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.

Rob Riggle – Nature Calls

October 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Interviews

He was never a Boy Scout as a kid, but comedian Rob Riggle (“Step Brothers”) is a natural outdoorsman, especially since he spent a few years in the Marines. Riggle’s military experience comes in handy for his new comedy, “Nature Calls.” In the film, he plays Gentry, a security guard who joins in for some madcap camping alongside actors Patton Oswalt (“Young Adult”) and Johnny Knoxville (“Jackass”) who play troop leaders.

“Nature Calls” is currently available On Demand.

You were in the Marines, so I’m assuming being outdoors was natural for you?

I’ve been outside quite a bit. I’ve slept under the stars many a night. I’m no stranger to the outdoors. It was awesome shooting this film.

Were you in the Boy Scouts yourself?

You know, I was in the Cub Scouts and the Webelos, but I didn’t make it to Boy Scouts. I got to a juncture in my life where it was just too much. I was into sports.

What was it like shooting a film with Johnny Knoxville? He didn’t try to electrocute you with a cattle prod or anything like that?

(Laughs) No, he’s a true professional. I was always cautious, though; just to be safe. I wanted to make sure I knew what was happening around me.

What attracted you to this specific role?

I thought it was really funny. [Director] Todd [Rohal] was so passionate about the project. I met with him and I really liked his energy. When you get that from your director, it gives you confidence.

In the film, all the adult characters cuss a lot in front of kids. Was that hard to do?

We were really good about that. We tried to be as respectful as we could and tried to keep that to a minimum. We did what we had to do for the script. If [the kids] didn’t have to be on the set, we would take them off for a while.

Has any of your Marine training helped you with your acting career?

There’s no real direct link between them. There are intangibles. You have to have a thick skin in both the Marines and as an actor. You have to have the work ethic.

You have to have thick skin to be an actor because of the rejection?

Yeah, you get told no a lot in Hollywood – a lot more than you get told yes.  It can take its toll on your self-esteem and your confidence.

What about criticism? Do you handle that well?
If you listen to too much of it, it’ll bring you down and it hurts. You shouldn’t put your head in the sand, but at the same time you can’t dwell in that world of criticism. Everyone’s got an opinion.

There is a very funny scene you have in this movie were you just destroy a room. I’m guessing that had to be a one-take type of scene or the set decorators would not have been very happy.

(Laughs) I kept saying, “I’m going to go for it, guys. Is it OK if I destroy this place?” [The Props Department] would be like, “Uh, alright.” I would let them know that I was going to destroy something before I did it. We only got a couple of takes at it.

What kind of comedy did you like growing up?

“Caddyshack.” I’ve probably seen that movie 1,000 times. Bill Murray was a big influence. I used to listen to George Carlin and Eddie Murphy albums.

Your co-star Patton Oswalt has been showing his more dramatic side in recent years with films like “Big Fan” and last year with “Young Adult.” Would you ever like to try to take that route in your career?

Absolutely. I’m always looking for an opportunity to do something like that. It all comes down to opportunity. If I get that opportunity, I’ll do the best I can. But I have to get it first. I would like to be a leading man at some point.

Rob Riggle & Dave Franco – 21 Jump Street

March 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Interviews

Next up were co-stars Rob Riggle and Dave Franco. Franco plays Eric Molson, a popular kid and drug dealer who befriends Jonah Hill’s character, while Riggle plays Mr. Walters, a brash, loudmouth coach. True to his character, Riggle started on me right away.

Rob Riggle: Jerrod, you look very serious.

Don’t be fooled, it’s a thrift store coat. First off, were you guys fans of the original show?

RR: Uh, I wasn’t a hardcore fan. I didn’t watch it, like, every night, but I caught my share of episodes.

I don’t think it was on every night, was it?

RR: No, I mean every Friday night. Weekly.

Dave Franco: I did not ever see the show until I found out about the movie, went back and watched a few episodes, saw that it was a completely different thing and felt like I didn’t really need to watch more. Even though it was a cool show.

I had the first season on DVD and I…don’t have it anymore.

DF: Where’d it go?

RR: Yeah…

It may have been re-gifted.

Both: [Laughs]

It’s fair to say you’re different ages, right?

RR: Yes. Barely. I mean, just barely.

It’s like an older brother situation.

RR: Just barely.

Were the cool kids in charge when you both were in high school, or was it like the movie?

DF: (To Rob) What was your experience like?

RR: You know, Hollywood paints a picture and stereotypes and all this. You know, my high school…yes, sports and stuff like that, that was a big thing. But nobody was mean to each other. I don’t remember any of us being mean to each other. So, like, I played football but I also did drama. Everybody kind of cross-pollinated. I guess you could say there were some cliques, but it wasn’t as hardcore as people make it out to be.

DF: I had a very similar experience where there weren’t necessarily “the cool kids” or anybody. Everyone–and maybe this is fortunate—but like everyone got along decently well, considering. My group of friends were pretty social and got along with everyone. But at the same time we were the kids playing Ultimate Frisbee at lunch. We weren’t cool, you know? But everyone got along. I don’t know.

RR: That was my experience.

We had cowboys at my school.

DF: What do you mean?

Like, people that wore cowboy hats…

DF: Oh, okay..

RR: Belt buckles…

They raised pigs and goats on campus.

DF: On campus?

On campus. We had a barn.

DF: Come on.

RR: That’s…interesting.

I’m serious.

RR: Really?

Well, this is Texas.

RR: I guess…

DF: Wait, they would go have a period to tend to their animals?

Yeah.

DF: Come on. That’s a class?

I assume. I wasn’t in it.

DF: That’s awesome.

RR: Might be an FFA thing or something…

Yeah, it was an FFA thing.

RR: That’s probably what it was.

DF: (Laughs)

Rob, you’re a bit of a jock, safe to say…

RR: Yeah, yeah. Here’s the thing, though: 8th and 9th grade, I was pre-pubescent. And everybody else grew and was huge and I was small and scared. I spent those two years running for my life, in fact, hiding in the boys’ bathroom after lunch on many occasions.

DF: Come on.

RR: Fact. And then in 10th grade it hit like a thunderbolt. And I grew and got big–

DF: You got back at those kids?

RR: No, never did, ’cause I remember what it felt like to hide in that bathroom. So it was weird. I had two experiences. The latter half of my high school experience was fun. I played sports. It gave me self-confidence, self-esteem. And then I did drama. I was on the radio and TV station. I kind of came out of my cave a little bit and it was awesome.

DF: I never quite had that second experience. (Laughs)

You never hit puberty?

DF: Well…I’ll get back to you on that.

RR: (Laughs)

Was there a coach you drew inspiration from?

RR: Without naming names. For this character? For Mr. Walters?

Right. You’re a big enough star, you can name names now.

RR: No, I would never want to do that. But I did draw from a specific coach that I had. Actually, it was an amalgamation. I shouldn’t say that. He was one guy, I had another gym teacher, and I think a driver’s ed teacher, and I just pulled from all of them. Maybe one drill sergeant in there, too.

So were there any actual teenagers in this movie?

DF: Yeah, this is actually a really bad story. Um…we…this isn’t in the movie…

Do we need to stop taping?

DF: Actually, should I say this?

RR: No.

DF: This actually might get me in trouble.

RR: Yeah, don’t say it.

DF: I’m not gonna say it.

RR: All right.

We’ll talk afterward.

DF: It was bad though.

21 Jump Street

March 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson
Directed by: Phil Lord (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) and Chris Miller (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”)
Written by: Michael Bacall (“Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World”)

Considering the handful of ’80s TV shows adapted into films over the last decade, it’s impossible not to dread the idea of “Manimal” or “Magnum P.I.” finding their way to the big screen anytime soon. Even as popular as the retro revival is today — from skinny jeans to the resurgence of 3D movies — there’s really no excuse for things like Michael Mann slummin’ with “Miami Vice” or the intentional ridiculousness of “The A-Team.” For obvious reasons, we’ll give Jessica Simpson wearing Daisy Dukes a pass for now.

Yet on the heels of these substandard movie versions comes the surprisingly clever and often funny “21 Jump Street,” an adaptation of the TV series that launched teen heartthrob Johnny Depp’s career in 1987. While the plot itself leaves much to be desired, screenwriter Michael Bacall (scribe of the overrated “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the duo behind the deliciously entertaining “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) use the kitschy nature of the crime show to their advantage by mocking its own drawbacks. More telling is their recognition that a “21 Jump Street” movie isn’t necessarily something fans of the series were begging Hollywood to make. With the pressure at a manageable level, the filmmakers toss all logic aside, don’t overdo the nostalgia, and simply have fun with it.

Starring hunky Channing Tatum (“The Vow”) and not so chunky Jonah Hill (“Moneyball”) coming off his first Oscar nomination, “21 Jump Street” takes the procedural buddy cop setup and injects some much-needed energy into the tired formula. Assigned to go undercover as high school students to find the supplier of a new hip, hallucinatory drug students are dropping, rookie police officers Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) maneuver their way through the social network of a younger generation. It’s not just about popular kids and nerds anymore, as we learn when Schmidt points out a group of Asian girls hanging out before class dressed like punk manga comic book characters and asks, “What the hell are those?!”

Like Drew Barrymore in the 1999 rom-com “Never Been Kissed,” Hill and Tatum are forced to revisit their awkward teenage years (Jenko was a dumb jock; Schmidt was a wastoid) and do so with some sharp comedic timing. Neither will ever be able to pull off Peter DeLuise’s mullet, but the hilarious Hill and Tatum tandem is a good enough reason as any to ignore ’80s TV show-turned-movie history and (cue Holly Robinson) jump down on Jump Street.

The Lorax

March 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift
Directed by: Chris Renaud (“Despicable Me”) and Kyle Balda (debut)
Written by: Ken Daurio (“Despicable Me”)

Look, we’ve been getting adaptations of Dr. Seuss books for the better part of 70 years, so what’s the use in complaining now? After all, Seuss’ collaborations with animation pioneers like Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, and Friz Freleng produced some charming little shorts that brought Seuss’ pictures and poetry perfectly to life. These efforts even produced a bona fide classic in Jones’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” TV special, which on its own earns enough goodwill to make you forget someone thought it was a good idea to make a punishing 104-minute live action version of the same story.

With Seuss’ widow putting the kibosh on any more flesh-and-blood adaptations of her late husband’s work, a return to animation, now of the three-dimensional computer-generated variety, was in order. After all, there’s money to be made and plenty of Seuss’ books not yet clumsily stretched to feature length. In a move that comically echos the Once-ler’s desire to make mass-market garbage nobody needs at the expense of something beautiful, the filmmakers gleefully chopped down one of Seuss’ literary trees in order to summon this Lorax.

Directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda (both veterans of “Despicable Me”), “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” is a cinematic exercise that simply misses the point. No doubt the movie is visually exciting, having been given the full candy-colored 3D-CGI treatment. This version allows each bright Truffula tuft and dingy mustache hair to pop off the screen and sway gently in the digital breeze. But the story, which wraps an inflated version of the tale told in the book in a heavy-handed anti-corporate/love story framing device, commits the cardinal sin of children’s entertainment: it’s boring.

The film opens with a musical tribute to the perfect artificiality of Thneedville, a “Truman Show”-esque walled compound ruled by corporate overlord O’Hare (voice of Rob Riggle), an evil capitalist with a stature and hair style reminiscent of Edna Mode from “The Incredibles.” Thneedville is home to Ted (voice of Zac Efron), a young boy in love with Audrey (voice of Taylor Swift), the artsy girl across the street who wants nothing more than to see a real tree, proclaiming she’ll marry the first boy who can deliver one. Ted is inspired and, after a tip from his grandmother (voice of Betty White), sets out to find the Once-ler (voice of Ed Helms), the mysterious man who knows what happened to all the trees. The Once-ler has a shameful secret, a troubled past he recounts to Ted, namely how he came to know the creature known as the Lorax (voice of Danny DeVito).

The strain of extending Seuss’ fable to feature length begins to wear on the viewer, primarily in the middle of the movie as we’re mired in one of the Once-ler’s extended flashbacks. More than once the story shifts away from the Once-ler’s point of view, recounting details he was not present/conscious for. Did The Lorax fill him in later?  And while the movie’s over-arching environmental message is noble, “The Lorax” does not exist in a vacuum. One can’t help but wonder how audiences might reconcile the conservation/anti-consumerism mindset on display in the film with the mustachioed visage of The Lorax being used to sell SUVs, disposable diapers, and candy-sprinkled breakfast foods once they leave the theater.

The Lorax speaks for the trees…and also for Truffula Chip Pancakes, available for a limited time, only at IHOP!