Monday, July 15, 2013

Wknd Box Office: The Way, Way Back, Pacific Rim, Grown Ups 2, 20 Feet From Stardom, The Attack, Byzantium

Here is an interesting article from reviewing some of the movies that came out over the past weekend. This follows this post about some of the movies from last week and THIS POST about some movies that have been released over the past few years that you might have missed! This all follows this post about guidelines to chosing good movies to watch yourself.

Wknd Box Office: The Way, Way Back, Pacific Rim, Grown Ups 2, 20 Feet From Stardom, The Attack, Byzantium

By Debbie Schlussel

We are at the halfway point of the summer movies and a couple of weeks past the halfway point of 2013. And so far, I haven’t seen a lot of great movies. Most of them, in fact, stink. But I saw a particularly good movie among those which debut in theaters today, so I’ll begin with that one.

* “The Way, Way Back“: I really enjoyed this cute, charming coming of age movie about a 14-year-old boy who finds a cool father figure. This movie shows how important that is in a country populated by selfish single mothers whose desire to have sex is more important than their kids’ welfare. Fourteen-year-old Duncan (Liam James) is the son of a divorced, single mother with a creep of a boyfriend. Unfortunately, he’s stuck for summer with his mom, her jerk of a boyfriend (Steve Carell), and the boyfriend’s vapid daughter at the boyfriend’s summer cottage in a seaside town. The mom’s boyfriend is a cheating, selfish, conceited lout who tells Duncan that he considers Duncan a three on a scale of one to ten. Who tells that to a young teen boy, Duncan wants to know? And it’s a good rhetorical question.

Ignored and discarded by his mother and her mean boyfriend, Duncan wanders the town and meets a cool owner of a local water park, played by the always excellent Sam Rockwell. Rockwell treats Duncan with respect, gives him a job, recognition, and fatherly advice about girls, work, and life in general. Duncan also becomes friendly with the neighbor’s attractive but nice daughter, and they become close.

I could have done without one melodramatic scene, which was too much drama for such a fun movie, but other than that, I had fun seeing this. It was funny, and the kid is very, very likeable. Again, the importance of a strong father figure in a kid’s life is the lesson in this movie, and it’s a good one. For those who are wondering, there aren’t any sex scenes or anything inappropriate in this movie, but there is some brief idle chatter between the “adult” characters in this movie that isn’t a big deal.

Worth seeing.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Pacific Rim“: I don’t understand how a movie this crappy makes it into prime summer blockbuster season. It’s just awful and incredibly boring. The story and plot are just dumb and tired. The Cliff’s Notes version of this movie: Transformers Versus Godzilla.

The story: it’s the future and giant aliens, called Kaijus, have taken over the earth and destroyed a lot of it. Humans fight back with giant mechanical robots, called Jaegers. The Jaegers have to be pedaled from within with humans, which seems really weird since this is supposed to be the future, and we have remote control operated drones right now in 2013. Also, the Jaegers have nuclear weapons and yet they use them and nothing gets destroyed from it. Much of the movie takes place at night because it’s cheaper and easier for animators to do night scenes. There is a lot of action, but it’s just boring repeats of the same thing. There is a subplot of a washed up pilot who makes a comeback and an Asian woman who wants to be his co-pilot and finally succeeds after repeatedly being passed over. But that subplot is boring, too. It also has this annoying multi-cultural, “We are the World,” humanity unites against aliens theme that is long past stale and moldy.

There’s nothing offensive in this movie. It’s just a waste of time and pointless. Oh, and by the way, there’s a reason there are no big names in this movie. This will be–or at least should be–another summer box office bomb.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Grown Ups 2“: It’s always funny when a movie that is absolutely juvenile, immature, and utterly disgusting has “Grown Ups” in the title. Puh-leeze. This is anything but grown up. It’s absolutely awful, just like the first “Grown Ups” (read my review). All I need to say here is this: two words–Adam Sandler. That tells you this movie is crap. And it is.

As I said about the first installment of the non-Grown Up movies, this is just Sandler and his Hollywood buddies getting together at some vacation spot and shooting a haphazard movie during the vacation so they can write it off. Same thing here, except that more of Sandler’s famous buddies have roles in this version. The move consists of mostly disgusting jokes that aren’t funny, most of them involving bathroom humor or sex with animals and transvestites or hermaphrodites (hard to tell what gender a certain character in the movie was). I laughed maybe three times. And you won’t laugh either, unless, a guy making out with an animal is funny to you. Me, I don’t find bestiality hilarious.

I wasn’t sure what the story was here. There didn’t seem to be much of one, except a bunch of stereotypically racist and bigoted stupid White frat boys against the local multicultural rainbow of weirdoes and oddballs whose hijinks aren’t funny.

The end. Skip this incredibly painful-to-watch display of the sickening. It’s a national IQ test. If you liked it, you failed. And you aren’t a grown up. Not even close.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “20 Feet From Stardom“: This documentary would have been a lot more interesting, had it not focused only on Black backup singers and laughed along with their racist comments (particularly Darlene Love’s comments) about White backup singers’ allegedly “singing White” and not being able to sing as well as the Black singers. Not buying it. On the other hand, it was interesting enough and the racist singers did get their comeuppance because they never made it as big-time stars, as they had hoped for. The best and most interesting backup singer in the movie, though, is Lisa Fischer, who was not among those who uttered the racist comments.

Fischer won a Grammy during her short-lived solo career and has a range that is unusually broad for any singer. She can reach such a range of notes, and her voice is terrific. She’s the backup singer for the Rolling Stones and has been on every one of their tours for the last decade or two. She’s the one (see video below) who sings about rape and murder, etc. in “Gimme Shelter.”

Lisa Fischer Rolling Stones video . . .

And speaking of the Stones, Mick Jagger, Sting, and other well known singers make appearances in this movie and talk about their backup singers, some of whom are featured in the movie. Ironically, the two women who previously did backup for the Stones (before Fischer), particularly on “Gimme Shelter,” had the least solo success and are mostly outta the biz. One of them, who hints at a brief affair with Jagger, is now teaching English to Hispanic immigrants in Los Angeles.

While some of the stories were interesting–such as Love hearing her song on the radio when she briefly gave up and worked as a maid or how many of the backup singers sang songs that were then stolen from them and presented as the work of other singers (something often done to me with my work on this site and elsewhere being stolen by and presented as the work of others)–I’m not sure I would pay ten bucks to see this. But I would watch it on Netflix or movies on demand.

You should note that the movie is kind of depressing because these were people who wanted to make it, tried real hard, and–for the most part–failed. They either remain 20 feet from stardom or are so far removed they will probably never even be that close again. It’s sad to watch, knowing that, even though it is interesting and entertaining.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “The Attack“: This is yet another anti-Israel movie which the Israelis foolishly allowed to be shot in Israel. It’s a moral equivalence film parading as something else. And despite the fact that the Lebanese director who made this claims that the many Arab backers in Qatar and Egypt who financed it don’t want their names on it because it “humanizes” Israelis, don’t believe the hype. The movie is still anti-Israel.

In fact, a Palestinian homicide bomber’s murder of 17 Israeli kids is justified by the “massacre” at Jenin, when, in fact, even the anti-Israel U.N. found that there was no such massacre and that most of the handful of Palestinians who died there were terrorists, died of natural causes or were killed by the Palestinians. And, at the beginning of the movie, we are told that a Jewish Israeli policeman is a victim of violence brought into the hospital, and that he is basically a victim of his own violence. We’re told that the police officer harassed and physically attacked a Muslim and prevented him from praying at the mosque, which resulted in the Muslim stabbing him. Ah, you see, the Israelis instigate the violence and they are morally equivalent or worse–they deserve it. Also of note is the fact that the lead actor, Ali Suliman, was one of the lead actors in the pro-HAMAS homicide bombers in the reprehensible anti-Israel, pro-Islamic-terrorism movie, “Paradise Now.”

The story: an Israeli Arab has all the trappings of the good life in Israel. He is a doctor–a successful surgeon–at a major hospital, and its first Arab doctor to win the hospital’s yearly major award/honor. He is loved and treated with respect by his Jewish Israeli colleagues. He’s been given every opportunity by them. Then, one day, victims of a homicide bombing come in. It turns out that one of them is his Palestinian Christian wife who said she was in Nazareth visiting her father. Because only her torso and head are left, the Israelis conclude she was the homicide bomber. At first, the doctor refuses to face this, but he soon confirms she did it. Then, he goes to the so-called “West Bank” to investigate why she did it. Soon, he begins to sympathize with the cause, because of the Jenin BS, and so on. We’re supposed to sympathize with him, too.

No thanks.

One other thing: the movie shows the doctor driving from the hospital in Tel Aviv to his home in Herzliya and how he has to go through the hassle of a checkpoint. There are checkpoints with Israeli soldiers in Israel between Israeli cities–especially between Tel Aviv and Herzliya (which is seven miles from Tel Aviv and well inside Israel’s green zone)? Uh, no. So much for accuracy.

The only good–and accurate–thing about this movie is that it shows the common support of and involvement in Arab terrorism against Israel by Christians, something far too many ignore and don’t know about. I’ve written about it on this site. Christian Arabs are no angels. They are Arabs first, last, and always. And in this movie, a Palestinian Catholic priest is one of the terrorist organizers and a Palestinian Christian woman is the homicide bomber.

Subtle HAMAS propaganda, produced by Jew-haters, distributed, per usual, by Jews–in this case the Cohen Media Group of France, which recently released another similarly propagandistic moral equivalency movie about Israel and the Palestinians, “The Other Son” (read my review).


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Byzantium“: I definitely could have done without this gory, but unentertaining vampire movie. I’ve had enough of vampires, but that wasn’t what made this movie horrible. It was that it was pointless, very bloody, and just disgusting for no reason. A mother and daughter (Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan) vampire team go through modern life being chased by the male vampire club that doesn’t want to accept female vampires and wants to kill them. Ah, the fight for feminism. So, the mother and daughter are constantly on the run, while the daughter yearns to make a human connection without drinking the guy’s blood and killing him. Meanwhile, the mother works as a stripper and two-bit hooker to make money. Woven in between are scenes from hundreds of years ago, showing how they became vampires, which was also dreadful. I didn’t care about their background, and you won’t either. Also, included in this movie: a few beheadings and quite a few gory blood-puncturing-and-drinking scenes. Nope, not fun. Not interesting. Slow, boring, and a waste of time. Skip this trash.


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