A busy week for me means we have a quick pick sampling of reviews. Deep thoughts? Close analysis? Carefully curated films that share a central theme and expose nuance and subtlety in each individual movie while lifting up the group as whole with their unified message? None of that nonsense! Just a handful of random movies and some quick thoughts on them. Look, some crazy person decided to watch 366 movies this year, I have a quota to hit.
Hail, Caesar! – Josh Brolin plays a “fixer” for a 1950’s Hollywood studio. While dealing with a collection of crazy characters the studio’s biggest star is kidnapped. Hijinks ensue. The Coen Brothers are really hit and miss with me though their comedies tend to work. I really enjoyed all the vignettes as Brolin goes from set to set. The stereotypically snappy 1950’s dialog, silly situations, and parade of cameos kept me entertained so much that the main story felt a bit like a drag. Each individual scene is really good but smashed together as a whole something felt lacking. It’s actually less than the sum of its parts. By the way, Channing Tatum may be one of the most talented song and dance acts of our day.
Friday – Ice Cube and Chris Tucker spend a lazy Friday out on the front porch taking in the antics of the neighborhood and working to get a debt paid to a drug dealer. This movie just didn’t do it for me. Maybe it’s a product of its time, perhaps I’m not the target audience, and maybe humor is just subjective. The random characters and happenings didn’t grab me at all nor did I find any of it funny. I was checked out early on and nothing I saw made me think I was missing much.
Minions – With the little henchmen from the Despicable Me movies being so ubiquitous that they have their own Pantone color it was only a matter of time before they got their own spin off movie. These guys and their babbling are best in small doses. I enjoyed the movie’s take on 1960’s British style, but this follows the current formula for kids movies: cute characters, easy visual jokes, and cheaply licensed music. I’m sure kids would really enjoy but there is nothing here to help the adults get through it.
Poltergeist (2015) – Remaking the 1982 movie of the same name, a troubled family moves into a new home only to discover it’s totes haunted. Like whoa. A PG-13 horror movie, Poltergeist relies on its dread and jump scares. Ultimately it’s less a scary movie and more of an adventure movie with ghosts. It’s faithful to the original with only a few tweaks. Turning the phrase “This house is clean” into a hashtag for a reality show is inspired. In the end it’s an inoffensive remake. It wasn’t necessary but does well with the source material.
Hotel Transylvania 2 – Dracula’s daughter has married a human and now everyone is wondering if their five year old son will be a vampire or a human. This movie offers a little more for the adults than Minions did as it deals with letting children make their own choices rather than trying to force your opinions on to them. I think the art style and friendly monsters are charming. As kids movies go this one isn’t bad.
Tootsie – Dustin Hoffman is a struggling actor and, desperate to get work, turns to cross dressing and getting a job as an actress. He begins to see how women are treated differently and speaks out against men that disrespect women with unwanted nicknames, inappropriate advances, and other casual sexism. Hoffman was putting on a dress long before Robin Williams got around to it and had a stronger message! But not as funny. There are some good laughs though and a great performance from Hoffman make this a strong film. Also, Bill Murray is the straight man. Weird.
Lumberjack Man – A group of teens at camp are stalked by a masked maniac with an affinity for pancakes. Luckily the camp is church camp, because these kids need some Jesus. Nudity and blood runs rampant through this movie with tongue placed firmly in cheek. The kills are fun, sometimes downright silly, but a low budget prevents the movie from going as far as it probably would like to go. It’s not in the same league as Hatchet but it’s in the same spirit. If you love bloody violence, a little absurdity, EXTREMELY gratuitous nudity, and flapjacks, you’ll enjoy Lumberjack Man. I think I have a new Shrove Tuesday tradition.