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.

Horrible Bosses 2

November 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day
Directed by: Sean Anders (“That’s My Boy”)
Written by: Sean Anders (“Dumb and Dumber To”) and John Morris (“Dumb and Dumber To”)

In an alarming trend that has been documented on this site many, many times, the cornucopia of sequels released every year is becoming absurd. Most of the time, either with a follow up to a financially successful first installment or the fervor of a fanatical fanbase, most sequels have at least some element that is beneficial to the studio. Then you get something like “Horrible Bosses 2.” It made a respectable $117 million domestically (though a far cry from the ridiculous $277 million that the first “Hangover” movie that spawned a franchise) and was a decent enough comedy, but it certainly did not have people clamoring for a sequel. But this is the film landscape we inhabit, and as a result, clueless amateur criminals played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day are back for more in this unnecessary follow-up.

After being put in a position to have their new company and invention completely fail, friends Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day) decide the only thing they can do to keep their business afloat is to kidnap their rich offender’s son and hold him for ransom. But as we know, the trio are far from criminal masterminds and must once again figure out how to get away with a serious crime without screwing up.

In the worst symptom of “sequelitis,” this is where the film, with a shaky premise at best, begins to retrace its steps from the first movie. The film hits repeated comedic beat after repeated comedic beat and tells the same jokes as the first film under slightly different circumstances. They completely botch breaking into places and risk their identities being compromised, only this time, they are somehow dumber than before.

Beyond plot points, the character designs are also extremely similar. Jennifer Anniston is still completely sex crazed, Kevin Spacey’s character is still ruthless and mean and Jamie Foxx’s “Motherfucker Jones” continues to give worthless advice in exchange money or goods. It is here where the jokes start to feel completely stale. The novelty of Aniston’s character, for example, was one of the most memorable things about the first film. Here, it feels obligatory and passé as the novelty of it has completely worn off. As far as peripheral characters, the most notable is the one inhabited by Chris Pine, who is ironically enough rehashing a character type of his own, playing a cleaner and slightly less crazy iteration of his rich character from Joe Carnahan’s “Stretch.” Still, Pine is game here and fits in well with the gang proving himself to be pretty talented at comedy.

It would be unfair to say that “Horrible Bosses 2” is completely humorless. The sheer talent of the three leads and their undeniable chemistry allows the film to be occasionally funny, mostly at one-liners rather than its bigger, broader moments. Like the first film, Day probably garners the most consistent laughs, but everyone here is clearly having fun. But even though there are some laughs to be had, it doesn’t change the fact that “Horrible Bosses 2” has no real reason to exist and is less funny and inferior in every way to its predecessor. It’s almost as if they played “Mad Libs” with the beats and inserted a new crime. What a waste of a fantastic comedy trio.

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.

That’s My Boy

June 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester
Directed by: Sean Anders (“Sex Drive”)
Written by: David Caspe (debut)

A good chunk of 2009’s “Funny People” seemed intent on shaming star Adam Sandler for filling the decade since the release of “The Wedding Singer” with terrible, terrible movies. From the pen of old friend Judd Apatow, Sandler’s character ended up a thinly-veiled version of the man himself: an insanely rich and popular actor who drifted away from his sharp stand-up comedy roots to headline juvenile box office hits. The fake movies that Apatow cooked up for “Funny People” were all eerily plausible Sandler movies from another dimension, with titles like “MerMan” and “My Best Friend is a Robot.” While this might have been a turning point in Sandler’s career – a public moment of reflection from a creatively-bankrupt mega-star – it instead seemed to have just been a brainstorming session. Sandler regressed immediately, following up with high concept garbage like “Just Go With It” and “Jack and Jill.”

There are glimmers of hope that part of the message got through, however, in Sandler’s “That’s My Boy.” Sandler plays Donny Berger, a 40-something Boston burnout coasting on the skeevy fame he acquired in his early teens from having sex with his insanely attractive math teacher Ms. McGarricle (Eva Amurri). When the inappropriate relationship results in a pregnancy, Donny is left to raise the child alone as an incredibly irresponsible teenager. Fast forward 27 years: Donny is broke and owes the IRS nearly $50,000 while his estranged son Todd (Andy Samberg) is preparing for his wedding to fiancé Jamie (Leighton Meester) and telling everyone his parents died in an horrific explosion. A desperate Donny makes a deal with sleazebag talk show host Randall Morgan (former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick): reunite Todd with his mother in prison on television and earn enough money to settle his debts and avoid prison himself. Donny throws himself into the wedding, sending the straight-laced Todd spiraling back into a troubled childhood he’s tried hard to forget.

“That’s My Boy” begins with director Sean Anders (of the underappreciated “Sex Drive”) merely filling the chair for longtime Sandler director Dennis Dugan, a duty which includes indulging Sandler’s seemingly random desire to play Berger with a wicked broad Boston accent and casting long-time Sandler associates Blake Clark and Nick Swardson in supporting roles (Rob Schnieder, though, is thankfully absent). The film lumbers through its over-long setup, with the student-teacher sexual relationship serving as nothing more than a somewhat realistic reason for someone as young as Sandler to have a son as old as Samberg. The present day scene-setting doesn’t fare much better, introducing the goofy wedding guests like ’70s singer Tony Orlando and a horny grandma that plays like a microwaved knock-off of the weirdo guests in “The Wedding Singer.” But when it’s time for the bachelor party, Anders cuts loose and lets straight man Samberg be led down a path of hilarious debauchery by Sandler and a scene-stealing Vanilla Ice, playing an exaggerated version of himself. The film embraces its R-rating, indulging in cursing and nudity while re-sharpening the fangs Sandler had seemingly dulled with years and years of PG-13 pabulum.

Is it stupid? Yes. Is it funny? Absolutely. And in 2012, that counts as a win for Adam Sandler.

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.

Hot Tub Time Machine

March 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry
Directed by: Steve Pink (“Accepted”)
Written by: Josh Heald (debut), Sean Anders (“She’s Out of My League”), John Morris (“She’s Out of My League”)

Until “The Hangover 2” hits theaters sometime next year, comedy lovers will be itching to find a male-bonding movie as juvenile and riotous as the original Las Vegas romp of last year. The closest they’ll get so far this season is with “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Despite its similar comedic elements and disregard for levelheadedness, the blast-from-the-past flick doesn’t have more than obvious jokes in its arsenal.

Like “The Hangover,” “Hot Tub” features four friends who find themselves on the biggest misadventure of their lives. Instead of Sin City, however, Adam (John Cusack), Nick, (Craig Robinson), Lou, (Rob Corddry), and Adam’s nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) are vacationing at a Nevada ski resort where the three middle-aged friends used to party back in high school.

Bored with their lives, the trio wants to recapture the glory days when they were all younger, dumber, and full of aspiration. Their trip takes a bizarre twist when the foursome climbs into a mysterious hot tub and are magically transported back to the year 1986 for one more chance to relive their adolescence.

Not only do the boys travel back in time, they also transform back into their teenage bodies (with the exception of Jacob who is already a teen). Since Jacob hasn’t technically been born yet (and since he begins to flicker like Marty McFly in “Back to the Future”), they guys realize if they don’t do exactly what they did 24 years prior, Jacob might disappear and never be born.

The whole idea of the “butterfly effect” is used loosely throughout the film as Adam, Nick , Lou and Jacob search for the hot tub repair man (Chevy Chase in a wasted role) who can get them back to the present day (think Don Knotts in “Pleasantville” without the personality) and run around the resort trying to remember specific aspects of their past so they can keep the future intact.

Most of “Hot Tub” is a one-joke homage to the 80s. It has a number of hilarious moments (especially when Robinson is involved), but wears out the nostalgia after a while. Yes, cassette players and Jheri curls have their place in a movie like this, but why fixate on the obvious?  It’s one thing to create an 80s-inspired world and build a comedy around it, but “Hot Tub” relies too much on the references to get the bulk of its laughs. Legwarmers are funny, but not that funny.

She’s Out of My League

March 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, T.J. Miller
Directed by: Jim Field Smith (debut)
Written by: Sean Anders (“Sex Drive”) and John Morris (“Sex Drive”)

While it might remind you of the reality show “Beauty and the Geek,” there is a lot more heart and plenty of hilarious moments in “She’s Out of My League” that propels it past mindless TV fare and similar types of recent comedies like “I Love You, Beth Cooper.” It actually feels more like 1987’s “Can’t Buy Me Love” with rougher edges.

In “League,” Jay Baruchel (“Tropic Thunder”) plays Kirk, a nerdy airport security officer who gets the shock of his life when Molly (Alice Eve), a gorgeous blonde bombshell genuinely takes an interest in him. His buddies – Stainer (T.J. Miller), Jack (Mike Vogel), and Devon (Nate Torrence) – can’t believe a girl like Molly (described here as a “hard 10”) would lower her physical standards and give Kirk (a 5 or 6 depending on who you ask) a chance.

Kirk is a nice enough guy, but aside from his average looks he’s not very aspiring or self-confident. Molly, on the other hand, doesn’t just flaunt her outer beauty. She’s an all-around girl who likes sports, has a law degree, and owns her own event-planning business. It’s a dream come true for Kirk from the start until his mind starts playing games with him. He is begins to wonder how long something this good can actually last. More importantly, how can he live up to this fantasy when everyone around him is dumbfounded by his new relationship?

While there is enough frat-boy humor to keep the R-rating fresh, “League” packs more than just lowbrow antics you’d normally get from a juvenile comedy like this. Sean Anders and John Morris, who penned 2008’s surprisingly funny “Sex Drive,” might not be the next Judd Apatow just yet, but there’s a lot to be admired in a story that refuses to take the easy route and run over all the obvious clichés time and time again.

Instead, the comedy hits a couple of potholes and moves on smoothly. With a lead character that you can root for in Kirk, it’s easy to be charmed by “League” no matter how unrealistic the geek in all of us knows it really is.