Baywatch

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario
Directed by: Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses,” “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters”)
Written by: Damian Shannon (“Freddy vs. Jason”) & Mark Swift (“Friday the 13th”)

Somewhere in the world, there’s someone upset about the state of the industry of turning corny, old TV dramas into theatrical tongue-in-cheek raunchy comedies. A grown man is angry right now because “21 Jump Street” was turned into a hilarious meta-commentary on the ridiculousness of action movies and their sequels instead of a gritty reboot, or that “CHiPs” was made into, well, I don’t know because no one saw “CHiPs,” but it looked like it was supposed to be a comedy, too.

Anyway, now we’ve got a comedic reboot of “Baywatch” on our hands—once certifiably the most popular show in the world—and I imagine there are a few lost souls desiring an existential crisis-filled lifeguard movie highlighting the psychological rigors of saving people while you yourself are lost or some other horse shit, but nope. Instead, it’s kind of just as doofy as a normal “Baywatch” episode caught mid-transformation into a half-baked mess of a comedy drowning in weak dick and boobs jokes and not much else.

Borrowing loose characterizations from the syndicated cleavage- and slo-mo-filled TV show, “Baywatch” focuses on hotshot lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) and his posse of crime fighting lifeguards, including no-nonsense Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera) and blonde bombshell CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach). Several spots have opened up on the squad, and just in time, too—the beach (now apparently somewhere other than Los Angeles, for tax reasons I guess) is being overrun with a new drug called Flakka and a ruthless realtor (Priyanka Chopra) is looking to gobble up beachfront real estate. Enter a trio of candidates: sometime dim-bulb disgraced Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron), sincere, dedicated Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) and schlubby-but-determined Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass). Will they have what it takes to make the squad and save the beach? Yeah, of course.

Clearly modeled after the “Jump Street” films, “Baywatch” belly flops when it comes to effective satire and face plants into the sand when it comes to raunch. Forgive my crassness here, but some movies demand nudity, and a simple prosthetic penis won’t do the trick. The screenplay, which well-known script doctors of unsalvageable crap Tom Lennon and Robert Ben Garant have a story credit on, never decides what to do with its willing cast. Is Efron’s Ryan Lochte send-up the dumbest guy in the room, or the only guy who can see how weird it is that a bunch of lifeguards fancy themselves as crime fighters? Is Mitch a bullying alpha male or a too-sincere leader? Is CJ running in literal slow motion absurd humor, or a weak attempt at “Naked Gun” style parody? It’s all these things and more, but mostly it’s an awful misfire.

Ep. 80 – Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, The Nice Guys, casting announcements for Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Homecoming, the new Star Trek Beyond trailer, and where to hear us on the radio!

May 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod are as sharp as ever as they review “€œNeighbors 2: Sorority Rising”€ and “The Nice Guys.”€ They also expertly tackle new casting announcements for a pair of Marvel films, “Thor: Ragnarok”€ and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”€ Also, they tell where you can hear more of this aural mastery on the radio!

[00:00-10:16] Intro/”RiffTrax Live: Time Chasers”€ recap

[10:16-22:41] News: casting announcements for “Thor: Ragnarok” and “€œSpider-Man: Homecoming”

[22:41-30:39] Final “€œStar Trek Beyond”€ trailer reaction

[30:39-42:16] Reviews: “€œNeighbors 2: Sorority Rising”

[42:16-53:55] “The Nice Guys”

[53:55-1:02:56] Wrap up/tease

Click here to download the episode!

Dirty Grandpa

January 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch
Directed by: Dan Mazer (“I Give It a Year”)
Written by: John Phillips (debut)

Although comedy is not the first thing one would think of as a cornerstone of Robert De Niro’s illustrious career, the two-time Oscar winner has had a few moments of levity with performances in films like “Meet the Parents” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” De Niro’s comedic chops, however, are usually wasted on subpar scripts where his characters turn out to be one-dimensional and bland (“Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle,” “Showtime,” the “Meet the Parents” sequels, “The Family,” just to name a few). The same can be said of his recent foray into the comedy genre with “Dirty Grandpa,” an embarrassingly unfunny and mean-spirited project that could only be described as the cinematic equivalent of a kick to the groin.

In “Dirty Grandpa,” Zac Efron (“Neighbors”) stars as Jason Kelly, a young and uptight lawyer who is tricked into driving his grandfather Dick (De Niro) to Florida right after burying his wife, Jason’s grandmother. While Dick unconvincingly reminds audiences he loved her, he is ready to move on soon after she is put in the ground. The reason Dick is so adamant about going to Florida is because after 15 years of life without having sex, he wants to get laid. A lot.

That’s the basic premise of “Dirty Grandpa.” It’s a movie featuring a grandson unwillingly driving his grandfather around so he can find a Spring Break-ing college chick to ride him back to 1963. Of course, raunchy things happen along the way that might have been considered darkly humorous if there was some sort of direction to all the cruelty (date raping jokes, pedophilia jokes, swastika jokes, homophobic jokes, and about a thousand penis puns), but these one-off attempts to shock audiences are nothing more than lazy and superficial gags that hang out there like disgusting little dingleberries.

Aside from grandpa being horny, director Dan Mazer (“I Give It a Year”) and first-time screenwriter John Phillips try to add some unearned emotion into the film with a side story about Jason rethinking his marriage to an overbearing fiancée and falling in love with a girl from the past. There’s also a badly executed storyline about fathers and sons and how making amends with one another is important. Mazer and Phillips want it both ways. Sadly, “Dirty Grandpa” refuses to understand that with a comedy like this it’s impossible to wear your heart on your sleeve if it’s already covered in semen.

That Awkward Moment

January 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan
Directed by: Tom Gormican (debut)
Written by: Tom Gormican (debut)

Over the past few years, it seems the market has been saturated with “guys will be guys”-type movies. Specifically, this is the type of film that typically features a group of men in some state of arrested development and tries to portray realistic conversations between friends about love, sex, and relationships. In “That Awkward Moment,” this archetype is once again explored, this time with a group of single guys shying away from relationships and making a pact to stay single.

Though they are in different stages in their relationships and lives, friends Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller), and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) find themselves in situations where they are questioning where their relationships are going. As two of them find themselves getting closer to girls than they expected and one becoming more distant, they must decide if their pact to stay single is worth keeping.

As far as the cast is concerned, Efron, Teller and Jordan often struggle under the constraints of a mostly unfunny script. This, unfortunately, also means that Efron is extremely inconsistent in delivering laughs as he displays some questionable natural comedic ability. Conversely, this also means the very naturally funny and charismatic Teller is the shining member of the trio. On more than one occasion, Teller is able to pull a laugh using well-conceived timing as opposed to Efron who relies on the written screenplay and the occasional bit of physical humor.

Like many similar films, “That Awkward Moment” comes with its characters presenting a litany of new vocabulary terms and shorthand that describe certain situations.  This time around, the guys discuss the “so…” period, the time in which a girl will start a sentence with “so…” and question where the relationship is headed. This sets the table for a film that has a vein of adolescence running through it. It isn’t just in the lack of commitment by at least two of the three leads, but also in the seemingly arbitrary justification of their actions, which is to stick to their pact.

When it all comes down to it, “That Awkward Moment” feels sophomoric in many ways. The film feels unpolished, the script, while occasionally funny, is formulaic, and often times, the conversations between these friends feels either unnatural, forced, or just plain overdone. Teller, whose career trajectory will be interesting to watch, has his moments, but can’t save a poor script and a faulty premise.

At Any Price

May 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Maika Monroe
Directed by: Ramin Bahrani (“Goodbye Solo”)
Written by: Ramin Bahrani (“Goodbye Solo”) and Hallie Elizabeth Newton (debut)

Creating drama based on topics most people wouldn’t find that dramatic to begin with is a tough challenge for any director. In recent years, filmmaker David Fincher perfected it in 2010 with his masterpiece “The Social Network,” a film about the creation of Facebook. Director Gus Van Sant ran into storytelling problems with his 2012 film “Promised Land” about hydraulic fracturing. In “At Any Price,” a film that makes corporate farming and GMO seeds its narrative base, proven filmmaker Ramin Bahrani (“Goodbye Solo,” “Chop Shop”) doesn’t seem to know where to go once he kicks his tractor into high gear. Part agribusiness fraud tale, part father-son relationship melodrama, “Price” never gets any real guidance to define the type of film it would like to be. By the end, we’re left with a film of flawed design.

Dennis Quaid (“Soul Surfer”) stars as Henry Whipple, an Iowan farmer being investigated for illegally cleaning and reselling genetically modified seeds (GMOs) throughout the state. Henry works in the extremely competitive agricultural world, so he is committed to doing anything he can to keep his farm afloat. Although he is running a family business, his two sons aren’t very interested in following in his footsteps. His son Dean (Zac Efron, who seems to be doing an impersonation of James Dean) has his sights set on racecar driving. It’s a cliché rebellious teenage character we’ve seen hundreds of times before and Efron does nothing remarkable to let it stand alone.

Aside from a forgettable performance by Efron, the complicated relationship Bahrani attempts to create between Henry and Dean isn’t interesting or nearly as complex as it thinks it is. We have a young kid rebelling against his father during a very stressful time for everyone. Things are bound to get a little testy at times, so how is that different than any other family scenario? The controversial seed story would’ve been the way to give the film a bit more life and distinction, but Behrani and first-time screenwriter Hallie Elizabeth Newton toss those ideas to the side in favor of more emoting.

Quaid is adequate enough as a father trying to keep everything from falling apart, but Behrani and Newton add some questionable traits to him that seem out of character. For example, why is he cheating on his wife with a floozie named Meredith (Heather Graham in a role that could’ve easily been left on the editing room floor and not made any difference)? Henry seems like a good guy despite lacking business ethics, but he never comes off as the type of sleezeball it would take to sleep around with the town whore.

In any case, Bahrani proves the family is a fairly dysfunctional one, but gives us little reason to care about what happens to them under their own roof much less in the cutthroat world of farming. Behrani sows the cinematic seeds, but yields nothing.

“At Any Price” was screened at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival.

The Lucky One

April 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Bylthe Danner
Directed by: Scott Hicks (“Shine,” “No Reservations”)
Written by: Will Fetters (“Remember Me”)

This movie is not for me. I’m a man in my early 30s and, as such, the entire summer movie season is targeted toward me. But this movie, “The Lucky One,” is one of those movies I’m only supposed to see on a date, one that I’m supposed to suffer through for the sake of my girlfriend* having a good cry while basking in the syrupy romance oozing from the screen. And that’s okay. In theaters over the next couple of months, I’ll be able to watch Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Batman, and the entirety of G.I. Joe kick all sorts of super-powered ass. I can take one for the team, you know?

“The Lucky One” is based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, the author responsible for “The Notebook” and “A Walk to Remember.” Zac Efron (“17 Again”) stars as Logan Thibault, a U.S. Marine stationed in Iraq. In the aftermath of an attack, Logan finds a picture of a smiling woman (Taylor Schilling) half-buried in the rubble. After picking up the picture to examine it, a rocket screams from the sky and explodes in the exact spot he was standing moments before. Convinced the picture saved his life, it becomes his new good luck charm. Months later, after his tour ends, Logan learns the woman’s name is Beth and shows up at her door. However, instead of revealing his true intentions, Logan decides to keep secret his discovery of the photograph that kept him safe.

Directed by Academy Award-nominee Scott Hicks (“Shine”), “The Lucky One” is more of the same from the Nicholas Sparks romantic drama factory. The star-crossed couple, the tow-headed youngster, and the hot-headed ex-husband are all as familiar as a well-worn shoe, as is the chunk of Louisiana they inhabit, where it’s always nearly dusk and there are an awful lot of quaint old bridges. Efron, best known for his singing and dancing in Disney’s “High School Musical” series, never deviates from a stilted, wooden stoicism, while relative unknown Schilling (“Atlas Shrugged – Part 1”) does fine as a single mother reluctantly falling for a mysterious stranger who somehow managed to walk from Colorado to Louisiana and still end up looking like Zac Efron instead of a filthy lunatic. And despite actually being 69 years old, Blythe Danner oddly feels too young to be playing the grandmother of a woman in her 20s.

Some poor editing proves to be a distraction from time to time, and the beginning of the film feels too rushed, leaving the title rather puzzling as a result. But I suspect these concerns will only be expressed by the men in the audience, and will likely be quickly shushed away by smitten wives and girlfriends.

*My girlfriend doesn’t actually like movies like this.

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!

New Year’s Eve

December 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher
Directed by: Gary Marshall (“Valentine’s Day”)
Written by: Katherine Fugate (“Valentine’s Day”)

Forget about eating healthier or going to the gym more often. Don’t worry about watching less TV or cutting back on coffee in the morning. If you really want to make a New Year’s resolution that will benefit your well-being, promise yourself not to feed the holiday cinematic beast called “New Year’s Eve,” the second purposeless celebrity mishmash rom-com brought to you by Hollywood nice-guy director Gary Marshall (“Pretty Woman”).

It’s been quite a while since Marshall has given audiences anything with substance. Unless you liked the torturously unfunny “Valentine’s Day” of last year, there’s no need to subject yourself to the same humdrum narrative pattern screenwriter Katherine Fugate has tried once again to pass off as something resembling a logical script. As if “Valentine’s Day” never happened, Fugate fails to realize that squeezing a sizeable series of storylines into one movie is like force feeding a full person. There is literally no room to expand on anything and – more than likely – things are bound to get messy.

Even more curious than the shameful script is the fact that so many high-profile stars decided to add their name to the swelling cast. Sure, money (and what was probably a short production schedule) talks, but actors like Robert De Niro, Halle Berry and Hilary Swank can’t be that hard up for work to take on a project as thinly-written as this. They should’ve known something was wrong when the New York City they inhabit in this movie is one where comedian Seth Meyers has a chance to make babies with Jessica Biel.