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!

Norm of the North

January 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong
Directed by: Trevor Wall (debut)
Written by: Daniel Altiere (debut), Steven Altiere (debut) and Malcolm T. Goldman (debut)

If you’re one of the many parents who will get coerced into taking your little one(s) to watch “Norm of the North” (or even worse, buying it when it hits DVD so your indiscriminate child can watch it on a loop for a month before tiring of it), someone should give you an award for your endurance for pain. It’s only January, but “Norm of the North” just might end up being the worst animated film to come out of 2016.

Originally slated to get dumped straight to DVD, “Norm” stars actor Rob Schneider (“The Ridiculous Six”) as the title character, a hero polar bear who sets off to stop a developer (Ken Jeong) from building condos in the Arctic and pushing Norm and his fellow polar bears away from their habitat.

Even delivering a message on a child’s level about global warming and the importance of taking care of the environment is still a heavy handed one. Screenwriters Daniel and Steven Altiere never find a way to cater to youngsters whose only interest will probably be to cheer for the twerking polar bear shaking his ass to pop music. This is the type of kid film that dumbs down every element of the story. Who cares what cause Norm is fighting for as long as there are half a dozen fart jokes thrown in for good measure, right?

Aside from the weak environmental message, “Norm of the North” is amateurish animation. Developed by Splash Entertainment, a TV animation studio based in California, and Assemblage Entertainment, an animated studio based in Mumbai, India, “Norm” is rendered by animators with no imagination, sense of humor, or skill that could compete with the likes of Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., Laika, or any of the top animation companies working today. The characters’ designs are clunky and their personalities are highly annoying. What’s more annoying is this excuse for a script. Who the hell is stupid enough to move into a condo built in the Arctic, anyway? Hopefully everyone involved with “Norm of the North” will also find their way to the polar region and fall into an ice fishing hole before they realize how fast and cheap they can make a sequel.

Ken Jeong – Norm of the North & Ride Along 2

January 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Interviews

Comedian Ken Jeong (“The Hangover” series) is doing triple duty tomorrow. Along with his comedy TV show Dr. Ken, which airs Friday nights on ABC, the former physician-turned-actor lends his voice to the villainous anti-environment character Mr. Greene in the new animated movie “Norm of the North.” He also stars as a computer hacker alongside Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in the buddy cop sequel “Ride Along 2.” Both movies open at theaters Friday, Jan. 15.

During a phone interview with me, Jeong, 46, talked about how a film like “Norm of the North” can help families start conversations with their kids about the importance of taking care of the environment, and his love for the San Antonio Spurs. I also break the news to him that he was, unfortunately, not nominated for an Academy Award.

In your past animated films, you’ve given voice to a seal pup in “Penguins of Madagascar,” a nail salon owner in “Turbo,” and the owner of a wig store and a talk show host in “Despicable Me 1 & 2.” Where does Mr. Greene in “Norm of the North” rank for you?

It was great. What I love about this role is that I’m blending comedy with education in a very funny and comedic way. I’m playing the antagonist. I’m able to have a lot of fun. Whenever you do voiceover, it’s tremendous fun. You can improvise. They encourage that. There is a great message about the environment.

When it comes to environmental issues, we always see photos and videos online of polar bears in the Arctic standing on a sheet of ice that is melting away beneath them. Do you think a film like “Norm of the North” is a good way to start a conversation about global warming with kids?

Absolutely. I think anything that promotes conversation with families is really great. To me knowledge is power. I used to be a physician, so I think the more we know about everything the better. It’s not about anything else but gaining knowledge. I come from a very educational background, so it’s an educational issue to me.

With your experience in the animated film industry, do you feel like you have this voiceover thing down pretty well or were there still surprises in this one?

Every project I do, whether it’s voiceover or live action, you just build upon it. Like on my show “Dr. Ken,” now I’m the executive producer and I’m writing as well as starring in it. And “Ride Along 2,” a buddy cop movie, where I’m with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube. It’s my first action comedy. That was a lot of fun. Those are projects that are very diverse. I learned a tremendous amount from them.

Speaking of “Ride Along 2,” that movie is opening this week, too, and will compete with “Norm of the North” at the box office. How do you know which movie to root for?

Oh, I just root for myself. To me, it’s important to root for your favorite actor. I’m rooting for “Dr. Ken” on Fridays and rooting for “Ride Along 2” and “Norm of the North,” too. I’ll also root for you Kiko because I just love your name. I’m also a Spurs fan. I love the Spurs.

Really? I didn’t know that.

Oh, yeah. I love the Spurs! It’s funny because on “Dr. Ken,” I’ll often talk to my show runner or the head writer and I’ll be like, “OK, you’re Popovich and I’m Duncan. We have to play the right way!” I swear. We always talk in Spurs talk. [The Spurs] play the game the right way, so I’m a big fan.

As well as the Spurs are playing, do you think we can get past Golden State this year?

I don’t know about that. (Laughs) But you never know. The Spurs will surprise you. They’ve been the most consistent team in the NBA in the last 20 years. That’s all because of Tim Duncan and Popovich. They love situating themselves as this kind of underdog, but they’re not. I think about that all the time even in my own work. It’s not about being over the radar or under the radar, it’s about doing the work. The Spurs and their mentality always inspire me.

Are you a baller yourself?

Uh, no. I’m a horrible baller. I’m the anti-baller. We did an episode on “Dr. Ken” based on my love of basketball. I’m showing my son how to do a layup and I’m bricking it so hard. My son, who’s even less athletic than me, is like, “Dad, I’m not a jock like  you!”

Back to “Norm of the North” real quick. A lot of attention has been paid to the grizzly bear that tears Leonardo Di Caprio to shreds in “The Revenant.” Do you think there is enough room for another bear at the box office this week?

I think there is enough room for grizzly bears, polar bears, teddy bears, the bear that does the toilet tissue [commercials]. There’s a lot of diversity in the bear kingdom. There’s bear hugs, too. I think that’s five bears right there. Well, four bears and a hug. Oh, Care Bears. I think there are a lot of bears to be had in this world. Instead of awareness, I call it a-bear-ness.

Oscar nominations were announced this morning and I’m sorry to say you did not get a nomination this year. Can I get a reaction from you on this obvious snub?

Are you kidding me!? I didn’t get a nomination for anything? (Fake crying) I mean, I guess we’re all winners. I’m not worried about it. I’m fine. At least I get to talk to you, Kiko. I turned off my phone because I didn’t want any spoilers, so great! I didn’t get nominated for anything?! Anything!?

Finish this sentence. Even on my funniest day, I’m nowhere as funny as…

Anybody who was nominated for an Oscar because they’re all winners and I’m a loser!

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?

The Hangover Part II

May 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms
Directed by: Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”)
Written by: Craig Mazin (“Superhero Movie”), Scot Armstrong (“Semi-Pro”), Todd Phillips (“Due Date”)
Trying to top the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time probably would’ve been a difficult task for director Todd Phillips to accomplish no matter what angle he took with the anticipate sequel “The Hangover Part II,” but at least he could have done something with the least bit of imagination.
Instead, Phillips and screenwriters Craig Mazin (“Superhero Movie”) and Scot Armstrong (“Semi-Pro”) have taken the blueprint of the original “Hangover” from 2009, moved the story from Las Vegas to Thailand, and hoped no one in the audience would know it was the same exact movie just with fewer reason to laugh.

Back for a second round of full-frontal male nudity and man-child humor are Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha), four best friends who take a little trip out of the country for Stu’s wedding. Stu’s fiancée Lauren (Jamie Chung) asks the boys to hang out with her little brother Teddy (Mason Lee) so he won’t feel left out.

Flash forward to the following morning and Phil, Alan, and Stu wake up in a seedy Bangkok motel. While Doug is safe and sound back at their hotel ready for the wedding, it’s Teddy who has gone missing. Searching for clues, which include a drug-dealing monkey, a severed finger, and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) naked on the floor, the wolf pack must find Teddy before the city claims him as its own.

Lazily written and with more of a mean streak than the original, “The Hangover Part II” will indulge fans who are fine with the same jokes and set-ups of the first movie. It’s a shame Phillips and screenwriters didn’t take advantage of the free reign to outdo themselves and their first outing. But when a script is filled with punchlines you already know, there’s not much to look forward to except a few special moments with Galifianakis and his shaven head.