Ep. 75 – Ride Along 2, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Oscar talk, and the suprise trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane

January 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod talk “Ride Along 2,” “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” Oscar nominations, and just how excited Cody is for the “10 Cloverfield Lane” trailer that came from nowhere.

[00:00-06:21] Intro

[06:21-17:31] Oscar nomination talk

[17:31-26:22] 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer talk

[26:22-35;17] Ride Along 2

[35:17-42:45] 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

[42:45-50:13] Wrap/tease next episode

Click here to download the episode!

Ride Along 2

January 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Ken Jeong
Directed by: Tim Story (“Ride Along,” “Barbershop”)
Written by: Phil Hay (“Ride Along”) and Matt Manfredi (“Ride Along”)

Even though I saw the original “Ride Along” in January 2014 and wrote a review for it featured on this very site, I don’t remember a single thing about the plot except that Ice Cube’s James was a hardass detective and Kevin Hart’s annoying, in-over-his-head Ben was a wannabe cop that was also marrying James’ smoking hot sister Angela (Tika Sumpter). There was probably something about drug smugglers or terrorists or whatever―hold on, let me look this up.

Okay, I’m back. Turns out it was weapons smuggling. Anyway, my point is that the movie was generic to a fault, redeemed ever so slightly by the charisma of Cube and Hart as a mismatched comedic duo, even though the funniest thing related to the film ended up being a remote skit the pair did with Conan O’Brien on his talk show where they rode around L.A. in a Lyft car.

Two Januarys later, we’ve been delivered “Ride Along 2.” It’s a week or so out from Ben’s wedding to Angela, and now he’s a rookie patrolman for Atlanta PD assisting James and his badass partner Mayfield (an uncredited Tyrese Gibson) on an undercover bust regarding something or other―drugs, I think. When it goes sideways after Ben blows their cover, the only clue they have to go on in an encrypted flash drive created by super-hacker A.J. (Ken Jeong, dialed back to tolerable for the first time in a decade), based out of Miami. To track down the drug kingpin (Benjamin Bratt) behind the smuggling, a reluctant James takes Ben along with him to the 305 to find A.J., gaining the help of a gorgeous Miami PD homicide detective (Olivia Munn, somewhat vacant) along the way.

Perhaps I’ve softened just a bit in the last two years, or maybe director Tim Story has figured out how to use his cast somewhat better in this outing. Sure, the plot is just a microwaved take on “Beverly Hills Cop” and the action scenes are somewhat lifeless, but the pairing of Cube and Hart pays off more comedically this time, and Jeong finally plays a character that complements the rest of the cast instead of dominating it into oblivion. Yeah, Munn is kind of a dud, but she doesn’t drag the movie down in any way (unless you don’t like her cleavage, that is). Look, the movie is fine and you’ll laugh sort of hard in some spots. And again, the best part of the whole shebang is a remote segment with Conan O’Brien where the trio teaches a student driver how to drive in L.A. What else do you expect in January?

22 Jump Street

June 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube
Directed by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“21 Jump Street,” “The LEGO Movie”)
Written by:  Michael Bacall (“21 Jump Street”), Oren Urizel (debut) and Rodney Rothman (“Grudge Match”)

At this point it is almost common knowledge that 2012’s big-screen version of “21 Jump Street” should not have worked at all. A comedic spin on a late-‘80s undercover teen crime drama starring a young Johnny Depp, the film starring the schlubby Jonah Hill and the beefcake-y Channing Tatum went on to become a hit with both audiences and critics. With success comes sequels, and when it comes to “22 Jump Street,” what is the approach? In the hands of Hollywood’s hottest directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the answer is a brilliant and hilarious deconstruction of just what a sequel is made of.

Unlike how “Muppets Most Wanted” earlier this year acknowledged the diminishing returns of sequels in an opening number that amounted to the cleverest thing in the whole movie, “22 Jump Street” merely flirts with breaking the fourth wall by camouflaging all of its talk on the nature of sequels in the trappings of another police assignment that happens to resemble their first adventure. This time around, Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) must infiltrate a drug ring at a local college dealing “Whyphy,” a mix of Aderall and Ecstacy responsible for the death of a female student. Along the way, Schmidt and Jenko fall into patterns reminiscent of their first undercover assignment, only this time it’s happening in a college setting.

Much like Lord and Miller’s “The LEGO Movie,” the plot of “22 Jump Street” is merely a framework to hang metatextual jokes and references on. There are no real surprises to be had when it comes to figuring out who the drug dealer is this time around, especially when monologues from Ice Cube’s and Nick Offerman’s police captains basically spell out just how the plot and interpersonal conflicts between Hill and Tatum will unfold. The film is a near-masterpiece of subversion – earned by Lord’s and Miller’s box office pedigree – that would be impressive enough even if the movie wasn’t as funny as it is.

The laughs work on multiple levels, from the pure physical humor of Hill and Tatum, the dim frat-boy antics of Jenko’s new would-be soul mate Zook (Wyatt Russell), or the meta-humor maybe a third of the audience will laugh at, like a reference to red herrings or an over-cranked car chase taking place in front of the Benjamin Hill Film studies building.  Perhaps sensing there’s not much else to wring out of this premise, Lord and Miller button the end of the film up with dozens of clips of would-be sequels. While I’d be fine with this being the curtain call for the Jump Street gang, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see Hill and Tatum continue their adventures in culinary school or a prestigious dance academy.

Ride Along

January 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo
Directed by: Tim Story (“Barbershop,” “Fantastic Four”)
Written by:  Greg Coolidge (“Employee of the Month”), Phil Hay (“Clash of the Titans”), Matt Manfredi (“R.I.P.D.”) and Jason Mantzoukas (debut)

The romantic haze of filmmaking, of actually producing a movie that will be projected in theaters across the world to the potential delight of millions, often muddies the outlook on what real fate a film faces: the way people are going to be watching this in their living rooms for the rest of eternity. Children’s movies from your Pixars, your Disneys, your Dreamworks Animation tend to live on as both genuine entertainment for families and parent-initiated distractions for kids too young to be in school. Sci-fi and superhero movies are revered by nerds and their ilk, dissected and discussed across basements and the internet forever. And so-so, mostly-inoffensive comedies like “Ride Along” are condemned to walk the earth as a constant Saturday afternoon staples on cable networks like TBS.

“Ride Along” finds Ben (Kevin Hart), a mouthy security guard about to join the police academy, preparing to propose to his fiancée Angela (Tika Sumpter). Getting the blessing of Angela’s tough police officer brother James (Ice Cube) will be difficult, Ben realizes, so he joins James on a police ride-along to prove his worth. While James plans to shake Ben from both his marriage plans and his dream of entering the police academy by taking him along on a slew of annoying calls that come across the scanner, the duo stumble into the middle of a weapons-smuggling ring led by the mysterious Omar, a kingpin looking to take over the streets of Atlanta.

Despite the comedic chops of both Hart and Cube, “Ride Along” just isn’t that funny, and the cop movie clichés strung together aren’t enough to hold the movie up as anything more than a mild distraction. Sure, there are funny moments and good laughs to be had, like a scene where Hart passes himself off as an unknown criminal, but everything else is just so forgettable. Director Tim Story, of “Barbershop” and “Fantastic Four” fame, seems content on letting the well-honed personalities of his leads carry the film. Sure, Hart plays a great small-statured motor mouth while Cube has the role of the put-upon hard ass down pat—parts they were both born to play—but that’s really all there is to the movie. So here’s what I want you to do: wait two years, then turn on your TV. Use your DVR’s search function to find “Ride Along” playing somewhere on basic cable and leave it on in the background while you’re cleaning the house or something. You won’t be disappointed.

Lottery Ticket

August 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Ice Cube
Directed by: Erik White (debut)
Written by: Abdul Williams (debut)

As an urban-centric summer offering, “Lottery Ticket” begins with a handful of surprisingly solid laughs before quickly backpedaling into a second-rate mainstream comedy reminiscent of others produced by Ice Cube like “Barbershop” and “Beauty Shop.” Sure, things could’ve come out a lot worse (“First Friday” comes to mind), but the humorous setup can’t compete with a first-time director and screenwriter who can’t quite execute the more insightful issues they hoped to highlight.

Rap artist Bow Wow – in his fifth major film release – stars as Kevin Carson, a young Footlocker employee who dreams to one day move out of his neighborhood and own his own shoe company.

When Kevin reluctantly buys a lottery ticket and finds out the following day that he has hit the $370-million jackpot, he, his grandmother (Loretta Devine), and his best friend Benny (Brandon T. Jackson) aren’t the only ones jumping for joy. When news hits the streets about Kevin’s good fortune, the entire neighborhood comes looking for him and wants to share in his newfound wealth.

With the lottery ticket office closed for the Fourth of July, Kevin has to get through the weekend without doing anything to jeopardize the tiny paper ticket in his pocket. Instead of doing what most sane people would do (leaving town and holding up in a hotel for a few days or even going to the bank and putting the ticket in a safety deposit box), screenwriter Abdul Williams leaves Kevin out to fend for himself against his riotous neighbors, a kingpin (Keith David) who befriends him after his win, and the local ex-con bad boy (Gbenga Akinnagbe) who also wants to cash in big.

Ice Cube takes a smaller role as Mr. Washington, a mysterious old man and former boxer who hangs out in his basement and never leaves his home. He takes kindly to Kevin who doesn’t mind running small errands for the elderly recluse. Although he acts as the voice of reason, Cube dressed in old man makeup is about as funny as Tyler Perry in a muumuu.

Aside from the authentic friendship between Kevin and Benny, which leads to the more dramatic moments of the film, “Lottery Ticket” begins to drown as it attempts to sidestep some of its earlier faults. When Benny preaches to Kevin that he needs to make a difference in his community with the money he’s won, the message feels hypocritical when you think back to the point in the film where Benny goes on a selfish little shopping spree.

“Lottery Ticket” could be a vehicle for a some escapism (who hasn’t thought about what they would do if they got so lucky?), but the shoddy blend of social commentary and stereotypical humor doesn’t make for much of a trip anywhere.

First Sunday

January 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Katt Williams
Directed by: David E. Talbert (debut)
Written by: David E. Talbert (debut)

Someone save Ice Cube from the embarrassment. While your at it, tell Tracy Morgan he’s as funny as “The Tracy Morgan Show,” which, of course, was cancelled after one dismal season. Oh, also, let Katt Williams know he isn’t Dave Chappelle, just in case he wasn’t aware. With the combination of these three comedic weaklings in the new film “First Sunday,” it’s safe to say we haven’t seen this pathetic of a performance from a trio since last year’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” movie. And at least they had a snarky wad of meat on their team.

In “First Sunday,” a film which is obviously trying to ride the coattails of Terry Perry’s over-appreciated Madea comedies, friends Durell (Ice Cube) and LeeJohn (Morgan) need money and need it fast. Both have to pay back a dangerous gang of Jamaicans for losing a shipment of custom wheelchairs they were supposed to sell (huh?). Durell needs even more money because his ex has decided to move with their son to another city because she doesn’t have enough money to keep her hairstyle business open (Tiffany Polland of “I Love New York” and “Flavor of Love” reality fame makes her screen debut in a cameo).

What it all comes down to is that Durell is a deadbeat father, who can’t hold down a job or stay out of trouble long enough to help out with his son. Director/writer David E. Talbert, however, wants us to believe that somewhere in Durell there is heart. Not much evidence of this is show in the film’s 98 minute runtime.

When a judge sentences Durell and LeeJohn to 5,000 hours of community service for their latest fiasco in the streets (although he could have thrown them in jail because of their rap sheet), the duo simply doesn’t have time to get a full time job to pay the debts they owe.

During a community service outing, Durell and LeeJohn decide to chase some skirt into a church and stay for the service. While listening to the word of the Lord, they find out the church is raising money to move out of the ghetto and have already collected thousand of dollars for the relocation.

For whatever reason (probably the idiocy of Talbert), the two believe the money they need is inside the church (churches can’t get bank accounts apparently). They decide, of course, to rob the church but are surprised when they are caught by the Deacon and must take everyone who is having a late-night meeting hostage until they find out where the money is.

Humorless, witless and poorly written (there’s a scene where Durell sends his son off to school and then goes to Sunday mass. School on Sunday?), Talbert starts his career off with a major bomb. It took until at least February of last year to find a film that was worthless from start to finish (“Because I Said So”). This year, the belittling comes a bit early because of “First Sunday.”