Best and Worst Films of 2016 (Video 74)


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R.I.P.D. (2013)


Damn.  I Don’t Know What Eyes to Shoot You Between.

R.I.P.D. (2013)As the end of the year approaches, my standards dip dangerously low as I try to round out my films of 2013.  I could dislocate my shoulder with how hard I shrug in front of a RedBox while saying, “Fuck it!”  I knew about today’s movie while it was in theaters and even considered seeing it there.  Even though the movie looked like crap, it had a bunch of people I liked in it so I figured it was worth a chance.  We’ll find out if it was as I review R.I.P.D., based on the Dark Horse Entertainment comic by Peter M. Lenkov, written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, directed by Robert Schwentke, and starring Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon, Stephanie Szostak, James Hong, and Marisa Miller.

Two Detectives named Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) and Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon) steal some gold they found during a drug-bust, but Nick is having doubts.  Bobby is not.  So much so that he kills Nick when they go out on a bust to keep him from returning the gold.  Instead of just dying as his face hit the ground from 3 stories up, the world freezes around Nick until he’s sucked up into an anus in the sky.  He wakes up in an interrogation room with Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), who invites Nick to join the Rest In Peace Department, a police force dedicated to the capture of the escaped dead that live among us.  Nick is immediately partnered up with Roycephus Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges) and sent out to the streets, where he soon finds out that the gold he stole is part of a set that the dead are trying to use to reverse the flow on the giant Sky Anus that swallowed him before.

This movie was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be.  It was actually fairly enjoyable.  I don’t feel like any of that really comes from the story as that was pretty basic.  I guess that’s a strange thing to say about a movie with dead policemen and a plot to pink sock a Sky Anus, but I’m sticking with it.  I’m also sticking with my decision to use “pink sock” as a verb.  I guess it’s more how they get there that’s pretty basic.  “We’re new partners and we don’t get along.  We found this gold and there’s something weird about it.  The boss is trying to get in our way, but we’ll go after it anyway.”  There’s really no mystery to it.  They find the gold and turn it in and then the guys upstairs just explain it all.  If it were an action movie, a subpar story would be much more acceptable, but it seemed more this movie’s intention to be a comedy.  It didn’t land the humor nearly as much as it tried.  Most of the successes felt like it were sold much more by the delivery than the joke itself, such as the moment when Proctor bit Roy’s beard and he said, “She billy-goated me!”  If you’re not laughing right now, it’s because it wasn’t that funny of a joke on the page.  It needed Jeff Bridges to pull it off.

The main thing I noticed about this movie visually is that it felt like it really wanted to be Men in Black.  Quasi-dark and quasi-funny.  There was a good amount of action in the movie, but not a whole lot that struck me as particularly cool.  I did really enjoy Roy’s showdown scene, though.  I also laughed really hard when the construction vehicle got stuck in the wall above the Spear of Jericho (or whatever they called it), but not for a reason that was positive for the movie.  It was just so obvious of a setup for how they would eventually defeat the Spear thing that it was laughable.

I think the performances in this movie were what elevated it beyond its station.  I typically like Ryan Reynolds.  He’s usually funny and always easy on the eyes.  I even liked him in Green Lantern.  That movie wasn’t his fault.  Of course, Ryan Reynolds was definitely overshadowed by Jeff Bridges.  If you liked Bridges’ portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, then you’ll find much more of the same in his performance in this movie.  And if you didn’t like his performance in that movie then I request you make sweet love to a rock or something prickly.  Mary-Louise Parker is just great in general.  She’s super cute and super funny.  I should like one day to place a baby inside of her.  And these three actors also had great chemistry between each other.  The new partnership friction between Reynolds and Bridges was well-realized, and the sexual tension between Bridges and Parker was mined for some funny moments.  Enough to make me forgive Bridges for laying his mack down on my woman.  Kevin Bacon was also in this movie!  …That’s all I got about that.

R.I.P.D. was much better than I expected.  It would be difficult for it not to be.  There was nothing special in the writing or the action, but I think the cast made the movie much better than it would be on its own.  Their chemistry and quality made this movie easily watchable, but they could not fix the movie enough for there to really be any reason to watch it.  You can, but you don’t need to.  R.I.P.D. gets “I think you’re smelling what I’m selling” out of “One of them coyotes, he made love to my skull!”

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Ted (2012)


I Hear the Fat Kid Running.  I Bet It’s Hilarious.

Though I wasn’t able to get the triple feature I was hoping to when I went to see Spider-Man, a double feature was within my abilities.  It required that I first wait outside in the scorching Las Vegas summer temperatures for an hour, but it had the potential to be worth it.  If nothing else, it would make for a review.  And a request, as this movie was requested by my cousin Jeremy.  This movie caused many strange feelings for me, mainly because I didn’t feel like I wanted to see it.  This was strange because I love the guy that wrote and directed it and I’ve been a fan of his TV show for quite some time.  Yet, when he brought out a movie, I looked at the trailer and turned my nose up at it.  When it came out, I had been told by numerous people that it was worth seeing, but I could not be swayed.  Apparently, they all forgot that I review movies and take requests, and that requesting it might actually make me go see it.  Well my cousin didn’t forget as stupidity does not run in our bloodline … at least not on the male side.  And so I bring my review of Ted, written, directed by, and starring Seth MacFarlane, and also starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Giovanni Ribisi, Aedin Mincks, Patrick Stewart, Joel McHale, Matt Walsh, Patrick Warburton, Ralph Garman, Alex Borstein, Jessica Barth, Norah Jones, Sam J. Jones, Ryan Reynolds, and Tom Skerritt.

Young John Bennett has no friends.  For Christmas, he gets a large teddy bear that he cleverly names Ted.  But its limited vocabulary is not enough for John, so he wishes that Ted would learn how to talk.  Miraculously, his wish comes true and Ted comes to life.  After his parents (Alex Borstein and Ralph Garman) get over their initial shock, they take part in making Ted a brief celebrity.  In 2012, Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) has lost his celebrity and now lives with John (Mark Wahlberg) and his girlfriend of four years, Lori (Mila Kunis).  Over their anniversary dinner, John comes to realize that Lori was hoping he would propose, but doesn’t want to marry a 35-year-old who hangs out and smokes weed with his teddy bear.  Lori doesn’t want to lay down a him-or-me ultimatum, but it may come to that anyway.  Also in the mix is Lori’s boss, Rex (Joel McHale), who really wants to bang her and a crazed stalker named Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) and his son Robert (Aedin Mincks) who want to kidnap Ted.

I still can’t really put into words why I didn’t find myself interested in this movie, but I’m very happy that I finally relented to seeing it.  It’s not the greatest comedy ever (but it does reference the greatest comedy ever, in my opinion), but it’s a solid movie with lots of laughs throughout.  I don’t know why I didn’t expect it, being such a fan of the Family Guy and American Dad as I am, but it’s always nice to be surprised.  A lot of the humor is not far removed from what you’d see in a typical episode of Family Guy or American Dad, but they never do any of the flashback or cutaway jokes that people have complained about in Family Guy.  It’s just straight up funniness.  And a lot of it is nerdy jokes, which I always appreciate.  They recreate the dance scene from Airplane! for crying out loud!  Any movie that does that is alright in my book.  I got confused by one nerdy joke in the movie though, when it was revealed that Lori’s ringtone on John’s phone was the Imperial Death March.  What’s wrong with that?  That’s the ringtone I use for my mom on my phone.  (That is not a joke).  There’s also a scene where Ted and John do coke at a party, and that scene is all the way hilarious.  How does that count as a nerdy joke?  ‘Cause fuckin’ Flash Gordon (the real one!) is in that whole scene.  There may have been jokes that were lost on me in this scene as I have never seen Flash Gordon, but I think I got the gist of it.  I didn’t understand how this party was the straw that broke the camels back for Lori in their relationship though.  How are you going to get mad at your guy for going to that party?  Does he often get to hang out with his childhood heroes?  I understand you were reaching the end of your rope with the guy, but you have to let that one go.  There were some pretty sweet fights in the movie as well.  There was one near the end of the movie that reminded me of the fight from the third Bourne movie, but slightly different because one half of it was a teddy bear and not a big black guy.  There’s also a point where a kid gets punched in the face, and that’s just delicious.

The performances in this movie are all alright by me.  I’ve never really been too big of a fan of Mark Wahlberg, but I liked him in this movie.  He was funny in the movie, and there were even parts where he was downright cute, like when he was cowering in the kitchen yelling at Lori as she tried to clean up hooker poop.  Mila Kunis was very cute in the movie, and you felt for her very frequently in the movie.  But she’s always cute.  She probably can’t help it.  And at least she wasn’t Meg, am I right?  Seth MacFarlane brought a great deal of the comedy to the movie as Ted, and he brought even more to it as the writer of the movie.  You could expect that when looking at the trailers for the movie, but MacFarlane does share the funny pretty evenly with the rest of the cast.  I had gotten myself all smug and self-satisfied to say that Ted’s voice occasionally goes into Peter Griffin territory, but then they made the joke and made me look like a real dick-hole.  One of my favorite parts for Ted was a smaller moment in the movie, but it was when he was interviewing for his job, or pretty much all of his interactions with his boss.  Giovanni Ribisi was also in this movie, and he was as creepy as he was funny.  Norah Jones is also in the movie, but all I can say about her is that a Norah Jones concert looks like a boring time.  Not because of the music, but because the audience just seems to stand there and sway back and forth.  Where’s the mosh pit?  I had also heard that Ryan Reynolds was in this movie in a small part, but even that feels like an understatement.  He might as well have just wondered by in the background and waved.

I had inexplicably low expectations for Ted going in, but it blew them out of the water.  Turns out Seth MacFarlane can make funny in various different scenarios.  The movie is often laugh out loud funny, amusing the rest of the time, and even manages a good deal of emotional scenes.  Though I’d say the ending was not unexpected, it was the enjoyable way to end the movie.  The performances all help the movie along to their inevitable goal of being a fun and enjoyable movie.  This movie is definitely worth a watch in the theaters, so go do it.  Ted gets “Look what Jesus did!” out of “Somewhere out there are four terrible fathers I wish I could thank for this great night.”

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The Proposal (2009)


Will You Marry Me?  Because I’d Like to Date You

I have only dim recollection of what lead me to put today’s movie in my Netflix queue, and I’m pretty sure it was mostly based on the fact that Sandra Bullock was nude (ish) in the movie.  I’m not sure that this could be the entirety of the situation because I was well aware of the fact that she covered up all the good bits.  And so I am lead to believe that something about this Rom-Com sparked my interest, whether it was the stars of the movie, the expectation of charm from the movie, or maybe I just wanted to shit on it in a review.  Whatever lead me to it, the movie finally arrived (though it was mainly because I wasn’t paying attention to what was coming up on my queue) and I sat down and watched it.  The Proposal was written by Peter Chiarelli, directed by Anne Fletcher, and starring Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Denis O’Hare, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Oscar Nunez, Malin Akerman, and Aasif Mandvi.

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is an editor at a book publishing company who moonlights as a mega-bitch.  America comes along with a way to put this uppity bitch in her place: Canada.  Turns out she never got her work visa renewed and she’s going to get deported.  Inspiration comes in the well-chiseled form of her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), who unwittingly gets roped into fake marrying her.  All their problems are not quite solved, as Immigration Officer Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O’Hare) will be keeping a close eye on them.  To keep up the facade, Margaret accompanies Andrew to Sitka, Alaska, where he was headed to celebrate the birthday of his grandmother Annie (Betty White), along with his mother Grace (Mary Steenburgen), father Joe (Craig T. Nelson), and ex-girlfriend Gertrude (Malin Akerman).  Chances are very good that things will not go smoothly.

I was very surprised to find myself somewhat charmed by this movie.  Much less surprised, however, to find that I had a couple of complaints about it.  It’s a romantic comedy to be sure, but neither the romance nor the comedy worked very well for me.  I’m not too masculine to admit when I like a Rom-Com.  In fact, I’m not too masculine at all.  There have been a few Rom-Com’s that I’ve found appealing in the past, but this movie didn’t live up to it’s genre.  The romance of the movie was somewhat present, but one of the biggest part of the Rom-Com is at the very end, having endured the hardships that the movie has put upon the couple only to leave them realizing that they’re actually in love and coming together with some big gushy speech and a kiss.  It had the hardships, it had the love, and it had the reunion, but the big gushy speech didn’t have the impact that better written movies usually do in this moment.  The last speech should be so icky and cheesy that women should get so moist downstairs that they slide out of their movie theater seats.  That sentence had plenty of icky, but lacked cheesiness, so I wouldn’t put it in a Rom-Com.  The second half of the genre never really showed up for me either.  The movie had it’s charms, but barely strayed too near actual funniness.  The greater majority of the attempts at comedy in this movie were people asking Margaret and Andrew a relationship question and they had to bumble about to make up an answer.  Also, who the fuck just randomly tells people they need to make out in front of them?  At one point, right after announcing their “engagement”, the people of Andrew’s family say “KISS HER!” and will not take no for an answer.  Why not just leave behind all civility and command him to throw her to the ground and dry hump her until their pants start a fire?  Some people (decent people, if you ask me) don’t feel it’s appropriate to make out in public.  I’m okay with a goodbye peck, but when my high school friend tried to see how far he could get his tongue down his girlfriend’s throat as my mother and I stood by waiting to give him a ride home, civilized folk might think that to be in poor taste.  Let’s face it, the whole movie is so predictable that you can watch the trailer and give a dissertation on the whole movie, as if the trailer itself served double duty as the Cliff Notes.  It has the same problems as the greater majority of Chick Flicks in that it cannot deviate from the pattern.  Problem, off-kilter solution, speed bumps, climactic boiling point, gushy speech, love, ending.  There’s a Rom-Com for you.  I know there are some women smart enough to not have their ponytail explode on them if there is an unexpected twist in a movie, but they still flock to these movies as if their vaginas were going to stop working if they didn’t.  I guess men have our big dumb action flicks as the other side of that coin.  They even do that thing I point out a lot where they “subtly” have Margaret announce “You know I can’t swim” early on in the movie and SURPRISE, she falls into the water later on.  For another note, I found it amusing that the movie opened with Sandra Bullock doing the exact same thing I was doing: riding a stationary bike while watching a TV.  Yes, with my new exercise plan of riding a bike as I do my movies, you will all soon love me for my mind AND body.  Also, Ryan Reynolds was in my bed, just as he was in the movie!  But that’s another story.

I think any issues I had with this movie would mainly be the cause of the writers and not the cast.  They performed as well as they could under the circumstances.  Sandra Bullock played it bitchy, standoffish, and out of her element for the greater majority of the movie.  I still found myself charmed by her, even with her rough exterior.  When that exterior begins to crack and you see signs of the vulnerable person beneath, she hooked me.  One thing she did in the movie brought a very important question to mind: do women not know about morning wood?  She seemed very shocked and confused by Reynold’s morning wood, but I was under the impression that this was a well-known phenomenon.  Of course, I am a guy.  Speaking of, Ryan Reynolds is in this movie too.  I never really understood his appeal though.  I mean, I look exactly the same as he does with my shirt off, but I have the decency to keep my shirt on.  Does every man not look like us?  I’m confused …  Either way, he’s in the movie so he, of course, gets his abs out.  I felt like he was a little too much of a dick to Bullock once he was taking advantage of doing her a favor.  I understand that everyone in the movie world dealt with Sandra being a bitch for 3 years, but we only had about a half hour of it before he started being the asshole, so our impression as an audience would tend to sway towards “Why’s he being such a dick?”  Betty White was pretty enjoyable in the movie, but they take the easy approach to making comedy for her by turning everything she does into “Old People Do the Darnedest Things”.  The part where she was doing the strange chanting thing in the woods served no purpose whatsoever, especially since it wasn’t very humorous.  And how did an uptight person like Margaret know the lyrics to “Get Low” by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz?  She’s an editor, and should find the misspelling of “little” and “boys” abhorrent.  Mary Steenburgen had a disappointingly small role in the movie, and Craig T. Nelson pretty much just served as the antagonist to Reynolds.  Oscar Nunez had some parts that some might find funny, but I don’t find it shocking enough to see an out of shape person dancing in Speedos.  I see that all the time.  The idea that he played so many roles around town could have been funny, but they didn’t really write it to much effect.  It was novel of the movie to not take the obvious approach with Malin Akerman’s ex-girlfriend character, making her a bitch who would get in the way of Sandra and Ryan, but they just decided to make her wallpaper for most of the scenes she was in.  Pretty to look at, but you forget it’s there after some time.  Having her going after Reynolds would’ve been an interesting quandary.  Given the choice, I think I’d have a hard time choosing between Sandra Bullock and Malin Akerman too.  I guess it would depend on what I was choosing them for.  Sandra’s the kind you take home to momma, and Malin seems like the kind that you just take home.  I suppose there’s a chance she’s got a good personality to go with them good looks though.

I feel like this is a movie that the cast did their best to elevate, but the writers could not be swayed to do anything beyond the cookie cutter movie.  If you know this movie exists, you can probably tell me (with a very low margin of error) exactly where it’s going.  It’s charming, but not that romantic or funny.  It’s not painful to watch, but it’s entirely forgettable.  And skippable.  I don’t think I’d recommend you watch this movie, but I also don’t think you’d hate it if you did.  I’ll leave you to make your own decisions.  I’ve given you enough random words for this day.  To add a few more, The Proposal gets “I’m sorry for feeding you to the eagle” out of “I call it ‘The Baby Maker’.”

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The Change-Up (2011)


Can’t Believe You Would Come at Me Guns Hot

Number two in my three part rom-com RedBox spree is a movie I expected to be pretty terrible when I saw it in the kiosk, so that of course made me say “I’m gonna watch that shit.”  I thought I would hate the movie even though it seemed to be a more broad comedy (which I generally enjoy) and sports a cast almost entirely comprised of people I like.  But it’s an overdone premise and seemed more juvenile in it’s comedic choices than I would enjoy.  But who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised.  Let’s find out.  The movie is The Change-Up, written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, directed by David Dobkin, and starring Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, Gregory Itzin, Mircea Monroe, and Craig Bierko.

Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) and Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) are long time best friends that have gone in completely different paths in life, but still remain friends.  Dave is a successful lawyer, husband to Jamie (Leslie Mann), and father of three children.  Mitch is sort of an actor, but mostly just a poon-hound.  They go out drinking one night and decide it’s a good idea to relieve themselves into a fountain in a park, simultaneously confessing (to varying degrees of honesty) that they envy the other for their way of life.  All the lights in town go out for a moment and go back on.  The two men think it’s suspicious, but conclude their day and return to their respective homes.  When they wake up, they have switched places.  Dave does not have a very packed schedule in the body of Mitch, but Mitch has to take Dave’s place in  a very important meeting that he does not do well in.  He also finds out that Dave’s life is on the rocks in his marriage.  Dave as Mitch gets something put onto his plate when Mitch as Dave realizes that Dave has a thing for Dave’s legal associate, Sabrina McArdle (Olivia Wilde), and sets Dave as Mitch up on a date with her.  Their adventures in the body of the other make Mitch grow up and take responsibilities, but also make Dave appreciate his family more.

I was surprised to say that, when I left this movie, I was actually a little fond of it.  The story is WAY played out and makes you instantly remember a Lindsay Lohan movie, which I generally regard as a pretty big negative, but it has a good, albeit expected, ending that left me satisfied.  There’s a good amount of funny in the movie, but it does start on a very bad foot for me.  Poop and fart humor can be funny if done well, but I don’t think it’s well done when Jason Bateman’s baby rockets shit onto his face, and then directly into his mouth.  It’s more disgusting than anything.  I laughed, but more out of disgust than amusement, and almost instantly felt embarrassed that I had laughed.  And then it made me get a vasectomy.  That one joke killed any future Robert babies.  But, by the end of the movie, I had mostly forgotten this one speed bump and left remembering the actual funny parts.  As I said, the story premise is completely played out, but they did break from some of the traditions.  I was thankful that they didn’t go for the obvious part when Mitch as Dave was in the big, important meeting.  They could have done the cliche part about him accidentally saying something that everyone else misunderstands and takes as a brilliant idea that works out well.  Instead, he fucks everything up and has to work his ass off for the first time in his life to fix it by the end of the movie.  It’s a much better message to say you should work for your wins and not stumble into them like an idiot.  They did have the pretty cliche part where Mitch as Dave does not know how to handle Dave’s two babies, but it was executed well for the most part.  He leaves them on the counter in the kitchen as Dave as Mitch tries to talk him through what he needs to do, and the kids start getting into trouble.  One tries to put his hand in the blender and licks a light socket, and the other is smacking a meat cleaver on the cutting board in front of her, but it goes too ridiculous when that baby tosses the cleaver at her father and it sticks in the cabinet next to him.  There were also some good emotional parts of the movie, mostly around how much Dave works and neglects his wife, and they fit into the movie pretty well, without killing the comedy mood too much.

The performances could be a little hit and miss in this movie.  I love Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman and I think they both deliver their own fair share of the funny in the movie, but they do next to nothing to imitate the other person when they jump into their body.  That’s one of the main parts of a movie like this: you have to try to take on a lot of the the character of the guy inside your body.  I don’t imagine that doing such a thing is easy, but I’m not the actor here.  Leslie Mann does great in this movie.  I wouldn’t say it’s her funniest role (I give that to “Fuckin’ French Toast!”), but she adds a lot of comedy, mostly in parts that seem improvised.  She also does the bulk of the emotional performances in the movie, since Bateman doesn’t realize that she’s kind of unhappy until way late in the movie, but she shows signs of it throughout.  Olivia Wilde is hot.  So hot is she that I actually wrote that in my notes while watching the movie twice.  She also has the beginnings of a sex scene with Ryan Reynolds near the end of the movie.  You catch a little side-boob, and my goodness does she have a nice ass, but it does not ruin it by showing her naked.  It does show Leslie Mann naked a couple of times, and she also has a very nice ass, but I’m pretty sure that it was either body doubled or CG to complete her nudity.  I’m fine with that, though.  I find Mann very attractive, but I like her more as a very funny MILF and think my enjoyment might wane if she got naked.  Also, the male baby kept bashing his head against the crib.  I’m pretty sure it was CG, but I’m positive it was funny.

There are a couple missteps in this movie, but I left pretty happy with the experience.  The story is way played out, and they went with some of the cliches that go along with the premise, but managed to make it their own and break from other cliches.  I like everyone in the main cast, but Reynolds and Bateman could have done better at imitating the other when the time was right.  Not a movie I feel I need to own, but a movie I’m comfortable with having RedBoxed.  And so The Change-Up gets “Life doesn’t always turn out exactly how you plan it” out of “I need to cool it on the Thai food”.

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