Nothing can recapture the magic of the first Hangover movie. The second was a huge failure, following the same formula as the first. The third installment tries to put the Wolf Pack in a new scenario, diverting from the wedding/out of control bachelor party recipe. While The Hangover Part III doesn’t come close to matching the hilarity of the first, it is superior to the second.
The Hangover Part III opens with a prison riot in Thailand, a guard is running in slow motion with a determined look in his eye… he gets to the cell he was headed for and finds a Shawshank Redemption like hole in the wall where Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) has escaped. Next thing you know we are back in the US where Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is off his meds and bought a giraffe, he is so excited until the poor thing is decapitated by an over pass, his head slicing clean off and landing through the wind shield of a family driving behind him causing the entire freeway to crash into each other. It is decided by Alan’s family that he needs to have an intervention, he is out of control, his father died, he’s disrespecting his mother…and he’s killing giraffes. The old gang comes to help him; Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha). Alan is touched by the Wolfpack’s gesture and agrees to get help, but only if they drive him to the facility in Arizona. Along the way they are ambushed by a gangster named Marshall (John Goodman) who was ripped off by Mr. Chow. Marshall knows that Alan has been keeping in touch with Mr. Chow while he was in prison, so he forces Alan, Phil and Stu to help him, taking Doug as a hostage until Mr. Chow is turned over to them. Along the way they stop in Tijuana, rob a Mexican villa, and return to their most feared and hated place on earth… Las Vegas.
Of course it isn’t nearly what the first one was, but you have to give Todd Philips credit for trying something new. Instead of repeating the exact same formula of the first two films he tried something different. At times it is hilarious, other times terrifying (there seems to be a lot of animal murders in this one) and occasionally creepy…. Like when Alan meets the woman of his dreams (Melissa McCarthy) at a Pawn shop in Vegas.
All in all if you are a fan of the Hangover franchise you’ll most likely laugh throughout The Hangover Part III and it is definitely worth the price of admission. If you weren’t a fan of Part I or II, skip it at the theatre and watch it at home when it’s on cable.
1 hour 40 minutes
In theatres May 23rd
Reminiscent of The Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 3 is the story the man behind the mask (or iron suit in this case) getting beaten down and rebuilding himself. The difference between the two is that Tony Stark’s rebuilding is an emotional one, where as Bruce Wayne’s is physical, he
was literally broken.
Engaging from start to finish, Iron Man 3 begins in 1999, before Iron Man is created. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is a self absorbed entrepreneur, who rudely rejects nerdy scientist fan, Aldrich Killian, (Guy Pearce) when he attempts to pitch him an idea in the elevator. We quickly jump to the present and Tony has returned from his adventures in New York with The Avengers. Tony is suffering from debilitating panic attacks, and often talks about “what happened in New York” referring to the alien attack and almost being trapped in space outside the worm hole. There is an ultra terrorist on the loose called The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), wreaking havoc on the United States. He calls himself a teacher and asks, “America, are you ready for another lesson?” before setting off a bomb in heavily populated areas. After one of his attacks at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, one of Tony’s closest friends is severely injured and Tony vows in front of cameras to fight The Mandarin, going as far as giving out him home address and daring him to come to his home in Malibu. It doesn’t take long for several helicopters to head toward the coast and Tony’s home is obliterated. Soon Tony finds himself in a remote town in Tennessee; alone, his armor is broken and his only help is from an adorable 8 year old kid, who gives as good as he gets from Stark. Tony is trying to rebuild both himself and his armor, so he can return home and protect his one true love, Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow).
While Iron Man 3 reminds me of The Dark Knight Rises, it still has the zany, sarcastic humor that has come to be Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark. Even during his frightening panic attacks he manages to be funny. The interactions between Tony and his 8 year old sidekick, Harley (Ty Simpkins), are sweet, kind, and endearing. So much so that I hope Tony continues to visit with his friend from time to time.
The best of the series, Iron Man 3 is definitely worth seeing as soon as possible! But, it is not a movie for the kids, it has more gruesome violence than the last two and The Avengers combined, and the villains could cause little ones to have nightmares. So get a babysitter and get to your local theatre tonight!
2 hours 15 minutes
In theatres now
Over the last few years there has been a trend of putting as many celebrities in one film as possible, and so far, it has not worked. The producers rely on the fact that their audience is going to think, “With all those stars, it couldn’t possibly be bad!” But they usually are. They usually suck. These movies have no substance, terrible scripts and the actors just phone in their performances. I went into The Big Wedding with the same expectations, and to my surprise this wasn’t the case. Is it going to win any awards? No. Is it a movie I’ll remember for years? No. Months? No. Perhaps not even weeks. But for the hour and twenty nine minutes I was at the theatre, I genuinely enjoyed myself.
Don (Robert De Niro) and Ellie (Diane Keaton) are the divorced parents of Lyla (Katherine Heigl), Jared (Topher Grace) and their adopted Colombian son Alejandro (Ben Barnes). Alejandro is about to marry Melissa (Amanda Seyfried), who’s parents just realized Alejandro is Columbian and they can’t get over that they will have “half brown grandchildren.” The problems arise (aside from the bride’s family’s racist comments) when Alejandro’s birth mother comes to the wedding. Alejandro is terrified of offending his catholic birth mother by telling her his parents are divorced and his father is living in sin with Bebe (Susan Sarandon). So he asks his parents to pretend they are married, which causes all sorts of crazy unnecessary drama. But, if the wedding went off without a hitch, it wouldn’t have been a very amusing film!
The Big Wedding is like every other “wedding” movie, there are conflicts that arise, family hurdles to overcome and eventually everyone comes together for the happily ever after wedding. What makes this wedding movie different is the “R” rating. There are plenty of crude jokes, sexual humor and explicit language. But none of it is that awkward gross humor like in American Wedding; it’s all in good fun and kept me laughing the entire time.
Adapted from the French film Mon frere se Marie, The Big Wedding delivers borderline raunchy, crass, risqué comedy. It’s worth a redbox rental, or a matinee. I definitely wouldn’t pay full movie theatre prices for this one.
1 hr 29 minutes
In theatres now
Gerard Butler has been miscast for the last five years. Sure, he is a handsome man with a sexy accent, but he shouldn’t be doing so many romantic comedies. Die Hard-esque action movies is definitely his genre!
As soon as the opening title sequence starts you have the feeling of impending doom. For the first five minutes of Olympus Has Fallen you’re filled with anxiety, you’re not quite sure what it is, but you sense the tension, you know something bad is about to happen. Director Antione Fuqua does an excellent job keeping the right amount of tension for the entire movie; it is so engaging from start to finish that you can almost forgive the cheesy lines and ridiculous moments.
The hero of the story is Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), an ex secret service agent who is unfortunately stuck at a desk job. He is desperate to get his spot back in the big show, guarding the President, but President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) doesn’t want a daily reminder of their tragic past. But when terrorists attack and take over the white house, Banning runs into the line of fire to save the day! First he has to find the President’s son who has cleverly hidden in one of the White House’s secret passage ways, then he must make his way into the underground bunker where President Asher is being held hostage along with other high level government officials before the Korean terrorists torture them to get the three codes required to set off a top-secret fail-safe device that would destroy the United States' nuclear arsenal. In between kicking butt and shooting bad guys, Banning is in contact with Speaker Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and Secret Service Director Jacobs (Angela Bassett) who are working from the Pentagon to handle the crisis.
Jam packed with shoot outs, fight scenes, explosions and a touch of humor, Olympus Has Fallen is a fun time at the movies, as long as you don’t think too much about the absurdity of the plot. As long as you can suspend your disbelief and you enjoy movies like Die Hard where a one man army takes down a group of bad guys all by himself in heroic fashion, you’ll enjoy Olympus Has Fallen. Just be prepared to be filled with tension and anxiety for two hours, the story gives you very few moments of peace before the action starts back up again.
Definitely worth the price of a matinee ticket.
1 Hour 59 Minutes
In theatres March 22nd
Who knew Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson could act? And pull off a role that you wouldn’t have pictured him in given the plot and the character’s nature. And I am surprised to say, I liked Snitch. It was well acted, had a great plot, and they kept the action sequences to just
enough. Never over the top, but still had enough to keep everyone interested.
In the fast moving, suspenseful thriller Snitch, Dwayne Johnson stars as John Matthews, a father whose eighteen year old son reluctantly allowed for his drug dealing friend to ship him a box of ecstasy. The DEA catch the friend before he ships the drugs, who then puts all the blame on John’s son who is now looking at a mandatory minimum ten year prison sentence. The teenager refuses to snitch on anyone he knows and is willing to serve his time for his big error in judgment. But desperate to rescue his son, John makes a deal with the US attorney (played by Susan Sarandon) to work undercover to infiltrate a drug cartel in exchange for a lighter sentence. John owns a fleet of semis and turns to one of his employees, Daniel Cruz (Jonathon Bernthal) who is an ex-con for help. John does not tell Daniel why he wants his help, other than he wants to get into the drug running business and reluctantly (for $20,000) Daniel decides to get back into the life he thought he left behind.
John Matthews is not a superhero. He wasn’t in a four against one fight and came out unscathed, in fact quite the opposite. During his first attempt at finding a drug dealer he is forced out of his truck, mugged and beaten to the ground. This isn’t the role you’d think to see “The Rock” in, he never uses his size to intimidate anyone, and he isn’t fighting anyone with his bare hands. He is just a realistic portrayal of a father who left his first family, married a younger, hotter, wife and started his second family. His son still has some anger toward him and now he is trying to make up for that by getting him out of prison. And shockingly (at least to me) Dwayne Johnson pulled it off with flying colors.
Snitch isn’t going to be a movie we talk about for months, or even weeks for that matter, but it was an entertaining one time viewing. I’d recommend this for a matinee if you have nothing better to do.
In theatres February 22nd
1 Hour, 35 Minutes
A Good Day to Die Hard is exactly what you think it will be. There are no surprises; there are no twists, no unexpected turns. Just good old fashion action packed fun full of;car chases, repetitive sassy one liners, and no thought to keeping a coherent story. As long as you know what to expect, you will likely be entertained.
Bruce Willis returns to his super cop character of John McClane in the fifth installment of the Die Hard franchise. This time around John McClane (Willis) flies to Russia, where his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) is about to be on trial for murder. Upon John’s arrival at the courthouse all hell breaks loose when a serious of explosions is set off. Amidst the chaos Jack and a fellow prisoner Yuri (Sebastian Koch) escape. John uses his super detective skills to find Jack, but is met with reluctance when he tries to help Jack. John quickly learns that his son is an undercover CIA agent, helping Yuri escape so he can give him a file about a corrupt Russian official. At least I think that’s what he was doing—I was often distracted by the constant explosions. One of the official’s top goons starts chasing them through the Russian countryside all the way to… Chernobyl.
A Good Day to Die Hard is definitely a macho action film, but there is also a nice father/son story being told. Apparently when a father and son are estranged because the Dad was a super cop and not around during his son’s formative years, being chased by bad guys, “killing scumbags” and blowing s*#@ up will bring them back together.
If you are a fan of the Die Hard franchise, you’ll be entertained. The movie is fast paced, never takes itself seriously AND there is an appearance of the famous, “Yippie ki-yay…..” line that will make the audience cheer.
The bottom line is; if you are a fan go see a matinee, if Die Hard isn’t your cup of tea don’t
bother, not even worth a redbox rental.
1 Hour, 50 Minutes
In theatres February 14th
Steven Soderbergh’s career is ending on a high note… if he truly is done making movies that is. I hope not, the man is one of my all time favorite directors, and his latest film Side Effects does not disappoint.
Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) has been living a life of luxury with her husband Martin (Channing Tatum), until Martin lands himself a four year prison sentence for insider trading. Upon his release Emily begins battling depression and rams her car at full speed into a brick wall. In the emergency room she meets therapist Jonathon Banks (Jude Law), who allows her to leave the emergency room without a psyche hold for her suicide attempt when she promises to see him for regular sessions. Dr. Banks prescribes her a few different medications until finally Ablixa (a fictional anti-depressant) lightens her mood and makes her act the part of a happy and content wife to Martin. The problem is, Ablixa has side effects…she sleepwalks and doesn’t remember what she does during the episodes. Along the way we are introduced to Emily’s former therapist Dr. Erica Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who also tried different medications for Emily’s depression with various side effects.
Side Effects starts out slow while the audience is becoming acquainted with the characters and their lives, but about a half hour in the plot thickens and Side Effects becomes a thrilling master piece of intriguing twists and turns that the audience does not see coming. Every character is crucial to the story and every actor gives an amazing performance. Rooney Mara superbly makes the audience care about what happens to her, and you feel her pain as her life is unraveling. Jude Law, who hasn’t had a fantastic role in a while, portrays a caring therapist who genuinely wants to help his patient, and as his life takes a turn for the worse the audience will feel as frustrated as he does, while rooting for him to solve the mystery.
Steven Soderbergh has a distinct and memorable style to all of his films, from Oceans 11 to Magic Mike he is an exceptional film maker. I hope this is not Steven Soderbergh’s swan song, but if it is, he definitely is going out with a bang.
I highly recommended seeing Side Effects opening weekend.
In theatres February 8th
1 hour, 43 minutes
Gangster Squad is not going to be the best movie you see in 2013, it probably won’t even make it in the top 10. But it is a fun, campy cop drama and an overall enjoyable movie experience, if you don’t mind historical fiction.
Very loosely based on a true story, Gangster Squad takes place in
If you are a mob history aficionado, you’ll quickly become aware and annoyed with the historical inaccuracies surrounding Mickey Cohen. And Penn’s depiction of him becomes over the top, bordering on cartoonish at times, almost like a villain you’d see in Dick Tracy or The Mask. However, the individual performances by Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling are endearing, fun and who doesn’t love a handsome man in a zoot suit? When it comes to Emma Stone, I find myself in a bit of a quandary. On one hand, for being such a talented actress she is underwritten and underused throughout the film. However, when I think of a 1940s
Gangster Squad is a fun time at the movies, if you don’t take the movie too seriously and can suspend reality for two hours (frequent scenes have a hail of tommygun bullets directly shot at someone—but they somehow miss their target). Overall it’s worth a discount matinee.
In theatres January 11th
1 hour 50 minutes
The coming of age drama set in 1960s suburbia comes off more as a love letter to David Chase’s youth then a rousing, interesting take on the hopes and dreams of so many garage bands that never made it.
During the British invasion of 1960s music, Doug (John Magaro) and his friends decide to put a band together, playing mostly in basements during parties. They begin to have a small following when Doug takes over vocals, at the behest of his love interest, Grace (Bella Heathcote). Unfortunately, his dreams of becoming New Jersey’s answer to The Rolling Stones leads him to believe quitting college is the right thing to do, much to the chagrin of his brutish father played brilliantly by Tony Soprano—I mean, James Gandolfini. The moments Gandolfini is berating Magaro were most of my favorites, those moments from inside the unhappy American family of 1960s suburbia.
Unfortunately, Not Fade Away had so much potential to be brilliant, but it just fell flat. Every time the story started to get the ball rolling they would skip ahead a few months, but in a way that made no sense. For most of the movie I felt exhausted with my constant questions, “He was just in high school, now he’s in college? Oh nope, just kidding, he’s already dropped out…wait, what’s happening now? Now he’s a semi famous hometown garage-band-boy with his own groupie? Who left the band this time? Now he is moving to LA? Wait, what’s going on with the Dad?” So many questions throughout the movie and so many left unanswered. I wanted to like it, I tried really hard to enjoy it, but Not Fade Away came across as David Chase’s personal scrap book of memories, and he never quite let us all the way in.
I was very excited to see Jack Huston in something other than his often touching while at the same time terrifying Richard Harrow on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, but like many of the great actors in Not Fade Away he was underused.
Instead of spending money on Not Fade Away, buy the soundtrack (the music was the best part), and rent Almost Famous to relive Cameron Crowe’s love letter to his youth, now that is an example of how you let your audience enjoy the ride with you.
In theatres January 4th