And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "Drama" tag.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Boss; Demolition; Mr. Right

The Boss – Sadly, The Boss kinda sucks. Or, to put it more gently, it’s really weak. The R-rated comedy starts out with huge promise and some very funny moments, but fizzles rather fast. Here’s the gist: Melissa McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a very successful but not-so-nice Suze Orman/Martha Stewart hybrid type who gets sent to prison for insider trading. She emerges from prison friendless and broke, but determined to rebrand herself and rebuild. Considering she screwed over a lot of people during her rise to the top, including her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), Darnell’s road to redemption is sure to be a rocky one. The Boss is no Bridesmaids. The plot is extremely contrived, relying mostly on physical comedy gags to break the monotony. Without a doubt, the character of Michelle Darnell needs to stay relegated to smaller, SNL-style skits. This full-length feature film treatment doesn’t do her, or the audience, any justice. Case dismissed.

A Walk in the Woods

Here’s what I liked about the adventure-comedy-drama A Walk in the Woods: Robert Redford and Nick Nolte; some really funny and smart one-liners; the notion that you’re never too old for new adventures; and lots of pretty scenery.

Here’s what I didn’t like about A Walk in the Woods: It’s a long walk, with too few ‘mile-marker moments’.

American Ultra

I’m not sure what this movie was trying to be but it’s a hot mess. Here’s how it was pitched:

American Ultra is a fast-paced action comedy about Mike [Jesse Eisenberg], a seemingly hapless and unmotivated stoner whose small-town life with his live-in girlfriend, Phoebe [Kristen Stewart], is suddenly turned upside down. Unbeknownst to him, Mike is actually a highly trained, lethal sleeper agent. In the blink of an eye, as his secret past comes back to haunt him, Mike is thrust into the middle of a deadly government operation and is forced to summon his inner action-hero in order to survive.”

When I read the synopsis, I expected to see something along the lines of the fairly entertaining action-comedy-crime-stoner movie Pineapple Express. Ha! Joke was on me.

Magic Mike XXL

In brief… so to speak… Magic Mike XXL is pure guy candy – a sort of Hangover with male strippers. Unlike the 2012 surprise hit, the sequel doesn’t take a dark turn. It stays fairly fun throughout – despite having virtually zero plot, and dialogue so cheesy you may need to stock up on Lactaid. But c’mon, what did you expect? Have you SEEN the trailer?! (Scroll down. You’re welcome.)

XXL picks up the story three years after stripper extraordinaire Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) leaves his beefy ‘Kings of Tampa’ stage buddies to pursue his true passion – making furniture. Life isn’t going quite according to plan. Business is slow. His girlfriend has bolted (for some inexplicable reason). And Mike is feeling kinda sorry for himself. And then: his buddies show up to lure Mike back in the fold for one last hurrah at a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach. And off they go! They make a few stops along the way, learn some new moves, shake off some demons, get involved in various mishaps, and um, dance – a lot – for an interesting array of women.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl is very good. And, I suspect, it’s probably even better if you haven’t read the best-selling book by Gillian Flynn (which I did, about two years ago). It’s just a solid, well-cast thriller that has enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, even if it does feel a tad too long.

I won’t say much about the plot, because the less you know going in, the more you’ll get out of it. But here’s the gist: Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) arrives home on his fifth anniversary to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing. A media circus ensues as questions arise about Nick and Amy, the state of their marriage, and Nick’s potential involvement in his wife’s disappearance and possibly, her death. The clues – literal and figurative – stack up as the movie flashes back on the couple’s path from instant attraction and romance to marital dysfunction.

Draft Day

Draft Day is perfectly likable, but it wouldn’t really make the cut for anyone’s fantasy team of sports movies. It’s superficial entertainment geared toward the ESPN Sports Center crowd, with a bit of chick-flick appeal — sort of a rookie version of Jerry McGwire meets Moneyball. Kevin Costner plays Sonny Weaver, the general manager of football’s Cleveland Browns who is tasked with ‘making a splash’ on Draft Day if he expects to keep his job. It’s a dramatic day that can have a life-changing impact on the lives of front-office personnel, coaches, players and NFL hopefuls across the country. Weaver has the opportunity to rebuild his team when he trades for the number-one draft pick. But his decisions come with consequences, personal and professional.

New Year’s Eve

I just re-read my review of Garry Marshall’s easy breezy chick flick of last year, Valentine’s Day, and guess what? I could easily just change out the holiday – and some of the names from the lengthy A-list cast – and present the exact same review. In fact, just for fun, that’s what I’m gonna do! So here goes, with only slight [modifications]:

Garry Marshall is brilliant. He made a mildly entertaining movie with an A-List cast and a name that virtually guarantees it a place in holiday rerun history. [New Year’s Eve] is like Crash-light. Really, really, really light. It follows a bunch of folks whose lives intersect in various ways as they [embrace, reject, and reflect on all that is New Year’s Eve as the ball is about to drop in New York City].

Like Crazy

I wasn’t crazy for Like Crazy like a lot of people seem to be. Don’t get me wrong. I liked it. I just didn’t love it. Maybe it’s because I’m old(ish) and jaded and have always been more of a realist than a romantic, but this movie just didn’t resonate with me. Yes, the performances are excellent from both Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, who won a best actress award at Sundance for her role. And the director, Drake Doremus, does a good job of conveying how all consuming first love can be with a lot of tight close-ups of the young couple’s adoring, besotted glances, and then of letting the relationship unfold at a languid pace as they try to figure out how to and whether they should stay together. Too bad I didn’t really care if they did or not.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

Yes, I was indeed among the masses who helped Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part One reap nearly $140 Million at the box office in its opening weekend. And I make no apologies. I read the books and liked them (for the most part). I saw the first three movies in the series. The first one was quite bad; the second one was better; the third one was quite good. And now, the fourth – well, it’s definitely weak. But it doesn’t really matter. Once you’re sucked into the franchise, you have no choice but to see it through (thus the boffo box office numbers for this penultimate installment of the franchise). My only hope is that Part Two somehow manages to provide a more satisfying conclusion than the book itself, which was my least favorite of the bunch.

J. Edgar

What a strange man, that J. Edgar Hoover! And yet – for nearly 50 years – he managed to wield tremendous power and influence as the controversial head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. This biopic seeks to show us how, and why.