Dumb and Dumber To

November 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Rob Riggle
Directed by: Peter Farrelly (“Dumb and Dumber”) and Bobby Farrelly (“Dumb and Dumber”)
Written by: Sean Anders (“We’re The Millers”), Mike Cerrone (“The Three Stooges”), Bobby Farrelly (“Dumb and Dumber”), Peter Farrelly (“Dumb and Dumber”), John Morris (“We’re the Millers”), and Bennett Yellin (“Dumb and Dumber”)

Two decades ago, brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly burst onto the scene with “Dumb and Dumber,” a film that launched their careers and boosted Jim Carrey into the stratosphere, sustaining his mid-90’s run that ascended him to the throne of the undisputed king of mainstream comedy. But because this is 2014 and everything needs a sequel (and because the Farrelly Brothers have spent the better part of a decade trying to recapture their relevance) Carrey and co-star Jeff Daniels return as Harry and Lloyd in “Dumb and Dumber To,” a movie that is aptly titled and completely devoid of even the faintest of laughs.

As Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) are reunited, Harry finds out shocking news: he has an adult daughter he has never met. Determined to reunite with her, Harry and Lloyd embark upon another cross-country trip. Along the way, they run into his daughter’s adoptive parents, one of which is up to a scheme that could put everyone involved in danger. As the dumb duo makes their way to their destination, they also must keep their friendship from becoming rocky once again.

“Dumb and Dumber To” can best be described as feeling like a bad “Saturday Night Live” sketch. Carrey, and especially Daniels, are thrown into terrible fake wigs and the same outfits worn 20 years ago. The sets look fake, the green screening is awful, and basically the entire production including the directorial work seems completely haphazard. Despite the fact that jokes are retreaded and the characters look the same, it is crazy just how void of nostalgia “Dumb and Dumber To” really is. Nothing of the spirit or essence of the first film is anywhere to be found, as Carrey and Daniels clumsily feel like actors stepping into roles they haven’t touched in decades. Though they are both guilty of it, Daniels is especially stuck in a hyperactive, happy-go-lucky, yelling everything line delivery, completely losing any and all subtlety of the dialogue that convey their “dumbness.”

The most impressive part about “Dumb and Dumber To” is that it took six (yes, six!!!) credited screenwriters to churn out a constant stream of lazy and unfunny jokes. Every single joke in the film is telegraphed a mile away. To call this film’s sense of humor juvenile would be the understatement of the century. When they are not rehashing jokes and plot points from the first film, the writers are throwing out lowbrow stuff like clips of Harry changing Lloyd’s diaper, flatulence jokes, body fluid humor or a game called “funnel nuts,” which is a concept so stupid that I can’t believe was actually thought of and put in a film. Part of what made the original so funny were the ways in which Harry and Lloyd would butcher sayings or fail to realize what was going on around them. Instead, here we get a series of brutally humorless puns and easy jokes at the expense of messing up turns of phrases. Mix that in with a storyline that is completely worthless and pointless and you have one hell of a dud on your hands.

There is a certain level of actual embarrassment felt for Carrey and Daniels as you watch two men in their 50’s act like children and try to cling onto the glory of their early days as each joke after joke bombs badly. What was supposed to be a hilarious trip down memory lane is instead an unnecessary and unfunny drive down a road that leads straight off a cliff, into the abyss where jokes go to die. In what serves as a stunning microcosm of the film itself, there is a scene where Harry and Lloyd stumble upon a cat named Butthole who has completely wiped out, attacked and killed a group of birds he was supposed to be “watching.” As the cat proceeds to fart out feathers, the sole surviving parrot, Siskel, who talks only in movie quotes, delivers the famous line from “Apocalypse Now,” (“The horror…the horror”). Indeed, my fine feathered friend. Indeed.

Kick-Ass 2

August 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring:  Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey
Directed by: Jeff Wadlow (“Never Back Down”)
Written by: Jeff Wadlow (debut)

As a somewhat tongue-in-cheek, extremely violent and profane send-up of the superhero genre still thriving at the box office, 2010’s “Kick-Ass” asked the question: what if normal people decided to be comic book-style heroes? The answer was a decent-enough adventure punctuated by the memorable father-daughter crime fighting duo of Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage, even more unhinged that normal) and Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz, the most foul-mouthed 11-year-old ever). As a comic book movie with a sizeable-enough take at the box office, the release of “Kick-Ass 2” was a foregone conclusion.

Picking up several years after the first film, “Kick-Ass 2” finds Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy Macready (Moretz, not the late country singer) training together to turn Kick-Ass and Hit Girl into a dynamic duo set on cleaning up the streets. After an encounter with some thugs turns bloody, though, Mindy’s guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut) insists she retire from the superhero business. With his would-be partner forced into the life of a normal high school freshman, Dave joins up with a group of vigilantes inspired by Kick-Ass, calling themselves Justice Forever. Led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), the team looks to put an end to crime in the city. Little do they know, though, that the former superhero Red Mist, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse doing that same old Christopher Mintz-Plasse thing), has warped himself into the world’s first supervillan. He’s assembled a team of hired thugs to do two things: burn the city to the ground and destroy Kick-Ass.

While the first film often strained to prove how edgy and subversive it was, “Kick-Ass 2” feels more comfortable positioning itself as a straight-up comic book adventure, which turns out to be the most ho-hum part of the script. Taylor-Johnson’s Kick-Ass comes across as a more-boring Peter Parker, and Mintz-Plasse’s villain, the Mother-Fucker, is yet another delusional, power-hungry nerd role in a career full of them. To the film’s benefit, though, Moretz’s Mindy/Hit Girl gets the meatiest part. A second-act riff on “Mean Girls” is ripe enough for its own movie, hilariously highlighted by a scene featuring a prototypical boy band setting off an adolescent fire deep inside the street-tough Mindy. That plot line, along with a fun turn from Jim Carrey, unfortunately comes to an end too soon as the movie decides to get back to its clash between crowds of non-super powered good and evil people in ridiculous costumes fighting in a warehouse. But I’d much rather watch “Hit Girl Goes to High School.”

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

March 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi
Directed by: Don Scardino (TV’s “30 Rock”)
Written by: Jonathan M. Goldstein (“Horrible Bosses”) and John Francis Daley (“Horrible Bosses”)

It used to be that magic was something as simple as a few card tricks, pulling a rabbit out of a hat or in the case of the most famous magician of all-time Harry Houdini, performing death-defying escape acts. Somewhere along the line, however, acts like Criss Angel and David Blaine showed up, who while maintaining the traditional sense of magic, began injecting large-scale, often endurance-based stunts like being trapped under ice or standing on things for long periods of time. With this came the transition from Vegas acts to TV specials. The landscape of magician-related entertainment was changing. As a very loose social commentary of sorts, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” shows the exaggerated difference between old-school and new-school magicians.

As people get tired of watching the recycled acts of Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) they begin to flock to street magician Steve Grey (Jim Carrey) who performs absurd stunts. When Wonderstone and Marvelton have a falling out, Wonderstone is forced to come up with a magic act on his own for the first time. When Burt has a revelation that he isn’t the same on his own, it is up to him to try to reconnect with a partner to win back his audience.

Though “Burt Wonderstone” has its comedic moments that work, it is surprising how little of the laughs come as a direct result of the seasoned comedic cast. Carell’s character is brash, annoying, and has character traits that seem to come and go at random (his accent, for example). Buscemi disappears halfway through the film, having failed to make a true comedic impact. His return later on doesn’t provide much humor either. Carrey’s appearance winds up being more of an extended cameo. He will periodically appear on the screen to do his wacky trademark Carrey stuff and then just disappear for large chunks of time. Simply put, nobody in the cast is particularly funny despite some of the scenarios they are involved in hitting their mark.

Most of what works in “Burt Wonderstone” comes from sight gags, both subtle and occasionally overtly goofy. Things like Wonderstone trying to perform a magic trick after the separation between him and his partner are legitimately funny. Other magic tricks performed during the film are actually amusing.  That isn’t to say all of them are. Carrey’s character, which is the most obvious Criss Angel exaggeration possible, makes his living off shocking stunts that are too grotesque to be considered magic. The first of his stunts involving a card trick and a knife is particularly funny, but the concept of stupid stunts wears out its welcome fast. It is definitely not helped by the over-the-top performance Carrey is know for delivering.

The final act of the film is absurd, but thanks to a pretty funny epilogue, is somehow acceptable. Mainly, “Burt Wonderstone” wastes its strong comedic cast. The subject matter is a little outdated with traditional magicians and magic shows seemingly weaning in popularity. But perhaps even cloaked in irony, the goal of “Burt Wonderstone” is to reignite people to that type of entertainment.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

June 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury
Directed by: Mark Waters (“Mean Girls”)
Written by: Sean Anders (“Hot Tub Time Machine”), John Morris (“Hot Tub Time Machine”), Jared Stern (debut)

“Mr. Popper’s Penguins” is poppycock – a poorly prepared picture packed with pleasantries for the pipsqueaks and pathetic puns for parents who are paying the painful price.

Alliteration aside, “Penguins” is a family film based on a children’s book from the 1930s written by Richard and Florence Atwater. Jim Carrey (“Yes Man”) stars as title character Mr. Popper, a real estate businessman who is left a plethora of penguins by his estranged explorer father who has recently passed away.

On deadline to complete a very important real estate deal, Mr. Popper is forced to bird-sit a set of six penguins who he deems his childrens’ pets when they come over for a visit with his ex-wife Amanda (Carla Gugino).

For whatever reason, everyone seems nonchalant about everything the penguins do from the moment they take over Popper’s apartment. Not much makes sense in “Penguins” for people over the age of seven. It’s harmless drivel for Carrey who phones in his performance and proves he can still collect a paycheck by putting a pothole in his comedy résumé the size of the Arctic Circle.

A Christmas Carol

November 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis (“The Polar Express”)
Written by: Robert Zemeckis (“The Polar Express”)

After dozens and dozens of retellings of the classic 19th century Charles Dickens story “A Christmas Carol” over the past century, you might think there would be nothing left to gain from another go-around with the timeless text. How many different ways can you say “Bah-Humbug” anyway?

But in Robert Zemeckis’ latest animated version, the director behind such films as “Forrest Gump” and “Cast Away” has created a brand new vision that’s much darker and visually pleasing than anything that has come before. Add to that an assortment of lively voice performances by Jim Carrey (“Horton Hears a Who!”) and “A Christmas Carol” is a holiday treat despite its emotional shortcomings.

While the film doesn’t hammer home the true importance of family or make a character like Tiny Tim a target for pity like others have done in the past, Zemeckis’ “Carol” still has an ace in its stocking. His name is Ebenezer Scrooge and the penny-pincher is grouchier than ever. The iconic Christmas character, who has been portrayed numerous times before, gets his first transformation into motion capture animation, the process Zemeckis used in his last two films “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf.”

In case you’ve somehow never heard the tale before, Scrooge, a bitter old miser living in London, is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley. Marley, who drags around weights and chains to signify the miserable life he once led, informs Scrooge that he will be haunted by three ghosts who will take him on separate journeys through his past, present, and future. The supernatural experience is supposed to reveal the true meaning of Christmas to Scrooge. It’s a life lesson that he could truly use. Not only does he snarl at the idea of paying his employee Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman) for personal time off for the holidays, he’d rather get frostbite on his beaky nose than spend time with his only nephew Fred (Colin Firth).

Carrey’s turn as Scrooge might not rise to the performances of actors including George C. Scott or Alastair Sim in their respected versions, but Zemeckis gives his character a bit more free range to be sillier and brasher than his usual personality traits allow him. Carry never overdoes it with his voice work either, which is crucial to Scrooge as an introvert. His gangly frame, much like Carrey himself, is more surreal because of the amazing attention to detail in the character’s face. The 3-D spectacle attached to the film only enhances the experience.

The animated film, however, might be a bit too intense for little ones. While Zemeckis unintentionally made “The Polar Express” frightening with his demon-looking elves at the end of the movie, he is well aware of the dark tone that hovers over “A Christmas Carol.” Depending on your own level of comfort for nightmarish imagery in your holiday movies, this one might trigger tears for some kids (then again, so does Santa Claus at the shopping mall).

Yes Man

December 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper
Directed by: Peyton Reed (“The Break-Up”)
Written by: Nicholas Stoller (“Fun with Dick and Jane”), Jarred Paul (“Bewitched”) and Andrew Mogel (deubt)

In Jim Carrey’s new film “Yes Man,” it feels like the rubber-faced star of such movies as “Dumb and Dumber” and “Liar, Liar” is in comedy limbo.

It was a mistake when Carrey tried to jump genres last year with the appalling thriller “The Number 23.” Now, back to do the work he’s best known for (although his turns at drama – “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “The Truman Show” – have been his best projects), Carrey feels like an old jacket. It’s reliable and will keep you warm, but it would be nice to have something a little more hip (why do you think Adam Sandler is jumping on the Judd Apatow bandwagon next year?)

Not to say that Carrey has lost a step. He hasn’t. He’s still the best at what he does and does it with gusto. It never feels lazy but his herky-jerkiness naturally feels repetitious after a while. In “Yes Man,” Carrey takes it down a notch, which relieves some of the hyperactivity best left for a hopped-up Robin Williams on Ritalin.

He plays financial banker and social recluse Carl Allen, a guy who never wants to hang out with his friends and is “commited to saying no” to everything. Carl’s lifestyle changes, however, when he runs into Nick (John Michael Higgins), a former co-worker who coerces him to attend a self-help seminar that he promises will get him out of his rut. At the seminar, headed by the always-positive guru Terrance Bundley (Terrance Stamp), Carl is somehow provoked to take the motivational speaker up on a challenge and say yes to every question he is asked. “Yes embraces the possible,” Terrance declares.

Carl’s transformation into a “yes man” starts off well when he accepts a homeless guy’s offer to drive him into the forest where he lives, runs out of gas, and ends up meeting Allison (Zooey Deschanel), a novice photographer and alternative musician who lives by the seat of her pants. With his newfound obsession to say yes, Carl and Allison hit it off and start a day-to-day relationship filled with activities he was never able to do before.

While the whole idea seems harmless at first, the illogical script gives Carrey free range to do just about anything he wants without second thought. The strategy moves the screenplay along, but everything is just so random at times even the quirky chemistry between Carrey and Deschanel sort of gets lost in their own bizarre world of spontaneity.

Carrey’s bound to find a role that really highlights his more worthy talents, but “Yes Man” isn’t that movie. It’s simply another minor offering that might be interesting to rent on DVD for the outtakes.

Horton Hears a Who

March 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: (voices of) Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett
Directed by: Jimmy Hayward (debut) and Steve Martino (debut)
Written by: Ken Daurio (“The Santa Clause 2”) and Cinco Paul (“Bubble Boy”)

When it comes to tapping into a child’s imagination, no one does it better – and with more creativity – than the late Dr. Seuss. Know for classics like “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “The Cat in the Hat,” both of which disappointingly did not translate well to the big screen, Dr. Seuss’ books are bound to be adapted for years to come. (Not sure how you would write a screenplay for One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, but weirder things have happened in Hollywood).

So is the case for the 1954 Seuss story “Horton Hears a Who!” In the new CGI-animated film, Horton (Carrey), an elephant who lives in the jungle of Nool, is excited when he discovers that an entire world known as Whoville exists on a speck that is floating through the air. Worried that something will happen to the inhabitants of the speck, known as the Whos, Horton catches the tiny particle and places it on a clover (some type of Seuss- conceived flower) until he can figure out how to help his hidden friends.

One of the residents of Whoville is the Mayor (Carell), who realizes that his town is a lot more microscopic than he could have ever imagined. Although the Mayor cannot see Horton (they’re just too small to see something that big), he can hear him from time to time. Plus, with bizarre things happening in Whoville like spontaneous sunsets (Horton going into the shade) and tremors (Horton falling to the ground), the Mayor knows there is more to his existence that his (literally) small town.

Amusing for much of its runtime (like Stitch from “Lilo and Stitch,” the little Seussian character named Katie steals the show), “Horton Hears a Who!” offers up great voice work by Carrey, Carell, and others and keeps the pop culture references at a acceptable level. Kids might not get the “Apocalypse Now” allusion (although they might get the MySpace one, which is scary), but at least there are a few gems parents can look forward to as their little ones oo and aah over the colorful characters and fresh approach to all things wacky.