A typical by the numbers little thriller with a couple nice jumps, some good acting, and a nifty little message about forgiveness. The brother sister dynamic worked really well and reminded me of the one from a sleeper horror movie from the 80’s…"Silver Bullet". That being said, I had the "twist" figured out early on and I wish the tension was cranked up the way it was in the final few minutes of the movie. A decent "visit"…just don’t go in with high expectations.
Once again, I have to laugh at mainstream critics. When Pixels came out, they criticized it for being sophomoric, rude, and ridiculous. Um…have you ever seen an Adam Sandler movie? In his movies, the geeks grow up, one becomes President, and the others save the world from video games come to life. It’s fun, funny, and typical Sandler. I still fail to understand the huge gap between what critics consider funny and what the rest of us laugh at. I think that’s a good thing. I loved it and the kids did too. Isn’t that the point?
For the first two thirds, this movie wasn’t fantastic but it wasn’t the bomb we all heard about. It was a typical origin story with a slow pace and dark tone. But then the final act happened and I can understand why the director blasted the studio on Twitter…it reportedly reshot the ending. Whatever the original finale was, it couldn’t have been as bad as this. Characters act out of character…"plot points" are shouted out in a effort to make what we are watching coherent…and really bad special effects help torpedo the movie and apparently this version of the franchise. I liked the direction they were trying with this "4", unfortunately that direction led the film off a cliff. Wish it sucked right out of the gate instead of having potential for an hour.
— by Jeff Schultz
There’s a flaw so big in the setup to this barely passable kids-in-peril thriller that you’ll either have to accept its absurdity or just go home. A single mother (Kathryn Hahn, everywhere these days) hasn’t spoken to her parents in ten years after a bitter forced parting involving physical violence. But she’s sending her two young children (the boy is only 8) unaccompanied to spend a week with the grandparents they’ve never seen or met. Part of the rationale is that Mom’s got a new boyfriend, who’s taking her on a cruise. But it’s just a contrivance for what follows and, this being Shyamalan, for the inevitable (and here, lame) twist. Disney star Ed Oxenbould as the boy is strong, but the girl who plays his older sister is not only bland, her precocious silliness is grating. Speaking of grating, Gramps here is called “Pop Pop”. A lot. Pop Pop. Pop Pop. At least Granny is just “Nana”. The character actors who play the grandparents do creepy well. But despite the making-a-documentary shooting style (also a creaky part of the setup) there’s nothing spontaneous or unexpected. The trailer doesn’t show you everything, but what it leaves out isn’t very exciting. And the ending (I should say “endings” because there’s an emotional coda that has you praying for the credits) is completely botched: the people who deserve to get what’s coming to them are essentially dispatched offscreen, when of course we want to watch them get beaten to a pulp. No vengeance, no fun.
-Stormy Curry Once again, critics have no clue. For the most part, the only time they like a scary movie is if it isn’t scary! CREEP describes the painfully slow pace this flick moves at…and for a short movie (1:15)…It takes forever to end. If you’ve never seen a movie (because you are a time traveller from the past awed by moving pictures) or a "lost footage" film (god knows we don’t have enough of those), you’re probably the audience for this. Obvious from the start with no scares and an ending that with any thought may have made the movie better, this just supports my theory that the nastier the review, the scarier the movie. This horror flick is boring with no payoff.
By Stormy Curry
What could have been a lazy, obvious, and stereotypical biopic about the formation of NWA is actually the complete opposite. This movie runs for almost 2 and a half hours and damn if I didn’t want an hour more. It’s that good. Not only does it show how these three guys changed music, it is at times infuriating, moving, and inspiring. The pacing is tight, the music is awesome, and most surprising the acting is excellent. For those who classify the group as "thugs" and think/thought NWA glorified "the life", do yourself a favor and see this movie. Just like with anything, you have to understand the context and the intent before you can judge the message. So far, it’s my favorite movie of the year.
— by Jeff Schultz
Starts out creepy, ends up crap. For the first half hour, this two-character mind-game thriller is unsettling and increasingly scary. Mark Duplass, especially in the earlier scenes, keeps us guessing about just how crazy he might be. And there’s a 180° jolt about a third of the way in that kicks the movie up a notch, turning cat-and-mouse into hunter seeks prey. But then the mouse/prey starts going on fantasy riffs about his stalker (which fall just short of being homoerotic). The riffs seem contrived, and they’re made worse by the ending which takes those fantasies to their fairly ridiculous and fatal conclusion.
unbreakable kimmy schmidt
by Alan Yudman
I just finished watching two very odd, very different half hour comedies on Netflix. Season 2 of BOJACK HORSEMAN and season 1 of THE UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT. I found them both fascinating and entertaining for very different reasons, yet I find them inextricably linked in my head. For those unfamiliar, here’s a brief summary of both shows. Bojack Horseman is the name of the title character in that animated show. He is an anthropomorphic horse. The show is populated for anthropomorphic animals. Bojack was huge in the 1980’s. He was the star of a wildly popular sitcom called “Horsin’ Around”. He was the foster father to three cute kids, two girls and a boy. Think of it as a kind of “Full House” meets “My Two Dads”. That was the last thing Bojack did successfully, other than drink and be a complete ass. Which is to say that is all he has done in the last 30 years. BOJACK HORSEMAN is merciless in its skewering of Hollywood and the privileged culture of celebrity. But it is also very deeply felt and emotional. The other side of this odd coin is Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s THE UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT. Star Ellie Kemper is one of four women rescued from a doomsday bunker in Indiana after having gone missing about 15 years earlier. The other three women try to adapt by remaining in Indiana. After an appearance on the Today Show, Kimmy decides to start her new life in New York City. Her dialogue is dappled with old references that she naively throws out, not realizing pop culture has passed her by. She lives in a basement with a wanna be actor who goes by the name Titus Andromedon. KIMMY SCHMIDT is a screwball comedy that’s a mile wide and about an inch deep.
Now here’s why they are both stuck in my head. The cartoon behaves like a live action show. The show featuring real life actors behaves in a more cartoon like fashion. BOJACK does take advantage of its cartoon world. Bojack and the guy living on his couch, Todd steal the “D” from the Hollywood sign without much in the way of consequence other than the shallowness of Hollywood is once again fodder because now everyone refers to it as “Hollywoo” without even a second thought that the “D” is missing. The comedy in BOJACK is smart, sly and topical. But there are huge emotional stakes for Bojack. He is trying to make a comeback, he is working on a biography with the help of a ghostwriter who is constantly frustrated by Bojack’s drunken assholery. But she sees what we all see. He is truly trying to be a better Horseman. But there are also heartbreaking scenes that detail his horrible home life, raised by parents who ether didn’t care or outright hated him. No wonder he is so damaged.
KIMMY SCHMIDT on the other hand has no such depth of feeling. Yeah, Kimmy is frustrated trying to fit in in a completely foreign world. But she is so unrelentingly sunny about everything you are not sure if she is really just trying to put on a brave face or if she’s just a freaking moron. The characters are all goofy, outsized portraits of normal people. Titus is my favorite. Brilliantly played by Tituss Burgess, he so wants to be a star in a completely modern way, but he seems so clueless about how to really get what he wants. I believe he is the true heart of the show. For most of the first season there aren’t many emotional stakes on display. Things get a bit more interesting towards the end when the cult leader (an Emmy worthy performance by Jon Hamm) goes on trial for kidnapping the girls. But, most of the time the stakes feel like a modern version of “Saved by the Bell”. At the end of the day, who really cares. That begs the question, once Kimmy gets more familiar with modern society, where does the show go, because that is the central joke in the fist season.
So if you want to add a show to your Netflix list, I’d pick BOJACK HORSEMAN. The main voice cast is amazing; Will Arnett as Bojack, Amy Sedaris as his agent Princess Carolyn (a cat), Alison Brie as his biography Diane, Paul F. Tompkins as his friend/foil and Diane’s husband Mr. Peanutbutter (a dog), and Aaron Paul as Todd. The guest stars are unbelievably great and a who’s who list of great Hollywood character actors; Margot Martindale (who plays herself in a completely hilarious way), J.K. Simmons, Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Wilde, Patton Oswalt, Kristen Schaal, and many many more. Oh!!! And Keith Olbermann nails it as a bloviating whale-anchor at MSNBSea. He’s really a whale… no.. seriously.
KIMMY SCHMIDT has its charms. But it’s BOJACK that will stick with you for weeks after watching it.