Category Archives: Movie Review

'Get Hard' Review - Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart

Get-Hard poster

With the returns for its opening weekend tallied up Warner Brothers can let out a big sigh of relief. The Ferrell/Hart team up brought in a respectable 34 million dollars coming in 2nd place to Dreamworks  Home at the box office. When you take into account that both actors had previously planted their movie comedy flags firmly in PG-13 territory pairing them together for a movie that effortlessly earns a hard R rating was a pretty risky endeavor, but fortunately for us it was a risk they decided to take and we reaped the rewards with a very funny movie…well mostly.

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Get Hard centers on Will Ferrell’s character James King, a millionaire investment broker who is on the verge of having all his of 1% dreams come true. He’s engaged to super hottie socialite Alissa played by Alison Brie and her father Martin played by Craig T.  Nelson is the head of the investment firm he works at and tells King that all his hard work has paid off and he’s made partner. King is oblivious to the well-being or dignity of his servant staff at home or the underlings who shamelessly lick his boots at work and as a result the idea that everyone hates him is totally nonexistent.

It’s a blissful life of privileged ignorance until the FBI shows up at his engagement party and arrests him for investment fraud. Instead of taking the year in jail slap on the wrists that his father’s lawyer recommends, King being convinced of his innocence mistakenly puts his faith in a legal system that’s more than eager to crucify a member of the super-rich and is sentenced to the ten year maximum for his alleged crime. In doing so the judge gives King thirty days to get his affairs in order before he’s taken to prison.

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Faced with the prospect of getting sexually violated for a decade in prison King offers to pay the manager of his office building car detaile, Darnell Lewis played by Kevin Hart to toughen him up and prepare him for prison life. Contrary to Kings profiling though, Darnell has never been to prison or even been arrested but accepts Kings offer with the thought of using the money to buy his family a home in a low crime area and expand his car detail business. And so with 30 days until King goes to jail prison school is in session.

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Here’s a big shock, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart dominate this movie. Its secondary characters have almost nothing to do but the chemistry between the leads is more than good enough to cover this up. Other than a humorous intro to Alison Brie’s character in the very beginning of the movie and T.I.’s over eager performance in the middle just about all the humor in this movie happens when either Hart or Ferrell are on screen which is a great thing considering that either one or both of them are on screen for the majority of the film.

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In Get Hard Ferrell and Hart are basically pulling their performances from other characters in their previous films. Ferrell is the naïve yet talented clueless simpleton that you’ve laughed at in movies like Talladega Nights and Anchorman while Hart is the loud and overreacting sidekick you’ve seen in the likes of  Ride Along and the Think Like a Man films. And it totally works. There were no extended periods of time where I wasnt laughing at something happening or what someone said on screen which for an hour and forty minute run time is a massive accomplishment.

All that being said I will address the one glaring negative in this film. The homophobia here registers in at about a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10. Yes, this movie is about someone who does NOT want to go to prison and get raped so to think that the low hanging “Gay Panic” humor would not be here is stupid but a significant portion of the jokes in this movie center around either the fear of dicks or the emasculating consequences of encountering them.

I saw this movie on a Saturday afternoon matinee in a theater that was about three quarters full and from watching the responses of the people around me no one seemed to have a problem with it but IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE to repeated expressions of homophobia then this movie is DEFINITELY NOT FOR YOU. Setting that aside was not too difficult for me but I don’t think there is any way you could watch this movie objectively and not leave the theater noticing it. If you don’t have a problem setting that aside either then you are in for a movie that delivers almost non-stop laughs from start to finish.

Jason Momoa Makes Directorial Debut With ‘Road To Paloma’

 

© Francesca Rodriguez 2014
© Francesca Rodriguez 2014

 

Ronan Dex, Khal Drogo, Conan, the future (rumored) Aquaman. Whatever role you know him in, you know that Jason Momoa has presence. The man is also hotter than the surface of the sun, but I digress. Now he’s gone and added “director” to the list with the realization of his passion-project ‘Road To Paloma’. It may have taken 3 years and countless near misses, but Jason and co. (including wife Lisa Bonet) finally managed to pull it off, complete with a media blitz. As a long time fan of the man, with a certain reputation to uphold, I went on a quest to see if it were possible to OD from too much Momoa. Spoiler alert: It’s not.

Jason and his crew hit the NYC ground running to premiere Road on July 8th, 2014. There were several radio interviews given that day, as well as an Apple Store Event and a screening of the film at the 92Y. Yes, I went to both. My rep remember? As always, Jason was the perfect blend of raunchy and adorable, a man forever willing to mingle with his fans. His innate manner served a twofold purpose because now he was using that charm to sell his movie! The main reason he wants everyone to see it? The subject matter.

 

© Francesca Rodriguez 2014
© Francesca Rodriguez 2014

 

Momoa has had the rapes on Native American Reservations, by non-natives, as the monkey on his back for those aforementioned 3 years. The fact that non-natives can’t yet be tried by tribal police makes justice a seeming headache (WTF?!) for the federal government. And so nothing is done. Road tells the tale of “Wolf” (played by Momoa), a Native man who reached his limit and took the law into his own hands, reducing him to a life on the run from the very government who’d abandoned his people.

 

On the run...
On the run…

 

While the film starts out fairly slow and has a lagging moment here and there, by the end, it seems to fit the overall tone. This isn’t a big-bang, shoot ’em up sort of movie. Every scene lays on the one before like a sheet of paper; you don’t even realize how much of the story you’ve internalized until the climax, when your heart is racing and things…expectantly fall apart. Though there are brief moments of levity, it’s the romantic and family related scenes that make the conclusion particularly gut-wrenching. Wolf may be the central character, but the main focus is how the government’s mishandling of serious crimes is further scarring an already demoralized population. As a first venture, I feel that Road has enough going for it to be promising for Momoa’s future directing career. This is despite the occasional muffled dialogue or shaky, disorienting scene; trail, error, and experience will be the best teacher here. Most importantly, the audience is made to care about the characters.

 

© Francesca Rodriguez 2014
© Francesca Rodriguez 2014

 

During the Q & A at the 92Y, Jason reiterated that his film is a perfect example of how one DOESN’T need Hollywood’s permission to tell the stories they want to tell. After all, the entirety of ‘Road To Paloma’ was beautifully shot on a Canon 5D on a relatively modest budget. This is a message I’m more than happy to spread because, as much as I like an H’wood blockbuster, more variety in actors and intelligent stories is desperately needed in this age of the endless remake.

 

Road cliff view
A brief moment of freedom.

 

As the evening progressed, Jason got further into his cups. Bless this man and his true appreciation for a good beer, right? It led to his even more impassioned plea for us to flip the bird at Hollywood, support more independent films, and inform the general public about what’s going on on our nation’s Reservations since 95% of Americans are as clueless about it as I was. It also led to him running around barefoot, waxing poetic about Lisa (which I could listen to all day), and joyfully sitting on someone’s lap e.g. “I’m just so fucking happy you’re all here!” It was our pleasure, Mr. Momoa. And thank you for opening our eyes.

 

Momoa group shot
© Francesca Rodriguez 2014 (Though Jason totally took this group selfie, lol.)

 

‘Road To Paloma’ also stars Robert Homer Mollohan and Wes Studi and is playing in select theatres now. It’s also available on DVD/BluRay/iTunes. 

‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ Review By David E. – A Dude’s-Eye View

Spiderman2

When the announcement was made a few years ago that there would be a new series of Spiderman movies, I was asking the same questions as everyone else. “Isn’t it it a little soon to give Spidey a reboot?“, “Who was asking for one anyway” and “Why the hell should I care about it?“. So when the first installment was released to less than positive reviews, my immediate thought was “Oh well, that’s that. They tried, can we move on now“, but what I didn’t know at the time was that despite the overwhelming sub-par reviews of The Amazing Spiderman, the movie would go on to make almost three quarters of a billion (with a “B”) dollars worldwide. Sooooo yeah, making the next installment was a no-brainer for the suits in Sony’s marketing department.

Despite the first installment’s overall failing trailers, for TASM2 did manage to pique my interests and gave me hope that this time around director Marc Webb would get it right.

Emma-GwenStacy

 

This movie takes place presumably a few months after the end of the first one. Oscorp is in full spin control mode after one of it’s scientists, Dr. Curt Connors, tried to turn a large section of New York City’s population into lizard people. Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) are blissfully in love and dating despite Gwen’s dead father’s last request that Peter keep her out of harms way and not date her. As a result of breaking his promise to Gwen’s dad, Peter sees manifestations of the fallen police officer on a regular basis and finally caves in to his conscience and breaks up with Gwen right after the pair graduate from high school. Spiderman’s popularity continues to rise as he cleans the streets of New York foiling, capturing and humiliating any and all who would commit a crime in his fair city.

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At one point early on in the movie, Spidey rescues a very nerdy introverted Oscorp technician named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) from being run over in a traffic accident. Turns out Max is obsessed with Spiderman, viewing him as his best friend the only one who sees him for who he truly is. Unfortunately for Spidey, when Max falls several hundred feet into a tank of mutated super-electric eels that turns him into Electro, a being that can conduct and control outrageous amounts of electricity.  Electro now becomes fixated on destroying his one time idol (yeah, I know, just roll with it it’s a comic book movie).

dane-dehaan

In the meantime, Peter’s childhood friend from boarding school Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) has returned from traveling abroad to takeover Oscorp, but learns from his dying father that he is fated with the same crippling disease that will soon take his life. Harry learns that the one thing that could possibly cure him is venom from the genetically mutated spiders that Dr. Connors and Peter’s father Richard were working on, at Oscorp but these spiders were destroyed as part of an effort to prove that Oscorp is serious about righting the wrongs Dr. Connors perpetrated against the city. Harry concludes that the next best thing then is to get some blood from the person who clearly benefited from the spiders creation, Spiderman.

As you can read already there’s a shit-ton of stuff going on in this film, and I firmly believe that had the scope of this movie been narrowed just a bit, it could have been great–and by “great”, I mean Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2great. The heart of this movie much like the first one are the relationships of the core characters. This is where Marc Webb’s relationship expertise (i.e. 500 days of Summer) comes in and shines. The chemistry between Garfield and Stone is (no pun intended) amazing, and the story gives you plenty of time with them. Their scenes will push your emotions all over the place and ultimately are the backbone (pun intended, you’ll see) of the film. DeHaan’s portrayal of Harry Osborn will make you immediately forget that other guy who portrayed him in the Sam Raimi trilogy, but sadly, you’re only given two scenes with him and Peter together.

In my opinion had they cut out the Electro plot-line all together and given that screen time to Peter and Harry this movie (especially the ending) would have had much more weight.

electro-JamieFox

 

Speaking of Electro, while I love Jamie Foxx, his character is nothing more than a bad version of Jim Carrey’s Riddler, and an excuse for some impressive but ultimately superfluous CG action sequences. The supporting cast of this movie does fine, but the scene with Sally Field and Andrew Garfield is gut-wrenching and wonderful to watch.

Another highlight of the film is the damn-near seamless CG. There is a Spidey swinging sequence towards the opening of the film that for a second convinced me that someone was actually swinging around the city with a GoPro attached to them. It was “Impressive, most impressive”. The Electro/Spidey battles were equally impressive, but when it came to close quarters combat with Harry (at no time is he referred to as The Green Goblin) the seams showed a little bit, but didn’t distract too much from the action.

The only thing left to comment on is the ginormous spoiler that takes place towards the end of the movie. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that I was surprised to see it and glad it was there showing us even more of Marc Webb’s emotional touch.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a LOT of problems, but the performance of the core characters makes up for them and provides you with a very entertaining film that’s swings miles ahead of its first effort.

Go out, see it with confidence and enjoy.