Archive for Comedy

Cinelou Films, Linson Entertainment, Anvil Films,

Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito, Edie Falco, Charles Grodin, Cloris Leachman, Patti LuPone, Harvey Keitel, Veronica Ferres, Lois Smith

Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro) is a well known comedian. Unfortunately he’s only known for a silly sitcom he did decades ago. But everywhere he goes, all he runs into is people asking for catchphrases from his long cancelled show. Jackie wants to get his act back on track, but mostly he’s just angry. When a heckler makes him snap, he goes after him and ends up in court where he’s thrown in jail and has to do community service.

This movie is a bit schizophrenic. On one hand, there are some really funny situations, and some pretty good jokes. De Niro plays the insult comic pretty good. But at the same time, it’s a really good little drama as well. De Niro does a fine job of making Jackie (who most actors would probably treat as a cartoon character) a real person. The more we get to know him, the more we get to like him a little, but understand him even more. Perhaps the credit should go to the writers, but De Niro does a good job with it. Some folks found this film to be a little too slow, and some people were looking for a lot more comedy. But truthfully, this was a well done little film with an interesting story. There are many cameos from other actors that bring a bit of comedy to the movie. I enjoyed this movie, and I do recommend it.

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Chernin Entertainment, Feigco Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation,

Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Joan Cusack, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Christopher Meloni, Tom Bateman, Randall Park, Óscar Jaenada

Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) is a rather spoiled young lady with an upcoming rock star boy friend, who is set to take a vacation to Ecuador, when she is blind sided by a nasty breakup leaving her with two tickets and no one to go with. All her friends have turned her down. She decides to go home to her Mother Linda (Goldie Hawn) to ease her broken heart and to coerce her Mom to go with her on the trip for some bonding time. But no sooner than they arrive do the pair get kidnapped by some bad cartel guys and have to fight for their lives as things go horribly wrong all around them in this raucous comedy from 20th Century Fox.

Amy Schumer has pissed off a lot of people who are extremely unhappy with her uncalled for political rants. Like every other person on the planet, she is entitled to her opinion but some of her choices of late have hurt her credibility a LOT. I try to keep the work apart from the worker as much as I can, unless they try to infuse the political stance. If you choose to hate her (look at the ratings on Netfix if you want to see what I mean) and demean the film simply because you don’t like Amy, I can accept that. You might as well stop reading as I’m going to try to review the movie and not the person. So here goes. This movie is pretty funny. If you saw Trainwreck, Amy’s first movie, then there are reasons why people are calling this a sequel to that one, although it’s not. But it’s the same character, the deranged dysfunctional child/adult who seems to have no moral compass at all. Life keeps getting harder and harder as bad choices are made. It’s in the same vein as Superbad and the Hangover pictures that are raunchy and truly R rated which is well deserved. Be sure you’re ready for that before watching this. But Emily does have some real values underneath, and just doesn’t know how to present them. Like the Alice in Wonderland song from the Disney film, “I give myself good advice, but I seldom ever follow it.” This should be Emily’s theme. However, this movie is far better than Trainwreck because of the outstanding cast that is backing Amy up. Goldie Hawn (Poor Goldie, I still remember the bubbly little girl from Laugh-In and she’s not that anymore) is absolutely charming in this film. She’s been honing her comedic skills her whole life, but she got this Mom down perfectly. She’s naturally very much like her daughter, trying to do the sensible thing, but getting into trouble, although a lot more cautious than Emily, she still makes some strange choices which depicts the difficult life she lived (in the film) as well. Also there are some excellent additional characters that bring tons of color to the film in somewhat smaller roles. Ike Barinholtz from Mad TV plays Emily’s brother, an adult agoraphobic man who never leaves the house who is there mostly to drive Emily nuts. There is another lesbian pair who are staying at the resort and make friends with Linda played by Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack that are very, very funny. Joan, playing a mute person, is exceptionally funny and provided many of the belly laughs. The captain of the “slow boat” Roger Simmons played by Christopher Simmons is also very funny, although he doesn’t last too long. Basically this is low brow humor that actually works, but makes you feel a little dirty afterward. All in all, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected, and if you can take the R rating without getting offended, then it’s a dang funny little movie.

Regular Trailer:

RED BAND (R Rated) TRAILER

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Black Label Media, Gilbert Films, Impostor Pictures,

Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, Meagen Fay, Callie Hernandez, Sonoya Mizuno, Jessica Rothe, Tom Everett, Josh Pence

Mia (Emma Stone) is a wannabe Hollywood actress, but stuck working as a barista in the studio commissary. She is frustrated, but full of ambition. Meanwhile, she keeps running into jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and tempers flare until sparks begin to fly. But each is filled with ambition and drive, and their paths are certainly separate from each other, so they have to face many difficult choices along their way for a relationship that seems to be doomed from the beginning. This is certainly a musical, but it’s filled with nostalgia for Hollywood yesterday, and old fashioned falling in love.

This film will ever be remembered as the film that Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced as the Best Picture winner at the Oscars in 2017 when it actually lost. This was a classic screw-up of massive proportions. But was this film the Best Picture, really? La La Land is a paradox of ups and downs, goods and bads. On the good side, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were absolutely great in their roles. They nailed the style and motif of the film perfectly. They both pulled off some really amazing skills that blew everyone away. For example, the plan was to use a pianist to play the piano with Ryan only pretending to do it. But he took lessons constantly that allowed him to play the music himself and perform the songs effortlessly. Even John Legend was impressed. Emma has a huge audition scene which she also performed herself, flipping between acting and singing without any the usual prerecorded track. The cast was very impressed. The cinematography is very well done. The look and feel of Hollywood is colorful and beautiful and show many of the sites and locations that mean so much to those of us who live here in LA. The story is very nostalgic, but that’s what we are really looking for. It pays homage to the Hollywood of yore and does it very well. It’s a simple boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl story, told with music. Now for the bads. The music is highly forgettable. When was the last time you heard a huge hit song from the new musical LA LA Land on the radio? It’s really simplistic and seems to mostly just fill in time. That part could have been done very much better. The story is rather simplistic. The drama seems really contrived and not really very believable. But the negatives don’t really destroy the experience, and it was very popular with the Foreign Press! For those who have had the acting or musician bug, it’s right up your alley, but not everyone is going to love this. I did not think it was best picture by any means, but it is good enough for a high recommendation. It is a great opportunity, like watching and old movie on AMC, to kick off your shoes, lie back, and enjoy a couple hours of pure unadulterated nostalgia. Finally a word about the ending. This may catch some folks by surprise, but there is an epilogue to the film that is a performance art sort of piece showing the “what ifs” of what life could have been. This film is about wishes and dreams, more than about love and romance, and it’s an interesting way to send us off think about that. The final ending is stunning. Wait for it.

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Wild Pictures, Defiant Pictures, Alliance Cinema,

Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Lange, Demi Moore, Judd Hirsch, Santiago Segura, Howard Hesseman

Eva (Shirley MacLaine) is a widowed retired school teacher who is looking for a $50,000 check from the insurance company to pay out her husband’s life insurance. She’s a bit taken aback when a check for $5,000.000.00 arrives instead. She wants to return it but once her best friend Maddie (Jessica Lange) finds out about it, she talks her into depositing the check and heading out of a vacation to Spain. Of course the insurance company is embarrassed to learn about the mistake and send out soon to retire insurance investigator, Vespucci (Howard Hesseman) out to try to recover the money. He teams up with Eva’s uptight daughter Crystal (Demi Moore) to try to round her up, but before long, everyone is out after them while they enjoy the sun and a couple new love interests.

This is a rather clever comedy that is pretty funny. Younger folks may have a problem with this movie as they won’t get the humor that is definitely aimed at senior citizens, but the truth is that the jokes are pretty funny. This is like the male version of the story, 2013’s “Last Vegas” with Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, and Morgan Freeman. Shirley MacLaine is really funny in this role, and is well suited for this movie! Jessica Lange is a bit young for the role, or appears to be, and she is not quite as good as Shirley, but holds her own. Billy Connolly has a small role as Eva’s love interest which is really funny. He even cracked up Shirley to the point where they had to stop filming for 11 minutes while she laughed and laughed. One of the jewels in this film is the annoying uptight daughter Crystal played joyfully by Demi Moore. The character is so different than her real personality, so it’s a riot watching her strut through this role. All in all it was a pleasure to see this, and I was pleasantly surprised by how funny I found it. Don’t expect the young folks to get this, but they ought to see it too to learn how us old folks enjoy ourselves once in a while! Good little movie!

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Perfect World Pictures (Beijing), Universal Pictures, Will Packer Productions,

Kimberly Elise, Danny Glover, John Michael Higgins, Romany Malco, Mo’Nique, J.B. Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Omar Epps, Nicole Ari Parker, Jessie Usher, DC Young Fly

Walter (Danny Glover) is the father of a big family who are all grown-up and moved away, and he’s suffering the loss of his wife and it’s 5 days until Christmas. Walter has asked everyone to come together and his only wish is for the whole family to get together for 5 days without it all blowing up. Of course that’s a lot to ask of this bunch, and though Walter’s obsessed with getting his wife’s Sweet Potato Pie just right, the rest of the gang from Aunt May (Mo’nique) all the way down to the grandchildren are all about to kill each other. This is a typical dysfunctional family survives Christmas films.

Almost Christmas is certainly a well covered topic, with the frustrated Dad trying to keep his kids from tearing each other apart story line, but due to the excellent acting from Glover and Mo’Nique through JB Smoove, Gabriel Union, and right on down the line, the talent helps to make the story come alive. There are some hysterical moments that are really well done including one of the best dining room table bits that I’ve ever seen. This film is not going to be classic enough to gain cult status, but it’s really pretty well done and though it does jump from sad to silly and back quite fast, still it’s a highly enjoyable film and one that makes us feel good because our families are not near as bad as this clan. Or are they? That’s something you’ll be wondering about as you enjoy this charming Christmas Movie.

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