Transformers: The Last Knight

June 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock Directed by: Michael Bay (“Transformers: Age of Extinction”) Written by: Art Marcum (“Iron Man”) & Matt Holloway (“Iron Man”) & Ken Nolan (“Black Hawk Down”) Every now and then, I take stock of all the entertainment properties I enjoyed as a child—or still enjoy screen-printed on a t-shirt—that are being made into well-meaning, if not always good, major motion pictures. All the Marvel stuff, some of the DC Comics stuff, Star Wars…it’s a fine time at the movies to be a fan of the geekier stuff. But then there’s Transformers. It just…it breaks my heart. We have well-made, coherent films where utterly ridiculous characters like Ant-Man and Rocket Raccoon are treated with respect and written as real characters. Meanwhile, five films into Michael Bay’s “Transformers” series, every other fucking robot is either a racist stereotype, spends half their screen time robo-farting or some other bullshit. They even got original cartoon voice actor Peter Cullen to voice Optimus Prime, and seemingly half of his lines in the latest film, “Transformers: The Last Knight” are “I am Optimus Prime!” And I love Optimus Prime. “The Last Knight” opens in the days of King Arthur, where a drunken Merlin (Stanley Tucci!) begs a Transformer (they’ve been here the whole time!) for help in defeating a horde of invaders. He’s given a staff, which calls upon a metal dragon. Flash forward 1,600 years and, in accordance with the rest of this series, the movie picks and chooses which plot points from the previous four films to either embrace or outright ignore. Anyway, this time Chicago stays destroyed after the events of “Age of Extinction,” and the ruins are patrolled by the Transformers Response Force, since Transformers are now illegal. A young girl (Isabella Moner) is saved by Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) after a drone strike kills her Autobot pal. She stows away with him back to his junkyard in South Dakota, where a bunch of annoying Autobots, including Bumblebee and Grimlock, hang out. Meanwhile Optimus Prime continues his journey into deep space to confront his maker, Quintessa, to tell her to leave Earth alone. Like a chump, he immediately fucks that up and is brainwashed into becoming Nemesis Prime, now assisting Quintessa in her plan to bring Cybertron to Earth, which is actually Unicron (see the animated “Transformers: The Movie” from 1986) in order to revive Cybertron. The only thing that can stop this plan is the staff of Merlin, which can only be wielded by his last living ancestor, Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock), and she’s being sought by Sir Emund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) and his psychotic robot butler Cogman, the last guard of the Witwiccans (UGH), a brotherhood of humans who have worked alongside Transformers for centuries—you know, because they were here all along. And that’s not even half of the junk shoved into this movie, which is bursting at the seams with so much utter bullshit you won’t even have time to catch your breath—dinosaur Transformers barfing up cars, horns emerging from the earth, a manservant droid shooting himself out of a torpedo tube to catch some fish for a pair of humans on a submarine OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING? If there are some redeeming factors in this garbage fire is that “The Last Knight” is not quite as blatantly racist and sexist as the previous entries, and it’s not quite as punishingly long. Otherwise…I just can’t deal with these anymore.

Patriots Day

January 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman
Directed by: Peter Berg (“Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon”)
Written by: Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”) Matt Cook (“Triple 9”) and Joshua Zetumer (“RoboCop”)

Reliving real-life, recent historical events through the eyes of a single character in a film is the hallmark of the docudrama. Think Tom Hanks’ in “Sully” or, well, Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips.” These two lead characters are portrayed as rather ordinary people thrust into incredible drama, and as an audience we identify with them, we relate to the events through their eyes. So, what if they didn’t exist, made up to heighten the tension, to put the audience in the shoes of someone who was “there” without really being there? In “Patriots Day,” that’s Mark Wahlberg’s put-upon Boston police officer Tommy Saunders, a super cop who has the ear of the commissioner, the FBI, and the governor while also being on scene for every major development in the Boston Marathon bombing, from being at the finish line when the bombs go off to each step of the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers. It’s a strange action movie cliché that somewhat mars an otherwise solid and high-tension retelling of the worst act of domestic terrorism (sadly, since eclipsed) since 9/11.

Everyone knows the story: on April 15, 2013, two homemade pressure cooker bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. After scouring security footage, two suspects dubbed “white hat” and “black hat” were identified, and the release of the photos sparked the duo, Chechen brothers Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff, all spooky, clueless Millennial disaffectedness), to go on a crime spree on their way to Times Square. In the process they killed an MIT police officer (Jake Picking) while trying to steal his gun and carjacked and kidnapped a Chinese exchange student (Jimmy O. Yang) before engaging in an explosive-fueled shootout with police. Tamerlan is killed in the standoff after being run over by the fleeing Dzhokhar, who became the target of an unprecedented manhunt that shut Boston down and brushed the edge of martial law. He was ultimately located, hiding in a sailboat in a suburban backyard.

If you can look past Wahlberg’s fictional cop who never sleeps, director Peter Berg has put together a fantastic ensemble piece that never loosens the screws, even if along the way it ends up painting law enforcement as maybe a bit too infallible. One scene in particular, featuring Tamerlan’s American wife Katherine (Melissa Benoist) being interrogated—after we’re told explicitly she wasn’t read her Miranda rights—by a mysterious hijab-clad government agent (Khandi Alexander) who questions her commitment to Islam, comes closest to breaking that streak, though. The FBI special agent in charge (Kevin Bacon) and Boston police commissioner (John Goodman) look on in wonder as the extra-legal interrogation takes place, but the feeling we’re left with is this—and the virtual lockdown of Boston—is for the greater good. “Patriots Day” isn’t interested in questioning those ideas, but it could have been a much richer experience had it done so.

Deepwater Horizon

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich
Directed by: Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”)
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan (“World War Z”) and Matthew Sand (“Ninja Assassin”)

“Deepwater Horizon,” a film that tells the heroic story of the individuals who survived a massive explosion on an offshore drilling rig in 2010, is an emotionally surface-level drama for a majority of its run time. That doesn’t mean, however, the true story isn’t compelling and executed with an effective approach by director Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”). Most people will know this event simply as the worst oil spill in U.S. history, but by adding a human aspect to it like Berg is able to do for the most part, the dynamic intensifies the entire narrative.

Mark Wahlberg leads the cast as Mike Williams, a veteran oil driller who helps his comrades escape the rig when catastrophe hits. Behind schedule by 43 days and budget by $50 million, the drillers are pressured by the big wigs from multimillion dollar oil company BP to get the job done as fast as possible. Mike’s supervisor Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) is concerned with what he sees as cutting corners and making their work more dangerous. Of course, Jimmy’s fears are warranted when a blowout occurs forcing the drillers to find a way off the rig before it sinks.

Focused mostly on the hero of the story (but never coming off as ridiculous as Wahlberg’s other true-life survival story “Lone Survivor”) “Deepwater” stays engaging despite the lack of a real emotional hook until the very end. Kate Hudson does a fine job as Mike’s worried wife Felicia at home, and Gina Rodriguez provides some strong acting chops as the lone female on the rig. Other secondary characters, however, feel hollow, especially Dylan O’Brien’s character.  His role as a young driller on the rig feels like it was edited down to nothing. Then there’s John Malkovich, a “villainous” BP executive, whose Louisiana accent is distracting to say the least.

Although some of the characters are thinly written, the overall storytelling of “Deepwater Horizon” is done very well. This isn’t just a generic action film where Wahlberg jumps through flames (although he does jump over a fire once) and carries three men on his back to safety. Sure, sometimes films like this can fall too deep into “hero worshipping” (see the aforementioned “Lone Survivor” or something like “American Sniper”), but Wahlberg keeps everyone grounded without sacrificing the impression of true bravery.

Daddy’s Home

January 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, Linda Cardellini
Directed by: Sean Anders (“Horrible Bosses”)
Written by: Brian Burns (“You Stupid Man”), Sean Anders (“Hot Tub Time Machine”), John Morris (“We’re the Millers”)

If the offbeat dynamic between Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell had you rolling in the aisle with 2010’s “The Other Guys,” the unlikely duo provides more consistent laughs in this domestic comedy from filmmaker Sean Anders (“That’s My Boy”). Just when stepfather Brad (Ferrell) feels he has finally been accepted into the family by his wife’s two young kids, the compassionate radio executive is forced to fight for their affection and attention when their badass biological dad Dusty (Wahlberg) rides back into their lives to prove he’s still king of the castle. Playing the fool might come second nature to Ferrell at this point of his career, but with a little more heart in this movie it’s easier to sympathize with his character, much like Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents. There are moments around the halfway point where the gags lose steam, but the satisfying mishmash of broad and dry humor does the trick more often than not.

Ted 2

June 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth McFarlane, Amanda Seyfried
Directed by: Seth McFarlane (“Ted”)
Written by: Seth McFarlane (“Ted”) Alec Sulkin (“Ted”) & Wellesly Wild (“Ted”)

Comedy sequels are hard to get right. The modern movie-going experience demands that subsequent films in a series top whatever came before it with laughs and worry about the story later, which in most cases leads to a weird phenomenon of things being reset plot-wise. Adversity is reintroduced, non-essential characters are deleted to maximize the funny, and a familiar adversary improbably shows up again to repeat the same story beats from the first film. “Ted 2” is not immune from this ailment, but it may just be funny and offensive enough to power through the familiarity.

The film opens with brought-to-life stuffed bear Ted (voice of Seth McFarlane) marrying Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) while his best pal John (Mark Wahlberg) mopes around after his divorce. Fast forward a year to Ted and Tami-Lynn are having relationship problems, which they hope to cure by having a baby. With Ted’s lack of a penis and Tami-Lynn’s infertility standing in the way, they decide to adopt. When filing the paperwork, though, it is discovered that the state of Massachusetts doesn’t recognize Ted as a person, and in order to become a father, he’ll need to prove just that in a court of law. Enter rookie lawyer Samantha (Amanda Seyfried), a pot-smoking pop culture novice who John starts to fall for as they fight to earn Ted’s human rights.

This may be the most socially progressive movie ever made that also happens to feature a Hollywood megastar getting covered in numerous black men’s diseased semen during a pratfall in what seems to be just an elaborate setup for a throwaway Kardashian joke. “Ted 2” mostly shines when sticking to the humor, which is just as gross and offensive and referential as you would expect from a Seth McFarlane project. The film suffers, though, when trudging through the plot in fits and starts. The plight of Ted’s journey to become a legally-recognized person is lumpy and over-long and intercut with a subplot about mega toy company Hasbro (playing itself in what must be the first case of meta product placement, featuring chiefly the idea of toys) angling to re-acquire the rights to Ted (who I guess they manufactured in the first place?) and reverse-engineering his magical life force in an effort to make millions off of living Ted toys–never mind that Ted is a foul-mouthed asshole that would horrify parents and children alike. That trait is what makes the movie often hilarious, but the story of Ted is starting to become thread-bear.

Lone Survivor

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch
Directed by: Peter Berg (“Battleship”)
Written by: Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”)

Overblown action sequences and ridiculous stunts spell disaster for “Lone Survivor,” a true-life war film that turns what should be a serious narrative about military brotherhood into a farfetched, trigger-happy experience where courageous American soldiers are somehow transformed into camouflaged superheroes. The only thing director/writer Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”) could’ve done to make these men on the frontlines more absurd is allow them to regenerate body parts.

In “Lone Survivor,” four members of the Navy SEALs are sent out to capture a Taliban leader in the mountains of Afghanistan. When the covert mission does not go as planned, soldiers Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matt Axelson (Ben Foster), find themselves stuck in the rocky terrain with very few options. When they run into a family of goat herders and decide to release them, the SEALs are forced to abort the mission and get back to safety before the Afghans blow their cover.

As bullets begin to blaze once the enemies lock each other in their crosshairs, “Lone Survivor” refuses to let up even when the action gets downright unbelievable. Sure, Navy SEALs are some of the toughest military personnel the U.S. has (we saw some great cinematic examples of this in “Captain Phillips” earlier last year and in 2012’s “Zero Dark Thirty), but Berg crosses the line when he basically gives these men the resiliency of a cartoon coyote.

While Berg does present a heartfelt story about the camaraderie shared between men in the military, the action is dumbed down enough to take audiences out of that more interesting storyline. Berg may try to humanize these men, but he does them a disservice when he gives them inhuman abilities. By doing so, Berg has, unfortunately (and probably unintentionally), sensationalized a tragedy instead of honoring the bravery of these heroes. Berg’s heart might’ve been in the right place, but translating that into an emotionally-telling war movie could’ve been done with a lot more sensitivity and realism.

2 Guns

August 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Bill Paxton
Directed by: Baltasar Kormakur (“Contraband”)
Written by: Blake Masters (debut)

When thinking about actor/director teams of recent memory, duos like Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, or the late Tony Scott and Denzel Washington come to mind. One that might not be at the forefront of people’s minds is the duo of Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur and Mark Wahlberg. Reteaming for the second time in as many years (Kormakur directed last year’s “Contraband,” a remake of an Icelandic film in which Kormakur actually starred in), “2 Guns” sets out to put the duo on the map as a new formidable team.

With their true identities unknown to each other, Undercover DEA Agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and undercover naval intelligence officer Marcus Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) try to infiltrate a drug cartel and take the other down with them. Both find themselves being chased down by Stigman’s crooked Naval bosses and an angry CIA agent (Bill Paxton) who they mistakenly stole the money from. Together they must team up to track down the money, which was taken from them, and stay alive.

Though not straying too far from characters seen in recent films like “Ted,” this is the kind of role and film Wahlberg does best. Throughout the film, Wahlberg uses his natural humor and is able to effortlessly put entire scenes on his back. In Washington’s case, it almost feels like he’s just along for the ride. It isn’t to say that his performance is lackluster, but it’s the kind that seems to be the norm for Washington these days. Besides the two leads, Paxton plays a deliciously evil Southern villain to a tee. He is a blast to watch. All his lines, including the hilarious ones, are delivered with total perfection. You can clearly tell Paxton is eating up the role.

What “2 Guns” really succeeds at is hammering down a consistent and loose tone. Jokes have a constant presence and are utilized in appropriate times. In fact, “2 Guns” packs some legitimately big laughs and one-liners with Wahlberg being the culprit in most cases. Even when some lines toe the line of absurdity, the film has a certain self-awareness that makes what’s happening or being said fun, rather than corny. While Kormakur is certainly capable of staging an action sequence, these scenes in particular are probably the weakest point of the film.

The plot itself becomes over-complicated in the third act with plenty of plot twists and double-crossing. Still, the film never loses its sense of a good time.  At its core, the driving force behind “2 Guns” is the performances of its actors, chiefly Wahlberg and Paxton. Even with all the gunfire, bloodshed, and explosions (and dumb title aside), at the end of the day, the successful pairing of Wahlberg and Washington is what makes it worthwhile.

Broken City

January 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Directed by: Allen Hughes (“Menace II Society”)
Written by: Brian Tucker (debut)

It’s not too surprising how stagnant “Broken City” plays as a political thriller. As the year starts up, studios usually look to release some of their more toothless projects in the first couple of months – films that could easily go straight to DVD, but have just enough nerve to roll the dice and see if they can pull in a few million at the box office. There’s really no risk. What are purely mainstream moviegoers going to do now anyway? Watch “Beasts of the Southern Wild?”

Studios are banking that they’re probably not, which is why easily digestible, easily forgettable films like “Broken City” rear their ugly heads every year around this time. Sure, there are always surprises (“The Grey” came out last January, which was fascinating), but more times than not, January has a bad reputation for being a cinematic dumping ground. With that said, “Broken City” needs to call in its waste management services. Not everything about the film is landfill worthy, but there enough there to make it stink.

In the overly-written script by first-time screenwriter Brian Tucker, “Broken City” starts off well enough before laying the plot down in thick and predictable chunks. Mark Wahlberg (“Shooter”) stars as Billy Taggart, a former cop turned private investigator with a shady past, hired by NYC Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) to get evidence that his wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is having an affair. Of course, if it was that easy, we wouldn’t have a 109-minute movie on our hands. Deception comes from all angles as Billy maneuvers between his high-profile friends and tries to figure out who’s stabbing who in the back.

It all makes for a very typical narrative of corruption, murder, and dirty little secrets, all of which leads up to a mayoral election that can make or break everyone involved. “Broken City” would at least be tolerable if it didn’t explain everything in such a heavy-handed and complicated way, but Tucker seems just fine jamming as much as he can into the screenplay. This includes a clunky storyline about a housing project scam, which loses its way through all the twist and turns.

Director Allen Hughes (“Book of Eli”), one half of the directing duo The Hughes Brothers, doesn’t help matters much by not rousing up some energy from his big-name stars. Wahlberg and Crowe honestly look unmotivated and bored. Don’t feel bad when you do, too.

Ted

June 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane
Directed by: Seth MacFarlane (debut)
Written by: Seth MacFarlane (debut)

Leave it to the hysterically twisted and juvenile mind of “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane to turn something as cuddly and lovable as a childhood stuffed animal into a perverted, profane pothead in “Ted.” The live-action/animated comedy is the first feature film MacFarlane has ever written or directed since introducing us to the Griffin family in 1999. It’s no surprise since MacFarlane, who lends his voice to the title plush toy, is never afraid to push the envelope before dousing it with gasoline and lighting a match to it. Sure, on TV there are always restrictions, but the hard R rating this movie has been slapped with clearly proves to fans of MacFarlane’s bawdy humor that the guy who once insinuated the rape of a teddy bear on his hit cartoon is without a self censor. In “Ted,” there’s really no need for one since audiences probably have a good idea that this specific teddy isn’t exactly the tea party-playing type. Tea-bagging more like it.

Despite some of the jokes not always sticking their landing, “Ted” has more hits than misses when you add them all up. Playing it straight like he does in most of his comedies, Mark Wahlberg (“The Other Guys”) stars as John Bennett, an unmotivated rental car employee living in Boston with his successful girlfriend (Mila Kunis) and the teddy bear he wished alive as a young boy one magical Christmas evening. Now grown and still inseparable, John and Ted must come to terms with living separately and not spending as much time together so John can get his life together. It’s a theme we’ve witnessed before in films like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Toy Story 3” (becoming a man means putting aside childish things), but now with a few more dick references, of course.

Along with MacFarlane’s usual vulgarities, random flashbacks and low-blow swipes at celebrities (heads up Katy Perry and Brandon Routh), the second half of “Ted” is sweeter than one would expect, even with a creepy Giovanni Ribisi gyrating and stealing scenes. It’s not necessarily a sign of maturity for MacFarlane, but at least he seems to understand a feature film needs more substance than a 30-minute TV show can provide. And with that, his legion of followers will continue to anticipate a “Family Guy” movie someday and – with his ever-growing fondness for bears – describe to them exactly what a Dirty Fozzie really is.

Contraband

January 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Kate Beckinsale
Directed by: Baltasar Kormakur (“Inhale”)
Written by: Aaron Guzikowski (debut)

Ah, January – a month known to most critics as a dumping ground for heaps of cinematic trash. After spending the months of November and December pouring money, marketing, and efforts into their Oscar hopefuls, movie studios often reserve January for films they have less confidence in. Even still, occasionally January has had some bright spots, such as “Youth in Revolt” and “Cloverfield” in previous years. In “Contraband,” Mark Wahlberg follows his critically acclaimed film “The Fighter” with a by-the-numbers heist film that struggles to separate itself from other films of the genre.

After leaving the smuggling business to start a family, Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) must get back into the life of crime when his brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones) angers Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) by screwing up a drug deal. Farraday leaves his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and kids in the hands of his best friend and right hand man Sebastian (Ben Foster) as he goes to Panama to bring back millions in counterfeit money. However, when the deal goes wrong, Farraday must think outside the box to keep his family safe.

If you’ve seen any movie that Wahlberg has ever done, you’ll know what to expect out of him. While their performances aren’t necessarily bad, both Ribisi and J.K. Simmons both sport almost cartoony accents and voices, with Simmons in particular channeling his inner Foghorn Leghorn. Ribisi has the more successful character of the two, being legitimately strange and unsettling at times, but is too often over the top. Foster continues his run as one of the most frustrating actors in Hollywood. He is immensely talented, versatile, and underrated as shown by his performances in “3:10 To Yuma” and “The Messenger,” but yet continues to make choices to be in second-rate films such as last year’s “The Mechanic,” among others. The one thing that can be said about Foster is that he is always good in his role, no matter what the movie may be. “Contraband” is no exception.

Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur’s direction, at times, shows a strong flair for action sequences, but it is also very inconsistent. Specifically, Kormakur makes use of handheld camera shots only in certain scenes of the movie, seemingly when wanting to pump up the dramatic effect. Unfortunately, not only is this distracting technique used in random times throughout the film, it is done with all the dexterity of someone who is trying to figure out how to use the zoom on their new video camera.

Perhaps the greatest downfall of “Contraband” is its predictability. It follows the typical “deal-gone-wrong” blueprint, contains easy to figure out plot twists, and forgoes every opportunity to do something different and unique. Still, it would be hard to argue that “Contraband” isn’t entertaining at times. There are decent shootouts and suspenseful scenes and Wahlberg carries a lot of charisma. There are also some good supporting performances to help it along. However, one could only wish they deviated a little from the norm.

The Other Guys

August 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton
Directed by: Adam McKay (“Step Brothers”)
Written by: Adam McKay (“Step Brothers”) and Chris Henchy (“Land of the Lost”)
 
While it’s not as dismal as the Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis vehicle “Cop Out” from earlier this year, the convoluted plot and countless misfires and clichés in “The Other Guys” definitely make for a subpar ride-a-long in the buddy-cop action sub-genre. A better name for it might’ve been “Policing for Schmucks.”

In “The Other Guys,” Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg star as a pair of NYPD cops whose embarrassing reputation among their fellow officers precedes them both. Allen Gamble (Ferrell), who has been transferred from accounting, would rather spend his time on the force sitting at a desk doing paperwork than be out in the field. His partner Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg), who was involved in an accidental shooting of a beloved sports star, is itching for a big case and is tired of watching the department’s hot shot cops (played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson) get all the glory for their death-defying car chases and shoot outs.

It’s when Allen and Terry finally get the chance to prove they can handle a high-profile case (Steve Coogan plays a shady investment banker involved in a white-collar crime) when the film decelerates and lets Ferrell and Wahlberg riff off each other without much direction or substance to their ranting and raving.

Jokes include making fun of Allen for driving a Prius, arguing about what music they should listen to on the radio, a smut-talking old lady, and a scene where Allen has to talk down a suicidal man from a ledge with no formal training. It’s all be done before and done a lot funnier. When the jokes start repeating themselves (on more than one occasion Terry compares himself to an eager-to-fly peacock), it is evident “The Other Guys” has run out of things to say and do.

The only running joke that is fairly humorous is when Allen introduces Terry to his drop-dead gorgeous wife Sheila (Eva Mendes) and proceeds to underrate just how attractive she is. Terry wonders how a woman like Shelia could be interested in a man as maniacal and irksome as Allen.

Thin on character and hilarious moments and overwritten on plot, “The Other Guys” will probably please the biggest of Ferrell’s fans, but these are the same moviegoers that were rolling in the aisles for “Land of the Lost,” “Semi-Pro,” and “Blades of Glory.” Others who like him in smaller, more controlled doses just might need to take a pass on this one.

Date Night

April 9, 2010 by  
Filed under CineStrays

Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg
Directed by: Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum”)
Written by: Josh Klausner (“Shrek the Third”)

In the hands of anyone else but Steve Carell and Tina Fey, “Date Night” could have been disastrous. Instead, the stars deliver on what was ultimately a weak script with little pay off. Sure, a comedy dealing with a case of mistaken identity has been done plenty of times before, but there are just enough humorous moments and chemistry by the two leads to make this a matinee for a lazy afternoon. Still, Carell and Fey deserve a better comedy vehicle for their talents.

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