Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Adam Sandler turns a new leaf in "The Week Of"

The Week of Review

I am starting to wonder what professional critics expect from Adam Sandler.

Maybe I think this because I was always one of Sandler's fans. I was front and center for his prime career. "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore" and "Big Daddy" are all films I love. I even liked things like "Eight Crazy Nights" a movie that seemed to fizzle upon its release. Sure, not everything he did during that time was good, I honestly don't think I ever need to watch "The Waterboy" ever again. But even in those days, critics never really got Adam Sandler. Or maybe they were just predicting the future, because as Sandler moved into the 2000's, he appeared as a one-tricky pony, only capable of doing one thing. "Punch-Drunk Love" was an absolute fluke, and everything else he touched seemed like over-indulgence for the sake of it. Except maybe "50 First Dates."

This deal with Netflix seemed like a vanity project for the actor more than anything else. I watched "The Ridiculous 6" and I watched "The Do-Over" and I watched "Sandy Wexler." Out of all three of those, "Sandy Wexler" was the best, but possibly not worth the effort of signing a major deal with Sandler. The other two are your typical shitty Adam Sandler movies. Suddenly though, there seems to be a change. I would highly recommend seeking out "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)" its on Netflix too, and its honestly a different kind of Adam Sandler comedy all together.

You can add "The Week Of" to the unique experience of the new Adam Sandler comedy. For the first time in his career, he isn't relying on his angry ranting humor to get him through a comedy. For the first time in his career, he is playing multiple characters and making up weird voices for them. For the first time in his career, he isn't running in circles making the same points in his movies over and over again. Although I will argue that there is a typical, raging Sandler comedy hidden in the subtext of the film, and perhaps ten years ago this could have looked a lot different. That's easily the most frustrating thing about an otherwise good movie.

The movie is about two families, one is led by Sandler and the other is led by Chris Rock. Their children is getting married, Sandler's daughter and Rock's son. Chris Rock plays a successful, super-rich doctor and Sandler plays your typical, Middle-Class man. Sandler is hellbent on paying for the whole wedding, even though his family doesn't have much and even though Rock has offered many times to help, he's financially stable, and Sandler really isn't. But he wants to impress his future son-in-law's family and really wants to give his daughter the best wedding ever. 

So in your everyday Sandler fashion, next to nothing goes well. There is a leak at the hotel everyone is staying at. Someone gets hurt at the bachelor party, and by the end of the movie, the wedding venue is on fire. There is also a laundry list of other things that make the wedding a near-disaster. But like I said above, the humor in the film isn't your typical Sandler humor. There is a dryer, less zany sense of humor to the story. It almost feels like a Woody Allen comedy for much of its running time, and its amazing to see Sandler having an actual character to play. He does incredible work, and he's still very funny here.

There are a couple Sandler regulars in here, and all the way through, it feels like a natural, organic comedy. It's not overly-slapstick or overly-deadpan. For someone who actually experienced an entire year of wedding planning, the jokes about anxiety of planning a wedding were dead on. The stress and needs of everyone involved can be crazy and just that, stressful. And I thought the movie had something very true to say about it. The movie itself, kinda finishes in the same Sandler fashion, but you know, by the end I didn't care. There was so much fun on display that I was happy with the experience. I know this got panned by critics, but again, as I opened this review, I don't get what critics want from him anymore. Just about all my favorite Sandler movies have been panned by the critics, and I still love all of them. I can also appreciate with "The Week Of" that an artist this late in his career can still try something new, and try different things. Change can be a good thing, and now my interest in Adam Sandler's Netflix run has gone up a bit. Something that I didn't think was possible.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Primetime TV 2018-2019

I did this last year, and I wanted to create a place where you can see which shows were officially renewed and cancelled for the big primetime TV stations. Well, here are all the big ones right here right now.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.*
American Housewife
American Idol
The Bachelor
Bachelor In Paradise
Child Support
Dancing With The Stars
For The People
Fresh off the Boat
The Goldbergs
The Good Doctor
Grey's Anatomy
How To Get Away With Murder
Modern Family
Shark Tank
Splitting Up Together
Station 19
Ten Days In The Valley

Alex Inc.
Boy Band
The Crossing
Designated Survivor
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World
Marvel's Inhumans
The Mayor
Once Upon A Time
Ten Days In The Valley

*Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return in the summer of 2019 and will run for only thirteen episodes. There is a good chance that this will be the show's last. It's had an up and down inception, but overall I liked the show. But six seasons isn't bad at all. Otherwise, the only show I'll miss is The Mayor. Lots of forgettable stuff getting axed by ABC, and the renewals aren't surprising.

The Amazing Race
The Big Bang Theory
Big Brother
Big Brother: Celebrity Edition
Criminal Minds
Hawaii 5-0
Life In Pieces
Madam Secretary
Man With A Plan
(all versions of) NCIS
Young Sheldon

Kevin Can Wait
Living Bibically
Me, Myself and I
Superior Donuts
Wisdom of the Crowd

I will definitely miss Scorpion, but I think the quality definitely was beginning to dwindle and I fell off the show for sure. I also liked Superior Donuts quite a bit, I will miss that one for sure. Other than those, not too many surprises here. All the big CBS staples will be back.

The 100
Black Lightening
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
The Flash
Jane The Virgin

Life Sentence
The Originals

Well, no big surprises here at all. I would like to take a quick shoutout to Black Lightening. I haven't watched the whole first season yet, but I definitely like what I've seen so far! Penn and Teller: Fool Us is still up in the air at the moment.

Bob's Burgers
Brooklyn Nine-Nine*
Family Guy
The Four
The Gifted
Hell's Kitchen
Lethal Weapon
MasterChief & MasterChief Junior
The Orville
The Resident
The Simpsons

The Exorcist
The Last Man on Earth
The Mick
Shots Fired

*Brooklyn Nine-Nine will have a new home over at NBC, a fact that I greeted with a sigh of relief. Its one of the best comedies on TV right now, and I am not sure what Fox is thinking
**Gotham's next season will apparently be its last, and will focus on...get this...Bruce becoming Batman. Wasn't that the whole point in the first place? Kill it already
Fox breaks my heart, losing The Last Man on Earth and The Mick really hurt my soul. They better replace it with some good stuff!

X-Files is a long shot as of right now. LA To Vegas could go either way.

America's Got Talent
American Ninja Warrior
A.P. Bio
The Blacklist
Chicago Fire, PD, etc, etc all renewed
Ellen's Game of Games
Good Girls
The Good Place
Law & Order: SVU
Midnight, Texas
This Is Us
The Voice
The Wall
Will & Grace*

The Brave
Great News
The Night Shift

*Will & Grace will have at least two more seasons

No news on Timeless at this moment

I liked A.P. Bio, glad that's returning. I continue to love Superstore, and I thought I was the only one who watched it, glad its coming back. I watched Great News and the first episode of Rise, I couldn't get into either of them. Never gave Taken a shot, glad I didn't. You know what else? I actually really, really, really liked Ellen's Game of Games. Glad to see more of that.

Did your favorites survive? Let me know!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody trailer

Wow...this looks awesome.

Rami Malek seems to really come alive as Freddy Mercury, and I have a feeling this will be the actors first ever Oscar nomination. I was smiling ear to ear watching this trailer. And it isn't even the full length of a trailer.

Oh, and was that Little Finger I saw in the trailer? Maybe

Review: "Blockers" is good for a few laughs, but ultimately boils down to chick flick tropes

Blockers Review
There have been several comedies that have some potential, and the possibilities are endless. I haven't seen a comedy that revolved around three parents figuring out that their teenage children are planning to lose their virginity's on their prom night, but alas so is the story of "Blockers." There is a reason why there has been a chicken in all the advertising, I'm sure if the MPAA would have let them, the movie would have been called "Cock Blockers," so they have to have an outline of a "cock" animal in all the advertising. Hardy harr harr. When you've got Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and even John Cena playing the three concerned parents who then plan to stalk their children at their own prom to make sure that their dates are keeping it in their pants, I mean man that is comedic gold potential right there.

Oddly enough, the stuff that works in "Blockers" was not what I expected, and the stuff I expected to land laughs was mediocre at best.

The parents all have daughters. The daughters are played by Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Visawanathan and Gideon Aldon, honestly they are the best. I was pleasantly surprised by how good they all were together. "Blockers" has been advertised as a "female Superbad" and I usually cringe when comparisons like that are made. In this case, honestly, they got pretty close. The work by Newton, Visawanathan and Aldon is sometimes raunchy, sometimes silly, and very human. That was the secret ingredient in "Superbad." The kids in that movie weren't the type of kids we usually see in teen comedies. They were vulnerable, they were curious and they were awkward. That's exactly the same type of feeling I got when I saw these girls. They are fully readable, and totally recognizable to when we were teenagers. That's the genius of this.

The work done by Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz is fine. Not nearly as good as it should have been, but fine. John Cena should just stick to comedy, because he seems to come alive in the genre in a bigger way than he ever did in an action movie, which is surprising all around given his day job. Leslie Mann is one of the rare great female talents in comedy who is always reliable. She doesn't get too many opportunities to be front and center in a movie. But when she does, she delivers some magic. The best of the three parents though, is without a doubt and without surprise, is Ike. Barinholtz is a diamond in the rough, and it never ceases to amaze me that he's not in literally every comedy being written right now. I can't help but crack up every single time he's onscreen, and he does that movie after movie. Maybe I have a stupid sense of humor, but I laugh myself silly from his talent, and he's given all the best material in the movie, and he totally runs with it.

The thing is, if the adults weren't a big part of the movie, it would have been better. Had the movie really been a "female Superbad" and followed these three girls on this important journey and focused on their wild prom night. Had it really developed their thinking and need for virginity to go away on this one night. Well, that would have been better. When the adults come in, they are given such predictable character development that you can teleplay the movie from beginning to end. John Cena and Leslie Mann discuss not talking to each other, so of course they date. Ike's character is holding onto a secret that has damaged his friendship with Mann and Cena, and that connects to his daughter's need to fuck in a predictably dumb way. Maybe the girls lose their virginity, maybe they don't. I am not going to spoil the movie for you, but how the movie goes back to connect to the adults feels forced, feels manufactured and is useless as far as story goes. The adults feel like placeholders because the writers had no idea how to fill in the adventure with the girls, who should have been the main focus of the movie.

I think you will be surprised by the charm of the three young women in this movie, and just how awesome their characters are. I think Ike continues to show just how powerful a comedic powerhouse he is, and I hope he shows up in more movies soon. However, there are conflicting storylines here, and they eventually begin to ruin what could have been a great movie. But there is definitely enough material here to warrant a watch, and you I think you'll find it enjoyable.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody trailer tomorrow

This is one of those movies that have been in development for many years. Johnny Depp was heavily considered as Freddy Mercury for many years. Now, "Mr. Robot" star Rami Malek will play Freddy Mercury.

I will be interested in seeing this tomorrow.


Review: "Isle of Dogs" is another stop-motion winner for Wes Anderson

Isle of Dogs Review
There are merely a handful of directors who I will happily follow into the movie theater, no matter what subject matter they choose, no matter what risks they are willing to take, no matter what their new movie is about. There are only a few directors who have developed such a clear command over their craft, that even if they have a rough year (and believe me, nobody is perfect) that doesn't seem to matter. The next film they put on the books, I am willing to go to the theater to see. Wes Anderson has become one of those directors.

Simply put, we don't have another Wes Anderson out there. There is nobody else in the business with a dryer deadpan sense of humor. There isn't another director who is writing more original dialogue and characters, except maybe Quentin Tarantino. (But trying to compare Tarantino to Anderson feels like comparing apples and oranges) There is also nobody else in the business who seems to have a firm grasp on stop-motion animation. Its been a while since Tim Burton shot a film this way, and I never would have guessed that Wes Anderson would have been the guy to bring the idea back in such witty style. In 2009, his "Fantastic Mr. Fox" was one of the best films of the decade, and perhaps Anderson has struck gold again with "Isle of Dogs."

"Isle of Dogs" features some early narration by the Courtney B. Vance, because it wouldn't be a Wes Anderson movie without some narration of some kind. The narrator explains that dogs became the best friends of an ancient Japanese tribe, but the rival Kobayashi tribe (who were more cat people) tried to defeat them because they didn't like dogs. When Kobayashi's rivals were near defeat, a savior came in and saved the day. Now in modern times, a decendent of Kobayashi is now mayor of Megasaki City. When a dog-flu virus breaks out, he orders all dogs, stray and domestic, to trash island. Even though a scientist Professor Watanabi (Akira Ito) is close to a cure. Kobayashi wants all the dogs out of the city, and then he secretly wants to kill all the dogs once he's reelected in an upcoming election.

We then meet dogs Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray) and Duke (Jeff Goldblum) form a group to help stay alive six months into dogs being transported to Trash Island. Though Chief doesn't really care to go back to mainland Japan since he was the only stray in the group, the other dogs do. Suddenly, a human boy named Atari (Koyu Rankin) crash-lands on the island, determined to find his dog Spots (Liev Schreiber). Chief and his pack decide to help Atari, although Chief is reluctant to join his pack since he has a slight distrust of humans.

As you can see from above, the film is packed with the usual yet dependable Anderson regulars bring the voices to life for the dogs. They all do outstanding work. As I sat watching this movie, I was scared that the recognizable voices would get distracting. But do to the animation, the style of the movie and the sense of humor of the script, its actually kind of perfect hearing Bryan Cranston's voice come out of a big, black dog. Not that he is alone. There are a ton of good Anderson regulars here; including Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Anjelica Huston and Fisher Stevens. Scarlett Johansson also appears and does good voice work. This isn't typical animation, and Anderson finds the charm in putting these dog characters together.

His eye for stop motion hasn't wavered a bit since 2009, and the world of this dystopian future of Japan may not look real, but its completely realized. There is just a pinch of realism that makes the movie fun to continue to follow through. And Anderson is just as playful in world-building as he was in 2009.

I may have been a little biased. My wife and I have two dogs of our own, one is six and the other is almost two. We love them with every fiber of our being, and they are so spoiled and so much apart of our family that I even put them in a picture of our family specially created for our one-year anniversary. There are some that may snicker at that, but I don't care. There seems to be a very fine line between people who love dogs and people who only see them as dogs. This is a movie that definitely tests that line in people. The dogs that inhabit Trash Island, even the tough strays, are in need of a home, they miss their masters and they are being discarded by people who only see them as dogs. Any pet, no matter what they are, is a part of your family. I am one of those dog owners who truly believes that my two dogs are apart of my family. I can't think of another movie about dogs that so playfully and gleefully has fun with that concept without shamelessly playing with your heart-strings. But leave it to Wes Anderson to do just that. I hope we see more Anderson in stop-motion worlds, especially when he's got such fun stories to tell.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Jack Black says "Pick of Destiny 2" is coming

Well, here's some news that I didn't expect today.

This is a CD I have on my IPod, its a movie I found incredibly funny. I am talking about "Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny." What's that, you ask? Well, Jack Black and his friend Kyle Gass are an alternative rock duo who write a bunch of comedic rock songs. They go by the name Tenacious D, and they have released a couple albums, and had their own movie made in 2007, the movie above, The Pick of Destiny! Both of these men are quite talented, and the way Jack Black plays guitar is quite shocking and rather remarkable. "Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny" was one of those small gems that went nearly completely unnoticed in 2007, but when I actually watched it, I couldn't believe how much of it clicked with me.

Jack Black announced today that there will be a sequel to "The Pick of Destiny." It sounds like they are aiming for an October release of this year. Jack Black himself doesn't even seem to know how it will happen, but as assured that its going to happen. So that is good, right?