Monday, April 18, 2016

Wknd Box Office: Everybody Wants Some!!, Criminal, The Jungle Book, The Adderall Diaries

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: Everybody Wants Some!!, Criminal, The Jungle Book, The Adderall Diaries

By Debbie Schlussel

Here are my belated reviews of the new movies which debuted in theaters this weekend. Remember, you can always hear my movie reviews live, first thing every Friday morning on “The Pat Campbell Show” on KFAQ 1170 AM Tulsa at 7:35 a.m. Eastern, on “The James Show,” on KWTX 1230 AM at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, on “The Mike Church Show” on the Veritas Radio Network/CRUSADE at 10:05 a.m. Easter, and on “The Larry The Cable Guy Show” (sometimes on Thursdays) between 10:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Eastern on SiriusXM’s Jeff and Larry’s Comedy Roundup Channel 97. I do my movie reviews on all four shows, as well as some discussion of current political issues and pop culture topics.
* Everybody Wants Some!! – R: When I walked out of this movie, I told the studio reps that, while I like it, this is a higher brow “Porky’s” (the raunchy, sleazy 1981 “coming of age” flick) with better window dressing and more likable characters. It is that, but it has more charm and is slightly sweeter. But it’s still about “boys will be boys” and seek sex. So, if you grew up in the 1980s as I did, you will probably like it more than not. If you are older than 50 (maybe 55), you will probably hate this. I had mixed feelings about it because, ultimately, it’s really about chasing sex at all cost above and beyond everything else.
I loved the nostalgic look at the past, although I don’t remember seeing as many guys in mustaches in 1980. The movie takes place in August 1980 but seems more ’70s-ish. It’s written and directed by Richard Linklater of “Dazed and Confused” fame. He likes to write about his experiences growing up in Texas in the ’70s and ’80s, and this is more of that. He’s generally spot on in giving you the onscreen feel of the era. As a comedy, this hits the spot because it’s very funny. I laughed a lot. But, in the end, it’s the same old sleazy “coming of age” movie . . . except that now–in our age of 24/7 internet porn and zero scruples–it’s hip and acceptable (when I was a kid, Porky’s was for lowlifes to go see).
The movie follows Jake (Blake Jenner), who arrives at a Texas college, where he will be a freshman pitcher on the school’s baseball team. He and his teammates live in two houses that have a frat-like atmosphere. At first, he gets caught up in the culture of the houses and the team and the frenzy aimed at getting a girl alone in a room to have sex. But–and this is the upside–he eventually becomes a gentleman in his quest to romance a cute and charming dancer in the arts part of the college. Their romance does not involve sex, and maybe that’s the laudable lesson here. They spend an entire night together talking, with only a kiss between them. (The girl is played by Zoey Deutch, a mini-me of her mother, actress Lea Thompson–of “Back to the Future” fame). Jake is a likable character as is the leader of the house, “Finn,” played by actor Glen Powell. Finn shows the new kids the ropes and is very funny and likable despite his shameless ways.
There really isn’t much of a plot, other than following the lives of the players on the team in a very short period (the days before college begins). And in many ways it takes off where “Dazed and Confused” began–this is billed as that movie’s “spiritual sequel” (whatever that means–there is little spirituality here). Still, regardless of the plot, it’s entertaining, and I loved the soundtrack, featuring songs from the era. The clothes and cars from the period are spot-on, too. I laughed out loud when Finn mocks the “urban cowboy” clubs of the time and asks why they are in. Remember when John Travolta and Debra Winger helped make that stuff hip for a bit?
Beware, if you are a prude. This is rated “R” for a reason, several of them actually: nudity, sex, explicit language, and drug use. Again, I was entertained by this movie, but culturally, it contributes nothing. In fact, it’s on the cultural sewer side more than not. So I’m being generous (and am very reluctant and hesitant) when I give it . . .
Watch the trailer . . .

* Criminal – R: This movie was, in theory, a great idea. In execution, not so much. I love science fiction and the idea here of transferring one man’s knowledge and experiences into the brain of another. But it turned out to be a jumbled, unpleasant, violent mess here. On top of that, this is the latest in a series of never-ending Hollywood contortions–more pretzel-esque than the kinkiest gymnast–to avoid showing us an Islamic terrorist as a villain. In this one, it’s a Spanish anarchist billionaire hacker and former CEO. Um, how many of those have attacked Americans in the last couple of decades? Yup, I have the same count: ZERO. And who is most likely to assassinate an American CIA agent in London? An Islamic terrorist or a . . . Spanish anarchist billionaire hacker and former CEO? Yes, we know it’s the former. But not in this preposterous flick.
Ryan Reynolds is the aforementioned CIA agent in London. He is killed early on in the movie, but his CIA boss (Jew-hater Gary Oldman) doesn’t know the location of the safe house where Reynolds took a hacker and CIA informant. The only possible way to get that information–locked inside the dead CIA agent’s head–is to use an experimental medical technique developed by a doctor (a very, very old and tired-looking Tommy Lee Jones). The technique involves using brain surgery and high-tech computer wiring to transfer the knowledge and memories of one man from his brain to the brain of another man. And the experiment needs the brain of a living man who has the memories portion of his brain wiped out. The only such man is a convicted serial killer and career violent criminal played by Kevin Costner.
At first, the experiment doesn’t seem to take hold, but soon Costner–who has by now escaped CIA custody–begins to have visions and flashbacks to events in Reynold’s life. He goes to Reynolds’ home and terrorizes his wife. But soon he begins to see the importance of his mission to find the safe house with the hacker. If he does not do so in time, the aforementioned Spanish anarchist billionaire hacker terrorist will get his hands on all of America’s nuclear codes, spy and operations information, and so on. In short, he’ll be able to hack in to everything that the U.S. government does at the highest and most classified levels. And the terrorist will use all of this to destroy the world. He already demonstrates this by sending missiles to nearly blow up a U.S. ship.
Costner’s hardened criminal is eventually softened by the dead CIA agent Reynolds’ memories–and this very slow and boring movie eventually heats up and improves at that point. But he still kills a bunch of innocent cops and others in the course of all that. And none of that seems to matter to anyone at the end, which is infuriating and unrealistic.
When things do finally get exciting, it’s not until the last 15-20% of the movie. And by then, I already lost most of the scant interest I had once this movie started to lull me into a snooze.
Like I said, great idea. Lackluster execution. What could have been a very exciting story was mostly incredibly dull (despite being packed with action and stunts).
By the way, Israeli actress Gal Gadot (who likes to star in Jew-hating, anti-Israel movies) is in this as Reynold’s wife. Who cares? Not me.
Watch the trailer . . .

* The Jungle Book – PG: I’m not really sure yet another iteration of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” needed to be made (and, in addition to this latest one, yet another is scheduled to be released in a year or two). But this one, directed by Jon Favreau, is charming and entertaining for young kids and the parents who bring them. Although some of it is incredibly creepy and scary (more on that later).
Most of the animals in this are computer generated images (CGI). But, unlike most standard CGI, the animals here are incredibly lifelike and realistic. It doesn’t really look like CGI, but for a couple of brief instances or so.
You’re probably familiar with the story: a young boy is raised by the animals of the jungle, and thinks he’s one of them, even though he’s human. He’s been “abandoned” in the jungle because he went missing after his father was killed by one of the animals. The animals, though they find the jungle boy endearing and regard him as family, realize that eventually they must return him to the “man village,” as his presence in the jungle endangers all of the animals, and it endangers the boy, as well.
Most jungle animals you can think of are in this, including a very creepy, in-your-face giant python. And when I say, “in-your-face,” I mean it. A close-up of the snake’s head about to pounce on the jungle boy is frightening, especially if you see it in 3D as I did. If I had seen this as a kid, I would have had nightmares for weeks. It’s that real. And that’s why this movie has been declared too scary for kids by some parties. Also lifelike: the fires (“the red flower”) that consume the jungle.
The animals are mostly voiced by big stars, like Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Israel-hater Ben Kingsley, Cuba-lover Charlize Theron, and Planned Parenthood tax-funding proponent Scarlett Johansson. Murray is funny as the lazy bear who enlists the jungle boy to secure bee hives for the bear’s meals. And he’s the character who most stands out, other than the snake. There is also a tiger who is trying to kill the jungle boy and chases him throughout the movie.
This isn’t the greatest kids movie, but it’s good enough for the purpose for which it is meant. And as a version of “The Jungle Book,” it’s better than workmanlike. It’s cute and entertaining for little kids and the parents who accompany them.
Watch the trailer . . .

* The Adderall Diaries – R: This is just awful. A complete, extremely boring waste of time. This is yet another one of those movies, the idea of which is better than the execution. It’s boring, slow, and disjointed, on top of the fact that instead of delving into the plot, it focuses on artsy fartsy crap. And no wonder. This is one of those low-budget, arthouse flicks that belongs there.
James Franco plays an author who writes about his childhood of abuse at the hands of his evil father. He writes of his life of drugs and homelessness and how he overcame it. He also wrote that his father was dead. The books sell, and he’s a successful, rising-star writer.
But, one day, his “dead” father shows up at one of Franco’s public readings of his book. And, thus, the rising career as a writer is ended (or, at least, paused) because he’s shown to be a fraud. The father claims none of it is true–that he was a good father and did the best he could, while his son, the writer, was a very troubled kid and problem child. Who is telling the truth? The movie never really tells us, though there are a series of disjointed, sudden flashbacks throughout the movie–all of which are ambiguous, once the father appears.
Anyway, because of the “dead” father’s appearance and claims the book is a lie and defamatory, Franco loses all of his book and writing deals, but for one. He’s set to write monthly (or weekly?) articles for a publication, and he manages to hold on to that gig because he pitches covering a murder trial as the topic of the articles. A wealthy man is on trial for killing his missing wife, whose body has never been found. Franco has visions of becoming the next Truman Capote by covering the trial. He also believes the hubby is innocent.
While covering the trial, Franco meets Amber Heard, a New York Times reporter also covering the trial. They begin a troubled romance that includes the use of drugs, including Adderall.
Like I said, the idea of this was interesting. But the brief trial coverage and scenes of the accused murderer (and what eventually happens with that) seem like an afterthought. And the relationship with Heard is uninteresting and bland. Even the interaction between the author and his allegedly dead, allegedly abusive dad is banal and boring.
This movie is pointless and a waste of time. And I struggled to get through it. You would, too, but I’m saving you the ten-bucks-plus and time you’d have wasted. Because now you’ve been forewarned.
Watch the trailer . . .

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