Monday, June 8, 2015

Wknd Box Office: Entourage, Spy, Love & Mercy, Insidious: Chapter 3, Barely Lethal

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 choosing good movies to watch yourself!

Wknd Box Office: Entourage, Spy, Love & Mercy, Insidious: Chapter 3, Barely Lethal

By Debbie Schlussel



Well, the movies are getting slightly better with the new releases in theaters today:
* “Entourage“: For years, friends and acquaintances have asked me if I’ve seen “Entourage.” They’ve raved about what a great show it is. And I’ve always wondered about it but haven’t seen a single episode. If this awful movie bears any resemblance to the HBO show of the same name–and I’m told it’s exactly like the show–then, I haven’t missed a thing.
But the “Entourage” movie did at least one useful thing, at least for me. It helped bring to my mind this thought: that Hollywood liberals and Muslims have something in common. Both think that because America is a secular country, it must also be a hedonistic, depraved one without any morals. Muslims hate us for this. Hollywood makes sure we become this, as it constantly imposes its keep-pushing-all-acceptable-boundaries agenda on America via pop culture–to the point where there are few boundaries and envelopes left to push, if any. This movie is Exhibit A, though there’s nothing new here. And it was a whole lot more entertaining years ago when it was in “The Hangover.”
I fail to see what’s interesting about promoting and glorifying the hedonistic lifestyle of five conceited Hollywood jerks–star Vincent (Adrian Grenier), his parasitic, do-nothing entourage of two friends and a half-brother, and his agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). Gold, by the way, is modeled after real-life super agent, Ari Emanuel, brother of Obama’s Rahm.
Wait, you mean to tell me that Hollywood stars sleep around and are male whores? That they have paid-for friends who pander to them in exchange for free room and board at the mansion? That they have multiple topless women and fellow celebs at their parties? This is news? Alert the media, especially TMZ and US Magazine.
These guys are such lowlifes and so bereft of maturity and adulthood that the relative “good guy” and “reasonable” one of the bunch has slept with two women in less than 24 hours and then goes to the Lamaze class for his pregnant babymama ex-girlfriend. Classy. And everyone else in the movie is even worse. Vincent’s half-brother is shown on YouTube in a video he accidentally recorded and uploaded of himself masturbating as he watches someone else’s naked girlfriend. This is what passes for entertainment at mainstream movie theaters today.
I have to question any friends of mine who recommended I watch “Entourage.” And I have to question anyone who drops ten bucks plus to see this lowlife crap. I hated all the characters in this movie and wanted them to die a slow, torturous death. And I hate any movie that is so weak and hobbled, it needs endless cameos of celebrities as a crutch on which to lean.
Oh, and then there is the old, moldy Hollywood narrative of the evil, stupid, backward, rich Texas cowboys. You know, those big bad Red State guys from the South. Spare me. But, sadly, this movie didn’t spare us, rehearsing and repeating every single tired, negative stereotype of Southerners.
The “story”: Vincent’s agent, Ari, is now the chief of a studio. The studio wants Vincent to star in its big-budget, modern-day version of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, called simply, “Hyde.” Genius! Even more “genuis”–we’re supposed to believe–is Vincent, who tells Ari that he will only star in it if he can also direct it. After some finagling, Ari gets Vincent the gig, but he’s run $15 million over budget and needs more money to finish it the way he wants to. But a father-and-son pair of Texas oil billionaire cowboys (Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment) are funding the movie. And, of course, being Southerners, they are idiots with too much swagger and self-confidence, who don’t know anything about filmmaking but act as if they do. They want Vincent pulled off the project, his desperate half-brother cut out of the movie, and the entire movie redone. But Ari fights them. He thinks this movie is “brilliant,” even though it looks like rotten camel meat regurgitated by the ghost of Bin Laden.
And, believe me, I’m making this movie sound far better than it actually is. I found it slow and a bore on top of all of its immature frat boy theme.
The good news is that you need not have seen the TV show to figure out what is going on. Even better news is that this is still a free country, and you don’t have to see the movie, either.
Watch the trailer . . .

* “Spy“: I’ll start with the good news on this one: it has most of what the recent James Bond movies are missing: very funny jokes, hilarious lines, and really cool gadgets. But then there’s the bad news–also what the recent James Bond movies are missing, that we don’t want: fat chicks and lesbionic-looking ones. And that’s the problem here: the star of this movie is the morbidly obese Melissa McCarthy. And her whole act, as I’ve noted on this site before, is “I’m morbidly obese. Now laugh.” Also, while there are no fat chick jokes in the entire movie, McCarthy has the moves of Ronda Rousey and the speed of Usain Bolt, because all morbidly obese people have that physical prowess. Right?
Also, the movie is filled with four-letter words and dumb sexual jokes that aren’t funny. Plus, the plot relies on that old, tired “evil Russians are nuke buyers” storyline. Because Muslims would never ever be evil nor would they attempt to acquire nukes. Right? At least not in post-9/11-we-must-kowtow-to-the-religion-of-terrorists Hollywood scripts.
That said, the movie is very, very funny, and I laughed a lot. It’s also very entertaining, until about 3/4ths of the way in, when it gets old and tired and has gone on too long. The story and plot are engrossing, and it harkens back–but only a very tiny, little bit–to the old “Get Smart” TV series from the ’60s (though Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 were far more glamorous and not vulgar).
The story: McCarthy is a CIA agent who graduated at the top of her class in agent school. But she’s stuck at a desk in the basement of CIA headquarters in Langley, where she watches from a satellite as her partner (and romantic crush) Jude Law does all the spy stuff abroad. She directs him and lets him know where and when the bad guys are coming. Plus she directs drones and missiles to take them out.
But Law is killed during a mission, and all of the CIA agents’ covers and identities have been blown. So McCarthy is drafted into action to help stop a wealthy, evil arms dealer (Rose Byrne) from selling a nuclear weapon to the bad guys. Thwarting her in the mission is rogue CIA agent Jason Statham, who is very funny in this novel comedy turn for him. Helping McCarthy out is her lesbionic friend and fellow agent, who has a British accent (funny how so many CIA agents in the movie have British accents).
If you are over 55 and/or a prude, this movie is probably not for you, so don’t complain to me if you take your wife or whomever to see it and don’t like it. But I enjoyed it and laughed a lot, despite the few shortcomings I mentioned above. Though many of the jokes fall flat, most of it is hilarious.
Watch the trailer . . .

* “Love & Mercy“: This biopic follows the life of the musical genius behind “The Beach Boys,” Brian Wilson. Full disclosure: I did legal work for my friend, Mike Kowalski, who was the drummer for the group after the death of Dennis Wilson, and so I know a number of the characters in the movie, though I never met Brian Wilson. (Mike is no longer with the band.)
I enjoyed this movie, as it is well done artistically, the acting is very good, and, from my own knowledge of the story, it’s quite accurate. But you have to remember as you watch it that the movie is told from the point of view of Brian Wilson and his second wife Melinda Ledbetter-Wilson, and it’s their story. I liked the way the movie was shot, and though that actor Paul Dano (who is always very good) was brilliant in this as the younger Brian Wilson. John Cusack is pretty good as the older Wilson, too. And, per usual, I love seeing the period cars and clothes (in this case, those of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s).
The movie shows us Wilson’s absolute genius and perfectionism in writing songs and their music, particularly for the critically acclaimed “Pet Sound Sessions” album, which includes several of the group’s hit songs like “Good Vibrations” and “G-d Only Knows.” But the album didn’t sell well at the time and was eclipsed–the movie doesn’t let you know this part–by a Beatles album. We see the caustic relationship between Wilson and his abusive father/manager. We also see the beginnings of Wilson’s mental illness. Interspersed with those scenes are others of the later abuse of Wilson by his psychotherapist and self-appointed guardian, Eugene Landy. Wison meets former model and car salesman, Melinda Ledbetter, and she tries to rescue him from all of this. The one thing the movie doesn’t tell us: why a gorgeous model (played in this by Elizabeth Banks) would fall for a mentally ill, weird, creepy, older guy . . . until she hears he’s from “The Beach Boys.” Doesn’t that sorta kinda make her a gold digger rather than a heroine?
The movie isn’t entirely depressing, and the ending is uplifting and positive. But there is quite a bit of melodrama and argument in the movie. So, if you are looking for a happy escape at theaters, this probably isn’t it, though there are some happy moments mixed in. But it’s a well done movie and an entertaining window into the life of a pop star and brilliant musician. It’s trite but true: the rock star life isn’t a bed of roses.
Watch the trailer . . .

* “Insidious: Chapter 3“: After seeing so many “scary” and horror films, I’ve seen it all. And so I’m jaded and rarely scared. But this one scared me, and I screamed a few times, even when I knew something scary was about to happen. And the movie isn’t gory or violent. It does best what the best horror movies do: they scare you psychologically and don’t need blood and the grotesque to frighten you. I also loved the way the movie mocked hipsters and reality shows. Another cool thing about this movie: the hero is an old lady (Lin Shaye). You rarely see tough senior citizen chicks like the cool, classy, endearing psychic in this movie.
The story: a teen girl in high school (Stefanie Scott) is trying to seek out the spirit of her recently deceased mother. She goes to a psychic, an old woman, who tells her not to seek out her mother’s spirit alone. The psychic says that if she tries to call her mother from the dead, evil spirits will come in their place and do bad things. The psychic also says she cannot help the girl because the psychic is retired. Yup, a first in the world: a psychic who turns away money and tells the truth. Hey, it’s the movies.
But the girl doesn’t listen, and she tries to contact her mother. An evil spirit invades her life and is trying to kill her. The demon invades and haunts the apartment building where the teen girl and her father and brother live. They repeatedly try to get the retired psychic to help them. The psychic finally faces her fears, comes out of retirement, and helps the girl fight off the demons. She also fights off the depression she’s faced after her husband, the love of her life, died under very disturbing circumstances.
Mixed into all of this are two reality show hipster “ghost busters” who have a popular online show “cleaning” haunted houses. The teen girl’s brother is a fan, and gets them to come to the apartment to try to track and fight off the demons. And that’s where some things get funny and funky.
This is actually a much better movie than can be told in a review. It’s not very predictable, and it’s also quite funny, in addition to being very scary. It’s enjoyable, fast-paced, and well done for a scary movie with all unknowns, but for Dermot Mulroney, who plays the girl’s dad.
And, again, not only is it very scary, but it is the old-fashioned kind of scary: where the plot and story scare you by playing mind tricks instead of weakly leaning on blood, guts, and gore.
Watch the trailer . . .

* “Barely Lethal“: More like, “Barely Worth Watching.” Or actually, not at all. This “teen angst” movie is incredibly dumb and somewhat slow and boring. It has an interesting angle, but plays it as stupidly as possible. And it’s yet another unfunny, sophomoric “comedy.”
Hailee Steinfeld plays an orphan who attends a secret agent/assassin spy school for kids. She’s tired of the life and wants a normal existence as a teen high school student. So, she escapes and starts a new life as a Canadian exchange student at an American high school. She has the usual onscreen romantic problems with guys, typical of teen angst movies: she goes for the hot guy and when really the nice guy is for her. And she is bullied by the cool kids. But when she beats up all attackers and a video of this goes viral on YouTube, she’s suddenly popular. But the people from the assassin school (including headmaster Samuel L. Jackson), as well as villain Jessica Alba, are trying to get her.
Sounds much better than it actually is. Totally lame and a waste of time, even for the target demo. The only truism in this movie: like many contemporary parents in America, the “parents” in this movie are all complete idiots. But that ain’t news and certainly not enough to make you sit through this junk heap.
Watch the trailer . . .

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