashed.

King David on May 29, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I liked Alien: Covenant. But I guess I’m kind of a sucker for most anything that Ridley Scott directs. I don’t see them ever duplicating what the first two did. After seeing what this movie did at the box office I am wondering if this is the end of the line for the big budget version of these movies. I am still trying to figure out that flashback scene where Michael Fassbender’s character is killing all of the creator aliens. If you saw the previous movie I would think you’d be just as confused as I am.

Daniel Middleman on May 31, 2017 at 6:40 pm

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