Ep. 139 – Jojo Rabbit, Dolemite Is My Name, The King, and an Austin Film Festival recap

November 4, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Jerrod returns from his Japanese honeymoon to hear about Cody’s time at the Austin Film Festival. They also review Jojo Rabbit, Dolemite Is My Name, and The King.

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Ep. 67 – Steve Jobs, reaction to the new Star Wars trailer, Chris Rock is hosting the Oscars, and Edgar Wright is teaming up with Johnny Depp, Neil Gaiman, and Bret McKenzie

October 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Podcast

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In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys talk about “Steve Jobs,” their reactions to the final “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer, Chris Rock returning to host the Oscars, and the perfect storm of Edgar Wright directing Johnny Depp in an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “Fortunately, The Milk” written by Bret McKenzie.

[0:00-12:37] Intro, weather talk, podcasting-over-Skype woes, and Kiko is somewhere noisy.
[12-37-24:33] Reactions to the final “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer
[24:33-33:29] Chris Rock returns to host the Oscars
[33:29-39:13] Edgar Wright and Johnny Depp to team up for “Fortunately, The Milk”
[39:13-56:30] Steve Jobs
[56:30-1:09:37] Wrap up/tease next episode

Click here to download the episode!

Top Five

December 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union
Directed by: Chris Rock (“I Think I Love My Wife”)
Written by: Chris Rock (“I Think I Love My Wife”)

As a stand-up comedian, Chris Rock has had a long-lasting and strong career at the top of the food chain, selling out theaters and arenas and picking up awards for his specials. He has also had a great run on TV, with his successful HBO series, “The Chris Rock Show,” which also won Rock an Emmy. The one area Rock has yet to conquer is films where Rock’s two writer/directorial efforts have been met with poor critical reception and a matching box office total. With “Top Five,” however, Rock takes a strong leap towards capturing the essence of his stand up and talent for the big screen.

As a comedian who became a comedy film star, Andre Allen (Rock) no longer feels funny and wants his fans to take his dramatic work seriously. On the precipice of his wedding to a reality TV star (Gabrielle Union) and the big weekend opening of his new dramatic film, Allen begrudgingly agrees to an interview with New York Times reporter Chelsea Brown (played aptly by Rosario Dawson) and finds himself unexpectedly opening up.

Though it isn’t exactly based on his life or career, it is easy to see how the concept of “Top Five” can be one shared by a comedian boxed into the genre and the pressures that go into having to be “funny” at all times. The films finest moments are when Rock goes off on tangents with bits of dialogue that sound stripped directly from a stand up act. Larger than life scenes like Rock’s retelling of a story of a crazy promoter in Houston played wonderfully by an energetic Cedric the Entertainer or a cameo filled bachelor party (including a Jerry Seinfeld cameo that is equal parts the most and least Seinfeldian thing you’ve ever seen) are sharply written and laugh out loud funny.

Once you get down to the deeper elements of the story, however, the façade begins to crack and the narrative can’t stand on its own. The film revolves around an ongoing interview, but the actual interview itself never seems to take place and the relationship that forms is never worth investing in. Rock also fails to provide any real commentary into the struggles of being a comedic actor who wants to be taken seriously or have his public perception adjusted, reality TV or the trappings of fame and expectation. There is also the case of the films title which is a reference to an omnipresent “Top Five Greatest Rappers of All Time” list that Rock likes to ask people. It’s a throwaway plot point that means nothing integral to the film itself, which makes the decision to title the film after it baffling.

“Top Five” as a complete piece is a bit of a frustrating experience. Make no mistake, when the film’s comedic moments hit, they hit hard providing big laughs. For all of its strong comedy, however, the film feels more like a collection of loosely connected vignettes, both comedic and dramatic, where none of the other plot points or writing clicks in a meaningful way. The film is at its most fun when Rock gets to let loose with jokes, be himself and parade out his cavalcade of comedian friends. Fortunately for Rock, there are enough of these moments to make “Top Five” an enjoyable watch and an undeniable step forward in the world of filmmaking.

Grown Ups

June 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock
Directed by: Dennis Dugan (“You Don’t’ Mess with the Zohan”)
Written by: Adam Sandler (“You Don’t’ Mess with the Zohan”) and Fred Wolf (“Strange Wilderness”)
 
Adam Sandler’s reputation may proceed him as an actor, comedian, and screenwriter, but it’s probably time we refer to him differently now that his career seems to be on autopilot. Meet Adam Sandler the humanitarian. Since first forming Happy Madison Production Company in 1999, Sandler has single handedly kept his closest – and least talented – friends employed for a good part of the last decade.
 
For those of you who thought “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “Strange Wilderness” or “The Benchwarmers” (all movies under the Happy Madision umbrella) were actually funny, “Grown Ups” might be just the summer nonsense you’ve been waiting for.

In “Grown Ups,” Sandler and his crew, which includes Kevin James, Rob Schneider, David Spade, and a very much out-of-place Chris Rock, play five childhood friends who reunite after 30 years when their middle school basketball coach passes away. Not only did Coach Buzzer (Blake Clark) teach them how to be champions on the court, he taught them to live life without any regrets.

Somehow the sound advice translates into the geeky grown friends deciding they should spend the Fourth of July weekend together at the same campground they frequented as boys. Lenny Feder (Sandler), a hotshot sports agent, wants to show his bratty sons and fashion designer wife Roxanne (Salma Hayek) they can survive without luxuries.

Schneider plays a holistic vegan with an elderly wife he swaps spit with; Rock plays an underappreciated stay-at-home dad; Spade is the life-long bachelor; and James is, well, the fat guy (most of his moments come in the form of sight gags written specifically for the portliest actor of the group).

Written by Sandler (“You Don’t’ Mess with the Zohan”) and Fred Wolf (“Strange Wilderness”), “Grown Ups” is nothing more than lowbrow mockery between characters that is on par with a brainless collection of “your mama” jokes.

It’s painful and awkward to watch these men lounge around with goofy smiles and nothing interesting to say. While most of the dialogue seems improvised, the only ones that seem to be snickering at the stupidity of it all are the actors themselves.

Centered on a terribly-written, pun-filled screenplay, “Grown Ups” is another lame entry into the more juvenile projects Sandler can’t seem to kick. If he has any interest at all to make movies with more to offer than one-liners you could find on the walls of a public bathroom, Sandler will have to cut the cord that connects him to Dugan and his regular army of idiots.

Death at a Funeral

April 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan
Directed by: Neil LaBute (“Lakeview Terrace”)
Written by: Dean Craig (“Death at a Funeral,” 2007 version)

If there was even one ounce of cleverness in “Death at a Funeral,” the remake of the 2007 British comedy of the same name and penned by the same screenwriter, there might have been a reason to retell the story for a different demographic that probably missed the original when it hit theaters three years ago. What’s the point, however, when the new version practically matches its predecessor character for character, shot for shot, and line for line? What’s worse than a tiresome re-creation is one with nothing unique to say.

Replacing dry and subtle British humor with broad, overdone jokes, the modernized “Funeral” hopes to rely on its popular cast to shake things up a bit. Chris Rock (“The Longest Yard”) takes the lead as Aaron, the oldest son of the recently deceased Edward (Bob Minor), who is trying to keep his dad’s funeral from falling apart once the oddball mourners start showing up at his mother’s house to pay their respects. This includes his well-known novelist brother Ryan (Martin Lawrence), who walks in unwilling to pitch in for the funeral costs but ready to chase skirt, and other family and friends (Zoe Saldana, James Marsden, Tracy Morgan, Columbus Short, Danny Glover, Luke Wilson) who are able to disrupt the service in their own peculiar way.

Big trouble comes in a small package when a mysterious dwarf named Frank (Peter Dinklage, who reprises the exact role he had in the 2007 film), shows up to the funeral ready to reveal a secret that could cause a lot of pain on an already sorrowful day. To keep the funeral from becoming uncontrollable, the family must find a way to keep Frank quiet just long enough to survive a few prayers and a eulogy.

But with characters running around hopped up on hallucinogens, a mother complaining that she doesn’t have any grandchildren, and an irate uncle with some bowel issues, it won’t be easy for Aaron to keep everything moving smoothly. Director Neil LaBute (“Lakeview Terrace”) has the same problem as his actors seem to be reading their dialogue off a teleprompt and lazily going through the motions of a mediocre slapstick comedy.

With “Funeral” coming as close as possible to plagiarizing itself, there is one distinct difference between the two films other than the characters’ skin color. This new version is much more exhausting to sit through. Sure, funerals aren’t supposed to be much fun, but “Death at a Funeral” gives new meaning to dead on arrival.

Good Hair

October 28, 2009 by  
Filed under CineStrays

Starring: Chris Rock, Maya Angelou, Ice-T
Directed by: Jeff Stilson (debut)
Written by: Chris Rock (“I Think I Love My Wife”), Lance Crouther (“Down to Earth”), Chuck Skylar (TV’s “The Chris Rock Show”), Jeff Stilson (TV’s “The Showbiz Show with David Spade”)

Comedian Chris Rock takes a break from his normal shtick to give us a hilarious and very informative look at the hair issues of the black community in “Good Hair.” Inspired by his young daughter to explore the topic, Rock pools together some impressive interviewees and takes some clever avenues to develop a highly entertaining documentary that everyone should put on their must-see list for the fall. It would be great if Rock used his comedy to make more of these types of films. There’s bound to be plenty more off-beat themes out there that he should uncover.