Ep. 143 – Jumanji: The Next Level, Richard Jewell, 6 Underground, and the HFCS award noiminees

December 16, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review “Jumanji: The Next Level,” “Richard Jewell,” and “6 Underground.”

They also discuss the newly-released Houston Film Critics Society award nominees, and how their picks differed from the final ballot.

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Ep. 130 – Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

August 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod talk “Hobbs & Shaw” and the future legacy of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and the possibility of a 4-hour cut of “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood” coming to Netflix.

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Deadpool 2

May 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin
Directed by: David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”)
Written by: Rhett Reese (“Deadpool”), Paul Wernick (“Deadpool”), Ryan Reynolds (debut)

Ignore the fact that “Deadpool 2” is one of the six live-action superhero films being released in theaters in 2018. Moviegoers love the specialty genre, and damned be any outsider who proclaims half a dozen action-packed pictures from the Marvel and DC catalogs is excessive. When a company is pulling in billions worldwide, it’s not good business acumen to turn your back on the genre.

That said, it’s also obvious that after so many additions to so many franchises, things are bound to get a little repetitious. Sometimes the best films don’t stand out from the crowded field. Besides a super geek, can anyone really tell the difference between “X-Men,” “X2,” “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” if shown a random fight scene? It’s no wonder critics fell for “Logan” so hard. It was fresh and new and not so Marvel-y.

In “Deadpool 2,” which is also technically an X-Men movie, director David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”) and returning screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick decide the sequel should basically mirror the original, except this time with a pissed-off kid and a much-anticipated villain thrown into the mix. The combination should appease fans of the series who get a hard-on for pop culture references and extreme meta humor. But depending on your threshold for snark and self-awareness, “Deadpool 2” could either be a quippy masterpiece or a catty backhand to the face. Wherever you fall, it’s safe to say viewers can at least agree that it’s unapologetically crude and that Ryan Reynolds once again proves he is the perfect choice to play the titular anti-hero.

A quick spoiler-free synopsis (since Reynolds himself tweeted out a plea last week to “not say a fucking word about the fun shit in the movie”): Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson (Reynolds), is emotionally devastated after tragedy strikes. As he does in the original, he teams up with a few of the lesser-known X-Men, including newcomer Domino (Zazie Beetz), to try and corral Russell (Julian Dennison), a young, powerful mutant who has gone rogue. Also on the hunt for the mutant kid: Cable (Josh Brolin), a time-traveling, techno-organic bad dude (good dude?) driven by vengeance. How’s that for vague?

Aside from an interesting storyline or any real character development, “Deadpool 2” delivers on what it promises — a butt-load of double entendres, mostly funny comic-book humor, effective music choices (including a new Celine Dion song — ha!), exaggerated, “Kill Bill”-style violence and Reynolds hamming it up and delivering one-liners that will likely become memes in a few weeks. If you’re looking for anything else, Deadpool has a message for you: fuck off.

Ep. 114 – Deadpool 2, and Cody’s evening with the Duplass Brothers

May 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review “Deadpool 2,” and Cody recaps An Evening with the Duplass Brothers in Austin.

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February 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Monica Baccarin, T.J. Miller
Directed by: Tim Miller (debut)
Written by: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (“Zombieland”)

As the world teeters dangerously on the edge of superhero movie fatigue, with overstuffed and undercooked adventures like the latest “Avengers” movie offering little more than a two-hour placeholder for whatever comes next, in walks “Deadpool,” a hyper-violent, hilarious raunch-fest filled with things no one would have imagined would be on hand in a movie starring a Marvel Comics character. All of the worst dirty words, along with graphic beheadings, full-frontal nudity, and pegging (look it up, but not at work) join forces with a spot-on wisecracking performance from Ryan Reynolds to create a refreshingly sharp and adult-focused comic book movie for those fans who have grown tired of the bloodless save-the-world battles and/or those sorely disappointed by the lack of the main character’s dick in their superhero blockbusters.

Reynolds stars as Wade Wilson (again…Reynolds played a severely-altered/neutered version of the character in 2009’s awful “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), a sarcastic mercenary who looks out for the little guy. When he’s not intimidating dumpy pizza boys into giving up stalking the hot girls, he’s hanging out at a bar for fellow soldiers of fortune run by Weasel (T.J. Miller). That’s where Wilson meets Vanessa (Monica Baccarin), the call girl of every nerd’s dream. The two vigorously explore their sexuality while falling in love along the way, culminating in a proposal substituting a Ring Pop for a diamond. After popping the question, though, Wilson passes out. The reason? Aggressive, terminal cancer.

To save his life, Wilson accepts the offer of a shady guy in a suit he deems a child molester (Jed Rees) to join a program that will mutate his cells and destroy his cancer. Under the cruel guidance of Ed Skrein’s Ajax (Francis to his friends), Wilson is tortured by Francis until his DNA mutates, destroying his good looks but giving him the ability to heal himself rapidly. Wilson escapes and vows revenge on Francis, taking on the name Deadpool, putting on a costume, and killing everyone who gets in his way.

Blissfully self-satisfied and self-aware, “Deadpool” is the ballsiest superhero movie to date, unafraid of its protagonist’s fourth-wall breaking ways and penchant for extreme sex and violence—all while being firmly connected to Fox’s reinvigorated “X-Men” movie franchise, to boot. An appearance by the X-Mansion, mentions of James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart as Professor X, and a guest star turn by metallic Russian mutant Colossus (voice of Stefan Kapicic) played as the ultimate square who keeps trying to get Deadpool to join the X-Men lends a wonderful depth to Reynold’s meta references. He knows he’s in a movie, and that Fox allowed him to know he’s part of their lucrative, kid-friendly (sort of) mutant superhero franchise while retaining all the sarcasm and nastiness that’s made the character a comic con hit, well, that’s pretty fucking incredible. “Deadpool” raises the bar for superhero movies loyal to their source material, then promptly shoves that same bar up its own ass for jollies.


Ep. 77 – Deadpool, Where To Invade Next, and discussion of the final Batman v. Superman trailer and speculation on whether the movie sucks or not

February 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Podcast

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In this very romantic Valentine’s Day episode of The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod talk “Deadpool” and what its success means for the future of R-rated comic book movies. Cody also gives us the lowdown on Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” and the fellows discuss the final “Batman v. Superman” trailer and online scuttlebutt on the potential quality of the film itself.

[00:00 – 16:21] It’s Valentine’s Day weekend/”Batman v. Superman” trailer talk

[16:21 – 38:11] “Deadpool” review

[38:11 – 52:07] “Where to Invade Next” review

[52:07 – 52:53] Wrap up/tease

Click here to download the episode!


July 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, Natalie Martinez
Directed by: Tarsem Singh (“The Cell”)
Written by: David Pastor (“Carriers”) and Alex Pastor (“Carriers”)

Body-switching mumbo-jumbo has been popping in and out of theaters for the better part of my lifetime, cresting in the ‘80s with kid-friendly comedies like “Vice Versa” and “Like Father, Like Son.” Rarely, it seems, is the concept played for the drama and weirdness that it would result in, instead relying on jokes about how the guys end up dealing with convincing some woman they are who they say they are or having a different dick between their legs. “Self/less” attempts to fill this void, complete with body-swap comedy veteran Ryan Reynolds playing a man on the run, but the film shows its cards too early and follows too predictable a path.

“Self/less” opens with billionaire Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley, with an awful New York accent) dying from cancer. Some shady meetings with a clipped British scientist Albright (Matthew Goode) point toward a certain immortality afforded to the super-rich. You see, Albright has been growing blank humans in a lab and developed a technology to transfer the consciousness of the dying into a brand new body. After staging his death, Damian wakes up in a makeshift lab in the body/identity of Edward Kidner (Ryan Reynolds), a healthy, young (well, sort of…he’s 35) man living the high life in New Orleans. To keep the brain seizures associated with the mind transfer away, Damian must take some pills administered exclusively by Albright, who wants to keep an eye on his patients. But when one of the seizures seems to reveal suppressed memories, Damian grows suspicious and tracks down the woman (Natalie Martinez) from his new-found memory, with dangerous results!

Boring and predictable, “Self/less” could have benefitted from a lot more mind bending and a lot less store-brand Jason Bourne action. When the telegraphed twist kicks in—Goode’s Albright may as well have a maniacal laugh—and sends Reynolds on the run, the movie loses any sort of imagination the casually tossed off miracle of science mind-swapping plot device brings to the proceedings. I didn’t come to see Reynolds shooting oddly-loyal goons and kicking ass using muscle memory, I want to see what the devastating psychological toll of having your old self transferred into a new body that looks nothing like you. But no, Reynolds and Martinez spend the movie on the run with every move telegraphed leaving the movie with no tension whatsoever. Is Albright evil? Was the whole “lab-grown body” thing too good to be true? Will the former cutthroat industrialist end up having a heart of gold? Yes, now go see something better instead.


July 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña
Directed by: David Soren (debut)
Written by: David Soren (debut), Darren Lemke (“Shrek Forever After”) and Robert D. Siegel (“The Wrestler”)

On its outer shell, “Turbo” might just look like another cute animated film about an underdog character who proves to have the heart of a champion, but even that familiar storyline can have some surprises. It’s especially true when you make some interesting casting choices and hire a co-screenwriter like Robert D. Siegel (“The Wrestler”) to give the script a substantial shot of hedonism. Randy “The Ram” Robinson had it in “The Wrestler” as did Paul Aufiero in “Big Fan,” a dark comedy which Siegel also wrote. The same can be said about starry-eyed garden snail Theo (Ryan Reynolds), AKA Turbo, who would do anything possible to win the Indy 500. It’s a likeable narrative that, while not very inventive or plausible (even for an animated film), does have spurts of high-octane entertainment value.

It doesn’t really matter that Turbo is a snail and therefore lacks the actual speed or anthropological traits to enter the big race. “Turbo,” which feels like DreamWorks’ answer to the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” doesn’t worry itself with much logic and neither should viewers. When our little snail hero is somehow infused with nitrous oxide, he gains the super speed he needs to compete with the fastest cars in the world. Turbo’s brother, Chet (Paul Giamatti), isn’t too keen on these pipedreams, but with help from Tito (Michael Peña), the owner of a taco stand, and a group of wannabe racer snails lead by Whiplash (Samuel L. Jackson), Turbo is put on the fast track to get to Indianapolis and make a name for himself. Speaking of Jackson, you can’t go wrong when screenwriters choose to reference one of the most hilariously vulgar scenes from “Pulp Fiction” and use him to deliver the dialogue. Sure, the rows of eight year olds in the theater won’t blink an eye, but hidden gems like that are appreciated to balance out a lot of the slapstick for the kiddos.

From a technical and narrative perspective, Dreamworks Animation still isn’t at the levels of Pixar, but have fashioned a nice niche in the industry to create some well-made family films since coming on board in 1998 with “Antz.” Since then, they’ve had some major highs (“Kung Fu Panda,” “How to Train Your Dragon”) and a few lows (“Megamind,” “Bee Movie”), but have refused to take a back seat to their competition. If they want to catch up to the likes of Pixar, consistency is what is going to get them there. Just ask the tortoise.

The Croods

March 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds
Directed by: Kirk De Micco (“Space Chimps”) and Chris Sanders (“How to Train Your Dragon”)
Written by: Kirk De Micco (“Space Chimps”) and Chris Sanders (“How to Train Your Dragon”)

They may not be the modern-Stone Age family most are familiar with in the cartoon caveman world, but “The Croods” is just as satisfying as any brontosaurus burger you’re likely to find at a prehistoric drive-thru. Sure, the characterizations can sway into familiar territory, but with some overall rock-solid voice acting and directors/writers Kirk De Micco (“Space Chimps”) and Chris Sanders (“How to Train Your Dragon”) digging deep into their imaginations for some fun storytelling, “The Croods” is a family-friendly winner in any era.

While the title of the film isn’t a great way to introduce us to the family (they might as well have called them The Uncooths or The Roughinskys), “The Croods” makes up for it in entertaining albeit recognizable characters. Grug (Nicholas Cage) is the overly-protective patriarch of the family, who uses fear-mongering to get his family to always stay safe in the confines of their cave. Monstrous cat-like creatures roam the terrain, after all. His rebellious teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone), however, is curious to know what she is missing in a world so full of wonder (“Little Mermaid” anyone?). Rounding out the family tree is Eep’s mother Ugga (Catherine Keener), the logical thinker of the family who understands where her daughter is coming from; Eep’s dopey brother Thunk (Clark Duke), who is basically Chris Griffin (“Family Guy”) in woolly mammoth clothing; Gran (Cloris Leachman), who technically isn’t a Crood since she’s Grugs’s mother-in-law, but still delivers some old-lady laughs; and Sandy (Randy Thom), a toddler that acts more like a Gremlin than baby.

When the family meet Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a more civilized version their Neanderthal selves, Ugg is skeptical of all the fancy inventions he introduces them to like fire and shoes. Driven from their home after a natural disaster, the Croods are forced to journey through strange lands to find a new place to inhabit. During their barefoot road trip, the family learns that experiencing new things is all part of life and doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be eaten whole by a Sabre-Toothed Tiger.

It’s a wonderful message for kids and stops short before rubbing their faces in it. The colorful and incredibly striking animation and funny sight gags and slapstick are what will keep children under the age of eight the most fascinated anyway. Parents, too, shouldn’t find themselves bored with a collection of exotic animals and settings. The creativity makes the Croods’ cave-hunting all the more exciting. The deeper family story also never slow the narrative down in any way. In fact, “The Croods” says a lot more about the father/daughter relationship than Pixar’s “Brave” said about mothers and daughters last year.

Like in some animated films, there is a scene-stealing secondary character like the Minions in “Despicable Me” or the sly penguins in the “Madagascar” franchise. So take heed parents because Belt, Guy’s loveable sloth who he keeps around his waist, will keep everyone laughing with his cliffhanger-inspired crooning. If you’re lucky, the plush version (and not the stinky alive version) will be on your kids’ Christmas lists this year.

Safe House

February 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Brendan Gleeson
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa (“Easy Money”)
Written by: David Guggenheim (debut)

The rules are fairly easy in Hollywood if you’re a filmmaker wanting to direct a movie. Prove yourself a moneymaker like Michael Bay and budgets will usually swell. Problem is, every bloated and brainless production looks like the next one on the conveyer belt and mainstream audiences – despite their insatiable need for big explosions and pricey special effects – sometimes don’t fall for it (see “Green Lantern” or “Speed Racer”). What’s a studio to do when it wants to hire a new voice, but doesn’t want to gamble $170 million on someone whose resume only features a collection of really slick-looking TV commercials? The answer: Find some foreign talent yet to be influenced by the big industry machine and see if they can figure out how to inventively bash robot heads together at half the salary.

Examples from the past few years include Russian-Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov, whose film work in Moscow earned him the right to make the 2008 Angelina Jolie action flick Wanted, and Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (“Bronson,” “Pusher” trilogy), whose first American-made film was last year’s stylish arthouse hybrid “Drive.” Next in line to take a swing at an America action movie is Swedish-Chilean director Daniel Espinosa with “Safe House,” an exceedingly routine spy thriller starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds that will easily be lost among the mediocrity come March. Despite keeping things moving with some creative stunt driving and distracting editing, the film falls short in the screenplay department. While adequate in small doses, the lightweight plot, which becomes increasingly formulaic and predictable, doesn’t do much to heighten Espinosa’s visual approach or Washington’s villainous intentions.

Washington has played the bad guy before, but in films like “American Gangster” and his Oscar-winning role in “Training Day” there was more to his character than firing a slug into someone’s forehead or pointing a pair of pistols at a hoodlum’s groin. There was depth in those performances that simply isn’t found in the “Safe House” script of first-time screenwriter David Guggenheim. As renegade CIA operative-turned-traitor Tobin Frost, Washington makes his dead-on gazes work for him, but aside from the tough exterior there’s little about Frost that would send a chill down anyone’s spine. He’s selling government secrets in South Africa when he ends up in the custody of his former agency. Left to contend with Frost is Matt Weston (Reynolds), a low-level MI6 agent who must try to keep his “high-profile asset” alive as both are tracked by a mob of assassins. Wasting away in the wings are actors Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, and Sam Shepard, who stay holed up at CIA headquarters supervising the jerry-rigged mission for most of the runtime.

For those who like the hand-to-hand combat of the Jason Bourne series and the firefights and action of something like “Assault on Precinct 13” or “The Taking of Pelham 123,” “Safe House” might be a safe bet for a matinee if you’ve already caught up on the spillover from 2011. As much as the film wants to be a battle of wits between Washington and Reynolds, there isn’t nearly enough downtime for bullets to stop flying and a significant conversation to take place. Basically, this is a 106-minute chase scene through Cape Town that highlights a few fun stunts and some trivial storytelling. Espinosa does his best impersonation of Paul Greengrass and Tony Scott, and therein lies the problem. Until foreign directors like him realize their American films don’t necessarily have to be Americanized, we’ll continue to get what ultimately ends up being copies of copies of copies.

The Change-Up

August 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann
Directed by: David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”)
Written by:  Jon Lucas (“The Hangover”) and Scott Moore (“The Hangover”)

Body-switching comedies like “The Change-Up” are tough to wrap your head around. Typically they involve ordinary people living ordinary lives in an ordinary world suddenly and inexplicably visited upon by some sort of magic. In the real world, such a thing would probably destroy the psyches of the people involved. Questions of their place in the universe would arise, and likely they would be driven mad because really, who would believe you were the victim of a magic spell instead of just a simple mental illness? Instead, in these movies, the switched parties are initially shocked but then end up accepting the enchantment, playing pretend, and admiring their new private parts in the mirror.

The victims of this free-floating sorcery in “The Change-Up” are workaholic lawyer Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) and sporadically-employed actor Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds).  Dave is married with three kids, stuck in a rut of late-night diaper changes and “dialogue nights” meant to save his marriage. Mitch is single, prowling around an adolescent bachelor pad with a samurai sword and a steady stream of sexual conquests streaming through the door. The lifelong friends reconnect after a night of drinking and baseball, each envious of the other‘s life. An impromptu bathroom break in a downtown fountain, coupled with a power outage and a simultaneous wish, conjures up the body-switching magic.

What follows is Body Switching Comedy 101: wouldn’t you know it, today is the most important day in Dave’s career. He has to close The Big Deal in order to make partner, but his consciousness is stuck in Mitch’s body. And of course Mitch has a big “acting” gig lined up today, but, as you remember, they’ve switched bodies. Still, they might as well get used to it because they can’t just go pee in the fountain again because it’s been moved, you see, and the government bureaucracy involved in finding it will mean lots of waiting and living each other’s lives. Yes, this random magic is beholden to paperwork.

The cast is likable. It’s refreshing to see Bateman play a callous jerk instead of just the flustered straight man, and it’s nice to see Reynolds in something that isn’t “The Green Lantern.” And Leslie Mann and Olivia Wilde are on board for the requisite R-rated nudity. While “The Change-Up” does have laughs, far too many of the attempts come from things like CGI-enhanced babies and their high-velocity poop.

Green Lantern

June 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard
Directed by: Martin Campbell (“Edge of Darkness”)
Written by: Michael Goldenberg (“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”), Greg Berlanti (debut), Michael Green (debut), Marc Guggenheim (debut)
How Warner Bros. Pictures thought it would somehow be advantageous to spend $300 million on something as botched up as “Green Lantern” will forever be a comic-book movie mystery. While it might make a considerable amount of dough and reach that summer blockbuster echelon, it would be a surprise if the superhero flick broke even at the box office. Sure, it’s not as terrible as, say, DC Comics’ “Jonah Hex” of last year, but it does give competitor Marvel something to grin about at least until “Captain America” comes calling for justice in a few weeks.
In “Green Lantern,” Ryan Reynolds (“Buried”) plays Hal Jordan, a hotshot Air Force test pilot chosen by an intergalactic squadron known as the Green Lantern Corp. to protect the galaxy with a powerful ring that could’ve easily come from a Crackerjack box if only it didn’t possess supernatural capabilities.

In his way is a fallen guardian of the Green Lantern Corp. who has used the power of fear to transform into some kind of menacing storm cloud known as Parallax set to destroy anything in its path. Peter Sarsgaard (“Orphan”) plays xenobiologist (a scientist who studies the biology of extraterrestrial life) Hector Hammond who has been infected by an alien after it crash lands on earth. Blake Lively (“The Town”) pretties up the picture as token love interest Carol Ferris, who isn’t given much to do besides stare deep into Green Lantern’s dreamy eyes and act like a love-struck teenager waiting to be asked to the prom.

Short on excitement and originality, “Green Lantern” is a lackluster way to set up a franchise that might not even get off the ground depending on how audiences react to this unfortunate entry into the superhero genre. Reynolds does his best to give Green Lantern some personality, but the room-full of screenwriters put in charge of the story only created a hollow narrative with $300-million worth of computer-generated effects and little proof of anything enlightening.

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